Monthly Archives: September 2012

cordate


cordate adj. heart-shaped

The first thought that came to mind with this word was Nirvana’s “Heart Shaped Box” and how goofy it would be to sing a song called the “Cordate Box.” But anyway, the figural heart that we associate in love, affection, Valentine’s Day and religion looks nothing like our own internal organ heart at all. Our hearts have a vaguely similar shape if you turn it sideways, but otherwise it more closely resembles a steak. So I was curious and I looked up where the figural heart shape originates and it turns out there is quite a lot of debate about this subject. Apparently, it can be traced back to the silphium plant – which served as a form of contraceptive in Africa. I was going to post a photo of a silphium seed pod but it turns out that I cannot find one that actually looks anything like a heart – just a bunch of photos of coins with something that looks like a heart that is supposed to be the seed pod…so I don’t really buy this theory…and I don’t understand how NOT creating a baby means love…that would be the antithesis in my mind, but to each his own.

Other theories hold that the heart shape comes from Christianity, ie. the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Sacred Heart of Jesus. However, nothing I have found dates the depiction of this symbol back to an actual figural origin. Now, I have looked for all of 10 minutes so it might exist, but I still find it interesting how it is not very clear.

The third origin of the figural heart that I found in my brief searchings was its similarity in shape to the female vulva or buttocks. But then I also found reference to testicles…which in my opinion more closely resembles the heart shape than female naughty bits. Men have asses too so I don’t buy the female tie to the heart shape that is so often referenced.

The cordate symbol of love that we have come to know is arguably one of the most important shapes in our society. We come across it everywhere…and we don’t know exactly where it came from. Interesting…

Music

…and in lots and lots of logos….

The heart shape has it’s own holiday and is most likely one of the first drawings most of us make as children (well, girls anyway) and yet there is no clear idea of its origin. We know where the circle came from and can read hyrogliphics but something we see everyday remains a mystery. It symbolizes all of these warm, fuzzy cozy sentiments yet we don’t know who to thank for it.

Maybe just being something purely good makes us forget it is essentially a stranger as far as symbols go. It is a universal symbol of goodness, of joy, and in my opinion, there are too few of those in our world so perhaps it’s best to just cherish it and smile when we see it.

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eudaemonism


eudaemonism n. a system of ethics that bases moral value on the likelihood of actions producing happiness.

I have always fought a losing battle with the concept of “happiness.” I’d like to think that someday I will find the true, innate meaning of the word, but I doubt it. I read a fair amount and know that few people really find the core, “holy grail-like” meaning of happiness. That is why this word truly intrigued me. To have a system of ethics that bases moral value on the likelihood that it will produce this enigma we call “happiness” is absurd – like the infinity symbol…some never-ending loop. Happiness doesn’t seem to have just one definition. It means so many different things to so many people. To a starving child in the Sahara, happiness is endless clean, cool water and food as compared to someone diagnosed with a terminal illness where happiness might be a night without pain or 10 extra days of their life to be lived with their family. Donald Trump deems happiness a much different thing than I do…or does he? It would seem that as life gets increasingly happy, the bar rises – like an addiction, a drug that makes us believe that we deserve much more than we actually do – but is that the case? Is happiness much more simple than one would think? Maybe Donald Trump find his true happiness in a box of Malomars while I dream of a yacht sailing on the mediterranean.

And then there is that lucky place in life where happiness becomes monotony. Where we reach a certain level of what we call “happiness” and expect that it will exponentially grow from that point. Somehow we begin to think that the world owes us the next level because we have earned a certain amount of points or reached a certain threshold, like a game. That is where things most often fall apart. This is the juncture of where happiness meets its counterpart – not sadness – but gratitude. Every truly happy person in life at some point must come to terms with gratitude. At the height of our life’s bell curve where we have reached the highest arch of happiness and when the line gradually descends, gratitude begins – where some turning point make us turn away from the easy happiness we have and make us grateful for ever having experienced it at all. This is the point where people find their greatness, their groove, their reason to live. I fear that there are few of us who get to this point. I believe the majority of people either find stasis and accept their level of happiness or – worse – constantly strive to a higher, unattainable level – possibly leading to greed and arrogance.

To follow the curve downward is much harder. Seemingly it leads to things like gratitude, humility and humbleness. I believe only the great can follow this path – Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa. It’s a completely selfless place – perhaps a power greater than ourselves – where we surrender things over and are happy just to experience life.

Or maybe, happiness is inconceivably simple…like a surprise party or unexpected treat. No bell curves or expectations…just a feeling of joy that seems so rare in life because it is meant to be truly enjoyed and not dismissed like every other minute we live – like that little kid feeling you got running down the stairs to see what was under the tree at Christmas. It didn’t last long…probably only as long as it took to rip that first piece of paper off the first package…just a few seconds. That fleeting, giddy sense of exuberance that makes your heart race and your face beam without trying…like the day your child was born…or the day you fell in love. That intangible feeling of being fully and totally appreciative of life and what is happening in the present – and not thinking about the future or past.

For me, true happiness is found in that short, fleeting moment and I am learning to accept that in the totality of my life, I may chase it relentlessly to only experience it a handful of times and constantly strive to be grateful for those hard earned moments.

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oneiric


oneiric adj. relating to dreams or dreaming

As my husband can attest to, I love to sleep. Perhaps I have ADD or some other disorder, but during the day I just can’t relax. Work has always been the thing to set me straight and provide me with a course for concentration and focus, but since I am at home now with my son, I find it difficult to avoid boredom. I’ve never been good without human company. As shy as I can be at times, I need human contact to feel occupied and useful. So being a alone with a dog and a one year old in the suburbs is a form of torture for me…and somedays I count the minutes until I can retire and surrender my brain to slumber.

When I sleep, I feel like I am watching some strange and bizarre movie. My brain finally lets go of trying to organize and solve problems and my imagination takes over. When I was a kid I developed the ability to force myself to dream about certain scenarios…most often I wanted to be in the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark or Working Girl (I had a thing for Harrison Ford). I could insert myself into the action and adventure scenes. I don’t know if this is some special kind of ability or not, but it helped me to escape from the unpleasantries of my childhood. I could be anywhere or anything I wanted to in my dreams, no matter how implausible or crazy…and no one knew about it or could tell me not to.

As I grew older, I stopped forcing myself to dream things and just let my brain do the inventing. This was fun as my brain connected different things I had seen or known from different parts of my life. This is pretty much how I dream currently.

In college, I finally just slept. I don’t remember dreaming during that period. I was pretty busy and slept as little as I ever have either due to school work or just going out and having fun. My brain was pretty much filled up during my college years. I was writing a lot and facing a life of possibilities.There was just too much going on for me to really dream at night. When I did dream, I had the same recurring one of driving my car into a lake…or off a bridge. I still occasionally have this dream and sometimes I fear driving near water. I am always backing up into the water in my dream and once I am immersed, I wake up. I know it has some sort of deep meaning, but I don’t care to know what that is. I spend enough time analyzing my conscious life. I don’t want to know about the secret passages in my brain.

Pregnancy was a new milestone in my dream life. I dreamt too much when I was pregnant. I had recurring dreams about dropping my baby on the floor repeatedly…and losing him. I had dreams about someone taking him away from me or Dan being pregnant. Pregnancy dreams for me were more nightmarish than anything. Sometimes they were funny. I don’t remember all of them specifically but I remember telling other people about them at the time, mostly coworkers. They served as good stories.

The reason why I am even on this topic is because I had a dream last night that a specific company I am interviewing with called me back in for another interview (I’ve been in twice and met the founder of the company). Lately my dreams are manifesting my worries and fears. I am dreaming the next phase of actual events in my life, only I am creating these absurd and disturbing scenarios. I suppose it is a way of forcing myself to be grateful for what I have, showing me nightly that things could be so much worse. Or perhaps I am just afraid of what comes next…or bored to tears by the present.

Life was so much simpler when I was a kid and hanging out with Harrison Ford every night…

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muliebrity


muliebrity n. womanly qualities; womanhood

 

 

Muliebrity

by Sujata Bhatt

I have thought so much about the girl

who gathered cow-dung in a wide, round basket

along the main road passing by our house

and the Radhavallabh temple in Maninagar.

I have thought so much about the way she                                             5

moved her hands and her waist

and the smell of cow-dung and road-dust and wet canna lilies,

the smell of monkey breath and freshly washed clothes

and the dust from crows’ wings which smells different –

and again the smell of cow-dung as the girl scoops                             10

it up, all these smells surrounding me separately

and simultaneously – I have thought so much

but have been unwilling to use her for a metaphor,

for a nice image – but most of all unwilling

to forget her or to explain to anyone the greatness                                15

and the power glistening through her cheekbones

each time she found a particularly promising

mound of dung –

Many times when I begin these posts I will use a Google search to get myself motivated or to generate some ideas. I had never read this poet before today, but I can say that this poem captures the full meaning of the word. When I chose the word, I started thinking about what makes a woman “womanly” – outside of physical appearances and the ability to bear children. Is there a grace that women possess simply because they are just women? What exactly makes a woman “womanly”?

 There is a huge difference between being pretty, pink and girly and being womanly – and it has nothing to do with body weight. I find it interesting that our society labels clothing for females above a size 12 a woman – and everything under her as juniors or misses. As if having a larger ass means you are more mature and matronly. However, it raises an interesting point about the relationship between female anatomy and this idea of womanhood. Larger breasts and hips used to be what defined beauty. A young lady was deemed a woman once she passed out of puberty and developed the trademarks of her sex. Even until the 1950’s, “t & a” were essential to being considered the height of womanly beauty. Today there is no doubting that the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Sophia Loren were women – not girls. I’m not going to make the analogy to our current societal predilections of beauty – you already know what there is to say about that. I just think it’s a little sad that the feminist movement is most likely to blame for this drastic change.

I drive around with my son a lot and I see these bumper stickers everywhere that say “Save the Tatas.” I know breast cancer is a devastating disease and one that I might have to face in my lifetime if statistics say anything, but these bumper stickers offend me. It’s like having a bumper sticker on my car for testicular cancer that says “Save the Sacks” or “Don’t Bust My Balls.” I doubt the man with testicular cancer would find it funny. It’s not that I think that breasts have super powers, but God did give them to only women so we should probably honor them. We have Playboy, the plastic surgery industry and Victoria’s Secret to exploit them already. Can we please not degrade them further by calling them “tatas” on the same vehicles we shuttle around the future of women of America in?

There is something more to womanhood than boobs, though. A certain grace  (regardless of how clumsy they are) that women possess in their movements, actions and auras. Maybe it’s in our eyes or the sway of our walk or the fact that we can give birth to a child. I’m not quite sure there’s any way to pin exactly what it is down, and I think that it’s better that way. We need to keep it secret so no one exploits it and gives it a goofy name.

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absquatulate


absquatulate v. leave abruptly

This sounds more like an exercise move than a verb that means to leave abruptly. It could be a combination ab -slash – squat – slash Pilates move. I think I should develop a new workout with this move – like Zumba – but more sophisticated, with less ass shaking. Instead of Latin dance moves perhaps we could incorporate hip hop or Bollywood. Maybe I should use pan flute music…anything new age would work too.

People talk about the lack of innovation in our society, but there is quite a lot of innovation going on in the world of exercise. Take Zumba, for instance. I purchased the Wii version to do at home and it’s pretty bazaar. If you have a tight ass and abs, of course you look awesome doing it…but if your 34 and you had a kid – it ain’t pretty. The game comes with a belt that holds the controller and tracks your moves so that the console can tell if you are hitting the marks. So on top of feeling like a fat ass secretly working out to a Zumba video game in your family room, you get to wear a remote control fanny pack. Sigh.

Then there is the Shake Weight, which I do not own but have seen. There’s nothing further to say other than it’s obscene and looks as if you are practicing something I choose not to write about on this blog. There are also many ab muscle electric pulse belts that you can wear during the day to tone your abs – even if they’re buried under a layer of flab.

Then there are the encyclopedic DVD collections like P90X and Insanity that are designed to endanger your well being in your own home. Many of these transformative collections use something called “muscle confusion” to tone even the smallest muscles. To be fair, I have never tried one of these, but the names alone scare the shit out of me. I don’t want to confuse my muscles. Can we figure out how to confuse my fat so it thinks it’s muscle?

There should really be a Hall of Fame for icons of the exercise genre. We need to honor Richard Simmons, Jane Fonda, Denise Austin, Jake, the scary Tai Bo guy, Susan Powter…and of course, John Basedow, who may or may not be moonlighting as Paul Ryan…there was that whole P90X reference…just saying…

 

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diaphanous


diaphanous adj. (of fabric) light, delicate or translucent

Image

I don’t think of babies as being light, airy and delicate. Perhaps it is because my own son is a toddler now and destruction seems always in his wake. Sure. Babies are delicate and “diaphanous” in some ways. In the grand scheme of life, however, I believe that at birth we are our strongest…let me explain.

When we are born, we are new. All of our parts have been oiled and our bones and skin have never been used. We are taken out of our packaging and arrive into the world in a most dramatic way. Even our lungs have never breathed air before. And from that day of birth, we grow to be more and more used. When my son walks around, he seems so solid and strong – like his legs are made of steel – but each day they learn a pattern, a gait. They get worn in.

It is as if the world erodes us and makes us more light and delicate as we journey through life. “Diaphanous” makes me think of the delicate, translucent skin of an old woman’s hands…or the thinning white, wispy hair of my long deceased grandmothers. And why cannot this be as beautiful as birth and youth? The fact the the world has washed away the newness of a person the same way the ocean waters erode the land and shores? I think it is just as beautiful, if not more so.

I think it best to live life in quest of losing more and more of yourself. Life is to let the world take of you what it will until there is nothing left. Sometimes perhaps it will be pain that leaves a permanent scar, but other times it will be the joy of laughter that will force a dozen breaths from your lungs…never to return again – permanent and beautiful all the same.

We are born with the strength of steel, and if we are lucky die with the delicate lightness of lace.

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