Sunday, July 18, 2010

Notes From Another Room

I have a fairly active but private life on Facebook.  It's where my writing skills take shape in one- or two-sentence spurts.  Tonight I went back to re-read some of my Facebook "Notes", a format which everyone seems to have abandoned.  Curious - it's not Superpoke! after all.  My last note was written in February 2010, a surprise in terms of time elapsed and a dramatically different climate from today's heat index of 104.  Not so surprising to me, though, in terms of how my social media use and general attitude changed dramatically less than a month later.  It's not that I suddenly had less to say or fewer people to whom to say it.  I think I had much more to share and a greater sense of urgency about it.  My status updates grew to paragraphs that had to be well-crafted in order to fit the space allowed as well as to communicate the message as immediately, carefully and truthfully as possible.

Some of the notes make little sense, especially if they refer to dreams.  Some just seem like they were written by a different person, someone who was trying too hard and saying too little.  Most were regurgitated chain letters or tiny but side-splitting conversations with my children.  I'm re-posting here, unedited, the four worthiest, which also happen to be among the most recent.  If nothing else, I'm documenting them in a more accessible place and casting them back out in the water for second nibbles.  Enjoy.

1. I've gotten less then 6 hours sleep each of the last 3 nights.

2. I thought yesterday was Thursday.

3. My new Swiffer WetJet picked up a lot of dirt left behind by the sponge mop.

4. My vinyl floor still looks filthy.

5. The vinyl is supposed to look like gray-veined marble. So, yeah. I can see that.

6. I can no longer shut off my sink sprayer without completely dis-/re-assembling it mid-spray.

7. Every time.

8. My kids think I call them 'Children of the Corn' because it's their favorite veggie.

9. Three specialty lightbulbs have blown in the last two days, each after a trip to the store to buy the previous blower's replacement.

10. I have not had to wear a belt to keep my pants up all week.
"Momma, did you spill tea in your cereal and eat it again?"

As if that's the most inexcusable thing I've ever eaten in her eyes. Not plain sugar by the multiple teacupful. Not homemade corn tortillas filled with Jell-O. Not whole jars of Nutella, buckets of cookie dough, bags of chocolate chips or M&M's by the pound. Not lemonade mix heaped on a spoon and drizzled with just enough water to make it slurp-worthy. Not Grand Finale's Death by Chocolate.

Not snails swimming in private garlic butter hot tubs. Not tangled and fried squid tentacles. Not Nova lox or the thick and salty 'real' stuff. Not venison medallions or their more portable cousin, deer stick. Not giant latkes from the East Cleveland Old World Festival, eaten right out of the hand and liberally slathered with sour cream and applesauce from communal squirt bottles. Not a first ravioli attempt with leftover turkey and raw garlic. Not sushi.

Loose, unbrewed tea accidentally spilled into my morning granola and eaten together so as not to be wasteful.

Repent, ye sinner.
1. When [my son] says that he already cleaned up the spilled soy milk, he means that he half-heartedly smeared a towel through a few drops on the floor. Not through the big puddle right in front of the fridge.

2. If someone has used the Christmas duets book for coloring practice by filling in all of the half-notes black, but only on the part that you play, this would be more correctly called 'sabotage' versus 'creativity.'

3. Heavy metal aglets on a hoodie seem really cool until you pull it off over your head.

4. When you make a mistake on a 200-stitch row, it will be found at stitch # 7.

5. It is possible to pull out poison ivy using a single dried leaf for protection.

6. When you hear someone expressing angst over their child's organizational skills and their ability to step back and let the child learn from mistakes, take a large measure of comfort from the fact that you are working on these same concerns while your child is in 4th grade rather than 7th.

7. Three slices of full-fat beef bologna and a teacup-full of vegan chocolate chips from Trader Joe's is neither a healthy snack nor a good idea if you plan to lie down immediately after consumption.

8. Accuracy and integrity are everything when it comes to database management, inventory control and accounting procedures. Convincing others of this same tenet is murder on your enamel.

9. explodingdog is the best comic website ever. EVER.

10. There is no good reason to make every list 10 items long, unless you suffer from late-onset OCD.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Space Garbage

Last week, a friend and I discussed our personal efforts to deal with life crises and chronic failings in terms of talking/not talking with others for support.  This led to a comparison of male and female tendencies to clam up or to spew forth (stereotypically or not.)  I thought about it and decided that I probably clam up just a bit too long in some kind of effort to be private or to pull myself up by my own bootstraps.  Eventually, however, I blow the airlock on the garbage room and send my unwanted neural rinds out into the universe.

I found this analogy somewhat funny because it called up images of a raging tantrum or throwing everything out the window.  I thought about the space movies where people cling to the edges of an open airlock, trying to climb back in, and all you can think is, "You should already be dead.  Your eyeballs should have already burst out of your head from the lack of external pressure."  The potential bystanders of an interstellar purge are often the only ones with the wherewithal to close the doors and suggest new OSHA guidelines for refuse handling.  (I'd love to see their purge schedule.)

The week prior to this conversation, after many, many days of restless thoughts and resulting low emotional defenses, I'd had a long space garbage talk with someone.  It felt overdue, not because it would actually solve a problem or make me feel significantly better about a problem, but because the little space commander on my bridge cannot ever keep her own counsel, despite an admiration for Jean-Luc Picard.  Everything has to be run by Number One and entered into the ship's log and broadcast on all frequencies, just in case. It would be dishonest and disrespectful to the mission to do otherwise.

And there's the rub.  Most space garbage is not appropriate for all frequencies and some is not acceptable on any.  Toxic topics require hazmat permits and even the management of special recycling centers glove up in triplicate when a load arrives outside their bays.  Blowing the airlock puts all involved at risk  - invasion of privacy, hurt feelings, embarrassment, offensiveness, helplessness, repulsion.  But the garbage can't sit unattended for long.  There's room for another 3 week's worth but those chicken papers in the 2nd layer are starting to reek.  Big time.  I might never get the smell out of my hair and I'm not sure the crew will be willing to hose out the bay next time if maggots have already hatched.

Sometimes counter-actions like a night out or a day of distracting chores can reset the smell-o-meter with no peril to the mission.  I often suspect that the meter is hyper-sensitive anyway, but it's a custom part so there's no use hoping for a newer model to come along.  The needle always seems to creep right back up at a steady pace until the big red button is pushed, and however small an amount of accumulated crud clings to the walls, it's finally sucked out.

[Okay, the analogy falters here because "blowing" the airlock is, in fact, exposing the interior of the craft to the space vacuum.  I have no idea how to work with this - I like being on the verb end of things and not the object. Stick with me, despite our obvious failure to achieve exit velocity.]

Whether constant emotional/informational purging is another symptom of late-onset OCD, indicates poor personal boundaries, or is the inevitable result of an overburdened, aging system, there's no choice.  The commander must press the button and hope for the best.  Hope that no one on her crew is sucked out or quits in protest. Hope that no fellow commanders call the Federation behind her back or, worse, stop taking her calls.  Hope that this stubborn wad of blackened gum eventually comes free.  Even if it's just for my gal on the bridge to know there's someone/something out there in the void with a larger garbage can and better charcoal filters, the button will be pushed.