Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pay it Backward?

Paying for my frappuccino yesterday, I decided to get the coffee of the woman behind me as well. She was a middle-aged working-class type, and seemed extremely over-particular and irritated as I could hear her order, even above my music. For some reason, I thought that a little caffeinated surprise would make life somehow easier today. When I asked the barrista to add it to my tab, she started glowing. "I think that's so great!" she said. "The universe is going to bring this back on you, big time, you know?" "That's not why I'm doing it." I responded, smiling and driving away.

Well, not only did the universe seem unimpressed by my minor token, it seemed to want to punish me intensely. I had what I can only describe as the worst day of my life so far. Too much about my day involves other people, which prohibits weaving my tale into a moving and memorable saga fit for the big-screen. I can, however, share the little bit that sent me into the frenzy which caused me to make the call that sent me into a panic.

Those of you who follow my blogs will know that I've had an impossible time trying to find daycare for my peanut-allergic son. Last month, I was finally able to find a daycare, but they bus to a different school than we are assigned, so I had to ask for a transfer. I was told yesterday that the transfer didn't go through and we were sent back to square one. After that, a chain reaction of minor tragedies on top of horrible possibilities began to mushroom into the threat of my worst fears coming to light. After a couple of moments of terror, I took a step back, looked at the present situation and pulled myself back into action. A couple of hours later, I had an interview with a principal at a nut-free school and was back on track. Still not certain what the outcome will be, but I am on a track. That alone is comforting.

Sunken in the thickness of a misty cloud of fear, I reached for my most reliable vices to pull me through. Very first, was my peeps. My mother, my special gal, my special man and my boys. Together, they reminded me in constant flow that I was cared for and that everything would be alright. Although none of them has that magic crystal ball that shows us living happily decades from now, each was very convincing in lending their support.

Secondly, was a big glass of grape juice. Though I'll be the first to admit that it's not a typical mind-altering substance, there's just something about its purplesque sweetness that empowers me.

Lastly is my megalomaniacal need to have my life under my own control. I think this is the source of my never-ending motivation, as well as the reason that I don't reach for drugs or alcohol in my most desperate times. The worse my life has been pulled into confusion, the more intensely focused I become on setting it right again. My ninja-sharp skills in improvizing have been tested wildly over the last year, causing me to zig and zag irratically in order to keep my end-goals in sight. To others, it may seem as if I'm vascillating, but the truth is that sometimes the less-direct path is the one that makes you most certain that you are where you want to be.

In any case, it's late in the evening now and I feel as if I've pulled out of the frightening fog. I'm ready for bed and willing to wake up and start a brand new day tomorrow. I will not, however, be stopping for coffee.

Monday, August 24, 2009


It's really difficult to play traditional baseball with three people, especially when two of those people are under the age of six. Our family, however, is unsurpassed in the art of adapting. For example, we spent our afternoon in my parent's backyard playing Not-Quite-Baseball.

The casual onlooker would no doubt recognize our equipment...a traditional child's bat and ball. The player's rolls, on the other hand, may seem more foreign. In our game, there's a pitcher, a batter and a finish sayer. While you can probably guess what the first two do, I'll explain the third. The finish sayer imparts words of wisdom on the other two players after every hit and before every pitch. These can be suggestions or rules, such as: "Don't throw the ball too high or my puppy will sting you." and "Don't cut down trees, only hit the ball."

After a ball is hit, the roll of the pitcher is much more hands-on. The pitcher is responsible for retreiving the ball and chasing the batter around the bases. If a pitch doesn't result in a hit, then the *batter* picks up the ball and chases the *pitcher* with it! The running bases thing has also been modified. With only one batter, and a tremendous chance that each hit only gains one base, we have to have the batter bring the bat with them and hit from the base that they're on at any given time. This makes it extremely convenient to have the pitcher's mound in the middle.

You should try playing this for a while. You'll never look at baseball the same way again!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Snorkel Rice

When I first heard the term Snorkel Rice, I wasn't sure if it was agriculture or an insult! Seriously, who among us hasn't called someone a huge rotting pile of snorkel rice? Just me? Okay, moving on.

As it turns out, snorkel rice is a genetically modified plant that has been bred to grow almost instantly when flooded by water. The plant contains a gene that instructs it to shoot its chutes above the flood, allowing it to survive the tortures of the Asian and African rainy seasons. The submerged plants can grow nearly 10 inches a day! Experts are very excited about the ramifications of this creation, believing it can go a long way toward ending worldwide famine.

Even as I reeled in the wonder of having a plant grow so quickly that you could actually *see* it, I began to wonder about the effects of this gene on the consumers. Is it possible that eating the rice from these magic plants could have unforeseen effects on the general population? Will teenagers be sprouting inches in their morning shower? That's a hyperbolic example, but I think I got my point across. If there's a gene in our food that causes some extreme reaction, how will that affect those who eat it, especially when it's a dietary staple?

This also leads me to ask some other questions. Does self-stretching rice have any advantage over permanently taller rice? Is there a point that the rice ends up getting too tall and causing issues? Lastly, how can we extend this feature to other items? I'd really like to see a hundred-foot Sweetpea.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Writer's block

Even as I sit about to write tonight, I doubt that the words are going to see the light of a monitor other than mine. No fewer than 3 of my previous blogs sit in my index, yet unpublished. Perhaps what I'm experiencing is less of a writer's block and more of an emotional barricade. The words are written, the stories flowing, I just can't seem to share them.

This behavior reminds me of my high school days when I'd write things on paper and crumple and toss them away without ever showing them to anyone. Why has this insecurity returned? Why is it that I'm no longer able to share the literary fingerprints of my soul? My last unpublished blog gives me a clue. It's title? Overexposure. I've recently gone against my protective grain and exposed myself to the innermost core. Nothing bad came of it. Nothing was pierced, nothing shattered. Even so, I still feel wide open and raw. Maybe it's a negative thing for the fans of my writing, but to me, it's very positive. The wall that I had built over a decade of daily heartbreak has been carefully dismantled. My bitterness and lack of belief in coupledom is fading. Where I once described myself as "jaded in love," I now feel...well...I feel. And for now, that's a step in the right direction.

* Image courtesy of http://www.calvininnes.com/images/writersblock-innes.jpg