Friday, January 08, 2010

Plagiocephaly -- Zygote's Flat Head

Supposedly one of the benefits of having a c-section is that your baby ends up with a perfectly round, cherub's head. Well, our little cherub has inherited YG's big noggin and has developed a flat spot. We had her scanned at Children's Hospital this morning for a helmet (I KNOW), and she took it remarkably well.

We pick up her skull & crossbones helmet in two weeks. On the good side, bad parents that we are, I guess we don't have to worry so much about her banging her head now.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

In My Language -- David Foster Wallace On Getting By

I'm nearing the end of Lit. I totally forgot that Mary Karr dated David Foster Wallace, and reading the brief part about their relationship made me go digging up that commencement speech he gave -- the one everyone was reminiscing about when he unfortunately died.

About as far away from the language of Simple Abundance as you can get. My favorite parts:

"And I submit that this is what the real, no bullshit value of your liberal arts education is supposed to be about: how to keep from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to your head and to your natural default setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone day in and day out. That may sound like hyperbole, or abstract nonsense. Let’s get concrete. The plain fact is that you graduating seniors do not yet have any clue what day in day out really means. There happen to be whole, large parts of adult American life that nobody talks about in commencement speeches. One such part involves boredom, routine, and petty frustration. The parents and older folks here will know all too well what I’m talking about.

By way of example, let’s say it’s an average adult day, and you get up in the morning, go to your challenging, white-collar, college-graduate job, and you work hard for eight or ten hours, and at the end of the day you’re tired and somewhat stressed and all you want is to go home and have a good supper and maybe unwind for an hour, and then hit the sack early because, of course, you have to get up the next day and do it all again. But then you remember there’s no food at home. You haven’t had time to shop this week because of your challenging job, and so now after work you have to get in your car and drive to the supermarket. It’s the end of the work day and the traffic is apt to be: very bad. So getting to the store takes way longer than it should, and when you finally get there, the supermarket is very crowded, because of course it’s the time of day when all the other people with jobs also try to squeeze in some grocery shopping. And the store is hideously lit and infused with soul-killing muzak or corporate pop and it’s pretty much the last place you want to be but you can’t just get in and quickly out; you have to wander all over the huge, over-lit store’s confusing aisles to find the stuff you want and you have to maneuver your junky cart through all these other tired, hurried people with carts (et cetera, et cetera, cutting stuff out because this is a long ceremony) and eventually you get all your supper supplies, except now it turns out there aren’t enough check-out lanes open even though it’s the end-of-the-day rush. So the checkout line is incredibly long, which is stupid and infuriating. But you can’t take your frustration out on the frantic lady working the register, who is overworked at a job whose daily tedium and meaninglessness surpasses the imagination of any of us here at a prestigious college.

But anyway, you finally get to the checkout line’s front, and you pay for your food, and you get told to have a nice day in a voice that is the absolute voice of death. Then you have to take your creepy, flimsy, plastic bags of groceries in your cart with the one crazy wheel that pulls maddeningly to the left, all the way out through the crowded, bumpy, littery parking lot, and then you have to drive all the way home through slow, heavy, SUV-intensive, rush-hour traffic, et cetera et cetera.

Everyone here has done this, of course. But it hasn’t yet been part of you graduates’ actual life routine, day after week after month after year.

But it will be. And many more dreary, annoying, seemingly meaningless routines besides. But that is not the point. The point is that petty, frustrating crap like this is exactly where the work of choosing is gonna come in. Because the traffic jams and crowded aisles and long checkout lines give me time to think, and if I don’t make a conscious decision about how to think and what to pay attention to, I’m gonna be pissed and miserable every time I have to shop. Because my natural default setting is the certainty that situations like this are really all about me. About MY hungriness and MY fatigue and MY desire to just get home, and it’s going to seem for all the world like everybody else is just in my way. And who are all these people in my way?"

Followed by some more DFW stuff, and then this gem:

"It just depends what you what to consider. If you’re automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won’t consider possibilities that aren’t annoying and miserable. But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down.

Not that that mystical stuff is necessarily true. The only thing that’s capital-T True is that you get to decide how you’re gonna try to see it.

This, I submit, is the freedom of a real education, of learning how to be well-adjusted. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t. "

And then he ends with:
"It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive in the adult world day in and day out. Which means yet another grand cliché turns out to be true: your education really IS the job of a lifetime.

And it commences: now. "

Brilliant. Tangent: I also somehow blocked out that DFW wrote most of Infinite Jest when he lived in Syracuse.

By way of contrast, the commencement speaker at my graduation was Robert Fulghum, who gave a totally charming speech, but still, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten?

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

This Is What A Relationship Looks Like: Night time Edition

SG: Can you stop snoring?
YG: You need to stop moving the blankets around. You're letting the cold air in.
SG: I can't sleep. Because of all the snoring.
YG: I'm not snoring.
SG: You are snoring.


YG: Will you please stop bumping into me?
SG: I'm not bumping into you.
YG: Shut up, or I'll stick my big dick in you to shut you up.
SG: Are you going to stick in my ear? Because that would keep the snoring out.
YG: Bitch.

End scene.

Choking Down Some Simple Abundance, Hoping Not to Barf It Back Up

I'm going through a lot of old books, trying to find one that might help me with my get-out-of-high-tech-find-something-else-to-do plan. If you read this, I'm assuming you know me and will reassure me that people do not think ill of me for owning the following titles among many of the same ilk: Learned Optimism, Zen and the Art of Making a Living, What Color Is Your Parachute, The Artist's Way at Work. Really.

This doesn't include the small books, those tiny books like Women Who Do Too Much that I guess you're supposed to carry around in your bag and read when you're having a bad day instead of threatening to stab your cab driver. I have an entire drawer of these, either bought during some apparent time of wanting to turn over a new leaf or given to me by well-meaning friends and back in the day, fellow 12 steppers, that thought I was an angry bitch. I read them sometimes.

Digging through the pile, I found Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy. You just threw up in your mouth. It was given to me by Abby, this seriously cool woman with a great job and charming husband and nice clothes. She had a lot of cats, but there was nothing about her screaming RUN or Howling Wolf t-shirt! She said it was helpful, and I believed her.

My first reaction, upon reading the first few entries, was that it was quite possibly the gayest shit I have ever read. Tea! Flower sachets! Dream journals! OMFG, SLEEPLESS IN SEATLE! I imagined the Delicious Dish ladies sitting around discussing the book and how their "authentic selves" had baked gingerbread cookies and had cocoa on a snowy winter's day. Barf. Plus, the suggestions were so mundane and almost insulting to women -- everything involved cooking or cleaning (discover the real you by reorganizing the spice rack!), setting the angry feminist radar on high alert. There's even a website that greets you with some breathy music chanting, I shit you not, "the gift of love." Not for me.

Or so I thought.

I picked up the book the other night, and after getting through all the new age hippie crap, I found myself almost liking the central premise: that you have everything you need to be happy, you just need to find it. I believe she says, "discover it," but...ew. Maybe it's the baby. Maybe it's the meds. Or maybe I've tried to think of everything that will help me figure out how to change careers, and I've hit such a wall that a glittery dream notebook and a pink pen seem like plausible ways to do this.

So, I'll be reading one of these meditations (even the word makes me cringe) each morning and attempting to follow through, blogging about my..choke...journey to peace and plenty when I can. Humorous, probably. Enlightening, maybe.

You now have my permission to laugh out loud.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Exit Strategies or Quotable Quotes

"Ask not what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive... then go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."

Howard Thurman