Sunday, November 27, 2011

speechless

I never knew how much it meant to hear someone say my name...until tonight. :-) I'm going to bed with a very happy heart.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

thanksgiving

Spending time with family means even more to me this year. I cherish every moment and revel in the closeness that continues to bring us together.

Friday, November 11, 2011

to those in uniform

"Many people refer to the World War II generation as the greatest one, but we've had greatness in every single generation of Americans who have served. I know of none greater than the generation of GIs now fighting for our county in Iraq and Afghanistan and serving around the world. Someday soon, they'll need us to fight for them."
-General Colin Powell

Saturday, November 5, 2011

on a perfect day

Cherished time with a dear friend.
Letting the day take me under wing.
Planning but not being too specific.
Peppermint Mocha. :-)
Grueling but satisfying workout.
Expecting the unexpected.

Today was quite perfect.

Monday, October 31, 2011

blast from the past

I forgot how much I love Star Trek! One of these days I must make these series part of my ever expanding movie collection...for now, thank you, You Tube. :-)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

the art of being late

Why is it every time I foray into Los Angeles with the goal of cultural enrichment something crazy happens, and I find myself in an oh-my-goodness-we-are-going-to-be-late -- we-will-never-make-it-on-time situation?! I mean, really?! Here I am trying to expand my arts and culture palate and something backfires. (South Pacific, Wicket, and Barbra Streisand come to mine...)

Last night my mother and I saw Celtic Thunder at the Greek Theater. It was my first time at this venue, and since I was a little concerned by its location in the heart of LA traffic I suggested we leave 2 hours before the concert. Now, I'm a Southern California girl, born and bred. LA traffic is not a new concept. As a child I provided backseat support while we drive what felt like hours to tour a museum. I interned in Century City for a semester (that was fun) and made the commute twice a week. And by now I think I know every side street around the Ahmanson. Suffice it to say, I know the drill and thought two hours would be ample time for the drive.

Wednesday. October 26, 2011. I left work 30 minutes early and had just enough time to grab a bite to eat, quick change, and check traffic before leaving for the Greek. I plotted a route guaranteed to provide the least resistance, and off we went. Things were going along just fine...until the 110. Suddenly, I went from the lovely carpool lane to the parking lot that was the freeway and we sat...and sat...and sat. 6:30. 7:00. We still had to take the 101 to Vermont Ave and head into the hills. Things were not looking good.

Now, for those of you who know me, I do not like being late. At all. Neither does my mother. I think it’s inbred because I’ve been this way since I can remember. In recent years I’ve learned to tame my I’m-going-to-be-late anxiety and adopt more of a Que Sera Sera attitude when it comes to circumstances beyond my control. However last night I failed. Miserably. I was seriously uptight about the possibility of being late and finally stopped looking at my watch because it only made me feel worse. Of course, when I finally checked the time and discovered it was 7:27 I was more than a little frustrated. We were just entering the maze the Greek calls "parking," and it was a zoo. After navigating through a zillion orange cones and making one wrong turn we were finally parked and power walking to the venue. When we entered the premises the lights were still up meaning the concert hadn’t started yet. Whew. But wait! I wanted a program, the concession stand is right here, and there’s no line. Might as well buy it now, right?! The transaction took less than 90 seconds but in that time the lights dimmed, and we raced into the venue and to our seats. Just in the nick of time!

To the Celtic Thunder stage manager/lead decision maker who started the show late: thank you.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

christmastime is here

I know it isn't exactly time to start thinking about the holidays, but it is close enough that I'm having my annual why-didn't-I-save-more-money-throughout-the-year crisis. (I also may or may not have listened to a Christmas song or two earlier this month. Sarah McLachlan's River & Wintersong were simply too good of an urge to pass up) Over the weekend, my mom decorated the stairs with poinsettias in her usual October fare, and red is king around the house! And, even though it doesn't seem possible that it could be October already, in a very strange way I'm actually ready for Christmas. After seven years of going through the holiday season exhausted from finals, papers, thesis stress, etc, etc, I'm still making up for the seven years I skated through. In that spirit, I've decided there's nothing wrong with enjoying the holidays for a couple extra months. Just think of it as Christmas in October!


Friday, October 7, 2011

quote wall

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life and the only way to be truly satisfied is to…love what you do.

- Steve Jobs

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

topic of interest

This is a post that will interest approx 0% of this blog readership, but I'm going to write anyway. :-)

This evening Fullerton Public Library hosted COPH Nite, an opportunity for those of us at the Center for Oral and Public History (COPH, for those of you not in the know) to share with the community what we do and why we do it. Thanks to an overzealous storm system, attendance was small, but some of the topics reignited my personal interest in this thing called oral history.

Think about it. We actually go out into the community and talk to real people about specific topics, hopefully ones near and dear to our heart. (if not dear, we at least learn to tolerate them!) Everyone has a story, and through this methodology we call "oral history" we capture and preserve that perspective, that life, someones memories. Pretty cool, huh?!

I also love talking about memory studies (see Robert Kraft's Memory Perceived: Recalling the Holocaust for a great read), interview techniques, and learning from my friends and colleagues about how to deal with, shall I say, more "challenging" interview moments. (a personal best: one of my El Toro narrators pointblank asked me during his interview if I thought Nixon would be remembered as one of the ten greatest presidents. Not only do we try to keep ourselves out of the interview, but Nixon is such a controversial figure. What on earth do I say?! I had to do some FAST thinking on that one!)

And then there's German history, my personal area of study. I mean, come on. Who doesn't love reading Norman Naimark's, Russians in Germany (one of the key works that introduced me to the horrors of post-war rape), Christopher Browning's, Ordinary Men (how "ordinary" Germans were transformed into active and willing participants in the Final Solution) and finally, Allison Weir's Frauen (a collection of oral histories given by women who lived in Germany during the Third Reich).

(by now, I've probably lost half of you. And why would you be yawning? You can't possibly be bored!)

Obviously, I'm still passionate about the topic (three years post-graduation). While I still maintain an active interest in film, this is equally as exciting and has morphed into my current line of work. I never in a million years thought I'd be working in oral history as a career. (nor did I anticipate becoming a semi-expert in all things Marine Corps / El Toro Marine Corps Air Station) It just goes to show you crazy, random jobs do exist...and people like me will actually fill them!

That's all.

(for anyone that actually made it to the end, I hereby bestow on you an honorary gold star.)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

say the name

When you don't know what else to pray
When you can't find the words to say
Say the Name...of Jesus

Sunday, October 2, 2011

sunday evening quiz

So, it's Sunday evening, and you have the evening at home. What do you do?

1) watch a movie you've been putting off for months
2) catch up on journaling
3) finally finish the Agathe Christie mystery that's still sitting on your nightstand
4) put in work time to make up hours for upcoming family reunion

I'll let you decide which option won. :-(

Friday, September 30, 2011

gift from above

Tonight's sunset. (courtesy of iPod)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

nothingness

Sometimes I wish I had more to blog about. Not that I don't have anything to say -- just not things I want to share with any random passerby. Which makes days turn into weeks without a new entry. And leads me to write four sentences about nothing.

(I suppose I could use this opportunity to wax eloquent about oral history and memory studies and the like but most people find that incredibly boring.)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

today

9-11-11: I know I should write something poignant tonight. Something eloquent and profound, but nothing comes to mind. I've ready so many articles today I can't tell where their words end and mine begin. So...I decided to go back to what I started a few days ago. It's more stream of consciousness than poetic prose, but that's okay. The important thing is to document this anniversary in my own way and by doing so remember the men and women who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.
_____________

Ten years. In some ways it feels like a lifetime ago. Yet is also seems like yesterday. Feelings I thought were buried quickly resurface when I see news footage or read a survivor's account of that day.

Last year I blogged about where I was on 9-11. It was the story of an eighteen year old who didn't even know what the trade towers were, let alone what influence they held in the world. Today, I'm a twenty-eight year old who has visited Ground Zero three times, the Pentagon Memorial twice, and has yet to see Shanksville, PA. When I'm at a memorial site, it's like standing on hallowed ground -- so many lost their lives here.

Watching the footage is both cathartic and painful, yet I have to see it. Once again I question my historical interests and wonder why the topics are always morbid and war related. (think about it: WWII Germany, Holocaust, Vietnam, USMC, and now 9-11). However, I honestly believe the people who gave their lives deserve our honor and recognition, and in some small way, watching/reading their stories ensures their lives are not forgotten.

This year it's the Pentagon story that affects me. I have a personal connection now and an overactive imagination that recreates a scene of horror and heroism.

People say our world has changed forever. I believe it has. Security is everywhere: airports, Disneyland, concerts, sidewalks...so many reminders of what was and what is reality. Yet, I have to believe in the midst of the sadness we've changed for the better. In the days following 9-11 the American Spirit shone bright and clear. We felt American -- an indescribable emotion that for a time set us apart from the rest of the world.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

room with a view

I like nice things. Oftentimes nice equates to expensive (or at least costly) in my book, but when travel is involved it often means the difference between mediocre and satisfactory. Which is a good thing considering the amount of time I spend locating an acceptable hotel. Trip Advisor and I become fast friends and AAA usually comes into play at some point. This trip was no exception, and after hours of research it was down to two hotels...and two views: the Capitol or Mr. Washington (aka Washington Monument). The Capitol won.

Enter check-in. After a long travel day we made it to the hotel and were shown to our room. An executive king, spacious, plenty of room for our equipment...and no view. The window opened to office buildings. Now I booked this hotel for one reason and one reason only, the view, and there was no way I was letting this one go without a fight. As they say you can catch more flies with honey. One phone call and friendly desk clerk later and we were off to a new room.

There was something very refreshing about going back to our room at night and visually experiencing something so iconic to the American culture. Ordinary tasks were given a boost as we checked our e-mail or wrote field notes all while admiring the beautiful view. :-)

Hey, if you have to be out of town on business, might as well do it right. There's definitely something to this staying in the heart of the city business.

Our nightlight
View from our window
A cloudy day in Washington D.C.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

a capitol concert

If you read my D.C. checklist you may recall I really wanted to see a sunset from the steps of the Capitol. (thank you 24 for encouraging this dream) Well, after our Tuesday interviews, Amanda and I grabbed a bite to eat and headed back to our room for a few minutes of recuperation. Interviewing is HARD work! After resting our slightly over worked brains, we decided to tackle a few of the Smithsonian exhibits one or both of us had yet to see (Julia Child's Kitchen, Hope Diamond, and butterfly exhibition) and then walk to the Capitol. Our timing wasn't bad. By the time we arrived the sun wasn't exactly setting but it was on its way down. Enter the unexpected surprise...

A couple of months ago I heard about free concerts around the Capitol but couldn't find any information pertinent to August. (There was plenty of concert dates for June, but that didn't quite help my cause.) Lo and behold, Tuesday just happened to be Air Force night, and the band was setting up when we arrived! Perfect timing to rest our very tired feet and enjoy an evening of Disney/Pixar tunes. We made ourselves comfortable on a nearby ledge spent the next 75 minutes listening to great music by a very patriotic band. And nothing could beat the view! Toward the end they played the themes to all five branches of the military (how appropriate) and honored the men who perished in last weeks helicopter crash.

It was completely unexpected and a wonderful little gift from above. The sunset may have been so-so but, it was an ideal way to end the day. :-) Three cheers for perfect moments.


View when we arrived at the Capitol

Capitol Dome

Air Force Band on the Capitol steps





video video

checklist update

Accomplished:

Everything but the Udvar-Hazy Museum. It's not my fault they moved it to Dulles...do you know how long it takes to drive out there from the city?!!!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

the dc wishlist

What's on my wishlist for this D.C. excursion? Check it out!
  • Watch a sunset from the steps of the Capitol
  • Visit Grandma Cole at Arlington
  • Tour the Capitol
  • Udvar-Hazy Museum
  • Monticello
  • Eat at least one delicious chocolate chip cookie
  • See Julia Child's kitchen
  • Enjoy Monday's excursion (awesome details to be revealed after 8/8)
  • And while I'm at it, I should probably bring home five oral histories

piles, piles everywhere

It has begun. My humble abode is now exhibiting signs of pre-travel syndrome. In English: I have piles of everything imaginable scattered about my floor. You know, the things I absolutely cannot forget while away from home. Essential items like the all important camera charger, sunscreen, workout attire (yes, I actually hope to exercise while I'm gone), tripod, travel purse...and you get the picture. Then there's the wardrobe decisions. How exactly does one pack everything she needs to fulfill 8 days of work and play without taking too much? Work clothes in the morning, casual in the afternoon, and all requiring two pairs of shoes. And if you think I'm going to public transit my way around the greater Washington D.C. area in heels you've got another thing coming! (yup, means another pair of walking flip-flops. At least I'll look like a native.) Ah, the challenges of combining work and play. Fortunately, the shoe part should be fairly simple. I'm wearing a lot of black to work -- which means only one pair of shoes -- and flip-flops can be worn on travel days and sightseeing excursions. Am I good or what!

Where am I going you ask? Back to our nation's capitol for 5 days of work and 3 of play. I have 2 days to pull it together and figure out how to pack a 9 pound tripod in my suitcase. Should be fun.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

three reasons

We've already established my general disdain for most things math and science take me out of contention for the astronaut corps. However, the current (and final) shuttle mission illuminated three more reasons why I can't be an astronaut:

Reason #1: I simply cannot wake up that cheerful. Seconds after the wake-up call a crew member is expected to actually speak, and that would be somewhat impossible for me. (just ask my family or best friend...I croak first thing in the morning)

Reason #2: Spiders. I found out there are spiders aboard the ISS. I don't do spiders.

Reason #3: The wake-up music is WAY too cheerful for first thing in the morning. I need calm and somewhat peaceful NOT blaring and loud.

Unless these things change I won't be going into space anytime soon...

Friday, July 8, 2011

Photo Blog -- Johnson Space Center Highlights

Since I'm in the space mood here's a quick peek at my trip to the Johnson Space Center on August 27, 2011.

NASA -- I'm really here!
Bethany and I inside the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility
Saturn V Booster
Mission Control -- housed inside the windowless building 30 S
America's Shuttle Fleet

Thursday, July 7, 2011

on the end of an era

*stream of consciousness thoughts on today's shuttle launch*

Today marks the beginning of the end. Atlantis, America's only remaining shuttle in our space program, launched this morning for the last time.

In a world becoming increasingly more global and equalized there is an element of pride knowing I live in a nation leading space exploration. For it it represents part of who we are as Americans. It is ingrained in our psyche. Part of our character. And in this space girls estimation, an integral part of our identity. In fourteen days the U.S. cedes this power to Russia and China. Maybe it's the historian in me (and a possible throwback to the Cold War), but the thought of Russia launching our astronauts for an undetermined amount of time does not fill me with happiness. Instead, it feels like something has been stolen, taken from me. And I hate that so many men and women who devoted years of their life to the space dream are now out of work.

My fascination with space goes back almost as far as I can remember. I've know who the first American female astronaut in space was since I was seven (Sally Ride). Watching a launch fills me with joy each and every time. The blue jumpsuits fascinate me. Apollo 13 still gives me the chills even though I've seen it more than ten times. And to this day I tear up whenever I see footage of the Challenger or Columbia.

When I went through my I-want-to-be-an-astronaut phase (naturally at the same time I wanted to be a nurse and interior decorator) I couldn't read enough on the subject. And when we had one of those "dress up as an historical figure and present a first person report" days in sixth grade I chose Judith Resnik, one of the Challenger Seven. To this day I can tell you her middle name (Arlene), that she was Jewish, and her ex husband's name was Michael. That was the first time I learned the astronauts didn't die when the shuttle split apart. I am one of those weirdos who will stay up late to watch a landing and who is glued to Nasa.gov watching the latest developments in Mission Control. Seeing a spacewalk live -- who-hoo!! You can imagine my excitement last August when I saw Mission Control (at the Johnson Space Center) with my own eyes. There was no way I could spend a night in Houston, Texas, without fulfilling that dream!

Which brings me back to today. I was excited to see the launch but knowing this was the final time made it more bitter than sweet. And filled with sadness. My children will never know the thrill of watching a shuttle launch as they currently exist, and I can only hope we'll be back in the game before too long. People keep saying the next chapter is around the corner. That we are still a leading force in space exploration. I sincerely hope that proves true so another little boy or girl can experience the same thrill for themselves.

Godspeed Atlantis! Long may you fly.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Friday, June 24, 2011

An Old Irish Blessing

I'm working on a memory card for a dear family friend and ran across this in my hunt for the perfect quote. I forgot how much I liked it and wanted to share. Enjoy.



Thursday, June 23, 2011

Introducing....

...the newest Bond girl!!!!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dear Willpower,

I know you like the idea of jogging. And I know you thought it might speed up your evening workout. But have you ever thought about how it affects us? The sudden jarring every time your foot hits the pavement? The twinge in your already sensitive hip? Perhaps next time you could stick to power walking. We would very much appreciate it.

Sincerely,
Your sore knees

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

i'd rather be...

...scrapbooking! But I'm not. Instead here I sit in my room writing field notes and researching proper word forms for oral histories I did two weeks ago. Why don't I do this at work you ask? Simple. It doesn't get done. The piles on my desk aren't shrinking and inevitably someone (say a student) walks in while I'm smack in the middle of documenting the terms - which requires re-listening to the interview. (yup, all 12 hours of them!) It's hard to catch words like USS Palou or ASRAT while helping students. So here I sit listening to tales about crashing planes or flying missions in Korea instead of creatively reliving Paris and Rome. Sigh.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

feeling...




...fiercely patriotic.



I watched the National Memorial Day Celebration this evening; what a tearjerker. Last year at this time I was preparing to fly to D.C. for work and remember the excitement I felt knowing I would see the monuments again within a couple of days. This year I remember the memories, the thrill, and the appreciation that overwhelms me whenever I'm in our nation's capital. I recently heard screenwriter Aaron Sorkin describe his so-called love affair with Washington D.C. as being somewhat romantic. It meets his every expectation and is a thing of beauty. I know what he means. There's just something about the city that draws me in. It's humbling. Exciting. And somehow personifies what it means to be an American. Don't ask me to explain. After all these years I still can't covert this influx of emotion into words. They simply exist.



___________________________________



Today we salute the men and women in uniform who bravely serve our country.



And this Memorial Day, as with every other, I honor my grandfather who served on the USS Winged Arrow during World War II. Anchors Aweigh!

Friday, April 29, 2011

A Perfect Moment

Don't you just love perfect moments? You know, the ones where everything is at peace and all is right with the world? They don't come often enough but when they do they always remind me how much life exists in a mere second. Or minute.

This afternoon I took a break from work and made a bank/Starbucks run (yes, she's resorting to caffeine to get her through 3 very late nights and 1 very early morning). My perfect moment snuck up on my in the Starbies drive-through. I was in line waiting for my drink, window down, looking up at the blue sky, and listening to my current musical obsession, Matt Monro's Impossible Dream. And I had my perfect moment. In spite of all that is wrong and sad in the world, for a few minutes everything felt right and I was at perfect peace.

Did she or didn't she?

That is the question. Yes, Ladies & Gentleman, Royals & Commoners, she did. After weeks of speculation, vacillating back and forth, and almost not doing it because of my crazy week, yours truly was up at 2:30 a.m. to watch the royal wedding. What on earth possessed me to it, you ask? Because it sounded exciting. Because it's completely unlike me. And because I now have my own Charles and Diana story to tell my grandkids...let's hope this one has a happier ending.

My plan was simple: get up at 2:30 (timed to see the Queen arrive), watch wedding, and head back to bed at 4:00. (some of us still have to work...) I followed my agenda to the letter. Unfortunately, this meant two things 1) I missed the royal exit from Westminster Abbey and 2) I should have stayed up because it took me forever to get back to sleep. However, I can now say long with billions of Earthians, that I watched William and Kate become man and wife. :-)


This lovely slipper shot is proof that I was indeed watching

the festivities on the other side of the pond at 0 dark 30.


Reasons for posting this photograph?

1) It says LIVE!

2) During our visit to the Abbey we sat in the choir cloister, 2nd row,

on the left side of the screen. Talk about memories!


By now someone was getting sleepy! (and the numerous hymns did not help)

Friday, April 22, 2011

A simple trip to the local Michaels...

...turned into another Kira grand idea extraordinaire. I went to Michaels today for the sole purpose of purchasing a few supplies intended to upgrade a little project and went home with the makings to completely revamp it! Like I need something else to do! It all began when I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for, finally stumbled across something else that had definite potential, and it all went downhill from there. The good news: I should be pleased with the end result.

*I would be more specific but since certain members of this blog readership are not allowed any details until mid-May I shall refrain from providing any...after the mystery event I shall elaborate in full. :-)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

All in a days work


By now you've no doubt heard me rant and rave at some point in my life about how history is *not* all about names and dates. But...even I admit dates are important, and I thought it would be fun to share a few memorable ones that took place on April 12.

First space shuttle flight:
Launch of STS-1, shuttle Columbia
April 12, 1981

The Civil War begins:
Battle of Fort Sumter
April 12, 1861

Death of a president:
Franklin D. Roosevelt dies, a mere three weeks before the United States declares victory in Europe.
April 12, 1945

Going Nuclear:
The USSR performs nuke testing in eastern Kazakhstan.
April 12, 1983

High Orbit:
Yuri Gagarin becomes the first person to orbit the earth.
April 12, 1961

SOS:
The United States "officially" liberates Buchenwald concentration camp.
April 12, 1945

And last, but certainly not least...
Birth of yours truly :-)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Cake Pops!

In honor of a certain day of commemoration that occurs every year at this time in my honor (aka birthday) my best friend surprised me at work with an armload of tasty treats. Unfortunately, I chose that day to take an uncharacteristic, bonafide lunch break and actually ate outside with two friends. Shocking, I know. When I got back to my office I found two cupcakes and three cake pops awaiting me...all from Patty's Cakes, a local bakery in Fullerton, California. Now, my BFF knows me WELL and bought me not one but two s'more cake pops. Think moist cake, lots of delicious marshmallows, graham cracker, and chocolate coating. AMAZING!!! Talk about a delectable experience for the taste buds! Thanks a million, friend! (note: Photo courtsey Pattys-cakes.com. Someone forgot to bring her camera to work to photograph these beauties.)

Friday, April 8, 2011

on time in a day

It's 5:00 on a Friday evening. The weekend beckons...and I have SO much to do. For example, today/tonight I'd like to accomplish the following: 1. Photo shoot for new work brochure 2. Complete remaining 6 hours of work 3. Workout (ug) 4. Scrapbook (as in finish the page I've tinkered with for the past THREE weeks) 5. Finish/mail baby shower invitations 6. Housework (including vacuuming) 7. Watch another episode of Mad Men 8. Read 9. Print directions to Reagan Library for tomorrow What I've done: items 1 and 2. :-( What's left: 3-9 Now, there are simply nowhere near enough hours in the day to actually cross off each of these items. And I know I won't be watching TV or scrapbooking or reading. But hey, a girl can dream. (and wish she was Superwoman) I shall console myself with the words of Scarlett O'Hara. "Tomorrow is another day." P.S. My formatting is completely screwed up. Apparently Blogspot doesn't believe in the "enter" key. Great.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Emergency Car Kit Update

Remember that emergency car kit I started a few months ago? Well, not much has happened with it since. (except for one brief change of residence from my trunk to my friend's new place. Fortunately, it was recovered without incident.) However, as of last week I am now the proud owner of a very cool LED flashlight -- now part of my box of emergency treasures. Thanks to my awesome aunt and uncle for this fabulous find! Next on the list: food & water. Obviously, they aren't as important as a flashlight.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Tweet less, Kiss more

My sentiments exactly...
_____________________________________

Tweet Less, Kiss More
By BOB HERBERT
Published: July 16, 2010
I was driving from Washington to New York one afternoon on Interstate 95 when a car came zooming up behind me, really flying. I could see in the rearview mirror that the driver was talking on her cellphone.

I was about to move to the center lane to get out of her way when she suddenly swerved into that lane herself to pass me on the right — still chatting away. She continued moving dangerously from one lane to another as she sped up the highway.

A few days later, I was talking to a guy who commutes every day between New York and New Jersey. He props up his laptop on the front seat so he can watch DVDs while he’s driving. “I only do it in traffic,” he said. “It’s no big deal.”

Beyond the obvious safety issues, why does anyone want, or need, to be talking constantly on the phone or watching movies (or texting) while driving? I hate to sound so 20th century, but what’s wrong with just listening to the radio? The blessed wonders of technology are overwhelming us. We don’t control them; they control us.

We’ve got cellphones and BlackBerrys and Kindles and iPads, and we’re e-mailing and text-messaging and chatting and tweeting — I used to call it Twittering until I was corrected by high school kids who patiently explained to me, as if I were the village idiot, that the correct term is tweeting. Twittering, tweeting — whatever it is, it sounds like a nervous disorder.

This is all part of what I think is one of the weirder aspects of our culture: a heightened freneticism that seems to demand that we be doing, at a minimum, two or three things every single moment of every hour that we’re awake. Why is multitasking considered an admirable talent? We could just as easily think of it as a neurotic inability to concentrate for more than three seconds.

Why do we have to check our e-mail so many times a day, or keep our ears constantly attached, as if with Krazy Glue, to our cellphones? When you watch the news on cable television, there are often additional stories being scrolled across the bottom of the screen, stock market results blinking on the right of the screen, and promos for upcoming features on the left. These extras often block significant parts of the main item we’re supposed to be watching.

A friend of mine told me about an engagement party that she had attended. She said it was lovely: a delicious lunch and plenty of Champagne toasts. But all the guests had their cellphones on the luncheon tables and had text-messaged their way through the entire event.

Enough already with this hyperactive behavior, this techno-tyranny and nonstop freneticism. We need to slow down and take a deep breath.

I’m not opposed to the remarkable technological advances of the past several years. I don’t want to go back to typewriters and carbon paper and yellowing clips from the newspaper morgue. I just think that we should treat technology like any other tool. We should control it, bending it to our human purposes.

Let’s put down at least some of these gadgets and spend a little time just being ourselves. One of the essential problems of our society is that we have a tendency, amid all the craziness that surrounds us, to lose sight of what is truly human in ourselves, and that includes our own individual needs — those very special, mostly nonmaterial things that would fulfill us, give meaning to our lives, enlarge us, and enable us to more easily embrace those around us.

There’s a character in the August Wilson play “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” who says everyone has a song inside of him or her, and that you lose sight of that song at your peril. If you get out of touch with your song, forget how to sing it, you’re bound to end up frustrated and dissatisfied.

As this character says, recalling a time when he was out of touch with his own song, “Something wasn’t making my heart smooth and easy.”

I don’t think we can stay in touch with our song by constantly Twittering or tweeting, or thumbing out messages on our BlackBerrys, or piling up virtual friends on Facebook.

We need to reduce the speed limits of our lives. We need to savor the trip. Leave the cellphone at home every once in awhile. Try kissing more and tweeting less. And stop talking so much.
Listen.

Other people have something to say, too. And when they don’t, that glorious silence that you hear will have more to say to you than you ever imagined. That is when you will begin to hear your song. That’s when your best thoughts take hold, and you become really you.

A version of this op-ed appeared in print on July 17, 2010, on page A19 of the New York edition.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Quote of the Day

"I'm stubborn. I don't like it, but I am."

Quote courtsey of Downton Abbey. I must say, I identify with this more than I (sometimes) care to admit!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Why

Why is it so easy to want what we don’t have?

Why does the grass appear greener on the other side?

And why is it so difficult to appreciate life as it is and not what we think it should be?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Thought of the day

Sometimes I wonder how I can be so misunderstood by those in power.

Update: Emergency Car Kit

Objective: Create emergency kit for car

Purchased: one 18 quart container

Acquired: gray sweatshirt retreived from goodwill donation pile (from closet project)
Christmas blanket that for the first time since it's creation now has a purpose