Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Scholarship is the Enemy of Romance

This line used to be my email signature until I began to think it was a self-fulfilling prophecy. Here is where I took it from:

Scholarship is the enemy of romance
Where does that leave me? Alone in the rain again
What happened to the weekend I planned with you?
We didn't even get upstairs this time

I never missed that end-of-term kiss
But where did it go, miss? I don't know, miss

Take me to the fair and hold me close as we fly
through the air
Then suddenly on Sunday, it all just melted away
And when it had gone, between patches of yellowing grass
I found a coin and lost what I was looking for

I never took the advice in that book
Oh you should look, sir, you might learn, sir,
You might learn, sir
--Billy Bragg, Reaching to the Converted (1999)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Lucca, all growed up

Going through all of these old posts over the weekend, I noticed the posts of Lucca when my brother and sister-in-law got him last year. Well, he's no longer a furry puppy any more, he's a full-grown dog and so here is a more recent photo of him with my brother Mike at the beach. Lucca is a lot more mellow than Sunny, his predecessor, also a bit smaller. But he's a good dog, friendly like most Golden Retrievers are, and it looks like I'll do some dogsitting later on in the fall if I can find someone to look after Serena while I'm away.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Getting comfortable again?

So, I write this nice entry about embracing discomfort and I get this email horoscope message in my Inbox this morning. I think the universe is working against me!

Romance could be awkward -- but that's almost always a good sign! If you feel more exposed than you like, that means you're moving in the right direction. Find a way to get more comfortable.

Romance is always awkward, isn't it? At least at the beginning. But is discomfort a sign of growth or that something is wrong? Are obstacles "omens" that you are going in the wrong direction and you should try doing something else or are they merely barriers in your path that you need to overcome? It's a question that has haunted me for quite some time and I'm still not sure of whether there exists an answer to this question.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Show or tell?

I can't believe it but it turns out that I've spent most of the day working on this blog, fine-tuning the template so that all entries look standardized. It isn't a complete success...the font is larger in Internet Explorer than Mozilla Firefox which is the browser I always use. So it has been a lot of small adjustments on each entry, altering spacing, italics and the like. I hope no one has this blog on a feed or their probably got a hundred entries as I published and republished each entry.

I have mixed feelings about all of this. It's been fun to have a place I can go, write and experiment but I can't imagine the amount of hours someone with an active blog would need to invest in maintaining their site. Maybe they get contributors to provide them with content and the
blogmaster just handles the formatting and uploading of pictures and such.

I'm trying to add some functionality to this blog (why? don't know) which has led me to some blog directories and I can't quite fathom the range of stuff that is out there on the Internet, the level of sexuality on display. Everyone from young girls to old men, mostly white folk though. And the people don't seem to be making money off of it, it's just exposure for exposure's sake. Do the individuals think that no one they know will ever see the photos? That there is something called privacy on the Internet? I have a terrible feeling that these are private photos that some ex-boyfriend decided to share with the world. But I guess the alternative--that these people want to flash their private parts--isn't much better.

Oddly enough, you see enough body parts and they start looking generic, like drawings in an anatomy book or like you're looking at farm animals. I feel curious about the people who are posing more than aroused by their bodies. The volume of what's out there is just so overwhelming that any individuality is completely erased. I guess that's why I'm a sociologist and not a pornographer. Well, one reason.

No one would ever accuse me of being an exhibitionist. That might seem odd for someone who writes down their thoughts for anyone to see but this forum seems relatively anonymous and I have yet to pass on the URL to anyone know in my real life. I think I'm afraid that I'll let their opinion (which WILL be expressed) to influence the content of the blog and right now it's free to be whatever it is....in other words, a blank page where I can reveal as little or as much as I want. In that regard, I guess I'm a verbal exhibitionist.

Embrace discomfort...sez who?

I was looking around the house for something to inspire me to write and I found a Word document I had created by cutting and pasting an article from the Internet...here is the section that grabbed me initially when I saw the article in a magazine:

Embrace discomfort—at least temporarily.
Change is hard, but perpetual dissatisfaction is no picnic either. "You won't make any real progress unless you're willing to be temporarily uncomfortable," says Robert Leahy, PhD, a clinical professor of psychology at Weill Medical College of Cornell University and author of The Worry Cure. "Taking one step backward from your easy life is the first step forward." You may even learn that what you thought would be excruciating (putting your house up for sale, having a one-on-one with your boss or partner) isn't nearly as unpleasant as you thought.

This is so true of me--I try to avoid anxiety by delaying uncomfortable activities or decisions--but writing a simple blog entry became this early morning quest to find the authorship of this quote. I didn't identify the source on my Word document so I did a Google and Yahoo search for "embrace discomfort", looked through 250 options they listed; went on to at least a dozen quotation websites, searching for any quotes using the words "embrace" and "discomfort"; I even went to some Bible sites after thinking it might be some quote from Paul but no luck.

No one takes credit for putting these two words together but it was interesting to see who uses the expression:

  1. Self-help websites
  2. Yoga websites
  3. Business/Motivational websites
  4. Exercise/Sport websites
  5. Health websites
  6. Ecological websites
  7. Christian websites

So, the expression has expanded to beyond what how I initially understood the term to now include all forms of change in ones physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual life, ones business practices or ones lifestyle. It now refers to any aspect of our life that we are seeking to change whether it is altering ones corporate culture or sales methods, changing how or where we shop, losing weight, getting in shape to run a marathon, learning to love our neighbor, pushing through the pain to achieve a yoga position, or starting to date again after a divorce.

It's fascinating to me that somewhere, at some point, some unknown minister, self-help guru, or motivational speaker put these two words together and created an entire philosophy that covers all aspects of ones personal and professional life. How does that happen? It's refreshing in this day and age that a phrase can be popularized like that without someone "branding" or trademarking it.

I never did find the source of this quote listed above until I went back to my original document and did a search for a more obscure term (the last name of one of the authors cited). It turns out that the original piece was from Prevention magazine at the beginning of the year and came from a series of articles about making changes in ones life (link included).

My search for inspiration ended up becoming a futile search for an author and it is somehow comforting to me that there are some newer expressions or sayings that we can still say were written by "Anonymous".

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Every day, I dye a little

I heard an interesting interview yesterday with Anne Kreamer who wrote a book called Going Gray, What I Learned about Beauty, Sex, Work, Motherhood, Authenticity, and Everything Else That Matters. In the interview she mentions that thirty or so years ago, 7% of American women dyed their hair and now, almost two thirds (65%) do. It seems to be a psychological fixation that U.S. women have about not wanting to grow older or at least not wanting to appear to be older than we feel.

I'm a dyer right now and it's because I'm trying to enter a field and I don't want to highlight the fact that I'm older than the typical job applicant. If I could go gray all over, I think I'd just let it be because it is flattering. But, if my mother is any indication, when I'm over 50 my gray will appear in patches...along my brow and temples, a spot of the back of my head. It's not all over and it's not salt-and-pepper, it looks more like bleach splashed on portions of my head. That's not a look that I would choose. Damn nature!

I'm a pretty recent dyer (last 3 or 4 years) so it was a surprise to me that so many women (and men?) dye their hair. I guess it shouldn't since there is usually a long aisle in drug stores completely devoted to hair color but I never see anyone lingering around that area of the store, contemplating their choices...people must surreptitiously pick up a box and put it in their cart, like they are buying a dirty magazine. So, they are ashamed of looking older but also of doing something to stop looking older unless they decide to cough up the money to go to a salon and have it done professionally. Kind of a no win situation unless you've got oodles of disposable money to play around with how you look.

What was most surprising was that Kreamer said men flirted with her more once she allowed herself to go gray. Who would've guessed that?

There's a great short article on the book and Kreamer from the
New York Times and a piece she wrote for Time magazine...just click on the links.

Monday, September 10, 2007

What a long, restless nap

Finally returned to posting. I enjoyed keeping up with this blog when I started it but it began to feel like an obligation...to post something interesting but not too revealing, something original but not incomprehensible, and to post it all regularly. What started out as fun became a chore. So, I just stopped writing and actually thought my account had been deleted.

So, here I am, over a year later, writing these long-ass messages on discussion boards, putting my heart and soul into them and, as Al Green says, it occurs to me, "Why aren't I doing this on my blog? Sure, no one knows it exists. But at least my thoughts don't slip off the page in a day! They'll be there for at least a week!"

All to say, I'm going to give it a shot, again. Less profundity but maybe I'll make up for my shallowness with being more conversational and they will sound less like journal entries. Or maybe I won't. It's all just an experiment any way. Until later.