Monthly Archives: February 2014

Day 58: Logophilia

I love words. We have such a wonderful plethora of them at our disposal and we use so few. So I figured it was high time for me to learn some new one

Kakorrhaphiophobia is the fear of failure. They come up with the best words for fear of things, don’t they?

 

Sprunt is an old Scottish word meaning “to chase girls around among the haystacks after dark.” It’s an odd sounding word for a lovely sounding concept. 

Basorexia is an overwhelming desire to kiss. Okay, I know that -orexia pertains to the appetite. Is ‘bas’ related to baiser, beso, etc.? 

Witzelsucht is a brain dysfunction that causes compulsive silliness. I don’t give Germans a lot of credit for contributing good things to the world, but damn, do they come up with good words for things.

An agathist is one who believes all things tend toward good. I have a friend called Agatha. I wonder if she holds this belief.

Belgard means a kind or loving look, derived from the Italian ‘bel guardo’

A cockalorum is a short, self-important little man. We’ve all known at least one. 

 

Go forth. Learn new words. Then tell me about them. 

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Day 57: Howl

I never read Ginsberg. I never read much of the Beats, actually, with the exception of an attempt at “On The Road,” maybe 20 years ago. I always meant to. Like most teenagers, I fancied myself rebellious, a “wild woman.”

But perhaps because that bit of self-assessment was, indeed, fancy, I was never quite compelled as I imagined I would be. In fact, my only exposure to Ginsberg was reading about Jim Carroll’s interactions with him in “Forced Entries.”

Then tonight, I read “Howl.” Well, read and listened.

I didn’t like it. My first impression was that it was too rambling and nonsensical, with too much attempt to be shocking for the sake of being shocking (yes, I’m old). But as I was thinking that, I was also thinking that I knew my impression was an uneducated one, and I wanted to learn more. I don’t know that this is a poem I’ll ever enjoy, but I want to be able to appreciate it. Or, at least, appreciate what it represents.

I know the basic log line – the poem was at the center of an obscenity trial. I know there was a movie made about it, with James Franco. I know it’s a significant part of our literary and cultural history. I’ve just never learned its place.

Allen Ginsberg - 1979

I studied a good deal of poetry in high school and college, and I learned that some poems are better studied and others are better just to be read. I don’t really want to analyze Pablo Neruda or Robert Frost or e.e. cummings. I just want to drink them in. “Howl” strikes me as a work I would enjoy studying more than reading.

What piece of literature or art holds this type of position for you? Something you can appreciate without having to enjoy it? Something you can dislike but not dismiss? An instance where you can’t be so arrogant as to say “this is bad,” but instead must say “this is not for me,” but you need to understand why it might be for other people. You want to understand why it matters.

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Day 56: What are we teaching kids?

Were it not for Facebook, I would not know nearly as much as I do about the lives of kids today. 

Today, for example, I read about something I’d never heard of. One friend stated that her six-year-old’s class (or maybe another class at the school her child attends?) was given an assignment to dress up like a 100-year-old. 

Not, apparently, dress up like a person from 100 years ago, perhaps as some sort of history lesson. Nor is the assignment to interview a centenarian. No. As far as I can gather, the assignment is “dress like an old person.” 

“I find this assignment ageist and offensive,” she wrote. 

I find it strange and confusing. What might the purpose of such a task be? What are kids being taught?

I don’t currently have children, nor am I a teacher, so my most recent firsthand experience with elementary school is my own, and that was more than 25 years ago. I remember spelling bees, book reports, dioramas (those were awesome)… 

 

I am very curious about how primary education has changed. And, quite frankly, I’m more than a little frightened. I used to co-run a high school program when I was at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, and some of those kids had the basic writing and spelling abilities of third graders. 

So, parents and elementary educators, teach me something new, please. What are the biggest differences you see in primary education now as opposed to your time? What are some of the strangest, or even most questionable assignments, your children have had? If you are a teacher, have you been forced to teach lessons you find counterproductive, and if so, how have you handled it? 

And can anyone fathom why a school might assign a class of first graders to dress like contemporary centenarians? I ask sincerely – what lessons can be gleaned from that experience? 

 

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Day 55: Swap it out

I learned today that my parents’ apartment building has a book exchange by the laundry room. Didn’t know that. Kinda love it. If I ever own a coffee house or a B&B, or become a hipster or one half of a gay male couple in some form or fashion, I will include a book exchange. 

Books are too expensive. I know, there are libraries. I love libraries. But you can’t write in library books. And you get charged if you return them late. 

Plus, I love the idea of an exchange, be it books, clothes, produce, music. You have something you don’t want or need, you give others the opportunity to enjoy it. And at the same time, you find some new adventure or familiar old comfort for yourself. 

 

 

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Day 54: A New York move

If anyone had told me that moving neighborhoods in New York City would be more stressful and challenging than moving from Chattanooga, Tennessee to New York, I would not have believed him.

I would have been wrong.

Taking into consideration certain apartment building rules, lack of parking, small elevators, and fewer people available to help, this is a bitch.

I grew up in New York, but I moved away for college and came back 14 years later, so actually moving within this city, rather than into or out of it, is a new experience for me.

Frankly, I can’t say this process is a pleasant new experience. But I never said that all new things would be pleasant.

But… a good man to help with the heavy lifting, beer, Ally McBeal DVD’s… that all helps.

All right, let’s hope the rest of this move goes as smoothly as possible. Wish me luck.

Anyone have any good moving in NYC stories? Let’s commiserate.

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Day 53: Guinness Gelato

Before we get started on the actual new experience of the day, I just want to state for the record that I had the chance to see a group of nuns ice skating, but my boyfriend was too impatient to wait for the Zamboni to finish, so blame him for me (and you) missing out on that experience.

So now: A new culinary experience at Otto Enoteca. I’m a die hard fan of the olive oil gelato (two scoops, with one scoop tangerine sorbet), but in the spirit of The Something New Project, tonight I went for the Guinness flavor. I’ve had fruit sorbets flavored with wine before, but never a beer-flavored ice cream (and I’ve had some weird flavored ice cream in my time, thank you).

Now the trouble here is that it’s been quite a long time since I’ve actually had Guinness. I tend to favor English brown and Belgian dark ales, as well as witbiers in the summer, but I’m not much of a stout lady (insert fat girl joke here). Because of my lack of familiarity with the source, it made it a little challenging to assess the quality of a Guinness-flavored gelato. But I’ll try.

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I definitely noticed the lactic sort of tanginess, even though it was tempered by the sweetness of the gelato. That sort of deep, roasted, almost burnt flavor I recalled from Guinness was present, as well as a really nice maltiness, but the flavors were subtle. It was actually kind of a tongue-tease, because it just made me want to go out and drink a pint of Guinness, even though, as I said, it’s never been my beer of choice.

The Guinness gelato was well-paired with a scoop each of coffee and dark chocolate.

So, what do y’all think of this whole beer-flavored ice cream concept? I like it, on principle, but I also like creative ice cream flavors. To incorporate beer definitely requires the use of something very flavorful and distinctive, like a Guinness, don’t you think? Bud Light ice cream would just be pitiful, probably because Bud Light, and anyone who drinks it, is pitiful.

Okay, other than Guinness, what beers would be good in ice creams? I’m thinking a citrus and Blue Moon sorbet would be really nice. And actually, now that I think about it, I’ve had the cherry lambic sorbet from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream in East Nashville. That was really nice. But how about incorporating, say, a Newcastle or a Chimay (to name two of my favorites) into ice cream? I’m not sure how that would work.

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Day 52: I don’t give a…

Did y’all know that the term “flying fuck” originally referred to having sex on horseback? Seriously.

I can’t swear that the Online Etymology Dictionary is gospel, but let’s just choose to believe that this is fact. 

Wow, those are some really disturbing visuals.

And that does not sound comfortable. At. All.  

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Day 51: House of Cards — better late than never

Kids, I am joining the House of Cards party. It almost, not quite, but almost makes me wish I knew more about the legislative process. 

Sadly, I’m in the process of moving, so no time for binging right now, but so far, I’m intrigued. I’m not sure how I feel about the addressing the camera, breaking of the fourth wall idea, but either I’ll decide I like it or I won’t. 

My biggest gripe is with the Zoe Barnes character. Why do reporters in TV and movies always get to be so much more balls to the wall than reporters in real life? I’ve never had an editor I could say ‘fuck’ to. And I’ve certainly never been able to manipulate a source in the way Zoe does. Then again, I don’t have Kate Mara’s ass. 

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Sorry, that wasn’t a good picture of it. 

 

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Day 50: Going with the flow

Having no idea what “hatha flow” yoga was, I approached the instructor at the door.

“I don’t particularly like yoga. I’m not flexible, I fall down a lot, and I am just not a namaste girl.”

She laughed and put her hand on my arm. “Come on in.”

During the small class (six students), she guided us through a series of postures and stretches, making sure to tell each person how to adjust for their needs. One man wanted to work on opening his hips. I need to be careful with my damaged spine.

Donna, the instructor, kept the atmosphere light and conversational, even humorous.

“A fellow yoga instructor once told me to imagine love emanating from your fingertips,” she shared as we stood in Warrior Two pose. “The ‘not-a-namaste-girl’ must really hate that.”

I loved it. Not the emanating love part – what is this, a zen Care Bear stare*? But the good-natured teasing. I honestly don’t get people who can’t take a gentle ribbing.

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Sorry, that joke was so 2013. And mocking a 20-year-old girl, or however old Taylor Swift is, is so not namaste of me.

While I know that yoga has its benefits, my previous experience has not been positive. Part of it is physical — someone tell me why I have any need to do the splits or put my legs over my head at this point in my life? The other part is very mental. I cannot be in a room and listen to a skinny blonde 23-year-old tell me to connect with my inner goddess. Seriously.

I told Donna, who is 59, as much. “I’m very glad you can appreciate 30 years of teaching experience,” she replied, with a smile.

And I do, very much. If I’m going to be open to some sort of an ancient practice, like yoga, I need my leader to be someone who has a lot more life experience than I do, who’s had more joy and more pain, and who has had more of an opportunity to develop empathy. By the same token, I don’t really want a 30-year-old psychotherapist either. That might make me ageist, but I can live with that.

The past 50, and the next 315, days of The Something New Project will hopefully teach me some things about myself, including what I like and don’t like. The goal is to learn to not assume I won’t like something because I don’t anticipate being good at it. What’s that irritating saying? Life begins at the end of your comfort zone? On one hand, I want to learn to get out of my comfort zone, but on the other hand, I’m looking to find a newer, wider zone. I like being comfortable. I don’t feel a need to change that about myself. I just think there’s room for my comfort zone to grow, and for me to grow within it.

Tell me one thing you’ve done to expand your personal comfort zone.

*Apparently, according to Urban Dictionary, a “Care Bear stare” can be taken to mean a lusty, intense gaze from one gentleman to another. As I am not a gay man, I did not intend the term in this manner. Apologies to anyone who is disappointed.

Admin. Note: I have started a Twitter feed exclusively for The Something New Project. Please follow along at @sthgnew2014. I will still be posting updates on my personal Twitter at @hollyleber. Please follow me there as well, because like 99 percent of people who have blogs, I am desperate for attention and validation. 

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Day 49: Goodbye grey skies, hello blue

I am following the examples of my friends Gina and Chloe, and am participating in the 100 Happy Days challenge. Apparently, for the next 100 days, I am supposed to post a photo of something that makes me happy.

Sometimes, my happy thing and my new thing will be the same thing. Other days, not so much. I made no promises to myself or anyone else that my new experiences would be happy. That’s just a bonus.

There’s a small chance that I might be insane for trying these experiments simultaneously.

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