Triticum Turgidum

Lying Dormant and Waiting to Bloom Since 2005

My Photo
Name:
Location: The Prairie, Illinois, United States

I am a beauty-loving ambidextrous higher-order primate who learned transcendental meditation at 7, statistical analysis at 23, tap dancing at 30, and piano at 35. I tolerate gluten, lactose, and differences of opinion, but not abuse. Or beets.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Duet

video

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Restraint Part Deux

Okay, you do know that the kind of restraint I was talking about below is the kind that involves holding off saying/doing/ingesting/smoking something that could hurt you or your loved ones, right? It's the kind driven by respect for the power of your own words and deeds over others, and as such it reflects a sense of responsibility and good will.

I was NOT talking about the kind of restraint driven by fear of being true to yourself lest others reject you. Unfortunately I display that kind of restraint in abundance. I could go on and on about why--family history, brain chemistry--but the end result is the same: I tend to shut up about my own personal beliefs when interacting with people whose views diverge from mine, especially moral views. I am a Libran peacekeeper and a natural mirrorer (is that a word?): I'm always looking for common ground. The trouble is, eventually my beliefs make themselves known and friendships end because I'm perceived by the other to have been hiding something.

So! I've been trying to be more up-front with my beliefs, LESS restrained about expressing who I am. Let me stress: this is not about vocalizing how I think others should be (for my take on that, see Restraint post below). It's just about making my own outside congruent with my inside.

I asked my friend violetnoir to tell me more about herself, and she gave me a wonderful list of personal specifics (favorite color, predictions for upcoming election, etc.). In that spirit, here's a list of truths about me and the way I see the world. By the way, this is a big step for me, silly as it may seem. Only my husband knows most of this. Hopefully someday I'll see my way to saying some of this out loud, to the people who don't read this blog.

I love left-handed people; our brains work the same. All of my serious boyfriends (and now my husband) have been left-handed.

I am a pantheist. I don't believe in a human-like intelligence as God and don't believe that Jesus was anything more than an exemplary human being. In spite of this, I do pray, and always have. I don't know what I would call the receiver of these prayers: the universe, perhaps. I do believe that the basic energy that drives the universe -- the same force that makes electrons revolve around nuclei and planets around suns -- is awesome and divine, and that this force -- I'll call it God -- is within all of us and deserves to be respected and celebrated. I don't believe in heaven or an afterlife; I believe that this basic energy dissipates and ends up in the energies of living things that follow us after we die. Not reincarnation exactly (due to entropy) but shared energy that is neither created nor destroyed, just redirected. So quite literally, I believe that all living things are connected, all part of the same massive energy. I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.

I love the Beatles, have since I was a toddler; listening to them feels like home.

I think brown skin is prettier than white skin. No veins showing through. Besides, doesn't chocolate brown look better on people than beige?

I am politically liberal and would be happy to have either Barack Obama or Hilary Clinton in the White House, but I'm leaning toward Obama because the idea of yet another inbred presidency (Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton again??) exasperates me. With 300 million people, can't we find someone ELSE?

I am feminist to the core. Oh--on that note, I learned something new recently. Did you know that Title IX, in addition to supporting funding for women's sports, made it illegal for female students in federally funded high schools and colleges to be expelled for pregnancy? I have classes filled with women who loudly claim, "Oh, I'm not a feminist," but have no idea what feminists have done for them. I had three pregnant students last semester.

I like gay people. My oldest brother is gay, and I feel it's one of the best things about him. I find homophobia incomprehensible and disturbing. Research shows that homophobic men have a stronger erectile response to homosexual erotica than do nonhomophobic men. Somebody's hiding something...

I have an excellent sense of rhythm and am a natural composer of lyrics and music. My child isn't even two and can sing "The Name Game" with just about any name or word you give her. We saturate that poor (okay, lucky) child in music. When I was in 5th grade and they were starting to teach music, I wanted to play drums. I was told that girls didn't do that ("Why don't you play flute or clarinet instead?") and, ever obedient, I complied -- meaning, I didn't play drums. I didn't play any instrument. I feel like I really missed out. When I lived in Ann Arbor, the Unitarian church I attended had a drum circle, and I was all excited about joining--then we moved. The Unitarian church I attend here (who else lets pantheists in?) doesn't have a drum circle, but I'm thinking about starting one up. We need that kind of energy.

I love Public Enemy and all rap, as well as other genres, that function as protest music. The spirit behind songs like "Burn Hollywood Burn" is thrilling.

I think a wicked sense of humor is a sure sign of intelligence in a person.

On a related note, intelligence traditionally defined isn't what I find most attractive in people. It's competence. Take an illiterate man who can make a gorgeous piece of furniture by hand, or an uneducated woman who knows how to make perfect pastry crust, and I'm smitten. I don't care what the talent is; it shows a brain that works beautifully, and that's awe-inspiring.

The thing I admire next to competence is resourcefulness. People who use their creativity to solve problems inspire me. My biggest boosts in self-esteem come when I've used my creativity to solve a problem, especially a fix-it type of problem. My dad is a retired engineer with several dozen patents to his name; perhaps I get that thrill from him.

My favorite color is that turquose-twilight color of the sky about 30 degrees up from the horizon after the sun goes down. I also like dark pink. My favorite primary color is yellow, and I have a yellow coat, yellow luggage, and a yellow car. (Easy to spot in parking lots.)

I'm ambidextrous and can write forward and backward with my left hand, even though I normally write with my right hand. My mother has said that her brother, my uncle, actually types on two keyboards at once. I suspect that's beyond my capabilities.

I love sweets and constantly have to fight the urge to overindulge in them. I'm really surprised that I never ended up being addicted to alcohol, or food, or drugs. I'm the only nonsmoker in my family of origin; both of my parents and my brothers were/are heavy smokers. I do not believe this has anything to do with will power; I got lucky, genetically speaking.

I like Jews because they have no interest in proselytizing. They make good food too.

I am a natural cheerleader and tend to choose friendships that let me be "the wind beneath" someone's "wings." The only problem is that such relationships tend to be asymmetrical, and as such unstable over the long haul. I love people who can laugh when they're gently called out on their snarky behavior, and are willing to call me out in return. I've found a fair number of men like this, but it's a rare quality in women, at least the women I've invited into my life.

I cherish my siblings. We've had very troubled relationships with each other, and they're still troubled. But nobody else shares my cultural and family history. I like knowing that somewhere in the world are two men who would get all of my jokes. Nobody I work with gets my obscure cultural references, and it makes me lonely. If I meet someone who has seen (and enjoyed) every John Waters film, I feel an instant kinship.

I don't like people who don't like dogs, and I don't like people who don't like kids. It's okay to be intimidated by kids (I was and still am), but to actively dislike them? It shows an unwillingness to cede the position of Center of Attention. Grow up already: someone wiped your ass and listened to you tell the same stupid story over and over again. Now it's your turn to play supporting cast.

I live in fear of being trashed behind my back. So -- duh -- trust is an issue (see the "natural cheerleader" comment above).

I'm getting tired of adding to this list. If you've read the whole thing, you are my hero.

So much for restraint. :-)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Restraint

I've been thinking a lot lately about restraint. Maybe it's because MLK Day is approaching, and King's peaceful approach to political resistance epitomizes restraint.

Having a child has forced me to consider, with a cringe of embarrassment, all of the times that older, wiser people kept their mouths shut while I yammered on about something I was certain was gospel truth. In my arrogance I mistook their silence as passive, wondrous receptivity. Never did it occur to me that someone might be thinking, what a fool... ah, well, such is youth... she shall see. Worse, never did I realize that their silence was merciful, and that I might have had reason to be grateful for their kindness. Sometimes it takes years to realize the extent of people's kindness. Remember back when...? I was such an ass. Thank you for not crucifying me.

A member of my extended family (okay, it's my sister-in-law) thinks restraint is evidence of cowardice. She thinks her tendency toward hostile verbal incontinence makes her a thrilling, dynamic person. I fantasize about explaining to her, after (to quote Chris Rock) shaking the shit out of her, that the surest evidence of maturity, of having evolved as a human being, is restraint.

Restraint doesn't mean inaction. Campaigning for social change, but doing so nonviolently, as MLK and Ghandi did, demonstrates great restraint. In the ordinary-life sphere, actions like holding your tongue and just being there for a grieving friend; or going to bed when you know you need sleep, instead of staying up all night; or giving up on the need to have the last word in an argument, all demonstrate restraint. Allowing your mentally ill adult daughter to make some of her own life decisions, as one of my friends is doing, demonstrates Herculean restraint.

I have been practicing restraint regularly since my daughter was born. It's a big deal to know that you're in charge of writing someone's autobiography until the day she can assume authorship herself. Every word I say matters. Every emotional outburst matters. For the first time I'm aware of the power of my words to make or break someone else's view of herself (worthy of love?) and her home (safe?). Hence: lots and lots of restraint. And good practice for when she's a teenager, or so I hear.