Sunday, February 28, 2010

waggish


\WAG-ish\

adjective

1 : resembling or characteristic of a wag : displaying good-humored mischief
2 : done or made for sport : humorous

i worked for some time with a young man who only had one and a half arms. i think he once told me the fate of the missing half—some tragedy in his childhood—but the reason i don't remember is because said young man was extremely annoying. after a certain point i just didn't listen to anything he said. he told cheesy jokes—the kind someone's out-of-touch uncle tells. not necessarily sexist, but full of generalizations: girls like shopping, boys like football kind of stuff. he often cornered me with work-related small talk: what time are you working? today's my friday. i didn't get my break until 7:30! having fun yet? and he would casually ask all the girls if they were single.

this is someone i would describe as WAGGISH. i know it doesn't entirely fit the definition, which seems to be more along the lines of a class clown type. but when i think of that type, i think of someone who is hiding behind some kind of front. the practical joker guy who can only get close to people buy pretending to use them as the subjects of his tomfoolery. i have a feeling the guy i worked with may have had some trouble connecting to other people because of his handicap, so he became silly-joker-sorta-creepy guy. what complicates this is that most people aren't going to tell someone with a handicap that they're totally annoying. it's as if he had an unlimited get out of social jail free card. that's probably why he got so annoying in the first place—no one ever bothered to tell him to shut-up.

is this thoughtless? hardly. i empathize with his plight. but i do not empathize with his WAGGISH behavior, which, unlike his handicap, is a choice. we are all victims of circumstance. what we do with those circumstances is up to us. i could have very easily been a white trash slut—poor girl, rich town, broken family—but there was a point when i was like, you know what? not into it.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

apex


\AY-peks\

noun

: the highest point : peak

as far as natural metaphors are concerned, i have a tendency to lean toward the sea, ocean, ships, overall a nautical theme (see Feb. 15). but i did go through a short period during which i liked to reference mountains. this period was specifically after i moved out to portland, when i first crossed a major mountain range. i visualized this crossing as a passage into another world, and i felt like i could really channel the western expansion of american pioneers.

i was also going though a shitty break-up at the time, so moving and separating and putting a mountain range along with a hefty three thousand miles in between myself and my past was totally liberating. hence, it came out in my writing.

i even wrote a crappy poem about it, which i will share with the reader, because as i said yesterday, i so enjoy being humbled:

three thousand miles
is really a small distance
compared to your arm's length
when you pushed me away.
and so i crossed mountains
to make my escape,
but even mountains
can't block my view
when i look back your way.
now we've made a gray area
to mask our continental divide.
a murky swamp
to dip our toes in
when the land gets too dry,
but the water is too dense
to swim to the other side,
and the dusk is too dark
for us to see eye to eye.
so how do we meet halfway,
when this america between us
is now a negative space,
a desert of miscommunication
made by my absence of faith,
and a sea of quicksand
where our love lies in wait.

this is, by far, not the APEX of my poetry, nor is it the worst poem i have ever written. but, as you can see, there is a reason i write nonfiction.

Friday, February 26, 2010

thew


\THOO\

noun

1 a : muscular power or development b : strength, vitality
2 : muscle, sinew — usually used in plural

during interviews, one is always asked about strengths and weaknesses. i understand this to be a question in essence of humility, in which i am expected to frame strengths and weaknesses as one in the same, i.e. being an overachiever is at once a strength in productivity and a weakness in self-worth. an assessment on one's own THEWS and vulnerabilities is a test of sincerity in character, a balance in self-judgment on the scale between deprecation and aggrandizement.

i have trouble openly recognizing my THEWS without feeling like a cocky bastard. i am often plagued by an overwhelming responsibility toward modesty, feeling as if declaration of my achievements will taint my character. the sort of uninhibited pride that accompanies said declaration feels dangerous; the higher i raise myself, the farther i am apt to fall. and there is nothing like pride to totally devalue the sincerity of self endowment.

i need to find the happy medium—the ability to toot my own horn without having to literally utilize that disclaimer (not to toot my own horn, but...). the reality is that i know i'm pretty awesome. but part of that awesomeness is letting others figure it out without having to shove it down their throats.

i still think that i fall too hard on the side of modest, though, and i need to learn to acknowledge my—

i'm sorry. i need to stop there. this blog has been interrupted by a phone call. brody calls to ask if we can do the post-parting exchange of belongings.

i just keep looking at these things, and they are like loose ends. i don't want any loose ends.

i don't want any loose ends either, i suppose. so i drop everything—this blog, my THEWS, my sick morning in bed, any semblance of tact—to be humbled. my greatest weakness and my greatest strength.




Thursday, February 25, 2010

proscribe


\proh-SCRYBE\

verb

1 : outlaw
2 : to condemn or forbid as harmful or unlawful

a list of things that i will PROSCRIBE today:

1) getting sick (my throat is scratchy and i'm drowning myself in zinc)
2) rain
3) having to buy a new power supply for my computer (i may have to give in)
4) listening to sad break-up music
5) writing an anecdote in this blog

i have a lot of anecdotes, but there are 365 days in a year, and this is only the 58th blog i have written. if i keep writing in this venue (which i will, at least for the length of the year) i may end up repeating stories. i have already spent time looking back to see if i am retelling another blog's vignette. but should i really PROSCRIBE telling the same story twice? one story can certainly hold several interpretations, and therefore can be used to relay the significance of many different concepts.

that said, from now on i will not look back to see if i've already told the story i'm about to use. these stories are the tools for understanding these concepts, and the same tool can be used for more than one purpose (that's what she said...?). i've known really amazing storytellers who tell the same story over and over and it only ripens with the act of repeated telling.

i want to be one of these storytellers. i can only hope that i am well on my way.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

abrupt


\uh-BRUPT\

adjective

1 a : characterized by or involving action or change without preparation or warning : unexpected b : unceremoniously curt c : lacking smoothness or continuity
2 : giving the impression of being cut or broken off; especially : involving a sudden steep rise or drop

it is hard not to relate the word ABRUPT with things like death or break-ups, traumatic events that, even if planned or expected, seem like falling off an edge into an abyss of unfamiliarity. but i don't want to write about these things today. so instead, i'm going to write about the star pin cafe.

Dramatis Personae

me: naive eighteen-year-old, not in college, still cynical, wants to be an artist, seeking work, not ready for responsibility
laura: other naive eighteen-year-old, not in college, just out-of-the-closet, wants to be an actress, seeking work, not ready for responsibility
susan: early thirties, dresses in business casual, not quite out-of-the-closet, opening a cafe, eats an obscene amount of funyons, not ready for responsibility
rob: early thirties, dresses in business casual, not quite out-of-the-closet, opening a cafe with susan, lives off rich father, not ready for responsibility
anthony: rob's baby brother, fat, FAT, works for his father doing maintenance in the building where they rent offices, probably the only person with any responsibility, we refer to him as fat bastard
john: rob and anthony's father, old irish dude, owns a building where he rents offices, likes egg salad sandwiches, anthony is responsible for him, we refer to him as not as fat but more bastard, bastard
lisa: john's secretary, late twenties, young mother, attractive and vacant, living off her slowly fading looks, unhealthily obsessed with enrique iglesias

laura knows susan and rob from community theatre. they are opening up a cafe in the first-floor space at the bottom of john's building. the building is sandwiched among a bunch of factories in the housatonic river valley. it is their plan to make coffee, breakfast and lunch for the factory workers. they hire laura and i to do this while they sit around and eat, schmooz and do nothing. they call it the star pin cafe. it opens two days before christmas in 1998.

laura and i do everything. she opens the cafe and i close it. we pay the bills, place the orders and make runs to costco to buy snapple and ice cream novelties. susan and rob are barely there, passing in and out of the cafe like apparitions. about two months into the venture they bail. they disappear. no one knows where they have gone or if they have gone there together. laura and i keep running the star pin. we need jobs. it is making some money, so john, who was funding the whole project anyway, continues to pay us.

summer comes. the cafe is HOT. there is no air conditioner. laura calls me one day from inside the refrigerator.

i cleaned out the bottom shelf of the fridge and took the cordless in here. it's took fucking hot. i'm just calling so someone knows i'm in here in case the door closes behind me and i can't get out.

later that week, laura quits because it is too hot and no one is doing anything about it. i proceed to run the cafe on my own. i work 6:30 am to 4 pm monday through friday, and make runs to costco on my weekends to buy supplies. they pay me $8.50 an hour.

i am overworked and i get REALLY sick. it's during a heat wave. i am so sick that i pass out twice on my mother's kitchen floor. i call out of work for the first time. when i get back they seem to feel bad and offer me a paid vacation, saying lisa and anthony will run the cafe in my absence. i take it.

when i come back a week later, everything is gone. they have cleared the place out. i go up to lisa's office. she tells me that john decided to close the star pin because it wasn't making any money. he found a paint-ball supply retailer that wanted to rent the space. i asked why they didn't tell me earlier.

that was what the paid vacation was for, honey. i'm sorry.

i feel betrayed. i come back late that night to steal anything they have left: a jim croce three-disc collection, some knives, a boar's head dry-erase board. the place is empty.

aside from death and break-ups, the closing of the star pin cafe is the most ABRUPT thing that has ever happened to me. that is, without my doing. but alas, i am here, and all of those people (besides laura who is in new mexico) are probably still working on canal street in shelton, connecticut.





Tuesday, February 23, 2010

logomachy


\loh-GAH-muh-kee\

noun

1 : a dispute over or about words
2 : a controversy marked by verbiage

ah, the trials and tribulations of the intellectuals. i guess i have never seen two people in a battle of LOGOMACHY, but i'm assuming it must be similar to that moment in Clerks when dante and randall argue about whether jedi or empire is the better movie.

the closest i have come to this is arguing with girls from the housatonic river valley (think: anyone who would have appeared on Rikki Lake) about their excessive use of the double negative. i don't sincerely care about this modification of language. at the time i was bitter and insecure and wanted to feel better than this group of girls who i worked with at a job i hated. this manifested in the form of correcting their grammar. i was a total snob.

one thing i do notice is the mispronunciation of the word "cannoli." we sell cannolis in the bakery where i work; they are clearly labeled with a sign that says: cannolis. but at least half the people who order them refer to them as "cannelonis." still an italian food, but entirely different. canneloni is to cannoli as burgers are to ice cream sandwiches.

i don't think i'm upset that they are confusing two italian dishes as much as i am frustrated with the mis-reading of a sign. or rather, the non-reading—the act of reading the first few letters and then making an assumption about the rest of the word. this happens frequently. we also have a cake called the "chocolate eruption," which i have heard referred to as: the chocolate egyptian, the chocolate european, and the chocolate erection. this is just lazy to me.

so, what this really comes down to is that i dislike laziness and disregard. when i hand them their desserts i say, here are your CANNOLIS. have a great afternoon!, emphasizing the correct pronunciation.

i guess this would be considered passive-aggressive LOGOMACHY.

Monday, February 22, 2010

thaumaturgy


\THAW-muh-ter-jee\

noun

: the performance of miracles; specifically : magic

i was an avid believer in magic as a child. i think this belief came from a combination of influences: television shows like Out of This World, the Abracadabra book series, any number of films (specifically the likes of Teen Witch), and the fact that both my mother and grandmother used to say the phrase, where there's a will, there's a way. i understand that now to mean motivation induces results. but then i interpreted it as, if i want it, i can make it happen. and by what other means than magic? i just had to figure it out.

my most advanced experiment in THAUMATURGY took place in the fifth grade (fifth grade seems to be really relevant this week; see Feb. 17 and Feb. 21) when jen martino, debbie peckham, and i attempted to make a recipe for love potion brownies out of one of the Abracadabra books. it was just a normal recipe for brownies. the magic was in the makers (two girls from the books who possessed inherent powers) and some weird love poem recited to the recipient while he consumed the magic love brownie. this didn't seem like enough. somehow knowing that green m&ms were considered an aphrodisiac (while simultaneously not knowing what that word meant) i thought it would be a good idea to add some to the recipe. the result was a pan of brownies the color of a mossy tree branch.

nevertheless, we proceeded. the subject was one chris flynn, a boy jen had had a crush on for some time (i'm remembering a span of years, actually). chris was a nerdy boy, fair-skinned, round-faced, clad in polo shirts and loafers. not the fifth grade heartbreaker. the three of us waited until a point when he was alone during recess and surrounded him. i think he may have been terrified. while jen read the love poem, debbie held some crystal over his head (i probably got the crystal from my brothers' hippie father and thought it had some powers) and danced in circles around him, chanting something indecipherable. i was in charge of the brownie, holding the greenish-brown square inches from his mouth.

eat the brownie chris.

but my memory stops there. i cannot remember whether or not he ate it. i'm assuming not. i'm assuming he broke free, which was probably in his favor since jen martino kind of turned out to be a bit (understatement) promiscuous and he probably went on to harvard or something.

i think we just ate all the brownies, actually. and nobody fell in love.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

chastise


\chass-TYZE\

verb

1 : to inflict punishment on (as by whipping)
2 : to censure severely : castigate

The appearance of a substitute teacher—an alien and often scattered being sitting in the place of the familiar—usually meant an easy day. Substitutes would generally implement review sessions, group work, quiet reading time, etc. They wouldn't actually attempt to teach or usurp the authority of those they were temporarily replacing. They would just physically fill their spot, either in front of the blackboard or slumped in the chair behind their desk.

The exception to this standard was Miss Todd who filled in two days for my fifth grade teacher Mrs. Dineen. Unlike Dineen who was tender, motherly, soft-mannered and attractive, Todd was an old witch with liver spots and a scowl that dragged her face down to her withered breasts. She wore the same outfit both days—a gray shirt buttoned up to her sagging chin, a long black cardigan, and a floor length gray skirt. This was in great contrast to Dineen who often wore...colors.

She immediately did the unthinkable and actually tried to teach. Unlike the other substitutes who often had little to no teaching experience, Todd was most likely retired and had already ruined many, many miserable young lives in her professional past. She had that hardened demeanor of someone forced to oversee unruly children for eternity.

Our class reacted immediately with almost unanimous insubordination. It was 20 fifth graders against one Todd; there was no way she would survive. When Todd realized she had no chance, she began CHASTISING students by sending them to the corner to stare at the wall for ten minutes at a time. This was unheard of at Racebrook Elementary School. Sometimes children were told to stand outside the room for a few minutes, or sent to the principal's office, but never this archaic punishment of standing in the corner.

On day two things got worse. The fact that Todd wore the same outfit two days in a row drove us wild. It was like she was giving us free reign for insult and ridicule, provoking us so she could instill her primitive forms of punishment. At least one child seemed to be in the corner at all times. Maybe all the other substitutes were sick. Maybe she was last on the list, a note accompanying her file that read, CALL ONLY IF ABSOLUTELY DESPERATE.

During a history lesson, I made a joke about something to Jen Martino and we snickered. Todd swung around from the blackboard and glared at us. She made some comment about her lesson not being a joke, and sent each of us to a separate corner. Even though this had already been going on for two days, I was still shocked. Jen Martino started to cry in her corner, tears streaming down her red cheeks. My eyes began to well up, too, but crying in school meant days of humiliation, and I used every muscle in my body to withstand the emotional reaction. I felt dirty in some weird way. I had gotten in trouble before, but it was always legitimate, always when I knew I had done something wrong and was ready to face a fair punishment. This was just embarrassing and unfair, and I instantly felt a contempt toward Todd that I never before experienced.

Later in that day, during some group work, I approached Todd while she was writing something on the blackboard to ask to use the bathroom. After she answered and turned back around, I whipped out a black marker and made a streak on the back of her skirt. The fabric was so dense—I knew she wouldn't notice. For the rest of the day, I stared at that mark with justice, feeling I had balanced the scales.

We told Mrs. Dineen the horror story when she returned from her illness. She sat on a stool in front of the room, her long stockinged legs crossed over each other, red high-heel pumps linked into the bottom rungs, listening with concern and shaking her head in disapproval.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

saxicolous


\sak-SIK-uh-lus\

adjective

: inhabiting or growing among rocks

i have worked a total of eleven christmases in retail:

1999 - JoAnn Fabrics
2000 - Best Price Fashions
2001 - The Pastry Gourmet
2002-2005 - Guitar Center
2006-Present - Whole Foods

after being somewhat seasoned in this tradition, i started to notice similarities among the behaviors of patrons during the holiday season. in addition to the bitter and impatient, the greedy and rude, there is a good selection of folks who really seem like they haven't left the house in a year. these people arrive disheveled and confused, always with wads of cash like they haven't yet been educated on the wonders of credit. they don't want to shop—they just want to be led directly to the product they have in mind but are often inarticulate and cannot describe what they really need.

it was just a chocolate cake. i don't know. no, not that one. it was bigger. no, it didn't have that white stuff. or a flower. i'm sure i got it here last year. i don't understand why you guys don't just have it. it was just a chocolate cake.

they look frustrated and almost pained during this process, usually resting two hands on the top of the counter, one sweaty with the mound of loose bills. when i finally get them what they want, or something that can at least compensate, they walk off, shaking their heads, reminding themselves why they never leave the house.

and what do i say about the holidays? the time of year when everyone decides to crawl out from under their rock.

i think this phrase came from my mother. insinuating that this demographic remains SAXICOLOUS is admittedly judgmental, suggesting a lack of civilization. this leads to me believe that i would consider myself civilized in comparison. in this sense, civilization embodies social skills, something these people lack due to infrequency of use. i like to think that i am fairly versed in social interaction, especially transactions of this variety, since i have been on both sides.

i do not want to confuse the term civilized with well-bred, which i am not. if i were i probably would not be working christmases in retail.







Friday, February 19, 2010

inane


\ih-NAYN\

noun

: void or empty space

...the universe's nature
Consists, in essence, of two different things: for there is matter,
And there is void.
...were there no emptiness, then everything would stand
A solid mass. Were there no body, on the other hand,
To fill a space and take it up, then everything there is
Would consist entirely of vacancy and emptiness.
- Lucretius

karma is the closest my family came to believing in a grander scheme. everything about karma is based on balance—if you throw the balance off, the universe will compensate in order to right itself. my mother made this very clear to me as a child. the golden rule did not exist to teach me to do right, but rather to show me that i will be vindicated if i do wrong, that the universe will not let me get away with those wrongdoings.

because of this, i have always seen things as two-sided. everything must balance out in my head. i have grown to accept the good and bad equally because they are of the same significance to me. it doesn't mean i don't get pissed off or bummed out, but i hardly ever think things are unfair. because in my head, it all exists to create an ultimate balance.

of course, i realize this is all perception. it is all based on ideas fed to me when i was a child too small to rationalize my way out of them. but it's done. this is how i perceive. i need the bad to appreciate the good. i need the winter and the heartbreak. i need to hit the bottom of the barrel. i need the INANE, the emptiness, the negative space. it is so important for me to know what is not in order to understand what is.

emptiness must be by matter bounded.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

flexuous


\FLEK-shuh-wus\

adjective

1 : having curves, turns, or windings
2 : lithe or fluid in action or movement

i regret having to put FLEXUOUS on the back burner and talk instead about its close relative, UNDULATING. the latter has such an amazing story attached, i don't think i can ignore it.

in my last year as an undergraduate student at rhode island college, i decided to pick up a minor in art history. this meant i had to cram a lot of art history classes into my final two semesters. in the fall of 2005 i took three different art histories held consecutively: 9am, 10am, 11am on monday, wednesday, and friday. in the same room.

the 9am slot of this trilogy was a very broad survey of renaissance to modern art. very broad. the adjunct professor was a japanese woman (i cannot remember her name even slightly) whose english was...fair. sometimes i couldn't understand what she was saying. she didn't really go into much detail about the greater social/political implications of the images—probably because we had to cover 400 years of art, and maybe also because she didn't have a good enough grasp on the language to coherently explain concepts.

one word that she knew and loved was undulating. she used this word all the time to describe movement, lines, shapes, etc. this was her favorite word. she would often repeat it twice in a sentence. i try to picture the moment she learned this english word and realized its versatility. i wonder if she made a conscious decision to stop trying to learn more adjectives to describe movement because undulating was so perfect.

the great thing about this was that her thick accent forced the word to come out as: underating

the lines in this painting are just underating, underating.

i remember purposefully using this word to describe images during our exams. i picture her reading my essays and nodding her head approvingly.

i wish i could remember her name. i think there was an "s" involved. that narrows it down. it is most likely forever lost in the FLEXUOUS caverns of my subconscious.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

tare


\TAIR\

noun

1 : a deduction from the gross weight of a substance and its container made in allowance for the weight of the container; also: the weight of the container
2 : counterweight

i had an issue with weight for a long time. it started when i was in the fifth grade. this was probably around the time girls naturally begin to get self-conscious about their looks, but it took two comments to push me over the edge:

1) twice a year our whole class would have to go to nurse mclaughlin's office and wait in a long line to get weighed, measured, and checked for scoliosis and head lice. i actually really enjoyed this process because i liked getting out of class and i loved the feeling hands touching my scalp.

i weighed in at 80 pounds that year. that didn't really mean anything to me until i told jane moritz my weight:

80 pounds!!! For a fifth grader!?! i'm only 68 pounds.

i didn't know how to react. i knew i wasn't fat, but i certainly wasn't as skinny as some of the girls. jane wasn't skinny either. she was just shorter than me. but that still put her at an advantage. she still had the number 68 to throw around. i would have to lie if i wanted any respect.

2) later that year, when jean cut-off season officially arrived, i found i had a difficult time fitting into last year's shorts. wearing shorts to school was really important in those days—it signified that the weather was turning, which meant summer was coming, which meant the school year was nearly over. i squeezed into them one morning just to show that i was ready.

i happened to mention to joanna pisani that my shorts were tight. joanna was one of those girls who was inadvertently a friend because our moms knew each other or we had kindergarten together or something. one of those people you don't like and can't quite remember why you associate with them but are too young and scared not to.

fatty! she called me.

i was devastated, but tried to play it off like i didn't care. joanna was a rod, probably way to skinny for her own health. in fact, i think her mother may have been anorexic. but this was the ideal at ten years old.

these two instances are what implanted self-consciousness about weight into my young brain. i was never over-weight. i was never even the "fat girl." i was totally average, but i thought i was disgusting for a solid fifteen years. whenever i went to the doctor and got weighed, i would obsess about removing as much clothing as possible in order to achieve a lower number. if it were up to me i would have gotten entirely naked, zeroing my TARE weight, before i stepped onto the cold linoleum scale.

when i was twenty-four i went on a strict diet and lost 35 pounds. i don't know why i never did it earlier, i guess i was just tired of feeling sorry for myself and reasoned that it would be easier to lose weight than it would be to convince myself that i looked fine. now, people sometimes refer to me as slender or slight or (my favorite) svelte. this is still foreign to me. i know i'm thin, but i still feel like the same person. sometimes i still look in the mirror and get surprised about how thin i am.

i realize it's better to just accept yourself the way you are, but, to be honest, that is hard. losing weight was fairly easy. for me, it was a science of precision: counting calories. as simple as that. there are dozens of other things i need to accept about myself that i cannot change as easily as my weight. so, while i'm working on feeling better about those things, it's at least nice to feel good about how i look.

i admit, i'm not the greatest role model today, but i'm fighting my own battle.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

parlous


\PAR-lus\

adjective

: full of danger or risk : hazardous

in my mind, there are three types of risks you can take:

risks for the sake of an adrenaline rush (riding your bike with no hands)
risks in the name of recklessness (having sex in the back of a movie theatre)
risks to potentially learn something (moving cross-country to a strange city with no plan)

of course, the lines between these are often blurred—there is a bit of adrenaline, foolishness and wisdom among all of them. and they are all potentially PARLOUS.

i don't know that i would really call myself a risk-taker, per se (although i have partaken in all of the above activities). there is such a spectrum of risks that really anyone can say they participate in possibly hazardous behavior on a daily basis (touching the hand rail on the NYC subway, buying something off ebay, leaving the house...). but i think the term risk-taker implies something extreme, often associated with people that are willing to jump out of airplanes or drink ten shots of whisky on an empty stomach. essentially, risks of a physical variety.

maybe i'm just a wus, but i truly believe one of the riskiest moves anyone can make is to foil expectations. i try to do this on a regular basis. it keeps me from getting trapped inside both my own personality and the world's idea of who i am supposed to be. if you're gonna jump out of a plane, do it because no one would ever expect you to, not because it's "risky." if you are the kind of person people think would jump out of a plane, maybe you should take a macrame class instead. turn everyone's world upside down with your knotting skills. get them thinking.


Monday, February 15, 2010

astrolabe


\A-struh-layb\

noun

: a compact instrument used to observe and calculate the position of celestial bodies before the invention of the sextant

this word is semi-relevant these days, as i am taking a literature course in the pre-modern beginnings of science fiction. although, from further research, the ASTROLABE is an earlier device, already moving toward archaic by the time it reached the era i'm studying. by this time the sextant was of more relevance—it appears on the cover of one of my texts for this class.

all of this doesn't really matter; it would be too obvious to talk about today's word in the context of this class anyway.

the ASTROLABE was also used to determine local time by locating the position of the sun: a medieval clock of sorts. this will be the third blog in a week in which i have at least mentioned an issue regarding time (see Feb. 12 and Feb. 14). so, what's my deal? why do i keep talking about time?

these days, time is one of the only things i have faith in. it is constant (despite skewed perceptions). it is always moving forward. and with it, i will arrive at a distant wisdom that can be achieved by no other means.

just give it time.

the cure-all. my grandmother used to say that water cured everything. i would always respond: what if i was drowning?

my father fought as a sailor in the Korean War. while in service overseas his ship docked for some time on the italian coast; he was able to meet his grandmother in sicily. he used to tell a story about going for a swim off the italian riviera. he swam out too far, got caught up in the undertow. he yelled for help, but no one came until he said it in italian.

right now, i am riding a wave of time, fighting against the undertow, trying to make my way out to sea from the safety of an island that i must leave. today i am further out. the island is small and my eyes cannot discern its precise lines and shapes. this is good. i'm tired from swimming against the current, but i keep moving, looking forward to the smooth water that will pull me out to sea.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

dally


\DAL-ee\

verb

1 a : to act playfully; especially : to play amorously b : to deal lightly : toy
2 a : to waste time b : linger, dawdle

i am not a time waster. not that i am necessarily trying to save time (see Feb. 12) but i take pleasure in filling every moment with productivity. especially if multi-tasking is involved. a whole world of action can take place while bread is toasting.

admittedly, i have a problem with restlessness. even in moments when i'm supposed to be relaxing, i'm often taking something in, processing information, formulating bigger schemes. others call this "reading."

in regards to the second part of this definition, despite my relentless productivity, there are two regular instances in which i DALLY:

1) when i'm avoiding writing a paper. i will partake in an overabundance of chores—cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming, sweeping behind appliances—convinced these are projects that must get done before the paper-writing can begin. i have even rearranged rooms trying to avoid the start of the first paragraph. after almost five years of higher education, i consider cleaning to be part of the paper-writing process. maybe i just need a fresh environment to get the ideas flowing without the obstructions of clutter and filth. this is a sweet theory, but i know i'm just avoiding the inevitable. it's amazing how pleasurable cleaning a toilet looks when put up next to writing a paper i don't want to write. perspective is momentous.

2) when i like a boy. this is by far the more burdensome of the two evils, mostly because it feels uncontrollable, almost subconscious. when it's happening, it is as if i am above myself, watching from a higher ground, observing my deplorable acts of purposeful lingering. oh, the ways in which i manipulate natural occurrences to make myself present, to have my voice heard, my laugh observed, my grace admired; to make eye contact, to share space, to brush against, be in his line of vision, standing in the path he is about to walk; i ask questions, any questions, anything to interlock our words, if for only a moment. this is the DALLY of the infatuated—the highly orchestrated acts of the deliberate loiter.

in these examples, to DALLY becomes an action. it is not time wasted as much as time re-designated for another purpose, albeit less responsible than the original task that is being avoided. not that cleaning or drawing the attention of boys is purposeless—perhaps these acts can only happen successfully when something else is rendered unattractive (paper-writing) or less pertinent (anything, really, seems less pertinent when infatuated).

and, so, i come to the conclusion that even my DALLYING is productive.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

prescience


\PRESH-ee-unss\

noun

: foreknowledge of events: a : divine omniscience b : human anticipation of the course of events : foresight

i see some contradiction in the above definition—foreknowledge implies the act of knowing ahead of the event, while foresight implies the act of looking ahead to the event. there's a big gap here for me. there are few things i truly know about the future as compared to the various things i expect will happen.

a few things i have a (b) PRESCIENCE about today:

i will eat oatmeal for breakfast
i will attempt to finish the novel Quicksilver that i am reading for my science fiction class
i will ride my bike to work at noon
work will be annoying, but satisfying
i will grow increasingly disillusioned about my recent break-up as the day progresses
i will have to answer to at least one customer concerning how i stay so thin working in a bakery
i will think about the thesis that i will not write for at least another year, but that i have been writing for at least twenty years already
i will ride my bike home while listening to early nineties rock jams and formulate metaphors in my head as i push up the gnarly hills to the east side
i will read myself to sleep

something i have a (a) PRESCIENCE about today:

the earth will rotate.

truly a complex word. and there's a whole other blog brewing in my head about how the act of expecting things alters their odds of occurrence. i'll have to save that for another word. maybe: OBVIOUS.