Sunday, December 30, 2012

Let's Resolve Some Stuff

I'm one of those people who really likes Resolutions. Sometimes I'll make them in the middle of the year, just because I feel like it.  I don't necessarily always keep them, although this blog is the product of an October 4th, 2009 resolution, and I'm a dedicated flosser thanks to an August 11th resolution in 2007.  But even if I make one and don't keep it, the act of resolving something always makes me feel a little like I have some control over my existence.

Which is a touch ridiculous, actually. I am beholden to several shareholders: a 3 year old, a frowny husband writing his dissertation, and several bosses.  For me the concept of free will is an adorable, nutty little fairytale. But a seductive one.

And so I make resolutions.

So, what's it going to be this year? A resolution should be small and achievable. I could start brushing my hair?  I could resolve to use pencils instead of pens, on account of my mom got me this Thomas Jefferson pencil sharpener for Christmas:

But what am I going to be glad I did? Like Audrey's boyfriend Jules says, "Sometimes you gotta hook your future self up today." How am I going to hook Future Jesslyn up in 2013?  I'm open to suggestions.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Apocalypse Scenarios

Today's the big day: the end of the 13th Mayan baktun--the last day that the Mayans cared to account for in their scrupulous timekeeping schematic.  It's sunny today, and, according to Dad, windy enough to rip your scalp off.  When I talked to him this morning, he was cautiously optimistic that this wind isn't an End of Days wind.

At any rate, the Earth hasn't opened up yet to unleash any bloodthirsty feathered serpent gods.  At least not here in Athens, Georgia.  Vladimir Putin reportedly told the Russian people this morning that the world's definitely got another 4.5 billion years on it, and according to Vladimir Putin, Vladimir Putin is never wrong.  So there you have it.

But possible apocalypse scenarios always give me pause, because I love this world and this life, and it makes me a little anxious to think I might never see it again.  I mean, I'm sure the afterlife is cool or whatever, but I like it here.

So, here on the Mayan day of, I just want to tell the day and the world that I love it.  And even you, Quetzalcoatl--if you're reading this.  I love you too, Buddy. Because maybe you're feeling like surfing the web after you've gobbled everybody up?  I dunno.

Anyway, what I love about the world is that there are indoors and outdoors, men and women, children and adults, close and far, plants and animals and rocks, scalping wind and warm, quiet water.  I even like that there is meanness to show us what kindness is. We've got it pretty good here, you know?

Okay, love ya'll.  Mayans, have it if you must.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


I spent most of today with Odessa, which made me started thinking about what it must be like to be a little kid.   Of course I used to be a kid, and I remember some things about it--mostly the feelings I had, which were all waaaay more acute than any feeling I ever have these days.  Embarrassment, boredom, surprise, ET cetera--little kid feelings are essentially adult feelings on bath salts.  Those feelings will chew the paint off a cop car right in front of a cop.

Surprise was a big one for me.  I remember childhood as a long series of totally unexpected events:

  • Woah, that lady's crying
  • Why the hell is that old man wearing a tube in his nose? 
  • Huh, we're all going down to the basement of the school and there's a siren thing going off. Huh.
Being a little kid is pretty much one decontextualized event followed by another.  Surprising things happen over and over until they become less surprising, at which point, you grow up.

But this morning Odessa surprised me. I felt just about as surprised as a 34-year-old woman talking to her 3 year old could be.

The scene:

We are seated across the table from one another at a restaurant, Odessa with a scrambled egg and two pieces of bacon in front of her.  I'm reading the paper, looking up at her every two-ish minutes to say, "Dessa, eat a bite of your eggs."  She's rolling around in the booth, distractedly mumbling something: "Mommy I don't want eggs eggs are yucky I want a treat a snowflake cookie and a candycane I want a gingerbread man baby...."  And then I look up and say, "you have to finish everything on your plate before I even think about getting you a cookie."

And then she makes this weird face I've never seen her make, and whines, "Mommy, I can't eat this breakfast because it will make me get a fat belly."


Monday, December 10, 2012


Did I tell you I'm taking archery lessons? Or at least I was, but now that the actual lessons have ended, I go practice shooting bows and arrows once a week.  The thing is, I'm not very good at it.  I mean, I could probably become good at it one day if I practiced enough, but right now I'm objectively terrible.  Let's just say, if my being good at archery mattered in the least, I would have died in battle months ago.

Luckily, it doesn't matter.  Which has made me realize something: as an adult, I'm very rarely asked to do anything that tests the limits of my sense of humor about myself.  I think very few of us are.

Like when was the last time you were asked to draw a picture?  Grownups haaaate drawing pictures because objects rendered by adults who haven't tried to draw anything since 5th grade tend to look bad.  My friend Eleanor (who is a very good drawer) says this is because drawing is full of tricks--if you know all the tricks and practice them, you'll be a just fine drawer.

But it seems to me, being good at it isn't really the point.  I think we all probably put too much emphasis on mastery--immediate mastery--of skills that nobody has any business mastering in less than like 20 years.

So, what do you do while you're still bad at something?  Well, I guess you could do it for the sake of doing it, just because it's kind of fun.  That's probably okay, right?

Look at little kids: they draw all the time, and their drawings are fucking rotten.  Like here's Odessa's self portrait from last week:

Adorable? Yes. Does it look anything like her? No. Does she give a shit? Not at all.

My shooting an arrow at a target looks a lot like Odessa's self portrait: the best one can say about it is it  might be adorable to a bystander. 

But then sometimes I can really, honestly convince myself that ability doesn't matter: it's fun to do, so I do it whether or not I can hit the broad side of a barn from a distance of 20 feet.

But. BUT!

Then last week, Bryan started taking archery lessons too.  And of course he's really good at it because he's good at everything that involves hitting something with another thing.   Bowling, splitting wood,  throwing baseballs, archery.

And this is where it gets tough, because now archery requires not only patience and humility, but something else.   Graciousness? Good sportsmanship?  Things I pride myself on having an adequate supply of.  I'm not usually a very competitive person, but when it comes to Bryan, I want to CRUSH.  

We're both oldest children.  It's a problem.  Need to work on it.  

And NOW I have the opportunity. Wish me luck.