Lola’s Etiquette Rules: A Few Gentle Reminders

hints-on-etiquette

“Etiquette is the science of living. It embraces everything. It is ethics. It is honor.” ~ Emily Post

“We are born charming, fresh and spontaneous and must be civilized before we are fit to participate in society.” ~ Judith Martin, Miss Manners

1. Movie Etiquette

We went to the movies last night, and on the entrance to the theater the following sign was posted:

“No cell phone use. Please do not text message.”

cellphoneWhat I want to know is why people will spend the exorbitant amount a movie ticket costs (I’m sorry, but today’s ticket prices are just stupid), only to spend the time in the theater text messaging or talking on the phone? First of all, no one is that important. If you are that important, put your phone on vibrate, and leave the theater to take your call.

Second, it bespeaks so poorly of our society that we need a sign to ask us not to use our phones in a movie theater.

Trust me when I tell you that no one, and I mean no one cares what JJ said to you or why she said it. No one cares that you caught your baby daddy with BB or what you did to her hair.

And believe me when I tell you that you might be 17 and have great eyesight, but if you keep texting in the dark, your eyes are going to lock together and your thumbs will fall off. This is a mother’s curse, and it will work.

“When a society abandons its ideals just because most people can’t live up to them, behavior gets very ugly indeed.” ~ Miss Manners

2. Parking Etiquette

If a No Parking sign is clearly prominent on the pole in front of someone’s house, that does not mean that you cannot just park in front of the pole. Note the arrow on the sign pointing down the road. Note the fire hydrant in the yard.

I know that you really need to get to your son or daughter’s game so that you can belittle the opposing players and yell like the madman that you are at your child when he or she misses the ball. Forget about the fact that your child is five. Self-esteem isn’t important until oh, three or four or ten years later.

I know that your car is new and you don’t want to park in a parking lot like normal people because after all, you are special. And I realize that you have ESP, so you know that there will be no need to use the fire hydrant if one of the houses in the vicinity catches fire. Let them use their garden hoses. Man up.

But when you get the ticket that I warned you that you might get, don’t come up to me, red in the face with skyrocketing blood pressure and an impending aneurysm. I didn’t write the ticket. The police officer wrote the ticket because you were stupid enough to block a fire hydrant.

“Honesty has come to mean the privilege of insulting you to your face without expecting redress.” ~ Miss Manners 

3. Grocery Etiquette

Boy that cotton candy looked good on the way in. Didn’t it? Nice and sticky. And why use one of the conveniently placed trash cans when you can just throw your used, snotty tissues in the cart and leave them for the next person.

Did you know that because of this force called gravity, your toddler, who is currently hanging over the side of the shopping cart, is probably going to fall head first onto this industrial tile floor? But don’t worry, if he does, you can sue the store, sue the manufacturer’s of the shopping cart. Why you can even sue the people who made this floor so darn hard in the first place.

And by the way, did I thank you for the poopy diaper?

4. Bill Collecting Etiquette

I am soooo sorry that the money that I agreed to give you every  month isn’t enough to make a blip on your commission radar. But if someone is offering to pay something, isn’t getting that money better than your idea that it’s more or it’s nothing at all?

And does your mother know that you talk with that mouth?

Just wondering.

“One of the greatest victories you can gain over someone is to beat him at politeness.” ~ Josh Billings

5. Protest Etiquette

tea baggingPardon me, Mr. Teabagger. I know that you don’t like the idea of raising taxes because they’ll only go to help educate children and make health care available to the masses. But do you think that you could possibly pay your taxes before you protest about having to pay taxes?

P.S. Didn’t anyone explain the meaning of the term tea bagging?

P. P. S. Since I’m a liberal dem (as in the sign), does that mean that I’m teabagging you, and if so, would you explain how that is anatomically possible?

6. Nasty Commenting Etiquette

Thanks ever so much for dropping by the site. I always love to see those visitor statistics rise. Having you as a reader means more than I can say.

No really, more than I can say, because if I pointed out your grammatical errors, typos, and completely illogical fallacies, that would be saying too much, and gee, it might cause you not to come back again. Or even worse, you might decide to come back and give me more of your pseudo-logical word thrashing , which, to be painfully honest, would be about as welcome to me as an abscess.

Might I direct you to another blog that actually cares what you have to say?

“Rudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength.” ~ Eric Hoffer

7. Everyone’s a Critic Etiquette

Just a word to the wise: If you want to use someone else’s words on your site, and you ask for permission to do so, it really doesn’t make sense to then ask the author to change those words to suit you. If she wanted the words to read the way you want them, why then she’d be . . . you!

Here’s a thought: Why don’t you go to another site that has words more to your liking? Say one in which you can do the writing.

8. Vice Presidential Etiquette

Presidential terms run for four years. Presidents are allowed two terms. Using the arithmetic that Mrs. Adams taught me in 4th grade, the totals eight years. As yet, no bill has been passed that allows for more than two terms in office. The vice president is elected to the office with the president. Hence, when the president’s term is over, the vice president’s term is also over. At exactly the same time.

It does not continue indefinitely until the former vice president decides that he’s done, no matter how ugly and out of shape his mouth is, nor how big his hat is.

I’m sorry. I didn’t make up these rules. A bunch of guys before me made up these rules. Would someone please let the former vice president know that his time is up and he needs to go now?

“You do not have to do everything disagreeable that you have a right to do.” ~ Miss Manners

9. Radio Host Etiquette

You say that you didn’t get your degree at Harvard? You weren’t president of the Harvard Law Review?

Oh, that’s right. You dropped out after two semesters at Southeast Missouri State University because you flunked everything, even ballroom dancing.

That’s all right. You’re a U.S. Veteran, right? So that makes your opinion on our service men and women valuable. Wait, not a veteran?Balloon Head Rush Limbaugh

Oh forgive me. I forgot that your draft status kept you from serving because of a football injury? Or was it that polinodal cyst, you know the ones you usually get on your butt from an ingrown hair?

But you’re still qualified to tell a political party how to do its job, right? Is that the oxycontin talking? I apologize. You kicked that habit and went to work for a very short stint at ESPN as a sports commentator.

You don’t do that any more? Oh yes. The racist comment.

But still, you support your country no matter what because it’s the greatest country in the world, and it allows you to open your huge mouth on a daily basis and say whatever you want to say. Right?

Oops. Obama. Fail. Forgot.

“Ideological differences are no excuse for rudeness.” ~ Miss Manners

10. Bad Day Etiquette

When you are having a bad day that is coupled with a bad hair day, it is usually not a wise idea to lock the bathroom door, drape a towel around your shoulders, and begin to cut your hair.

Just saying, you might want to reconsider doing this and have a hot fudge sundae instead.

I know. Sometimes I don’t follow my own rules.

There now. Use your hand sanitizer. Don’t you feel better now that you are plum full of Lola’s Words of Wisdom?

I thought you would be. More later. Peace.

“One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small and the ones that mother gives you, don’t do anything at all.” ~ Grace Slick, “Go Ask Alice”

Spitzer Rosette Nebula

Spitzer Rosette Nebula* (Images from space look very similar to brain scans . . . Cue Twilight Zone music)

“We can describe the thoughts of Hamlet, but we cannot describe a Migraine.” ~ Virginia Woolf

“There is much pain that is quite noiseless; and vibrations that make human agonies are often a mere whisper in the roar of hurrying existence.” ~ George Eliot

Hubble Pistol Nebula
Hubble Pistol Nebula

This is day five of this migraine. I am in the midst of a lull, which I hope is a signal that this migraine is finally abating. Or it could be the vicodin . . .kidding, only kidding. Geez.

After consulting with my migraine doctors, I’ve decided to stop trying the preventive medications for now. I’ve had so many horrible side effects with the last three that I’ve tried that I just don’t think that the preventive medication is working out for me. And the reality is that I’m getting just as many migraines on the preventive medicine as I am without. The main difference has been duration, as in, does the headache last a few days or a few weeks.

Those of you who have never had a migraine probably cannot imagine having a headache for weeks, but believe me, it is a reality. And it’s not just a headache—it’s a migraine, and there is a significant difference between the two.

“At first every small apprehension is magnified. Every anxiety a pounding terror. Then the pain comes and I concentrate only on that.” ~ Joan Didion

With a migraine, which is a neurological syndrome, several things can happen, but they do not always happen. Sometimes, it’s just one or two; other times you get the whole bag. There are actually four possible phases to the migraine: the prodrome, the aura, the pain phase, and the postdrome.

In the prodrome, or the phase leading up to the migraine, the sufferer can experience several things: euphoria (never had that one), irritability (yep), fatigue, yawning, food cravings, stiff muscles (yep, yep, yep). The prodrome can occur anywhere from a day up to hours before onset. The aura can appear 5 to 20 minutes before pain onset, and can last for up to 60 minutes. The pain phase, well, that’s self-explanatory. And the postdrome can be manifested as euphoria (what is it with euphoria?), malaise, weakness, loss of appetite, stomach problems, and cognitive function impairment. Some sufferers liken it to a hangover. I prefer to call it the limp dishrag syndrome.

Hubble Eskimo Nebula
Hubble Eskimo Nebula (resembles auras I have had)

Most of the time, I get an aura before the onset of the pain. This aura can be blurred vision, spots in my eyes, or waves, accompanied by tingling in the limbs. The aura is usually a signal that the pain is about to errupt in the brain. This pain can be a band around the head, sort of like someone tightening a metal band around the circumference of your head until you feel that you skull is going to crack open.

The pain can be focused in one or both eyes. I tend to get the eye pain. The only way to describe this is as if someone is taking an ice pick and sticking it in the corner of your eye. Or, if the pain is behind the eyes, it feels as if someone is trying to push your eyeballs out of your head from the inside.

Too graphic? Now you know why I have a thing about my eyes, as in, I cannot stand the thought of anyone approaching my eyes with a laser, or anything sharp. Strike the laser eye surgery.

The pain is often accompanied by other wonderful symptoms: nausea, vomiting, dizziness, clumsiness, a sensitivity to sound (hyperacusis), sensitivity to light (photophobia), inability to bend over. There have even been occasions when I have had a migraine, and I have had a temporary blinding light behind my eyes, which in essense, makes me blind for a few seconds.

My postdrome phase is almost always the same: I feel very weak, achy, and have a dull headache for at least several hours after. Often I am nauseous.

“When there is pain, there are no words. Everything is the same.” ~ Toni Morrison

According to an article from ABC News, many doctors believe that migraines are the result of “a genetic disorder that makes one person’s brain more sensitive to certain stressors that other people would barely notice—like missing a meal or a rainy day.

More than 26 million [up to 32 by some estimates] Americans suffer from the neurologic disorder,” according to the American Medical Association (http://abcnews.go.com/Health/PainManagement/story?id=4170218&page=1).

Hubble Massive Galaxy Cluster
Hubble Massive Galaxy Cluster

I think at this point, I should count as at least two people in that statistic.

In essence, people who suffer from migraines do not deal well with change (I’m not talking about my emotional dislike for change). Migraines can be triggered by changes as innocuous as not getting enough sleep. According to Dr. Joel Saper, founder and director of the Michigan Headache and Neurological Institute, “Any change of the norm, any stress to your system, and your body will produce a headache.”

Triggers for migraines (outside and inside factors) include many different things: bright or flashing lights, certain smells, chocolate, caffeine, bananas, cigarette smoke, fresh paint, hormonal changes, climate changes (e.g., rapid drop in barometric pressure), lack of sleep, too much sleep (http://www.relieve-migraine-headache.com/migraine-trigger).

 In other words—life.

“It would be so nice if something made sense for a change.” ~ Alice from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland

Spitzer Towering Infernos from Hubble
Spitzer Towering Infernos

Triggers vary from person to person. I am sensitive to certain colognes and bright lights. Caffeine, which can be a trigger, can also alleviate a migraine, so I have not given up my Pepsi or coffee. I do know that certain foods can trigger my migraines, but I don’t think that a banana has ever set off my pain. 

One of my big triggers is MSG, or monosodium glutamate, which is a flavor enhancer that used to be a major ingredient in spices and packaged foods. Individuals who are sensitive to MSG, as I am, routinely scan the list of ingredients for this additive. Corey is particularly diligent in checking labels of any new foods that we may be trying for the first time.

Unfortunately, some of my favorite snack foods contain MSG: cheese puffs, Cheetos, Ranch-flavored Doritos. Even fast foods contain MSG: McDonald’s used to use MSG to enhance the flavor of their french fries. Chinese food used to contain MSG routinely; however, most Chinese restaurants have become aware of the large number of people who are allergic to MSG.

Adverse reactions are not limited to migraines or headaches. People who are allergic to MSG can have asthma attacks, nausea, vomiting, arrhythmia, rash, facial pressure, tingling and warming  in the face, arms and upper body, to name but a few of the possible reactions.

MSG is actually an excitotoxin, which means that it effects the brain by exciting it. Excitotoxins include MSG, aspartate (which is found in Nutrasweet), and hydrolized protein (http://www.ezhealthydiet.com/excitotoxins).

Another compound found in food that can cause migraines is tyramine, which is produced from the natural breakdown of the amino acid, tyrasine. Tyramine, which can cause blood vessel dilation is usually found in aged or preserved foods. For example, beef jerky. How do you go hiking without beef jerky? Other foods containing tyramine include olives, alcoholic beverages, aged cheeses, and soy sauce.

Okay. I’ll give up a lot of things, but I simply cannot give up soy sauce. I’m Filipina. My blood is probably 5 percent soy sauce. I was raised on soy sauce. I like soy sauce on cauliflower (weird, I know, but try it). Obviously, I’ve built up an immunity to soy sauce because I don’t have migraines every day of my life, and chances are pretty good that I’ll have soy sauce 6 out of 7 days a week.

Soy sauce? Is nothing sacred?

“Everything hurts.” ~ Michelangelo

Hubble M17 Omega Nebula
Hubble M17 Omega Nebula

I was reading an online article from Science News that contends that people who suffer from migraines have brain scarring, specifically on the cerebellum, which controls motor function and cognition. The odds of scarring for migraine sufferers who have accompanying auras are nearly 14 times higher than people who just have regular headaches.

Headache expert Dr. Richard Lipton of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City contends that “It’s pretty clear that migraine sufferer have more brain lesions [than people without the attacks] . . . That strengthens the view that migraine is a neurologic disease, a disease of the brain.”  (http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/41052/-migraines_leave_trail_of_scars_across_the_brain).

Great. My cerebellum has infarctions or dead spots, and my brain is scarred—I don’t think that this is the kind of scarring that you can fix with dutiful applications of aloe vera.

“Pain is real when you get other people to believe in it. If no one believes in it but you, your pain is madness or hysteria.” ~ Naomi Wolf

Hubble Eagle Nebula M16
Hubble Eagle Nebula M16

If you are a migraine sufferer (migraineur), you probably know that having migraines is not always looked upon kindly. In the workplace, there is often a stigma attached to migraine sufferers who call in sick, the reaction being, “I’ve worked with a headache before. Why can’t she?”

The Migraine Awareness Site had one of the best passages regarding this situation that I have ever read:

“. . .oftentimes people think that those with Migraines just can’t handle life or are drug addicts or alcoholics. Such perception can be formed when, for example, people see a Migraineur wearing sun glasses indoors due to sensitivity to light, lying in a dark and silent room due to sensitivity to light and sound, making frequent trips to the rest room due to nausea and vomiting, leaving work early, slurring their speech, or engaging in otherwise erratic behavior. According to Dr. Sheftell, “Historically, patients with the most intractable Migraines experience a downward spiral in terms of income and contributions to society at large.” (http://www.migraines.org/disability/impawork.htm).

I know that I had to attend a marketing meeting once when I was suffering from a horrible migraine, and I wore my prescription sunglasses during the meeting. Everyone knew that I had a migraine, but something was still said about it. I had one boss who was very annoyed when I informed him that if I had to share an office with someone, they would need to be able to use natural light and lamps.

We were relocating into a new building, and I had had a private office in the old building. I was not trying to be difficult, as I knew that there were two other migraine sufferers in his employ; I was merely asking for accommodations for my illness. In the end, I did share the office with another individual who didn’t like overhead light either, but my boss’s reaction exemplifies how uninformed people who do not suffer from migraines can be.

 “Life’s sharpest rapture is surcease of pain.” ~ Emma Lazarus

ESO Horsehead Nebula
ESO Horsehead Nebula

Even though a significant percentage of the population suffer from migraines, it is still one of the most stigmatized disorders in society. Small comfort is the fact that migraines have been around for centuries, actually longer. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, wrote in 460 BC about shining light that was typically seen in one eye and followed by severe pain that started in temples and worked its way to encompass the rest of the head and down into the neck.

Ancient cures included applying an electric fish (related to a ray) to the forehead (Greek). Albucasis, an ancient Arabian doctor (936-1013 A.D.) advised applying a hot iron to the afflicted head, and if that failed, he recommended cutting a hole above the temple and inserting a garlic clove (what?) into the hole for 15 hours. Russian folk medicine recommends placing large cabbage leaves on your head and neck.

I can smell like garlic or like cabbage. Great.

Well, at least I know that I’m in good company:  Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet, Julius Caesar, Napoleon, Virginia Woolf, Charles Darwin, Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, Cervantes, Tschaikovsky,  Lewis Carroll, Mary Todd Lincoln, Elvis Presley, and President John F. Kennedy just to name a few migraineurs in history.

And the good news is that they don’t cut holes in your head any more.

More later sooner. Promise. Peace.

*All images are from NASA’s Spitzer or Hubble space telescopes, which are part of NASA’s Great Observatory Program.
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“There are no days in life so memorable as those which vibrated to some stroke of the imagination.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

georgia-okeeffe-petunia-1925

Petunia by Georgia O’Keeffe (1925)

 

“If we wait for the moment when everything, absolutely everything is ready, we shall never begin.” ~ Ivan Turgenev

“If I just work when the spirit moves me, the spirit will ignore me.” ~ Carolyn Forché 

georgia-okeeffe-white-rose-w-lakspur-no-2
"White Rose With Larkspur No. 2" by Georgia O'Keeffe

I went back to a post that I had begun in April and tried to finish it to post today. Big mistake. I’m one of those writers who needs to maintain my volition once I’m on a roll, or I completely lose my impetus as well as my interest.

I never really thought too much about the effect this has had on me as a writer over the years until now, but in considering my writing habits, my method, if you will, I have had an epiphany. Too often in the past when I lost momentum, I would shut down. Stop writing. And then wait until the mood hit me again. I did not realize that I couldn’t continue with what I was writing because I really didn’t like it, nor did I have the courage to admit that I didn’t like something that I was writing.

Confusing?

“The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition.” ~ Alan Alda

georgia-okeeffe-from-the-lake-i
"From the Lake" by Georgia O'Keeffe

In the past when I was writing a poem and I got stuck on a line, I would worry the words, move them around, try to make things fit. Granted, this is precisely what the writing process is about: reworking, retooling, finessing.

But there would be times when I would get stuck, leave the poem, and not come back at all, telling myself that I was a failure and had no business attempting to write anything in the first place. Kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Now, years later and some wisdom in my soul, I realize that probably in those instances when I just stopped and couldn’t go on, I was probably working with the wrong words, the wrong subject, the wrong structure. Now, I would come at the problem in a totally different way:

Now, I look at the words and try to discern my point in writing this particular piece in the first place. If there really isn’t a point, then I was probably just exercising my brain, ambling through the woods, if you will.

Nothing wrong with a little ambling, or a lot of ambling actually. It helps to make the synapses fire, and random thought more often than not arrives at the place you intended to be in the first place. Even if you cannot use what you have written as a result of your meandering, you have still exercised your creative muscles, something that is as necessary to a writer as swimming laps is to a swimmer, or getting the earth beneath his fingernails is to a gardener. All of these things lead to something eventually, but the practice is necessary; the tilling of the soil must be done before the planting.

“Arrange whatever pieces come your way.” ~ Virginia Woolf

georgia-okeeffe-black-hollyhock-blue-larkspur-1930
"Black Hollyhock Blue Larkspur" by Georgia O'Keeffe (1930)

These days, I use a lot of different things for inspiration than I did when I was still relatively new at the game. I used to believe, as many novice poets do, that the poem had to come from my gut. It had to have its genesis deep within my soul, and its creation was a reflection of my state of mind and being. No wonder I used to hit roadblocks all of the time. All of that soul-diving takes its toll.

Don’t misunderstand. I’m not disparaging soul-diving. We all need to do it once in a while. Looking within is definitely a necessary part of the creative process. But limiting yourself to inner reflection can be as creative as moving around your belly button lint with a Q-tip: It isn’t painful, might feel a little bit good, but doesn’t give you much in the end.

“There is a boundary to men’s passions when they act from feelings; but none when they are under the influence of imagination.” ~ Edmund Burke

georgia-okeeffe-calla-lily-turned-away-1923
"Calla Lily Turned Away" by Georgia O'Keeffe (1923)

To be fair to myself, which I am usually not, a lot of my need to write at one point  stemmed from my grief. I have said before that I shopped my way through my grief for Caitlin, but that is not entirely true. I wrote pages and pages of words about my pain, her pain, pain, life, death, cruelty. Everything that you would imagine someone immersed in grief might delve into.

Now, years later, I am no longer ruled by my grief. Unfortunately, it is still a part of me, and I fear that it always will be—grief for my daughter commingled by my grief for my father, mixed with grief over the changes in my life over which I have had no control. But I am more than my grief.

I sit outside in the sunshine and look at the sky, listen to the sounds, and contemplate life with an ease that always used to elude me. I sit down at these keys every day (almost), and just let the words flow. Yes, I push them about a bit, but they come with more ease than I ever enjoyed before. I write about so many things, which is why I entitled my blog “musings,” as that is exactly what these post are: musings about music, art, words, politics, love, and in particular, life.

“I have lived on a razors edge. So what if you fall off, I’d rather be doing something I really wanted to do. I’d walk it again.” ~ Georgia O’Keeffe

Georgia OKeeffe White Sweet Peas 1926
"White Sweet Peas" by Georgia O'Keeffe (1926)

I remember a time before I began to take medication for my depression when I would sit and wait for the words to come, beseech my inner muse to create. I felt that if I did not create, then there was no point.

So many creative people throughout history suffered from some kind of mental illness and/or drug addiction. Van Gogh’s depression led him to create incredible, brilliant skies and flowers, but his self-portrait shows a man without mirth. I often wonder how much beauty in art and writing the world would be without if Prozac had been available 300 or 400 years ago. Not to be glib. Just a comment on how many of the artistic names with which society is familiar were/are victims of this disease.

But I’ll let you in on something that might sound absurd: Most creative people will fight prescription mood-altering drugs tooth and nail. I did. When the firs quack I went to gave me a prescription for Prozac and began to talk about his relationship with his wife, my first response to him was that I wanted to feel the pain. It made me who I was.

Fortunately, medications for depression and other mental illnesses continue to evolve, and the zombie-like affect that Prozac had on my psyche is not a necessary fact of life.

“Anyone who does anything great in art and culture is out of control. It is done by people who are possessed.” ~ Nancy Grossman

Georgia OKeeffe Jack in the Pulpit No IV
"Jack in the Pulpit No. IV" by Georgia O'Keeffe

Writer and poet Anne Sexton suffered from deep post-partum depression and horrible mood swings most of her life. She was institutionalized several times; her children were taken care of by others. She endured years of hell on earth, yet she produced some of the most profound, beautiful poems of the whole confessional movement, a genre of poetry in which she was an instrumental contributor.

Ernest Hemingway’s mood swings are the subject of countless analyses of the writer’s work. F. Scott Fitzgerald was known to be clinically depressed, as was his firs wife Zelda, who was eventually institutionalized. Georgia O’Keeffe, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock—all artists who suffered from clinical depression. Musicians who suffered from mental illness include Mozart, Beethoven, even Curt Kobain.

Writer and publisher Virginia Woolf ultimately committed suicide when she could no longer stand existence. Poet and writer Sylvia Plath became famous for her book The Bell Jar, which is considered semi-autobiographical: The protagonist, Esther, suffers from depression and is committed. William Styron, well known author of The Confessions of Nat Turner and Sophie’s Choice, suffered from such a debilitating bout with depression in 1985 that he wrote a memoir entitled Darkness Visible,  a moving retelling of the author’s personal battle with mental illness. Even famous cartoonist Charles Schulz, creator of “Peanuts,” suffered from depression.

“The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web.” ~ Pablo Picasso

Georgia OKeeffe Black Place No 3
"Black Place No. 3" by Georgia O'Keeffe

Many creative people have phases in which they are driven to create—write, paint, sculpt, whatever medium—to the point that they will work until they are physically and emotionally exhausted. In some cases, yes, this is the manic phase of bipolar disorder. But not necessarily. I would contend that these phases are also part of that wiring that sets creative people apart from mainstream society, the inherent need to make something, to produce something, to the exclusion of everything else.

It’s surprisingly hard for me to elaborate on this as it’s something that you don’t really realize that you are in the midst of until you are in its midst. And it is not something that is easily explainable to those who are more left-brained (logical and ordered). That is not to say that creativity does not exist in every field. As I said in an earlier post, the geniuses who look at numbers and see beauty are as creative as those who create color-saturated canvases or tear-inducing symphonies.

On reflection, I’m glad that I did not finish the post to which I referred in the beginning. My explanation as to why I didn’t has morphed into something in which I am much more content to post, even though some would still consider it belly-button gazing. I’ll leave you with this passage by Sidney M. Jourard:

“The act of writing bears something in common with the act of love. The writer, at this most productive moment, just flows. He gives of that which is uniquely himself, he makes himself naked. Recording his nakedness in the written word. Herein lies some of the terror which frequently freezes a writer.”

More later. Peace.

“While my guitar gently weeps”

And The Band Played On

Thank you Memphis Mafia of Really . . . Really . . . Seriously (http://memphismafia.wordpress.com/2009/05/10/just-had-to-share-this/#comment-336) for posting this wonderful video of the George Harrison tribute.

I am blatantly stealing your vid (or rather, the idea to post the vid) as I cannot believe that I did not include this song in my top 100 list as I have always loved “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”

If you are a Beatles fan, more specifically a George Harrison fan, you’ll love this. Just try to forget about the whole losing the wife/taking the wife history between Clapton and Harrison. It’s in the distant past.

Performing on the video: Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Ravi & Anoushka Shankar, the cast of Monty Python and other artists. Top that collection of talent. Not a chance in the world.

 

 

Quick dip into the past. More later. Peace.

Into the Heart of Darkness

Deark Heart by L Liwag

Heart of Darkness, by L. Liwag

“I read the news today, oh boy” ~ From “A Day In the Life” by Lennon and McCartney

“And though the news was rather sad”

About a week ago, I read an article in newsweek.com that really bothered me. I keep going back to how I would feel if I were in this family’s position, how I would react, how I would be able to withstand the horrible infamy that has befallen their family.

The gist of the article was that a family had lost their 18-year-old daughter Nikki Catsouris to a horrible car crash, one so bad that the parents were not allowed to view the body. A couple of state troopers took pictures of the scene—the reasons given for such a disrespectful action have included supposedly documenting the crash and wanting to use the photos as a warning to their families—and now those pictures have gone viral on the web (http://www.newsweek.com/id/195073/page/1).

The article, entitled “A Tragedy That Won’t Fade Away,” was written by Jessica Bennett and appeared in the May 4 issue of the news magazine. In it, the Catsouris family speaks about how horrifying this entire ordeal has been for them, and apparently, there is little that can be done to make the pictures go away.

“I saw the photograph.”

But the posting of the pictures wasn’t the only indignity that the family had to endure. The father received a text message after the accident, and when he opened it, there was a horrifying picture of his daughter along with the words “Woohoo Daddy! Hey daddy, I’m still alive.”

Nikki’s three sisters live in dread of happening upon the pictures by accident when they are on the Internet, so much so, that their mother and father, Lesli and Christos, have made disabled popups and have forbidden the three girls from visiting social networking sites such as MySpace.

The entire family is now in therapy, and they continue to fight whoever they can to have the pictures removed from websites. But as you can probably surmise, this is not a fight that can be won easily.

“He didn’t notice that the lights had changed”

sitting in front of computerLet’s think about this for a minute. Cyberspace has allowed people all over the world to connect in milliseconds. We can e-mail people around the world; we can post blogs that can be read by anyone unless we engage special filters; we type in any word, and a listing of possible connections becomes readily available to us.

But what are the ramifications of such actions? The Catsouris family certainly never wanted the pictures of their daughter to be seen by anyone. They have sued the Caliornia Highway Patrol (CHP), but that action will not stop the spread of these photographs. They have sent cease and desist orders to the sites on which Nikki’s pictures appear, but on the Internet, that action is akin to spitting into the wind.

When I was in my copyright class, we learned all about copyright laws on the Internet and the use of cease and desist orders. The reality is that copyright is more protected than online privacy. Libel and slander laws are hard to prosecute for web-based material. Why?

Quite simply, the laws have not caught up with the technology.

“A crowd of people stood and stared”

Imagine that you have a teen-aged daughter. She takes some suggestive pictures of herself for her boyfriend. She sends these pictures to her boyfriend with a complete expectation that the pictures won’t be shared. (Ah, the naivete of youth.) Two months later, she breaks up with her boyfriend. Within a week, the pictures of her have gone viral.

The scenario as described is not at all far-fetched. It happens everyday, all over the world. People send things via e-mail with certain expectations of privacy. But in fact, this privacy does not exist. E-mail accounts can be hacked into. Databases are being breached continually. Just last week, we learned that the pharmacy database of Virginia was being held for ransom. The hijacker claimed that he had all of the personal information of thousands and thousands of people who use prescription medication, and he was going to sell it if a ransom was not paid.

I’m on that database. All of my personal information is on that database with the exception perhaps of my social security number. Imagine what the distribution of this information could do to individuals. For example, let’s say that someone on the list is taking medication for HIV. The hijacker, whoever he or she is, can disseminate that information and ruin a career in a matter of seconds.

Almost daily, I post information on this site about my family, our living situation, my children, my house, etcetera. I am careful not to post too much information, but I know that at times I have probably been lax. Will this come back to haunt me someday? How? Will I be able to prevent it?

“They’d seen his face before”

The Catsouris family has endured one of the most painful things that a family can endure: the death of a child under horribly gruesome circumstances. Yet they have not been left alone to grieve. Just as they were beginning to deal with the inconceivable truth that their oldest daughter was dead, pictures began to pop up in e-mails. A fake MySpace was created on which people left vitriolic, hateful messages.

Attempts by the family to have the pictures taken down have not succeeded. Their suit against the CHP was dismissed. According to Bennett’s article, a superior-court judge ruled that the CHP dispatcher’s conduct hadn’t violated the law. The judge acknowledged the reprehensible conduct, but the ruling reads that “no duty exists between the surviving family and defendant”  because privacy rights don’t extend to the dead.

But what about the living?

“A crowd of people turned away”

blue moodHowever, this is just one case. Last November, a Missouri woman was convicted of three lesser charges in a cyber-bullying case. She faced felony charges on criminal conspiracy, but was only convicted of three lesser misdemeanor offenses of accessing computers without permission. Again, finding the laws to support charges against the woman was the main reason for her lesser conviction.

The woman, Lori Drew, and her daughter and a third woman engaged in cyber-bullying on a horrible scale. They created a fake MySpace account under the name Josh Evans, a supposedly 16-year-old boy. They began correspondence with 13-year-old Megan Meier in an attempt to lead her on and find out what she had been saying about Drew’s daughter. Finally, Drew sent Meier a message stating that “the world would be better off without” her. As a result, Meier, who suffered from depression, hanged herself.

The indictment originally read that Drew “used the information obtained over the MySpace computer system to torment, harass, humiliate, and embarrass the juvenile MySpace member.”  Nevertheless, Drew managed to elude prosecution for her role in Meier’s suicide. But there’s more: Megan’s death was originally investigated by Missouri authorities, but no charges were brought because no laws seemed to apply to the case.

Since Megan’s suicide, Missouri has passed a law making it illegal to harass someone online.

“But I just had to look”

accident gawkingIn both cases, the incident began as one action that quickly snowballed out of control. But what role do we—as members of cyber-space—actually play in these situations?

Unfortunately, there is plenty of blame to go around. People still search the web for Nikki’s pictures. These individuals actively seek out gruesome photographs of this young woman without any thought as to how their actions might be affecting her family. I think of it as the accident slowdown drive-by, except that it’s on the web.

There are more cases of fictitious MySpace accounts that are out there, even though every member of MySpace signs a “terms of service” agreement that includes “not promoting information they know to be false or misleading; soliciting personal information from anyone under age 18 and not using information gathered from the Web site to ‘harass, abuse or harm other people.'”

“And though the holes were rather small” 

Yet reputation-bashing is a commonplace activity in high schools throughout the country. All it takes is one text message or one instant message or one comment on a MySpace page for rumors to become viral. And this isn’t the harmless game we played as children in which we would whisper something about a person in one ear, and then that person would whisper his interpretation in the next ear, and so on, so that the original phrase of “Billy likes Tammy” becomes something mangled to “Meanie bites too hammy.”

There are real consequences to these actions: suicide, depression, alienation, an unwillingness to leave the house, fist fights, and more. But the law that stands behind these actions is the First Amendment, which allows people free speech, including opinions. And there’s the rub: saying “I think that Tammy is a slut” is not that same thing legally as saying “Tammy is a slut.” The first statement is protected as an opinion, the second could be considered defamation.

“They had to count them all”

However, in the U.S., the following are commonly-accepted legal elements for intentional torts (wrongdoing):

  • Parents can also be found negligent in failing to provide reasonable supervision of their child. Depending on the facts, the following legal actions might be possible:
  • Defamation – Someone publishes a false statement about a person that damages his or her reputation.
  • Invasion of privacy/public disclosure of a private fact – Someone publicly discloses a private fact about a person under conditions that would be highly offensive to a reasonable person.
  • Intentional infliction of emotional distress – Someone’s intentional actions are outrageous and intolerable and have caused extreme distress (http://www.ebasedprevention.org/toolbox/bullying/cyberbullying-legal-issues)
  • “I read the news today, oh boy”

    cybercafeIn the end, what we are left with is a tool that is truly wonderful in many, many ways: The Internet provides access to the outside world for people who are home bound. It provides instant medical information for people who are trying to decide whether or not they should seek medical treatment. It offers news from around the world 24/7. It offers a real-time connection to those with with whom we wish to stay in contact.

    But the very dark side of this phenomenon, this service, this lifeline, exists in a world that most people do not like to acknowledge: The Internet contains sites that show people being killed, sites that include horrific scenes of torture and mayhem. And for now, it offers people with little conscience a means of extracting their pound of flesh from innocents, whether intentional or not.

    “Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire”

    And that, my friends, is a street full of holes that we cannot possibly fill before more irreparable harm is done to those who do not have the power or the will not to fall or be pushed.

    Let us hope that the skies clear soon. There will be more later. Peace.

    “A mother’s arms are made of tenderness and children sleep soundly in them.” ~ Victor Hugo

    mother and child

    Mother and Child

    “To nourish children and raise them against odds is in any time, any place, more valuable than to fix bolts in cars or design nuclear weapons.” ~ Marilyn French

    ” . . . Mothers most of all . . . carry the key of our souls in their bosoms.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

    mother and child outlinesSince today is Mother’s Day, I thought that I might offer some insights on parenting. I am in fact qualified to do this as I have survived the teen years with one child, have survived having three children live in the same house with only one bathroom, survived the whole mindset of why skipping school is not a bad thing, survived having my car appropriated and destroyed, survived one full year of colic and being thrown up on constantly . . . I rest my case.

    Those of you who are regular visitors know how much I love my offspring, even when they are trying to wear down my last nerve, and since I’ve done a bit of complaining of late, I thought that I would offer something on the lighter side.

    Please bear in mind that all of the information below has been written from a Lola perspective. In other words, completely facetious and full of sarcasm.

    That being said, please feel free to add to my Then and Now list, as I am anxious to see how many more parents out there have their own special opinions on the subject. (Note: The chart may take a bit longer than usual to load, or it may just be my computer . . .)

    Then and Now

    The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness.” ~ Honoré de Balzac

    Happy Mother’s Day to all of you mother’s out there: the ones who have been at this a while, the grandmothers who are now mothers again, the single-parents who are doing the jobs of both parents, the less-experienced mothers who still feel as if they need a road map (trust me, you’ll always feel that way), and the mothers-to-be who are anticipating the birthdays of their unborn children. 

    It’s the hardest job in the world, the most complicated, most daunting, most taxing, but in my opinion, it’s still the best job that you could ever have.

    More later. Peace.

    “Dreams are answers to questions we haven’t yet figured out how to ask.” ~ The X-Files

    gustav-klimt-water-serpents-ii-c-1907-detail

    “Water Serpents II” by Gustav Klimt (detail), 1907

    Random Thoughts On Nothing At All

    “I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.” ~ Vincent Van Gogh

    Saturday: The rain subsided today, for a while at least. I just saw on the TV ticker that severe storms are on the horizon—lightning, heavy rain, winds up to 60 mph. Can I just say that as much as I love a good storm, this whole rain thing is really getting old.

    Last night (early morning), I fell asleep to the sounds of a major thunderstorm. When Corey and I first saw the bright flashes, we turned off all of the computers as we did not want a repeat of what happened a couple of years ago when a major portion of our electronics were fried in a storm. The insurance covered it, but there was a hefty deductible.

    “Dreams say what they mean, but they don’t say it in daytime language.” ~ Gail Godwin

    Thunderstorm from Albany University
    "Thunderstorm" from Albany University Dept of Atmospheric and Environmental Science

    I had the strangest dream last night. Apparently, I was supposed to be getting married. One of the strange parts was that I was wearing a wedding dress around town to do my planning for the wedding. None of my friends thought to point out that this was a mistake as I had not pulled the train to the dress up, and consequently, the dress was getting filthy.

    The wedding was the next day, and I had a filthy, torn dress. I went into a what was supposed to be a tailor’s shop, but the people in the shop just looked at me as if they had never seen a needle and thread. They suggested that I try the tailor down the road. Now, in those lovely leaps of logic that a dream takes, as I was going to the next tailor, I suddenly realized that the previous tailor’s shop was a front for a drug cartel, and I decided that I needed to spy on them. None of the friends who were with me disagreed with my decision, so we circled the building and snooped.

    At this point in the dream, my white dress turns black, solid black, and I begin to realize that it doesn’t mattter if my dress gets a little dirty because it’s black. In the meantime, I still haven’t bought the invitations to the wedding or picked out the flowers.

    All of my friends want to go to lunch, and I agree, but I remind them that we only have a few hours left to accomplish everything, at which point they remind me that it’s my own fault for procrastinating.

    That’s the dream. Way too much symbolism for me. I just know that I awoke with the headache creeping around the outside of my skull, preparing to take residence in my eye.

    “What I take from my nights, I add to my days.” ~ Leon de Rotrou, “Vencelas,”  (translated)

    As a result, I have spent another day lying on the bed in the fetal position, whimpering, while my two Jack Russells view this as an opportunity to cuddle around me, making me too hot. Let’s face it—I’m in for the long haul with this headache. The dogs may not mind, but as with the rain, I am so completely over it.

    I had wanted to begin reading Bruce Hood’s book, Supersense, but the headache is preventing any reading. I know that I have mentioned Bruce’s site and his book before, but if you have never visited and are interested in quirky topics, just click on the Supersense link under my Recommended Reading list. Trust me, it’s a great site for people like me who question everything. I’m hoping that tomorrow can be a reading day, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

    I do have a couple of draft entries that I had wanted to finish and post, but they require real thought, rather than meandering around my brain and putting down whatever happens to wander by. Sometimes, though, meandering can be quite interesting, especially when your thoughts land on something that at first appears to be a complete non sequitur, as in ‘where in the hell did that come from?’

    Just a short post for now. More later. Peace.