Saturday, September 15, 2012

One Guilt Leads to Another

The trouble with feeling guilty about clearing your desk is that when you do start to clean it, you'll find many things that you haven't done and they'll make you feel more guilty.  Not that I can say that I'm cleaning my desk right now.  Right now I'm watching a DVD from Netflix:  Arctic Dinosaurs: Nova

Watching the DVD is making me feel guilty, and not because I've stopped cleaning the desk.  Partly it's because I've had the DVD for so long.  It's been waiting here for weeks months.  Netflix charges a monthly fee and if you just hold on to a disc, they won't send you a new one and then you're not getting your money's worth. 

Mostly, though, the reason for the guilt is that it's been waiting that long for me to take notes from it and possibly write up a small blurb or article.  In the past, I've thought of writing books.  I have another blog for pieces of fiction, some of which are even complete.  These two book ideas were non-fiction, though.

Over the years I thought about the subjects and collected bits and pieces, but never sat down and wrote, never even sat down and outlined a structure.  Also over the years, technology changed and about some years ago I started thinking that the two subjects could make a website.  I never sat down and outlined what the sites should look like, but I collected a bunch of online articles that could be used for reference or linked to. 

Three years ago, I bought domains for the two ideas and, uh, well, once I started thinking of websites instead of books, I had another idea for one, so that's three domains I bought.  I say bought.  With a domain, it's more like renting.  I've renewed them twice, now. 

One of the domains is  I'll explain why I'm interested in the concept later.  Explaining here would be like writing the About page for the website, except I wouldn't really have an actual About page at the end. 

I almost don't feel guilty that I've spent the money for three domains and all I've done to make something out of them is cruise the web looking for articles, harvest the addresses and some quotes, and email them to myself (there are two computers involved, it's not quite as schizophrenic as it seems).

Well, it's time to pop that guilt like a zit.  That is, slowly and hesitantly, because being to firm might hurt.  And quitting after a bit to whine, telling myself that it will be easier if I wait until it's riper.  But before I quit, I'm going to start another blog.  And it shall be named (sound of heavenly choir):  Fossils Without Dinosaurs.

It won't be much more than a placeholder.  But before I go to bed, it will have, if not an article, at least the notes for a possible article inspired by part of the documentary that I've let sit on my desk for far too long.

Go me. 

(Oh.  For anyone wondering why an article inspired by Arctic Dinosaurs should be suitable for a blog called Fossils Without Dinosaurs, it's because they used fossil plants to determine how cold it was in the arctic at the time the dinosaurs were there.  Fossil plants, folks - there are lots of them and they deserve a bit more cred.)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Unremembered Stories

I'm not feeling guilty about the thing I'm going to write about.  It's something that I found in a doc in my writing folder.  I was going through the writing folder because I was feeling guilty about not writing in too long.  But the actual subject is not guilt-inducing.
Each of us has some childhood memories that we don't remember.  What we remember is hearing relatives talk about us doing that when we were younger.  The stories get repeated fondly and occasionally become the cause of false memories, triggered by the stories.  I'm lucky in that I have absolutely no memory of this event.

My Mother and Father had slightly different versions of the story.  This is because my Mother saw it happen and my Father . . . well.  To set things up properly, you have to know that my Father had some habits. One of his habits was a little relaxing dance that he did with a cookie and a cup of coffee.

Some people might have described what he did as pacing.  But when I think of pacing, I think of anxiety and strong motions and pacing back and forth in a line.  This was more like a waltz with no particular rhythm. 

He'd stand and take in a slow sip of coffee, the take a bite of cookie, then take a step or two . . . possibly three, then relax and lean back, curving his back, then straighten slowly, perhaps take a step, then settle for another sip.  The steps would slowly cover half of the front room and half of the dining room (no door between the two).

He describes looking up and seeing a black mark on the cream colored plaster of the ceiling on a day when he was drinking coffee and I was playing on the floor in the front room.  (Plaster, not wallboard.  He had a full rant about that.)  He asked, "What's this black mark on the ceiling, here?" expecting my Mother to answer from the kitchen. 

I looked up, and off-handedly answered, "Oh, that's where I stuck my banana," and went back to playing.  Mother had to come out and tell him her version of the story.

Mother had given me a quarter of a banana.  One that had been cut in half width-wise and then cut again length-wise, so that there was a flat side to the banana a few inches long.  Either I wasn't hungry, or I was feeling energetic or whimsical, because as I ate it, I also tossed it up and caught it.

Mom says I should have seen my face the time that I tossed the banana up and it didn't come down.  I stood with my hands out, waiting, then looked back up.  It had been thrown just hard enough to hit the ceiling, and the flat side was soft and slick enough to make a suction that held it there.

As I was peering up and had finally located the cream-colored banana on the cream-colored ceiling, the suction gave way to the pull of gravity and it fell on me.  I don't remember hearing if it landed on me or if I made a grab for it. 

I also don't remember any discussion between them, but they must have worked out that the banana-damp, that hadn't looked like anything on the day of the event, and that had been forgotten, must have molded, unnoticed, on the ceiling until my Father, doing the slow dance of coffee and cookie, had leaned back and looked up and seen the black mark.

By the time they told me the story, years later, there wasn't much of a mark to see.  They had washed it as well as they could, of course, once they had noticed it.  But they could still see a shadow of it.  I couldn't tell you what shape it had, by then.  I mostly remember that they both loved telling the story. 
There were other things in that Writing Notes doc, but I'm going to leave them out of this post.  I think that story can stand on its own.  Well, I could add one thing.  It's a quote that I collected.  See below.
"I was reminded of an elderly mathematician who had told me years before of his vision of paradise.  Imagine, he said, a long corridor, drawn in perspective, stretching back toward a narrow point at infinity.  Then imagine that each side of the corridor is lined with straight-backed cane-bottomed chairs.  Then imagine that on the seat of every chair there is a kitten."

Laura Gould, Cats Are Not Peas:  A Calico History of Genetics