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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Time to Tidy Up

I broke out the DustBuster on Sunday. Oh, it's literally true that there was some crumbly debris in the crevice between the carpet and the baseboard. I got it up and then tried to locate some coffee grounds or cat hair or anything, really, to pull up into my DustBuster. It took me a moment to notice the symptoms. For when I start obsessively vacuuming, it is metaphorical. It means I need to tidy things up. Ex used to joke that when I was "chewing on things", trying to restore some order to myself, he would run out to tell the neighbors to throw open their doors because I was on the way down the street with the vacuum cleaner.

I am not "troubled", exactly. It's more like my head is filled to maximum capacity and some of the voices are speaking too loudly. Some of it is about my writing and some about other aspects of life. I'm unsettled and dissatisfied with myself and it's time to regroup and become tidy again. I want to write and I also want to read the writing of other bloggers. I want to do something with the closet that almost contains all the crafting materials and - oh, yes - I'd really like to make something with said crafting materials. I want to make a huge crockpot of red sauce and feed people, but I can't focus to buy the thoroughly well memorized ingredients.

I have an unruly queue of posts waiting in the wings. I want to finish Chapter 2 of The Field Trip and I've still not told the best Sugarhouse story of them all, despite having written Chapters I, II, and III and about the Secret Order of the Sugarhouse Hoppy Taw Society. The holidays came and I got distracted writing about them. I need to get us out of Sugarhouse and on with the ensuing 50 years! I still have a mountain of photos to share from the last camping trip and the one before that, and there are three embryonic posts about the things I see and experience "out there".

The race weekend unsettled me as they always do if I cannot be present. One wants to be at the race, given some meaningful occupation. One wants to drive ahead, get out, wait for the peloton to appear, check out his position and form, assess his well-being, and repeat the process. One wants to hand up water at the designated place on the course, and if one fails to plant the water in his hand, she cobbles a plan to drive forward, get out where she can easily be seen and keep trying to give that water until she succeeds. Only the first race of the season has been completed. Knowing the hellish conditions he rode in, I found it particularly difficult to watch the clock, watch the radar, watch the hour-by-hour weather and hope not to receive a phone call too early for him to have finished. It's going to be a busy spring, with races near and far.

This morning, at the intersection of Desert Inn Road and Durango Drive, my (almost) four-year-old car turned 20,000 miles. At the moment the digital display flipped from 19999 to 20000, it hit me that I had an empty BlackBerry holster in my purse. I did the 360, went home, collected the device from the exact spot where I knew it would be, and made it to work on time. It is not like me to be so forgetful, and particularly about the BlackBerry that is always at my fingertips.

For Tag and for Kirk (and anyone else, of course), I saw a news article that revisits an old topic once presented on this blog. It seems the Neon Boneyard is undergoing some changes and perhaps some day soon, I won't have to contemplate jumping the fence to commune with those venerable things.

Friend Tag had something cool on his blog this morning and I'm going to snag it from him, as Kass has already done. Its theme is what happened in my birth year. I like trivia games and round robin games. I've been known to start one or two and participate in more. I'm going to process mine a little differently, however, leaving out the boilerplate stuff that applies to everyone's birth year and commenting on the things that strike me. I have a few entries of my own to add, as well.

What happened the year I was born.

In 1952, the world was a different place. There was no Google yet. Or Yahoo.
I seem to remember that.

In 1952, the year of your birth, the top selling movie was This Is Cinerama. People buying the popcorn in the cinema lobby had glazed eyes when looking at the poster. They were still showing it widely 8 years later when I was taken to see it. I remember the trip over the Grand Canyon and the virtual roller coaster ride.

Remember, that was before there were DVDs. Heck, even before there was VHS. People were indeed looking at movies in the cinema, and not downloading them online. Imagine the packed seats, the laughter, the excitement, the novelty. And mostly all of that without 3D computer effects. It was also before colored TV and transistor radios.

In the year 1952, the time when you arrived on this planet, books were still popularly read on paper, not on digital devices. Trees were felled to get the word out. The number one US bestseller of the time was The Silver Chalice by Thomas B. Costain. Oh, that's many years ago. Have you read that book? Have you heard of it? It resided on my parents' bookcase and I have read it.

In 1952, West Germany has 8 million refugees inside its borders. I was born not so very long after World War II.

Elizabeth II is proclaimed Queen of the United Kingdom at St. James's Palace, London, England. This pleases me as I am an Anglophile and I think she is a practical, likable woman who knows how to do things we might not expect of her. She did active military service in World War II and when an intruder entered her bedroom in Buckingham Palace, she talked him down while she rang for assistance. She shoots and is outdoorsy. Ex was fascinated by the pastel purse that always hangs from her forearm. He was convinced she kept a gun in there in case she had to take care of herself in a dust-up. She certainly wouldn't need to carry a wallet and ID and money. She has other people to do that for her.

The Diary of Anne Frank is published. I first read it very young. It was my first awareness of Jews and what they suffered. At the time I read it, I didn't know there were bad things one's father couldn't prevent from happening. It terrified me.

The United States Army Special Forces is created. A British passenger jet flies twice over the Atlantic Ocean in the same day. Martial law is declared in Kenya due to the Mau Mau uprising. The first successful surgical separation of Siamese twins is conducted in Mount Sinai Hospital, Cleveland, Ohio.

The Nobel prize for Literature that year went to Fran├žois Mauriac. The Nobel Peace prize went to Albert Schweitzer. The Nobel prize for physics went to Felix Bloch and Edward Mills Purcell from the United States for their development of new methods for nuclear magnetic precision measurements and discoveries in connection therewith.

The 1950s were indeed a special decade. The American economy is on the upswing. The cold war betwen the US and the Soviet Union is playing out throughout the whole decade. Anti-communism prevails in the United States and leads to the Red Scare and accompanying Congressional hearings. Africa begins to become decolonized. The Korean war takes place. The Vietnam War starts. The Suez Crisis war is fought on Egyptian territory. Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and others overthrow authorities to create a communist government on Cuba. Funded by the US, reconstructions in Japan continue. In Japan, film maker Akira Kurosawa creates the movies Rashomon and Seven Samurai. The FIFA World Cups are won by Urugay, then West Germany, then Brazil. I think of the 1950s as cold and steely gray. No color. The cold war, men with gray hair in gray suits driving big gray Dodges, sterile scientific progress being made everywhere.

Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected president in November, 1952. For me, he epitomizes the men with no color, the men with gray hair in gray suits driving big gray Dodges. And yet . . . Stepfather was an aficionado of Norman Rockwell paintings and the art on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post. He was generally Rockwell's age and he appreciated the images that reflected life in his era. I am not particularly a Rockwell fan, but when Stepfather organized a group he took to lunch and then to a Rockwell exhibit, I went along. I am not a Rockwell fan, but I was a Stepfather fan. The museum was packed with patrons ogling the magazine cover images. I roamed around, not impatiently, and landed before Rockwell's portrait of Eisenhower. Although painted mainly in white and neutral tones, this image utterly screams color. It is warm and exudes light. This must have been what the man was like in real life. Colorful and engaging. It was painted in 1952, the year of my birth.

Do you remember the movie that was all the rage when you were 15? In the Heat of the Night. I do, but Bonnie & Clyde rings my bell more clearly. My father took a girlfriend and me to see it at a drive-in. It was a grand outing until a bedroom scene showed itself and Clyde's lack of sex drive was discussed. One of the most uncomfortable moments I've ever spent in my father's presence. Today we'd just cackle about it. Then it was excruciating.

Do you still remember the songs playing on the radio when you were 15? Maybe it was Ode to Billy Joe by Bobbie Gentry. I remember. I didn't Google this, I have that thing for lyrics, remember? "It was the third of June, another sleepy, dusty delta day, I was out choppin' cotton and my brother was balin' hay . . . ."

Were you in love? Certainly.

Who were you in love with, do you remember? I've never forgotten for a moment.

When you were 8, there was Pollyanna. I wanted to be as adorable as Hayley Mills. I still want to be as adorable as Hayley Mills.

6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1... it's 1952. There's TV noise coming from the second floor. Someone turned up the volume way too high. The sun is burning from above. These were different times. The show playing on TV is Kukla, Fran and Ollie. The sun goes down. Someone switches channels. There's The Ed Sullivan Show on now. That's the world you were born in. I was introduced to my Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show at age 11 in 1964.

"Progress", year after year. Do you wonder where the world is heading? The quotation marks are my addition. I'm not sure we are making "progress". I'm a bit jaded, a little cynical. I am terrified about where the world is heading.

The technology available today would have blown your mind in 1952. Do you know what was invented in the year you were born? The Floppy Disk. Optical Fiber. The Fusion Bomb. Anything would have blown my mind in 1952. I was a newborn that August.

Christopher Reeve was born. And Dan Aykroyd. Douglas Adams, too. And you, of course. Everyone an individual. Everyone special. Everyone taking a different path through life. Angela Cartwright (Ha, Kirk!), Annie Potts, Carol Kane, Cathy Rigby, Harry Anderson, John Goodman, Juice Newton, Leslie Morgan, Marilyn Chambers, Mr. T, Patrick Swayze, Roseanne Barr. I'm in some pretty good company here!

It's 2010.
The world is a different place.
What path have you taken?
I'd say that differently. I haven't "taken" it. I'm still "taking" it. I'm not complete yet. I'm still standing.

In my ears right now: The Beatles. The End. Kass wrote about love being the great equalizer and I'll take one of those to go. Because I know that in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.

Something that charmed me: The Badger dropped in his sincere thank you comment this afternoon. He was touched by the kindness of so many.


  1. Beautiful post! How did you do that so fast? Have you ever considered being a journalist? An author of deep psychological thrill-filled novels? You are an amazing writer. One of my favorites, along with Anne Tyler.

    Spent the whole day with Mom again. We got her nails done by a loud-spoken AA sponsor. She really was quite interesting, but boy, did she talk and talk and talk. Mom's nails look great, though.

  2. @ Kass ~ Hey, Cookie. Most of the post was already written. I only had to add the part with Tag's game. Once I organize my thoughts, the writing goes pretty quickly for me. Although I have always loved to write, and have always written as some part of my jobs, I never really thought of being a journalist. I haven't had enough confidence and I am not educated. I love writing and getting the feedback now, though, even when it isn't complimentary. And - boy, howdy - if I were a writer, whatever I produced would have to be deeply psychological. That doesn't wash out of me!

    If you and Mom could tolerate the woman's incessant talking and Mom's nails are grand, then that was time well spent. ;~}

    I'm glad you're coming back into the 'sphere.

  3. What do you mean you're not educated.Lack of degrees and hours in a classroom certainly doesn't mean a lack of education.
    I forgot what I was going to say. Oh, Yeah! I remember the 50's in shades of gray as well. I wonder if that's the influence of B&W TV?.
    I'm glad you included the answers to the questions. That made it much more personal.

  4. @ Tag ~ thank you so much! You have been such a friend! Maybe you're right about all the 50s B&W. Just "dull". I need color and light! I "get" color and light!I do not enjoy flat B&W. I just tried to tell it in my one way. And I'll continue tomorrow.