Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Favorable Reception

All dressed up, a bubbly drink in hand, the waiter whisks by with a tray of alluring hors douvres, you grab one and make some funny comment as you struggle for a moment with it and your napkin. You resume the fabulously interesting and witty conversation you were having. Candles are lit all over, casting a flattering light on just about everyone. Bouquets of people are scattered in the space, unexpected combinations that seem to be working. A song comes on and you decide to dance, grab one more piece of food for the road, convice a bashful friend to join you. Smiling faces whirling around, you dance for 4 songs straight. Cake is out, you sample the petite fours placed before you, each one sweet and individual, just, like, you. The event is nearly over, you meander towards the exit, decide not to flatten the ambient ebullience with the first goodbye so you hop out the door into the dark young night.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Reluctant Gift of the Magi

Hair salons always make me uncomfortable. Most people feel pampered and beautiful, but I just cant relax in the mirrored, hot air blowing chaos. I cant browse through magazines with my feet up and act like I deserve this treatment. The stylists are standing up spraying, poufing, teasing, brushing, rocking on their high heels, distracted by the buzz of a coworker—I never know what to say to them.

Even though I know I have important and worthy things going on in my life, it all seems to evaporate when I am faced with a group of people milling about who I know place very very high value on looks and fashion and being stylish. I am low maintence but no one is charmed, they just feel sort of sorry for me I think. And I always seem to overhear a cluster of employees gossiping, sometimes they try to fill me on the info as if I wasnt the next victim.

I have nothing to offer them. I have no fancy bag or coat for them to compliment me on, I have no funky outfits or special knowledge of whats hot now. I have nothing they understand. All I have is a head of hair that desperately needs cutting and payment that I cant really afford to give.

Although, with all that said, I must also say I do feel much better after the haircut, like things are looking up, like change is in the air and like I am slightly invincible. Maybe these hairdressers are on to something.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Scold me Gently

When, if ever, is it okay to correct someone when they use a word incorrectly? Does it benefit a loved one or a coworker to know the truth, or does it embarrass them too much for it to be worth it?

People take word choice very seriously, and people judge others on the way they speak, period. But the type of person who corrects grammar and/or word usage is rarely the type to carry with it enough tenderness so as not to hurt the incorrect person too much. Not sure if the trait of being the type of person who corrects and the type of person who corrects in a condescending way can ever exist separately.

And you may ask yourself why that person is using a word incorrectly in the first place, because he or she is on a secret mission to speak in a way that is beyond their understanding in order to impress people out there.

So, if you are part of the grammatical elite, do you let these incorrect usages just burn up as they leave the atmosphere, or do you catch them on their way out? Should you drag the puppy by the collar over to the poop it left on the carpet and scold it gently? Are you the better person because you know the truth, certainly not, but chances are you might think so.

Fiction Fridays (Late Edition): Waiting

His hand was bruised and other things were too. He had tumbled down a long flight of concrete subway stairs with the exaggerated flailing of a stunt double, but he wasn't. He sat at the bottom of the staircase, a heap of man and suit. Feet were crowded around him as his old head lay on the cold, impossibly hard surface.

In his scrambled mind he thought maybe I should not have had that last manhattan, or maybe I just slipped. There was a flickering darkness out of one eye, and then the other. A moderate flame of awareness existed within him for a few minutes, and then it didnt.

She burned the first batch of perogies but she was keeping a close watch on the second. They were browned just right, so she took them out to drain on the paper towels. As she placed the last perfect perogie down, the phone rang.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Hope and War

Religion can give hope or ignite war. It is such a powerful set of ideas it should be respected for its strength if nothing else.

I love to think about how much a devout person of one religion believes in another religion, probably not very much. Then it becomes clear that it is just an ideology, that can be accepted or rejected. If it were truth, there would be only one.

Although, if religion helps people make sense of this life or understand death or just helps them wake up in the morning, then it is a wonderful thing. It is a marketing strategy for hope.

I am feeling like it is almost too personal to write about on the blog but I have been forced to think about it lately because of our upcoming wedding. War is on the horizon with my family and I can feel the rumble of troops marching towards us...

Monday, October 23, 2006

Art Without Art

The other night we went to see Paul Simon in concert. In between the jokes about our young age but old souls, we listened. We listened to familiar songs written before we were born that still rung true in our reflective and pining young ears.

Poems about struggle and heartache carried on the waves of sound. The tempo is best described as that moment immediately after you blow a candle out, the constant fluttering ribbons of smoke that seem like they will never stop emerging.

I thought about how music may be the most perfect art. Into it goes science, discipline, emotion, sound, touch. It travels from one body to another, or to many. And like a ghost it lives within us whispering messages to ourselves.

The other night, we missed the fuzzy hair and gentle accompanying voice of Art Garfunkle, but it was really a most complete art form anyway.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Joe on YouTube

Click on the title above for a clip of Joe in Venezuela getting a black eye or something. Love the way he jumps up from the mat.

A Temple for A Temple

We went to the Metropolitan Museum today. We sniffed around the Egyptian wing for a bit, checking out amazingly detailed and cryptic hieroglyphics carved with mind boggling precision in an emaculate piece of black stone.

Then we noticed light streaming from around a corner onto the sectioned marble floor. As we walked hand in hand around the bend we faced the breathtaking diagonal wall of windows in the room that houses the Temple of Dendur. Wouldnt it be nice to have our wedding there we mused, but mainly we just sat on the flat and low stone and soaked in the light and the massive space.

What an amazing room they have built to honor the temple, certainly echoes the grandure of the temple itself. A job well done for modern man.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Pulling the Plug

I dont own a TV. This causes an astounding amount of prematurely aborted conversations.

Someone will say, “You know that commercial...?”, “Did you see that episode...?”, “No I havent seen it, sorry”. Then usually with surprise and emphasis “YOU have NEVER seen it?”, “I dont have a TV.”

Confusion and sadness usually follows, on rare occasions praise.

Sometimes when appropriate and feasible I just nod and let the person pass gradually into the technicolor land of enthusiastically rehashing television things. They want to go there anyway, so who am I to disappoint them with my ignorance.

Television shows are like friends who force themselves on you and even if you dont like them all that much and you know parts of them are lame, you make them part of your life anyway. They steadily suck time away from dishes, plants and books and other three-dimensional things that have the ability to love you back.

Quit is a Four Letter Word

Quitting something that you have committed to, before it is officially over, is generally looked down upon. But there are times that you have a crimson burn inside of you that swells up like a poisonous mushroom rapidly growing in your moist gut. It signals that something is wrong and that getting out as soon as possible is your only hope.

And even if that mushroom is wrong, you listen, because you have no choice but to trust yourself, you are all you have. Listening to yourself feels good, because no one can give advice, really.

And after you have quit, you can move on. You will never know what might have been if you had stayed, but you will have to let that uncertainty wither into a pile of ash-like remains that are slowly blown away with each breath that you take of your new life.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Today’s Word of the Day



1. calm, peaceful, or tranquil; unruffled

(also looks like I may have found tomorrow’s word of the day, isn’t “unruffled” great.)

The Illuminating Garden

Last night we went to see the Dale Chihuly exhibit at the Botanical Gardens. It was truly stupendous.

It is amazing how, as adults, we still all open our eyes wide and Ooooo when we look at shiny colorful things, just like babies do. Thank goodness for our primate color vision-what a rich world we have the opportunity to enjoy.

My friend and I were having a hard time discerning whether or not the swelling and swirling glass sculptures were lit from the inside, or the light that was directed toward them was just reflecting in such an intense and sparkling way that it looked like they had lights inside. Fiber optics I thought, perhaps. We leaned and strained and squinted to figure out the truth of the matter.

As we walked among the tremendous exaggerated, playful and stunning pieces framed in the evening darkness, we talked about our lives, as we always do, and what was bothering us and what was helping us. We were dwarfed by the art and I liked it because it seemed like our problems were dwarfed too.

Then it occurred to me that the the concept of being lit from the inside or the outside is a near perfect metaphor for people.

Do great and strong people possess some kind of internal energy that emanates to those around them, or are some just positioned and shaped in a way that they have the ability to reflect the light of others brightly and with dazzling and directed force, the world may never know...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Glass of Wine is Half Full

We bought a bottle of wine last night at a new wine store that just opened up. I actually didnt go in the store because I was on the cell phone at the time and standing outside waiting for Joe. I peeked in and saw him deep in lively conversation with the man at the wine store, they were nodding and chuckling.

When we finally opened the wine that the man had suggested, we took one sip and...

Joe picked up the phone and called the man at the wine store. He started out in a stern tone, “Hi I just bought a bottle of wine from you, (then he softened up) it is terrific, thank you so much for suggesting it and I will recommend your store to everyone I know.” The man responded with effusive thank yous and all was well with the world.

I imagine that that man went home and told his wife or partner or dog or all of them about Joe’s call.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

We are Not Alone

Everything we do is because of someone else.

Whether we want to please someone or want to prove something to someone, or on a broader scale because you are inspired by someone or want to help people or influence them in a certain way with your ideas.

All of my conclusions lead to the same place, this world is full of people and I just cant ignore it no matter how hard I may want to sometimes.

Sunday, October 8, 2006

Secret Symbiosis

I love those situations where Person A thinks they are helping Person B, but Person B thinks it is the reverse. Are both being helped then? or are both helping because they think they are? is helping defined by the helper or the helpee, or both?


Person A: “I think just hearing about my problems really helped her because she was able to put things in better perspective and realize that she is not the only one.”

Person B: “I think just letting her talk out her problems was really helpful to her, even though at times I wasnt fully listening.”


Person A: “We invited him over for dinner so he could have a chance to get out of the house and see some people, its good for him.”

Person B: “I only went to the party so they wouldnt feel like no one cared about their party.”


and the list goes on...beautiful.

Home Zoo

Click on the title above, Home Zoo...so funny and ridiculous.

Friday, October 6, 2006


I have both the gift of curiosity and the curse of anxiety. Constantly blowing up balloons and then popping them before they have the chance to leave my hands and float buoyantly above.

And I am learning that you cant be curious AND scared, it just doesn't work, you will only get as far as your back yard

and that’s only if you make it outside.

Woman Against Silence

Eyes open
acknowledge it is warm and cozy in my bed.
realize there is probably no better place than the place I am in.
minutes pass in milliseconds, pillow never felt so amazingly soft.
I am weightless and snug.
get out of bed anyway.

Stumble like a drunken St Bernard to the bathroom.
the people downstairs probably hate my lead foot in the morning.
make coffee.
hardly time to drink it.
leave it sitting.
get dressed.
no one will notice how wrinkled my pants are, right?
or that my shoes are so old that they look like they were dredged
up from the bottom of a swamp.

Run down street.
why aren't these people going to work?
wait for bus.
see the same girl I always see waiting, she never looks me in the eye.
same bus driver I always have, very nice but tough white woman, waits for old people, says good morning to everyone and announces all the stops. One morning I overheard her telling someone that she came home one night and her husband had left her
and he took the kids.

Arrive at work.
no one is there.
no one is even in the hallway.
What is an Anthropology Department with no humans?
flick on lights in lab.
prop the door open.
check email.
no one wrote.
turn machines on, listen to their entrance hum.
take buffer out to defrost.
check email again.
make more coffee.
set up reaction.
go to same place for lunch, they MUST recognize me after all these years, yet we never exchange any familiarity, even though I always put something in the tip jar.

Go back to lab.
the silence is smothering me.
I hear keys jingling outside the door,
no one comes in.
shut off lights and machines.

walk to Madison to catch the bus home.
see some funny looking people who are overdressed and botoxed.
see myself in store window, my pants are pretty wrinkled, huh.
beep of the metro card.
stare out window.
put on iPod, prepare for uplifting tunes.
battery is dead but I keep the headphones on.
my head turns forward when the bus jolts.
something smells funny.
kids are talking too loud.
at home.
it is quiet but,
it is not a relief.

Localized Epiphany

I had an epiphany yesterday, and I owe it all to the local bus. If I had taken the limited I dont think I would have had enough time to really work things out in my head as I did on the slow boat to Australia that is the local.

I felt a calm wash over me and for a moment I was existing inside that old Country Time lemonade commercial that I loved so much. Riding some old bicycle, with a basket, down a winding path in the sunshine with the comforting voice over “take the long way home.”

The scenario for the the next few years worked itself out in my head perfectly as I stared through and beyond the opulent buildings on 5th avenue. Like a successful game of tetris the pieces fit together perfectly, some even unexpectedly well, flashing with success.

I am not foolish enough to think that I have it all figured out, but I feel a lot better about the next few years. I thanked the bus driver when I got off.

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Proud of You

About a year ago someone said to me, “Wow you have really matured.” At first I was flattered and in agreement, of course, but as the sun set on that day, I grew to be offended because the implication was that I was immature before. I am sensitive about this topic because, I was in fact immature, but also young in my defense.

I thought the other day about how telling someone you are proud of them can also seem like you are really surprised that they did so well, because you expected less.

So I have a hard time expressing thoughts like “wow you have come a long way” for fear that the person may be offended, as I was.

The other day I visited a friend who has done such great work and seems to have a lovely life of which I know that she would have dreamed of 6 years ago. But like all of us, it is hard to gather up all of the days that have passed into a cohesive quilt of achievement, so I dont think she really knows how much she has really achieved or how proud I am of her, because I didn’t want to offend her.

In the Beginning...

I went to a symposium about human evolution yesterday. It was primarily about when the genus Homo first arose, as in Homo sapiens, but before that like Homo habilis. The Leakeys were there and other old creaky respected people in the field. It was interesting to hear them speak and quite inspiring in a way.

But I was day dreaming about getting up and asking the question: How do you feel the definition of our genus and when, where and how it began influences our current life?

Monday, October 2, 2006

Collectively Good

The other day I was in a card store and I could not find a suitable card for the sentiment I felt. I had exhausted all the possibilities on the rack I was looking at. So I walked around and saw another rack of cards that looked perfect, inviting and fun in the distance. Ooooo Here is where I will find what I need, I thought.

But then when I get to the rack and start looking at the designs on the individual cards, I cant seem to find one that I like all that much. I realized that it is the collection of cards that I like, but one card cannot stand alone.

Knowing that I couldn't take the whole rack with me and give it to someone, I moved on with my new idea in my pocket, but nothing else.

There are other things that work by this same phenomenon, collectively beautiful or interesting, but when taken alone they lose something.