Wide Awake in Wonderland

We’re only dancing on this earth for a short while

Bear with me. This rant has a point. I think. October 18, 2008

So when I get home it will be November, and I’ve decided – in addition to the blog and the book I’ve been working on (slowly) during this trip – to do NaNoWriMo (http://www.nanowrimo.org) – National Novel Writing Month (and just a few letters more than the overly rich BC coconut dessert bar thingies). This is something of a community support site to write a novel in one month. It may not be realistic to try to do all these things at the same time, but if you want to change to a career as a writer, I figure it’s best to write. A lot. And maybe the ‘God helps those who help themselves’ effect will kick in? Or I’ll eventually write something someone wants to pay for!?

Meanwhile, I have a Kindle (Amazon’s electronic book device) with me (I love it. I keep meeting people who say they heard they don’t work, but mine has been flawless and a life-saver. It’s so small. Like the size of a DVD case. And the battery holds a charge – allegedly, I’ve never tried – for 14 hours. I can attest to at least ten hours of battery life. The Kindle was worthy every penny if you read a lot and travel a lot), and as a rule I’m aways reading three or four books at once.

Along with The Book Thief, ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’, and The Art of Racing in the Rain (all sad books, really), I’ve been reading this book The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Actually, I’ve been reading it in small doses. It is arguably the saddest book of them all, and I find it incredibly upsetting. I really enjoyed Michael Pollan’s The Botany of Desire, about the intertwined evolution of four plants (potatoes, tulips, and apples, and marijuana) in conjunction with humanity. All told, it was very interesting and thoughtful, but in no way distressing.

I guess that’s why I was unprepared for the Ominivore’s Dilemma. If you read Fast Food Nation, that was for children. Seriously. The situation Pollan paints is so dire that in some ways it seems unfathomable. And sitting on the Blue Star Ferry from Naxos to Pireaus (Athens) right by the “Goody’s”, I watched as dozens of overweight people bought themelves and their chunky kids what are no doubt corn-syrup and corn-derivative based “chicken nuggets” and “Goody Burgers” and “Star chickens.” and you start to wonder where it all ends? What happens when we literally deplete every fossil fuel on the planet and cannot develop antibiotics smarter than the bugs, but we’ve mutated our cows and our salmon and god knows what else to eat corn, and eat other cows (which is where mad cow comes from. Apparently a similar disorder occurs in human cannibals as eating the flesh of one’s own species carries a special risk for infection.) What happens when all we’ve eaten for several generations is garbage that has more or less been made in a lab and super fueled with antibiotics?

And admitting I have not very well explained the book, but drilled down to the worst of it. And even if Michael Pollan’s research is inaccurate or one-sided or prone to hyperbole (and I don’t know that it is, I’m just playing devil’s advocate), it occurred to me that the end game of this dilemma would make a damn good story. And although science fiction is not something I know anything about, I figure as long as my science is solid, the rest is fiction. So there you go.

And as what I’m taking as a ‘thumbs up’ sign from universe (BTW, is there anywhere that’s rude? I read not to slap a fist into an open palm or make the ‘victory’ sign in Turkey – but I don’t do these things anyway. I DO, however, throw around thumbs like I’m The Fonz. Ehhhhhhhhhh! Essentially, now that the head nodding and shaking is out, it’s how I try to convey to non-English speakers that I’m okay, or my backpack is on now and you can let go and stop whimpering, or I understand that the large white boat is the ferry or whatever. No one has ever looked offended, but I’m not always the best judge of subtleties. Let me know if thumbs up = something bad and where).

So I totally interrupted myself there. Let me try that again: As what I’m taking as a ‘thumbs up’ sign from universe, within ten minutes of coming up with this idea, I stumbled across a quote that strikes me as a compass for the storyline. It comes, quite auspiciously, from the brilliant science fiction writer, Arthur C. Clarke, “Any sufficiently developed technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

So now I guess we know (to some extent) what we’ll be talking about come November…

Meanwhile, the Italians have NOTHING on the Greeks in terms of aggressive male behavior. The Greeks are in a league of their own (which is not necessarily a good thing). On the upside, I have had three men tell me they love me today. On the downside, I don’t know any of their names. More on that tomorrow…

p.s.

As I’ve worked on this tonight, I can hear an Australian guy on the phone in the hall lamenting to person after person how someone picked his pocket on the subway today. I would like to take a moment and offer up some heartfelt gratitude.

TO THE POWERS THAT BE: THANK YOU SO MUCH that NOTHING of any kind (minus a cold, which was truly no big deal) has befallen me the last three months! Just let me know what form of alms you would prefer. Having been to the Archeaological Museum today, I’m up on Egyptian, Classical Greek, Estrucian, etc. etc. etc. Or if just reminding myself and anyone else who cares to notice how infrequently we stop to be grateful is good enough, then so be it. I’ve noticed…and muchas gracias!!!

 

Diary of the blogger as a not-so-young woman October 13, 2008

I won’t beleaguer the whole ‘how the f–k did I get so old!?” thing. You don’t want to hear about it, and neither do I.

Instead, indulge me on a little trip through my psyche and the random thoughts that occupy it on this, the occasion of my birth:

  • Last night I dreamed that I got married, and the ceremony was traditional to the (never identified) groom’s culture. It was also complex.
  • I was wearing an ornate dress that took hours to put on, but the real focus of the ceremony was a little girl. She was made up to look like a doll (kind of like Raggedy Ann), and after the vows were complete, someone brought this wooden box (a little like a coffin) to the front. The box was presented to the onlookers and opened, and this little girl – about five or six years old – emerged in her doll costume. She was quite the ham, and the wedding guests were ENTHRALLED. I remember thinking that she had on way more makeup than I (the bride) did. I vaguely wondered if maybe I should have made myself up more.
  • I can still picture the expression of utter joy on this one guest’s (who I thought was maybe the doll-girl’s mother) face. However, to be fair, the guests were all about this doll-girl, who I thought perhaps was meant to symbolize the future children of the marriage.
  • Then the dream cut to the reception, and I didn’t really know anyone. It was strange because I was meant to be the focus of the celebration (at least in weddings as I know them), but I felt kind of auxiliary. I wasn’t upset about it. I somehow chalked it up to cultural differences. The last thing I remember was reading the box for the bustle and realizing I was wearing not just one, but two of them, necessary to make my huge dress as large as it needed to be.
  • I’m totally crappy at interpreting dreams, but I’ve come up with something about a culture that worships youth and giving up one’s expectations of attention to those younger than you. Otherwise, I’m baffled.

So otherwise, the dream was probably the most exciting thing that happened today. As birthdays go, mine was super mellow.

Ran. Checked pulse – still going. Sat on beach (windy/freezing). Ate lunch – spanikopita from bakery. Sat by pool (less windy/boring). Read some of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” – Did you know it takes one pound of petroleum to make one pound of food!?!?!? Worried about future of the earth and wished I’d paid more attention during “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Skyped with friends
E-mailed with friends
Ate some crappy greasy calamari for dinner. MUST AVENGE THIS BIRTHDAY DINNER INJUSTICE.
Felt grateful for those of you that realized that it wasn’t ‘just another day’ (at least to me). We all want to be be consequential and matter to someone else…and you’re that for me. The favor will be returned. And until then…THANK YOU.