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B.S. Subtitles April 13, 2013

Posted by sarahsfate in Thoughts on People, Writing.
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Today I watched a movie called “Dakota Skye”. The main character is a girl named Dakota Skye who can tell when people are lying to her. She refers to it as her superpower although I think, and she says frequently throughout the movie, it’s more of a curse. I’m not sure I would truly want to know when someone lied to me. Especially in a world when the truth is so hard to tell.

Dakota is obviously surrounded by people who lie to her, including her boyfriend of 9-months who tells her he loves her while they are having sex and she sees this little subtitle at the bottom of the tv screen that says he means he loves sex. Her boyfriend’s good friend from back in the day shows up one day for a visit of a few weeks. He and Dakota end up spending a lot of time together, due to her boyfriend’s busy schedule with his band and her lack of a car. This friend, when he first turns up in the movie…I thought, no this can’t be the guy they’re talking about in the movie info on Netflix. He’s so not like Dakota’s boyfriend and really not like her either (that I could tell at that point). Plus, he’s kinda goofy looking, disarming really.

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But as it turns out, this friend, Jonas, never lies to her. Which perturbs her. Confounding, really, this anomaly of virtue. But he’s insightful and considerate…and honest. I found myself actually liking him. No–not just liking him, wishing for a Jonas of my own.

At one point in the movie she thinks he actually lied to her but somehow the lie flew under her superpower radar, leading her to believe she can’t tell when he’s lying. So when he tells her he is in love with her she says “but how do I know?” He is naturally confused by her question, her superpower being a secret of epic proportions, and says “because I just said it?”

But really, how do any of us know?

ImagePeople say “haaaa Sarah you’re so funny!” sure, I think, but…why aren’t you laughing? They say “sure I’d love to pick you up from the airport at 11:30 at night on a Tuesday” but, let’s face it, who really loves that? Obviously not. The lies don’t hurt anyone but in the long run we’re all a bunch of dishonest people who expect dishonesty from other people and therefore have no faith in people. We all become more self-reliant, more self-involved, less socially interactive, less loyal, less governed by an understanding that we are all in this together. Because we isolate ourselves by carving out the b.s….because it’s all b.s.

Technology being what it is…the b.s. is all there is. People put on their Facebook profile they went to college. You think that means a college degree but in reality they dropped out after the third semester. People on eHarmony put on their profile they absolutely adore spending time with their children or dogs…the reality is those comments are what people want to hear. That doesn’t make it true. It just makes someone an idiot for not seeing through it.

And if we do see through it…if each of us sees through all the b.s. with little subtitles at the bottom of the screen–what then, will we have?

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How Great Change Can Be May 20, 2011

Posted by sarahsfate in My Own Personal Trials, PostADay2011, Thoughts on People.
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No one likes change. They want to change one thing — just one — but a great many other things change as well. The pebble in the pond theory. The idea (or dream) of winning the lottery, for instance, sounds great. Being able to fearlessly pay your bills is awesome. But, what about the ripples? Those little waves being users, disasters, strangely predictable bad luck, etc.

This is one area where my over-analysis really pays off. Knowing what to expect, for the most part, and considering the possibilities, makes change a little more palatable. Having change foisted on you is, yes, a tad different…or, the same, because it presents the unknown and unexpected.

I’ve had conversations with people who landed a great job they applied for — a huge pay increase, benefits, insurance, family-friendly — and they resign from their current job, in favor of the new one. Seems the obvious choice. Within weeks the eureka from landing such awesomeness turns into a daily complaint about the commute. Pause. Tilt head to side in imitation of confused dog. You didn’t know how far a drive it was when you applied?

Every action has a consequence…causes a ripple. In fact, even inaction has a consequence. Every step, every word, every action has an effect. Your actions force change on dozens of others every day. Change of thought. Change of direction. So it makes sense that occasionally you will be effected by someone else. It simply is. Life is.

Change isn’t necessarily a bad thing and doesn’t deserve its stigma.

During my 10-year stint at a company, I was forced to read “Who Moved my Cheese?”, which actually wasn’t too bad of a read but the reason for why I “needed” to read it wasn’t the same as what I got out of it. The purpose I deduced was that I should make change to improve myself or my situation. I was the mouse who went looking for cheese because I was hungry — not the mouse who had to be brow-beaten and then abandoned because he would not change.

The whole point behind instruction to read it was because we were being taken over by a stifling new management. So, because I’m the first mouse, I left the company. 🙂 And met some great people I would otherwise not have met.

See how great change can be?

The Robot Never Dies May 18, 2011

Posted by sarahsfate in My Own Personal Trials, PostADay2011, Thoughts on People.
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This weekend I was dancing with my son to the new J-Lo song. Grayson said I should dance to the girl parts and he would dance to the boy parts. So, I did my best dancing when J-Lo sang and Grayson…well, he did the robot. Being a 6-year old, he should have absolutely no opportunity in which to have witnessed the robot being performed so I’m not at all certain where it came from. He interspersed the stiffened dangling arm movement with variations of old-school break-dancing.

I wish I’d had a video camera on me, it was that great. He smiled and blushed in self-consciousness but I just smiled and told him he was amazing.

But it got me and my ex-husband to discussing the self-consciousness that effects people as they get older, especially when they dance. Sure, no one likes to look like a fool (and understandably because people are jerks). But man to be a kid again with no real concern for how you look…just out there having fun. That’s how I dance, too, when I go out. Who the hell cares how I look? I want to have fun and I’m going to have fun.

I hope I’m not the only one who thinks people are amazing when they dance. Not because they have great moves or because they’re reinventing the robot or break-dancing, but because they think enough of themselves to get out there and dance regardless of anyone else.

The Invisible Voyeur May 16, 2011

Posted by sarahsfate in My Own Personal Trials, PostADay2011, Thoughts on People.
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1flirt verb \ˈflərt\ intransitive verb — 1: to move erratically : flit2: to behave amorously without serious intent

Today as I trudged through the office corridor, weighted down with purse and book-bag while juggling a travel mug of stale coffee, a styrofoam cup of ice chips, and my keys, I thought about a conversation I’d had with a sometimes friend. I considered how my life had changed since the day I met him, and all the ways I had changed. It seems our conversations remain the same, however, and this (at least) is something I can count on. I heard his voice in my head as though he moved beside me in that lumbering gait of his I find charming.

I was distracted from my thoughts by a woman’s laugh and I glanced up. Twenty or so feet ahead of me she moved towards the outer office door, leaning toward the gentleman who walked beside her, and laughed again. I was struck by her body language…not to mention the sparkle in her eye I could just barely see. Or maybe I imagined it was there. It was difficult to look away — mostly because I was following them toward the parking lot but also because I was struck by a memory.

She laughed in such a way…that flirtatious, throaty way, that a woman does when she’s charmed by a man. While moving steadily forward, she leaned toward him in an intimate way that he didn’t really reciprocate and I figured she liked him well enough but he wasn’t really on the bandwagon just yet. She laughed again, though I could not hear what he said to her, this time louder and the sound bounced around the tiled floor, travelling back to where I moved like a silent voyeur.

I thought about that memory I mentioned, about how I used to walk beside a man while laughing and gazing at him with sparkling eyes, somehow hoping and dreading that he would see my feelings. Or my appeal. Or…something. Today I considered the risk of body language. To me, it was obvious she liked this man walking beside her. So obvious he should also have been quite aware. Maybe he was but he didn’t seem to be. And even though her body language was screaming ‘I like you’…they just walked on with him murmuring whatever it was he was saying and her giggling like a 40-something-year old school girl. But for what it was worth, she was putting herself out there…trying to make a relationship out of nothing at all.

And this is what single people do every day. Meet new people and try to turn something out of nothing. Sometimes it works, and kuddos to the people who find the connections. It just seemed…lonely, to me. A lonely thing to do. I don’t know why. But I was struck with the feeling and turned my eyes to the cement as I trudged toward my car. The feeling remained long after I’d climbed into my car, turned on my GPS for traffic updates and made my way home.

There is fun and enjoyment to be had in flirting and engaging in pleasantly unaware obvious body language. There is a feeling that consumes you when someone looks at you and sees you. It’s quite possibly one of the most incredible feelings. I suppose the problem is…when no one looks at you, no one sees you. It’s like being an invisible voyeur.

Writer’s Block May 13, 2011

Posted by sarahsfate in My Own Personal Trials, PostADay2011, Thoughts on People, Writing.
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People of the world have various no-no subjects. They don’t talk about abuse, or drugs, or the devil. They don’t talk about interracial relationships, or sex, or the end of the world. And perhaps its weird, when compared to these other life-effecting subjects, that some people won’t talk about writer‘s block.

WRITERS BLOCK.

Big no-no subject. At least it is for writers. When I stare at a blank page desperate for the fledgling of an idea to take root…to grow legs and become words on that blank page, I never ever refer to my issue as writer’s block. No, I’m just thinking. Brainstorming. Waiting for the right way to express my thoughts. It’s not writer’s block. *shudder*

But why isn’t it? Why do I sit here spending my ‘thinking’ time coming up with excuses for why I can’t put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, as it were) instead of really coming up with the story? I would like to think it’s the amount of pressure we put on ourselves as writers — especially if you have ever taken a writing course or attended a writer’s group. We know how important that first paragraph is…indeed the first sentence of your story could mean the difference between overwhelming success…and a dusty manuscript in an equally dusty box in a ridiculously dusty attic. So we stare at the blank page waiting for some absolutely fascinating sentence to appear there.

They say when you begin to write your story you should write as the words appear in your mind. Drawing a picture of the images, of the characters, of their trials, so that readers can see what you see. After your manuscript is complete then go back and edit it for perfection’s purpose. How many people manage to write this way? I couldn’t tell you. What I can tell you is that I wrote a 850-page manuscript that is accumulating dust in a box beneath my bed. Why? Because I wrote it as I felt it and saw it and thought it. Then I went back and edited it. And edited it again, which is tiresome. And eventually…it is boring. So I set it aside and, taking with me all that I know now about the right way to write a novel, forged ahead.

Forged onward to the next story that can be written correctly the first time around with few editing and changes necessary afterwards. It’s a great idea in theory. So…a great theory (because they’ll tell you in the writer’s group that you can remove the ‘idea in’ and be more concise. But I’ve sat in front of my bright white computer screen now for a month watching the cursor blink, blink, blink at me blankly like a deer in the headlights. And instead of writing that opening sentence, I’m staring off into space thinking about writer’s block

I’ve read books about how to get past this anomaly, which I find humorous…writing a book about how to write a book when you can’t write a single word. But it isn’t really an anomaly at all…in fact it’s pretty damn common. But the suggestion for moving past the blinking cursor is to start typing. Type anything because as long as you’re typing, the story will shape itself and you can go back and edit it later. I like editing almost as much as I despise its necessity. 

How boring a book would it be if I began it in the same manner most of my childhood books began? How must dust would that manuscript accumulate? Tons. No one wants to hear “once upon a time…” because well, obviously it was once upon a time and you’re really not supposed to state the obvious. So, what isn’t obvious? “Jane Doe turned out to be Sara Crawford, who single-handedly ran the city prostitute ring for almost 50 years, and was probably recognized the moment she was brought into the morgue but her body decomposed for two weeks because no one wanted to admit they knew her face.”

Fine. So I can type nonsense. 

So, which is worse? Writer’s block, or typing nonsense?

Mesopotamians…the Early Civilization. May 12, 2011

Posted by sarahsfate in My Own Personal Trials, PostADay2011, Thoughts on People, Writing.
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This is a portion from the book I am reading, Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia, by Stephen Bertman. I found it interesting enough to post here…you may find it boring beyond all reason. 🙂

Eshnunna

In the middle of Mesopotamia on the Diyala River, a tributary of the Tigris, the city of Eshnunna prospered during the third and second millennia B.C.E. Today its deserted remains lie about 48 miles northeast of modern Baghdad.

The excavations of Eshnunna were carried out in the 1930’s under the auspices of the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute. The expedition was led by Henri Franfort.

The major discovery was that of a temple, possibly dedicated to Abu, a god of vegetation. Buried in its floor was a cache of gypsum figurines, representing how the Sumerians saw themselves when in the presence of a god. With large round eyes wide open, they stand attentively, their hands clasped over their chests. The statues may have functioned as votive figurines or miniature sculptural surrogates for actual worshipers, which by their eternal presence in the temple would sumbolize the perpetual piety of the Sumerian men and women they portrayed. The largest statue, some 30 inches tall, may in fact represent the god Abu himself, and another his divine wife, though this is by no means certain.

In another temple lay pottery vessels decorated with images of serpents. These vessels may have once held real serpents that figured in ritual.

Other discoveries at Eshnunna include a horde of artifacts of silver and lapis lazuli buried under the floor of a palace (to safeguard them from vandals?). Elsewhere seal-stones were found that suggest trade between Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley: the seals are carved in the Indian style and depict elephants and other animals like the crocodile and rhinoceros, not native to Iraq.

Less exotic but no less illuminating are some small children’s toys that remind us that the ancient Mesopotamians were not artifacts in a museum but human like ourselves. in the streets of Eshnunna 5,000 years ago the sound of children playing could be heard.

Bertman, Stephan (2003) Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia. Geography of Mesopotamia. Page 20, paragraph 4.

Abandoning Our Old April 29, 2011

Posted by sarahsfate in My Own Personal Trials, PostADay2011, Thoughts on People.
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Last week my 17-year old nephew and I were driving through town when he pointed out the passenger side window towards an old, stooped man shuffling through the mall parking lot with what appeared to be everything he owned stuffed into a backpack hanging low on his back. Unwashed hair grew haphazardly down his back and across his jaw but that was all that was visible of his face as he stared at the ground as he walked. I wondered if he saw the ground beneath his feet or if there was some memory dancing before his eyes, leaving him to see nothing of the here and now.

I frowned and said, “makes you wonder what happened in his life to bring him to this.” This being an obvious homelessness.

My nephew, still watching the old man through the sideview mirror as we continued on down the road, said, “I don’t ever want to be that man.”

I thought then, rather acerbically, that on career day in elementary school, does anyone hold their hand up and claim to want to grow up to be homeless? Who asks for that? But the conversation brought to mind a similar old man in a similar parking lot several weeks ago and I told my nephew about him.

I was leaving Kroger at nearly sundown when I spotted him. I think I may have missed him altogether had it not been for the brilliant gleam of sunlight dancing along the metal back handles of his wheelchair. The sparkle caught my eye and I braked, curious. He looked like one of those old war veterans whose images are plastered on every disabled vet advertisement — long, gray wavy hair, sagging skin, defeated shoulders, and an expression in his eyes as though completely incapable of seeing light. His arms rested limply in his lap and though he appeared to have both legs, I imagined that beneath the cloth, his legs were twisted arthritic versions of what they used to be.

He did not see me watching him, in fact I decided he did not see much of anything in that parking lot. His gaze was on the cars driving by on the road beside the store, people honking at each other in their rush to get wherever they were going. I wondered if he saw them either. I imagined he was lost in thought about his yesteryears — about that baseball game he went to with his father the summer before his dad had a heart attack, or the memory of his wife’s body curled up beside his at the drive-in movie as they hunkered down in his 1952 chevelle, the sound of his children’s laughter,or the sound of his friend’s screams as they fell beside him in battle.

I wanted to stop and check on him. I wondered how he had gotten there and looked around the increasing shadows of the parking lot for would-be parties responsible for the old man, but there was no one. I thought maybe he watched that busy road because someone had abandoned him there at Kroger and he stared after their tail-lights. But I didn’t stop. I think that is probably why he is still on my mind. I should have stopped. The problem is you never know about people and I can make up any story I like but the truth is he could be mentally unstable and have a knife in his pocket.

My nephew asked if I truly thought someone had left the man there and I shrugged because I didn’t know. And then he said, “why do people abandon their old people?”

“Indeed,” I said, “indeed.”

Drinking with Friends April 26, 2011

Posted by sarahsfate in PostADay2011, Thoughts on People.
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I find it interesting that a friend’s solution, to your heartache and misery, to be a bar and limitless rounds of alcohol. If, when, your girlfriend dumps you, she goes from ‘cool chic’ to ‘absolute bitch’ in a late-night drunken ceremony of verbal bashing. The same is true for girls who find themselves dumped. Friends all say the same thing — you’re too good for him anyway, she was trying to change you anyway — and they slap you on the back, make ribald jokes, and ply you with more alcohol. Because the more you drink, the more plausible their claims sound. You can forget for a few hours, and feel better.

Bars are places of ceremony — if you get engaged, if you get divorced, if you have a baby (for the male counterpart anyway), if you land a great job, etc. Why is that? I suppose it doesn’t matter why. It just is. I wonder if friends pause before suggesting a comforting drink to a breakup victim, a pause long enough to consider if the victim is an angry drunk, a melancholic drunk, or a happy partier. I’ve experienced my fair share of all three. Because what is the point of going to the bar if the victim will end up sobbing all over the table or wind up in a bar fight? A bar fight you’ll undoubtedly have to join.

And those irksome and pathetic drunken text we all send? What a bad time to reiterate desperate devotion. And while I understand the positive aspects of a rebound, I would not want to rebound while drunk in a bar. We all know how that turns out.

So…out of curiosity, I did some research on this phenomenon and found, that while today there are over 80 thousand bars in this country, the first bar (referred to as a Public House “Pub”) was established in the mid 900’s, a time when patrons drank to forget bloody battles and sheep raids. I wonder what kind of boyfriend/girlfriend troubles existed for them. I imagine, easily, that the same bar behaviorisms we witness today also existed then — back slapping, ribald jokes, and a bounty of ale.

Maybe times don’t change.

If you’re interested…here’s a website listing the 10 oldest bars in America…http://www.sloshspot.com/blog/06-02-2008/the-10-oldest-bars-in-the-united-states-16 …none, unfortunately, in Texas.

Oddly Perfect April 25, 2011

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Saturday evening, after attending a brilliant performance at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, I found myself in need of gas. The little yellow light gleamed suddenly into the otherwise shadowed dashboard and was accompanied by the sound of a bell, just in case I am blind. I glanced around Main street, so cliche I know for don’t most tales such as this oft occur on Main street? There were no gas stations immediately visible but soon I saw the tale-tell blue, red, and white logo of Chevron. I groaned and muttered to myself, “not Chevron”. They are the highest gas prices around and who knows whether or not it really cleans your engine while you drive?

I decided to drive on, in search of cheaper fuel, but then my dashboard binged at me again. With a heavy sigh I hit my blinker — a nearly unnecessary gesture on a late-night empty road — and moved to the turn lane. It was beginning to storm as I pulled in. After moving up beside a pump, I stepped out of my car to the tune of ‘take me home again’ and the sideways splash of rain drops. Yay, I thought, rain. Then I looked at the price per gallon denoted on the pump, $3.86, and sighed heavily again as I slid my debit card in the machine. I stood in the sideways rain, waiting for approval, for several minutes before I went inside to ask if something was wrong with the pump machine.

A male hispanic customer about my age stood at the counter with a gallon of milk in his left hand and a debit card in his right hand poised above the credit card machine. The clerk behind the counter was apologetically explaining that the system was down and, with it, all the machines. The customer set the milk down on the counter and ran his free hand through his dark hair and then scrubbed his face. Obviously frustrated. It was late and, maybe because I am a mother, I immediately assumed the milk was absolutely necessary. Why else would a man brave the weather elements at nearly midnight in order to procure some? Wait–the machines are down?

I glanced through the window with little visibility of my car past all the decals slathered all over the store windows, and looked at the useless pump. I need gas. Then I remembered.

My aunt Barbara paid for the parking, which I had expected to do, and so I still had a $20 bill in my wallet. I never walk around with cash on me so it was oddly perfect that it worked out the way it did. Was it coincidental that my aunt paid for parking, thereby leaving me with the $20 I would need to buy gas with at a gas station whose system was down? A gas station I almost didn’t stop at? I don’t really believe in coincidences. I believe things happen for a reason. As I was thinking all of this, the customer picked up the gallon of milk and moved to the back of the store to return it. I moved to the counter and told the clerk, “I need $10 on pump 6 and that guys milk.”