Sunday, June 27, 2010

Fireflies

My knowledge of contemporary music is woefully limited. People my age and older typically tend to have fallen into their musical ruts for a while - they stick with familiar sounds and voices from the past. Then there are those who look to Pandora and the like to give them their sampling platter of familiar music from newer, unknown sources. The niches are too small these days in music just as they with books - too many acts in the fray for people to focus on anyone for too long.

Tween music seems to be slightly immune to this phenomenon. At eight and ten years old, kids have just dipped their feet in the online media consumption experience and still live most of their lives offline. They are able to stick with one band or singer for a year or longer, replay a favorite song to death - things that used to be possible for teens and even adults back in the day. It took J's fascination with a song Fireflies to introduce me to the sound of Owl City. I found the music distinctive enough to want to learn about the musician

One of J's persistent complaints about about music she hears around her is that it is always about love. "Isn't there anything else to sing about other than love ?" J asks. So even if the tune resonates with her, the lyrics don't - so the song ends up having limited appeal. I could see how Fireflies would be perfect for a tween - a catchy tune for a song that is strictly not about love with a sound soft and cute enough to be appealing eight year olds.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Mismatched Pace

Marriage more than anything else is about opposite personality types being drawn together. DB and I are unlike each other in very significant ways.What had seemed entirely about a great balance of strengths and weaknesses at first is turning out to be an adjustment challenge. I, for instance, thrive on pursuing my goals with zeal and determination. If there is a task at hand, I refuse it give it less than my fullest and best. What is more, I don't wait - I get to work immediately.

DB is slower, far more deliberate and likes to mull things over - for a very long time. Once he is good and ready he can act very fast. I am a sprinter and he is a marathon runner. Very different skills, strengths, strategies and end games even. So here we are with me sprinting and waiting for him to catch up, growing tired that the finish line is so far away. DB on the contrary is completely comfortable with his pace because he is not in the business of sprinting at all. Every time I have to break my stride and pause, I grow frustrated with him for being so slow. He does not understand how I could reasonably expect for him to go at my pace and still travel the distance.

Maybe in a few years we will both adjust our pace to reach somewhere between a sprint and a marathon. A pace and destination that will give us both what we need.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Rewired Brain


For someone who has done most of their reading online for the last fifteen years, I found this Wired article on how the web is rewiring the human brain very interesting. The author contrasts the online and offline reading experiences using an analogy :

Imagine filling a bathtub with a thimble; that’s the challenge involved in moving information from working memory into long-term memory. When we read a book, the information faucet provides a steady drip, which we can control by varying the pace of our reading. Through our single-minded concentration on the text, we can transfer much of the information, thimbleful by thimbleful, into long-term memory and forge the rich associations essential to the creation of knowledge and wisdom.

On the Net, we face many information faucets, all going full blast. Our little thimble overflows as we rush from tap to tap. We transfer only a small jumble of drops from different faucets, not a continuous, coherent stream.

This argument may be less valid for older internet users such as myself. We transitioned from reading offline to reading online at a fairly mature age. As a result, our reading idiosyncrasies online, remained close to what they had been offline. We are inherently able to control and the vary the pace of our reading online. Even when faced with the variety of information faucets we tend to read in a serial rather than parallel mode. However for readers who never had a robust offline reading habit, the author makes a perfectly valid observation.  

Love the conclusion of the article :
What we’re experiencing is, in a metaphorical sense, a reversal of the early trajectory of civilization: We are evolving from cultivators of personal knowledge into hunters and gatherers in the electronic data forest. In the process, we seem fated to sacrifice much of what makes our minds so interesting.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Trip Maker

One of my least favorite things to do is to plan for travel. It was not always this way. As a child, I could spend days going over maps and travel itineraries before a family vacation. Then there was the joy of counting down the days left before we left. After becoming the responsible adult and head of household no less (as I had been for close to ten years now), planning for travel turned stressful and irksome. It took some extremely determined friends to drag me out of the house, force me out of inertia and on a trip. I enjoyed traveling that way because I had nothing to worry about except being physically present.

The Explore feature on Kayak is a wonderful concept and a step in the right direction for one such as myself. In addition to showing me options in destinations for my budget, choice of activities etc, it would be great if I could get hotel availability, suggested itineraries based on my interests - in general a higher degree of aggregation and consolidation. In the ideal world, I would look at my options and select one and magically I would be all set for the trip. This is possibly the next best thing to the idea choosing a vacation destination by throwing a dart on a map while blindfolded.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Taking A Chance


Late one night, a few weeks after our marriage I felt strangely compelled to share with DB things about my past that he did not know in complete, painful detail. Full disclosure in marriage can be like a coin toss. You may get the outcome you desire - come closer than ever and deepen you emotional connection with your partner or begin to sow the seeds of discontent, mistrust and distance.A lot of well meaning people have always told me not to say too much because the consequences can difficult.

When I decided that night I had to tell DB because he was my husband - it did not matter before that he did not know but he had to now so I could be at peace with myself. We talked for hours.The experience was cathartic for me but not entirely devoid of trepidation. The toss had fallen in my favor. Then DB told me his story - vignettes from the past I had heard before came to life in full color. Missing links between years, events and people were connected. From being two dimension, monochromatic sketches our lives became fluid and panoramic.We were able to appreciate the sum total of the  experiences that formed and defined us much better.

We had consciously taken a risk that could have been avoided without needing the omission to weigh on our conscience. Everything consequential we needed to know about  each other we already did before we got married. The painful minutiae of the past was not nearly as material and yet not having shared that made our acceptance of each other incomplete - even flimsy. What a huge difference taking that chance made.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Ghosts From Past

The ghosts of marriage past come to haunt me fairly early this time around. There was a certain gravitas associated with the word marriage which I believed I more than fully experienced the first time around. I don't know if that is still true. Eleven years ago, I decided to give myself up in my entirety so that the marriage would thrive. As I learned, it was simply too much of a good thing - because of how deeply I was invested, I felt unappreciated and cheated because there was nothing more left for me to give. Then there were expectations of what I should receive in return that were simply not fulfilled.

After the divorce, I refused to repeat the mistake of opening up without caution or restraint in any relationship. While I limited my emotional involvement and suffering, it also made it impossible for me to overcome the traumatic events that led the end of my first marriage - the scars never fully healed. With DB in my life now, I have one of two choices. I could be my natural self and drag him through the weeds as I fight my resurrected demons by the light of day. Alternately, I could maintain a deliberately neutral demeanor that does not reflect my true nature, wage wars against what I must in silence without discomfiting him in any way.

Both options have their merits but the later is possible more fair and less stressful on DB. Often, a jumble of half-formed thoughts and an outpouring of emotions will come up to the heart and ready to burst out in a torrent of words but at the final moment, I can't quite say it because I fear I will say it all wrong - that it will do more harm than good to say anything. The impedance between my feelings and my power of expression is simply too great for anything to make sense.

This is specially a dilemma for two people who believe in open and honest communication as a means to forge a lasting bond. It is not as if I doubt the efficacy of communication itself - only my ability to articulate the complexity of what I am experiencing in a way that is coherent and cohesive to someone relatively new in my life. By when I find my way, the moment has passed. I am not yet at the point, where I might expect to fare any better or different the next time around.

Part of me wants to risk giving myself without condition or restraint - once again. DB is the kind of man who deserves nothing less. That I am not able to do so without fear of consequences, leaves me feeling both frustrated and guilty. Yet to open up like I must would be to him a lot like dredging through a pile of sludge,stone and sand to reach clear water. Even with his patience, it could be an unpleasant and irksome undertaking. Some days, I wish for time to wind back to over a decade ago, before the first ghost of the past came to haunt - that I had more to offer to DB than a tangled web of contradictions and angst that I seem to have become.

For years, I had sought true companionship and with DB I now have it. Yet prayers answered don't yield the fulfillment and joy one think will come with it. I discover for instance, that I have forgotten how to be a companion, how to seek and receive the friendship and nurture I so longed for. So there is DB, reaching out to me, trying to pry open my heart gently, deliberately and sometimes forcefully. In response, I shrink more into my clam-shell refusing to meet him halfway. I want to believe that ghosts from the past cannot haunt forever and if two people have the right intent, this too shall pass.