An Ode to Books and Writing…

An Ode to Books and Writing...

“Because for some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave…They are full of all the things that you don’t get in real life– wonderful, lyrical language, for instance, right off the bat. And quality attention: we may notice amazing details during the course of a day but we rarely let ourselves stop and really pay attention.”

Anne Lamott in her book, Bird by Bird.

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Make-up with Mom

Make-up with Mom

My parents are visiting me from Minnesota this week! I don’t think I’ll ever feel too old to play dress-up with mom!

“What do you think, honey?”

The question is music to my ears.  She’s trying on the “newest” lip color from MAC.  Posh Tone promises to make her lips look expensive and pouty.  It’s a pretty color on her and I tell her she should definitely get it.  The MAC girl is fluttering protectively over mom’s face and the tittering wanes a bit as she realizes I’m not one of those girls- I don’t have to be the one making all the suggestions.

It’s fun and gratifying when mom wants my opinion or compliments.  Sure it might be on superficial things like lipstick or throw pillows but the underlying message to me, is much deeper.  I want us to connect, I want you to like what I’m doing or saying. What you think little girl, matters to me.

It feels like just yesterday that all that mattered was playing dress-up and getting her to laugh or smile in delight at something I’d said or done.  No matter how much I want my internal voices to matter more, there’s a weight to what she says that is denser than what my own instincts dictate.  That doesn’t mean I always agree or that my voices lay immovable beneath hers but it doesn’t stop me from wishing unreasonably that our thought processes could work togehter like synchronized swimmers in the Olympics

 

Tiger Woods Ruins PGA Tour by Being the BEST.

la-sp-sn-steve-stricker-tiger-woods-20130311-001Tiger Woods Ruins PGA Tour by Being the BEST.

Anything I know about golf is wrapped-up in juicy, personal stories of the people who play the game.  Everything else about golf makes me mentally push the snooze button.  So imagine my surprise when my interest was piqued by an article relating to golf from my daily news feed.

The article in the Los Angeles Times whined, “Steve Stricker ruins PGA tour for everyone but Tiger Woods”.  Hmmm.  I thought. First, who is Steve Stricker?  And then, how has Tiger Woods singled himself out again? Doesn’t sound like another personal fiasco…(click).

Apparently, Tiger Woods has ruined the PGA tour by his ability to take a colleague’s constructive criticism and apply what he learned to have one of the best putting games of his career.

He took putting advice from Steve Stricker earlier last week and won the PGA Tour on Sunday.  GASP!  How DARE Tiger prove to us again why he is the BEST!

The other thing about this article that is super peevish is the poll at the top of the page that asks, “Do you think Steve Stricker regrets giving Tiger Woods putting advice?”

Does anyone seriously think someone who has been in the game as long as Steve Stricker didn’t know what he was doing when he gave Tiger Woods advice?

Why are we whining about the actions of a man who is obviously gracious and humble and generous enough to share something of value with someone else?

And I suppose Tiger Woods gets no credit for actually listening to Stricker.  I’m sure taking other people’s advice is always easy to do when according to the likes of Sports Illustrated (http://www.golf.com/node/154262) he is one of the greatest golfers of all time (Stricker didn’t even make the list by the way).  Tiger Woods is second only to Jack Nicklaus.

I can’t resist a good poll.  I clicked my answer (which was NO, Steve Stricker did not regret his actions) and was relieved to see an overwhelming majority felt the way I did. In golf as in life, our integrity is so much more important than winning a game.

Perfectionism is Enemy #1

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft.”

Anne Lamott

This is what I strive for these days, “a shitty first draft” as my fingers haltingly tromp ineffective words into the keyboard.

I tell you that I “tromp” rather than gallop around the keyboard because as I work toward “a shitty first draft” I’m also fending off the voices of failure yelling at me about, “lack of consistency” in producing said mediocre work.

Today, I’m oppressed by the thought that my goal of publishing one blog a day (into infinity) was disrupted yesterday.  I have many excuses for this.  And now, I have many mean voices chastising me for my lack of discipline.

Says an incredulous voice, “You couldn’t publish something for a measly THREE DAYS IN A ROW?!”

And then with disgust, “And you call yourself a writer!”

Perfectionism cripples my desire to go on, paralyzes my ability to craft beautiful sentences and generally cramps my writing style in every, single, way.

Anne Lamott, you’re my writing soul mate.

Adults Must be Accompanied by a Child…

A fleeting thought transforms me from waxing poetic about being a child in carefree days of summer to an individual on high alert, scouting for suspicious eyes.

Mommies at this park probably think I’m some sort of weirdo sitting here, childless, watching kids run around a place that’s obviously just a kid zone.  It’s obviously not a bird watching zone, or get some sun zone, or play Frisbee zone since it has a massive rubbery jungle-gym stationed smack dab in the middle of it.

Absurd, I think.  For all they know I’m just a negligent mommy letting her child run around unsupervised, letting him or her eat dirt and push smaller kids around.  This thought slightly horrifies me.

Maybe they think I’m some poor, childless woman who yearns for children of her own and comforts herself by stopping by the park to watch others nurture.  But then, I don’t think I look quite old enough or sad enough to fit that category.

I had been overcome with a general sense of well-being.  The sun was out, the air was crisp and I was in the middle of an incredibly insightful book…when I saw the sign that punctured my joy.

Adults must be accompanied by a child.

The dark green sign demands attention and respect.  My mind muddles over the verbiage.  Does that mean I’m not supposed to be here, I wonder?  Would park police come around and notice my diaper bag/stroller-less state and demand I leave while adults accompanied by a child tsked and shook their heads?  Did this mean a parent could report me for lollygagging around a public place unaccompanied by a child?

There was no getting back to my book after that, no way I could wax poetic about being a kid again.  I left.

Someday, I thought.  Someday I’d meet the city’s qualifications and I’d be back, kid in tow.

Eyes that are Almond Shaped…

Eyes that are almond shaped are beautiful.  They are also a mystery.   As an Asian child nurtured by Caucasian parents the most loving and familiar eyes I’d known were theirs shaped.  As I moved around the country and began my life in LA it was clear to me why a college news broadcasting professor once said I should get out of Illinois and move west.  I believe he said something to the effect of, “They have a lot of Asians out there.”  He said this as though he were commenting on the number of pot heads or crime or mosquitoes.

I remember thinking, why would I move further west where my face wouldn’t stand-out?  Wouldn’t I have a better chance of getting noticed in the Midwest in a sea of blond and blue?  And then he’d answered my unspoken question.  “People would identify with you better out there.”

His intentions were good, but his comments made me feel strangely alienated.

I’m in San Francisco for the day, working out of  The Coffee Bar, a trendy, contemporary scene where a shiny sea of Macs provides a united front against my weary HP.  It’s probably eight to nine Asian to “other”.  It’s no surprise to me that I’m probably the only one with black hair hunched over an HP.  Not that I’m saying all Asians use Macs.  My point is that I may look like a Mac but I have HP insides.  And the other Macs tend to reject my software.

Yeah, I think, sipping my latte with homemade caramel syrup, yeah, there sure are a lot of them out here.

Tag…you’re it!

We’re playing a game of tag and currently I‘m “it“. He’s been a bit on the grumpy side for the last couple of hours and I can tell that my incessant chatter is only making things worse but I can’t seem to stop talking.

I’m in a good mood. The day is sunny and the breeze is just cold enough to be refreshing. I want to chat on our walk through Griffith Park. The crunch, crunch of the powdery dirt and rock beneath my feet is satisfying and I can smell the dry grass braised by the sun as it sweeps across my face on the breeze. I’m hoping that something in my mindless, out-of-breath banter will strike a chord with him and make him laugh. No such luck.

It’s another full hour or so before our roles reverse. I’m not exactly sure when the switch happens- where he’s “it” and I’m the one feeling irate but it inevitably does. It’s almost as though we take turns punishing each other for the other’s grumpiness. Subconsciously we try to bring the other person UP when they’re down, but just when their mood seems to elevate, the other person throws their hands up in resignation as if to say- this is hopeless! Why should I try so hard to make you smile? So by the time one person wants to interact and be themselves again, the other person starts mumbling and making snide remarks. Oh, so now you want to talk to me? Now you’re in a good mood? Well, it’s just TOO LATE BUSTER!

Today we each take a turn before calling it quits. I mumble something about being sorry I made that comment and he apologizes in kind with a smile in his voice. It’s interesting how our sense of righteous self-indignation can come into play in the smallest of ways…similar to a game of tag.