Monthly Archives: December 2009

Frantic Pink Moment

I don’t remember fall in Seattle being so… New Englandy. It’s been frigid (mid twenties) and sunny and it feels like home. I don’t mind cold. Cold I can do – cold I’m good at. Especially when coupled with a bright firey ball in the sky.

The best part about all this unseasonable weather is the sunrises and sunsets have been absolutely mind boggling, on a daily basis.

sunset_downtown

Sunset from the Nordstrom Tower in First Hill. I was waiting for the elevator and looked out to see the Space Needle poking out between these old brick buildings, the sky all pink. Pretty amazing view for the hallway of a doctor’s office.

P.S. “Frantic Pink Moment” is a phrase that has stuck with me since New Year’s, 1998, when Viva spelled it out in refrigerator poetry. It has remained one of my favorite magnetic poem lines ever, second only to “Pies del mar.”

Hauntings

The layout of my tiny Mexican apartment is such that the bathroom entrance is directly across from the bed. And in another brilliant feat of architecture (along with cabinets that cannot be opened fully because they collide with ceiling fixtures), the light switch is outside the bathroom. One cannot turn on the lights for the bathroom without casting harsh illumination on unsuspecting sleepers.

I thought I would be smart and plug in a nightlight above the toilet, which could be switched on once the bathroom door was safely closed. Then I discovered that the power outlet was not active unless the main switch was on, returning us to the problem of flooding the darkened bedroom with bright light.

I remedied this problem by installing a battery-operated LED nightlight. And to sidestep the issue of searching for a tiny switch in the windowless pitch black, I found a light with a motion detector that turns on when the door is closed. Brilliant. Voila! Problem solved.

I mounted the light on the wall down low so it wouldn’t create a glare. A side effect I found amusing is that the cat turns on the light when she goes in to use the litter box. I don’t know why, but that cracked me up endlessly when I first discovered it. I wondered if she thought about it at all, if she made the connection. (Like the connection she’s made that if she sits in a certain spot at 7 AM, a bowl of food magically appears.) If I was lying in bed and saw the cool glow of the LED kick on, I’d turn toward the bathroom with a giggle and watch her feather duster plume of a tail disappear like a question mark into the shadows.

Then one night, soon after installation, the light went on and I turned to see no litterbox-bound feline. No toilet-bound human. Nothing having fallen off the shelf to trigger the motion sensor. Just – randomly-generated light.

I figured a scrap of tissue or something must have quietly fallen before I could see it to trip the sensor. Obviously.

Until the Page mentioned it the following evening, wide-eyed. “I think we have a ghost.” And we went on to speculate the various forms this ghost might have, including a cat-ghost who waited until nighttime to use the litterbox in the bathroom.

I’ve tried in vain to pinpoint a rational reason for this phenomenon. Others whom I’ve consulted, in possession of a similiar device, have not experienced these hauntings.

My main confusion is that ghosts traditionally float off the ground. If the motion sensor is nearly flush with the floor, wouldn’t a ghost bypass it without triggering the light? Or are cat-ghosts different – perhaps still earthbound on all fours?

The errant night light remains an unsolved mystery. The Page, insatiably curious, has posed the question: “Do all motion sensor lights detect ghosts – or just ours?”

The Problem with #6

A good friend of mine told me about a Native American proverb that goes something like, “If you don’t understand my silence, you won’t understand my words.” I sat with that one for a few days after I first heard it.

My whole life I’ve had an overwhelming list of interests, many of them even categorized as “passions.” Had I not developed a minute degree of discipline over the years, I’d still be a professional dabbler – and likely still in grad school. The mythical but unemployable “Jill of all trades; Master of none.”
Five is a limit that has long worked for reining in my scattered attentions. So I keep a list of five facets on which to focus. These areas of interest change several times a year; some rotate based on the Pacific NW seasons (raining/not-raining). I try to save indoor activities for winter and outerworldly pursuits for our brief but hedonistic summers.

Drawing and Playing Guitar are two hobbies that have long held the #6 and #7 spot on my list. Always there, always tempting, always out of reach. When I decided to Start My Own Business this year, that single line item took up a hefty #2 on the docket. Which means Blogging, after a seven year run in the top five, was pushed out to #6.

The problem with #6 is that I don’t do it. The idea of blogging becomes swiftly annotated with the sentence, “I’d love to, but it’s not in my top five right now.”

(I make it sound as though I run my life like a corporation. I guess in some ways, I do.)

Honestly, it might be the official coining of the term “BLOGOSPHERE” that was the final nail in the coffin for me. When I heard M’ichelle Norris on NPR stumble over the term for the first time, I slammed my laptop closed in defeat. “This marks a momentous day,” I said aloud, to no one in particular. And taking out a mechanical graphite pencil, I erased Blogging from its slot in the top five.

I am painfully conscious of the meta-irony and humor evident in writing about not writing. I make fun of people who write about not writing. But that’s not why I’m here. Part of this is thinking out loud. Part of this is an excuse note, in a way. “Please excuse K from her absence; she was out playing in the sunshine.”
The thing is, this morning I was leaving the house and stopped, stunned in the doorway. The pre-dawn sun was backlighting the pink mountains, frosted with whipped-cream snow. An enormous, pale full moon slung low over the city. The Space Needle proudly hoisting its Christmas tree toward the heavens. A Disney skyline sparkled. The glittery city shone, some fantastic set before a play begins. I took a photo. I wrote about it in my head. And then I went to work.

I miss the depth of experience that comes with sharing moments like this. Explaining it, painting it for you increases my enjoyment of the original scene. It becomes more memorable to me. This tiny slice of simple joy colors the rest of my world — the rest of the top five.

Self-serving? Yes, a little. But more accurately, it’s symbiotic. Or perhaps even mutually beneficial, to put a little marketing spin on it.

Whatever the reason, I think my chronicles serve as an enrichment exercise for the rest of my life. If nothing else, they are an archive of time and place.

The second reason I’ve found myself drawn to this locale almost urgently this week is that I really hate Facebook. I hate Twitter. They’re like this crowded high school cafeteria where everyone is vying for attention, strutting and preening and spouting constant self promotion.

I’m well aware that this is not a popular stance to take. But I honestly believe all this Tweeting (guh – the word itself makes me gag) and Facebooking is degrading the nature of our interactions. Disintegrating our attention spans. I feel empty after “social networking” – like reading Oprah Magazine. “It’s so shiny and glossy! It promises so much!” And after reading it cover to cover, or likewise spending empty time online, I feel hollow and lacking.

I also am highly resentful of the distraction this digital masturbation causes in my real world relationships, when spending time with friends is broken up into two minute blips by the checking of email and Twittering our whereabouts. It’s all unbearably un-zen.

Be here now.

Now.

and Now.

Returning to this space feels like a refuge from the din. Maybe I just don’t like the competition. Could be. But it’s so quiet and serene here. I don’t get interrupted. I’m not limited to ejaculatory bursts of words. I can take my time to weave my narrative. I can take my time.

So I’m considering either adding a slot for #6 on my list or amending another interest to include Directionless Digital Ramblings in Wishville. Maybe I could add line item “B” to #3, Morning Pages. I still get up at least an hour early every morning, still write longhand before I start my day. I feel like blogging, at least here, at least for me, can be a similar exercise in creative discipline and stirring the pot. Refilling the well.
Because creativity is abundant, and the more you use, the more is generated. I need to stop treating it like some precious resource. It’s exponential. It’s big and dynamic and can be banged around, stretched out, and never used up. Not like time. Not like Now.

and Now.