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One Cobble at a Time

Things I’ve Been Thinking About Which Are Not Long Enough for a Full Blog Post

Sandra Tayler's Journal

responsible woman

A cobble by itself is just a small stone, but when many of them lay together they create a path . My life is made up of many discrete parts. I have to find ways to fit them all into place so that I can continue to journey where I desire to go. This journal records some of the cobbles that create my path.

Things I’ve Been Thinking About Which Are Not Long Enough for a Full Blog Post

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responsible woman

These photos of people being scared. At first they were just funny, but then as I clicked through I became fascinated by the sameness of the facial expressions. It got to the point where I was staring at the photos trying to determine if they are real or people posing in caricatures of fear. I came to the conclusion that they are real.

***

I’ve been thinking about Charles Darwin ever since Howard tweeted this quotation from one of Darwin’s letters: “I am very poorly today and very stupid and hate everything and everybody.” I find comforting that I’m not the only one who has stupid days. However I’ve been thinking even more about a statement made later in the article about Darwin

“He was not quick, witty, or social. He spent decades working out his ideas, slowly, mostly by himself, writing letters and tending to a weak heart and a constantly upset stomach. He was a Slow Processor, who soaked in the data, thought, stared, tried to make sense of what he was seeing, hoping for a breakthrough. All around were snappier brains, busy being dazzling, but not Darwin’s, which just plodded on until it finally saw something special, hiding in plain view.”

Darwin changed the world, but he didn’t do it with a flash of brilliance or by leaping insight. It makes me think of the tortoise and the hare. Also of my son Link, who is amazing, but not in a flashy, leap-of-insight way. He lives in a family of hares, I’m one of them, and I’ve learned a lot about how to commit to small daily effort just from watching him.

***

At the end of a school project–a child’s science fair project display, for a not so random example–there is an urge to just get the thing done. I want to be able to stop thinking about it. I want Get Child to Do Science Fair Project off of my to do list. This is how parents end up doing the work for their kids. It was very hard to restrict myself to cutting and taping while letting Patch do all the thinking and organizing. I could to it so much faster and neater, but then I’ve already learned the things that this project has to teach. Patch needs to struggle with them so that he can too. The result is a display that he is proud of and a project he can describe in detail because he knows how it works. Also: Mythbusters is a great way to expose kids to the scientific method. I know that there is a lot of theater and pseudo science in the show, but Patch instantly understood hypothesis, test with variables and controls, and conclusion. They were made familiar by Mythbusters.

***

I find it interesting how I can succeed at things all day long, but a small failure late in the day can alter my perception of the entire day. Out of all the things I could have gotten wrong yesterday, cookies are the least important. I guess it just threw me for a loop because cookies are easy. I have the recipe memorized, I can make them half asleep and they turn out great. But they didn’t last night, and it sent me back to thinking about the Darwin quote, the “I am stupid” part of it.

***

In Polish the idiomatic expression which means “Not my problem” translates to “Not my circus, not my monkey.” This makes everyone at Chez Tayler very happy and has now entered our family lexicon. Thanks to Dan Wells for tweeting it.

***

Watched an episode of Nanny 911 and spent the whole thing thinking about the power of a film editor. I half want to go through and track what people are wearing to deconstruct how misleading the episode was. All the tantrum footage was in the first part and all of the happy footage in the second, giving the impression that the nanny had made everything better. I’ll grant that she really did teach some important skills that the family needed to learn, but she also spent lots of time looking disapproving for the benefit of the camera. That sort of family therapy is best managed without the audience. I won’t be watching any more, though if I could find a similar show with a different editorial approach or tone, I might sample that. The psychology on display is interesting.

***

This is week five of Dancing with the Stars. I love that show and have been keeping my enthusiasm under wraps because I could bore everyone to tears talking about the relationships between the dance teams, the emotional arcs of the people involved, the editorial choices made about the clips, the execution of various dances, who I hope stays to the end, who I’d like to see go home, how this season compares to prior seasons, and the difficulties the show is going to have going back to a regular season after having this all star cast. Besides, blogging all of that isn’t nearly as much fun as finding someone else who loves the show as much as I do and sitting down in person to chatter.

***

The Iron Man 3 trailer hits all the right emotional notes for me. I hope the movie I get to see is the one in that trailer. I like emotional depth in my heroes and thus far Iron Man has amused me, but I don’t re-watch because I’ve already seen what there is to see.

***

I can not express how much I admire Robison Wells. He writes about his experience of mental illness and thus gives words to a problem that is usually kept out of sight.

***

I was recently at a laser tag place where I watched one teen hand something to another teen and say “Here you go. I feel like such a mom.” Later that same evening I heard a different teen say “Yeah. Moms are just like that.” I think I’ve figured out why I’m reluctant to self identify as a mom. Obviously I am one. I spend a large portion of my days nurturing my children and just about anyone else who gets near me. Yet when I start writing a list of who I am, mom ends up on the list at the tail end when I’m trying to come up with more things. Yet in the majority of advertising and entertainment, as well as in the minds of all teenagers everywhere, to be mom is to be unfashionable, over-responsible, rules-driven, boring, and ender-of-all-fun. Why would I want to identify with that?

***

Catherine Schaffer wrote a great post about why apocalypse stories are so popular. She has many good thoughts, but right at the end she wrote:

In our increasingly globalized world, even the most hawkish among us must admit, on some level, that our worst enemies are still human. So while some may argue that it’s justifiable to kill the enemy, there is no acceptable pleasure in it. Zombies, meanwhile, can be killed with gleeful abandon.

And I thought: of course. The rise of zombie fiction makes sense now. I find it very interesting that we are also seeing sympathetic zombie fiction, such as My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland. Even when we pick the ultimate enemy, some of us are still going to try to empathize. Which is hopeful for the human race I think.

***

My head is full of similar random thoughts all the time. Every thing I see or hear triggers new thoughts. This is why it is so important for me to step away and deliberately select activities that allow me to sort thoughts rather than giving me new ones.

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