I recently read Rainbow Rowell’s Landline, a cute book about a woman who discovers she can talk to her husband in the past via a phone in her mother’s house, and she uses it to try to repair their marriage. Midway through the book, her husband comments that he’s bad at wanting things. In other words, he usually has no clue what he wants, and sort of stumbles through life with only a loose sense of goals.
The main character replies that she is great at wanting things, so they’ll make a good pair. Wanting things is one of her strengths. “I’m extra good at wanting things. I want things until I feel sort of sick about them. I want enough for two normal people, at least.” (That was on page 147, in case you’re playing at home.)
She then goes on to list all the things she wants in the moment, big and small. Some of which are completely realistic and within her reach (“I want to write”) and some that may be impossible (“I want to join The Kids in the Hall”) and some which are material (“I want a Crayola Caddy”) and others intangible (“I want to be actively, thoughtfully happy”): a huge assortment of immediate and long term goals.
If we’re dividing up the world into two categories — the wanters and the non-wanters — I am firmly in the category of wanter. I want things. I also want things until I feel sort of sick about them, whether they are small, tangible items such as books or larger goals such as owning a beach apartment. I know what I want and I become consumed by what I want. Every single time.
Though multiply my normal wanting levels when it comes to family building because there’s also a biological impulse adding fuel to the fire.
I’ve always considered myself a skilled wanter because I actually enjoy it when I get what I want. There are people who want intensely, but then are disappointed when they get what they want. Or they say, “this wasn’t what I expected at all.” And I like to think of myself as skilled as a wanter because I don’t get that unwanted side effect that sometimes comes from intense wanting. Where the reality can never live up to the fantasy. Being a wanter, therefore, works for me. I want, I get, I love it, I’m happy.
But the other side, of course, is I want, I don’t get, I’m sad.
There are times when I can shake off the disappointment that comes from wanting and not getting. But most of the time, the wanting consumes me until I get tunnel vision trying to reach the goal. And in some ways, that can be a good thing if it drives me to keep trying and get what I want by staying indefinitely in the game. (Or, in some cases, continuously adjusting towards a new goal so I ultimately can fulfill the original want, just in a different way.)
But what do you do if you’re a wanter and you never get what you’re wanting?
In that case, it seems like the happier road is the zen approach to not-wanting. In that case, it feels like a proof for the four noble truths in Buddhism. That getting rid of desire also gets rid of anxiety and disappointment. If dukkha comes out of a craving, then the answer is to stop craving. To stop wanting.
The non-wanters win.
I kept teetering back and forth on the subject of wanting as I read this chapter; whether wanting so intensely serves me or holds me back.
I didn’t come to a final answer.
But I sure want one.
August 27, 2014 10 Comments
I picked up a book at the library that I was pretty certain I would need to own a penis to enjoy (note: own a penis; not borrow a penis), so I was pleasantly surprised to find Notes from the Internet Apocalypse thin but readable. Fine, it was very thin, like a story stretched over one of those pot-holder looms, though it probably would have felt thicker (no pun intended) if I had something between my legs. If I was the sort of person who spent time on 4Chan or looking at Internet porn. Like the boy recently in the library who unabashedly continued to look at Internet porn even while I was standing behind him, trying to look through the M section in general fiction. He would likely love this book.
But — again — it is readable, and even somewhat enjoyable, if you know the sites mentioned. Which you will: Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, etc.
Of course, you should also have a heads up that there is a recurrent pregnancy loss plot point. Not exactly what I was expecting amid all the discussion of porn. But there you go.
The basic set-up for the book is that the Internet has gone down completely. No one know why the world is offline, but it comes down to no websites, no email, no social media. The book starts with a description of what happens to all of us when we go through Internet withdrawal, and then sharply veers into an Internet whodunit of trying to figure out what took out the Internet and whether the rumours are true that there is someone in New York who is still online.
That part was less interesting than wondering whether we could go backwards at this point and return to living offline after burying our faces in the warm bosom of the Internet.
Unplugging for a set amount of time — eg. not checking email or Facebook while on vacation — is very different from the Internet being offline. In one case, you’ve removed yourself from the Internet, and in the other, the Internet has removed itself from you. Sort of the same thing as being the dumper or the dumpee in a relationship. Either way, the relationship is over, but one scenario has you in control and the other does not.
I don’t want to get dumped by the Internet.
It would be very difficult to go backwards at this point. Give up a site, sure? I could close my Facebook account and be fine. I could leave Twitter and not miss it. But blogs? I start hyperventilating when I think about not reading blogs anymore. I could still write my blog — it would be like keeping every entry in draft form — but to not be able to read anyone else’s blog?
I’ve been spoiled by the immediacy of the Internet. I send an email, and I expect a reply in a short amount of time. I have a question, and I Google for the answer. I get handed the name of a song or the name of a familiar-looking actor in a television show via apps on my phone. I take a photo and my sister can have it 15 seconds later. Could she still have the photo without the Internet? Sure, if I go to the store, print it out, go to the post office, mail it to her, and have her wait three days.
I couldn’t have books instantly or music instantly or movies instantly. I couldn’t play games or check up on friends or see someone while I speak to them long-distance.
Obviously, if the Internet dumps us, we will have to continue on without it, fondly remembering our time together. But it will hurt. It will hurt a lot. My heart would be broken.
Could you live without the Internet?
August 26, 2014 16 Comments
When we got back from the beach, I checked the caller ID instead of playing the answering machine because I am just that lazy. I was scrolling past the names when I thought I saw my own and backed up. Wait. I hadn’t seen things. There it was: my own name followed by my own number. A call made from inside the house while we were out of town.
Which instantly called to mind every “I’m calling from inside the house” horror story told around campfires.
Image: Stephen Pierzchala via Flickr
I played the answering machine, but the only message was a hang up.
A hang up preceded by a moment or two of eerie silence.
I sent Josh around the house, certain that he would find someone who looked like Bob from Twin Peaks hiding in our basement, holding an old-fashioned, rotary phone. (Why was my horror man holding a phone that takes 10x longer to make a phone call? I don’t know. Because he has all the time in the world as he leaves his creepy horror messages?)
The basement was empty.
The rest of the house was empty.
That night, I Googled the situation and discovered that phone solicitors have now discovered a way to make your own name and number appear on your caller ID. They know that we all ignore “private caller” or unlisted numbers, but how can you ignore yourself? I mean, it could be future-you calling present-you in order to warn you about Twin Peaks-like, rotary-phone operating horror characters. Or it could be a robo-call. Either/or.
In any case, the mystery was solved.
But for a few hours, it was pretty damn creepy.
August 25, 2014 12 Comments
We went to the beach last week for a few days. I brought along a bunch of books, and I ended up reading two — one which was pretty awful and I won’t name it out of politeness and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy which is a comfort read (one of those books I read over and over again just because it makes me happy). We found a new playground on the island. We took ice cream to-go each night so we could eat it while watching Doctor Who in our hotel room. We ran around on the beach during sunset. We biked through the nature reserve.
And somewhere along the way, I felt my body truly and fully relax.
Waves in the evening
Sunset on the bay beach
Pretty flowers on the nature reserve
Like this photo? I got eaten alive by mosquitoes taking it.
Flocks of birds which likely have names but I’m not sure what they are
A herd of wild horse during sunset
I felt everything internally unknot. My body melted onto the sand, oozing like ice cream in the sun. I stopped hating everyone and everything. I stopped worrying about next week and the week after and the week after that. I stopped eating Tums. Actually, I’m lying. I still ate Tums. But I took deep breaths and felt the air reach the dark recesses of my lungs.
At some point, during our last few hours on the beach, I started to feel melancholy about the whole thing. What was the point in relaxing like this if I couldn’t hold onto it? I’ve done this enough times to know that the moment we crossed back over the Bay Bridge, all the same feelings would return, climbing inside the car like hitchhikers.
And they did.
In some ways, they feel heavier because my body got used to being unburdened by them for a few days. In some ways, they feel lighter because I know I can find a space sometimes to set them down.
August 24, 2014 21 Comments
Perhaps I only posted about this on Facebook (because I can’t find a post on my blog mentioning it even though I know some type of social media discussion took place when I first stated it) but many months ago, I was diagnosed with a vitamin D deficiency. As in, my body makes pretty much no vitamin D. At all. There was the amount your body needs to produce to be considered abnormal, and I was well, well, well under that number. So I went on prescription vitamin D and brought up my levels, and then months later, was weaned to a normal, daily vitamin D tablet.
All was well.
Then my brand of vitamin D started adding gelatin to the tablet.
And I do not ingest gelatin.
So I went out trying to find a vegan supplement. This proved to be (1) harder than I thought and (2) grosser than I thought. Because along the way, I learned where vitamin D comes from.
I let myself shudder vitamin-D-free for several months until my doctor noticed during a blood test that my vitamin D levels were back down to nil. So I had to suck it up and find a vegan supplement.
I found one at the local organic market. It cost more than vitamin D should cost. (Like… $20. Doesn’t that sound high for a few months of vitamin D?) But I am back to rickets-free living. I hope.
Yes, this is your weekly reminder to back up your blog, social media accounts, and email.
Seriously. Stop what you’re doing for a moment. It will take you fifteen minutes, tops. But you will have peace of mind for days and days. It’s the gift to yourself that keeps on giving.
As always, add any new thoughts to the Friday Backup post and peruse new comments in order to find out about methods, plug-ins, and devices that help you quickly back up your data and accounts.
And now the blogs…
But first, second helpings of the posts that appeared in the open comment thread last week. In order to read the description before clicking over, please return to the open thread:
Okay, now my choices this week.
Inconceivable has a post about the true meaning of finding balance. I love this post because she points out that balance isn’t necessarily a happy space. It is more existing in the center of You-ness, not so focused on the Joneses or whatever else is out there. Balance is about bringing it back inward, not having the external forces rocking you like a Weeble Wobble. It’s a fantastic reminder in a world that is constantly pushing everyone off-center.
Family Building with a Twist has a post saying goodbye to summer. I am having a hard time with the end of summer, so this was the perfect read for me this week. This resonated with me so much: “Most of it is due to my worry that we didn’t maximize our time here; you know, sucking the marrow out of our beach week and all that. We didn’t play in the water as much as we would have liked. We didn’t collect as many shells. We didn’t spend as many evenings chatting into the wee hours while the ocean breezes blew.” Especially knowing there is never a point where you reach “enough” of a good thing.
Lastly, the Road Less Travelled has a two-part, must-read post set on finding peace with the disappointments (or… larger than disappointments… tragedies. The advice covers a wide range of situations) in life. One of my goals for the year is to develop some resilience since I would say that is a life skill missing from my tool bag. The two posts are chock-full of helpful information. Bookmark them. Come back to them a hundred times. (Or however many times you need to commit the advice to heart.)
The roundup to the Roundup: My D3 is gelatin-free. Your weekly backup nudge. And lots of great posts to read. So what did you find this week? Please use a permalink to the blog post (written between August 15th and August 22nd) and not the blog’s main url. Not understanding why I’m asking you what you found this week? Read the original open thread post here.
August 22, 2014 13 Comments