Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Friday, December 5, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Emotional problems like depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder, seen through this lens, appear on Mom's side of the teeter-totter, with schizophrenia, while Asperger's syndrome and other social deficits are on Dad's.
It was Dr. Badcock who noticed that some problems associated with autism, like a failure to meet another's gaze, are direct contrasts to those found in people with schizophrenia, who often believe they are being watched. Where children with autism appear blind to others' thinking and intentions, people with schizophrenia see intention and meaning everywhere, in their delusions. The idea expands on the ''extreme male brain'' theory of autism proposed by Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen of Cambridge.
I think we all fall on this spectrum. If we're lucky, we fall somewhere in the middle: stable, adaptable, and emotionally competent. But I love the idea that sane/insane, balanced/imbalanced, etc. are false binaries (flashback to freshman english class, deconstructing the three sisters from King Lear!) Just like my politics, I'm slightly left-of-center: Socially awkward, better at analyzing than reacting emotionally in the present.
Friday, November 7, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
I went to high school downtown at George Washington School. Because it was downtown, we didn’t get the yellow buses to school; instead, we paid to take and ride the city metros. I lived in Pleasant Place at the time, and each morning my friend and I ran across four lanes of traffic to catch the 38 right in front of Maple Ridge Cemetery. (Cars didn’t stop for metros; they didn’t have those red stop signs that swing out).
One morning, I was later told, I hesitated in the middle of the street; when I finally decided to run to the other side, I was struck by a police car.
I spent all of December and half of January at Children’s Hospital recovering from head injuries. While doctors came in and out of my room, briefing my parents about this and that, the nurses remained a source of comfort and consistency to me and my family. They were there in the morning and the middle of the night, on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. Years later, I remember their faces and their kindness more than any of the doctors who worked on me.
I relate this to you for a few reasons:
First, I want you to know that whatever your reasons, you’re going into a great profession. You will each have the opportunity to have a positive impact on many people.
Second, I want you to think about your own story. You each have experiences that helped shape the person you are and the choices you’ve made. On Friday I’ll give you the assignment sheet for your first paper, a reflective piece.
And third, I just love stories. They’re easier to grasp than “essays.” One of the most important concepts we’ll talk about this quarter is the idea of “subject, audience, and purpose” – considering and thinking about these before you start drafting each of your papers. I’ll ask you to write compare/contrast essays, cause/effect essays, and persuasive essays, and before you write each essay, you’ll consider the subject, audience, and purpose.
It might seem kind of abstract right now. Subject. Audience. Purpose. But think about the stories you tell. The stories you tell your young daughter before she goes to bed. The stories you tell your friends when you catch up over the phone. The stories you tell your coworkers or classmates or distant cousins. You don’t use the same words, the same language for these different audiences. You know how to shape your stories for different purposes.
As we go forward this quarter, we'll spend time on thesis statements, bias evidence, and logical fallacies. We'll spend time on the pieces that will help you write successfully at the college level. But I want you to keep in the back of your mind that idea of story and the bigger picture.
I'm not sure I communicate exactly what I want, here. But I think I get a little closer each quarter. I tell my students to look for better words, words that are closer to what they mean. Part of their challenge is discovering what they mean to say, and that's a challenge we all face.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
The written word is weak. Many people prefer life to it. Life gets your blood going, and it smells good. Writing is mere writing, literature is mere. It appeals only to the subtlest senses--the imagination's vision, and the imagination's hearing--and the moral sense, and the intellect. This writing that you do, that so thrills you, that so rocks and exhilarates you, as if you were dancing next to the band, is barely audible to anyone else. the reader's ear must adjust down from loud life to the subtle, imaginary sounds of the written word. An ordinary reader picking up a book can't yet hear a thing; it will take half an hour to pick up the writing's modulations, its ups and downs and louds and softs.Annie Dillard gets it, far better than I do.
Monday, October 13, 2008
[riding a circus elephant]It's funny because it's true.
Peter Griffin: Look Lois, the two symbols of the Republican Party: an elephant, and a big fat white guy who is threatened by change.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
provides a safety net above the abyss of facing the difficulty of creating every day, making an irrational thing feel more rational.
Yet no matter how much support you have, how many schedules you make or how many books you’ve written before, there remains the basic irrationality of the task: you are sitting by yourself trying to make something out of nothing, and you rarely know where you’re going next. Creating your own world is an invitation to solipsism, if not narcissism, and as well as being alone when we work, we are left, for the most part, to judge by ourselves if we have succeeded or failed in our tasks. (Three guesses in which direction we most often lean.)I think many of us have this push/pull relationship with art, whether it's drawing, painting, writing, or performing, especially when that art is created in isolation for some imagined audience. And while a part of me is extremely attracted to the idea of shifting my life around to make room for "art," the other part of me notices that Mr. Gessner shifted point of view in that paragraph I quoted and that I'd really like to show that to my students.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
"Two truths and a lie" is a game in which each person says three things about him- or herself; two are true and one is a lie. Everyone else has to figure out which is which. By now, I'm a master at this game. I've played it so many times that I can spot the lie mid-sentence and can craft the best truths and lies.
Unfortunately, when I was 18, I didn't get it. Anything. I was very self-serious. While all the other students had anecdotes about Greek serenades, drinking misadventures, and curious rashes, I told of crashing cars, running away, and therapy. (The class quickly guessed my lie because one of its details was "five miles," and "five" is a fake-sounding number, apparently.)
Anyway, my winning combination a couple months ago:
- I've never had a pet for longer than 6 months
- I was born at home.
- I've never gone out of the country.
(Everyone guessed the last one; they obviously hadn't read this blog!)
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Sydney District Court Judge Peter Zahra cancelled the trial of two men on drugs conspiracy charges after the jury foreperson admitted that four to five jurors had been playing the addictive number sequence game, local media reported. The judge was alerted after some of the jurors were observed writing their notes vertically, rather than horizontally.
The jury members claimed that it helped them pay attention. Sure it did.
I remember constantly doodling when I was in school. But I didn't draw cartoon characters or scenes. Instead I drew tight spirals, zooming closer and farther away. I drew 3d boxes and lines converging and diverging. Doodling didn't help me pay attention to the teacher, but it sure did help keep me from falling asleep!
Thursday, June 5, 2008
We picked up cicadas, we swam in oceans without fearing sharks , and we dared to think we might become an architect, a paleontologist, or an inventor when we grew up. We fell, and we got back up; we tried things, we failed, and we tried more things. But we forget about our former selves. We let her ideas and dreams become pieces of nostalgia, and her lessons become quaint. Oh look, remember when... But that girl was brave, more than she realized then and more than we realize now.
Two years ago at this time, I was figuring out how to quit my job. Depressed, unsure of myself and any of the decisions I'd made (after all, my decisions had led me there), it was only after I gave myself permission to fail - to have failed - that I finally found some peace. Leaving that job was one of the hardest and best things I'd ever had to do. It's a lesson that I have to remind myself to carry with me: next time, I'll remember, the world doesn't end, and life won't crash to a halt.
We owe that girl to talk to her every once in a while. See what she has to say about our current state of affairs.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
I, who choose my words carefully, avoid difficult conversations.
Even better, I could use an "-ing modifier":
Choosing my words carefully, I avoid difficult conversations.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Take, for example, our October trips to the cemetery to go “buckeye hunting.” A couple weeks before each Halloween, my mom, my brothers, and I went across the street to Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum, plastic bags in tow, and mapped out our path to the five “best” buckeye trees.
When we got to our first tree, we raced around with our backs hunched, examining the grass for those smooth, brown nuts. If we were too late, the buckeyes would be gnawed and rotted. If we were too early, most of the buckeyes would still be in the trees. Luckily, we were ready for those high-up buckeyes: with the right amount of force, a shoe could knock down a buckeye, still in its shell. My brothers and I took turns throwing our shoes into the tree, hoping to retrieve a perfectly intact buckeye. More than once, a shoe got stuck among the branches, and it took another deft toss to knock the shoe down. By the time we left the fifth tree, our bags were heavy and full.
Later, I’d bring my sack of buckeyes to school for show-and-tell. I’d never thought about the sight we must have been, three kids and their mom, shoeless, running around a graveyard.
Monday, April 14, 2008
Homer: So, I realized that being with my family is more important than being cool.
Bart: Dad, what you just said was powerfully uncool.
Homer: You know what the song says: "It's hip to be square".
Lisa: That song is so lame.
Homer: So lame that it's... cool?
Marge: Am I cool, kids?
Marge: Good. I'm glad. And that's what makes me cool, not caring, right?
Marge: Well, how the hell do you be cool? I feel like we've tried everything here.
Homer: Wait, Marge. Maybe if you're truly cool, you don't need to be told you're cool.
Bart: Well, sure you do.
Lisa: How else would you know?
Anyway. Check out this link for some unironically cool library pictures.
Monday, March 17, 2008
This is how our trip, basically, ended (well, except for our bags not being in Ohio, but that's worked itself out by now). Even though the last two days were no fun, the trip as a whole couldn't be spoiled.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Sunday afternoon and evening we hung out with one of my best friends from college, Marianne, and her longtime boyfriend, Daniel. They came all the way down from Scotland to visit. We went to Covent Gardens where I bought chocolates to take back to work (alas they ended up soaked and icky in my bag that sat on the rainy runway at Gatwick before showing up two days late in Cincinnati...) and then to the South Bank for dinner and walking-around-fun.
After dinner we walked back across the Thames, took the subway back towards are respective hotels, and ended the evening with a night cap at a local pub.
Here we are outside my hotel Sunday. The pub closed before 11pm, so it wasn't too late. I've been home for about six days; can I go back yet??? Ok, maybe not. But it was wonderful having this brief change in routine and break from reality.
Don't let the scowls fool you: my brothers weren't really angry, and they don't really hate me.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Friday, March 14, 2008
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
From the balcony of the National Gallery, looking over Trafalgar Square. I'm not sure what was going on, but there were newscasters and well-dressed interviewees.
Brother standing near Nelson's Column at Trafalgar Square. We're descendents of Lord Nelson.
Pretty daffodils at St. James's Park (I don't see flowers like this blooming, yet, in the states!)
My brother, standing outside Buckingham Palace. It was quite crowded. There was a large group of French students (maybe 13, 14 years old) on a field trip, dressed way too fashionably. I kept looking at everyone's shoes.