Just for giggles, let’s entertain the idea that the Mayans were right and some profound universal alignment/shift/calendar moment happens on 12.21.12. And let’s say this ‘moment’ is a slice in the space-time continuum…
Headnotes (‘cuz there’s not exactly room at the end, ya know?):
*Any arbitrary-yet-precise moment we choose to anticipate (12:21:12, for example) will unfold around the world continuously for 24 hrs on 12.21.12. Twenty-four hours on the infinite edge of a portal. Hmmm…what could we do with that?
**Concept of distinguishing human time from ‘meta-time’ borrowed from the current planetarium show at the Cal Academy of Sciences. It’s about local and global seismology, digital earthquake simulations, and our planet’s geological evolution. Translation: all kinds of Nerd Heaven.
***Whoa. That was fun, huh? 😉
Here’s where I’m going with this: What if 12.21.12 (+12:21:12*) is a rupture in the fabric of spacetime, where/when we can slip into an alternate dimension of infinite possibility? As with other imagined portals, what if we could enter and exit them in an instant and never know the difference? The moment would pass in the blink of an eye, but its impact has real-world consequences (a la 1990s Contact). Our attempts to measure this phenomenon “in human time”** are incomplete, so skepticism abounds that it actually exists.
If this portal exists, we could use it to infuse Our Era—whether it’s ending or beginning—with all of the _______ we can muster. [#joylovegratitudepeace]
Why not? What have we got to lose?
‘Cause that’s the ultimate moral of the epic stories: there’s good/bad, evil/sacred, fear/courage, etcetcetc within everything and all of us, and it’s what we choose to bring forward that wins in the end.
What if—rather than fearfully wait for what might happen when Everything Changes—we stretch our imaginations beyond what ‘makes sense’ (because there’s sure as hell plenty about this world that doesn’t make sense to me anymore) to believe in something absurdly improbable, take this once-in-multiple-millenia opportunity, and breathe regenerative light and fire into it. If we can embrace our collective, intense, white-hot destructive/creative power to dissolve bullsh*t and injustice, we could actually initiate this progressive, feminine shift that so many people are talking about.
So, why not? Why not just give it a shot, and our ‘objective,’ protesting egos be damned? (To the death of the ego–)
Are you ready to go over the edge, to stare into the depths of our wildest dreams about what’s possible and not just recapture what we’ve lost but reclaim our ability to ignite new life and purpose into a world on the brink? You’ll never know you left, but the world will never be the same. It will be better.
Hey, look: here it comes. It’s Where the Sidewalk Ends—
___,On the count of one,___,___, two,___,___,thr–
So, you want to start blogging. To which I say: Are ya sure?? Are you ready to be wiped out, tossed around, shocked senseless, thrown into the deep end of the Internet ocean– and love it? Oh ok, then, jump in! Here’s some help:
1. Start writing. Keep writing. Write some more. Are you spent? That’s nice– keep writing (or drawing or photoshopping, or whatever your primary content medium is). Come up with 5 posts you would feel comfortable showing your grandma, your boss, and the person you have a crush on. ‘Cause this is the World Wide Web, baby, and once you press ‘Post,’ there ain’t no going back. So, did you like all that writing? Could you do it next week, and the next and the next and the next? GREAT!! Now add at least 25% time for formatting, images, and the unexpected time-sucking details you never imagined would come up. P.S. This does not include outreach and promotion. Hey, just trying to be real with you.
2. Collaborate! Get a buddy who can share the load with you, or keep you accountable, or be a source of inspiration when you’re stuck. If you know someone else who is blogging–and that you can talk to when you need help and feel dumber than a brick–it helps keep you on the constant blogging treadmill. It also helps you sidestep the panic-inducing downward spiral of Internal Self-Doubt, because you can bounce an idea off of someone rather than chase all its myriad tails around your rapidly dwindling sanity. (Speaking of collaboration, check out the blog of my partner-in-crime, Vidya Spandana. She’s an entrepreneurial balllller!! And Kris Israel is my original blogging trainer. See the co-promoting? That’s tip 2b: Remember to share the traffic love and credit your sources of inspiration!)
3. Post, and let it go 🙂 Don’t attach traffic expectations to your posts, at least at first while you’re still testing the waters. Keep writing (see #1). Don’t give up on posts or hide them away because they’re ‘not quite there yet.’ That being said… if it’s really not working, chuck it. As you practice, you’ll learn the difference. Hold yourself to deadlines. It will be easier to focus your content and prioritize editing when you’re sweating like it’s your first paper of your first class of freshman year. (And hey, at least you know your writing is better now…hopefully…) Commit to following through with that last 10% or 15% percent, or whatever point at which you start to question the premise of your post. Keep writing, keep editing. Then post, and let it go. Note: Do track your views, but at 10 min, 30 min, and 1 hour after posting on social networks. Not, like, 30 times in the first 5 min. You’re just setting yourself up for disappointment. One more time? Post, and let it go 🙂 Ahh.. 🙂
4. Test-case your titles. Ask a friend or two (or the collaborator from #2) to vet your title. It’s hard to see the hook of your piece when your nose is pressed to the fish tank and you’re reaching over the top of the glass with an awkwardly bent elbow and your tongue is sticking out from ‘concentration.’ Just ask a fish! (a.k.a. someone in your intended audience.)
5. Trust the random urges. You never know where online traffic will come from. The bizarre interests that spark your curiosity probably don’t exist in cultural isolation. They might seem intellectually odd when you think about them too hard, but if they still just seem to ‘make sense’ or you have an unstoppable passion for writing about it, then do it. Those posts are the ones that often work a lot better than you thought they would. Example: I love fencing, and took it up in college. Around the 2012 Olympics, I wrote a blog post explaining the basics of fencing. It seemed odd at the time and off-topic for my blog, but I couldn’t sleep one night because the post was writing itself in my head. I peevishly got up, finished it over a few hours, and went to bed at 4 am. Sure, I was tired that day at work, but it’s been my most viewed post yet, generating views from at least 15 (and closer to 30) countries around the world every day. So random, soooo awesome.
6. Get ready for the rush. There’s NOTHING like watching the views pile up once you’ve found a miracle elixir of culturally relevant content, a great title, and well-timed promotion. It’s freaking MAGICAL!!! It’s almost as great as riding unicorns.
Here’s the flip side: For every intoxicating success, there are 4-5 mediocre post responses, and one dismally, soul-crushingly disappointing release. That’s the way it goes, at least at the beginning. But you will get better, and the victories are totally worth the failed attempts.
And once you start practicing, you can apply this NOTE of musical wisdom: The best composers know the rules well enough to break them. ;D
Meme of Ryan Gosling from lamiki.com; Smurphy riding a toy unicorn? That’s all original.
Doing something a little different today with The Word Wizard. There’s lots of radical ideas, both in the ‘awesome’ definition of the word, and the ‘whoa, that’s way too out there for me’ definition. I’m hoping that, rather than digging our heels in further, we can find some agreement on solving current problems to better the world for future generations. It starts with being honest about our own shortcomings, and the gaps in between ideology and practice.
Keep your Fridays funky and fresh…and nerd out with your word out. ;D
Beloved by some and laughed at by all, Gob (pronounced like the Biblical ‘Job’) Bluth cemented The Segway into our cultural memories. So much so, in fact, that the common spelling of the verb has shifted. Google searchers ask, ‘Is it segway or segue?’ (And I started my search with ‘segueway.’ Eeeshk.)
For my college buds who studied Italian, check this out: ‘segue’ comes from the Italian seguire. But no matter how it’s spelled or where it comes from, the act of getting from one point to another is crucial to storytelling, and it isn’t as straightforward as it seems.
Today I’m trying to reach 10,000 total views to my blog. I’ll be re-sharing different posts on good ol’ Facebook, and I’m experimenting with different ways of segueing from post to post, connecting the train of dots that exist in my mind, but isn’t always clear to readers. Let’s see how this goes, and if you want to help out, explore some more Word Wizard cartoons by checking out the index. They’re good for a clink ‘n’ a smile 🙂
segue: v. “to move seamlessly from one activity to another.” n. “an uninterrupted transition from one piece of music or film scene [or blog post ;D] to another.”
[Wordpress UI has changed. Serious photo uploading problems. But it’s Friday, so…@#!* it. For the real-real animation, visit Smurk’s Facebook page–and make sure to ‘Like’!]
Check out the Word Wizard index for more goofy nerdy wordy cartoons!
Cartoons are original drawings by Stephanie Murphy.
Keep your Fridays funky and fresh…and nerd out with your word out. ;D
“Hey– what’s all that racket?! What are you doing causing a ruckus?”
But sometimes a ruckus is fun, especially on Fridays! There’s so much hustle and bustle anyway, what with the weekend coming ‘n all. It couldn’t hurt to ‘fluff’ the air a bit, could it? I mean, you never know what you might find…
This week’s word is one of my favorites: fun to say, fun to animate, and it brings out the kiddy giggles like no other. So I gotta ask… what kinds of kerfuffle are you koordinatin’ this weekend?
kerfuffle: n. commotion; disorder. v. to put into disorder or disarray.
Apparently the word kerfuffle is a “chiefly British” word. Funny, I didn’t know Brittans had chiefs… ;D
Check out the Word Wizard index for more goofy nerdy wordy cartoons!
Definition tweaked from dictionary.com.
Cartoons are original drawings by Stephanie Murphy.
I had to get to the bus. Not just any bus, THE bus. The only one back to Jordan that day, leaving from Nazareth. I did not have lodging, and there’s no Joseph on this trip. I’m traveling alone. My friends had said, “Oh, don’t worry about getting around in Israel. All the signs will be in Hebrew and English, and the people will be helpful. It won’t be any trouble at all.”
Which is why I did not study numerals, letters, or basic sayings in Hebrew before going to Israel, like I did with Arabic for Egypt and Jordan. Which is why I kept myself awake on the first bus from Tel Aviv to Nazareth, communicating with the bus driver using strategic eye contact through his giant rearview mirror. “Do not let me miss my stop,” my bleary eyes said. “See? I’m staying awake and aware. I’m being self-reliant. I’m willing to follow instructions. Just please don’t let me miss my stop.”
My nonverbal deal with the not-at-all-friendly bus driver had begun earlier that day, when I climbed aboard the almost-empty bus at the creepily-empty bus station, and clearly looked confused by all the signs only in Hebrew (*ahem* see above).
5:00 a.m. — The bus driver asks, in halting English, “Which stop?”
“No– which stop?”
“…Uh…The central bus stop.”
“Many stop in Nazareth. Which one?”
“I’m taking the next bus to Amman.” *shows driver name of bus company*
Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhmmm WHAT?? Well… shit. I nod, point at my travel notebook (he glares, gives a curt nod, glares some more), take my seat, and frantically scour every scrap of information I’d written down for my trip. Confirmation codes, departure times and locations, arrival times and locations, bus line numbers, phone numbers… no bus station. All the other buses I’d taken had arrived at and departed from central terminals. I’d stupidly assumed Nazareth would be the same. Now I’m in Israel, it’s dark outside, I’m exhausted and can’t read anything, and I have no idea where I’m going. I also have a very tight timeframe in which I need to transfer from the first bus to The Bus to Amman. How tight, you ask? 20 minutes, give or take nothing.
(If you are related to me–particularly if you are my mother–I’d like to take this moment to remind you that I am currently writing this from the safety of my home, under a warm blanket, in one piece. [Which is more than can be said for most Palestinians. Just sayin’…])
So anyway, I’m on this bus, right? And it’s sooo effing early in the morning, and it’s just me ‘n’ this bus driver playing psycho-aggressive eyesies in the rearview mirror over the course of three hours and finally he just looks at me and nods. (Thank God I’d been paying attention.)
I grab my stuff, and walk to the front. It’s 8:02 am. The Bus to Amman leaves at 8:25. Three extra minutes.
“Get off here. Ask them. They will help you.” *points outside*
Ah, yes. The children with machine guns. Thank you, kind sir, for saving my ignorant American ass, and yes– I will go ask them. Nevermind that they scare the freaking ba-Jesus (Ha! It’s Nazareth. Get it?) out of me, or that I’m blown away by how much they look and act like they could be at summer camp. I’d been observing the Israeli soldiers through a few bussing adventures. They were everywhere, and they looked so, so young. Most made slight uniform adjustments to be trendier; some clusters would playfully tease each other, affirming a nuanced social hierarchy; and there was usually a shy one, standing off from the rest, sometimes reading. It was an absurd, eery echo of my own adolescence, but with much harder faces and much, much heavier artillery.
8:03 a.m.– I jump off the bus and walk to the mini-checkpoint-station that may as well be a telephone booth with 5-10 soldiers milling ’round with nothing to do. I show their leader (the one with the biggest gun who looks about 20) my handwritten itinerary. He scrunches a dark, furrowed brow.
“Where are you going?”
“Hrm. Which bus are you taking?”
“Uhhh the [bus company name]. It’s the only one that goes to Amman.”
He turns to his right-hand not-yet-man. Spirited conversation in Hebrew ensues.
*throws hands in air* “I don’t know. It must be in the Arab side of town. Go with him, he’ll help you.” *gestures to Arab taxi driver*
Whew, thank goodness! I love taxi drivers (seriously) and at four weeks into my travels, I’d cobbled together a quasi-sensible Aranglish+gestures that worked more often than not. This is one of the ‘not’s.
8:06 a.m. — Chatting with the cabbie is getting me nowhere in terms of catching my bus. He doesn’t know what I’m talking about, and we’ve been driving around asking randos on the street. They don’t know where The Bus is either, though it doesn’t help that I don’t actually speak Arabic. Blood pressure rises. Sweating escalates.
8:15 a.m. — He pulls over next to a group of middle-aged men drinking tea, minding their business, and conversing. He talks to one of the men through the window. They repeatedly ask me to clarify what I’m looking for. I try to answer calmly, and successfully resist the urge to scream. Blood pressure rises. Sweating escalates. Feverish anxiety disrupts capacity for complete sentences.
8:16 a.m. — All hope is lost. And then…a look of recognition. Hurried speech in Arabic. Profuse thank-yous from the short-haired American girl fly frantically from the window as the cab drives away. Blood pressure maintains. Sweating continues.
8:21 a.m. — Driver and girl banter excitedly, unintelligibly. Questions are asked. None are answered. Speeding ensues. A stoplight is spotted; the light turns red. Blood pounds at temples.
8:23 a.m. — I can see The Bus on the other side of the intersection. People are boarding. We are waiting. Time stops.
8:24 a.m. — He guns it on green crosses the intersection flips a super-illegal U-turn pulls up to the curb looks back and smiles and waves and smiles and waves and shoos the girl out of the cab while she pays too much not enough tip. She runs into the ticket office and endures a stern lecture for tardiness. Agrees enthusiastically to accusations of personal incompetency. Smiles, nods, pays, smiles, nods. “Shokran!!!”
8:25 a.m. — I climb on to The Bus. It smells like urine. SweetJesusthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou I’m home-free.
Here’s what’s messed up: I traveled around more freely in a place I’d visited once than people who’ve lived there for generations can. The military presence of Israel–within Israel, not even Gaza or the West Bank–is overwhelming and terrifying, if only because teenagers are being given machine guns en masse, and without a lot to keep them busy. I am not an anti-Semite (say it with me now, “I am not an anti-Semite”) or a Holocaust denier, or harboring any negative sentiments about Jewish people or the Jewish faith, and I really appreciated the help of Israelis in the above story…but the Israeli government’s (note: NOT ‘the Jewish people’) calculated militarization of a region and terrorization of a people is sickening. So is the American media’s insistence on portraying the conflict as a war between equal political sides. The prevalent subtext is “This is a highly complex, ages-old global issue. Don’t insert yourself unless you know what you’re talking about, because you’ll be swiftly discredited if you try.”
Rather than start with a laundry list of atrocities exacted by either side, though, I’m offering two political truths:
1. This is not an ‘ages-old’ conflict. It started in 1947.
2. This is not a conflict of two equal, warring parties. Israel is a modern nation-state, afforded sovereignty and its accompanying rights. In our current international political system, statehood is the ultimate form of political agency, allowing for a people’s representation and empowered negotiation on their behalf. Palestinians do not have access to the political technology of the nation-state, making it much, much harder to advocate for their security interests on an equal playing field with Israel, nonviolently or otherwise.
People with real lives, real families, and real histories are being used as disposable political pawns (on both sides) in a twisted game of extremist chess, except one side was never given a queen and the other has a blank check from the United States.
This is not a war between equal and opposite forces. It’s an occupation. Many Israelis agree, and want to see the violence stop.
Image from BBC News.