Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Reflection: Out and About in the World

I did decide to make Evening Nigh Reflections a public blog, searchable on Google Blog Search and elsewhere. It's been out and about in the world for over a week now, cautiosly poking its head here and there, visiting a couple other wee bloggies to leave comments. I listed it as my website for a Poets & Writers author directory listing that was confirmed today. The 'Steve Salamander' Seattle piece I've been reading from isn't listed as a credit. It may just not have confirmed yet; either that or the anthology listed it as some category other than creative nonfiction (creative nonfiction being the only genre I have enough credits in).
My teacher blog doesn't admit to knowing this blog -- and isn't apt to -- but I make get Evening Nigh a little button that says it's an Edufire writing tutor. I'd been conversing in an online forum with language teachers, and maybe that's why I did such a double take when I went in Trader Joe's this afternoon. Trader Joe's guarantees there's nothing on their labels that you can't pronounce! Wow! They must be pretty durn good at accent reduction, because I doubt the most skilled among us tutors would make a claim like that...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Memory: Standing at the Corner of 15th & Someplace I Did Not Intend to Be

This short audio link is also from "Til Steve Salamander Returns" -- a much lighter segment.

There really is a corner of "Bellevue, Bellevue, and Bellevue East" -- not in Bellevue, but in Seattle. I have a photo of the street sign, and plan on scanning it and adding it to this post, hopefully in the next day.

PS No, it's a different picture I added... theme-related, though.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Reflection: Netbook Attachment/ Beautiful in my Eyes

I was thinking about a previous post regarding the distinction between dependency and attachment -- and I was also thinking about this bitty netbook here. An acquaintance said a person can only be termed 'attached' if they're unwilling to trade their special something for something else of equal or greater value... Well, I surely agree, and I guess I'm a little attached to my netbook; I can't envision trading it for a laptop of twice the price. Partly, the attachment has grown from personifying the bitty computery-wutery in my posts, a bit like I once personified the great city of Seattle (though not to quite the extent). It's not a person, it's not a kitty-cat; ultimately, there's a limit to how much I would pay to get it repaired -- yet there's this pang in my stomach when I say those words. Ah, attachment! There's a limited number of objects I'm attached to -- and a limited number of people. Attachment often traces back to some initial recognition of positive qualities in the 'other', but it wouldn't be attachment if that's as far as it went. Dr. Laura titled a chapter of one of her books "Stupid Devotion" -- and then wrote about women who tried to change people because they really weren't happy with them at all! That's not devotion. Again, I think it's dependency. If you're devoted to something, then that something becomes, in the words of Joshua Kadison, "beautiful in (your) eyes."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Reflection: Please Don't Email the Drops

I'm using a site called to upload my audio readings to the internet. They call the uploaded files 'drops'. Some people use for online collaboration (like a multi-media Google Document); I guess that's why they assign the drops their own email addresses and their own telephone numbers with five-digit extensions. They really do have those drops set up! Please don't email my drops, though. There are people who can attest to me not reading my own e-mail -- I'm afraid the chances are slim to none of my drops reading theirs... Now I'm going to backtrack and briefly mention my bad-news phobia: A couple years back, I was explaining my telephone anxieties to my friend-whose-name-is-spelled-the-same-forwards-and-backwards. ("You can have your address put on a list so telemarketers don't call," he had said, showing a lack of undertanding of just what it was that made me startle when the phone rang. Of course it wasn't the telemarketers I had been worried about -- it was the people I knew. I was worried about things happening to the people I knew.) Now, though, I'm wondering if telemarketers -- automated ones -- are going to call my drops up on the telephone. Do you suppose they might tell my drops they can save money on auto insurance, or that their new satellite dish will be installed tomorrow?

Memory: Superman by Night

My business site does have its itty-bit blog now, and I try not to cross-pollinate too much between them, but there are a couple personal paragraphs that I'm going to reproduce here:

When my brother was seven or eight, he founded a book company and hired his little sister (me). Kevin was a mild-mannered book editor by day and Superman by night. His other interest at the time: trucks. The short piece of writing I scanned and linked to is one I’m pretty sure my brother put me up to. From across the years, I can almost hear him say, “Write about a little boy who loves trucks…” It‘s a direction I followed to the letter — there was no deliberate attempt at humor in this piece, and I lacked the sophistication to write something so over-the-top on my own prerogative...
As for my brother, he is now a Phoenix-area real estate agent and a dad to two small girls. He no longer leaps buildings in a single bound — he just sells them. In the eyes of his little girls, though, he’s Superman. Here’s a bit of writing from a long-ago little girl: Writing: Age 5-6

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Reflection: Your Hometown

The audio link, Your Hometown , is a segment of "Til Steve Salamander Returns", a piece that I wrote during my first trial summer in Seattle. This is one of a couple serious segments in a largely humorous piece. At least, it's one of a couple segments that were originally envisioned as serious. The events of the subsequent years, including the death of the kitty cat who appears in the opening scene, change the character of a piece, at least for a small group of people. I'll record a few more segments of the Steve Salamander piece soon, but it may be a while before I do them all and join the whole thing together...

A week into the experiment, the audio is getting better. The copy of "Artichokes and Desert" rain that appears in the link list is not the one I originally recorded. The second version does include one particularly audacious (Well, I did record it in Audacity!) mistake. I said that Chris danced around a lightning pole. That took me aback a bit -- but I didn't want to re-do it then, as I'd been having technical difficulties, and had already made several false starts. If I hadn't reacted, who would have caught the mistake? In the first version... well, I had to listen to it a couple times myself before I was, like, "Whoa, did I say 180 degrees?" (It was 108 degrees in Tucson, or thereabouts -- it wasn't 180.)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Reflection: If You Need Anything, I'll be in the System Tray

Several computer giants are competing for the allegiance of my small netbook. My Google toolbar offered to import my Microsoft favorites, and then Microsoft told me it could post to Blogger for me, using Windows Live. I clicked on the Windows Live icon out of curiosity even though I don’t have an account. Lo and behold, a Messenger showed up, and, like a genie sprung from a bottle, it refused to leave. I clicked on the Messenger’s ‘X’ and it told me that, just in case I were to need something, it would still be running in my system tray. I actually was writing this particular entry in Microsoft Works, offline, when an ad appeared for Hotmail -- 'Get it now!' -- with a picture of a guy whopping himself in the head like he just realized he could have had a V-8. So the other day, I was installing a security program that Radio Shack had given me as a promotional giveaway… I unchecked a couple boxes as the program was installing. If I hadn’t unchecked those boxes, you know what the security suite was planning to do? It was fixing to set Yahoo as my homepage and install my new Yahoo toolbar…

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Reflection: Flashback to Warm Nights...

Here are some lyrics I've loved since I was a kid, with just one little change that reflects our lives in this modern world:

After my picture fades, and darkness has turned to gray
You're watching through Windows, you're wondering if I'm okay

Are you watching through Windows... or using a Mac?

P.S. The next blog entry will probably appear under this one. There's something in my drafts folder that I've been working over.
Alright -- it's there now: 'Further Chronicles (and Audio)'

Reflection: Further Chronicles (and Audio)

Maintain a poker-facer and an expressive voice... That seems to be the trick of recording audio with a less-than-professional quality headset. If I so much as raise an eyebrow while I'm recording, or spread my cheek into a smile, the headset will bounce a bit and the sound will be recorded...
I picked a copy of Further Chronicles of Avonlea off the bookcase downstairs for two reason: 1) I knew it was public domain. 2) I was locked out and needed something to read! The piece that I ended up recording, and linking to here, is by far my favorite of the stories. Even so, there were lines that were hard to record because they didn't ring true for me. There's a character in the story who, years back, had broken off an engagement because she believed her fiancee's mother when she said her fiancee was merely infatuated with her youth and beauty -- which wouldn't last -- and that she had nothing, but nothing, else to offer.
Back in high school, I had a friend from India whose parents were incensed that she wanted to date an American; I think that they actually made a brief threat to disown her. But my friends spent six years convincing those parents that their relationship was sound, and at the end of that time, they were allowed to marry. As for why my friends wouldn't go against the parents' wishes -- well, part of it was because they were Ba'hai, and, while the Ba'hai faith prohibits arranged marriage, it does require parental consent. My friends were bound by what they believed. I honestly think either one of them would have -- like the girl in the story -- broken off their engagement if they believed they would be a lifelong burden to the other; yet I can't imagine either of them believing it. Going back to the story, it's hard for me to imagine a girl who says you're right, I have nothing in this world to offer, but for a fleeting beauty -- a girl who lacks the drive to fight that she's somebody. But there's a lot in this story I do like: It may be an archaic societal criticism, but it's societal criticism, nonetheless. Now, without further ado, here's The Little Brown Book of Miss Emily.

Monday, September 14, 2009

In-Between: Links to Audio Files

I am putting up new 'link lists' on the right side for audio files; a link to my first 'public domain' reading attempt (The Velveteen Rabbit) is up. I will probably re-record it before I put it on my teacher site, but I figure it's ready at least for my brother to download for his little ones! (I think moving the headset around too much might have caused the recurrent little background noises.)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Reflection: A Thing and its Opposite

There are multiple reasons a person will sometimes allow another human being to insult him: It might be that he believes what the other person is saying, or it might be that he believes none of it. It could be that he lacks ego strength -- or it could be that he has enough ego-strength that the insult wasn't an issue. Many things look, on the surface, like their opposite, and I think that's one of the biggest barriers to understanding between and among human beings. I wrote in an earlier post that I thought Dr. Laura blurred the distinction between attachment and dependency -- two things that, as I see it, are not only distinct, but often functionally opposite. We're all constantly making inferences about one another, often at such a subconscious level we don't even realize we're doing -- yet in that split second in which we infer, we may, in fact, be choosing between opposites. Here's an example of how tricky it gets: Those repetitive motor behaviors associated with autism and other disorders... well, according to neurologists, they can reflect one of several things, like 1) a massively overstimulated nervous system, or 2) a massively understimulated one.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Memory: Of Artichokes and Desert Rain

Of Artichokes And Desert Rain by Karen Weil
Download now or listen on posterous
Of Artichokes and Desert Rain.mp3 (4096 KB)

So now I have this computer-ito -- and it has this headset-isimo that is almost as big as it is. We plan on doing online tutoring, and also recording some copyright-expired 'kiddie lit' for Librivox. But first here’s audio for a flash memoir that a few people will remember from long-ago co-op days. This was my Audacity test recording and also my headset test recording... I expected to have to erase the recording and try again. But…Well, I was juggling the Audacity program and the Microsoft Works document on the computer screen(ito)… I lost my place a couple times, said “purch forniture”, developed a brief frog in my throat… And then I played it back, and it sounded quite a bit better than I expected. I decided to let that first-ever bit of recording stand, as-is. Sometime soon, I’ll learn how to operate the editing controls -- but here’s “Of Artichokes and Desert Rain”.

Posted via email from eveningnigh's posterous

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Reflection: A Response to Dr. Laura

My sister-in-law sent me a book by Laura Schlessinger, and I read the whole durn thing. Now I’ll concede Dr. Laura a few points: Yes, there are things one shouldn’t put up with from another human being; yes, there are wrong reasons to ’put up with’ things. And yes, one’s primary attachment should be to one’s babies. That said, I’ll spend the rest of this post arguing with Dr. Laura. She argues against “stupid attachment” -- attachment to flawed human beings who aren’t your little kids -- and then describes scenarios that don’t involve attachment at all. I remember an acquaintance, some years back, saying you were not attached to something if you were willing trade it for something else of greater or equal value. Boy, do I stand with him on that one! The I want somebody, I need somebody mentality is an example of dependency; it has nothing, but nothing, to do with attachment.

Now I wonder what Dr.Laura would say about the prairie voles. Prairie voles have been in the news much more often than the average rodent. It’s partly because of them that scientists know that monogamy is a drive, supported by its own neurochemical systems. There's a volume of research that goes back years: scientists wondered why this one species of vole was monogamous and nurtured its young for a long time, when other closely related species weren’t (and didn’t). What was different about this vole’s neurochemical systems -- and were some of those same systems at work in human beings ?

The short answer is yes. Those same systems are in place in people, though they don’t function identically. One of my all-time favorite movies is A Beautiful Mind. The woman in that story… well, there are different types of strength, but hers is the type of strength I can admire. Of course a Dr. Laura could argue that life isn’t the silver screen... and that an over attached person has only themselves to blame when their attachments cause pain. That’s a valid argument. But it’s not valid to equate over-attachment with dependency, or to suggest it’s an affliction of women who lack their own strength, their own self-worth, or their own voice. I think that often -- I’m not going to suggest always -- it's the people who don’t have strong attachment/monogamy drives themselves who most self-assuredly and vocally mistake attachment for weakness.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

In-Between: Librivox Link

And I’ve got such a long way to go, just to make it to the border of Mexico/ So I ride, ride like the wind… Psss, wanna cross the border into Canada and... and, well, and record audio for The Little Prince? That particular book is not in the public domain in the US, but I hear it is in Canada! I'm not planning on going to Canada right exactly now, but I did put up a new link: Librivox. You can download public domain (think: old) books in MP3 format, or you can voice-record and upload old books yourself with just free software from Audacity. The Librivox slogan is 'acoustic liberation of books in the public domain': Gotta ride, ride like the wind, to be free again…

Reflection: The Blog Cklog

But I like to eat cake in the tub,” said the cat (in the hat).
But I like to publish myself on a daily basis,” I said.
Actually I’m trying to publish myself a bit less than that -- otherwise who would actually read me? I expect I'll not feel the need to write so much as time passes, but right now I have a web log backlog… a blog cklog. Evidently there are lots of people who live life without narrating it -- I'm not sure at what point in childhood I figured that out. As for me, from the time I was a little girl, I narrated the events of my life as they were happening. I would often have some favored person who I talked to inside my head. Cat Stevens has a song with the refrain, “Always talking to you, always talking to you…” Boy, do I know that always-talking-to-you feeling. I've never written for therapy, and the manual process of writing or typing is not, for me, a matter of self-discovery. I do most of the composition in my head before I ever sit down to type or handwrite. I also do some of the editing -- cutting and pasting, moving paragraphs 'round my head like a human version of Works. (No, my brain doesn't have Word 2007, but it was outfitted with quite a good copy of Works.) By the time I sit down in front of a computer, it’s about expression and connection. Sometimes I am writing to connect with just one person -- but I am always writing for an audience of some sort.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Reflection: Friends Who Run Fast Without 3G

I have a friend whose name is spelled the same way forward and backward.
Long after the fact -- long after I had gone so very far away -- he expressed some regrets...
"I got scared," he said.
"Why?" I asked. "Everything I expressed was real."
"I knew that," said my palindrome-named friend. "That's what scared me."
If you are, like me, the kind of person who loves with every breath you take -- or not at all -- it can be hard to control your energy. Another person may pick up on that note of desperation and not know what to make of it; they may be able to see anything and everything but the truth, or they may glimpse something real that scares them.
Referencing the ad I quoted in an earlier post (3G: faster friends) ... Now why would someone want faster friends? Some of us have friends who run plenty fast without electronic enhancement.

Friday, September 4, 2009

In-Between Reflection: Faster friends?

First of all, meet my computer: It's a bitty Acer One netbook that runs XP: the kind of computer you want to talk baby talk to , not because it's a lesser computer, but because it's cute. As soon as I turned the thing on, it started sniffing around for wireless connections (now that seems like major technology to me!) and sending messages: "Google would like to install a toolbar here. Please let Google know whether it can install a toolbar here." The computer seems so competent, it made me wonder: just what are those important tasks the expensive laptops do that this bitty wittle computery-wutery (please do excuse the phrasing) does not do. I was thinking about that when I passed a sign -- "3 G: faster friends" Faster friends??!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Reflection: Authors of Each Other's Lives

If you've read other stories in which my mother appears as a character, you may be surprised by "My Mother's Black Dress". That's a different mother -- or is it?

We are all mixtures of such different things; in disjointed snapshots taken over time, we would likely not impress a stranger as being the same person. Now I'm going to draw an analogy from a particuar book -- though I am not comparing my mother or anyone else to that particular character.

In the closing scene of Stones from the River, the main character sees, in a vision, her first friend: She sees him not as the war-scarred, drinking, wife-beating man he's become, but as the child of thirty-odd years back. She wonders if story still has the power to salvage something of worth: "It had to do with what to tell first - though it hadn't happened first -- and what to end the story with. It had to do with what to enhance and what to relinquish. And what to embrace."

Few people express the power of story -- or their own authorship -- that eloquently. Yet aren't we all, in careless and not so careless ways, the authors of each other's stories? When we describe a person's physical attributes, or quote their words, we're making observations. When we attribute mental states, we're making inferences. And when we share our inferences with other people, we may alter the course of the story, becoming, for good or ill, the authors of each other's lives.