Friday, April 28, 2006

Rather be in Namibia?

I confess: I love celebrity watching. I don’t go searching out super-star fan sites or gossip columns, but if star-tracker info crosses my path, I enjoy some good escapist fun.

That said, I’m really marveling at the irony of Angelina Jolie choosing to give birth in Namibia. How many Namibians would prefer to give birth in the United States? If Angelina Jolie delivers in Namibia, is her child a Namibian citizen? Is it guaranteed the fundamental rights of all Namibian children?

I don’t mean to say that there’s anything wrong with giving birth in Namibia, but for many other people in the world, emigrating to the United States is a lifelong dream. Delivering a child in the United States represents the culmination of a journey for many non-Americans, securing the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

In northern Mexico, women in labor try to sneak into the United States in order to get caught. After being apprehended by U.S. border agents, women are taken to hospitals on the U.S. side to deliver their babies. Risking the dangers of giving birth in the desert is worthwhile to these women just for the chance to give their children the gift of U.S. citizenship. While women struggle to birth their babies in America, Angelina Jolie’s will arrive in Namibia.

I don’t begrudge Angelina Jolie her freedom of choice, but it seems so opposite of the values other world citizens place on belonging to the U.S. I wonder if she’ll receive the same maternity treatment Mexican women are given in the United States while she is in Namibia.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Radio free Chicago

Matthew and I were driving northbound on Western Avenue. We had the radio tuned to a very left-dial college radio station. All of the sudden, George Carlin broke through to tell us an important story about smoking on airplanes, complete with F-words and no bleeps.

“What the hell? Is that George Carlin?” I shouted.

“Yeah, I think it is,” Matthew said, sounding confused.

George Carlin faded out for a moment to radio fuzz and then came back, explaining how old smoke detectors in aircrafts used to not work as well. We realized we were driving in and out of someone’s iPod radio transmitter. Cool!

The more surprising thing about the George Carlin rant was that the person who was actually intending to listen to airplane smoking stories must have been driving on the same road and in the same direction as us. Those little transmitters only have like a 15-foot radius or something. To me, the George Carlin incident translated into a challenge—find the car that matches the personality of someone who has intentionally downloaded George Carlin to their iPod. I loosened my seatbelt, raised up in my seat, and twisted frantically around in every direction.

“Matthew! Drive faster! I think you’re gonna lose the signal!”

“I can’t drive faster. There are cars in front of me.” (You can imagine my excited kinda shouting voice and Matthew’s always-calm-in-the-face-of-Christine voice.)

“Get closer to the cars! You’re OK! You’re not too close yet.”

Matthew ignored me and kept on at his regular pace, the lamentation of the efficacy of airplane smoke detectors fuzzing in and out.

I couldn’t spot the right-looking car for the story I already had in my mind about who would listen to this skit. To the right, young-ish couple that looks like they’re on a date. In front of them, middle-aged woman in sedan. In front of us, clean-cut looking guy in super-clean pick-up truck, might be kids in the cab with him. Behind us, two latino guys in a coupe. Could it be the person in front of the pick-up truck that I couldn’t see?

“Matthew, get in the right lane and pass that pick-up truck,” I commanded.

“Why?” No emotion in his voice.

“I’ve gotta see who it is to know if they’re the ones listening to George Carlin! Hurry! You’re not going fast enough!”

No response. He kept driving like a totally normal person, unconvinced about the imperative to find out who cared so much about exhaling smoke while holding open the airplane sink drain.

Fuzz, then back to the regular station.

“Oh! We’ll never know!” I whined. I got back into my seat but wouldn’t let go of the idea. “Do you think it was the couple on the date? Why would people on a date listen to George Carlin?”

“I don’t know sweetie.”

“Do you think it was the guy in the truck? He looked too clean-cut for all those swear words, but maybe, right?”

“Maybe so.”

“I wonder if it was the latino guys. Did they turn? Is that why we lost the signal?”

For a few days, the idea of who would listen to an old George Carlin skit on their iPod really perplexed me, and I still wondered why I couldn’t pick out their car. I expected irreverent but old and faded bumper stickers, like an old radio station that used to be edgy. I didn’t think there’d be a wind-sock on their antennae that said “GEORGE CARLIN LUVR,” but it seemed like there ought to be some sign.

I guess some messages just fade out in the background noise as you drive out of range.

Sorry team

Matthew thought that post about the panopticon was so sad that he came into the room where I was working and gave me a big hug. He asked if I was OK. I wondered if he was OK.

He said, "I just read your last post and I'm so sorry sweetie. You're smart too."

I laughed. I wasn't upset, I just thought it was something to write about.

Here's how it happened: I used to be a crazy grammar-correcting language snob (I guess now I'm just a snob!). Someone wrote to me and pointed out some bad grammar on my blog (which I haven't corrected). It made me feel kind of sad that I didn't notice it myself. I thought about how I used to know so much more about grammar, but now that I'm not in school any more it's just not as relevant to my daily life to remember the 63 rules of the comma. My brain does other things now. Like roast marshmallows and sing '80's jukebox hits. Reflecting on my grammar backslide inspired me to write the college brains story.

My apologies if I scared anyone else. I promise my self-esteem is in the same place where it usually is, for better or worse. Thanks for the hugs, though!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Escape from the panopticon

College kids are annoying because they're so much smarter than the rest of us. Think about it: those fresh, soft brains surrounded by all that new information and experience. They haven't had time to age and forget all those shiny new things and have their brains harden into shellacked balls of routine. They'�re still continually growing and developing new ideas and firing new synapses. Jerks.

The rest of us are so bland and uninteresting in comparison. Remember going out to dinner with your friends in college? Remember how loud you were and how brilliantly your conversation sparkled? And remember how lame the table of thirty-somethings next to you were? They didn't have anything new to talk about. No amazing ideas that had to be shared at that exact moment. They quietly ate their meal and talked about what happened at work. You bristled against them because you knew they were so old and you were so perfect with your awesome friends and lofty conversations about Foucault and Dostoevsky.

Now I'm at the table of thirty-somethings, and I feel all the bristles and quills of the college kids. "Hey, I know stuff too," I think. But I don't think I do any more. I'm too far out of college and all the neuro-pathways of those awesome ideas are tired and haven't fired in a while. They're like overgrown trails. Sure, you can see that a path leading to the Gordian Knot used to lead through the gray forest, but now it looks more like a rugged nature hike than a daily stroll.

It's 9 o'clock at the restaurant. It's late. I want to go home and put on my sweatpants and kick my feet up on the couch. The college kids aren't slowing down. Fueled by coffee and cigarettes, they're indestructible.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Family obscura

Getting a favor from my dad is kind of like having the mob do something nice for you. You never know when your favor is getting called in. For example, the mob makes your competition evaporate. Great! Business has never been better! Enough time goes by that you convince yourself they forgot about measly little you, right? Then one bright blue day, in walks a guy with a message that it's time to return the favor. You equivocate about it, you talk yourself into its inevitability, you convince yourself that you can handle it, and blammo! The next thing you know you killed a guy.

Dad wouldn't actually make you kill a guy, but in other respects it's kinda like that scenario. Dad loans you something, and eventually the favor must be returned.

Let's say Dad loans you a 30-year-old camera so you can teach yourself photography. You're giddy with the excitement of a new hobby, you're learning amazing new visual communication strategies you never knew existed, and Dad's just thrilled that you're getting so much enjoyment from something he doesn't need anymore.

So now let's say that you've moved on to 21st century camera technology (that old thing weighed as much as a brick), but maybe you still get out your first camera every once in a while and think fondly of the time you and Dad first shared enthusiasm about photography. Then, one bright blue day, Dad calls up and says, "You're finished with that camera right? I'd like to have it back."

You equivocate about it, you talk yourself into its inevitability, you convince yourself that you can handle it, and blammo! You're gonna have to give back the camera.

It's not yours. You don't use it. You don't need it.

My short tenure of sentimentality doesn't hold a candle to my father's memories of photographing his young children, developing the films in his darkroom, and ultimately displaying family portraits in our home. I don't know why returning someone else's camera is such a dramatic struggle in my life. I knew one day my dad would come calling for his camera back, he told me that up front. You don't get favors from the mob and expect nothing to come of it. You know what you're getting into once you've seen "The Godfather." And yet it's so hard for me to live up to my end of the bargain.

Each leaf pressed into the pages of a journal signifies something that needed commemorating specially. It's hard to surrender the artifacts of a relationship as leaves crack and become brittle. My dad's camera is like leaves pressed into my journal. Each photograph I took with that camera carried the story behind the artifact, but eventually I know I won't have the camera anymore. My father documented his family's growth and changes, and, years later, he used the same camera to share the miracle of visual media with me. I know I'll never forget that with the loan of his camera, my dad gave me a precious gift that is mine to keep forever.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Happy family

We believe in total and absolute equality in our family. If one family member is sick, by golly, the rest of 'em are gonna be sick too!

So my dog upchucked this afternoon for no good reason that I could see. It seemed to be an isolated incident, but it was a little weird considering I can barely keep soft foods down right now.

Later in the evening, my cat was standing on the back of the couch behind me, and he made preliminary pukey noises.

Very few diseases pass between species. Sure it's a funny joke to say we're all going to be sick at once, but it's not really possible. (For the record, diseases that spread between species are called zoonotic. Cool, huh?)

Anyway, back to my fetid fainting couch and my fevered animals. Hope we're all better tomorrow.

People in hell don't want to rock-n-roll

A friend of mine is taking guitar lessons concurrently with me teaching myself. He's much more advanced than I am since I lack any real musical dedication. There's lots of things I'd practice into oblivion, but music ain't one of 'em.

My parents are very supportive of my music endeavors and they're thrilled when I tell them I learned a new string today and a new note and all that. My intimate friends are all very excited that I am playing the guitar just because it's fun to go on a new adventure vicariously though the travails of someone you love. It's my poor husband, however, who suffers silently hearing the same 8 or so notes and the three nearly identical chords that I know played in rapid succession. He is also vexed by my awful timing, where I pause completely when I'm confused and then resume raggedly.

As a gesture of politeness, I guess, my guitar playing friend passed on a message to me that if I ever wanted to get together to play, I should call him up. It's possible he really feels so friendly to me that he wants to spend some fun time playing guitar with me, but I don't think he knows exactly the (lack of) skills I bring to the table.

I can think of only one person in the universe who would willingly select me as a musical accompanist. Satan. Satan would find the most depraved, wicked thrash guitar-er in Hell and damn him to spend an eternity of jamming with me. It would be even cooler if jam sessions with me were payback from where Satan bought the dude's soul in exchange for earthly fame achieved by his sick guitar sound, also bestowed by Satan. But it would be OK if it were just regular Hell torture instead of retribution for double-crossin' the Devil. Either way's OK with me, I'm game. As long as I get a pre-nup or whetever is necessary to state that I am a guest of hell, not resident, and therefore I may leave at my will (or when formal contractual stay expires), and therefore I deserve amenities the normal non-damned people receive. Such as filtered cool water at my request. Comfy couches. Upscale hotel quality sleep arrangements--no dirty tricks, shower with blood, bed is secretly a monster, and so on.

I would also like the liberty as a non-resident of Hell to associate with whomever I please. For instance, if Hell has a library, I might like to meet the librarians. If some of the Hell demons are good cooks, I think I'd like to work out a friendly social arrangement with them where I get to share their supper.

I think, after all these musings, the result will be that I will re-invite my friend to play guitar with me. Casually, on couches, no burning torture chairs, a variety of chilled beverages if he wants them. Then I'll corner him and make him teach me about finger position and other technical things I haven't learned in class. It will be just like he is in Hell! Mwah ha ha haha!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


I'm back in Chicago, but I have crazy death flu. I have a fever of 101 F. I never get fevers, and I rarely get stomach viruses, but this one is a real doozy. I'm more the upper respiratory infection kind of gal.

I think I kissed my baby nephew too many times while I was in Kentucky. I have no baby germ immunities since I don't spend any time with kids. I'm going to have to start baby-sitting as a side gig so I can be tolerant of his daycare germs the next time I go home. Isn't that how immunization works? Exposure to the pathogen until resistance is built up?

I'm such a crazy germaphobe too. I couldn't resist his adorability charms though. He cast a spell on me every time he'd look at me and blink those long eyelashes. What is it with the slaying factor of baby eyelashes? Can the rest of us get baby eyelash implants so we look so adorable too?

My mom says it wasn't the baby but a fast food restaurant I shouldn't have eaten at. I don't care which it was, I just want to feel better!

Germy hugs! (Ha ha!)

Monday, April 17, 2006

Holiday tidings

At Easter lunch on my dad's side of the family today, one of me cousins told me that her daughter reminds her of me. I was flattered but curious. As a person without children, I'm always pleased that someone sees a likeness of me in their child. It makes me feel connected to the next generation.

"Really? What about her reminds you of me?" I asked.

"She wants a pony so bad, and I remember when you were that age it was all you could talk about."

My heart skipped a beat with worry. She is going to be very disappointed.

"She told me that if Santa couldn't bring a pony this year that she might like a hamster instead," my cousin added.

Thank goodness. Poor little angel, that pony won't ever come. It's sad but true. City people just don't get pet horses that easily. Every Chrismas mroning I'd rush to the window and open the curtains, but there was no Pony. If it was a snowy Christmas then that was an extra good omen that magic could happen, but still no pony.

A girlfriend of mine recently told me that my yapping about horseback riding reminded her of growing up with ponies in upstate New York. She told long stories about her dad saddling her pony and getting to ride the trails around the farm. Oh, jealousy made my heart skip a beat. I would never take away another girl's pony, but most little girls just get dream-horses.

I'm relieved my second cousin will learn to love a hamster, and I see her giving her Christmas hamster the name she gave her imaginary pony. "Windy," perhaps? It will be a peculiar name for a hamster, but she'll love it and groom it nonetheless.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Too bad I didn't pack snow boots

Visiting my parents' house is like descending through Dante's hell. On the second floor, cool breezes blow from the air conditioning vents. It's comfortable for laying in bed and reading or spreading my suitcase's contents through my old bedroom. On the first floor, it's quite chilly. My parents keep the thermostat set to museum quality cold to make sure their blood circulates as little as possible, thereby preserving them from age. The basement--oh God--is freezing. I imagine I'm visiting the Arctic Circle or the frozen tundra of Russia.

My parents' old cat had thick white fur, and petting him was like snuggling with a baby fur seal. He spent a lot of time in the basement, so I wonder now if his fur was to prevent permafrost from damaging his skin. His fur was so dense but soft that it had a strange ripple effect where the external hairs had clumped together. It moved like some sort of jointed armor against the cold.

I don't need to go to the basement much. It's like a meat storage locker for my childhood down there. Board games, baby books, old photo albums--it's all down there. Even my old dollhouse is still set up. It's fun to go down into the basement and poke around to see what I can excavate. Lacking a baby fur seal coat though, I think I'll skip it this time around.

Moving on

My mother confronted me today with something I have been dreading for years. Letting go of my childhood. I'm not sure how to go about this. For years I've known this would happen, but I've always been able to put it off by saying I just didn't have time or space to deal with it.

My mom wants me to get rid of my old stuffed animals.

How do you do this? How do you choose which teddy bear stays and which teddy bear goes? Each has its own special memory about who gave it to me and when and which adventures we went on together. Each teddy bear has its story. Can I remember the stories without the bears?

In the past I've gotten away with the excuse that my husband and I don't have room in our tiny apartment for my extensive childhood collections. My argument was that my parents have tons of room in their big old house now that all the kids are gone. But I guess they'd actually like to get on with their lives and not have it look like a pair of pre-teen girls could come home from school at any minute and resume playing with their dolls.

Sigh. It's tough. I'm not really sure how I'm going to get through this challenge. I know it's time to face up to making the hard teddy bear decisions though. My mom wants her space back. And eventually I really do have to grow up.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Feelin' a little blue

That last entry just never sat well with me. Like the Colonel's fried chicken. I think writing about your personal voice is hard, and I don't think I was in the proper mood when I wrote that based on notes I had already taken. Usually my notes trigger the mood I felt when I jotted them down, but I wasn't feelin' it the same way on this one. Something about accent and Kentucky--it's a tough combination.

Anyways folks, it's Easter weekend and I might be on a little hiatus for a spell. I might have time to write after all the egg dyeing and rolling and hunting, but I wanted to submit a general warning in case I can't be around. Anything involving the gift of chocolate rabbits usually gets my undivided attention. Oh and spending time with family and all that. (ha ha)

See you real soon.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Foreign correspondent

I can’t say those words without accidentally telling you where I’m from. It’s supposed to sound kinda like “fah-renn cah-res-pahn-dent.” When I say it, it sounds kinda like “foar-inn co-res-pon-dent.” I can’t help it. I’m from Louisville, Kentucky; it’s just the way we talk. We say “Ah” instead of “I,” and when we’re leaving you we say “bah-bah!”

To give a fair impression of what I sound like, think of Muhammad Ali. He’s also from Louisville, and though he’s black and I’m white, our accents are still pretty similar. Yesterday, Muhammad Ali sold the rights to his voice and likeness to CKX entertainment-rights firm. I can’t quote him to demonstrate our similar pronunciation for fear of litigation. I’ll be interested to see how he’s marketed as a product now that he’s a commodity.

Selling one’s likeness is a time-honored tradition in Kentucky. The other famous face that comes to mind is the one and only Colonel Sanders. Harlan Sanders actually existed. He actually invented the Kentucky Fried Chicken 11 secret herbs and spices. It seems unlikely that such a man ever existed, judging by today’s wariness of corporate promotion strategies, but he was an actual guy, and he’s buried in Louisville’s Cave Hill Cemetery.

After many years in the restaurant business, Harlan decided to sell KFC. He got old and his hair turned white, and he was probably ready to retire. The catch came when he sold the rights to his name and his likeness along with the restaurant. It’s why the Colonel still pops up in animated advertisements and his mug is on buckets of fried deliciousness.

I hope the Colonel’s type of marketing blitz remains “fah-renn” to Ali. I’d hate to see his animated likeness tout his new line of snack pack as “The Greatest.”

Rather not go there

Tonight I didn't have time for a real blog entry, so I thought I'd go back to old journals and transcribe some bad poetry for comedic value. It turns out that my old poetry is too angsty for me to even think about right now. It's throbbingly painful, eyestrainingly uncomfortable.

William Faulkner considered himself a failed poet. I hope one day I can say I failed half as grandly. In the meantime, here's the most palatable thing I could find:

April 6, 1995, Thursday

Sometimes the birds sing just for me.
Sometimes the flowers bloom to please my eyes.
Sometimes the trees whisper poems.
Sometimes the stars wink just at me.

I think it's got promise. After heavy revision.

Monday, April 10, 2006

It ain’t easy bein green

As a little girl, I just loved that Kermit found it tough to be himself. I grew up watching cable television at home, and I thought broadcast TV was for lame people with no cable. My grandmother never had cable, and I was afraid that meant she was poor. It turned out she was just stubborn, but I didn’t know the difference when I was little.

I only watched Sesame Street at my Grandmother’s house. It paled in comparison to Pinwheel, but at least it had muppets. Kermit was the grand highlight of Sesame Street though. He was deep and thoughtful and sensitive, and it made me feel less alone that he struggled with his identity. “It ain’t easy bein green,” I’d think. “It is tough bein different.”

I also loved that Kermit was on top of current events and he’d always report the news from breaking stories. I was glad he was socially conscious on top of being so in touch with his feelings. “This is Kermit T. Frog reporting.” I don’t remember if I got the joke yet that he was named “Kermit the Frog” and gave “T.” to stand for his middle name in the newscasts.

What really made me love Kermit was how mournful and melancholy his solo songs were. “Rainbow Connection” sounded so sad it could make me cry. He said, “One day we’ll find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers, and me.” Regular people didn’t understand the Rainbow Connection, but Kermit knew how important it was to look for that magic understanding between like-minded people, even if they were a minority. And to be green? That was the true test of humanity. If you could survive looking different, you’d be a better person for not fitting in.

Maybe I don’t remember these songs correctly. Maybe the lyrics had a completely different message. What I remember was that my heart broke every time Kermit sang, and I wanted to hold his hand and tell him that I understood why it was hard to be different, but that we’d both be better people in the end.


Toxoplasma gondii is my new hang-up. Aren’t you excited to share in this exciting new adventure with me? It’s the parasite that lives in cat poop. In addition to being the parasite that lives in cat poop, there is new research that suggests a link between schizophrenia and toxoplasmosis. I’ve touched enough cat poop in my life to infect a half dozen people with schizophrenia germs.

Today, my mother-in-law called just as my dog discovered something exciting on the back porch. Had this been anyone else in the world, I easily could have shouted, “DOG IS EATING SOMETHING GOTTA GO BYE!” However, one hates to do this to one’s mother-in-law. It just isn’t done. I could hear the dog chomping away at something, and I knew with terrible certainty that this was going to be gross.

The dog found cat poop.

It wasn’t as if there was cat poop hanging out on the back porch. This was something wrapped up in a garbage bag that had apparently slipped out of the trash disposal container on its way to the garbage bin outside. And of course, my dog is a poop-seeking missile, so she found the lost turd. The sound I heard while I was on the phone was the dog breaking through the plastic bag to get at the juicy contents.

And so, I removed cat poop from my dog’s mouth as soon as I could politely get off the phone.

Yet more toxoplasmosis in my life.

By now the dog’s mouth was covered in toxoplasmosis bearing cat poop, and with each breath she exhaled the smell was getting stronger. I thought I’d vomit. “Just please don’t let her go chew on her toys or lay down in her bed,” I just needed a couple minutes to come up with a germ-fighting plan.

I found a spray bottle and loaded it with Scope. I approached her with the “good dog!” trick, then opened her mouth and sprayed the scope all over her teeth and gums. I had a paper towel in my left hand and the spray bottle in the right. She thought this was a great game and withstood it for probably longer than I needed to go on. I followed with a breath-defying Greenies chew bone that’s kind of shaped like a toothbrush. When she finished that, just to be sure, I fed her a Ricola sugar-free cough drop.

She may be schizophrenic now, but at least we have toxoplasmosis together.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

I'm a winner!

Last night, as Matthew and I were wrapping up to leave our friends' house, they made the joke, "We're in competition with you to see how messy we can make our apartment." We exchanged more jokes about my piling habits. The second we walked mere footsteps from their door, Matthew said, "Honey, you know that was a joke right? You know you don't really have to compete with them for messiness?" I laughed; I understood. Matthew continued, "Because I'd hate to think how messy you'd be if you were actually trying."

It's true. I usually excel at the things I seriously undertake.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Dream entry #2

I dreamed this morning that Matthew and I decided to walk the dog in a different direction from our house than we usually take. Somehow we walked into a neighborhood we’d never seen before, a neighborhood inhabited by people from fairytales. We saw Rapunzel and Hansel and Gretel and lots of other apple-cheeked characters in lederhosen--even Santa’s reindeer were out walking around. Everything looked like a Chicago street but dreamier. The houses were standard walk-up three stories tall, but the sky was bluer, the trees were bigger, and the view from the sidewalk more romantic.

It was a very scary neighborhood though. The Latino fairytales were fighting with the Euro fairytales. Constant gun battles rifled bullet holes into houses that had fantastical trees growing through them as part of their walls. I was terrified; Matthew and I held hands and tried to figure out how to get out of this daydream neighborhood turned urban nightmare. The Latino fairytales were upset that they worked hard but got no recognition from the American reading public. They wanted better housing conditions and awareness of their fairytale traditions. The Euro fairytales wanted to protect their status as the only fairytales read to children at bedtime. The Latino fairytales and the Euro fairytales shouted racial slurs at each other. They fired automatic machine guns into the air in the direction of their foes’ houses. I cried, and I wanted to go back home.

Matthew and I discovered a line of Euro fairytale characters all walking in the same direction, so we figured that since we were of European ancestry that this was the way we should walk to find our way out of the scary neighborhood. I woke up after Rapunzel gave us directions, glad to be back in the safety of Logan Square. I’ll never feel the same about Rumpelstiltskin again.

Advertising evolution

Inaccurate advertising campaigns drive me batty. Seriously send me over the deep end. That Jeff Goldblum Apple campaign a few years back nearly killed me. The ubiquitous “Think different” advertisements were enough to make me vow to hate Apple computers. “Different” is an adjective. Not that you need a grammar lesson, but different describes nouns. “I loved her hair; it was really different.” That is an acceptable sentence using the word “different,” where “different” describes “it” which refers to “hair.”

Even as a two word ad campaign, “Think different” fails to inspire brand confidence in me. Did they mean “think differently,” as in, “use Apple products and think differently about your world/life/computer”? Or did they really mean “think different,” as in “when you think of Apple products, think of ours as different from competitors”? Or did they really think they could dupe a whole mass of consumers into thinking it was OK to write grammatically ambiguous messages?

It’s not OK to write grammatically ambiguous messages.

Flash forward to now, present day, 2006. has become It seems like an OK product except for one glaring problem: inaccurate advertising campaign syndrome. is currently airing a television commercial that shows a man and woman working in some sort of scientific animal testing facility. The man uses as the woman watches over his shoulder while holding a chimpanzee in her arms. The man wonders, “if we didn’t use’s internet tools, what would we be like?” The chimpanzee answers, “animals with pants?”

Terrible. Terrible information provision. We already know chimpanzees are skilled tool makers and users. They frequently shop at Sears for the latest Craftsman cordless power tools. OK, well that’s a joke, but Jane Goodall has already shown us that chimpanzees can use well-chosen sticks to fish for termites. If I recall my Imax educational films properly, mother chimpanzees teach the termite fishing skill to their children; teachable behavior indicates intelligence and not instinct. The use of tools to classify humans as better than animals has already been disproven. Some would go so far as to call it species-ism to continue to promote the idea that humans are superior to animals. I don’t go that far, but I wanted to make that point—we aren’t better than animals in pants just because we are able to use tools available to us on the internet.

The bigger question I am left with, “how can I trust an information product that clearly can’t handle information accurately?” might actually rattle me more than “Think different.” It’s a toss-up whether I get more uptight about proper language usage or about appropriate informational analogies, but, without proper grammar, aren’t we just chimpanzees fishing for termites?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

My funniest joke ever

So this one time, a bunch of my friends were out to dinner to celebrate someone’s birthday. We were at an Italian restaurant that had amazing spinach gnocchi. Delish. We talked about our plans for the weekend, and one of my pals said, “My communist friend just moved into a new apartment. I’m helping him make curtains tomorrow.” We kind of looked at her blankly for a second, and she said, “really, he’s a communist.” I said, “just help him hang up some aluminum foil so he can have ‘iron curtains.’”

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Paper or plastic?

Beautiful faux parchment paper used to matter very highly in my pantheon of important things. Pre-loaded fountain pens in a rainbow of colors. Real fountain pens for the special adventure with a variety of inks. Hand pressed paper the thickness of a hide and with flowers embedded. Leather bound journals that had gorgeous thick paper. These were the tools that excited inspiration in me. Like an oil painter gets a new canvas and brushes and is inspired to create by the sheer possibility of what could happen next. With a leather bound journal and the right shade of perfect deep sky blue or steel gray, I was ready to write that day. I'd take off to my favorite spot and sit in nature and write for hours. It was mostly journal entries and reports on the sensory experience of sitting where I was, but I'd attempt poetry now and then too. What mattered most was the inspiration of the confluence from sunny clear day with light winds, the smell of the air when the seasons change, the right blanket to sit on, and my pen and paper.

My writing experience underwent a radical shift when I entered college. Like your world view grows and you change your mind, so inspiration migrates and takes on new forms--gradually.

I struggled to learn to write while sitting at my computer. It took too much time to hand write in a student notebook while belly-flopped in the dorm's community lounge room and then transcribe to computer, so I absolutely forced myself to be a productive writer at the computer. It wasn't easy. I remember the agony of flailing for words and finding no inspiration, and I resisted what the desk represented as a change to my writing habits. It brought tons of frantic changes to my posture hoping this would help it work. I moved my monitor this way, I moved it away, I kicked at random things under my desk. I resisted. I resisted because it was so inspiration-less. Had I been able to sit at my computer and write the same way I felt before, there would have been no anguish over the digital transition.

I eventually negotiated a writing scheme where I would belly flop on the bed and read my texts and my notes until I got the right inspiration. Then I'd jot them down into a thorough and detailed outline, and at last I could jump up to the computer and have the inspired seeds of thoughts in my mind already.

After the struggle of learning to feel the texture of the keyboard and the posture of the desk as inspirational as rag-woven paper, I’ve found I can’t go in reverse. Now the computer and the desk communicate to me that it’s time to create, it’s time to sit and write. My best writing happens when my fingers touch the keys. During a short weekend on vacation, I wrote in my old-timey student notebook, and when I went to transcribe my blog entries back onto the computer, the language was flat and boring and it didn’t sound like my typed voice at all. My inspiration hadn’t migrated--it flowed like a stream.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Dream entry #1

Three nights ago I dreamed I divorced Matthew to marry Peter Gabriel. I romanced Peter Gabriel by writing him an earnest letter of deepest love that cut straight to his core, and we knew we were instantly lovers for eternity. In my dream I woke up from a dream within a dream, and I thought this was a pretty cool idea, even though I felt kind of bad about Matthew. But I mean come on, wooing Peter Gabriel with love letters? That�'s a once in a lifetime chance that you can�'t pass up. Poor Matthew. So the dream within the dream didn�t go exactly as planned. I couldn'�t remember the perfect words I had written to Peter Gabriel to win his heart instantly, so I was doing to best I could, writing on parchment paper and using a fountain pen with India ink. All was not proceeding apace. No one was going to be swooning over my monstrosity to Peter Gabriel, and I was covered on both my hands with blackest India ink that stains deeply.

Peter Gabriel heard of my endeavors and came to meet me as I was writing my parchment love letter. He walked out onto this veranda where I was writing, and the sun made this beautiful warm glow around everything, it was a magical romance movie moment where he reached to take my hands, and I said �"but they�re covered in India ink,"� and he didn'�t care, he took my hands into his own and smiled and told me �I love you� with his eyes.

So then I really woke up from both dreams, thinking �this was pretty darn funny stuff,� right? I laid awake in bed a while before admitting it was time to get up, and I started to compose the letter I would write to Peter Gabriel. A letter that would truly come from my heart:

Dear Mr. Gabriel, I know you best from my dentist�s office. Dr. S. is a big fan of your work, and he has signed limited edition prints and albums from you hanging in his office. He also has a lot of rock memorabilia, and I think there may be part of a keyboard you once played in his office.

I am a fan of your music, but most often I hear your big hits, even though I�'m sure your catalog is very different from the few songs I know. �"Big Time"� has been in constant repeating mode in my head since there'�s a new commercial out that uses it as their theme song.

I�'m writing because last night I had a dream that I wrote a love letter so profound that I divorced my husband in order that we could marry. I don�'t remember what that amazing letter was though, so this is what you get.

By the way, if you ever play House of Blues, if you can get me two tickets that would be cool. I promise I'�ll learn the lyrics to your other songs too.

Your Fan Sincerely,
Christine Wy