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July 5, 2015 — Leave a comment




Thrown Past

January 20, 2015 — 2 Comments


I’m sitting on my couch, just finishing up this book I need to write a marketing plan for, my window open just a few inches to keep the air flowing. Not enough for any real breeze to interrupt my surroundings.

As I flip a page, a book falls down from my shelf, Gary Indiana’s Do Everything in the Dark, and opens to reveal this toddler picture of me that I must’ve been using as a bookmark who knows when.14218113832401421811607581

Do Everything in the Dark, aptly titled, follows a group of artists and their downward spiral. The page I marked with the photograph describes an old snapshot. The last lines struck me: I don’t mind sifting through Jesse’s treasures. But I wish he’d throw them out. Whoever said the past is another country didn’t know the half of it.

I suppose it’s true for some–the past is another country. Though I wouldn’t describe mine as simply one country.

My past feels more like thousands of disconnected island nations floating around…some sinking and fated to be lost forever, others unclaimed and waiting to be discovered, others growing and spawning new islands.

As I stare at the picture of myself as a toddler, I recall nothing. I’m obviously happy. Posing for probably my mother who was and continues to be a relentless photo snapper. I’m guessing I’m in front of my childhood house in The Philippines. The red sandals I’m wearing maybe belonged to one of my older sisters. Maybe not. I’d have to rummage through old photo alums to see if the sandals were on their feet before me. Am I hiding something? Was I dancing? Do I need to use the bathroom?

I might ask my mother if she remembers anything about that photo. Though I’ll likely forget to ask and she probably wouldn’t remember anyhow.

It may be that I’m not a past dweller. My distant past, while certainly not bucolic and pristine, recalls more light than dark.

So who knows what the universe is trying to show me by throwing the book down. I guess I’ll have to wait and see. Maybe nothing. Maybe something.

If you know something, enlighten me.

There was a deal on organic strawberries at my local market — this relatively new market that opened up in my neighborhood that had everyone in my building giddy. “So convenient!” “It’s changed my route!” All kinds of funny statements. All true. There’s nothing special about the market. A perfect example of strategic marketing. It’s a Key Foods renamed “Urban Market” that has fancy black bags and nice font to satisfy the “creative” “food savvy” people who live here. But it *is* convenient. Clean. Average prices for the most part. Three blocks away. And open on Friday nights and Saturdays…when the other market nearby, managed by Hassidic Jews, shuts down for Sabbath.


The strawberries. They’re not in season (peak season here is April – June), so I wasn’t expecting much. They were mediocre at best, pretty bland. What struck me, though, was how oddly shaped they all were. And well, I did something I was forbidden to do as a kid and played with my food.Strawberryman

I understand the “respect your food” “people are starving” angle that my parents pounded into me. And even though I’m not part of the “war generation” I remain very conscious of my food and where it comes from and how lucky I am to even contemplate these things. But it got me to thinking that there must be some benefit to the playing process. And, oh, yeah. There is. Well, according to this article I found, Messy Kids Who Play with Their Food May Be Faster Learners, there may be. Seems young children were more likely to learn words for certain non-solid objects like oatmeal and glue when they were allowed to explore the substances by using their hands and making a mess: “context and behavior are both important factors in the acquisition of a child’s early vocabulary. This sort of early learning may be linked to improved cognitive development later in the child’s life.”

Not exactly creating sculptures that I envisioned but if I were allowed a guess or a bet, after the squeezing of oatmeal and making a mess, in time, the playing might just evolve into something more structured. That’s the hope, at least. Have this perennial favorite ready when that happens:

play with your food

I wonder if any of this applies to adults. Just projecting probably. Wish the University of Iowa folks would do a follow-up study on adults. I’ll be keeping an eye out for it.

I was working on this social media content plan for one of the books I’m working on. Dark YA fiction. Music, the Persephone myth, Baudelaire… all tropes and themes, wonderful avenues for me to pursue.

Since Persephone is the daughter of Demeter (and Zeus), I got a little sidetracked. I have a male Russian acquaintance named Dimitri. If Demeter is the Greek Goddess of the Harvest who also presides over sacred law and the cycle of life and death, if I do an online search of Demetri or Dimitri, would the result be the same? came up first in my google search and I thought, Oh, I like that: Sheknows. Well, SheKnowssays this about Dimitri/Demetri:

In Greek the meaning of the name Demetri is: Gift from Demeter. In Latin the meaning of the name Demetri is: Of Demeter. Demeter is the mythological Greek goddess of corn and harvest. She withdraws for the part of the year her daughter Persephone must spend with the god of the underworld – the reason for winter.

People with this name have a deep inner desire to use their abilities in leadership, and to have personal independence. They would rather focus on large, important issues, and delegate the details. People with this name tend to be idealistic, highly imaginative, intuitive, and spiritual. They seek after spiritual truth and often find it. They tend to be visionary and may inspire others. If they fail to develop their potential, they may become dreamers, or misuse power.

And then (this is how it happens…surfing the web for hours) I looked up another name and SheKnows was uncannily spot on. Eerily precise. So much so that I emailed my friend and he responded: That sounds like me!

Of course my brain was all aswirl: chicken or the egg dilemma. What came first?…Fatalism…Are we indeed powerless to do anything other than what we actually do? Logical fatalism, theological fatalism, causal determinism, Aristotle?!!!

I had to find out what my name meant according to SheKnows. What’s messy (or interesting?) about my name is that I have two first names. They’re not hyphenated. And the second name is actually a not so common spelling. My two names combined mean Bitter Light. And after reading the description of the traits associated with both names, I was floored.

bitter light

Marie: People with this name have a deep inner desire for a stable, loving family or community, and a need to work with others and to be appreciated. People with this name tend to initiate events, to be leaders rather than followers, with powerful personalities. They tend to be focused on specific goals, experience a wealth of creative new ideas, and have the ability to implement these ideas with efficiency and determination. They tend to be courageous and sometimes aggressive. As unique, creative individuals, they tend to resent authority, and are sometimes stubborn, proud, and impatient.

Ellinor: People with this name have a deep inner desire for love and companionship, and want to work with others to achieve peace and harmony. People with this name tend to be orderly and dedicated to building their lives on a solid foundation of order and service. They value truth, justice, and discipline, and may be quick-tempered with those who do not. Their practical nature makes them good at managing and saving money, and at building things in the material world. Because of their focus on order and practicality, they may seem overly cautious and conservative at times.

I’m not a staunch believer in horoscopes or numerology, but I do have an immense amount of fun when I come across this sort of stuff. I wrote an earlier post about Blood Types. Horoscopes, numerology, zodiac–they all fall under the same category for me. Fun, fluff, with a dash of… hmmm… maybe?

Curious about your name and its connection with your personality? Check it here:

Was it accurate? Si o Niet? I wanna know. Share please!


October 17, 2013 — Leave a comment

Today I received a text message alerting me that I have a voicemail message on my Google Voice number. The last time I used that number was maybe six months ago for a little side business I have. The transcribed text message went like so:

Hey, no, it’s not have a chance, call me, Steve right now.

Steve? Crap. I couldn’t remember my password. I know one Steve and he wouldn’t know my google number. Chance? Am I missing out on some opportunity? Fortunately, after a few minutes of birthdays, favorite numbers, and food reference combinations I finally got in.

Hello, this is Nachman, call me please, now.

Granted, my landlord, Nachman, is a low-talking mumbler. But goodness. Rather, googlemess.

I’ve always been fascinated by translation, especially free online translators like Yahoo’s babblefish, bing translator, which I’ve used casually to remind me of words or phrases from languages I no longer practice regularly. But I never ever take these sort of quick translations to heart. Most of the time the translated version is such a ridiculous jumbled mess that I end up having to translate the translation.


I suppose you could make a case for these sorts of tools being at least a start. The thing is, words alone are just a start. There’s so much more to communication and comprehension–the nuances of culture and context that can make or break a thought, belief, argument–story–you want to convey or likewise, comprehend. I’ve found (the hard way) that all of those things are important but there’s always more to consider.

There’s this example I use to express this “more” thing in behavior. It’s from a book I worked on years ago: Choosing Civility: The 25 Rules of Considerate Conduct, by P. M. Forni. In one section, P. M. describes a scenario he presents to his students (he’s a professor at Johns Hopkins). He asks the students to imagine having dinner out with some friends. One friend, he says, asks another to pass the salt. P. M. stops there and asks each of his students to react. What would he or she do? What would you do? Uh, pass the salt?… is the usual response. Well, in P. M.’s world, one doesn’t just pass the salt. Pass the salt and the pepper.

What P. M. is teaching his students, teaching us, is that the way to successful communication comes from understanding the mindset of the person even before you’ve met them. Consider their outlook, wants, needs. Then the story you put out might resonate enough to start changing that mindset.

It’s simple. Let’s all pass the salt and the pepper.

No Pressure.

September 30, 2013 — Leave a comment

I’ve had this address for four years now. I’ve done nothing with it. I’d forgotten about it. I started it impulsively. It didn’t even *grow* out of anything. Sure, there was a phone call with my sister in Los Angeles, some wine most likely, foolish chatter no doubt.

Wouldn’t it be funny? Probably started that way.

Would people pay for wisdom? How? Why? Of course they would. They do. We do. I do.

Just now, I did a Google search for ‘price of wisdom’ and this is where I landed. “Welcome to the Happy Home of The Price of Wisdom. Turns out the site belongs to Dr. James McMahon, Psychologist, Psychotherapist, Teacher, who even wrote a book, The Price of Wisdom: the heroic struggle to become a person. He argues that we need to “disentangle our selves” from past influences to find ourselves. Along the way, we’ll pay the price of “pain and fear that sometimes comes from looking at these issues straight in the eye.” Wisdom is the reward of “seeing life and the world through your own eyes, and the joy and happiness that often accompanies that accomplishment.”

I’m not his target audience. But you might be. I have enough to read. I started a new job last month. I shouldn’t even be doing this. 5:15am. I have to be up in two hours and go to work.

The price I’m paying right now for Wisdom? Sleep.