The puppy was named Kenya. She was a service animal – not a guide dog, so it was okay that I interacted with her – and she was three months old. I met her in line at Starbucks. She licked my hand as I petted her and I tried not to cry, but there were at least three very good reasons for tears to occur. So I got an expensive latte with a complimentary trip down memory lane.
I am superstitious about the 23rd day of the month, so today I am finding all sorts of signs amongst chaos. For example, I am now convinced that I wrote that last sentence simply to rediscover my love for the word “amongst”, forgotten until just a few moments ago.
Egyptian Magic is a company with a skin cream that is supposedly the best skin cream ever. They all say that, but this one has all-natural ingredients (if “divine love” is natural) plus a founder and CEO named Lord-Pharaoh ImHotep-AmonRa. Can your skin cream say that?
Yesterday, a patron told me that “feliz navidad” is the most beautiful way to say “merry Christmas”. He may have been biased toward his first language, but I do not doubt its loveliness. In English, the phrase smacks of brisk edges. Spanish lends it some banister-sliding merriment.
You may have wondered what happened to my holiday gift guide. I sure didn’t, because I wrote it and saved it as a draft instead of publishing it. Ha ha, I’ve been doing this for over ten years and I still can’t figure it out. At least I have one ready to go for next year! Ha ha.
Lastly, I boom a hearty greetings to my long-neglected LiveJournal! This is my first automagic cross-post. Let’s comment in a threaded fashion at each other!
One crow sits on the porch and his caw seems timed, a perfect heartbeat. I am putting moisturizer on my face, stuff I bought because it was additive-free and on sale, stuff I would not buy normally even if I could afford it, which I can’t. I am thinking of what I am not thinking of.
I don’t often get caught in this loop, just sometimes when I am tracing an old pattern. The crow’s caws trick my brain into silence. Thoughts settle like sediment and then I think: what am I not thinking of?
For once, I am not thinking of guilt over my morning routine, of how long it takes or how loud each movement might be.
The house smells like last night’s sage and ginger. One cat’s meow forces syncopation. Then the crow leaves, and it is just bare feet on wood floor, fur against shin, the rustling of a comforter. Time ticks again, and tugs with it a long rope of schedules and increments. That moment of no-moment was enough.
Yesterday, I tweeted: “In response to someone wishing me a merry Christmas, I said it back instead of wishing him happy holidays. I hope no one reports me.”
As is usual for me, I neglected to be specific enough in 140 characters or less, and should have added a very important word to my tweet: accidentally. I did not think about saying “merry Christmas” in return; I just did it.
As I was raised Roman Catholic, I celebrated Christmas for many years, and during that time wished people a merry Christmas. I was a child, and did not consider my wish to be harmful or prejudiced. As I grew older, I understood the implications of forcing one’s religious preferences on others, and changed my language accordingly. Even when the words lost their religious meaning to me, I avoided saying them. I continue to be careful with my word choice around this time of year, especially at work.
Which is why it was so surprising to hear myself repeat “merry Christmas” after the patron said it yesterday. I cannot remember the last time I intentionally spoke those words, although I probably do without thinking to my mom and dad because that is how we greet each other on the phone when we talk on December 25th.
What do you think about holidayspeak? Did my knee-jerk response violate the rule of political correctness? Or did I respect his faith by responding in kind, even though I no longer share it? If he had mentioned Yule or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, would the same rule apply? How would you have responded without thinking?
This Thanksgiving, my sole accomplishment has been introducing FunkyPlaid to Bejeweled 2. He is … a little obsessed. The good news is that he is extremely good at visual strategy games, so he has almost exceeded my highest score. The bad news is that I am pretty sure he can just keep going. Forever.
It is traditional in the American blogosphere (and I can’t believe I just typed that) to make a list of things we are thankful for today. I was sifting through my archives in order to link to some old Thanksgiving lists, but not once in eleven years have I written anything during this time of year worth reposting.
That’s just fine. I am sitting on the couch with sunshine on the back of my head, laptop on lapdesk on lap. My fiancé is sitting cross-legged next to me, cursing quietly at his iPhone. The murmur, thud, whistle, roar of football emanates from the TV we aren’t watching. Cats have sought out sunnier or more secluded spots. In a few hours, we will head north to ensconce ourselves with family and friends for the traditional overeating portion of the day.
Today is my list. My life is my list.
She told me it took a long time. She told me it took a long time before she stopped seeing him everywhere he wasn’t. She told me it took a long time to unlearn the cringing, to unfurl during the phone ringing. She told me it took almost as long as they were together to be comfortably apart, not to expect the other shoe to drop, his other shoe, when his feet weren’t even near.
She told me it took a long time, not that she expected it to be short. Once you are terrorized in a certain way, she said, your body exists only within boundaries of panic. For long, hollow years later, she would be flooded with adrenaline from a glimpse of the color of his hair. Fight or flight, but of course she did neither.
She told me it took a long time to allow herself a leisurely shower, an indecision over clothing, a detour on the way to the market, a reshuffling of plans. Sometimes, after years of only being grabbed and pulled by the wrist, she would just sit, sit somewhere quiet, and hold her own hand.
Disclaimer: If you have no interest in iPhone apps, Twitter, or my opinion on software, you will want to skip this entry.
Long ago I used Twitteriffic for iPhone, and was perfectly happy with it. I only defected to Tweetie because the iPhone app offered Ping.fm integration, allowing me to utilize Ping.fm to update multiple networks all at once, and not only status updates, but blogging, micro-blogging, and photo uploads. The fact that Tweetie offered Ping.fm integration was big for me: I could read tweets and also update multiple services, all from one nice UI.
Then Tweetie became seriously unstable, crashing more often than not, and around the same time Courtney told me about Birdfeed, an app developed by a good friend of hers. Birdfeed’s UI was far superior to Tweetie’s, plus it had local caching, and though I was loathe to give up Ping.fm integration, it wasn’t of much use to me in its current state. I figured I’d catch Tweetie 2.0 when it was released.
When Tweetie 2.0 was released, Ping.fm integration was written out of it. Ping.fm-loving Tweetie users were upset. Some felt betrayed, and in an open-source world, there is always another client for betrayed users to buy. Those of you with greater marketing experience than I have should feel free to comment on the changing face of customer loyalty.
Tweetie employees had been using GetSatisfaction, a well-known customer support community engine, and of course a number of “what happened to Ping.fm” threads broke out on it. No one from the company answered clearly, and instead asked people why they wanted the integration. One Tweetie employee was quoted as stating the following about wanting to update multiple networks simultaneously: “It always calls to mind a small child repeating the same thing ad nauseum. Essentially wasting the time of all the people who actually like you enough to follow you on multiple networks.” (As of this writing, I cannot verify this quote because GetSatisfaction will no longer allow me to go further back in this conversation. I can, however, point you to where the employee states that he has “some well known negative ideas about Ping.fm”.
Now I don’t need to point out the logical flaw in this argument, but I will anyway for the sake of thoroughness: not all of my contacts are on the same network. For example, NO ONE I know from Second Life is on Twitter; they are all on Plurk. I don’t want to stop updating Twitter in favor of Plurk, or vice-versa. I want to update both simultaneously. Ping.fm is the tool I use to do that. Tweetie 1.0 allowed me to access to this tool. Tweetie 2.0 does not, and for no clear reason.
I disagree strongly with how Tweetie employees have chosen to handle this. The discussion continues over at their new support forums but the employee who has taken point on the issue does not seem to understand why anyone is asking for Ping.fm integration. He repeatedly asks people to tell him why, a tactic I recognize as a favorite of ineffective management. This tactic eventually wears your opponents down enough that they either (a) lose the ability to articulate what it is they want because they are so frustrated with your (real or feigned) ignorance or (b) give up because you are obviously too stubborn to even entertain an opposing opinion, let alone adopt a better idea.
Obviously I won’t buy or recommend Tweetie 2.0, which is a shame because it could have been the best Twitter app available. Instead, I will use a combination of apps until someone figures out how to do what Tweetie was already doing, and does it before they can do it again.
We have a question about the menu: what is chow-chow? A table of four library professionals, we are practiced in knowing how to find an answer quickly. The woman who seated us walks by, so we ask her. She responds, “Your server will be right with you.” A different woman approaches the table and asks if we would like iced tap water or bottled water. We agree to the tap water, then ask the water-giver our question: what is chow-chow? She responds, “Your server will be right with you.” Our server arrives, and we jump to ask the question: what is chow-chow? She says it is like cole slaw, except for– and then mumbles something I cannot hear. The dish with the chow-chow was my second choice, so I avoid asking any follow-up questions in case someone else needs to be sent out to answer them, and I order something else.
I go home, look up chow-chow on the web, and desperately attempt not to turn this into a metaphor.
I dreamed that I was a ghost. I didn’t die; I faded away, bit by bit. I dreamed that one night when FunkyPlaid returned home from work, he had trouble hearing me. A few nights later, he accused me of hiding from him, as he could see my clothing and shoes lying about but didn’t see me.
All this time I was standing right in front of him, yelling and waving my arms.
In no time at all, I was not even a memory. I tried to pick up a lamp to throw it, because then I was sure he would know I was still there. My hand dispersed like fog as soon as it neared the solid object. I resigned myself to more yelling, but had lost the ability to make sound.
I stood in the doorway of our bedroom and watched him sleep as I silently screamed.
I woke up wailing with his arms around me.
I tweeted earlier today that I know “what makes the world a better place: saying ‘thank you’ when someone does something nice for you, no matter who that person is.”
As a civil servant, politeness is something I think about multiple times each day. It is easy to think about it in the negative case, but today was different: I was warmed by the number of people who took a moment to thank me for helping them. I also tried to thank other people, and tried to be courteous even when I wasn’t feeling courteous.
There is a trap in judging whether or not a person is “worth” receiving thanks. I used to try to figure out if someone was acting out of sincere caring – and therefore worth my sincere thanks – or if that person was acting purely out of self-interest (what’s in it for me?) or obligation (I’m paid to do this). The truth is that most acts are a mixture, and speculate though I may, I won’t ever know for certain. I would rather assume the best of others than the worst.
When my job is at its most demoralizing, thanking and being thanked makes it worthwhile. This is how I know it is important.
Thank you for reading this and for thinking about it.
I love coming home from pub trivia to a house that smells like freshly-baked bread.
Whole Foods’ 365 gluten-free sandwich bread mix is the best mix I’ve baked so far. It tastes like real bread, and by that I mean it has a sweet aftertaste that FunkyPlaid immediately picked up on when he tried it. Most gluten-free mixes have a powdery, slightly sour aftertaste.
On another tactile note, I am testing out some new fragrances. Patchouli Garden’s vanilla sandalwood is enticing at first, but on my skin it evens out to what I can only term “old lady musk”, which is disappointing. Song of India’s sandalwood oil, on the other hand, is the perfect blend of woodsy sweetness. I am still undecided on the patchouli sandalwood.
Erik Larson’s Thunderstruck is excellently constructed and wholly absorbing, so I must go read it before I fall asleep.
I dearly wish I could crack my toes, but feet worry me so much that I avoid them all.
I dreamed of preparing to move away. Everything I owned had to be packed into suitcases and boxes. The sky outside was light but I knew it was nighttime. As I packed my clothes, they changed colors and shapes. Some of them hopped or crawled out of their containers. It was a losing battle. Finally I decided to leave with empty suitcases. As I was zipping the last one up, I looked down to see a necklace I lost a decade ago: an iridescent glass bottle shaped like a teardrop with a tiny cork stopper. I put the necklace around my neck and left, empty-handed and smiling.
I am not in the mood to post anything, but stubborn enough not to let chronic illness “win” today, so here is a random memory.
During my first semester at UAB, I lived on campus in a single room. My bedding was black and white; the walls were beige cinderblock; the furniture was light wood. Nothing about my room was remarkable in any way. To make it more my own, I bought a small octagonal aquarium, some neon tetras, and a tiny aquatic frog. I was far from home, hundreds of miles from everyone I knew, and this capsule of water and life became my nightlight and my lullaby.
The fish and frogs did not live long. I remain captivated by aquariums, but have not owned another since.
She thought that it would be enough when they had to register as no-gods, when they divided the line between types of belief. She never thought it would come to enforced sterilization. What was once a practice they so readily embraced as “choice” was now a mandatory medical procedure for all no-gods at age seven. The last procreating generation would be allowed to live, openly pitied as if they were unbaptized babies sent to limbo, checkboxes forever grayed-out. They were no longer of consequence.
– excerpted from an untitled story in progress
Princess Obvious makes an announcement: weddings are expensive.
They are not the kind of expensive that makes me want to save up my money and splurge eventually. They are the kind of expensive that makes me count how many Apple products we could be buying with this unheard-of sum, and then quote that number at inopportune moments.
“Two.” “Two?” “Two iMacs. That ALONE is going to cost us TWO IMACS.”But the sum has been heard, many times before, and will continue to be heard as long as we as humans consider this tradition an important part of our culture. I know I can’t think of these numbers in daily-life terms.
The difficulty I am having, I have pinpointed, is feeling like I am worth the fuss of something this expensive.
Not that I think I’m worthless, no! But perhaps I am worth just a little box of money, not a big one. Money has always been a complex emotional subject for me, and the wedding is throwing it into sharp relief. I have to get over it soon, or the next eleven months are going to be much more difficult than they need to be.
Predictably, I love Fridays. The first hour on the desk today was, true to form, outstanding. The late opening time should make people crankier but instead I tend to have the loveliest patrons. One thanked me no less than ten times. Ten times! And because I am trying to break myself of the habit of saying “sure” instead of “you’re welcome” I said “you’re welcome” ten times, which sounded pretty silly but felt better than saying “sure” ten times.
I know, rockstar life, huh?
Today I am trying something different, because I love other websites with this format, so here goes:
I know this is an old and tired subject, but it has been on my mind all day, and I am participating in NaBloPoMo so I don’t have time to talk myself out of writing it.
Today I posted a note on my Facebook profile stating that while WordPress, Tumblr, and Twitter would be automatically updating my wall, I would not be present. Thus I began my Facebook vacation.
I don’t hate Facebook, but I dislike the false knowledge I glean from it, the pretense of knowing who my contacts are by reading arbitrary updates, photos, and links they post. I also wonder about the reverse: which assumptions are my contacts making about me from my blurbs?
Eventually I will return, but not without reconsidering Facebook’s importance in my life, and severely limiting the time I spend with it.
Has Facebook changed your life?
Three things I wish I hadn’t told the reporter who showed up at work 14 minutes before my shift ended:
Three aspects of my commute home I would have changed:
Three things I wanted to do that I didn’t in favor of feeling sorry for myself:
Three things I will avoid for the rest of the week in favor of actually living my life: