Friday, January 28, 2005
Monday, January 24, 2005
In one of my classes, we have been looking at the design elements of various web sites. One of the ones that caught my eye was the highIQsociety. Later that evening I checked the site out more closely and though I already know I am no genius, I had to take a couple of the tests, just to see what kind of questions they would ask.
I have never been any good at the questions that show you triangles with dots and colors on them and then ask you to choose which drawing would be next in the pattern sequence. It annoys me that I cannot see straight away what the pattern is and thus, can't for the life of me figure out what comes next.
Then there are the questions like this one:
Bloody sock is to ______ as festering ankle sore is to a) Yossarian, b) Pirrip, c)Prynne, d)Raskolnikov, e)Meussault
What word can be added to each of these to create new words? --Fish, Board, Glaze--
Looking at it now, I can see that maybe what they want is one single word that could be added to each of those words. And I bet the answer would be immediately obvious to any genius seeing the question. There is one small problem. I am not a genius.
And I have no patience with silly little details like that. On those questions, I simply make something up and go on to the next question. Even though I guessed at half of the questions (at least), it turns out I am normal, high normal (as if that is any consolation). I did not even bump my head on the ceiling of above average, dang it. I am just plain old normal, high normal.
But here is what I thought about. What if---what if I did not have that annoying habit of not taking those tests seriously, what if I would actually try to answer the questions, instead of dismissing them as stupid, (the nerve of normal me) might there be a budding genius lurking deep inside me that just needs a little nurturing? Is the problem that I am not applying myself? If I tried harder, would I at least qualify as above average instead of just plain old normal? I know in my little heart that the answer to that question is unequivocally, "no".
I had a friend once who had a habit of peppering his speech with the occasional "f-bomb", and when he was going to meet my mother, I asked him if he thought he could "be good" long enough not to use any words that might insult her. His answer was that he would have to study for it. Apparently it works to study for being good, because his vocabulary was as clean as my mother's, if only for the time he was visiting with her. But I don't think it would do any good to study to become a genius. Trying harder will not make me taller, nor make my feet smaller; trying harder will not make me a genius. It is sort of like being pregnant, either you are or you aren't. And I am not (I am not pregnant, nor am I a genius. I am smart enough to recognize that the previous sentence, "And I am not" was ambiguous, and have here clarified said sentence).
Sometimes being just normal, even high normal, bugs me. It just seems like I ought to be able to understand the concepts of higher intelligence. It is one of the things that frustrated me in my attempt to pass my Algebra class. I thought I ought to be able to understand Algebra, and having passed the class, it seems I ought to be able to move into even higher mathematical ground. But mathematics ain't for everybody.
I happen to know a mathematical genius type person and he sent me a copy of one of his published papers on higher mathematics to peruse. I am no genius, but I am perpetually curious about how these people of higher intelligence operate. He wasn't bragging or showing off. I asked to see the thing because I was so sure that if I just read the paper, I would understand at least a sliver of the concept they were writing about. Well, I was wrong. I don't know how they got that paper published in the first place. It was full of gobbledy-goo.
So, yeah, I know it is a burden to be a genius, just like it is a burden to be rich, or beautiful, but sometimes I just can't help myself, I wish I could be a genius. I think part of the reason for that is the desire to be something above normal in some area of my life, a need to be outstanding in a field, rather than being relegated to simply being out standing in a field. Did you geniuses catch that play on words?
Thursday, January 20, 2005
"She lacks confidence, she craves admiration insatiably. She lives on the reflections of herself in the eyes of others. She does not dare to be herself." Anais Nin
That's a rather harsh thing for you to have said, and very judgmental. It isn't very nice either. You could have been talking about me, you know. I don't often admit to myself that I crave admiration, but I do. I want to be admired, but it goes against all the "good girl" teachings that I have ever been taught, the ones about being humble and gracious and compliant. So many of those "good girl" traits have turned on me in the last few years. I thought it was good to be humble and gracious and compliant. And geez, I just can't help it, I've done it so long, lived off reflections of myself in someone else's eyes. If I am not seeing myself reflected in the eyes of others, I can't be sure I exist.
"There were always in me, two women at least, one woman desperate and bewildered, who felt she was drowning and another who would leap into a scene, as upon a stage, conceal her true emotions because they were weaknesses, helplessness, despair, and present to the world only a smile, an eagerness, curiosity, enthusiasm, interest." Anais Nin
Well, see there, Ms. Nin--Ms. Judgmental--you are not without your own shortcomings. And here I thought you were so confident. It must have been so hard on you concealing your emotions like that. Did you ever get so good at it that you could no longer feel anything? That's what happens when we refuse to feel the feelings we judge to be bad. We become numb, and we can no longer feel the good feelings. We lose the ability to feel altogether. Why do we so often have to present that courageous front, only to deny the weaker side of ourselves? Why do we ignore our weaknesses like a red-headed step-child? Why can't we embrace our weaknesses as well as our strengths?
"You live like this, sheltered, in a delicate world, and you believe you are living. Then you read a book (Lady Chatterley, for instance), or you take a trip, or you talk with Richard, and you discover that you are not living, that you are hibernating. The symptoms of hibernating are easily detectable: first, restlessness. The second symptom (when hibernating becomes dangerous and might degenerate into death): absence of pleasure. That is all. It appears like an innocuous illness. Monotony. Boredom. Death. Millions live like this (or die like this) without knowing it. They work in offices. They drive a car. They picnic with their families. They raise children. And then some shock treatment takes place, a person, a book, a song, and it awakens them and saves them from death." Anais Nin
We could talk about this Anais, but you went and died. I wonder, did a "shock treatment" ever awaken you? I know for myself, those "shock treatments", whether it is a person, a book, or a song, they wear off too quickly. Those things are similar to the self being reflected in the eyes of another. They are outside influences. Sooner or later, the person moves on, the book ends, and the song fades and we are left again with the shell that is our self. Surely there has to be something of value within our selves, Anais, something that remains though all else takes leave, something that is there within us that is ours alone, and not dependent on being reflected in the eyes of another, or in the pages of a book, or in the melody of a song. Did the Creator miss an ingredient when he crafted us Anais? Is there something lacking in us? Or are we just blind to our own weird beauty?
There is something else, Anais. The pursuit of the "shock treatment" becomes like an addiction. The effects of the new person, the fresh book, the melodic song wears off too soon, and the hunger returns, and we get this raw sense of desperation, trying to feed ourselves, trying to fill those empty spots that we think must be filled. Maybe sometimes we just need to accept that the adage "less is more" applies to more than just interior design. Maybe we need to embrace the empty spots of our souls and quit looking for the next "fix" to spark our lonely little lives. Maybe it is good to live a little on the hungry side, to be lean, as opposed to being fat and full. I don't know Anais, don't listen to me, I'm just doing a little free-writing here. Don't take me too seriously. It's just some stuff we could talk about, if you were alive.
You said your diary was "the only steadfast friend I have, the only one which makes my life bearable, because my happiness with human beings is so precarious, my confiding moods, rare, and the least sign of non-interest is enough to silence me. In the journal, I am at ease."
Maybe we could have been friends. Though I don't know, from what little I have heard, you sound like you had a bit of a flamboyant streak in you. I can't be flamboyant Anias, I just can't. But dang, I know exactly what you mean about the least sign of non-interest being enough to silence you. It's that "good girl" mentality. We crave the intimacy of close friendships, and yet, we don't want to be a bother to anyone. We think we are the only ones who are hibernating, and not living, so we keep our mouths shut and write our little secrets in our journals, longing for friendship, but afraid to be a friend. And no one else ever knows, until we are dead and gone, and all the clutter of our lives is being removed by those we leave behind. And even then, they may not look at our journals. They may just toss them into the trash with the old college notebooks.
"My dear diary, it is Anais who is speaking to you, and not somebody who thinks as everybody should think. Dear diary, pity me but listen to me."
Yeah well, Anais, that plea might just be a cop-out. We can hide in the pages of our diaries, Anais. We can write and pour out our very souls, and no one will ask us "why don't you do this?" or "why do you put up with that behavior?" or "why in the name of goodness do you never think things through?" No one will challenge us to change, to stretch and grow. Yes, Anais, the damn diary will listen ever so patiently, but honestly, what does it give us in return? Can the diary hold your hand? Can the diary open arms to hug you, to hold you while you cry? Can the diary praise you? Can the diary celebrate your victories with you? Can the diary look you in the eyes and share your pain?
That's what I thought, Anais. The diary itself is a place to hibernate, a safe place where we can be sure we will not have to do anything but write with great flair about our loneliness.
Sorry if I have been a bit blunt Anais. I am still looking for your books. I want to read your words in context, to interpret them within the proper framework. Could you ever have imagined your words would have an impact on women so far removed from your generation? I guess that means there is value in those words we so lovingly inscribe in our little books. It is comforting to know that I can identify with your words. Comforting to know that someone else, in another time, felt the way I feel today. I am your future Anais. I am one who has seen your words, and I have gained insight from them. Thanks, Anais.
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
The Pollyanna in me likes the optimistic idea that we are always on a threshold, always able to see another horizon beckoning. And though I am not much of a romantic, even I will admit that there is romance in the beckoning of a new horizon.
But on days like today, it just drives me nuts to think of yet another horizon beckoning. Can't I just sit awhile and enjoy the view?
Do I have to climb another staircase, chasing after yet another horizon? You know what that means, don't you? It means I have to say goodbye to the threshold I am now standing upon. It means change, it means challenges to my status quo. It means feeling like a kid being pushed into the first grade class room on the first day of school all over again. Oh, I know, I don't have to leave my threshold. I can stay right there and watch my life pass on by. Eventually, someone will probably bring me a rocking chair and I can rock and snooze where it is nice and safe.
I can't afford the luxury of a rocking chair because I am one who dreams big dreams and then I wake myself up with my snoring, and the dream that was once so clear is only a blur.
Still, doesn't this look like the perfect place to stop and rest?
Thursday, January 13, 2005
I've been a little distracted the last few days. School has started back and I have been adjusting to getting my game face on early and showing up for class. I am taking a web design class this semester and on the first day, the teacher recommended a site with a tutorial on html. I have been curious about learning more about how to write code, and so I checked it out.
I breezed through the first lesson and in the second lesson I hit a wall. The problem was that I needed to save the file as a text file. I could do that all right, but for some reason, still unbeknownst to me, my computer can not find notepad to open the text document. For three days now, I have been trying every which way I can to save my html practice document and to get it to open successfully. I don't know what it is about me that I will try the same thing fifteen times thinking maybe I am doing something wrong, and hoping that the very next try will be the one that will work. Reminds me of why I so identify with "life lesson #23: Heads bleed. Walls don't."
However, where there is a will, there is a way. And do I have a will (at least when it comes to certain trivial pursuits as this!). I think the most marvelous thing about computers is that there is always more than one way to skin a cat (FYI, I think the the most vexing thing about computers is that they will not let you be the boss!). This afternoon, I finally found a way to sucessfully torture myself by trying to write my own html code. I found that we have Microsoft's Front Page on our computer, and have been playing around in there this afternoon. I hope to be able to design a new blog template eventually, which, come to think of it, I should be able to do anyway by the end of the semester at least, because of the web page design class, which is really a class in learning to use the Dreamweaver software program to take care of the silly little details of html.
Another little distraction is the discovery that I can use watercolor pencils to shade in and add color to the pages of my paper journal, and that I can use them to paint the background on the Artist's Trading Cards that I have grown so find of creating. They are so small, and it hardly takes any time to color in a page in my journal, and then to smooth the color out with a damp cotton ball. That's how I made the background in the collage that was posted before this post. Watercolors are so pretty.
Finally, here is a funlittlesite to while away the hours, even for non-artiste types! Try painting a message to go along with your drawing. I painted two or three myself and framed them and hung them on the gallery wall, right next to the Mona Lisa. They looked good.
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
Sunday, January 09, 2005
I need a job. I am debating whether to put school on hold to take a full time position. I have only worked one place all my adult life, and would be working there still had the owners not retired and closed the business. I am a dinosaur in unfamiliar terrain. I quit college the first time to get my "Mrs." Degree. Now, after thirty years, I may find myself quitting college to gain the independence needed to get a d-i-v-o-r-c-e. (anyone else familiar with that old Tammy Wynette song?)
I am not as grumpy as I appear to be, just a little stressed, that's all. And not at all sure about what to do, or what is going to happen. Wait, that does make me grumpy, not knowing what is going to happen.
And I have been reading such entertaining blogs, blogs that manage to complain without whining and in such an entertaining way.
FYI: The quotes that may not be legible on the collages say things like:
"Carrying a grudge is exhausting."
"There are going to be times when your gut instinct is telling you something isn't right, and you're going to go ahead with it anyway."
"I know who I am. I know what I am. I know where I fit in. I am comfortable in my own skin." Comfortable in my own skin? Now there is a laugh.
And furthermore, I don't know why those extra lines are in and around part of the quotes, and I have looked at the html stuff twice, and can't figure out how to fix it, so it is going to stay that way for now.
Thursday, January 06, 2005
According to our local paper, we have the second largest Mardi Gras festival in the state. You have probably heard of the little city in Louisiana that holds the bragging rights to having the largest festival, NewOrleans.
The hoopla begins tonight, at the Twelfth Night celebration where the grand promenade of the kings, queens, and captains of over 40 krewes takes place. No, I won't be in attendance, as a sober Protestant, I was raised not to take part in "all that foolishness".
But it is a part of the history of the area, and a grand opportunity for colorful photographs, so I probably will be braving the crowds in search of interesting photo fodder. The season is a short one this year, with culmination of the last hurrah before the Lenten season coming this year on Tuesday, February 8. The word carnival, loosely translated means farewell to the flesh. Mardi Gras is of course, French, for Fat Tuesday.
Like so many other things, Mardi Gras has to some degree been corrupted by the commercialization of the celebration. I would venture to guess that most people who are out passing a good time on Mardi Gras are more interested in making love to the flesh than saying farewell to the flesh. But in smaller rural Cajun communities the season still has personal meaning and does not seem so much like one big orgy. And they still adhere to the tradition of not eating meat and giving up something for Lent. (Though, while growing up, many of my friends gave up things like Hershey bars, while continuing to imbibe on Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, or plain M&Ms).
It has only been in the last few years that I have attended the parades. My husband worked at a place located along the parade route, and doing business was impossible on Fat Tuesday, so the employees and their families gathered and barbecued in the parking lot and watched the whole she-bang go down. It was always an interesting experience. However, my husband no longer works at that location, and if I get any pictures, I will have to work at getting them by walking the parade route, after I have parked my car a jillion miles away.
As a rather serious-minded individual, one prone to see the darkness behind such celebrating, it is sometimes hard for me to get into the spirit of things. Instead of seeing mirth and merry-making, I tend to see the various messes that are left behind for the street crews to clean up, the number of accidents rising shortly after the last parade is finished, and the suffering of people who do not know how to have a good time without being inebriated. I see emptiness. So there, that's my view of the dark side of Mardi Gras.
Don't let me mislead you, there are some fun sides to Mardi Gras, and our fair city has worked hard to try and keep a family atmosphere about the holiday. There is a children's parade, and the Krewe of Barkus parade, where the pet owners dress up their animals in Mardi Gras costumes.
I'll try to get some pictures, come February.
Now, another thing I want to know: since Mardi Gras is a holiday that has religious roots, and not everybody celebrates it, am I guilty of being politically incorrect by saying "Happy Mardi Gras"? I'm just saying, because you know, some folks get might offended at being wished Merry Christmas, and I have never heard anyone complain about being told to have a Happy Mardi Gras.
Monday, January 03, 2005
I did this collage as part of an experiment in altered books. It is a children's book and I painted over the pages before I started gluing stuff down. There is no reason there should be a guy with a beard by the candle, but I see him. I just went and looked at book itself, and sure enough, he is there. But upon closer inspection I see that it is actually an innocuous part of the scenery that I did not get covered with the paint. Weird. I have looked at that page many times, and tonight is the first time I have noticed him.
A collage, built around two glued trading cards that turned out to be somewhat prophetic. Something did come up in my rearview mirror, and ran smack over me. Part of what I have been dealing with in the last year is the slow demise of my sweet alter-ego, Pollyanna. She died in the wreck. I say, glory-be, who needed her anyway? The Oriental upside-down girl is the top half to the hands and feet girl in the card on the left. Clever, no?
I often wonder what happens when I am behind the curtain, sending photos labeled "g" out into cyberland, only to rush over to blogger and into edit post mode to snatch them back so I can add my additional verbiage and put a title to the entry. What if someone happened to be reading the post at the very moment I was cyber-snatching it back? Would the screen go blank? Would an error message appear, saying "Sorry, buddy, she's not ready yet. Check back later."
I know there must be an easier way. I suspect that when it comes to computers I tend to do everything in the most complicated manner possible.
Dear Abby, or her replacement, wrote today to a woman, "I know you're hurt, but make no decisions based on anger and bitterness." I suppose that is good advice, in some cases. It sounds good, and noble, (Pollyanna liked good and noble) but on the other hand, some decisions will never get made until the anger wells up and pushes the more passive amongst us to do something.
Rest in peace, Pollyanna, wherever you are.
Sunday, January 02, 2005
Not much time to write today so I'll leave a couple of collaged images to be pondered. I have been going gaga making these little glued trading cards lately.
I'm heading off on a road trip toward Baton Rouge, and over the Atchafalaya Basin, which always inspires me to ponder.