Gratitude Saturday July 21

There was a steam pipe explosion in my general vicinity this week.  Luckily, there were only minor injuries, but the pipe that burst was very old and was covered in asbestos.  So it was one of those kind of weeks…

  1. grateful to all the first responders who helped with this situation- appreciate the work of all those who willingly put there lives at risk to help others
  2. Only five people were minorly injured
  3. the even occurred at 639 AM- if it was an hour later the situation would have been much worse
  4. haz mat suits
  5. decontamination showers
  6. the helicopters have stopped circling overhead
  7. Broadway stars who come out after a show to give autographs
  8. soft, cushiony shoes for when you get a blister
  9. there’s a guy at my gym who looks and dresses like Waldo- I am grateful every time I don’t say “There you are!”
  10. iced tea with lemon
  11. assigned seats at movie theaters
  12. long walks on summer mornings
  13. the people in life that just make you happy
  14. my daughter had a wonderful intern experience
  15. being able to switch up travel itinerary with little issue
  16. little, tiny bags that fit clear bag policy

Have a good week all!!!

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Do You Have the Time

I’ve been way too philosophical of late: too much thinking- too much in my head. So today, we’re going to go all logic: Time Management.

What is time management?  Well, we’re going to go with my unsophisticated definition and say that it is how you manage your time- how you get the things you need to get done in a timely fashion (I know- I should write for Webster’s…)

Why is time management important?  Because we’re all busy.  We all have a billion things to get done, and about a half hour to get them done.  Plus- we want to have a little down time.  So we need to learn how to manage our time in order to get the necessities out of the way and leave time for the good stuff.

Someone recently wrote about the benefits of teens having part time jobs because it teaches them time management.  This is a totally true statement.  Except when its not.  How many of you with jobs are really good with time management?  I don’t see all your hands up.  Half of you are running away in terror.  The other half are proudly holding up their planners. Because we all know that time management is just another term for planning.

My teen daughter is a master of time management.  In fact, if a college application question were to ask what her superpower is, it would clearly be how to manage time and get things done.  She not only participates in clubs, she is also a leader in almost everything she does.  During the tennis season she does not get home from school until about 730 and them has to do hours of homework, on top of eating and showering.  During law competitions, she often spends about 20 hours a week just prepping for her role.  Add on top of this community service and tutoring job and practicing guitar and writing poetry and essays (which she does for relaxation) and friends….

As I’m telling you how wonderful my daughter is, I am aware that karma will probably wield its ugly head and she will go off the rails- but I am also pretty confident that that will not happen until January 5, 2019 after all college applications are in…

What are her secrets?

  1. She knows her limitations.  She knows exactly how much she is capable of doing.
  2. She knows how to say no.
  3. She knows that you can not do everything, so you must prioritize- take care of the must do first, then go in order of importance
  4. She breaks tasks down into manageable chunks- if she has a paper due in 10 days she set daily goals so that she is not rushing, and she makes the goal appropriate to the day (eg, if she has a match at a far court and knows she will not walk in the door till 830, she will not attempt to write 8 pages of something)
  5. When she has a project due in the future, she makes sure that it is completed a full day before it is due- she uses the night before to make sure there are no glaring errors- let me repeat- she does not wait till the night before to complete a project because she is a firm believer of Murphy’s Law
  6. If she’s running low on supplies (paper, ink, etc) she buys it – all it takes is one trip to the 24 hour staples at 1am to make sure you always have ink in the house
  7. She keeps a calendar.  She writes down what steps she needs to do on what days
  8. Every night before she goes to sleep she writes a new to do list for items due the next day, and adds things to it as the day progresses- she highlights the things that must be done
  9. Every night she checks her to do list to make sure that everything is completed, and what wasn’t done gets added to the next days list
  10. She packs all her things the night before (the one exception is her computer which must charge overnight- but as it’s the only thing she has to add to her bag so it’s rote by now)
  11. She has google drive folders for all her clubs and classes.  She makes sure everything goes into the correct folder.
  12. She also has separate paper folders for all clubs and classes to keep track of all the paper that she still seems to have in a paperless society
  13. Her motto is “everything in moderation.”  She knows that if she goes out with friends on a Friday night, she needs to stay in Saturday night (usually- there are exceptions)
  14. She knows how long it will take to get certain tasks done.  If she’s not sure, she adds extra time. She also adds in commuting time- how long it will take to get somewhere.
  15. The first thing she does in the morning is check the weather and how mass transit is running- she needs to factor in delays that are beyond her control
  16. When she comes home from school she puts her phone on “Do Not Disturb” for two hours- she does not text, email or look at social media for at least two hours Monday through Thursday.  And- when she is at end of marking period, when everything is due, she takes Instagram and facebook off her phone entirely. Not snapchat- I mean really- let’s not get too crazy. Can I add that this is the absolute most important thing she does in order to have good time management?

I think I hit on the big things, the things that really help get her going.  Is she perfect? No.  Not even close.  Does she screw up?  Of course- she’s human.  But, by having a plan in place, her screw ups are not monumental- she is able to recover.

Does this work for everyone?  Probably not.  But if you never seem to have enough time, maybe you should at least consider setting up a plan.

It’s A Funny Thing About Love

You all know my idea process by now: I get an idea, I jot it down in the next open space in my planner, I look at the idea the night before I’m going to write about it, and then, in the morning, I write. And I normally stick to this plan- I rarely change up an order or switch ideas- I just write what I planned to write about. Except for July 4.  I had written down an idea for July 4, but I realized that I wasn’t going to want to write a “real” post on July 4, so I moved the idea for July 4 to today.  Last night I looked at my idea, which was talking about how much I loved some quotes from the new Allison Pearson novel.  I then looked at the quotes I had bookmarked, to refresh my memory about what was special about them.  And in reading these quotes, I realized that so much of my writing the past two weeks has in some part been formed by these quotes. Subconsciously, I have been thinking about love and soul mates and many of the things I have touched on.  So for the third day in a row, I am going to talk a little about love.

Let’s start with one kind of love: book love.  Years ago, I found a writing soulmate in Allison Pearson, and her book “I Don’t Know How She Does It”.  The writing is real- it’s the same emotions and feelings many Mothers feel on a daily basis.  It is also clever, witty and laugh out loud funny at points.  And maybe Pearson’s next work disappointed me just a little, but when I opened up her new one, “How Hard Can it Be” I was instantly transported back to writers lust: I want to write like Allison Pearson.

Pearson manages to make me laugh and tug at my heartstrings all at the same time.  She makes me have emotion.  She makes me feel.  She makes me think.  This is it for me: novel perfection- emotion, feelings and thinking.  Did I say that I long to write like Allison Pearson?

“How Hard Can it Be” might be considered by some as a beach read- something light and fun to pass the time.  And it is light and fun and easy to read- but to call it that alone would be a disservice to writers who choose to entertain with their work.  I find that she really nails feelings about love better than most (certainly better than that insipid book I talked about the other day)

Quote 1: “That is the issue.  What matters is not who you go to bed with, but who you can talk to- I mean, really talk to- when you’re lying around afterward.”

Analysis- I actually used a similar line when I wrote my soulmate piece the other day.  I actually think about this exact subject a lot.  Intimate relationships require intimacy and communication.  If you have intimacy and communication, your relationship has the basic building blocks- if you don’t?  I don’t know- how’s that working out for you?

Quote 2: “But then there are all the minor reasons.  Like, you know, the thought of being happy for the rest of your life because you’re making the other person happy.  Giving them a chance to prove that they can do the same for you.  Peace on earth.  Justice for all.  The little things.”

Analysis- Isn’t that the essence of love?  Knowing that someone else is happy because you’re in their life? And yes, I know you have to start out with a happy person- no person can make you happy if you’re not- but when the thought of someone special puts a smile on your face for no other reason than that they exist in the same sphere as you?  I’m smiling right this very second just thinking about those I love, and love me in return.

Quote 3: “He loved me.  And I loved him.  Don’t we know within a few minutes of meeting someone if we have to adjust the frequency?  I knew instantly with him, we had our own wavelength (do not adjust your set) and I remember that burst of pure happiness.  Only very rarely do you get that sense, once or twice in a lifetime, if you’re lucky.  We were lucky.  Several billion people on the planet and we found each other.  How great is that?”

Analysis: Ok- obviously, though I didn’t recognize it at the time, this quote was running through my brain for probably a month now.  Amazing the subconscious, isn’t it?

Conclusion: At the root of everything there is love, or lack of love ( indifference or hate if you like those terms better).  Love drives us, even when we don’t realize we are thinking about it.  Love- hate- indifference. But mainly love. That’s the human experience all rolled up into a tight little ball.

Koan I Do it? Should I?

Koan. by  Defined by Merriam-Webster as ” A paradox to be meditated upon that is used to train Zen Buddhist monks to abandon ultimate dependence on reason and to force them gaining sudden intuitive enlightenment.”

Abandon reason?

Really?

Doesn’t everyone logic things out?  Isn’t rationalization my middle name?

Though the concept of koan has been around for years, I only recently read about it.  As someone who tried to make sense out of everything (most recently the whole iHop/iHob fiasco- marketing gimmick?  I think not.  That was a capital F failure…) the concept of a question that is strictly meant to enlighten is mind boggling.  Why should we be trying to become more intuitive? Doesn’t logic explain everything?

Except when it doesn’t.  What about those times that you “just know”?  Have you ever said that -“I just knew.”? I admit I have uttered those three words.  Very little catches me off guard- I tend to “sense” things before they happen. Most recently I just knew my friends biopsy would reveal cancer before she knew or told me.  I just knew.

So why am I so reluctant to consider this a valid thought process? Obviously, I believe in intuition.  I’ve experienced it.  Isn’t my thought process a sort of koan training ground- a question that has no logical answer?

Why? Because I believe that intuition is just highly formed logic.  I believe that my sense of “just knowing” comes from my attention to what is there, and what is different. My ability to see patterns, and  knowing when something is off.  Maybe I make an assumption or two, but these assumptions are based on facts- they are more hypothesis than assumption.

Right now you’re all thinking- boy- she can rationalize anything. And yes, I can.

But for arguments sake, let’s think about the most illogical thing we experience every day: Love.  Love is not logical. I can’t explain why I am in love with one person and not another.  Can anyone?  Can anyone give me concrete reasons why something is love and not like?

Does koan help us understand love?  Is love the ultimate paradox?

I like when something can be named: when there is a concrete word for a feeling or action. Conversely, I don’t like when things are wishy washy or up in the air.  In loud discussions I often say “Logic it out.  Does what you’re saying make sense?” But love doesn’t make sense; it isn’t logical.  I sort of like knowing that it’s OK to meditate on the things that don’t make sense- that there is actually an ancient practice devoted to it. And maybe thinking about it will help me make sense out of all the things that just don’t add up. Maybe, if I keep thinking about things, I will be enlightened.

What is enlightenment?  Well, that’s a whole other blog post.  I’m going to have to think about it.

 

 

 

Show or Tell

Anyone who has ever taken Writing 101, or read anything about being a writer knows the classic: show, don’t tell.  We sit there and try to think of clever devices to get our stories moving and to give description without relying too heavily of adjectives.  We’re not supposed to say the wagon was red: we’re supposed to intimate that the well worn wagon carried with it the dusky hue of bruised tomatoes. (obviously something better than that- you all know that description is the bane of my writing existence).

So as a veteran of Two (yes TWO) writing classes, I now open up a book to see how the author has chosen to show not tell.  And sometimes I find brilliant ways of conveying information: many times I do not.  Right about now, my friend K is reading this and thinking “OMG- she’s back on the show don’t tell.  Didn’t she bore us enough at dinner with this conversation? I can’t believe she’s still complaining about that book…)

I recently read a book- “The Atomic City Girls”.  It contains the now common triptych story pattern- one day people will be studying the literature pattern of the 2010’s and they will ponder why this decade chose to divide books into three parts, telling three not really related stories, but miraculously have a last chapter that “unites” the three separate but equal parts.  They will wonder why authors chose to do a lousy job telling three stories when they probably could have done a lousy job with just one storyline, and then we could just say poor writing instead of confusing  and convoluted. Is  anyone wondering why I don’t review books?

But anyway.

I read this book for my book club, where yes, we do actually discuss what we read.  Our leader has a carefully thought out list of questions to stimulate conversation.  I had a rather loud conversation with the others about this book regarding show don’t tell. I don’t think there are any major spoilers as the book itself does a great job of spoiling enjoyment of reading.

One of the convoluted storylines is about a low level employee who falls in love with a scientist, so there is the obvious he’s highly educated and has money while she is poorly educated and grew up sewing her own clothes.  How do I know they fell in love?  Well, right there on page 103 (fictitious- I have no idea what page it’s on) he said “I love you.”  The preceding 102 pages did absolutely nothing to “show” that he loved her.  He talks down to her, shuts her out and doesn’t treat her well.  So the only showing the author did was to show that he was not only not a nice person, the author showed that he didn’t love her.

I brought this point up to my book club as they were oohing and aahing about how much in love the characters were.  Where are you getting that he loves her? I asked.  He says it. they fawn. The character says at the end of the book “She was the love of my life.”

She was the love of my life.  Isn’t that telling?  Where is the showing? Where was the support of the statement?

For the moment, let’s say that my novel is a love story.  (I’m trying to keep the suspense up so when you all read it you can figure out if indeed character a loved character b, and how good a job I did showing it) Assume I spend my writing time trying to devise ways to show that my characters are in love.  My question is: why am I bothering if no one really cares how well the story is told?  Is writing as well I can the point, or is the point to try to get published?

So here is my question: Do readers want to see the journey through courtship, see how the characters interact and fall in love?  Or do the words “He loved her” suffice?

Do we as readers really want to be shown, not told?

My One and Only

Soul mates.  This concept has always intrigued me, and I have written about it before, but Janie recently wrote about it, so I thought I needed to rethink the issue.

So let’s start with the big question: Do you believe that there is a person out there in the world who is the perfect person for you?  For arguments sake, we can also consider the “7 person rule” which is that there are actually 7 perfect people for you in the world.

Do either of these theories make sense?  (I know- I’m asking you to think on a northern hemisphere summer day.)

Statistically, one has to bet against the theory of soul mates, because mathematically it just doesn’t add up.  If there is one, or even seven people in the world that are perfect matches, what is the chance of finding them? World population is about 7.6 billion.  Think about your odds…. So, maybe your soul mate exists, but what are the chances that you will meet them?

Which brings me to my next question: How do you know?  How do you know you’ve met your soul mate?  Do fireworks go off in the background? Do birds sing and animals frolic around you?  Do people spontaneously break into song as you and your soul mate walk down the street?

Let’s go back to the math/science approach for this one: chemistry.  No matter how you look at it, two people must have chemistry.  Even with friendships, there must be some sort of spark of attraction that unites two people together.

So how do you know the difference between real chemistry and lust?

Yeah- I’m still working on this one too.  Because if someone is to be your romantic  soulmate,  there must be physical attraction.  But, if every person you were physically attracted to was your soulmate?  You do the math and the logic on that one…

So, the chemistry must have physical properties.  What other properties does it need to contain?

Intellectual.  There must be intellectual chemistry.   You need to be able to talk to your soulmate.  You need to want to talk to your soulmate. The goal should be to be excited to go to bed with your partner, and just as excited to wake up to them the next day.  You should be thrilled to share the routine details with them, as well as the more thought provoking observations.  You shouldn’t need a buffer- you and soulmate should be able to find things to talk about on all levels without anyone or anything else. Now some of you are thinking, how can you always have something to talk about with your significant other?  And then I want you to think about what happens when people stop communicating with someone else…

Now how about your heart.  Hearts are often used to show love – so if we’re discussing soulmates, we must include hearts.  Here’s my theory on the heart:  your soulmate must have the ability to make your heart race.  A word, a look, anything that literally makes your heart start pounding.  Have you ever felt your heart race?  The thump thump thump where you see your chest rise and fall, rise and fall?  All your senses are engaged- it’s a total body experience! No other feeling compares to the feel of your heart racing because you are with the person you love- no drug, no stimulant is as good as this feeling, this natural high.  It makes your whole body shake with excitement.

But then, conversely, your soulmate also makes your heart calm.  They have the ability to make you know that no matter what, everything is OK, that they are your safe space. Those simple conversations where the world just fits, like all the pieces of a 1000 piece puzzle are joined together to form the most perfect picture….

So those are my criteria for a soulmate- 1) physical attraction, 2) mental stimulation and 3) they make you feel. (I spent longer thinking of a way to phrase this then I spent on whole blog- would love it if someone came up with a better phrase because making you feel is sort of stupid)

But now to the next part: how many people make you feel all these things simultaneously?

Is there one person who is just a better fit?

Obviously, I would love some audience participation on this one:

  1. Is there such a thing as a soulmate?
  2. What constitutes a soulmate?
  3. How do you know?

Discuss….

 

 

My Week in Review July 15

 

 

So here it is- halfway through July… here’s a recap of my week:

What I watched:

  1. “Won’t You be My Neighbor”- documentary- theaters- Mr. Rogers…
  2. “When Harry Met Sally” Tribeca Drive In- at Westfield.  The Oculus Plaza in the shadow of  the World Trade Center sometimes does movie nights.  It’s a cool way to see a movie in the city.  This is one of my favorite romantic comedies!  But remind me not to invite my daughter to any movie that I love…

Wimbledon- the men’s quarters and semis- Are you serious?  Some of best matches ever!

What was on my playlist:

  1. Coldplay
  2. AC/DC
  3. Chloe x Halle
  4. Jason Aldean
  5. CHVRCHES
  6. Belle and Sebastian

What I went to:

  1. New York Historical Society- “Walk This Way: Footwear from the Stuart Weotzman Collection of Historic Shoes (seriously- an exhibit of shoes!  Cynthia:  Shoes!!!)
    20180712_1257461168764260.jpgRockwell, Roosevelt & the Four Freedoms20180712_132134770277328.jpg
  2. Manhattan Henge- (a day when the sunset is exactly aligned with the grid of streets in Manhattan- I didn’t need to go far as I can get a decent view a block from my apartment)20180713_2017581228149332.jpg
  3. I had dinner with friends in Brooklyn: I know people liked skyline shots, so here are some I took with phone of the view we had from the restaurant: (I have a feeling there will be a post about this particular evening)

    Dole Whip Float  (New York Style) at Chikarashi- (it was hot out and it was delicious)20180714_140554876055718.jpg

What I read:

“The Intermission” Elyssa Friedland

Random Question: What is the best part of my day?

The best part of my day is at night.  I wash up, make a cup of tea, and I go over my day and write in my personal journal.  This is the moment I think of my very best moment of the day- and this moment is just for me.  It’s the thing I think about as I go to sleep.

Random Quote:

Quotes have become popular in out household (which I will explain in further posts) and I read this the other day, so I thought I would add it:

“When a match has equal partners then I fear not.” Aeschylus

Enjoy the week!!

 

 

 

Gratitude Saturday July 14

This week saw the triviality of a third item breaking- my ipod headphones.  But that’s the infamous third shoe to drop, so hoping that we’re done with bad appliance luck for the time being.  On a heavier note, my friend needs to have surgery, which she has apparently been putting off for awhile. So there is a summary of the bad and the annoying.  But, here’s to gratitude:

  1. Amazing discussions this week!!  Thanks to all for adding great insight into the discussions posed this week.
  2. I had an extra set of ear buds in my all purpose drawer
  3. My all purpose drawer is organized so I don’t have to call it a junk drawer
  4. When my headphones died while at the gym I was able to read blogs instead of listening to music (impossible to comment while on an elliptical however- my grammar and spelling are bad enough when I am at my desk, much less moving)
  5. salad with pita chips, pickled onions, feta and lentils
  6. ability to cancel hotel reservations when my daughter decides she doesn’t want to go see a college
  7. I didn’t throw my planning notes across the room when my family was trying to rearrange summer trip plans
  8. pretty summer evenings
  9. summer in general
  10. low humidity
  11. comfy  sandals
  12. pretty shoes
  13. went through thousands of emails- and only missed one semi important one
  14. little, tiny fanny packs that meet new stadium requirements
  15. ability to put thoughts into words and express myself on paper
  16. ability to rationalize that there must be a good reason for everything….(I’m working on this…)

And there you have it.

Enjoy your week!!!

Out of Context

My daughter and I had an argument the other day.  Honestly, we often have arguments.  This particular argument was about a movie we had seen.  “Sweet Charity” from 1969 starring Shirley MacLaine.  Spoiler alert- I am about to give you the basic plot of the movie, so be forewarned in case you ever want to dig back into the archives and watch it.

“Sweet Charity” takes place in NYC in the sixties.  It is based on a Fellini Film our night in umbria or something like that- I’m too lazy to google the actual title.  Charity is a woman roughly in her 30’s, who is a dance hall hostess, meaning, men pay to dance with her at a club.  She has spent her youth  giving her heart to men who are very undeserving of her love, or of anyone’s love.  She meets a respectable, honorable guy and falls in love.  They plan to get married…she quits her job…guy decides not to marry her because she has had too many lovers and he can’t get past it.  She is sad for a tiny bit, and them she is literally singing in the park.

My daughter and I saw this film as a part of film festival honoring women in NYC who were tough and uncompromising and heroines.  Other titles in the festival included “Working Girl” and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”.  Whenever possible, I try to expose my daughter to film, art, books, etc that feature strong, positive, female characters.

Ok- I know you all want to know about the argument.

Was this movie really about a woman who overcomes adversity?

Daughter: She’s basically a prostitute.  Her job is to look attractive and get men to dance with her.

Me: She wasn’t having sex with them.

Daughter: but she was still in a subservient position to men, and her only way out was to get married

Me: Yes.  But first off- you have to take the film for when it was made.  This was probably revolutionary in the sixties.  She doesn’t marry the guy and she tries to make the best of it. (she was probably relentlessly positive actually)

Daughter: You can’t appreciate something “for the time it was done”.  You have to appreciate work in the context of the time you are watching it.  Does it hold up?

And there is todays questions:

When you are watching, looking, reading something cultural, do you interpret it from the perspective of 2018, or do you look at it through the lens of when it was created?

Is it possible for my 16 year old (or any young person) to look at something and not view it through the eyes of the feminist world as it stands now?

What does it mean for something to stand the test of time?

When I am watching a movie, or reading a book or looking at art I always try to remember the context of when it was created.  I put things in historical perspective. I think things need to be looked at contextually. Is this the wrong way to approach something?

We all know I am never wrong, but in this particular circumstance, am I less than right?

How do you approach something greater than a decade old?  Appreciate the craftsmanship, or think of it through 2018 eyes?

Discuss….sd

 

 

 

Nature /Nurture

I am fascinated by the topic of nature vs nurture- more so since I saw the documentary “Three Identical Strangers”.  What is it that determines how people will turn out?   Is someone’s destiny predetermined at birth. or does upbringing help?

I have a friend who adopted a child.  The birth mother was a drug abuser and had other assorted issues.  The adoptive family were/are loving and supportive.  They provided the child with a nurturing and loving environment, exposed the child to art and culture and sports and whatever else the dream childhood consists of. They were involved in the child’s life in every aspect, and supportive of whatever path the child chose.

The child was quite intelligent and grasped onto concepts fairly quickly.    Child had a gift for language and writing.  But, the child was a behavior problem both in and out of school.  Respect was not one of the things this child exceeded at.  Child, who we will call Z, was regularly in trouble at school, little league, whatever.

When Z was in third grade, one parent passed away- cancer.  It was quick and brutal.

After the death, Z really started to go off the rails- the transgressions got larger. The actions of the child were starting to get dangerous.  Middle school saw Z stop working at all- work so poor that the decision was made to send Z to a special school.   And then another special school.  Because the problems kept multiplying. And drugs.  and alcohol.

Ninth grade would need to be repeated because Z was unable to maintain anything close to a good average- obviously, this highly intelligent child failed everything.

I recently found out Z is now in rehab.  Z is the same age as my daughter- they played together in pre-k.  And now Z is in rehab. This talented amazing child.  16 and lost.

So there you go.

Did the death of a parent throw Z right off the rails?  Or was Z destined to make questionable choices and become a substance abuser?

So what do you all think?

Nature?

Or nurture?

Both?