30.9.11

Time to let go

A friend e-mailed me after my last post and mentioned that some things should be held on to; while I agree that while you want to learn from the past, clinging to it and letting it have an adverse affect on your future is not helpful.

Here's an example (taken from real life, names changed blah blah blah):
Years ago, I worked with this guy we'll call TT. TT was in his early 40s and lived with his mother and sister out on the island. While I don't believe that pot is physically addictive, he was definite proof that there is an addictive quality to it: he'd smoke a joint in the morning, one as he walked to work from the train, one at lunch, one on his walk back to the train and one in the evening. He was also obsessed with sports. By "obsessed" I mean that he followed teams and decorated the walls of his office with scores and tickets stubs. During the weekends he'd travel to various areas/stadiums to attend games, mostly staying overnight in his car in the parking lot.**

Many years earlier, shortly before graduating from college, he and his girlfriend traveled to Florida (I think Orlando) for Spring Break. Now, March is also time for the NCAA Basketball Playoffs - this was before March Madness without the the television frenzy that we now have. TT wanted to order pizza and listen to the game in the hotel room, his girlfriend had other ideas, particularly since sports really wasn't her thing. Unsurprisingly they broke up.

When I met TT he was still obsessed with this woman. He informed me that 15 years after the break-up his college had beaten her college in the NCAA finals and she must be just writhing with embarrassment. You'll have to imagine his shock when I suggested that she was completely unaware of this (based both on her not caring about NCAA basketball when they were dating and on the likelihood that she'd moved on with her life). It was a further shock to him when I told him that it was probably not the best idea to celebrate their "25th anniversary" by buying two tickets to a hockey game and hand-delivering her a card with one ticket inside (this after she'd asked him to stop sending cards). My guess was that she was just tossing the cards in the garbage without opening them.

Long anecdote short, after this long, he should have moved on from this relationship. Sadly, it still informed who he was and how he related to the world. My point? Often I find that I, too, have held on to a relationship (with a relative, former friend, employer, colleague, whom ever) for far too long, finding reasons not to move on from what happened and thinking about ways in which my current actions have somehow affected them long after we ended.

They've forgotten me, right? Isn't the best sign that I've moved on to forget them? Decluttering those memories can only be healthy.


** TT invited me to come with him to an Oriole's game at the newly built Camden Yards; I passed.

29.9.11

A tale of two lunches

Recently I had the pleasure of lunch with two friends.  One was someone I'd known since college, the other a former student I've known a few years.  The difference between the two was more than age and gender, it was attitude.  Between them I've been pondering things a lot.

You see the college friend had a difficult childhood and since then he's seen himself as a survivor.  As a matter of fact, he spent time during lunch trying to convince me that he'd had a horrible time in college: no one was as poor, friendless, fish-out-of-watery as he was.  My take?  Others had as difficult a time, perhaps in different ways, but difficult just the same.  But that attitude spills out into his adult life, and often his blog posts reflect it (though he is trying to get better!).

My student friend has had a difficult time in a different way.  Her attitude is "that's the past, and I'm over it."  She's taken what lessons she can from what's happened and is moving on to more interesting things.  She hopes.

I know (because he basically told me) that college friend thinks I had an easy time of it - au contraire.   My childhood was not easy (one could argue that my adulthood has not been easy, either), and there are many  people (and events) that caused long-lasting pain.  But I've worked hard to overcome this and at this remove, I've managed to forget most of them.

My student friend agrees that this is the best revenge: the past has no power over me because I've forgotten them.  When I told my college friend about this revelation, he seemed skeptical.  I hope, truly hope, that he manages to get to this point in his life - he's got a girlfriend, his hobbies are making him happy, and his life seems to be heading in the right direction. 

Me? I'm continuing to declutter my mental life and drop those things that I haven't managed to forget.

27.9.11

Missin' the point

Today's Best of the Web tackles the question of editing the President's speech.
The Obama case is different in two ways. Militating in favor of Hunter's position, "cleaning up" Obama's quotation does not involve changing his words, only spelling them in the usual way rather than phonetically to capture his pronunciation. That is a common practice. When someone says "gonna" and is quoted in print, it usually reads "going to." When Rick Perry, in a debate earlier this month called President Obama what sounded like "an abject lahr," it was quoted as "an abject liar."
So this is the issue?  Whether we insert the missing g (I almost wrote missin g but then thought better of it)?  Would we be asking the question if the President had given the same speech to the DAR, or if Obama were a white president? 

All of which brings to mind an exercise we did with our Middle School during the last presidential election.  Close your eyes and listen to this ad:



Yes, there's slurring and eliding.  And yes, it's a Southern accent.  Would we have the same conversations about this speech as we're having about President Obama's speech?  And doesn't this sound remarkably like President George W. Bush?  

So let's focus on content, not sound, ok?  I mean, isn't that the important thing?

26.9.11

Notable Quotes

"That may be true, Max," Simon said, "but I think Shelly was talking about a more imminent end.  What if you found out you only had a few months to live? Or even weeks? Do you whip out your list of 'things you need to do before you die' and race to check things off? Or do you lock your loved ones in a cottage somewhere and hug them until they can't breathe?" ...

"When you get to my age, you would hope that there wouldn't be much left to cross off.  And that's exactly how it was before I met Rose, to be honest.  I was nearly done with my short but respectable list.  But now," Jonathan said, "my list has grown quite long.  Afternoon tea, quiet walks, rainy mornings -- nothing I haven't done before, but everything I need to do now with my Rose as many times as I can, while I can."
Before Ever After, Samantha Sotto

22.9.11

Updates...

Two years ago I posted a list of groups/musicians I've seen live. Clearly, it's time for an update, so, in no particular order:
    Eric Clapton (again) 
    Jeff Beck 
    Charlotte Gainsburg 
    AIR 
    Jessie Baylin 
    kd lang (again) 
    Sybarite5 
    Cima Trio 
    Blondie (again) 
    Bruce Daigroponte (left off original list) 
    David Johansen 
    Larry Coryell 
    Rachid Taha

On the horizon - another visit to Sybarite5, and Ray Davies.


*****


One of the Partner A/Parnter B's that I wrote about earlier has split up after 30 years together. 30 years. I'm sad, because while I'm related to one, I like the other (not just like - really admire) and hope we don't lose touch. Guess I'll have to take my own advice re: invitations, should the occasion arise.

Speaking of invitations, rumor has it that the wedding invitation mess has still not been resolved. The bride-to-be called Partner A in tears, only to be told that the person to apologize to is really Partner B. Thus far, Partner B has heard nothing...


*****


In January I set a personal goal of reading 200 books (based on having read 200 books in 2010). My bigger goal, of course, is getting Mt. Bookpile below 300. Well, with 3.5 months left in the year, I'm on book 182 and Mt.B is down to 323. Of course, AASL is around the corner but I really think I can do it. Ya gotta believe, people!

21.9.11

They walk among us...

Surprisingly, I was late to the The Big Bang Theory party. But now I'm here and so happy that it's just started syndication so I can start the series from the very beginning (of course I'm still keeping up with the new episodes!).

I'm here to tell you those people really exist. I know because I've met them. In my own family. Seriously: I definitely have a Leonard, and if you took three others, took them to CERN and smashed them together in the Large Hadron Collider you'd get Sheldon (and yes, I know that the LHC wasn't created for that purpose - call it comic hyperbole).

They walk among us... but they're pretty harmless.

16.9.11

You know it's a bad book when...

I have really been trying to get away from being a "clean plate reader" and moving towards recognition that life is too short for me to read bad books. 

Now, some books I do slog through because I think they'll help students or be of interest to their YA target audience, or even because I've been asked to read it for professional review.

But recently I read a book that was so bad it was almost laughable.  I read a couple of sentences to Thing One, who thought I'd read well above and beyond what was needed - I compared the book to a car wreck, so bad you just had to see what would happen next.

One of the things I love/hate about Mallory is that he tends to nuzzle what I'm reading. It's loveable, because he wants to be with Mommy, but it's annoying when I'm actually trying to read. Occasionally he loves the book so much he'll bite the pages and (once or twice) head butt my hands away from it. He didn't come near the book I just read beyond an initial nuzzle. Today, it's lying on my bed and he just literally jumped away from in as though it had shocked him. I've
never seen that reaction before.

Do I need to change my rating system from stars to nuzzles?

12.9.11

Meeting Musings

At the rise of Meeting the Greeter asks for what in Brooklyn we called "Not Ready for Prime-Time Messages" - officially known as Afterthoughts. These are Messages that are perhaps not quite prompted by the Inner Light but are things that have occurred to us all the same (FCE has a great flowchart describing what a Prime Time Message is here).

During yesterday's afterthoughts, one Friend said that she and her mother had been watching some of the September 11th remembrances on tv, and how she noticed that there was an attempt to include some silence during the reading of the names. She commented that today, a "moment" of silence usually was fewer than 30 seconds and how uncomfortable people are even with that length of time.

Another Friend mentioned the difference between these events and those of the 10th anniversary remembrances of the last major attack on the United States on December 7, 1951. Then, she said, there was more time for silence and it felt more somber. The barrage of images, public speakers, movies and our current need to be publicly seen to be mourning/remembering made her uncomfortable.

We agreed that as a culture, as a country, we could benefit from more silence, particularly at times like these.

5.9.11

Notable Quotes

"Yes," said the Inimitable, smiling towards Ceclie Macready as if in apology for the interruption of his narration. "You know the incomparable and - I would dare say - unique feeling ne has when reading. The focus of attention to the exclusion of all sensory input, other than the eyes taking in the words, one has when entering into a good book?"

"Oh, rather!" cried Dickenson. "The world just fades away. All other thoughts just fade away! All that remains are the sights and sounds and characters and world created for us by the author! One might well be anaesthetisied to the mundane world around us. All readers have had that experience."

Drood, Dan Simmons

3.9.11

Missing the old you

I have a friend, but they're more like a "friend" than they used to be.

For the past while communication with this person has been difficult. By "difficult" I mean, I don't look forward to seeing the name in my inbox. We used to be close - I used to be able to say anything, without reservation. Yet somehow that's changed, and this isn't the person I feel comfortable talking to or turning to when I need advice or guidance.

I know that Irene's Friendship Blog has tons of tips what to do in situations like these. And there are others that I've spoken to about this person, and our relationship (or recent lack of), at least one of whom feels the same way. It's like we've moved on, we've changed, and the relationship (or the other person) hasn't. Or maybe that's the problem: they've changed, and in ways that I haven't. That's not the critical important part, the blame/reason part. It's the change that's important.

What's tricky, of course, is not wanting to hurt the other person. Explaining how things seem different, and difficult, is awkward. Gentle hints aren't working, and I suspect that a direct approach will either be ignored or cause more pain than I want to cause someone who was, for a while, a very important part of my life.

Yet as I sit here, cleaning up after the mess Hurricane Irene made of my kitchen (luckily few frozen foods were lost, but those that were caused quite an "uck"), I've been thinking about how this is perfect timing: it's September, start of a new academic year, and there's physical cleaning-up to be done, so why not also do some personal relationship cleaning-up? Maybe the best thing to do is send the message "I miss the old you" (or, more accurately, "I miss the old us") via e-mail, phone, text, smoke signals, or real snail mail.

Because I do, I really do miss the old you.

1.9.11

An Unending Darkness

Yes, this is a complaint post - thanks to my BFF Irene, there's no power at the Lazyhouse. None. And there's no clue from my utility (NYSEG, in case you want to call and complain on my behalf) when it'll be restored.

I'm not an unreasonable person, really. I understand the difficulties evaluating the extent of the damage, and repairing lines, etc.. What I don't understand is how this utility (essentially a monopoly under NYS rules about territories) can be so lacking in the communication department.
  • For the first 24-26 hours, nothing was posted about my street and its status.
  • Then we moved to "Assessing". 
  • Then the website indicated that our power would be restored by noon, Wednesday. 
  • And by six pm Tuesday the street had been removed from their site. 
Except... no power.
So I called them, only to get an automated message saying that power had been restored at 5:23pm that night.

Uh, no. Not really. Trust me, I can tell the difference between "power" and "no power".

And it wasn't just me, it was every one of my neighbors.

Another call, this time to complain that the communication and information was erroneous. Result? We're back on the list of streets missing power. But unlike virtually every other street in our town, we're neither "assessing" nor being assigned a restoration time/date.

One of my neighbors said that his homeowners policy has a $500 deductible for these things, and there's no way he'd lost $500 worth of food - and he has two 20-something children living in the house. Me? The Herd's food is fine. And there's no way I had $500 worth of food in my fridge/freezer. So, no luck there.

But I've had well over $500 loss in terms of inability to do work (although I am reading up a storm, pardon the pun), inconvenience and general irritation. Can't recoup that, can I? And NYSEG's spokespeople? So understanding (oddly, they've all been through a similar outage, so they do know what I'm going through).

But essentially useless.

Feh.