Shortly after Category-5 Hurricane Irma destroyed the first Caribbean islands, President Trump commented: “It looks like it could be something that will be not good, believe me, not good.” Duh, thanks Donald! For a second, I thought you were Madame Irma. She’s a French fortune-teller, by the way, in case you were thinking of making a career change Michelle wrote about last week.
This past week, I welcomed my students back to campus for a new semester, and as always, I got to know them a little by asking their majors (which is not unlike asking “what’s your sign?” in the dating world). I like to spend a few moments chatting about their fields of study, but whenever someone proudly proclaims they’re interested in something like 17th century French philosophy, well, it’s harder to muster enthusiasm. It’s a bit like feeling cornered at Thanksgiving dinner while a young relative proudly introduces me to a new boyfriend who’s got dark, mysterious, brooding eyes but no common sense or 401k to speak of. I can only grimace politely and think: what are you going to do with that?
It sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Yet, yes, you read me correctly: reading can seriously damage your health and that of others.
1. Reading causes you to go blind
That is scientific fact: 30% of the world is currently myopic, and individuals who spend considerable time reading are more likely to develop myopia faster than the non-reading species. Coincidence? I don’t think so … Forget that other possible causes may include “working at a computer,” or “doing other intense close visual work” because I think we have a perfect culprit here, especially with the boom of e-readers and online magazines: reading. Guilty as charged. Based on current trends, this worldwide myopic statistic will grow to 50% by 2050. I don’t know about you but I already suffer from hyperopia. If my physical-science assumptions are correct, farsightedness plus nearsightedness equals blindness, and I’m not in such a rush to go completely dark. To prevent yourself from being another brick in the statistics, they say that the solution is as easy as a walk in the outside daylight. So, hurry up and drop your book, enjoy the sun; it’s summer after all, and who wants to read in the quietness of a park in the shade of a tree anyway? You could look up at the sky and maybe catch an eclipse with the naked eye. Why not?
It’s no secret that I love words. I enjoy the elasticity of language more than the rules and appreciate that slang is always in flux; we’re continually creating new idioms to express the ways we see ourselves and the world. We can play with words by juggling their meanings and smash them together to create new ones; we can invent new adjectives by adding “y” onto the ends of words or squeeze a whole sentence into a word using hyphens to make long it-may-give-you-a-headache-or-a-good-laugh jargon-y lingo that outsiders scratch their heads at. The dictionary is always expanding, and I adore all the 171,476 words that currently exist.READ MORE
It’s twilight. I go out, sit in a lounge chair in my backyard, and look before me into the void (which resembles a painting of shades of green; grass and strange flowers you can only see around here and a whole bunch of other tropical vines that anarchically crawl up the fence). And I wait, listening to a silence that’s only disturbed by a handful of bugs, focusing on all and nothing, and I think “Tropics” when what I really want to think about is: “Topics.”
After the Women’s March that happened in hundreds of cities across the globe, the number one criticism came in the form of a single word: Why? And sure, on the surface, we’ve never had it better. Women today have the choice about whether to work, get married, or have children. It’s just the tip of the iceberg, though. And climate change is not a hoax; Antarctica’s ice sheets are melting. Fast. And so are our rights to our so-called choices, apparently. But it’s true: we are no longer forced to stay in the kitchen, donning aprons and smiles, to bake pot roasts and soufflés all day if that’s not our cup of tea. (That’s still fine if it is!) We’ve come so far and we have so many freedoms now. What’s the point of complaining?
Winter has arrived, which means many of us who may be experiencing a distinct chill in the air these days are most likely wishing it were possible to move to the Caribbean, Australia, or perhaps even Venus right now. But what people may not realize is that there are so many reasons to embrace winter. In fact, since it’s my fourth favorite season, and I’ve spent more than a few winters here, I’m more than qualified to discuss the joys of winter that you might have otherwise overlooked. It’s never too late to get started because from where I’m standing, it’s clear that winter is only beginning.
I look at all things on the bright and sunny side as if I’ve been fed with Maui Jim ad campaigns and the Coué method over the last twenty or thirty years. I was about to say “on the bright and shiny side,” but considering the dreadful untidiness of my house, I thought again. But even then, the awesomist part of my optimism takes over, noting that this vividly-living party-of-six-sheltering house has more important rules to follow than being clean. If you ask me why and how I’m an optimist, I’ll tell you honestly that I don’t know exactly. One day, when the worldwide news became too much of a burden, I cancelled my cable subscription. When the weather froze me to the bones, I moved to the Caribbean. Life is too short to get hung up over issues and tinker with them. Every problem has a solution and there are better things to procrastinate about.
It’s about 9:00 PM, and now that my kids have finally fallen asleep, the rest of the evening is open. On this particular night, I’ve been looking forward to starting a new book. So I curl up on the couch, wrap a blanket around me, and open my Kindle. Now there’s only one thing left to do before I can begin reading.
“Ready for chapter one?” I tap out in Facebook Messenger.
The response is almost immediate: “Yes, let’s go!”
And with that, I turn my attention back to the first chapter, knowing that 2300 miles away, the other half of this book club a deux is reading the same words right along with me.
If there’s but one time of year where we can make a wish and believe, it is Christmas. I’m no exception; like every other kid, I have wishes. And I want to believe. I could wish for a new car, a new phone, or a new brain, but I’m not the materialistic type. Travel, then? Um, no. I want simpler things (and cheaper). So in case my family stops by, these are just a few of the things that moms would love, even if they don’t fit underneath the tree:
The best thing about Christmas is the songs. I wait all year to hear the traditional ones (who else loves belting out “O Holy Night” in their car?), the classics (it’s not Christmas unless you’ve gone on a “Sleigh Ride” at least 46 times), and even the contemporary ones. But the latter category is often why Christmas songs are the worst part about Christmas too. For every amazing contemporary Christmas song, there are always going to be pop stars who think for some inexplicable reason that getting festive means getting sexy. I’m looking at you, Lady Gaga, and your “Christmas Tree.”
I was at the theater the other night with my husband to attend a hilarious adaptation of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus by John Gray. According to Gray, men and women are so different in the way they talk, act and express their feelings that it is tantamount to saying that they’re from different planets. It made me realize just how amazing and even improbable it is that so many couples are actually able to live together at all.
To make his point, the stand-up comedian engaged with the crowd about how women and men respectively talked with their peers in a much more natural way based on their common language. And he was right: compared to a sexual relationship, friendship is so easy, carefree and headache-free. Okay, maybe not the headache-free part.
“Girls’ night, 7:00 at the Parrot bar. See y’all tonight.”
My favorite kind of texts to send or receive. Forget RSVP; it’s totally extraneous. Save for a nuclear cataclysm, the response goes without saying, because a night out with the girls is a promise of time worthily spent with laughter, tears, in and out of tune singing, suave or fail dancing, wine and raw vegetables and crackers. And by the end of the night, you might find yourself miserably sitting on the edge of the sidewalk, swaying back and forth with your head between your knees while your girlfriends either hold your hair back or shoot photos and make fun of how you look like shit. Vomit bags on demand. (Yes, your girls are THAT nice.) Chance of hangover: high.