Dodging Bullets vs. Shooting Them

By bullets I mean unwanted, unyielding change. By dodging I mean dodging. By shooting I mean effecting. This, then, is the title with which I catalogue the past year and a half, not only my own life, but of many of those close to me.

There may be cosmic reasons for the dodging, the shooting. If you add up the digits in 2016 you end up with 9, which according to numerology is the number of finality. But if you add up 2017 you get a 1, from whence the infinite is launched. Going from end to start, and not the other way around, is sloppy. Sloppy, sloppy.

The Chinese calendar had 2016 as a monkey and 2017 as a rooster. Both are highly annoying animals, at the very least acoustically.

Then there is my blood type. O-, the universal donor bitch. But that is a bad example of what I am trying to get at. My point is that there is something amiss in the air these past few years. Something smells, and it is recent and I am not the only one holding her nose.

What is going on?

America had a perfectly decent terrible candidate to elect, and instead elected an armed child. Beer sales are dropping in poor countries. All clothes look the same. Sorrow is the city, is the suburb, is the soon-to-open train.

I wish I knew what the lesson was. So I could learn it enough to play the shooting game.





On Female Punctuation (!!!!!)

art text painting

Ed Ruscha’s unpunctuated “OOF”

For several weeks, I’ve been thinking about the exclamation mark and its odd relationship to gender. Why is it that intra-female communication is so lavishly punctuated by exclamation marks? Why do women seem to feel, or perhaps feign, so much excitement whilst exchanging short, declarative sentences?

My husband does not reply to simple “yes” or “no” questions with a “Yes!!!!” or a “No!!!!!” His no is a “No.” His yes a “Yes.”

Males do not replace “Ok” with “Okkkkkk!!!!!!!” Nor do they feel the need to effusively give their “Thanks!!!!!!!!”

Of course, the easy answer to the question of why this happens is that modern girls continue to be sickened by the disease to please, even each other. Or, indeed, especially each other. But, I hesitated writing about the subject because I felt that the disease to please was actually not at play here and that the true understanding of this phenomenon eluded me.

And it did, until today.

While visiting a rather unimpressive Banksy exhibit in Amsterdam’s Moco Museum, I was struck by how his works were sucked of all urgency when taken out of their intended context: the tumult of the street. Framed by stained glass in an antique museum, his works seemed trite, facile, t-shirt copies of themselves.

I realized that the same thing happens to female texting when taken out of the urgency of the moment: when read after the fact, heavily punctuated phrases become vapid, unnecessary, insecure and exhausting.

But in the immediacy of its creation, exclamatory female dialogue is actually symptomatic of a compelling need to express a sisterly bond as well as a deep appreciation for the other’s time and energy. The excitement transmitted by overzealous punctuation serves to acknowledge the deep gratitude that is generated by the very existence of such exchange within the context of the hyper-hectic life of the urban female.

So, yes!!!!!, when a friend takes the time to answer a mid-day question, I am honored. Yes!!!!! it is really exciting to be texting with someone who has several children, a marriage, a boss and fridge to keep happy. Yess!!!! I urgently want to say Thank you!!!!! when this person suggests a good doctor, restaurant, vitamin, or indestructible iPad case.

It is a relief to realize that female over-punctuation is nothing to be ashamed of but, rather, celebrated as an expression of the confident and generous collaboration between she who gives and she who receives.





Olympic Medal Grounds

unknownAlong with over 60% of the world’s population, I watched the Olympics last summer. For me, lonely athletic greatness is the ultimate tear-jerker. And I am a sucker for painless ways to cry. But, I just couldn’t get behind all the flags, all the anthems, all the medal counts. Each awards ceremony felt oppressive, itchy, and, yes, embarrassing.

As much as I enjoyed crying when the first Puerto Rican heard her national anthem on the Olympic podium or when my few fellow Colombians felt the weight of gold around their necks, I much more enjoyed watching them do their thing on the court, field, pool, track. I much preferred witnessing that sudden instant of triumph, like when Simone Manuel realized she had won gold, than watching jump-suited athletes choke back orchestrated tears on the stage. For me it’s ultimately a “don’t love the game, love the player” kind of thing.

Classifying athletes by nationality feels off. It feels old, even creepy, as if a third world war is somehow looming around the corner.  One obvious reason is that not all countries deserve so much credit.  Sure, most nations pay their Olympians a per win bonus. In the case of Colombia, for example, each gold medal winner gets 165 million pesos, which is a respectable amount of local currency. But, really, this sum is nothing when placed on the other side of the work/time equation.

An even bigger question for me is why athletes jump at the chance to give their countries so much credit. Is country really a reason to hit the gym in the morning? Or, is there simply no better way to classify athletes other than birthplace?

Classifying them by humility would be great. Or by kindness, by altruism. Then the Olympics could really own the claim of hard win over easy bad, instead of diluting itself into another day of the US v. China thumb wrestling medal grounds.