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Archive for April, 2005

Game Theory

I just ate a rather dodgy grapefruit half.  Grapefruit and cottage cheese are my favourite morning food.  I don’t like mornings and I certainly don’t want to eat anything when I get up, but on the days when for some reason I wake up hungry I like to consume the pampelmousse.  Also partial to two [insert any type Pepperidge Farm cookies here] and tea with lemon in the morning, but alas, I have not been to le supermarche in awhile.  Hey what is up with all these French references?  I am reading a few French blogs (ah, wait that would be blogs of English-speaking-and-writing folks who live in France because I am a terrible, horrible, crass American who can barely translate Latin and knows no other languages — does my mother make up for this, because she speaks four?) and really enjoying them.  However, that is no cause to make an idiot of myself right here on the public Internet weaving in references to languages I don’t even speak.  Tres faux, Chanelbaby. 

Somebody please stop me.

What an odd mood I am in today, rather playful.  This notion of play has been much on my mind lately.  Yesterday I watched the most FASCINATING PBS program about the genetic evolution of dogs.  I was riveted.  I actually went hungry (which is patently unheard of, in the evening anyway) because I did not want to get up from the couch for ONE SECOND and have to miss anything.  (Don’t worry, I made Indian food after the show ended.)  Learning about theories of and research into genetic selection that provide possible explanations for the unsolved mysteries of life — why do dogs have floppy ears? how did human beings invent language? why is shopping for a bathing suit such a scarring experience? — was so interesting and dropped catalysts into all kinds of pots of thought that begin to bubble and fizz over in my brain.  One of the things I began thinking about was the place and importance of playing in the genetic evolution and social development of animals and human beings, and in their success as a species.  Children play games to contact and understand adult ideas, to enter social groups, to grow as people, indeed to grow up into maturity.  Dogs play games — well for basically the same reasons.  Except they grow into adult dogs.  You know, in case you were wondering.

But I started thinking about the games that adults play and immediately my thought took a different cast, a darker cast, a wait-that-isn’t-so-great cast.  Adults play games with each other and some are healthy, like football and Yahtzee.  But we also play games to manipulate each other and get what we think we need, like attention, or power, or praise, or attachment.  Sometimes whole groups of people get together and play games with other groups in a collective, constantly shifting web of alliances, scandals, name calling, and deceit in which nothing is actually accomplished.  This game is called politics.

But seriously, everything in human endeavour involves a certain amount of game playing, a certain kind of politics.  It’s inherent in our genes apparently.  But interestingly we also appear to have a longing for the lack of games, for honesty and plain dealing and truthfulness.  Why do we long for something that seems to contradict part of our genetic make-up and remain beyond our reach as a species? Is this longing, too, an evolutionary meme?  Does it serve an evolutionary purpose?  Or does it augur the existence of other forces shaping our experiences and our destinies?  Might these two kinds of forces operate at the same time?

I stayed up late into the night talking about all of this with Bartender Dude which is one of the reasons I love him so much, and all we were left with was a bread crumb trail of questions that continued long after I fell asleep.

Now here’s a good question for you: when will I ever quit blogging and get back to work?  Ideas? Thoughts?

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Lazy Maisy

Last night I had a most disturbing dream.  I dreamt that my studio floorboards had been ripped up in a jagged pattern, and a space about four feet square was gaping open.  I was really on edge about it because I didn’t have anything to block this gaping hole and I could see down to the sub-floor below and all I kept thinking about was the nasty dust and crap and bugs and dirt down there.  I thought perhaps I could put my blue rug over this large hole, but then decided against it because there was perhaps 3 or 4 feet of space between the two floors and if I (or anyone else) stepped on the rug we’d fall pretty hard into the sub-floor and hey, there could be dead bodies down there.

So while I was ruminating about this problem, LS and another girl materialized and we were all trying to come up with ways to fix the floor.  At this point my studio had kind of morphed and become an enormous bedroom with an en suite bathroom and we were sitting on a simply gigantic four-poster bed (it was beautiful).  SUDDENLY a disgusting and slinky rat ran across the room and UP THE WALL behind the four-poster bed.  I started screaming like I was in a horror movie or something and ran outside the room yelling “Kill it, kill it LS!” 

LS banged around frantically trying to kill the rat, but when I heard her start to cry I felt terrible.  What a bad person I was to make my LITTLE SISTER do my rat killing for me!  (Incidentally, I frequently have dreams where I have to save my younger siblings, usually from scrapes I’ve gotten them into, and I feel awfully guilty about it.) A steely resolve entered my soul, turning my fear into adrenaline. “GO INTO THE BATHROOM AND SHUT THE DOOR!” I ordered.  Then I turned around and ran downstairs to find some weaponry.  I searched and searched for something substantial to use that was also long enough so I didn’t need to get near the rat.  I finally found a length of pipe and was on my way back upstairs, a fire in my heart and murder on my mind. 

At this point I ran into my father, who seemed strangely unconcerned that hideous vermin were terrorizing his daughters.  “Oh yeah,” he said when I explained what was going on.  “I saw a rat run across the hallway floor the other day.  I think it’s because you have a big hole in your room.  That’s probably where they are coming from.”  And then he just wandered off.  I didn’t have time to be angry with him for falling down on his parental duties, because I had to run upstairs and beat the shit out the rat that was frightening LS, now locked in the bathroom.  And here is where my dream ends.

I’m not sure what the hole in the floor, or the rats, or my studio morphing into a room in my parents’ house means, but I do think the dream clearly indicates the following things:

  1. I do not like rats.  At all. And consider them dangerous.
  2. I find it wearying to be constantly the responsible one, and occasionally I shove my responsibilities off onto someone else. After which, I feel rather guilty.
  3. I do not consider my parents, particularly my father, to be any help at all to me when I have a serious problem.  I must admit I always felt this way, even when I was a tiny lass.  I will not go into explaining the amount of deep pain and anger that created in my little child soul, nor the scars that I carried into my adulthood as a result of it, because—well because there is no need to cast blame and create false sympathy.  Everyone has their part to play, and I know now that my father is certainly capable of helping me and so are many other people if I just ask.

But the dream, you see, the dream goes some way to explaining why I periodically land in stuck places.  Because, you know, sometimes I get DAMN SICK AND TIRED of working hard.  I really dislike my job, but I spend an enormous amount of energy doing it well, and when I leave at the end of the day or wake up on the weekend, I really don’t want to tinker with my resume and search for jobs and send off emails and network.  In fact, I want someone to just hand me the perfect dream job (say, English Lit professor full time with benefits and on a tenure track) without me having to lift a finger.

That’s right NOT A FINGER! (*kudos to those of you who get that film reference).  No extra schooling, no qualificating, no student teaching, no hustle-brown-nose-work-for-pennies-pay-my-dues-move-in-with-roommates-give-up-my-mortgage-ing.  No no no.  I want someone else to take care of me, and give me what I want, and do the hard work for me.  I want LS on pest control.  And I feel supremely lazy and stubborn and guilty about this, all at the same time.  Talk about stuck.

But the point is, that’s not LS’s job.  And in all honesty it is no longer my father’s job.  It is nobody’s job but my own.  And I reeeeaaaalllly don’t want to face it.  It feels like having to climb Mount Everest, or spin straw into gold, or recite the names of all 50 states and their capitols in backwards alphabetical order.  Whilst drunk.  Because no matter what I want to do, I know it will involve sacrifice, time, and possibly returning to school.  And a lot of hard work.

Ooof.  Maybe I should just go drink a martini.

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A few years ago, someone gave me a card that I found hilarious, probably because I am such a nerd, but also because it held the juxtaposition of the dramatic and the mundane which always makes me laugh (like that commercial where the guy says "Don’t worry sir, I’ve got everything we need for the meeting right in here" and taps his head, before walking into an open file drawer and knocking himself out.  I laugh until my stomach hurts when I see that ad, every single time.) Okay so back to the card.

The title was "James Joyce’s Refrigerator" and pinned to the fairly normal looking refrigerator was this note:

  1. Buy light bulbs.
  2. Wash windows.
  3. Pay electricity bill.
  4. Forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.
  5. Call mom.

I am paraphrasing the first three list items because I honestly don’t remember exactly what they were, but I do remember the final two.  Isn’t that hilarious?  Any of you who have read Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man will appreciate the humour. But isn’t it also kind of poignant?  Doesn’t everyone at some point feel that they have this huge task to accomplish, this enormous obstacle to get over or rite of passage to go through that is staring them in the face and blocking their way and can’t simply be tossed off with a glass of wine and a few well-chosen lines?

I have been meaning to write about something for a long time on this blog but not really knowing how to broach the topic.  Then, today whilst catching up on my blog reading (I’ve been away at a conference lo these many days), I realised how deeply, deeply stuck I am, and have been for a very long time.  Some people suffer from writer’s block (sometimes those people are me), but I seem to have run into what feels like a LIFE block.  I’m not even sure I can describe it but all I know is that it feels impenetrable, confusing, and that contemplating it is exhausting.  It has to do with dissatisfaction on a daily basis with the way I spend the majority of my hours, a dissatisfaction which at time swings to anxiety, visits panic, flirts with rage, and then slumps back down, defeated into dull frustration and the desire to lose myself in my relationship (Bartender Dude) or excessive socialising (read: expensive drinking). But every morning when I wake up (or, more accurately, SCRAPE myself out of bed and rush to work in a turtleneck and ponytail, unkempt) that damned life block is staring me in the face, grey and rough and insidious.

I could just say, I hate my job, but that wouldn’t really begin to cover it.  And I’m not sure if some of my hating-of-the-job is part of a deeper issue, but I do know that I haven’t felt so stumped in years. Probably ever.  And trying to figure out a way around it or over it or through it feels about as simple as forging in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.

No biggie.  It’s right at the top of my list with doing laundry and buying some pink hyacinth bulbs.

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Firstcookie2_sm The fabulous Miss Jane.  I wonder if she will ever find this page, years from now, when the Internet is beamed directly onto the insides of our spectacles and everyone is permanently connected, and if she’ll say "I’m going to hunt down my Auntie RIGHT NOW and take away her gin."

Pokadots5_sm I’m sorry Sack of Sugar.  I just CANNOT HELP MYSELF and I must post this shot of you with your underwear showing.  Oh the white tights with ruffled bums that every girl child in America has worn at some point, how I love thee.

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