Monday, March 2, 2015

Thank you

I'm feeling overwhelmed and full of gratitude by the response to my essay.  I've heard from so many people who have sent me their poetry, shared fears for their children, mentioned me on Twitter, and written from jails and mental institutes and kitchen tables.

Many of you have asked me for a list of poems that might be helpful, and when I read that, I get a little teary.  I can't tell if your ask is casual, in the category of, "Oh, I'll be in your area, where are the cool restaurants?", or more akin to laetrile treatments.  You've exhausted everything else, and the desperation of loving children who are in peril causes you to grasp at straws, seek guidance from an ill-equipped stranger.  Because you've tried everything else.  So I'm reluctant to ignore.

What I want to say to you is this:

It's not the poems that caused my daughter grow up to be the healthy and strong woman she is today.  It's what she was born to be, as are your children.  The poems kept me busy, out of her way, and feeling useful while she did the hard work of growing up.  She decided to stay on the one way conveyor belt into adulthood where you begin to understand that the problems in the world are huge, possibly unsolvable.  My poem project was akin to something you would do to keep your toddler busy:  "Here honey, while Mommy cooks dinner, could you move these pennies, one at a time, from one jar to the other one?  Good job!"  

I spent a long time thinking about shoes, and trying to understand what they meant to my daughter versus what they mean to me.  For me, safety, comfort, habit.  For her at that time, they seemed to represent selling out.  I'm incredibly proud of her for how deeply she cares about justice and right and wrong, and how hard she works to make the world a better place, and how unwilling she is to sell out. 

For those of you who have children who are struggling, my only advice is to find that thing that matters to them, and honor it in the most tender, respectful way you possibly can.  Give them a long leash, even though it's terrifying.  If you don't know what that thing is, study them until you do know.  Give them legitimate sources of power in their life.

I tend to think in metaphors.  During that time, I envisioned my daughter as swimming across the cold hostile ocean from childhood towards adulthood.  I was rowing a boat along side her, not fully understanding what it was like to be in the water with sharks, taking on unexpected mouthfuls of briny water, and getting pummeled by waves.  It wasn't my job to tell her how to do it, or why to do it.  I was just there to hand her a sandwich or a poem every so often, cheer her on, and be her biggest fan with the hope that she'd keep swimming.  Maybe a metaphor will help you too.

I wish you all a thousand blessings.  May your children grow up to be loving and wise, because they were treated with love and wisdom.

Oh, and your question about poems: here's a good place to start.  

Friday, February 27, 2015

Shoe poetry

My essay is up!  Thanks for reading!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Horoscopes: No More Emergency Water

Pisces (2/19 – 3/20):  I finally threw out my stash of emergency water.  But first, I acted out the scene where I'd need it -- I set it on the floor across the room, and crawled toward it as if I'd been struggling toward it for days, maybe because my legs didn't work, or perhaps I needed to stay low for some reason (shooters outside?), or maybe I'd been transported into a Wyeth painting.  I drank as if my life depended on it, as if this two ounces of expired horrible-tasting water was all that stood between me and death.  Pisces, I dunno.  I think that when 2 ounces of icky water is all you've got, death might not be so bad.  Your week will be full of grace and birthday festivities.  Enjoy!

Doesn't this look like an orchid?  Guess what?
It's red cabbage, left in the fridge for waaaay too
long.  And poof, it turned into an orchid.
Aries (3/21 - 4/19):  Are you wondering why I had the water?  Yeah, I know.  So, there's a parenting ritual that started sometime between the time I was a child and became a mother.  It involves sending an emergency kit to school with your child.  They give you a list of what should be in it:  water, a snack, a comfort object, and a comforting note from you.  I always got hung up on the note.  What do you write that's true and comforting when you're beloved children are in the situation where they need to drink two ounces of water from a foil satchel?  
Dear Child of Mine Whom I Love More Than Life Itself,
I'm so sorry I can't be there now.  I'm don't know why I'm not  -- it's possible I'm hopelessly trapped under several tons of rubble, or perhaps the apocalypse or the shooter got me first.   You know I'd be there if I could.  
But at least you have this cool package! Six ounces of water, a granola bar, a teddy bear, and this note!  Right?   
Advice from beyond:  Listen to your teacher.  Drink the water, but look for more!  You've got less than three days to live without it.  I hope you make it!! :-)  And I hope you like the snack.  I hope you find this letter comforting.  
P.S.  I loved every minute of being your mother, except this one.  I hope you get to grow up.

Taurus (4/20 – 5/20):  And how is it that water expires?  See the date?  2007.  If water gets old the same way baked goods or meat do, we're so doomed, because we're drinking the same water that's been around, well, since the beginning of time.  But suddenly, we put a few ounces in a plastic sacket (is sacket a word?  It should be!) and it goes stale?  Luckily there's no expiration date on you, Taurus.

Gemini (5/21 - 6/21):  I've been super excited about Amazon delivering packages by drone, because nothing says "we're in the future" like clicking the "buy-it-now" button and having a tiny unmanned spacecraft materialize to deliver your next print cartridge or even a brand new puppy!  But when I start thinking about drones, I end up thinking about Mars, and argh, I know, I bring this up every week, but please don't make me go live on another planet.  Oh, how I love this one.  Gemini, you should stay on this planet too, unlike that guy from Bellevue (the city, not the hospital -- but I can totally see how'd get that confused.) He's one of the finalists for going to the red planet, ready to say goodbye to everyone and everything he's ever known and hurtle off into space.  When asked if he'd get bored, he said no, because he has his kindle.  I shudder as I type this.  Gemini, pact:  Let's stay on this planet FOREVER.

Cancer (6/22 – 7/21):  I've been thinking I need a new mattress.  Well, that's an exaggeration -- I think it for about five minutes once every morning when I get up and my back hurts, and I wonder if it's related to my 20 year old bed.  And then I promptly stop thinking about it, the way I do with things that involve spending money, going to stores that are complicated or fluorescent, or committing to things that you have to sleep with every night.  It sounds like a complete hassle -- first, mustering up the courage to cross the river (I don't think they don't sell mattresses on this side.) And all the other steps that I won't spell out because your life is hard enough already, Cancer.  But I picture all the steps involved and act them out in my head, overcoming one after the next: finding time, getting in the car, finding the store.  I even imagine that I've worn nice socks because I'm guessing I'll take my shoes off to try on beds?  Is that how it goes?  But I get stuck right there.  I take the shoes off, and then I balk at imagining what's next.  Do I actually take a little nap in the store?  Because how else would you know?  Don't you want to sleep with something before you marry it?  I mean, one quick coffee date and you bring the giant thing home forever?  That seems wrong.   And it occurs to me:  why is a mattress left to personal choice?  It's not like some of us are made out of different materials.  We all have spines and muscles and organs and a heart that beats.  Shouldn't there be a right way to sleep, a definitive mattress choice?  Shouldn't the FDA tell me what to buy?  Is there a mattress pyramid?  Couldn't I just yell my BMI into the sky and a drone will drop the perfect bed for me?  Cancer, I don't want to sound alarming, but you should wear good socks this week.  

Leo (7/23 – 8/22):  I know.  You think we should get to have preferences in our mattress.  I guess so.  Maybe.  But think about the basic human needs:  food, sleep, water. We've identified daily dietary requirements.  When it's left to choice, there's always that guy sitting on the couch eating pop tarts who eventually dies of organ failure, and the fire department has to excavate him from his childhood bedroom, although he's 28.  Is it the same with mattresses?  I wish someone would just tell me the right mattress for my species.  Oh, you're a human?  Click on this button, and the proper mattress will arrive tomorrow.  

Virgo (8/23 – 9/22):   The saddest thing ever is that the gorgeous, gangly, un-realistically white trumpeter swans that winter in our little valley are dying.  The rumor is that they're ingesting lead shot that remains in farm fields where the swans graze.  I can't tell you how heartbreaking it is to see a swan bobbing in a puddle, head down.  It's the swan equivalent of the floating belly up dance that fish eventually do.  Ugh.  One species at a time, Virgo.

Libra (9/23 – 10/22):  I was wondering recently why it is that I don't eat much fruit, and I finally figured it out.  It's sticky, and it's a commitment.  I tend to avoid sticky commitments whenever possible.  Take an apple:  you have to bite in with all your teeth - no nibbling.  And once you've taken that first bite, you're in for a whole apple, and it rapidly starts getting brown, and suddenly you're in a hurry to gobble this sticky orb that's splashing juice, and you can't resume your normal life until you've chewed through the whole thing, and then there's the core -- do you eat that, or find a way to dispose of it?  I have no complaint with the taste.  Or an orange:  First you have to peel it, and then, again, it starts drying out right away so you have to eat it all, and your hands get sticky.  I won't even get into the peach, T.S.  No, I don't dare.  So I've taken to roasting fruit.  All of it.  Try it.  Let me know what you think.  Bring roasted apples and goat cheese to your next potluck, Libra.  People will love you for it.  (Of course, they love you anyway.)

Scorpio (10/23 – 11/21):  There's an artist who's described as "collaborating with the bees to create art".   I'm not saying these pieces aren't cool, but is she really collaborating?  It looks more like she puts stuff out and the bees make the art.  But, if we're adopting this loose definition of collaboration, I'd like to announce that I'm collaborating with the spiders and mice in my house -- we've been working together on a gigantic art project.  We call it, "Home."  It's adorned with small and large webs and other items we made together.  I might let you see it when it's finished.  Leo, let the line between art and home be blurry.

Sagittarius (11/22 – 12/21):  Oh, my loved ones are all suffering, grieving, grieving.  Learning how to love and the why of it as well.  Arrgh.  How I wish I could spare you from that.  But in the end, deep true feelings are all we have.  Stick with them, feel instead of avoiding.  It's why we're on this planet, Sag.  You have all my blessings.

Capricorn (12/22 - 1/19): I had a dream last night where I was supposed to solve a really complicated formula -- there were exponents and parenthesis and lots of x and y and square roots and so on.  And the answer was supposed to get me somewhere, I'm not sure where or why, but I couldn't solve it, couldn't solve, kept trying and felt dumber and dumber, so I started climbing up the snowy mountain, and guess what?  There was a pig roasting on a spit.  I think that means things don't have to be solved, they just have to be.  We know what we know, Cap. Whether things get solved or not, the truth lives on.  Thankfully.  Grateful for you, Cap, on this day.

Aquarius (1/20 – 2/18):  There's some amazing research that shows that crows recognize faces, which is definitely more than I can claim.  If my own kids wear a different hat, I hardly can be counted on to identify them.  But more than recognizing humans (that's seriously amazing -- can you fathom being able to recognize one crow from another?) - they also appear to mourn their dead.  So be kind to the crows.  They're grieving too.  In fact, be kind to the living things.  Even if we can't all recognize you, it's still just a good way to be.  Enjoy your week, Aquarius.

And one final thought, for you dear readers who make it all the way to the end.  My essay will be in the NYT next Sunday, 3/1.  It comes out a little earlier online, and will be posted here.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Horoscopes: The Zipper Merge Edition

Pisces (2/19 – 3/20):  The poor polar bears are suffering from all manner of trouble.  First, melting ice.  Then, PCBs found in their tissue.  And now this:  the penis bone is getting smaller, and not only that, but it's weak and breakable.  I know!  This is also happening to the otters, thought to be the result of the many challenging environmental factors, especially global warming and pollutants. Sometimes horrible things, though, can  be used to propel action.  Currently, the thinking of the 56% of congressional republicans is this:  "If we acknowledge that humans have a role in global warming or pollution, then we'll have to act, and if we act, corporate profits go down.  Let's put our hands over our ears and point off in the distance to something, anything -- Obama's birth certificate, Malia's outfit, whatever we can think of!"  

But what if the understanding was, "If we don't address global warming, our genitalia will become tiny, vulnerable, and prone to breaking." If there's one thing the repubs care about besides corporate profits, it's the penis itself.  Anyway, moment of silence for all the shrunken, friable penii out there, Pisces.

Aries (3/21 - 4/19):   When you need to look up a phone number, Aries, do you:

  1. slog down the long driveway to find the phone book that some semi-unemployed person has hurled out the window of an older Nissan? or
  2. Use the internet.  

Why are they still throwing phone books at us, Aries, as if it's 1989?  My first instinct is to yell, in my most outside-est voice, MAKE IT STOP!  But now I'm wondering -- it seems so unlikely that this would be an actual job, phone book delivery.  Like, "Now hiring!  We're looking for people to deliver a tiny fraction of the internet to people who have the whole internet!  But you'll put this bit of the internet outside, down by their mailboxes to make it even less convenient than the actual internet."  

I've learned that when things are really unlikely, well, maybe there's something else going on?  Maybe it's a magic trick of sorts or a secret code?  Is that soggy phone book in the driveway actually a portal to another time or dimension?  Check it out, Aries, and get back to me.

Taurus (4/20 – 5/20)
:   Speaking of magic tricks.  It's like this:  we're on a bus, who knows if anyone's driving  -- I tend to think no one's at the wheel, but that's neither here nor there -- regardless, it's for sure not you or I in the driver's seat.  And all indications are that the bus is heading for a cliff.  We aren't certain which cliff it is:  over population, climate change, war, decivilization, ebola.  (Just kidding about ebola.)  Who knows.  But one things we humans can do, which is why I'm so grateful to be one, is make merry on the bus anyway.  Snacks, music, laughter.  It's all we've got, Taurus.  Be that.

Gemini (5/21 - 6/21):  I had this little bit of good news this week, and then it turned out to be a mixup -- the good news wasn't really for me.  It was the e-mail equivalent of someone waving at the person behind me.  But for a minute, I thought an artist was going to take something I wrote and animate it.  I felt like Cinderella, and someone called and said they wanted to make a gown for me, and I get to go to the ball.  But oops, the gown was for someone else.  It's weird, though, when I was just merrily sweeping the hearth, all was well, but then, for a moment, dreamed of the gown for my essay, and then back to the hearth, which was worse.  Oh Algernon.  I feel your pain.  And Gemini, yours too.

Cancer (6/22 – 7/21):  Sad to see that David Carr died.  He was an interesting person, and after seeing Page One a few years ago, I realized that I'll subscribe to the NYT until I die, because it feels like the right thing to do.  It feels like an act of good citizenship.  I know, that's just me.  But watch the movie if you haven't already, Cancer.  And then go out into the garden where it's all happening right now.  

Leo (7/23 – 8/22):  Speaking of the NYT, I am super excited that one of my essays will be published in the Modern Love column.  No solid date yet but it looks like March.  That's never happened before!  Stay tuned.  Might be a good time to buy a lottery ticket.  Luck seems up.

Virgo (8/23 – 9/22):   I was sad to see how many haters there are out there, Virgo.  Bleh.  But here's something interesting I learned in massage medical school:  if someone feels ticklish, have them put their hand on your arm, and the ticklishness subsides.  How does that work?  

Libra (9/23 – 10/22):  For a while, the motion sensor light on my back porch didn't work, and then it randomly started working again, but no matter how I adjust things, it only stays on for about 3 seconds unless there's a new motion.  What this means, Libra, is that when I have a guest departing in the evening, I have to stand on the back porch and wave goodbye furiously, kind of like the Clampetts would.  At first I was kind of self-conscious about that, but now it seems sweet, to really send people off with a lot of waving.  Try it, Libra!

Scorpio (10/23 – 11/21):  My bees have been out a lot lately because it's been so unseasonably lovely, and I cannot begin to describe how glad it makes me.  All those little insects, buzzing around, looking for life and finding it, carrying pollen around on their little bee legs.  Here's what Aristotle believed about bees, 2,300 year ago -- wow, that's a long time -- but anyway:
"The honey is what falls from the air, especially at the risings of the stars and when the rainbow descends; on the whole there is no honey before the morning rising of the Plieaed.  The bees do not make honey; it fetches in what falls from the air.  .  .  (Historia Animalium, V XXII)
Jeez, that's beautiful.  Will someone draw that for me please?   

Sagittarius (11/22 – 12/21):  I'm always kind of amazed that so many of the anti-vaccine people are fine with getting tattoos.  Right?  Tattoo ink: contains mercury, lead, arsenic, and phthalates, among other things.  If that stuff were in the tiniest trace amounts in our food, we'd be picketing or something.  But sure, go ahead and inject it directly into the body!  Let the white blood cells spend the rest of their days chipping away at it, and carrying the color, bit by tiny bit, directly to your liver where it will stay forever, and wreak it's own havoc.  But god forbid we try to prevent disease outbreak by injecting a carefully developed, regulated vaccine.  Oh, Sag, I'm sorry, that was kind of a rant, and not a real horoscope.  Here's a horoscope:  The stars are all lining up for you this week! Carpe the diem, as they say.

Capricorn (12/22 - 1/19): I was cc'd on an e-mail rant to The Powers That Be, I'm not sure why, but the rant was about a traffic/behavior issue on a  particular stretch of road. Here's the deal:  the road has a stretch that goes from one lane to two lanes and back to one.  Most of us obedient folk stay in the same lane, because we know we'll end up there eventually, and getting in the right lane for a short stretch seems weird, rude, cheater-ish.  But there's been a lot of emphasis on promoting the Zipper Merge lately, which says that all lanes should be used for as long as possible, and then we should politely alternate at the merge point.  In reality, in this  particular road stretch, people get irritated by the right-lane passers, and don't want to let them back in, but they're usually in a giant white truck and they muscle their way in anyway.  But I've been wondering if we should all zipper merge more.  (OMG, it's tiring to be me sometimes.   Seriously.  I spent about 6 hours thinking about this, making little models, trying to figure out how to make the little video.  All just for these two shaky, amateur, inconclusive videos.  And I know while I'm doing it that there's so much more to life than modeling traffic on the kitchen floor, but I can't stop).  But the results are: it takes 3 times as long to travel that stretch of road when people use the right lane.  I wish I were smart enough to figure that out without building a whole traffic jam on the kitchen floor, and wasting a bunch of daylight at it.  But, I feel like there's something in there to learn and I can't quite put my finger on it. Something about how we don't need to take up all the pavement all the time, which might be a metaphor for something about living life.  If you figure it out, write that book.  Don't forget me when you're rich.  And, stand strong with data in the face of the zipper merge lecture.

Watch the orange car.  (You knew it was a car, right?) 14 frames.

And here, it takes 29 frames for the orange car to get through.  I was going to draw
trees and stores so you'd know what was going on but sheesh, I would NEVER waste my time, 
that's fer shure.

Aquarius (1/20 – 2/18):  You know the trajectory of a joke, how it's funny, and then, when repeated a few times, not funny anymore, but sometimes, if someone keeps picking it up and batting it around, it gets funny again?  And then, maybe even hilarious?  Only sometimes, though.  I think it's like that with disappointment, which, if batted around enough, turns into gratitude.  I've pretty much given up on romantic love, financial stability, and companionship, which are kind of big.  I've learned not to yearn.  But I've finally gotten to the point of noticing the big chunks of time to study things like the zipper merge, and of course, to take naps.  

Friday, January 30, 2015

Horoscopes: It's the Law!

Pisces (2/19 – 3/20):  I read about Benford's Law in my Grapes of Math book, which says that the leading digit in a number is most likely to be one.  At first I thought duh, you have to get through the ones to get to anything else -- you can't have two of something before you have the one of that thing.  But that's just me, not understanding Benford.  Here's what it says:  in any set of numbers, say, the population of all US cities - about 30 percent will have one as the leading digit, half as many begin with two, and so on, so that nine is the least common first digit.  Crazy!  Why do we care about this, Pisces?  I'm not sure I can put it into words, but we do!  I mean, there are applications -- detecting fraud, for example.  But what makes me so happy is that there's this invisible force that directs how numbers act.  Right?  Do all the US cities have to get organized to make sure their population fits in?  NO!  It just works out that way.  I guess I love the invisible things that we don't even know about, and they march on, being an organizing force.  I know you'll agree, Pisces, that there's something good in that.  Doesn't it make you wonder about all the other things we don't know about?  Oh Pisces, the magic of it all.  

Aries (3/21 - 4/19):   Speaking of forces governing the world, one thing that makes me irritable, and I've probably ranted about it in the past, is when people try to organize a potluck.  If I were a real researcher, I would have discovered something called Odinger's Universal Law of Potlucks that would prove that this behavior is unnecessary.  And annoying.  People will bring what speaks to them, and there will always be enough.  There will be one or two people who create exquisite offerings out of things they've grown or raised lovingly and then slaughtered, there will be a few people who grab a bag of chips on the way to the event, and there will be a bunch somewhere in the middle - recipe followers, who have some or all of the relevant ingredients.  It's a law.  You can tell all the people who's names start with A-L to bring a main dish, just like you can tell water to run uphill, but it just creates bad juju, like damming a river.  The river will find its own way, and you can pretend you have control but we know better.  Give a potluck a thousand years, and the potluck equivalent of a new canyon will be forged.  Freedom from tyrannical potluck organizers!  Let the people choose!  (I think that was in the original Federalist papers, before the aliens came down and altered them. Oh wow, I've really strayed off into the weeds here.  Sorry, Aries.) 

Taurus (4/20 – 5/20):   Speaking of laws, Zipf's law, I learned from Dr. Language, is a baseline for everything the linguists do. The law says that in any given text, the most frequent word occurs twice as often as the next most frequent word, and three times as often as the third most frequent, and so on, so that a graph looks like this. Ok, it's slightly more complicated because there's a constant involved, but I don't want you to leave me just yet, Taurus.  Don't go! Again, you're wondering why you should care about Zipf and his law. (Whatever it is, isn't it legal in WA anyway?)  You should care, Taurus, because it's a mystery!  Why does it do that?  How is it that someone can take The Dubliners, cut it up and sort the words, and it follows this rule?  Doesn't that intrigue you?  I spent about, oh, way too long (which equals 4 hours) taking various blog posts and other writings and graphing them, and yup, it's the law.  I'm awestruck.  Go for awestruck when you can this week, Taurus.

Gemini (5/21 - 6/21):  The seahawks.  Sheesh, there's a lot of hoopla about that.  It feels  like religion or patriotism, where it's best not to admit out loud that you don't believe in god, or you think the war is a bad idea.  I hear so much, 

 "No, even you would have loved the last game!  Really! It was amazing!"  

Um, no, I wouldn't have.  I agree with Ty Burr, who said that he prefers his popular culture served up with a tincture of irony, and American football exists to stomp out irony wherever it lifts its effete little head."  I'm happy that all the humans are so excited about something, but really, I'm just not interested in watching a bunch of overpaid guys, immersed in a culture of misogyny, run around after a stupid ball.  And the whole twelve business confounds me.  Maybe because the twelves are proud of decibel level, and I'm spending my life on a mission to promote the inside voice.  Sorry, all my lovely friends who are fans.  I'm glad your team is doing so well, and I'm happy for all the rallying and revelry, but I'd be lying if I didn't say it creeps me out.  The cheerleaders don't even make minimum wage?  Seriously?

Cancer (6/22 – 7/21):  Ok, and another thing?  I'm not so interested in what Marshawn Lynch has to say.  Seriously.  If we're in the biz, as a culture, of fining people for not talking, um, there are so many others I'd be interested in hearing from, like,oh, how about Emily Bazelon?  But as a general guide, shouldn't we take someone at their word when they say they have nothing interesting to say?  It pretty much blows me away, that we fine people, actually charge them money, for not talking when they don't have anything to say.  This, my dear Leo, is how boring-ness is perpetuated.  

Leo (7/23 – 8/22):  This kind of freaked me out.  Soon we'll be housing lactating women in over-crowded feedlots and selling their milk to bodybuilders.  No, that will never happen.  Nothing bad ever happens when women of childbearing age have something testosterone driven men want, right?  Oh Leo, sorry if I sound a little out of sorts.  Keep on bodybuilding without the supplements.    

Virgo (8/23 – 9/22):  Bergmanns Rule says that, in general, larger creatures are found in cooler environments.  Kind of a duh, and not exactly a law.  When it's cold, it's good to have a large mass compared to your area of skin, so heat doesn't leave as easily.  It's starting to make me believe that temperature is the most influential ingredient in the world.  But here's something that the bees do:  they keep their thorax warm by beating their wings.  They let the abdomen stay cool, so as not to waste calories on heating it, much like I do with my house.  (If my house were a bee, we'd call the upstairs the abdomen.)  But if they want to cool down, say, because they're fuzzy little people flying around in the hot sun?  Capitalize on that cool abdomen.  Such a slick design, Cancer.  

Libra (9/23 – 10/22):  I had the privilege of giving a little talk about blogging the other day to some college students, and someone asked why I only update my blog about once a week.  I had to explain, um, well, it's not really a plan, it's just that I don't get out much, and it takes me a while to gather material, even the tiniest little bits of material. Even pocket lint, Libra, takes a while to accumulate.  If I were to ride the bus more, or just tangle with the humans, I'd update more.  So there you have it, Libra.  The truth.

Scorpio (10/23 – 11/21):  I'm reading the most fascinating book about bumblebees now, and one thing I've learned is that a full-bellied bumblebee will die of starvation in 40 minutes.  Which is not unlike the paycheck-to-paycheck life that many of us lead, me especially (without the paycheck part).  But picture it:  you're flying around, gathering nectar, moving your little wings fast enough to keep your body warm, your belly is full, but in less than one hour you're dead if you don't keep going, endlessly seeking flowers, more flowers.  Scorpio?  What do we make of all this?  

Sagittarius (11/22 – 12/21):  Speaking of invisible laws, I've been trying to understand gravity for a while.  I made this a while ago and haven't really figured out much since then.  

Capricorn (12/22 - 1/19):  Speaking of hidden forces -- it's the stuff that happens whether we understand it, whether we acknowledge it, whether we believe in it, that what makes the world worth it.  Love, for example.  There is love that's so pure that it needs nothing, no evidence, no action.  Like the ocean, expansive and complete, even if you never visit, you haven't seen a starfish in years or gotten your pants accidentally soaked up to the knee with brine.  The ocean doesn't change for you, it just is.  Hold onto that, Cap.

Aquarius (1/20 – 2/18):  Ok, I have this neighbor who leaves for work super early, like I think it's 5:30, and before that he/she cooks bacon.  I know this because I sleep with all my windows wide open, and the aroma wafts in at 4:30.  Bacon is not just a normal smell; it has super powers.  It feels like a message travelling from the deceased pig directly to your nose with the command, "COME FIND ME."  An olfactory seance.  None of the other smells do that.  You smell lavender, or woodsmoke, and think, oh, pleasant.  You don't think, I MUST GET OUT OF BED RIGHT NOW AND GO TO WHERE YOU ARE.  Do you think there's a secret message to be decoded, maybe some way to save the planet?  See what you can learn, Aquarius.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

To Nap or Not to Nap....

Dear Advice Columnist,

I have a friend who was wondering -- if it's late afternoon, and I feel (I mean, she feels - this is for a friend) tired and kind of unproductive -- is it better to take a nap or just power through til bedtime?  She goes to bed really early, so it's not really very long of a time.  I'm sure I don't have to elaborate the pros and cons.

Thanks for your help.  I almost wrote "yelp".  I don't know why.

Helpful Friend

Dear Helpful Friend,

I do indeed know the pros and cons.  There is nothing worse than slogging through the last several hours of the day without the proper amount of joy.  No gasps of delight, no interesting thoughts, just the blah blah blah, plodding, one sluggish foot in front of the other like those people chained together marching up to Camp Muir, eyes looking at their boots, even though they're on one of the most beautiful spaces on the planet, with the absolutely bluest sky and invigorating lack of oxygen in the air and even a marmot chittering in the distance.

And then again, I also know what it's like to go to sleep when it's daylight and wake up some time later in the dark, confused and hungry, not sure what day, or worse yet, what season it is.  And knowing that if I get up I'll probably just eat crackers and maybe a pickle.  Or I'll do that thing where I keep looking in the refrigerator, hoping something good and already prepared is in there, but there's nothing, and I keep checking anyway.  And then I finally just eat the crackers and go back to bed and think sheesh, what was this day for?  Did I arrive on this planet just so that I could sleep through it all?  Or, is this really just the alternate universe, and this day is only one of many that I'm concurrently living, which explains the fatigue, and also allows for the possibility that in some other universe, I'm totally on it, carpe-ing the diem?

What was your question again?  Oh, right.  Choose nap.  Every single time.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Horoscopes from Vacation!

Pisces (2/19 – 3/20)
:  I'm on vacation, which involves packing a tiny overnight bag each evening, and walking across the hall into one of the vacant bedrooms where I sleep without a care in the world.  Because that's how it is on vacation, people.  It's really fun because it's like travelling to a far away land without all the hassle of sunburns, language barriers and air travel.  I do have to go home to use the bathroom, as someone pointed out, but it doesn't seem like home because the route is different.  I may even leave a chocolate on my pillow tonight, who knows!  Anyway, the thing that makes it especially fun is packing the little overnight bag, planning what I need, and putting it ever so tenderly into my tiny tiny overnight bag.  (Turns out all I ever need is a book.)  I'd recommend this, Pisces.  Take the Staycation concept to new lows.

Aries (3/21 - 4/19):   Does the word, "repurposed" sound pretentious?  I know, Aries, but we must accept and forgive, even when people say utilize.  (Although I will confess that I like how "curate" is being overused.)  Anyway, Aries, here's the deal:  I listened to the most recent magnificent episode of KCRW's Unfictional podcast, in which a guy has been haunted by the ghost of Montgomery Clift for his whole life.  I can think of worse problems, personally, but still, it would be a little weird to have a dead 50's hearthrob lurking all the time.  This week, Aries, see who you're haunted by and welcome them directly into your life.  Say something like, "You, out from the shadows!"  Let me know how it goes.

Taurus (4/20 – 5/20):   I know someone who has seven Facebook friends, a number that she feels comfortable with.  If she adds anyone else, she'll have to drop someone, because she imagines FB as a rowboat in which there just isn't enough room for everyone.  I know of someone else who will only travel in a three mile radius from her home.  Taurus, aim for spaciousness this year.  We're not in a lifeboat!  We're on a beautiful habitable (for now) planet, being orbited by the coolest moon in the solar system.  (Not to stray from the point, but out of all the planets, that moon chose us!  How lucky we are!) 

Gemini (5/21 - 6/21): The thing about magic is the magicians usually know how it's done, so it's not magic, it's trickery.  But here's some real magic, in the video below.  I know what you're thinking -- that's not magic, that's called a faulty connection!  But it is magic to me; try not to judge. I choose to believe that the little light just needs some special transformative attention from me each morning.   It's almost like having a beloved roommate!  Or a dog, without the hassle.  Gemini, offer your magical attention to those around you this week.  It's what the planet needs right now.

Cancer (6/22 – 7/21):  I was working for The Man the other day, doing my booty call job, which can be most unpleasant, but I try not to let it be.  Anyway, it involves driving around in a County vehicle, being vulnerable to all the government hate out there -- I might as well wear a giant bullseye and a flashing sign that says, "I REPRESENT OVER-REGULATION AND GOVERNMENT WASTE!"  Anyway, I mostly visit people's property and tell them they can't do what they want, and this usually after they've paid a lot of money and waited a long time.  At any rate, I visited someone the other day and he was all, "Come back any time!  Seriously, I've planted 1,000 bulbs, come visit in the spring!  Or come see my project when it's done.  I'll probably have a house warming party, can I invite you?"  Which was so unexpected that I teared up just a tiny bit.  And it was also pretty weird to imagine coming back in six months, "Hey - remember me?  I just came by to hang out, and maybe see the garage you built!"  But sweet, nevertheless. (I love that word, "nevertheless".  Is it even a word?)  Enjoy the moments this week, Cancer.

Leo (7/23 – 8/22):  Did you hear that thing about how they're recommended that children bring canned goods to school in order to ward off gunmen?  I'm not able to judge the merits of the strategy, but I will note that it's heartbreaking to consider a scenario in which the threat of being shot in school is real enough that we need a plan, and it involves 10 year-olds hurling canned goods at an armed whack-job.  Lordy.  

Virgo (8/23 – 9/22):  When I first started doing yoga, I spent a lot of time trying to get into a specific pose, agonizing that I couldn't, yadda yadda yadda.  But now I just think about breathing, mostly, and my feet, a little bit.  Are my feet really on the ground?  Wasn't that a sweet breath!  How long will I get to live on this planet, doing this, feet on the ground, going on a vacation every night, doing yoga every day?  Oh man, I hope they don't make me move to outer space!  Yikes, don't make me move to Saturn!  I DON"T WANT TO GO!  My breath is getting squishy.  Oh wait, probably no one is going to make me move to another planet.  Let that thought float on by.  Where are my feet?  How much gravity is on Saturn, again?  Why isn't it habitable?  This amount of gravity is pretty good.   Exhale.  What if I live alone all my life and end up owning a hundred cats, hoarding, with a lightbulb as my closest companion?  Oh wait!  That's happening now and it's really not so bad!  Anyway, it's not about the poses.  Thank you, Virgo, for teaching me that, and for all your generosity and joy.

Libra (9/23 – 10/22):  We have our own little microbiome inside our bodies -- all our little bacteria that make a village inside our, well, inside our insides, I guess you'd say.  I read something (or did I dream it?) about how our whole house has that same little microbiome.  And you only have to be at a hotel for 3 days for the hotel to have grown the exact microbiome as your house.  I don't know what that means about having a house guest.  Right?  Hey, people, don't leave your microbiome lying around!  But the point, Libra, is this.  I'm speechless, but, I'll confess, curious.  Order!  Let me know how it goes.

Scorpio (10/23 – 11/21):  I'm reading a great book right now called The Grapes of Math, which attempts to answer that age old question:  does math imitate life, or does life imitate math?  And it addresses things like why is seven so popular, what's important about Euler's number, and so on.  I can't recommend it highly enough.  Let it be a dance you do, Scorpio.

Sagittarius (11/22 – 12/21):  There's a FB page for our little town, which sounds sweet at first, but it turns out that there's rage lurking right below the surface in so many citizens.  What's up with that?  I'm especially irritated by the people who claim status because they've lived here longer.  There's a lot of, "You must be new."  Which apparently is code for, "You're an idiot."  Having the same address for a long time isn't anything to boast about, Sag.  I look to a day when people will not be judged by the longevity of their address, but by the content of their character, as MLK said.  ish.  

Capricorn (12/22 - 1/19):  I recently read this, by one of the famous unitarians, Ralph Waldo E.: 
“I do not wish to treat friendships daintily, but with the roughest courage. When they are real, they are not glass threads or frost-work, but the solidest thing we know.”  
I'm working on that, Cap.  Treating you with the roughest courage, because it matters. The roughest courage is where caring lives.  It lives in being present and truthful and above all, kind, because even when the truth is painful, it's the most respectful and generous thing we have to offer one another.  May you display rough courage this week.

Aquarius (1/20 – 2/18):  Do you share my adoration for Ruth Bader Ginsberg?  Of course you do, Aquarius.  Read a little about her, and then claim your inner badass.  Bend the arc of history towards justice this week.  You can do it!