Introductions [in a post-ironic age]

I don’t quite know why, but I’ve apparently reached the point where I’m gaining new followers ever few days, whether or not I post. So – hi, everyone! I don’t now who you are, and you don’t know who I am, so let’s get some introductions out of the way. I’ll introduce myself, and my goals for how to keep you amused, and if you feel like saying hi and introducing yourselves in the comments, I’d be absolutely thrilled.

But instead of the usual introductions, which can be found at my About Me page, I’m going to list five things that are important to me, and why. Call it a journaling exercise. Maybe it’s just a late-night idea that feels good right now but will end up disastrous.

Important Thing number one: literacy. In the shape of books, in the shape of words on a screen, in the shape of the joy a child feels when she first realizes that the sign she’s seen across the street from her bedroom window since the morning she was brought home from the hospital reads “Abbas Hardware”. Literacy, the ability to read, the desire to read, and the access to life and knowledge that reading brings, is a relatively new priority in human history. More than any other technology, I’d argue that the printing press – invented in the 15th century – is the one that has had the longest-lasting consequences on humanity, and I am forever grateful for it. By being able to share and distribute ideas, we have developed into a people more humane in every possible way, which includes our direst deeds as well as our best.

Important Thing number 2: stories. Stories are everywhere. Did you tell your son about the coffee-machine breaking at work? Did your grandmother die yesterday, and did you run out of your town and into the forest and scream at the trees about how much you’re going to miss her? Did you see two brothers having a brawl in the street? Everything we experience, and the way we communicate it, is made up of stories. We tell stories about our lives, we tell stories about our histories, we tell stories about our opinions and why we hold them. Stories are the magical spark of life that brings two people closer together – what is pillow talk, if not mutual storytelling? – and can rip their relationship apart as well. There are two sides to every coin, but in my experience, people who are aware of the storyness of life, usually don’t exploit it. When they do, there is an element of the admirable fraud about them, a place inside them that seems to love the story for its own sake in addition to what the story can do for them.

Important Thing number 3: empathy. Since reading is my favorite thing to do in the world, and since my writing has been born of that love, I’ve found that empathy – as well as sympathy – are the most important tools for my trade. If that sounds cold… fair enough. You’ll have to trust me when I say it’s probably a defense mechanism and an attempt to not sound a) like a hippie or b) like a spiritual nutjob. Because I am neither. But empathy is important to me, and though I curse my emotionally roiling innards all too often, I wouldn’t exchange them for the world.

Important Thing number 4: comfort. A broad concept, yes, but it is important to me in the broadest sense. Comfort is something that I believe can be found and made for oneself. In a room that is messy, you can find the one spot that you can feel neat in, or, if you’re a messy person, you can find the one spot in a neat room in which you can feel sloppy and unhindered. Comfort doesn’t mean a certain kind of lifestyle; rather, it means making the life you live accommodating in the smallest, minutest of ways. Having a pair of pants that are soft and cozy and that you change into the moment you get home, for example. Or tucking the extra napkins you got at McDonald’s into your bag so that you’re never caught with a runny nose and nothing but long sleeves to handle it with. But comfort isn’t only physical. It’s also emotional, interpersonal. Comfort can be sitting with your friends, the people who you consider your alternate family, and being absolutely silent with them – without feeling awkward. Comfort is being able to tell a loved one that you’re sorry, but you have to cancel plans. Comfort is being able to be alone, with yourself, inside your head, and not want to scream and claw your way out of it.

Important Thing number 5: balance. Specifically, in this case, balancing introversion with the desire and need to lead a semi-extroverted life. Difficult, yes. Necessary, maybe. Possible, absolutely.

 

Well, there’s my ramble. New followers, if any of you are actually reading this and you aren’t spambots, either take up the challenge – what are five things that are dearly important to your life? Or, say hi in the comments, let’s be friends!

Dora’s Birthday [Part III]

Part I

Part II

Dora was curled up in an uncomfortable hospital chair, pretending to sleep. She felt like they’d been in that stupid waiting room for hours and hours. Either her father or her mother were always with her, but her Grandpa had gone to sit with Grandma in her room. Dora’s mother explained that Grandma was still unconscious [“sort of like asleep,” she’d said when Dora asked what that meant] and that Grandpa wanted to be with her when she woke up. Dora wasn’t allowed in yet.
This was her worst birthday ever. She was hungry and uncomfortable and tired and bored. She was also scared about Grandma – everyone was acting like Grandma might not wake up at all, and that thought made Dora so sad. She loved her Grandma very much. It was she who had let Dora help bake chocolate chip cookies, and it was she who gave Dora lovely books to read and helped her read them. Her parents did some of the same things too, of course, but Dora always spent Friday afternoons and evenings at her grandparents’ house, and she loved their routines there together. Grandpa would make something yummy for dinner and Dora and her grandmother always had the dessert all ready for afterwards. Then they’d maybe watch a funny video or play games or read books together, all three of them. Dora was scared that things would  change now.
Just as Dora felt like she would start crying again, she felt a soft touch on her shoulder. Her father shook her gently, thinking she was asleep. She opened her eyes and saw him peering down at her with a smile.
“Dora-Dear, Grandma’s awake now. She says she’s feeling well enough for you to come in and see her.”
Dora sat up immediately. Her father took her by the hand and led her down a long corridor. Dora glimpsed people in the rooms they passed. Some of them frightened her, because they looked so very ill or they had tubes coming out of their noses and mouths. Some were moaning and some were snoring loudly. Dora averted her eyes and clung hard to her father’s big hand. She didn’t want Grandma to look like that.
Her father stopped at one of the rooms and gently pushed Dora through the door, encouraging her. She walked shyly up to the big hospital bed and stopped beside her mother who was sitting on one side of it. Her mother lifted her up into her lap, and Dora could see that her Grandma was sitting up in bed, smiling at her.
“Grandma!” she yelped and almost threw herself on her. Her mother held her back with a smile.
“Grandma’s feeling better but she’s still a little weak, pumpkin. No jumping on her quite yet, alright?” her mother chastised gently.
Dora was smiling fit to burst, and leaned over and gently pecked her grandmother who was proffering her cheek. “Grandma, are you okay now?” she asked.
“I will be, beautiful Dora, I will be,” Grandma answered in her smooth, melodic voice.
“And I’ll be able to come over to yours’ and Grandpa’s house and we’ll bake cookies and you’ll continue reading me The Little Princess?” she asked hopefully.
“Yes, honey-pie. When I get out of here, we’ll be able to do everything we used to.”
Dora felt as if her heart would burst. She broke into a fit of giggles. She was so happy that everything was alright with Grandma that she even forgot about the fact that she hadn’t eaten any cake.