Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy holidays.

This "holiday vacation" has been kicking my ass. First of all, I woke up with a blocked ear a week ago, and the beginnings of a head cold or some sinus thing that never really got off the ground. The ear's still blocked, though it's not causing as many problems as it did last week: vertigo, nausea. Now it's more generally annoying and when the cat meows, as he does often, it sounds like he's meowing on both sides of my head as well as inside my head. I am anxious for this blockage to dissipate because starting next week I will be teaching voice every day and I need my damn ears.

Then two nights ago I woke up with an actual stomachache, which never happens. It may have been the Chinese takeout from the night before, or it could have been a little bug courtesy of Jude (who barfed all day yesterday), but the upshot is that I had serious GI distress and serious malaise complete with full body aches. I couldn't get off the couch or eat anything and every time I stood up: nausea! I think I slept for about 20 hours and then sent the Brit out for applesauce. Today I'm okay--just kind of wobbly.

In between all of that, this happened. I don't know if you have to know Jude for this to be funny, but I laugh every time I watch it.



This was at my sister's family fondue party on Saturday. Phat beats provided by my brother. I can't really recommend fondue as a convalescent food or a food for optimum health, but it sure is fun.

I'm leaving for my stint in Collegetown in a few measly days. Hopefully I can muster some energy today to do some preparation. But I'm going to go easy on myself because that's obviously the message my beleaguered body is trying to send me.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A good poem for Christmas Eve.

The Conceiving

Now
you are in the ark of my blood
in the river of my bones
in the woodland of my muscles
in the ligaments of my hair
in the wit of my hands
in the smear of my shadow
in the armada of my brain
under the stars of my skull
in the arms of my womb
Now you are here
you worker in the gold of flesh

- Penelope Shuttle

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My bad, bad, bad eyes.

I had an eye exam the other day where there was a bit of "most people's eyes stop changing in their mid-20s, but that's not the case for you, ho ho ho!" So I now have new lenses and a few boxes of perfectly good Acuvue2 contacts in a perfectly outdated prescription. Do you wear these? Are your eyes (get ready) -6.50 with an 8.7 base curve? I will send three sealed boxes of contacts to you. I hate to waste them and no one will take them back a year or more after the fact.

As you were.

Popcorn.

Do you know about this?

It is one of the most delicious snacks upon which I have ever snacked. It's ludicrous. Every time I buy it, I have a conversation about it with the cashier, which the cashier invariably starts by saying something about the best popcorn in the world. If you're vegan you won't be tempted, but the rest of yous: it's SMOKED. It's CHEESY. It's FAINTLY SWEET. It's SLIGHTLY HERBAL. There is SALT. And, it turns out, you can order it online for less than it costs in stores. (ETA: the bags are smaller than the ones I get at Whole Paycheck, so I was dead wrong about the value. Still: popcorn in the mail!) So yeah, it's 8 AM and I've already used my credit card.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Nettwerk.

So about Facebook. I joined a few years ago because all of my first year college students were talking about it and I wanted to see what was up. And I was immediately creeped out by it because I could see everyone's full profiles and it was all 18 year olds partying etc, things that a (so-called) professor knows about but does not need to be privy to in any detail. So I more or less refused to get on board with it, though I did spend some time wondering how college social life develops differently in the age of online networking. These kids had all met their roommates on the internet before they showed up at school--so there were no weird pre-matriculation phone calls about who brings what to the dorm.

Anyway, fast-forward: it's the end of 2008 and I'm officially late to the party, but Facebook has changed, la la la, it's not just for the kids anymore, and now my parents and your parents are using it. So I joined up and there's been an explosion of online friendship. It's also been the week that my whole family, with the notable exceptions of the Brit and my sister Molly, got on Facebook, and it has been pretty hilarious. It's not like we need a vehicle for keeping in touch, either, but in real life we don't have comment threads about old family photos and our bad outfits.

What I like about the culture that's grown up around Facebook is the way it demystifies contact between old friends and acquaintances. I had the same feeling when long-distance calling became a regular part of cell phone service. I don't know about you, but back when I had to deal with long-distance charges to call someone across the country, catching up via phone was like a huge hairy deal and you didn't do it unless you had some time set aside. Both parties knew it was costing someone money, too.

Subtracting the long-distance charge, for me, had the effect of shortening the distance between me and the people I'd like to chat with. I'm really not a phone person, so this didn't make a massive difference in my life, but I do remember, very clearly, the first time I realized that the lack of virtual distance had made casual contact with long-distance friends much more normal: a friend from a summer program called me just to say hi and we chatted for 5 minutes. It was just like checking in with anyone else who lives in my area code.

And that's really how Facebook seems to me. I'm having quick exchanges with people I haven't talked to since I was a teenager, whereas if I'd previously made the effort to track these folks down and reintroduce myself, even via email, it might have been strange or intrusive or at the very least a momentous reunion. But on Facebook you can just move immediately to banter without "how ARE you? what are you UP to?" Or you can have a totally superficial interaction with the previous queries re: well-being and activities, and not feel compelled to continue the conversation. Contact made; goodwill established. I like that.

But if all the foregoing sounds like a thinly-veiled justification for my addiction to Scramble, the Boggle ripoff on Facebook, well, you're not far off the mark. I know it will pass, but for the moment all letters are rearranging themselves into anagrams and component words and I might be sporting some sort of incipient repetitive stress injury from the frenzied typing and clicking. I have hot plans of attacking a huge pile of mending this weekend (whee, how LHOTP of me, except I should be doing mending on Wednesdays), but I bet you I end up playing Scramble instead.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Pride and Prejudice.

Retold Facebook style.

I have more to say about Facebook but I'll save that for a time when I'm not due at a meeting.

On love.

Someone named John Welwood was quoted in my horrorscope today:
Everyone knows perfect love in their heart, for the human heart is a direct channel through which absolute love pours into this world. At the same time, human relationships are imperfect expressions of that love. This creates a painful gap between the perfect love we know in our hearts and the imperfect, incomplete ways it is expressed in our relationships. When we imagine that relative human love should be something it is not -- absolutely unconditional -- we suffer disappointment and wind up distrusting love itself. We also hold grievances against others for not loving us rightly or against ourselves for not having won that love. This gives rise to a universal human wound -- the sense of not feeling loved for who we are.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Alignment.

Last night I looked up on my way home and noticed an extra-beautiful crescent moon with two big, shiny planets lined up next to it. It was noticeable enough that even a non-skywatcher like me could tell that something unusual was happening. Turns out it was an alignment with Venus and Jupiter. The moon, Venus, and Jupiter are the three brightest objects in the sky (Venus, in fact, is so bright that it occasionally drew antiaircraft fire in WWII). They won't line up this way again with this much visibility until November 18, 2052. It pays to look up once in awhile.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Oh man.

"Until one is committed, there is a hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now." --Goethe (or whoever--there is faulty attribution all over the place)

On another note, do you remember how you'd make a mix tape and there would be like a scrap of tape left at the end and you didn't ever waste it? What little niblet of a song did you put at the ends of mix tapes? The ones I remembered earlier (why?) while I was ironing are De La Soul's "Delacratic" and They Might Be Giants's "Minimum Wage."

Also, I finally joined Facebook. Everyone I know has a baby and more often two or three. You are busy peoples!

And: once I fell off NaBloPoMo, I decided to stay on the ground, obviously. It was nice down there. Meanwhile, the long weekend was not long enough, the laziness was not lazy enough, but the books were very booky, and the cozy was very cozy, and the togetherness was nearly non-stop. One day I read The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which was as good as it's made out to be, and the next day I read For Planets and Kings, which is pretty good if you like those "displaced Midwesterner at the exotic East Coast college" kinds of books. I went running for the first time in ages. My back didn't twang afterward, either, so I shall just take it slow and steady and learn how to do it all over again. I didn't post any recipes on my other blog. I am shocked that it's December.