April 14, 2011 § Leave a Comment
1. The Brain
My favorite body part is the brain, that shiny mound of being, that mouse gray parliament of cells, that dream factory, that petit tyrant inside a ball of bone, that huddle of neurons calling all the plays, that little everywhere, that fickle pleasure dome, that wrinkled wardrobe of selves stuffed into the skull like too many clothes into a gym bag. The neocortex has ridges, valleys, and folds because the brain kept remodeling itself though space was tight. We take for granted the ridiculous-sounding-yet-undeniable fact that each person carries around atop her body a complete universe in which billions of sensations, thoughts, and desires stream. They mix privately, silently, while agitating on many levels, some of which we’re not aware of, thank heavens. If we needed to remember how to work the bellows of the lungs or the writhing python of digestion, we’d be swamped by formed and forming memories, and there’d be no time left for buying cute socks. My brain likes cute socks. But it also likes kisses. And asparagus. And watching boat-tailed grackles. And biking. And drinking Japanese green tea in a rose garden. There’s the nub of it—the brain is personality’s whereabouts. It’s also a stern warden and, at times, a self-tormentor. It’s where catchy tunes snag and cravings keep tugging. A hand-me-down miracle is that we are living things made of nonliving parts. Our brain is a crowded chemistry lab, bustling with nonstop neural conversations. It’s also an impersonal landscape where minute bolts of lightning prowl and strike. A hall of mirrors, it can contemplate existentialism, the delicate hooves of a goat, and its own birth and death in a matter of seconds. It’s blunt as a skunk and a real gossip hound, but also voluptuous, clever, playful, and forgiving. For all those reasons, and because it’s shaped a little like a loaf of French country bread, it’s my favorite companion.
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April 12, 2011 § 1 Comment
•I’m organizing a master plan to develop my career.
•A friend who is helping me says I’ll be a future Koch sister, only not so crazy conservative (my words, not his).
•However, I don’t know the likeliness of that with the way I drink my money at Starbucks.
•I swear they must have some sort of addictive ingredient they add to their concoctions.
•I love my new business cards. They arrived yesterday. I’ve been handing them out to everyone…even those who know all about me and my business. I like the cards that much.
•I received a call yesterday regarding more work opportunities, which made my entire week.
•I’ll be tweaking my website soon to better reflect the services I’m offering.
•I’m working on a certificate in web authoring/digital communications, and over the summer I start a web design course.
•I’m hoping it will allow me to make my site a little flashier, a little more sophisticated.
•Right now it’s all scroll all the time.
•I’d like to add rotating pictures on the home page, so it’s not always the same image.
•I have to edit down some of the photos on the site.
•I have classes to teach over the summer, which is nice.
•In the fall I’m taking a video editing course. That will help a lot. I’m going to practice over the summer.
•There is an app design course, too. Will probably take that at some point.
•That’s my update for now.
April 2, 2011 § 1 Comment
I think about my friends often. I’ve lived in several places and have friends who still live in these places, or friends who have moved to new places, and though I may not call them each week, I think about them often. We send emails, text messages, and occasionally chat on the phone. However, I’m not a fan of talking on the telephone, and I think this is for a few reasons. First, I don’t want to interrupt someone’s day with an unexpected phone call because they may be reading, or on the toilet, or meditating. Second, I’m very comfortable with long silent pauses in conversation, except when they happen over the phone. On the phone, I feel obligated to fill up any dead space that starts building. If we were together at a diner talking to each other and we both fell quiet—no problem. Silence is golden, I say. But on the phone, silence is awkward. Third, I use only a cellphone and the connection is not always clear, or it gets dropped, and I end up talking into silence until the phone starts ringing in my hand. This happens with me and my mom, who is the only person I talk to on the phone on a regular basis and for long periods of time. Even with my husband, if we are apart, we keep our calls to each other very short. If we talk for five minutes on the phone, that is a very long conversation.
I’m a big fan of texting. With texting, you can send a message to friend and not worry about whether it’s interfering with something they are doing; they can answer at their leisure. You can schedule a time to talk on the phone by sending a text and saying, Hey, can we talk tonight? I find it to be a simple way to reach out.
This brings me to an experience I had last week that reminded me of why I’m thankful for texting, but also reminded me of why it’s good to talk to friends directly, too. For the past month or so, I’ve been emailing with a very dear friend of mine about some health issues she was trying to straighten out. Nothing major, but she had test results that the doctor could not explain. We shared experiences with each other, and I gave her some suggestions. I knew she was going to get some more tests done. Fast forward to last week, when I got a text from her that said, in essence, “Hey, remember that situation we thought was nothing. Well, it’s something and I’m going to the hospital now.” Her text included the specifics, and it was the kind of health related news that made me feel as if ice water has been shot through my veins when I read it. What struck me as interesting was that she wrote, “Sorry to tell you this through a text.” I was just glad she thought to tell me at all! I mean, she’s in the process of dealing with this news and making arrangements to get to the hospital, and calling her parents. Text messaging seems like the most obvious way to keep a friend informed who can’t exactly rush to be by her side. If I were in the area, perhaps it would make more sense to call me, but this was a way of keeping me posted, while also maneuvering through the chaos of what was happening to her in the moment. We texted for the next few days as her parents arrived, and she found out more information. When she told me in a text that she was going home, I texted her and told her we should talk soon. She called later that day. And this is what reminded me how good it can be to hear someone’s voice.
During all the text messaging, I felt dreadful. My heart was heavy; I felt impotent to help; I felt sad that I wasn’t closer. It was imagining the worse, feeling bad, googling medical information without knowing a lot of details. I was envisioning tears, fears, anger. But when I talked with her, it was just her, dealing with things the way she always deals with things—she’s strong. That’s not to say she doesn’t have those feelings mentioned above. But before hearing her voice, they were pervasive in my imagination. After hearing her voice, I realized that it’s not that way all the time. She told me everything that had happened, and I responded to one piece of information in a way that made her laugh and laugh (which made me laugh). It lifted my heart to hear her laughing. That’s the important stuff you miss with texting.
March 28, 2011 § 1 Comment
Whenever I think I’ve read the best Onion story ever, they outdo themselves again! This story had me laughing out loud today.
March 22, 2011 § 1 Comment
I always start my morning by reading email, visiting the Daily Beast (via links they email me), and then swinging over to the New York Times to check out the headlines. This morning I scrolled through a fun slideshow called “Readers’ Photos: A Family’s Best Friend?” Anyone who knows me knows I’m a sucker for this kind of thing, and I was impressed by the quality of the pictures! Some were really outstanding. It was fun to read the little stories that accompanied the pictures and how the animals had changed their owners’ lives. But then one submission really put a damper on my day. It was next to an unusual looking dog, very striking, and the story next to the picture said this:
I am not a dog person. But with three boys and a country house, I deemed it important that my children experience a deep connection with a being who wasn’t human. So, we ordered our hypoallergenic Spanish water dog, Muki, last spring and guess what, she is a “Velcro” dog, desperate for my attention and jealous of my husband. It’s stressful having a dog I don’t want alienate my husband and only slightly tolerate the boys. I sometimes feel the urge to let the coyotes lurking in our backyard lure her away, but I know I have created this new dynamic and must deal with it rationally. She is getting better, but we wish she were more lablike in her behavior. What to do?
— Aspen Real Life, Snowmass, Colo.
WTF? I almost feel like this is some sort of joke, some tool taking on the tone of a snobby Aspenite who can’t stand her new hypoallergenic Spanish water dog (a breed many of us were probably unaware of). First of all, I’m sure she paid top-dollar for this dog from some breeder without doing any research on what this breed was like—she probably put emphasis on hypoallergenic, without thinking about personality. Second, to say she occasionally feels the urge to let the coyotes have their way with this dog is particularly disgusting. I’m not saying she can’t express regret over purchasing the dog and it not working out for her family, but that’s not quite the same as saying she wished the dog would be brutally mauled and killed while the owner’s back is turned. I find that pretty gross, and it makes me feel sorry for the poor dog because it’s stuck in a household with this flake. I mean, it’s not rocket science to find a new home for the dog—there are rescues and humane societies that could help. I just hope her written words are more severe than her actions, and that she secretly adores the dog (though I’m not holding my breath).