Thursday, June 06, 2002
well, friends. I apologize for not giving you something to read yesterday. I am very happy that I have readers, even some readers I don't know! How marvelous! I try to keep my end of the bargain by writing new content, but my creativity is a little low.
I think people have different settings, RPMs if you will, at which they operate best. I am a high-revving person. I have to have a lot of things to do to make me happy. In fact, if I have had a long day, and come home at the end of it, I often feel like I need to immediately leave and go see someone else. I'm just that way!
So. Not being in school and not being employed just leaves me feeling all weird. It's hard to be creative. It's hard to think of interesting things to write about.
I decided I needed more structure in my life. That will help!
I should do some volunteer work! That will give me a purpose in life. So I started looking around... I thought I should do something literary. But there aren't as many volunteering opportunities for that sort of thing during summer vacation. Hmm...Food banks? Animal shelter?
Then it occurred to me...Charity begins at home.
My parents live with my oldest brother a few miles away. They recently bought a house in Sacramento, and are moving into it in August. This will require packing. And nearly everything they own in the double garage, packed in boxes.
I think packed is an inaccurate term. Tossed? Thrown? Packed once, but rummaged through repeatedly? Sifted, sorted, piled…All these things would be estimations of the state of the garage.
It had to be packed. Those responsible for packing it were also the ones responsible for it’s state of extreme disorganization. That’s bad.
I was going to have to do it anyway, so I might as well do it in a peaceful methodical way. I called my mom and set up a schedule. I would go and work on organizing their stuff every morning for a few hours.
There is a certain irony here. It’s not like my house is not in need of organization. But it’s more fun to organize someone else’s mess.
I don’t know…Maybe everyone has one or two things that they have trouble throwing away. It is hard for me to give up books. Right now, I need to buy some more bookshelves. Clothes too. There is something about the sensuous feel of different fabrics. I have a fur coat that I’m never going to wear. But I can’t give it up! And all those lovely formal things…I hardly ever wear them…And funky costumey things…
What can you do?
I think we Americans have difficulty with “enough.” When is it enough? We all eat too much, most of us anyway, and the media likes to write about the problem of obesity.
We like to buy things. Isn’t our economy based on consuming? What’s up with that? We just have to buy all kinds of weird stuff. And then we have to buy the sequel!
I’m guilty. I love to shop. My wonderful boyfriend loves to shop, too. We have so much fun in the stores. We don’t feel compelled to buy things, though. Thank goodness. Most of the time our shopping is for amusement.
I love the 99-cent stores. One time, I was looking over the shelves there, and I happened upon some statues of pigs. 3-inch replicas of pigs, but they were dressed as a dentist and patient. Little piggy dentist with a girl piggy patient. Or little piggy girl dentist nurse and the boy piggy patient.
THIS WAS NOT ALL! These items would have been merely kitschy, except for the fact that boy piggy patient had his pants wide open, and his piggy hand pulling open the blouse of nurse piggy. Or when it was girl piggy patient, boy piggy dentist was leaning down into her piggy bosom as she pushed it out towards him, revealing the pink-blushed nipple areas for his lecherous dentist gaze.
Rows and rows of these statuettes lined the shelves. There were a few poses. I was aghast. I surveyed them, amazed. Then I noticed that there were similar pigs, undoubtedly from the same manufacturer, but they were naked and natural. Two happy pigs, running and playing around a hollow log. Except, in light of the soft-core pigs of the first statues, I began to look at their cavortings in a different light. What was occurring in the darkness of that log? Why was one pig chasing the other? And WHAT WERE THEY SMILING ABOUT?
Then, I realized, someone had designed and manufactured these pigs because they thought they would sell.
We really will buy almost any piece of crap with a FOR SALE sign on it.
I admit, I almost bought a pig myself, just to prove that an awful thing could exist. But I didn’t. I couldn’t perpetuate such a thing.
posted by Murphy 6/06/2002
Tuesday, June 04, 2002
I mentioned it already, but I just finished reading “The woman warrior: Memoirs of a girlhood among ghosts” by Maxine Hong Kingston. The story, like many stories about English-as-a-second-language immigrants, talks about the difficulty of her voice. She has trouble talking, knowing what to say. She even is told that her voice is wrong, like a squeaking duck.
At one point, she attacks a fellow Chinese American schoolmate for not talking.
A persons’ voice is a tricky thing. I speak English as a first language. Lucky me! It should be easy for me. But I remember, I remember so well, how difficult it was growing up. I knew so clearly in my head what I wanted to say, what I wanted to have or to be given, and how impossible it seemed to convey that information.
I believe that the Chinese girl in the book was burdened with so much meaning, she felt it impossible to express in mere words. So many layers of complications and luck ramifications that the flimsy container of English words could never contain the meaning required.
I so often feel that way now. When I look at a certain juxtaposition of ideas or objects, I can see the meaning created by those particular things being in that arrangement. Each person, idea, or object has its own meaning, but perfectly aligned with those individual meaning, a new meaning is showing itself in how those things came together.
Sometimes the new meaning is so incredible I catch my breath with excitement. Revelation!
But how to show the pattern to others? It would seem to require the invention of a new language to tell.
Industrious people that we are, we human beings have indeed invented a new language. We have developed complicated symbology to express the relationship of things to themselves and to other things. We have words for mathematical concepts like integers and square roots. We have symbols for chemistry like the periodic table of elements. Computer science has 3letter acronyms for everything!
Each discipline has a steep slope of specialized words to communicate their ideas. The higher you climb this mountain, the more you know. You will be able to communicate in tight, terse language huge complex ideas, but you will be understood by fewer and fewer people.
How sad. It takes another person understanding what you say to make saying things worthwhile. Speaking and being heard are connected. It is important that speech be comprehensible.
So often I have felt my tongue turn numb, as I try to say something important to a person who does not understand. As I speak and begin to explain concepts that I worked hard to order in my own head, the person who hears looks at me blankly or stares at me as if I were a raving lunatic. All reason leaves my speech, and my mouth fumbles on into a final “Never mind.”
Is reason and order so fragile that a look can destroy it? Another person’s immovable block of understanding, or even their refusal to understand can scatter the carefully arranged thoughts with so little care.
Of course, the thoughts are not destroyed. They simply need regrouping. But what power people hold over one another. Even pretended disinterest can destroy thought, or pretended interest can give room for ideas to coalesce.
posted by Murphy 6/04/2002
Monday, June 03, 2002
I got to visit my dad’s side of the family this weekend. They are the middle Californians. Some of them were complaining about “Kids these days”. Kids these days, apparently, do not help with harvesting the crops like they used to. Like all of THEM did. What’s the world coming to?
Some of my cousins made the point that there are child labor laws now. Good point. Those pesticides are only for adults!
They were all extremely congratulatory of my degree. “What was your major again? English?”
My aunt said it best. “What are you going to do with your degree? It’s fine to be educated, but it’s important to be able to eat? What are you going to DO? You can’t eat a diploma!”
One of the cousins said, “Well, you can, but only once.”
I took a deep breath and looked over the fence. I talked about how, when you live frugally, making a living is not as hard as it looks. I said that I was looking to do something meaningful, which would be exciting and focus on the things I love. I said I wanted to help people see the beauty of literature and affect the culture of America, but that I wasn’t sure what form that would take.
She looked at me blankly and said, “Are you going to be a teacher?”
My family loves me. She wants to make sure that I will be okay.
That’s what I had to tell myself the whole way home.
All of us liberal arts majors have the same conversation after graduation, I’m sure.
posted by Murphy 6/03/2002
I think we all know that Disney movies are not known for their accuracy.
The fact that Little Mermaid the movie ended happily illustrates that perfectly.
I am reading Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston. She has a lovely and more fully realized story of Fa Mu Lan. I recommend it.
I’ll have to tell you more about it when I finish the book.
posted by Murphy 6/03/2002