Overheard at our house, telephonic edition

John, calling parents: “Busy signal?!”

Me (mock horror): “What is THAT?”

John: “I know – where do they live, anyway?”

Me: “1985.”

A disturbing realization

I’m plowing my way through the first in the series of George R.R. Martin’s epic potboilers, A Game of Thrones.  Finally.  Well, I’m finally successfully doing so.  And good grief, but it as actually brought me to a personal epiphany.

I have tried before to read this book and failed miserably.  But John really likes it, and I value his opinion, so I kept trying.  Also, HBO is putting together a series based on the books and it looks really, really good.  Getting it on the Kindle helped (700-page epic doorstop novels are high on my list of things that give equal on the plus and minus sides in entertainment value and repetitive stress injuries).  But for someone like me, this book was sort of like signing up for voluntary sandpapering of second-degree burns or giving Joss Whedon the license to direct the activities of your nearest and dearest for the next few months.  I felt like a petty god was sitting somewhere and saying, “Oh – wait: you like this character?  DEAD,” over and over and over again.

Why so sensitive, Jill?  I don’t know – but I know that I was the person who couldn’t fathom being a divorce attorney because I knew I couldn’t tread the fine line between the empathy required to advocate passionately for my clients and the necessary detachment from their plights to enable strategic thinking.  My emotional balance is wonky that way, even when I read a book.  I read a news report a while ago that talked about people who actually feel pain when they see someone else receive injury – the pain areas in the brain of the person doing the viewing actually light up.  I am pretty sure I am one of those people, and the more I empathize with the person in question, the worse it gets.

This even happens when I read.  Yeah, yeah, yeah – I was one of those kids whose parents said the house would burn around my ears while I read.  About ten years ago I finished The Golden Compass on a Southwest flight in a seat that faced a fellow passenger (a stranger).  When I finished the book and slowly returned to reality this person commented, “I didn’t think you were coming out of that.”  The more I do that deep dive, the more I empathize with death, injury, or loss suffered by the characters I like.  Considering the shelf footage this series takes up, I knew I didn’t have the emotional bandwidth to go through that much bloodshed with my nerves exposed.

So, at long last, I realized that I couldn’t read the book with my usual 100% investment.  I had to view it somewhat dispassionately.  Don’t get attached – everyone’s going to die and probably horribly.  When I made that decision, the pages started ripping by.  And I like the book – I really do.  But I can’t love it the way I have loved other books that were also intricately constructed, intelligent, and well-written.

Here’s the disturbing epiphany.  I have been doing the same thing in life with a lot of 2010.  Not in my personal life, but in my reaction to the constant barrage of bad news.  At some point I flipped from the empathetic to the dispassionate to save my nerves.  And somehow I need to try again to sort out a way to walk that fine line.  Because being dispassionate is not the way I want to face the world.  At least, not entirely.

Edit: here’s my real incentive (to read the books, not to step back from the brink of being a completely dispassionate person-analog) – an HBO series with actors like Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Peter Dinklage? Yes, please.

Overheard on chat

D: so far our last two immediate topics remind me of the book I just finished
me: well, then.
D: The Guinea Pig Diaries, by A.J. Jacobs
the guy who wrote The Know it All?
me: Day one: “WHEEK, WHEEK!”
Day two: “ooh – PELLETS.”
D: groan
oh please keep going
me: Day three: “Wheeek.  ::snuffle:: WHEEK!”
D: um, sarcasm
me: Day four: “OHAI!  LETTUCE!!  My day is WHEEEEEEEEEK, mofo!!”
me: sometimes the pitch needs a windup…
D: can’t breathe
for laughing
oh that’s good
me: glad you like.
D: oh boy

“That’s what she said.”

I’m taking one of those random days off where you get a lot of stuff done that’s difficult to get scheduled on the weekend.  First on the agenda was getting the chimney swept.  We have a pretty good service – one of their best features is that they are very, very punctual.  So the annual drill goes thusly: guys show up right at 8 and get to work on the chimney.  I sit with the dog and feel useless, then write a check.  At some point, they marvel at how gunky our chimney is and I tell them that, yes, we’re New Englanders and we like our nightly winter fires.  Then they go away.  This year included a particularly irritating addendum to the usual routine.

Mr. Chimney Sweep hands me the work order and notes the price.  He asks: “Do you get your chimney swept every year?”

Me: “Yes, every year for the last eight years we’ve lived here.  Like clockwork.  We know we have a lot of fires.”

MCS: “You should get it done every year, because it was really bad.”

Me: “Yeah – we do.  Every year.”

MCS: “The chimney walls look good, but I’ve written here that you should get it swept every year.”

Me: Silently screaming.  “Okay.”

Overheard at our house, French steampunk edition

Me: “So remember that trailer of that French steampunk film I showed you earlier this year?”

John: “Yeah – I think so.”

Me: “Well, apparently it was only in theatres on limited release and isn’t on DVD in the States at all.”

John: “So, New York and L.A. basically.”

Me: “Yeah probably.”

John: “And Northern Maine.”

Meanwhile, on Facebook…

Working on my final paper for my final class of library school, I posted a status update recently which read, “Struggling with APA style for the last time in my life, FSM willing. From here on out it’s Bluebook all the way, baby.”  As is wont to happen, a discussion on the merits of citations and what they are good for ensued.  My friend M suggested that perhaps hyperlinks were the ultimate citation. The following exchange ensued:

J: “Unfortunately, though it does have ease of use on its side, what is attached to a hyperlink is subject to change (so certain styles require you to note when you accessed the linked information). It is also not self-explanatory in a footnote or endnote, so it requires additional description to make up a full citation.”

M: “Got it. Someone should write a book…”

J: “There aughta be a law!!!”

M: “That sounds like a quote. Could you cite that properly please?”

J: “Bite me.”[1]

[1] Summers, Buffy. (2003). Never kill a boy on the first date. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 1(5).

Overheard at our house, giant arachnid edition

Our porch roof and railing is currently housing a rather large spider.  I think it may be nocturnal, because it has been out there every early (pre-sunrise) morning and post-sunset evening, but I have yet to see it in daylight.  It took a few days for John to have an opportunity to see it, but he finally did.  We were looking at it this morning before I left for work:

Me: I think he has a friend.  There’s a little spider too.  Same coloring, but small.

John: You know, the bigger spiders are usually the females.

Me: Does this spider make me look fat?

One big reason to love summer

Farmer's market trip

The month-long hot weather has broken, and I was able to take my bike on a trip to the local farmer’s market – fresh peaches, fresh veggies (under the peaches), and some lovely lisianthus.  Bliss!

Overheard at our house, belated birthday edition

John’s finally getting around to recycling the pile of cards he got for his birthday.  Since he turned 40 this time, some are more sadistic than others:

Card from my father, “Ma-cho ma-cho man….”

John (cutting open the card in order to fiddle with the mechanism), “Hmmm…”

Cfmf, “I want to be – a macho man!”

John, “Oh.  So that’s how that works.”

Cfmf, “I want to be a macho!”

Me, “Hit it with a hammer.

Broken no longer!


The new theme is up, it has been tweaked some, and I am enjoying a brief respite prior to starting my FINAL class of my MLS.

Unfortunately, I’m still brain-dead.  Thanks for hanging in with me here.