Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Sometimes you have to do the wrong thing in order to do the right thing

This morning on the way to work, I watched some birds dive across the road in mating pursuit (birds are usually more careful when flying across roads but this time of year they're distracted) and I remembered the time I saw a robin get hit by a car on the way to work. I pulled over, gently scooped it into some paper towels and headed right for my ornithology professor's office where he showed me how to carefully deposit a dropper of sugar water directly into the bird's crop. "Sometimes this helps if they're just stunned -- the sugar can give them an extra energy boost."

I took the recently nourished bird outside and tried to interest him in perching in a tree but he was closing his eyes and looked woozy. I cradled him in my hands then, hoping all he needed was some time but he died quietly shortly thereafter, still cupped in my palm, his body relaxing as life left it. All I could protect him from now were hot wet tears leaking out unbidden.

I made him a little grave and buried him and then headed to my student job on campus, late. I'd called to say I wasn't going to be on time but the disapproval from my superiors was palpable. My boss wanted to know the full story and as I relayed the details, shook her head, disappointed, warning that this excuse was unacceptable.

But I knew I would do it again if I needed to, to try and save a life.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Primates use tools. So?

Even though I HATE attention (if you know me, you know I can be shy), I loved my old job and was honored they asked me to help with a video they were creating. "Sure!" I said. Anything to contribute to our mission. Plus maybe the royalties would pay off well into my nineties.

The next morning, I got to work and saw the camera crew barreling down the hall towards my office. Crap! The weather was terrible and had blown my hair into a wet, windblown mess. I frantically searched for something to tame my wild locks so I'd look presentable for the camera but when I yanked open my purse, my brush was missing. Time was running out!

So I grabbed the next best thing.

A plastic fork.

(I mean, if your hair looks like soggy spaghetti, why not?)

It worked. The short clip went well. No one even knew (at least not until today) about my pre-show styling secret. Improvisation skillz: don't leave home without them!

No actual forks were harmed in the making of the video.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Don't leave home.

 If you're feeling unhappy in your marriage, read the below article on why it's better to try fixing it (unless it's abusive) than leaving and starting over:
"John and Julie Gottman’s nearly four decades of tracking couples shows that solving most problems is not an option.  For any given couple,* happy or not*, 69% of our troubles will never go away.  All contend with chronic issues from the annoying to the dire, including differences in emotionality, lifestyle preference, values, neatness, organization, independence, how and with whom to spend time and money, how and how often to have sex, household chores, involvement and discipline of the children, activity level, people orientation, decision-making, ambition and work, religion, drug and alcohol use, and marital fidelity. And switching partners just switches us to a new set of unsolvable problems.  ... The [problem-solving] method the Gottmans have found most effective?  Teaching couples to really listen to one another....The goal isn’t problem-solving, but uncovering the longing buried in the conflict—which develops friendship and reduces pain and distance."

Read more:  http://www.lovesciencemedia.com/love-science-media/solving-your-unsolvable-problems-what-happy-couples-know.html

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Two fascinating Ted Talks on the brain in love

I wanted to share two interesting Ted Talks on the science behind love, both by Helen Fisher (her Wikipedia entry), a leading expert on the biology of love and attraction. Here's what 30 years of research has shown us:

The Brain in love:
(16 min vid)

Why we love:
(24 min vid. The introduction will have some duplicitous information that you already heard if you just watched the above video but only a bit -- keep going, both videos have different information.)


Helen Fisher's research centers on the biology behind love, why we're drawn to some people and not others. She says she's found that there are general personality characteristics associated with neurochemical systems. She came up with 4 "styles" of love (although supposedly you'll have a primary and a secondary focus):
  • Dopamine-influenced Explorers: tend to be adventurous, passionate, risk-taking, novelty-seeking, generous, creative, impulsive, restless, intensely energetic, optimistic, adaptive, autonomous, liberal, city-dwelling, insatiably curious—and intolerant of boredom.
  • Serotonin-inspired Builders: “Pillars of society,” Fisher calls them. They’re most often loyal, calm, confident, conscientious, dutiful, moral, conventional, respectful of authority, conservative, concrete, orderly, cautious (yet not fearful), community-oriented, social, detail-oriented, predictable, persistent, patient, schedule-and-routine oriented, good at managing people, tolerant of repetition— and intolerant of rule-breaking.
  • Testosterone-laden Directors (over 2/3 of whom are male): They’re outspoken, tough-minded, decisive, to-the-point, thorough, objective, forthright, independent, skeptical, exacting, competitive, bold, analytical, spatially (and mathematically, mechanically and/or musically) skilled, focused, inventive, hungry for knowledge—and intolerant of chitchat.
  • Estrogen-influenced Negotiators (who represent about 15% more women than men): seek a Soul Mate. They’re variously known as imaginative, agreeable, intuitive, empathic, gifted at coalescing diverse thoughts in a process Fisher calls “web-thinking," curious about people, avid in reading and writing, and tolerant of ambiguity. Negotiators are emotionally expressive, intimacy-seeking and intolerant of emotional distance.
Whelp, that was obvious. I'm a "negotiator." I'm not totally sure what my secondary one would be, maybe elements of builder. Interesting stuff. What are you?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


I dreamt it was late and I was driving and then I got lost, but as I
started to round a dangerous curve, I thought oh this looks familiar.
So I kept going.

But the road got worse and worse until soon I was navigating over
boulders and at one point I almost fell off the cliff but I kept going
somehow, my car defying the laws of physics.

Then suddenly there was no where to go. I drove myself into a dead
end. I stood there a minute shocked and lost, looking around to assess
the situation I suddenly found myself in.

Far below, there was a deep aqua pool and I didn't so much jump as
let myself fall, surrendering to fate; if it was death, so be it. But
I didn't die. The water cushioned me and I looked around, lost while
floating in a beautiful cerulean sea.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

In the darkness

My heart is sad tonight.

Sadness like this will go away, I know this, but I will let myself mourn, as he will mourn, over what cannot be. I care for him and he cares for someone else, and neither of us can have what we want.

It means more to me to be a friend, a real friend, one that can be happy to watch the ones I love walk off into the sunset with others. So I release my want. My loves are like sand sifting through my fingers. The tighter you hold, the more slips away. The only thing to do is give up your grasp and cup, for a moment, the elusive grains.

There is a school of thought that every encounter you have with another person is a gift. In the three years that I've been single, I haven't found "it." Either I'm not right for someone or they're not right for me. But that is dating.

Maybe I'll never find that kind of love again, love that I once knew. Maybe it is enough to have known it.

My friend Karen died young without getting the chance for the thing she wanted most: knowing the joy of being a mother. She yearned for it but cancer took her first. My childhood best friend died in labor. She didn't get the thing we all want: time. Heartache and sadness are all around. Not fun to read about. We want movies with happy endings and stories with closure but life doesn't always tie up neatly that way. I think for me this is why I value connection. For all of life's fleeting moments, it's not going through those moments alone that really matters.
"Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light." Helen Keller

Nerd dreams

One Saturday I fell deep into an afternoon nap despite a lofty to-do list. I was also knee-deep into a freelance web project and somehow the guilt over this luxurious break manifested itself in a dream. This is the page I was "designing" in my dream (with my to-do list as the left navigation):

I am SUCH a dork!

Monday, April 1, 2013

12 yr old diary entries

Diary entries from when I was 12. I don't remember who I was babysitting for but who hires a 12-year-old to look after their kids?!?
Dec. 3
Another boring day. My mom drove me to school today. I got a 95%!! on my French test. I like Sam. I have to tell him he has nice eyes. His eyebrows sort of knit over his forehead. I found out Mark shaves. I don't like the zlubby girls who sit around, smoke and complain with a lot of curse words how they hate life.

I think if anyone takes my journal I will die. My next journal I am going to disguise it and write MATH on it and then not put my name. Homework is pg. 63-68 exercise 34S.

Dec. 11
I went to sleep at 2:00 am last night. Me and my mom got into this big fight. Here are some ways I have to mend my personality:

1. Never talk back
2. Never ask twice
3. Always keep room spotless
4. Never miss bus again
5. Mope on my own time

Jan. 3
Michele has a chest cold, my mom has a sore throat, my sister isn't eating well, my dad has a cold and Linda has this thing with her knee. I paid my dues with strept throat, I do NOT want to be sick now.

Jan 14.
Me and Sam are both sick. I don't have time to be sick!

Saturday night I slept over Michele's. We babysat for 3.5 hours and got $15 dollars!!!!! (no, not each.) Then Michele made a middle finger out of silly putty. I am STARVING.