Archive for July, 2013|Monthly archive page

Small Words

I find words fascinating. There are so many words that mean almost but not quite the same thing. Subtlety, nuance in spoken and written word thrill my inner word nerd. Picking the right word and saying it in just the right way…nirvana! Rhythm, assonance, rhyme, cadence, timber and tone are all facets of verbal mastery, and I adore the chase for that perfection.

Ever since I was the pesky little sister and my older brothers found peace while babysitting by handing me a dictionary and requiring me to learn ten new words before I could ask any more questions, I’ve been hooked on words. Big or small, rare or common, words are the keys to unlock a universe of possibilities. Of course, words can create whole new worlds to explore right in the comfort of your own mind or in the pages of a favorite book. But the same words, assembled in different ways, can form a love sonnet, a letter of rejection, a pledge of allegiance, or a declaration of war. Words are versatile and powerful and…fascinating.

Four years of studying Latin gave me an appreciation for the roots of the English language and an ability to decipher linguistic patterns and puzzles. I’ve been fortunate to build a broad and varied vocabulary through study at all levels of my education, as well as through observation in daily life. Learning and using new words or learning to use old words in new ways is almost a sport for me.

Law school was both a pleasure and torturous when it came to my love of words. It was a joy to learn amazing new terms and unique and specialized uses for old stand-by words. But law professors delight in squeezing every ounce of literary and linguistic creativity out of you, forcing you to write and speak in the simplest and fewest words possible. It was a valuable, yet painfully paradoxical, lesson in communication.

Part of that ‘less-is-more’ mind-set still lingers. I may stray into the verbose, using complex sentences in this blog. (It is, after all, my special spot to park all the thoughts boiling in my brain.) But I still appreciate simple words and short sentences. Clear communication is always my goal. That’s part of why I’ve developed a love of small words.

Oh, it’s definitely fun to use complex, multi-syllable words…they’re great tools for wow-ing some, confusing others and confounding foe and friend alike. But there’s nothing more satisfying than being able to say exactly what you mean, using simple, plain words.

Small words have big impact, big power. Some of the most powerful word combinations I have ever experienced are short, plain sentences of only a few small words:

I love you.
I wish you were here.
You are strong.
Please help me.
Be still.
You matter.
It gets better.
I’m here for you.
We can do it together.
You are right.
I miss you.
I need you.
You make me smile.
I was wrong.
I’m sorry.

One of the reasons I’ve taken such a liking to Twitter is that the 140-character limit forces me to express myself succinctly. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have a new-found appreciation for micro-poetry, for much the same reason. Simple direct communication is a gift. Speaking your thoughts, sharing your feelings in plain words is a powerful form of intimacy. People respond to pure expression. I love that!

So, join me…let’s go use some small words to say some big things.

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Learning…even when I’m cranky

So, as I mentioned in my last post, I’m having a love-hate relationship with communication technology right now. It’s mostly hate and very little love at the moment. And Skype is at the top of my “no-good-very-bad” list.

For all that it’s a no-cost, easy to use communication tool, it has provided shockingly bad service and signal quality lately. I did an informal survey of my call/chat records over the last couple of weeks, and my rough calculation is that better than sixty percent (60%) of calls are dropped and at least ten percent (10%) of the other calls end as unanswered because they aren’t ringing through at the other end.

That means that just thirty percent (30)% of calls, at most, actually connect!! That’s atrocious! And of those, many last only seconds or a few minutes before abruptly ending due to the Skype app’s randomly switching the caller’s profile to “Offline”, despite strong signal strength. Infuriating!!

This poor quality, and the resultant thwarted communication, is taking a heavy toll on my good humor. The frustration factor is high and it’s compressing my patience to a very low tolerance threshold.

But I’ve learned a few things out of this trial, despite my crankiness. I call that a personal growth win, despite snapping at an unsuspecting sales guy the other morning (which is almost a sport, isn’t it?).

Here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned out of all the aggravation:

– Talk quickly and get to the point, because important things have to be said, even when the line crackles and pops and the picture is fuzzy

– Laugh. A lot. Because laughing dissipates the frustration quicker than a temper tantrum and laughing with someone else feels fantastic

– Appreciate any connection you can make work

– Don’t squander any opportunity to say “I love you”

– When all else fails, a snarky tweet and a smile can tame the uncertainties spawned by the silence for the person you’re trying to reach

– Sometimes it’s more important to actually talk to someone, even if it means paying for international long distance

That’s it for today, folks. Gotta go start the fire for smoke signals…about as efficient as anything else lately! 😉

Bullets…Again

A writing trick I’m blatantly stealing from a real writer (who also happens to be one of my favorite bloggers), Victoria Oldham, is this: when you “don’t have time” or can’t find your voice for a fully realized post, make a list. It’s a series of quick hits, not necessarily fully formed or fleshed-out thoughts, but enough to convey the flavor of your experience or the idea you want to explore.

I like the concept, but inexplicably feel guilty for resorting to it too often. But, because it’s been about ten days since my last post and I feel even more guilty about neglecting my blog than I do about using a list, I’m gonna give it a go again.

1. I have been writing, just not for publication here on this blog. I try to write something every day, even if it’s just a note to myself about something I want to spend more time writing about later. Lately, though, I’ve been happy to spend my writing time penning pretty things for #SpecialFemme. That effort is quite rewarding, in and of itself. It has opened up new avenues of creative expression I never expected to be able to explore. Not to worry, though! More blog posts are queuing up inside my head. I just have to find a way to chisel them out of their matrix of half-formed thought. Watch this space!

2. On a related note, I’ve recently developed an appreciation that I’ve never had before for poetry. I am no scholar or collector of poetry. And I really know nothing about the mechanics of recognized poetic forms. But I have discovered the unique satisfaction derived from poetic expression; it’s totally different from writing in prose or narrative style. I am beginning to really like certain forms I’ve seen and even have tried my hand at writing a bit of my own in a free-style mode that wouldn’t be recognized by any prof or critic. Most recently, I’ve become intrigued by the micro-poetry of some very talented tweeters I’ve followed on Twitter. Though the 140-character limit is occasionally the cause of some truly criminal linguistic short-cuts, some of the verse I’ve seen is fantastic. Speaking directly to my heart and, I swear, channelling the very essence of my current experience, these writers have awoken me to an art form I previously despised. Three of my favorites: @SheWhoWas, @Raine_Cooper, and @allforandrea

3. I am SERIOUSLY displeased with the level of quality and reliability of Skype lately. I use it on iPhone and iPad, as well as on my Android smartphone on two different mobile carriers. All platforms exhibit the same problems, in all locations I’ve used it, regardless if I’m on WiFi or on mobile data: horrible signal quality (crackling and attenuating audio, pixelated video) and an extremely high rate of dropped calls. I’ve also noted an increase in the frequency that the Skype app randomly switches my profile status from Online to Offline, despite a strong WiFi or mobile signal. This is incredibly frustrating for any user, I’m sure. But it is having a severe impact on my dating life! Nothing more annoying than having to fight technology when trying to nurture a long distance romance.

4. On a note more germane to this blog: I’m stuck in coward mode. I still haven’t come out to anyone in my family, despite promising myself that I’d start with my oldest brother at the beginning of July. It was the perfect chance! I had the house to myself and was off work for a couple days. It was after the end of the fiscal quarter and no work emergencies, no pressing social commitments. I could have taken advantage of the time to pull the trigger, take that next step toward authenticity. But I chickened out. I had planned to start with my oldest bro because he’s always been in my corner, supporting my ambitions, my biggest fan. Yet I can’t bring myself to pick up the phone and have that discussion. It’s simple fear, I know. Precisely because he’s my biggest fan, I fear losing his support. And, yes, I know my fear is preventing me giving him the chance to be supportive in this, too. As I said: coward. I admit it. But I don’t know how to break the cycle.

5. So as to not end on the downer of that last item, and because I think five is a nice round number for a listy post, I want to share something fun. Now, regular readers and friends will have tumbled to the fact that I’m a bit of a geek. Gadgets, tech of all kinds, sci-fi/fantasy, even Harry Potter are all fair game for my geek-dom. I like sci-fi the best, books, movies, tv, fan fic, you name it. I’m also a complete Mythbusters junkie! No surprise, then, that I was in heaven last week when these two obsessions came together in this tested.com One Day Build video. Adam Savage (Mr. Mythbusters himself) building a hyper-accurate replica of Han Solo’s (he of Star Wars legend) DL-44 Blaster (used to off the hated bounty hunter, Greedo, in the Mos Eisley cantina in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (the original Star Wars pic)(I told you I was a geek!))! C’mon, what’s not to absolutely love!?! Check it out here!!

Well, I think that’s enough for today. I’m fresh out of brain power and you need time to recover from that whirlwind ride through my cerebellum. Good luck with that.

Until next time…

Where Geek and Love Intersect, Oddities Ensue

I view this whole self-discovery gig as a three part deal:
(1) recognizing traits I have and optimizing the good while minimizing the bad;
(2) identifying traits I need to develop and refine in my life; and
(3) synthesizing lessons learned in some way that makes sense to my brain, so they stick.

Often these things occur on their own, or coincide in predictable ways, like increasing my innate sense of courtesy while learning to navigate in a new relationship.

But, sometimes these things combine in weird ways, like the way my affinity for technology intersects with my analytical and creative sides and a newly developing poetic bent. I’m kind of a nerd, a gadget geek and word-lover all in one odd, butch package. I like that about myself, too.

Recently, this odd combination of innate and emerging traits produced something that surprised even me in the crazy leap from tech- and history-inspired wonder, to love-induced dreaminess.

Let me ‘splain:

Last week, while I was on vacation in Washington D.C., I visited the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum. What an amazing place! It’s geek heaven! Not only is there every cool gizmo under the sun related to flight and space exploration, but cool videos explaining weird facts, a planetarium (c’mon, who doesn’t love a planetarium show), and hands-on interactive displays! Plus, also, and…you can have lunch in a solarium with a spectacular view of the Capitol Building!

So I geeked out over the old planes and the artifacts left over from the development of human flight in equal measure with the awe and wonder of seeing the first liquid-fueled rocket, Gemini space capsules, SkyLab and the Lunar Lander. I wandered those hallways soaking in the history and being generally giddy about finally fulfilling my life-long dream of visiting that place.

But something happened when I sat down to rest. My mind shifted from awe-struck tourist mode to analytical application mode. I started thinking about the courage and grit it took for all those flight pioneers to realize their dreams, acknowledging the determination and fortitude of these great dreamers. Then I began to look at my life and what’s foremost in my heart at the moment, to apply that lesson of determination.

What resulted, again surprising even me, is a poem (of sorts) that honors what I learned that day while using flight as a metaphor for my love and hope for my beloved. She enjoyed it; I hope you do, too.

Flight

Everywhere I look
In this cathedral to flight
Is evidence of genius, fearlessness and faith
Men and women risked it all
To follow their dreams into the air and into space
Not daunted by “can’t” or “don’t”
Each refused to fail, to quit
Believing in themselves and their dreams
They built the world they longed for
And we are heirs to their achievements
~
Let us take inspiration, my love
From these pioneers
Though oceans separate our bodies
No distance can separate our hearts
Come fly with me, my love
Through dreams and waking hope
Soar with me among the stars of our tomorrows
Race with me to the heavens
On wings of flaming desire
Together we will bridge the space between us
And let our love take flight
Traveling together into a future of our making

Daily Prompt: Mirror, Mirror

A few days ago, the WordPress Daily Prompt was: “Finish this sentence: “When I look in the mirror, I . . . “. Photographers, artists, poets: show us MIRRORED.”

I’ve only done one Daily Prompt post before, and it was just a playlist. But this prompt caught my eye and imagination, for some reason. So, here’s my attempt:

———-

When I look in the mirror, I see a mosaic of the past. Tiny bits of a world gone by, ancient and modern forebears echoed in my reflection.

Color is a big part of the mosaic. My father’s hispanic heritage evident in the color of my hair, the shape and color of my eyes, the color and texture of my skin. Even the Northern European influences of my mother are evident in the contrasting colors of the pink scars on my brown hands and the silver signs of age peppering my black hair.

But beyond the physical shards of my genetic past, I can see in my reflection the influence of the cultural, ideological and socio-economic position of those who came before me. These influences lay a pattern on my personality as surely as the genes define the foundation of my image.

The direct, searching gaze from my eyes, evidence of my Midwestern upbringing, where honest and forthright communication was expected of everyone. And the strong lines of muscle in jaw, neck and shoulder, as well as the firm, often roughened hands, speak to the “work hard, play harder” mentality of the many generations of my working class ancestors.

Although it is sometimes distorted by the poison-pen of my inner critic, my reflection in the mirror is a rich mosaic of a storied past. The pattern and lines of that mosaic are shaped by the genetic and cultural tesserae of my progenitors. But the final image formed by this mosaic of physical and spiritual influences is up to me. And I’m doing my damnedest to make that image and identity whole, positive and open to the world around me.

My Femme

On this International Femme Appreciation Day, I’m writing something hopelessly sweet and sappy for my #SpecialFemme. But every word is true and from my heart to hers.

———-

Why I Appreciate and Love My Femme

She sees me. Not just my rough, outer butchness. Not just the skin of respectability that the whole world sees. Not just the confusion & insecurity I’ve shared on my blog. She sees me. She sees with eyes of both physical and spiritual beauty. Seeing all the details of my very being and, still, is not afraid. She sees every asset and flaw, every gift, every scar. But she doesn’t flinch or flee. My fierce femme sees and accepts my whole being, without reserve.

Her heart is full, yet always has room for more. She cares deeply, laughs easily, and loves much. Her regard for life, in every form, is evidenced in both the tender care she showers on her kids and in the tough action she takes on behalf of the voiceless animals in her world. She’s conscious of the impact she has on the world, not just on her physical environment. Carefully treating each person with respect, she strives to leave each person feeling better than they had before her encounter with them. And she is careful of the earth and the gifts it gives us, not wasting, squandering or taking them for granted.

She has an old soul in a young heart. Wisdom and cheeky fun coexist in equal measure within her bigger-than-life personality. She sees the good in people and situations first, and balances negativity with humor and grace. Seeking always to bring light and positivity to every situation, she smiles and looks for the silver lining in every challenge.

Meeting adversity head-on, she uses her sharp mind, determined will and strong body to overcome each hurdle. Like a dynamo, she builds momentum and shares the energy with those around her. She brings everyone involved in a project or situation up to a higher level so that all share in success. Instead of finding fault, she finds solutions.

My fierce femme is a nurturer, a care taker, a comforter, a friend to all she meets. But she’s no push-over. Her sharp mind pierces even the thickest fog of B.S. She condones asshattery from no one and is a lioness when her loved-ones are threatened. She accepts and includes and does not judge harshly.

Her nature and good sense rebel at abuse, tyranny and discrimination. Righteous outrage she unites with active advocacy for change. Though her focus is in the corner of the world she can influence directly, her efforts have impact beyond her immediate circle. Paying positive energy and love into the world, she helps make it a better place all around.

Although, like all people, my femme is not perfect, she strives daily to improve herself and those around her. She exhorts, comforts, teaches and builds up everyone she meets. Inquiring, always curious, she is a forever learner. Smart, funny, caring, peace-loving, and fun, my femme is multi-faceted. Her talents abound, but she strives to augment natural gifts with skill and experience.

And my femme is beautiful. Beyond the sparkling, wise eyes full of life and fire, aside from the knowing smile full of fun and promise, beyond every one of her many physical traits of beauty, my femme has a glorious soul and fiery spirit. She adorns her heart with a love-first-question-later approach to life, gifting everyone she meets with acceptance and acknowledgement and fundamental respect. Her verve and zest for life, her fire and spark make her spirit shine.

For all this and so much more that only she knows, I appreciate my beautiful, wonderful, adorable fierce femme.

Reflecting, Not Looking Back

I’m working on a little pet project ahead of taking an exciting vacation this fall. Part of it requires reviewing past emails and chat records. This retrospective offers a great opportunity to relive memories, detect patterns, even notice details missed before.

But it also opens an opportunity for insecurity to raise doubt. Seeing those details for the first time, recognizing missed nuances, can lead to second guessing.

Really, though, I’m tired of insecurity. It’s exhausting. Constantly questioning myself, my worth, my decisions, my judgment, my ability, my right…everything. It’s just exhausting. And I’m over it.

So, as I re-read past emails, re-live saved text conversations and chronicle my journey, I’m committing to ponder, not regret. I’ll reflect, but I won’t look back. From now on, I’m adding to my campaign of intentional positivity the corollary of living in the moment and finding happiness where I make it.

On that note, I’m celebrating America’s independence and reflecting on all the momentous events of the past week by swallowing my insecurity and self-censorship. I’m going to share a bit of raw emotion I recorded last Wednesday, following the DOMA and Prop8 decisions. It’s not polished, but it’s what I felt in the moment. How fitting that my effort to overcome my inner saboteur, to make an effort at self-acceptance, involves my reaction to the high court deciding that I and those like me deserve equality. And though the work for worldwide equality is far from complete, I’m unapologetically celebrating this small step toward the goal.

Happy Independence Day to everyone, even my non-American friends, because freedom is a universal aspiration.

———–

Today, Love Triumphs
26 June 2013

My heart soars
Buoyant
Joyous and undirected
Floating freely
Light and care-free
As a feather on the breeze

Today, my love
We triumph
Love, which bears all things
Has risen victorious over hate
Though miles we have yet to go
Today love celebrates

For in ashes lays the strictures
A bar to love’s union no more
In ruin lays the wall
That once imprisoned equity
For all in this place, now
Love is love

Today, my love
We triumph
Love spoke truth to power
And the powerful rejected hate
Though miles we have yet to go
Today love celebrates

This is not the end
More work must we complete
Yet it is right that we rejoice
Dance and sing and shout
The first victory of love
One leap toward equality

Today, my love
We triumph
Love has won the day
Hate can abide no more
Though miles we have yet to go
Today love celebrates

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