Showing posts from August, 2018

Things I Do Differently Now That I'm Older

Match my underthings and wear cowboy boots and spend money on a good pillow and enjoy brussels sprouts and avoid cheap wine and whatever I want and let friends go when they want to go (this one has been the most difficult, more than brussels sprouts)Start doing all these things now, if not yesterday. It will save you time
tears, not so much

but that's okay.  

*this post is dedicated to Al, who appreciates my boots and lingerie even though he hasn't seen any of them.

Unpacking - aka Take Time to Digest What You Don't Know You've Learned.

I had a really great week; now that I've had time to wash and put away the clothes, all the new data input is gelling for me.

Like an onion or an ogre, there are several layers to unpeel here. Let's try chronological:
A week ago today I was flying home from an excellent if brief weekend with Moe. We need a few days of face-time to unpack all we discovered, and that's just not going to happen any time soon. We'll do what we can.

Over the weekend I met with my book club and discussed the differences between the John Nash Equilibrium and the Pareto Principle. How revenge or punishment can be used to enforce later collusion. The difference between collusion and collaboration.

I shared some of my photos with one of my favorite clients, and he taught me how to Instagram. He's lived life truly and knows things, and he likes my work (both photography and hotel reservations.) He's an old guy, which just goes to show that you don't always need a 5-year-old to unders…

Broken Appliances as Metaphor for Love - #parentingwin

The Toaster is an old family tradition that has become a metaphor for perfect familial love. The DVD player is now a toaster. All things are toaster if they demonstrate how you appreciate someone's efforts to worry about your welfare, even if those efforts fall pothole-flat.

In 2000, I was still relatively new as a front desk agent at Palm Mountain Resort. The customer service phone rang; I picked it up.
"Our toaster doesn't work. Can I just bring it down?" Um
"Um, sure." I hung up. I turned to Brandy, "They're calling from a balcony room. Their toaster doesn't work..?"
"Um," said Brandy. "We don't provide toasters."
"They're bringing it down. Do you think engineering will have another one for them?" 
Brandy laughed. "No. I'll call them and ask..." Brandy picked up the phone; she laughed again. I'm guessing the engineer said Um.  A toaster plopped on the desk.
"Here it is.&quo…

Unpopular Topic: Healing for Not-Minorities, aka Make America Safe Again

All of you who would like to see White People marginalised and want to know how we'd feel about that, pay attention. I'm about to hand it to you. With a caveat.I just got off the phone with relatives in Michigan. There is no way they would cop to having weakness, shame, trauma. People who live outside the Privilege Bubble have to admit weakness and shame every day. They have to check themselves to make sure they aren't about to offend someone. People who live inside the Privilege Bubble are allowed to be offended. They are shocked when their offense doesn't matter.

Many White people don't understand the term White Privilege, and this makes sense because it's an awkward label for the bubble they grew up in as "normal."  This is normal, so what's the big deal? Why can't you just be normal?

They don't see the edge of the bubble that's been so obvious to people whose "normal" lay outside of it.  They didn't have anybody …

*POETRY WARNING* Another American Pie (much love to Mike Doughty)

Time stops in muffler shops.

Reading Slanky while I wait

From somewhere there was sweet perfume
While Don sang me a maudlin tune

Words and notes began to meld
With the spark of heat striking
Metal and I couldn't separate them,

and it didn't matter...

There we were all in one place -
You, me, the music, the spark, the Slanky,
The old man in the khaki pants chewing his calluses

And the greasy, gaptoothed-grinning muffler repair man.


Cut to 20 years later, from IAD through LAX to the Other Washington,
I find this poem in a 20-year-old journal thrown offhand into my travel-bag.

The universe is cyclical. We are all...

Further Reading:

Slanky - M.Doughty

Don't just read it; buy it. I guarantee at least one new perspective for you - Cookie Monster if nothing else.  I was mentally reciting Outlying Seattle as I rode the LINK to SeaTac.  My favorite is the one about butter-churning, though. Also, I want to say the title of the poem referenced is actually Bicostal,…

Mental Mapping and Dream Interpretation

I had an epiphany on my way to work, in the form of a false memory. Bear with me here - this may get a bit convoluted.

A chain of tangentially-related but mostly insignificant memories marched through the front of my brain: saw a car that reminded me of a former coworker who drove one; couldn't remember her name but remembered a different coworker's name. Remembered the bellman who gave that coworker a nickname. Nothing important.

But then I realised I was remembering the wrong bellman. If you have worked in hotels, or stayed in them often, you know there's That Guy Bellman - the one who's been there forever and knows everyone and everything. He's a pleasant fellow and you are glad of his welcome when you arrive, whether you are a guest or employee.  The incidence of there being That Guy at every hotel is an isomorphism. The pattern is so similar that you can mentally map it from one set to the other.

In my false memory, I clearly remembered That Guy from the last…

The Things Nobody Tells You, aka How to Be a Girl

I spent a minute today remembering the awesome awkwardness of being a teenage girl. While I waited in the grocery parking lot to get in my car, a mother coaxed her daughter out of their SUV's back seat. The girl was lanky, blushing, unsure of the outfit that her friends probably approved. Her mom smiled behind her and winked at me as they passed. She was really happy with her girl.

I was a teenage girl, you know, between the tree-climbing moments, the bookworm moments, the crazed artistic moments when I threw and broke things I'd made with my own hands.

You feel yourself growing into new bones. You know other people - mostly boys and nosy aunties - are checking your front-side for bumps, signs of some imagined ripeness you can't comprehend. Sometimes you actually do feel ripe, and it's both glorious and horrible; you wonder if you should choose. You can't choose, vacillating between that thresh-hold of newness and the terror of familiarity being stripped away. It&…

My New Normal vs. Counterfactuals

When I arrived at my Tiny Cottage after my writers' group meeting, I found this little yellow bucket hanging from the doorknob for the second time, and I knew there would be a message therein.

The bucket came to me from my daughter Alia, filled with flowers for Mother's Day. It sits on a wooden easel outside my door for no reason other than I've chosen to not deal with either one. The first time I found the bucket hanging I was unnerved (imaginary banjo music seeped into my brain) but I found a note inside from the lady who cleans the landlords' home.  She was worried about Tigger, a lanky dark orange Tabby, that was mad at her and hiding or lost in the woods.  That first time, she left her phone number in the bucket, so I called to tell her Tigger was asleep in the kitchen and just fine.

Today, she left a note with orange flowers from the Trumpet Vine (which is creeping into my house through any crack it can find) and a thank-you, and a message that Tigger still lov…

Learning How to Be Wrong (Also Happy Birthday, Baby Yaya)

I got into playground arguments over truth as early as first grade. I read a lot of books and I had pretty good recall - still do.  If I see something in print, good chance I'll remember most of it. So I was prepared to defend my knowledge, to the death if necessary, out among the chain-swings.

I can't say with certainty that I'd fight for the same truths I defended back then. Kipling still wrote Toomai of the Elephants; yet Pluto did a stint as Not-a-Planet not that long ago. Thanks to other intelligent and searching people in the world, science continues to make advancements. Truth doesn't change, but what we know of it does.

There are many ways to be wrong. When I started writing this post I was going after How to Cop to Having Been Incorrect, because that's like the seventh layer of adulting. On the grand scale of how to be wrong, though, it would serve us well to have several options in the toolbox.
Be willing and ready to backpedal.  Willing and ready are not…

Why Linear Thinking is Bollocks (and thank goodness I can't do it)

My book club has invested more than a year trying to define intelligence, consciousness, meaning, emergence. 
Dr. Douglas R. Hofstadter, in his book Godel, Escher, Bach - an Eternal Golden Braid, said: "In the early days it was assumed that knowledge came in sentence-like packets, and that the best way to implant knowledge into a program was to develop a simple way of translating facts into small passive packets of data. Then every fact would simply be a piece of data, accessible to the programs using it. This is exemplified by chess programs, where board Positions are coded into matrices or lists of some sort and stored efficiently in memory where they can be retrieved and acted upon by subroutines.
The fact that human beings store facts in a more complicated way was known to psychologists for quite a while and has only recently been rediscovered by AI workers, who are now confronting the problems of "chunked" knowledge, and the difference between procedur…

Survivor's Remorse - Leaving the Demons' Door Open

My friend Diana has multiple disabilities and, like any of us, has good days and bad days. Unlike many of us, her bad days are slowly getting worse and her good days are starting to have further distance between them.  On the long graph, her health is unlikely to improve.

As I separate myself from the life I had with my second husband, nice but toxic on many levels, I am slowly getting better. My health, my attitude, my productivity...someone complimented me because he suddenly finds me bordering the realm of Attractive. I'm not impressed, but it's worth mention this time - today I am not wearing makeup nor did I make any effort to be presentable. Dood finally nailed it: I look happy. I am happy. Diana is happy, too, but she is not getting better.

We share many interests and have deep conversations, not often enough. Diana sometimes doesn't feel up to it, or so I assume - I ask how she's feeling today; she says she feels fine. I could believe I'm imagining the en…

Redux: What We Are Not vs. Math, Art,and Lies Our Bodies Tell - originally posted 2018

My book club is wrapping upGödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid in November. We enjoy our digressions so much that they leak over into emails between meetings. Barney Sperlin sent us Mathcircler Dr. Alon Amit's excerpt from a discussion on Quora:
Math is not something boys are better at, it's not a spectator sport, it's not a system of arbitrary's not easier or better in base 12 or base π, it's not a young person's game, it's not useless in the real world, it's not beholden to the real world, it's not learnable in one year or from one book or one's not beyond your grasp if you recognize that it will take time and dedication and active effort...From Keith Ramsay, Pee-Haich-Dee in mathematics
Mathematics is not just the most stable part of our favorite theories of the world.Replace "math is" with "I am."   You see anything useful in there? I do.

I also found in my box this morning an email …

Be the Gravy

Before you can accept people for who they are and what they have to offer

you have to accept yourself and what you can offer to yourself. It is a lonely place to start, but absolutely necessary. 

If someone matters to you, tell them. They may ask how or why; you don't have to answer. You can answer with, "I don't know." 

Our culture tends to place an inordinate amount of value on romantic social relationships, pretty frosted decorations, when what we need is the nutritious meal. There are so many ways that people matter to us, some seemingly unimportant. They're very important. Eventually you may tell yourself why these people matter to you, and maybe you can share with them.

Tell the people that matter to you:  You are not frosting.

For yourself:  maybe you can't manage a full nutritious meal right now. Start with what you have. You probably have some fat in the refrigerator, flour in the cupboard (and you can't remember how it even got there.) Just add water…

The Attention Desert

I was up shiny at 6:00 AM today.  I'm going to try to make this a habit - wish me strength because luck's got nothing to do with it.  I need to change the state of play and garner more useful results for my efforts.

I say all the time that I'm allergic to waiting: it makes me itchy.  The submission process for publication is very itchy.  I try to mitigate by submitting on a somewhat regular basis so that I get some return in a steady flow.  It doesn't always work well; besides that I have to actually send something, there are many factors that affect the response time from prospective publishers.  Scratch.  I do love my rejection letters, but they are so long in coming.  Scratch, scratch.

I have Delayed Gratification Challenges.  I am learning to measure time week to week instead of minute to minute, but it isn't easy for me.  As it relates to human connection the concept becomes infinitely more complicated.

Just like with publishers, you can't tell your frien…