Posts

Sharp-Edged Thingies vs. It Was Never About The Donut

Image
I was recently asked to follow instructions with no explanation and I did it.  If  you know me in real life, you are probably amazed.

I heeded because I trust the person who made the request (which wasn't really a request.) There were times in my life when I would have gone straight to do the thing I was explicitly asked to not do.

The Wielder of Instructions has a history with me that's earned my trust - a series of honorable decisions made, not deference to a title nor membership in any particular club.

You need to let people know where you stand, and that can make you a potential target. Sort of a double-edged sword, isn't it?  Nobody wants to be cut.

People sometimes use templates to define their ethics and values:  clubs and churches are the easy ones to identify.  They like the idea of knowing what to expect - it's easy, maybe even a ready-made personality. When we want to parse the template, we're accused of cherry-picking the religion or forming a splinter…

Friendship and Surprise - Is this my Dating Profile? I'm KIDDING.

Image
I vacillate - sometimes daily - on the joys and tribulations of single life. I keep a handle on the joyful  by realising one day life will surprise me. Keep a watchful eye: no surprises, homeostasis preserved, single again today. Whew.

We present a facade to others - this is a fact. Your facade - we should call it your Archetype - may be (and should be) made up of actual, true, parts of you. It isn't going to be all of you because we filter, and rightly so. You choose which parts to put forth, possibly based on your read of the candidate. We like to be impressive, yeah? No.

I am not a name-tag emblazoned with HELLO I'M (they never really have commas, do they?) and so I should not present myself that way. I am smart and socially oblivious. I'm eclectic - quirky is the word Chantelle used for me - and I try to present ArchetypeMe as quirky because it will be so awesome when somebody gets me and isn't terrified.

It's also unfair because I'm judging in advance a pe…

Christmas 2012 - The Christmas of Bacon #parentingwin

Image
My daughter Alia tells people about me: "I literally tell people you're like shots of tequila. OK here and there but too much and you'll end up wandering the streets in an unknown city." Her friends still ask "What's your mom been up to? Does she have any stories?"  I still have to tell y'all about doing laundry while Alia was in the hospital with a bum knee, but in the meantime here's a family classic:  The Christmas of Bacon.

I was so proud of myself. And it was too easy. My daughter asked me to send her bacon for Christmas.

"I will," I said, because I am a Good Mum, "and you WILL be sorry." Because she's met me.

I found a single eBay seller who had bacon Christmas ornaments, candy canes, chap-stick, bandages, dental floss, pose-able figurines, and car air fresheners. And wrapping paper, and was willing to wrap the package for me before sending because I can't mail - this is a known thing. Also, if memory serves…

*POETRY WARNING* Spenserian Friend-zone

Image
That shiny paper is its own reward: 
It scampers out of reach so flittingly
And dances nearer of its own accord,
Much more intriguing when compared to me.

What value is not obvious to see
The worth at hand compared with effort spent,
But who am I to judge the cost to thee? 
A thing already won, irrelevant,

I'll take the status quo, but play is cruel intent.

Trigger-Happy vs. Dr. Who is my Favorite Therapist

Image
I'm about to add "trigger" to the list of catchphrases that should be retired due to misleading connotations. I've seen the term used by people (read: internet trolls) whose only goal is to cause reactions  for the purpose of some creepy short-term gratification. Triggers can be personal and polarizing:  mention the poet Robert Frost and I'm triggered immediately, because how you feel about him is going to impact how I feel about you.

The concept of  trigger in therapy has been extremely useful for people who have difficulty navigating every-day life. Using the word this way infers an element of surprise:  something sets off a knee-jerk reaction  founded in an unrelated traumatic event. Therapy can help you create a tool that works to keep you in control of yourself when you're triggered.

The phenomenon I'm talking about here does not present as surprise. It's the thing you know could hurt you, and you are aware the entire time you approach it.  You j…

"Based on Actual Events" - Memory vs. Reality in Writing

Image
Memory is perhaps our most enduring relationship with the springs of the imagination. It may be the imagination, in a very real way. It's an unfortunate miscue that the memoir and the personal essay are called "nonfiction." This puts them under the same umbrella as the daily newspaper, and people get all heated about whether you "allow" yourself to "make things up" or if you "tell the truth." These questions make it almost impossible to consider the mind at work on its experience, both inner and outer. If I say a tall woman entered the room in a red dress, am I being more "factual" than if I write a statuesque beauty swanned into the room in a scarlet gown? Memory and perception come together, often, to make imagination. They do not make invention.- Patricia Hampl, in an interview with Heidi McKinley at Creative Nonfiction, Daydream Believer The thing that's missing from my process of becoming a better writer is reading. I'v…

Spooky Action at a Distance - Soul-Mates and Kindred Spirits

Image
Quantum entanglement is a thing - a physical phenomenon - occurring when a pair of particles (or a group of them) have a correlation such that the state of one cannot be described independently of the other, even when separated by a large distance. Their relationship must be addressed in terms of the collection as a whole. If you take a measure of one, you will find same in the other (and possibly annihilate both, but that's a different tangent.) What affects one affects the whole system.  This is the baby-food version - I'm still learning.

Einstein called it "Spooky Action at a Distance." He had doubts, and those doubts spawned debate which continues today.

We talk a lot of smack about Soul Mates; some of us think we've found one, and some of us don't believe in such things. I think we can have many - it's just a matter of whether we locate them in this lifetime. When I tried to find support for my newly-formed Physics of Soul-Mates theory, I came up pre…

ELIZA vs. Internet I-Ching

Image
My biweekly book club is meeting Saturday.  I'm hoping as I read the text I'll magically find references to quantum entanglement because the book seems to work like that - art and science all over the place. I like the book because my brain works like that. I've been researching quantum entanglement while I study interpersonal relationships. Yeah.

ELIZA, the TherapistBot, has come up in group discussion before.  ELIZA first hit the scene in the '60s, courtesy of Joseph Weizenbaum, but is still learning today according to this website. Somewhere in my volume of GEB I have written in the margin "Look up ELIZA."  Today I happen to be reading at home, so I hied me to the computer and looked her up.  Here is an excerpt of our conversation: 


ELIZA's boring. She's possibly more boring than a human Rogerian therapist, which would be her greatest accomplishment. There really isn't any need for me to elaborate on these feelings, I promise.

On the same page of …

The Thing That Makes Me Happiest - Draft 4.5

Image
The same day I planted irises in the yard outside my Tiny Cottage, I pulled up a bunch of weeds that usually grow so tall I can't see my car behind them.  I also broadcast a collection of seeds - broadleaf and holy basils, poppies, tomatoes, zinnias - around the stump next to the driveway.  And then I forgot all about the project.

Farming is hard work, not just from the perspective of the farmer but also from the perspective of the seed.  Everything's an enemy:  the sun, the rain, the bugs, the birds, the other plants.  As a new sprout you are in constant danger of being eaten, strangled, or baked. 
As the weeds grew back in around the stump, I noticed a zinnia standing a little taller than everybody else.  It seemed to be the only product of my sowing to survive, all cute and limey-green.

And then some days later, the thing happened that makes me happiest: 
Another human came along and, with no idea that I was responsible for anything, made improvements.  Somebody cleared ou…

#oldfacebookposts - On the Topic of My 47th Birthday

Image
I'm not sure how I got here - yes, I am; I'm looking for a reference to entangled photon pairs or Lewis Pairs or something from a conversation I know happened - but I got distracted copy/pasting things reported on my marriage. I might need this stuff when I finally write the book.

I love this picture. It is so very me. Even if you haven't met me in person, well you did now.  On my middle finger is the 5-year Anniversary ring I bought for myself - a battle trophy. One of the necklaces was a gift from a friend in 1988. The shirt was a thrift-store find I wore in Istanbul. I did my own hair - cut and color.

And here it is, sort of inception-style, because the copy was written four years after the photo was taken. At the time of the writing, I was studying The Art of War by Sun Tzu and applying it to the divorce process. It worked marvelously.

I remember this day well. I was angry; I wanted to leave my husband and this life even then. I didn't want to go to a fucking birt…

Sort of a Dear John Letter

Image
I thought about your question, and I have an answer: 
If we had stayed together...well, we didn't because we couldn't.  You misunderstand when you think I was finding myself, and maybe I misunderstand when I think you were finding yourself and think you still are. In truth, we both understand ourselves very well, and the one miscommunication - me not getting what you meant when you said 'you can do whatever you want...' - can probably be extrapolated into an entire relationship of What Would Have Happened, if we'd stayed together. 
It would have been passionate and messy. We would have been stubborn enough to stay together for far too long and harbor too many grudges. We would have cooked for each other, broken furniture, cleaned up the mess, broken each other's hearts over and again.  
I may have to write this story just for the fun of it.  Or maybe I just did.

Happy Fourth of July, No Matter What The Founding Fathers Intended.

Image
The first English Expedition to explore Roanoke Island in 1584 was a fact-finding mission bent on gaining land as a means of wealth and strategic advantage for the British Crown.

A second expedition came in 1585 as a military and scientific mission, far from peaceful. The existing citizens were disrespected and blood was spilled.

In July of 1587, a third expedition to the island came with women and children, intending to control the property by permanently settling British colonial families. Not  only did the attempt fail, but the settlers disappeared completely, possibly integrating with the natives in order to survive. The only clue was the mysterious word 'CROATOAN' carved into a tree.

In 1607 Jamestown was founded. Christian white settlers became permanent fixtures in the new British territory.

Expeditions sent by France, the Netherlands, Spain, and Portugal were carrying out similar missions. Their narratives have not been blended into our historical tradition, nor have …

Eddie's Girl and Random Vintage Guitars

Image
Eddie's girl had told him:

"If you're gonna propose to me, you need to make sure of three things. First, make sure my nails are done. Second, make sure there's a photographer. Third, make sure my family is there."

Eddie said no to the third one.

I was enlisted by my office-mom Stacy and Auntie Shantel to be the photog. For the record, I am older than both of them.

That conversation went like this:

"There goes Debora. She'll do it. Debora, you got anything going on August 1st? You do now."

 I've shot 2 weddings and a birthday party for coworkers. I'm the unofficial official.

Eddie wanted to pop the question at the time and place where he'd asked his girl for a date the very first time -  Waterfront Park in Georgetown, DC, at midnight.

"Cool - I'm in." I told him I'd do the job for the cost of parking.

Since I had to be in DC on a Saturday night, I went camouflaged: skeleton dress, bow tie, combat boots, blue lipstick. S…

Print This Out and Remember It Every Single Day.

Image
Question Everything. 

...then find resolution. And question again.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far away,  someone taught me the Scientific Method and I believed. It just totally makes sense and can apply to everything. 
But somewhere along the way, many people just stopped doing it. 
Maybe they didn't believe, or believed someone or something else. 
Or maybe nobody ever taught them the Scientific Method.
Replicate, People. Every Day.

To Class of 1983 from The Breakfast Club

Image
I believe everyone does the best they can, at any given moment, with what they have to work with right then. I also believe for this very reason that you can't weigh other people's struggles for them.

It's been a long and painful journey for me to believe these tenets enough to voice them and share in hopes that others can live a little better.

I was surprised to be contacted by PCHS Class of 1983, and I can't say the contact was welcome. I didn't even graduate. On a counselor's advice I dropped out with the intention of earning a GED and proceeding to college, where my learning style would be better served. For reasons that are none of your business, that isn't what happened.

When I read the email sent by the Reunion Planning Committee, I responded with anger.  I was bullied from middle school until the time I chose to stop showing up at PCHS in 1983, right before the finish line. I felt my former classmates were setting me up with this invitation, like C…

Now.

Image
I've finally answered my question: I know what I want. 
I want to stop. I want to stop fighting. I want to stop losing - people and in general - I want to stop dying before my time. 

I want to stop being confused.

I want to flow like a spring from the earth and help everything around me to grow and bloom, to move with Grace toward the completion of life-cycle, like a catalyst.
I want to decay at the right moment, and I want to savor it.
Annandale is, for now, a safe place to stop.  I will practice stopping.
The universe is cyclical. I want to occupy my niche, curled up comfortably, at peace.

Social Media vs. Real-Life Socialising, aka Where Do I Fit?

Image
Meetup may be the most terrifying brand of social media today. I say this having joined two stellar groups, including Mosaic Writers - Thanks, guys.  You are my therapy session.

There are piles of Meetups for writers. This tells me that other writers also seek either collaboration or feedback, but that they aren't finding the type they want in the pre-existing meetup groups. Maybe the originators are Moes, trying to launch their own vision, or make it proximal to them. Commuting is a pain.

There are piles of Ladies-Only Meetups of different varieties. The one that just made its way into my in-box was Analytical Babes.  Clever labeling, Babes.  You made me look.

AB has a lofty set of goals which distills into just one: self-improvement. They list the things they like and most of them were either holistic or academic - I note with interest that "judging" is there, maybe a typo - and a preferred age demographic of Over 30. 

I feel like this is going to morph into dating s…

The Möbius Cakewreck

Image
June 17 is the birthday of Maurits Cornelius Escher. You know his work; if you didn't know his name before, now you do. You're welcome.

I've told you before about my awesome book club - we're reading Gödel, Escher, Bach - An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas R. Hofstadter for over a year now. It's a pretty dense book.

The scheduled meeting was June 16, the day before Escher's birthday, so I thought we needed a birthday cake. Möbius Cupcakes?  Möbius Chicken Strips!

And then I remembered reading how a bagel can be cut so that the two halves are linked. (You, too, can make a Mathematically Correct Breakfast.)

I hied me to the dollar store, looking for plastic ants who could march along my cake like the famous Escher etching of ants on a möbius band. No ants, but I did find alligators, which relate to a different Escher work.

I bought a bundt-style cake at the grocery and attempted to cut it möbius-style like the bagels. My plan was to cut, and then freeze, so the …