Saturday, December 29, 2007

Aah, it all becomes clear now...

From the NYTimes about the unseen, long-term effects of binge-drinking (italics are mine):

On a microscopic level, Dr. Crews has shown that heavy binge-drinking in rats diminishes the genesis of nerve cells, shrinks the development of the branchlike connections between brain cells and contributes to neuronal cell death. The binges activate an inflammatory response in rat brains rather than a pure regrowth of normal neuronal cells. Even after longstanding sobriety this inflammatory response translates into a tendency to stay the course, a diminished capacity for relearning and maladaptive decision-making.
I wonder who this makes me think of... hmmm....

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

More Heave-Ho, Less Ho-Ho

natalie dee

Since I can't bear to dissect the fact that I spent a good 6 hours of today working on presents for others (I knitted, bought, wrapped, packaged, carded, addressed and mailed... for SIX stinkin' hours!), I will supply you with some joyful distraction and some things that have given me a chuckle in the past few days.

1) This web site for snow blowers. I got a good giggle out of the copy on this one. "The snow will shiver in fear, not you!" Uh-huh. Go out there and show that snow who's boss. Er... or just finish clearing the path, you over-testosteroned dolt-freak!

2) Oh. My. God. Nothing says Christmas cheer like this. Make sure to watch the video clip. Hey, don't blame me. I wasn't out there looking for that special gift for the hunting enthusiast in my life!

3) "What they did to us was hard-core. Man, was that scene rough." A review of the earliest episodes of Sesame Street, now available on DVD. Elmo is DEFINITELY prozacky. Read on.

4) Slimey Worm's MySpace page. Yup. A 38-year-old male living in Oscar's Trash Can. Notice the "friends"... Some people have way too much time on their hands! (Though if you ever see a copy of the book "Slimey to the Moon" snag it for me... I'll pay you back!) ;)

5) This gal kicks some major butt (see above comic)

Happy Holidays, y'all!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Too fine a point

Not sure where to start this, so I guess I'll start with the drive. Tonight, amidst the falling snow, I left my house, husband tucking present-crazed child into bed, mother and stepfather watching television in the basement. At almost 9:00 on a Thursday evening with two inches down in the last hours upon the almost foot of snow on the ground, did I really need to be out driving?

A girlfriend of mine is out of town for a few days and I promised her that I'd go by her house and pick up her mail and any packages that might have been dropped there. In fact, even when she goes out of town for only a couple of days, I always volunteer to do it. And I don't mind doing it. Somehow, perhaps, by visiting her house while she's gone I feel like I'm tending the friendship or visiting just a little.

Anyhow, as I drove into her neighborhood, I noticed a young man walking on the other side of the road. I was struck by such jealousy (though jealousy isn't the word)-- I wanted to be him. Suddenly I could read this stranger's gait and I knew: He's young, he's working something out as he slices through the snow. Sometimes you just need to escape into an outside where you can march the stupidity out of yourself and your thinking.

As I pulled into my friend's driveway, I noticed three hulking boxes which looked like elephants trying t0 "hide" behind the fake doric columns of her front porch. They looked so insipid! And somehow so sweet as well, like they were trying so hard.

I feel like that often myself, especially around my son. I am so filled with love for him, I could just be him. Then I remove myself and say this is the adult voice I use and the sensible thing I say to make sure you're safe and know boundaries all the while thinking Ha! If he only knew how we are all just pretending.

I loaded the awkward boxes into the back of my car, quickly rearranging my daily detritus (grocery freezer bag, pair of son's rubber frog boots only worn inside the house) and tossing them on top. Haphazard, but out of the snow. Not so silly and alone on the porch at least.

On the way back, I started to drive even more slowly, more deliberately. And I'm not sure it was out of a sense of safety, but rather, as though my wheels were working through something for me. I realized that I was listening to a classical piece that siphened me into it, and everything I saw was an extension of that listening, that movement of the car, the music. The snow is piled in drifts reflecting tangerine-colored light from the streetlights. All somehow so cozy and perfect and piled it seemed out of a movie, or a thought about winter, not actual winter itself.

Passing all the strung-up lights, the white deer were silhouetted and illuminated at once as they grazed upon the snow-wrapped yards. Dwarf pines swathed in frenetic dancing lights looked like little overdressed chihuahuas, blinking to themselves in that nervous way. All this man-made love and the snow arranging themselves together, working it out.

And that, perhaps, is exactly it. Working it out is beautiful and human and sometimes forced. And sometimes loveliness and grace just happens to settle up upon it-- upon the intention and the ritual and the routes of dailiness. Grace upon work. Work in the hopes of grace.

Monday, December 03, 2007

More! More! More!

There's a point at the end of Sesame Street where Slimy the Worm, bedecked in a sleeping cap (when did we stop using those?) implores to Oscar the Grouch: "Read more, read more! Read more Trash!" Oscar replies, "N0, Slimy. That was enough excitement for such a small worm. We'll read more tomorrow!"

Now when my son starts whining at us for something (yes, much of the time, books, but other stuff, too), we call him Slimy. "More, more, more!" we croon. It always makes him laugh. Now he's starting to use this mantra as well, and his two-year-old approximation of Slimy's voice, whenever he whines. Somehow it makes the whining more fun for both of us.

Now that it's getting dark out so early, we are often driving after dark, when Christmas lights are in their full bloom. He's in the back yelling, "More Christmas lights! More lights!" and I have to point them out to him as we pass. To tell the truth, I like looking at the lights, too. It's one of the least conflicted feelings I have about the season which is upon us.


I was somewhat dumbfounded by this rant on by Christopher Hitchens, the notorious God-hater. I mean, I can understand the instinct to want strict separation of church and state. No government-sponsored Christmas trees or holiday programs or whatnot. I, personally, am not offended by them, but do acknowledge the criticism that they can be seen as endorsement of one religion over another.

Still, this guy really strikes me as joyless. And that's about the harshest thing I can say about anyone. He seems like a miserable human being. And his arguments, while some of them are not altogether without merit, are mirthless and unhuman.

Well, now he's taking potshots at Hanukkah. Not that I should be surprised, but I am taken aback. I wonder if it's because in general, I think public criticism of anything Jewish or even mildly Jewish is usually pounced upon and torn apart by the media. And while I think that some of that instinct is perhaps a little overdone (especially when it comes to legitimate criticism of Israeli policies or politics), I am also adamantly opposed to protecting hate speech. Period. That's why I could never join the ACLU.

Now, mind you, I know that this opinion is a controversial one. "Where do you draw the line?" people ask. Truth is, I'm not sure. But a line does have to be drawn somewhere for the health of our society, and it behooves us to think about this issue and debate it.

Anyhow, whether or not this rant constitutes hate speech (which I think it doesn't), it is still shocking and disconcerting. After reading it I felt horrible. Just horrible. Partially because I felt that he used an arithmetic which is not humane in its logic.

Then I found this response and felt better about the world again. Yes, thinking and feeling and knowing. Not to be warm and fuzzy about it, but looking for the light isn't that bad.

More light! Want more, MORE!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

MamaH has not approved this ad

...but she still thinks it's freakin' funny. Good thing Huckabees is too conservative to get elected. At least he's making a joke of himself in more ways than one!