Top 1 reason I’m grumpy

“Top Number” lists are sneaky little buggers. Google likes them, and so do we humans.  They make things neat and simple for us.   They aren’t everything about a subject. They aren’t objective or well researched; they are simply today’s latest humor/snark packaged in a way that tickles something in our brains.  Most writers will use them, because well, why not?

A few days ago, one of the “Top 5000 reasons you’re an introvert” thingies (are they  memes?  I confess to being a little confused at what is a meme and what isn’t) started to zip around the social medias.  I read one, and laughed a little because it described a lot of things about me; that I’m better in small groups, that sometimes I just need to leave a party or conference networking session to “recharge”, ie, not want to smack everyone and their super-duper-I’m-a-networking-champion faces.  And then I didn’t give it another thought, because, well, what does it matter?

Until today, when I saw this pop up in my facebook feed.

15 Unmistakable, Outrageously Secret Signs You’re an Extrovert

Yes, I know, it’s humor and I did chuckle a bit.  After all, those introvert emails/memes/whatever were replicating, and we can’t have that, right?  We’ve gotta have the snarky “other side” smackdown that calls a time out on the madness, right?

Usually, I’m down with calling bullsh!# on the interwebs, but when I saw this, something just…it was different…it made me grumbly.   And after pondering it for a bit, here’s why:

I am TIRED of everything having to be a competition.  Who’s busier, who’s more tired, who’s got more stress in her life, who’s the best cook, who funniest, who’s quickest to write the snarky comeback, who’s more ostracized, who’s more entitled, who’s got the best family, who takes the best photo,etc.   So introversion is the latest “I must have my quirks and issues validated by the social medias” fad.  So what?  Why do we feel this incessant need to “one-up” everyone and everything?

I’m tired of it.  True,  I don’t know what we should do instead, but surely better writers and smarter folks than me can figure it out.  It seems like we should be trying harder.

Ok, so my insulted-introvert-fed passive-aggressive rant is now over.  Time to get off the interwebs!   Happy Saturday!

photo credit: play4smee via photopin cc

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TEDxFayetteville: I have smart and awesome friends

A few months back, I was lucky enough to be part of the TEDxFayetteville planning team. We produced a pretty neat day of TEDx talks.  If you’re not familiar with TED, here’s how you learn more. Basically, it’s a movement of people sharing ideas and stories.  There’s a big conference each year that mere mortals like me can’t afford to attend, and lots of local versions that highlight the smart people in our communities.

TEDxFayetteville’s theme was Discovery.  I’m lucky enough to know some pretty smart and cool folks who discover new things every day, and help other people discover them. Here are three videos of my friends at TEDxFayetteville.  I’ve been blessed to discover them in my time in Northwest Arkansas, and now invite you to do the same.

Daniel Hintz, director of Downtown Bentonville and all around zany, inspiring dude, talking about place and community design:

Kyle Kellams, News Director at our local NPR Affiliate, KUAF, defending small talk:

Bryan Hembree and Three Penny Acre, helping the audience discover new music:

PS:  If you want to see all of the TEDxFayetteville speakers, click here.

PPS: Just a little shameless self-promotion:  I got to speak at TEDxBentonville in October 2012.  You can view my talk on Becoming an Arts Ecosystem here.

Dog’s Night Out

You know how first birthday parties are really for parents?

Well, dog parties are the same.

I attended a fundraiser for the Humane Society of the Ozarks last night at Dog Party USA, a fabulous (and highly recommended) doggie day care facility.

Though it was supposedly an event for the dogs, it was mostly for the humans to watch their dogs.  And keep them from freaking out with all of the stimulation and smells.

Anyway, I get a huge kick out of this little photo sequence taken by my friend, Jennifer.  Her dog is the grey schnauzer.  Enjoy!

Sadie’s paying attention.  Spot is not.
Aaaand…vice versa.
At this point, we gave up.  There were clearly more
exciting things going on elsewhere.

The way a weekend should be…sort of

I might have hit a turning point in my life this past week.  It’s nothing I can talk about in this public forum, but it might be that something has begun that will change things.  But really, I say that almost every few weeks.  Whether it’s thinking something really good is about to happen on the romance front (only to find that it doesn’t), finding myself in a really bad mood at work (you know, the kind where every person who asks something of me pisses me off – thankfully that hasn’t happened in while) or just questioning my life, priorities and direction, it feels like I’ve been in a state of…well…suspension for a while now.

But the thing is, it’s ok.  I think I might have grown up enough to realize that if you’re someone like me; ie, chronically single, career-focused, prone to overthinking everything, you’re not likely to settle into a routine and just be happy with it.  You may settle into a routine, but you’re going to question it, even as you keep it up.  And so I have learned not to read too much into these feelings.  If something is going to happen, it will.  Fatalistic, you say?  Lazy, even?  I don’t think so. It’s a pretty zen place to be.

That said, it seems appropriate that after all the thoughts that this past week has inspired, I arrived at Sunday evening with a big fat smile on my face.  This came about not just because I’m overweight and I happened to go to a comedy club, but because, when you look back on my weekend, it’s such a great summary of my life right now.

Let’s take it chronologically:

Friday: Aside from the indignity of having to attend an 8am meeting with no breakfast goodies, Friday started with the kind of discussions that make the rest of the day feel rather surreal.  But the day got better, ending on a positive note that included an absolutely amazing dinner at a new restaurant with a friend.  This was followed by a (ahem, sold-out) concert featuring the Poncho Sanchez Band.  As we grooved to the music, my friend leaned over and said “I’m not going to last through the second act” and I nearly laughed aloud, because I’d been thinking the same thing; as great as the band was, I was DONE with work and ready to go home to my dog.

Saturday, I got to sleep in, laze about, get my hair cut, take a long walk, and see a symphony performance.  I fell in love with Shostakovich’s 5th Symphony, then came home to my pooch bouncing and hopping around as if I hadn’t spent the whole day with her.  Seriously, is there anything better than the way your dog greets you after you’ve been gone? 

Today, I slept in again (these are the days when I bless the fact that I am childless), wasted two whole hours watching Extreme Home Makeover, did some cleaning, headed off to listen to a discussion about the Mark Morris Dance Group and the classical trio Time for Three (go to their website and watch the video there if you want a little inspiration), then raced back home to watch the Patriots narrowly defeat the Ravens, setting up a repeat of the Pats/Giants Superbowl matchup that ended badly for us New England fans back in 2008.  Another walk, a bit more football and then an impromptu visit to the aforementioned comedy club, where I giggled a lot at comedian AJ Finney, who was foul of mouth, but amusing.

And now I’m home, listening to the spooky wind, grateful that we’re out of the tornado range, but still a little wary.  It’s one of those nights when you make sure you wear appropriate clothing to bed, because if you have to dive into a closet or seek shelter after your house has been blown down, well, at least you can make sure you’re wearing pants and long sleeves when you do.  (I know, I know.  But these are the weird things I think about)  Anyway, it was a busy, interesting weekend of art, sports and comedy, experienced both alone and with friends.  And yet, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was…a little off.  But I reached the end of it realizing I was ok with that.

I heard a quote once;  I think the quotee was quoting a tight rope walker, who said something to effect of : “It’s not about achieving perfect balance.  It’s about being comfortable with being out of balance.”

And that’s it.  That’s exactly how I feel.  Here’s hoping I can stay on the tightrope this next week.

Awesomesocks, EL GORDO and other news only fit to blog

At the National Arts Marketing Project Conference a few months back, I learned a few special new words.

What these words all had in common was their universal ability to irk me.

Here are the culprits:

  • sitch (short for situation, used mostly verbally)
  • sesh (short for session, used in twitter parlance)
  • Prezi (the name of a program that is an alternative to PowerPoint and/or a presentation created by said alternative).  For the record, I love the product Prezi.  It’s the name that bugs me.
  • awesomesauce (used as a (sort of) superlative, “sauce” being the suffix to “awesome”…well, I think you get the point). 

What is it about these words that irk me, you ask?  I’m not sure.  I think it might be that they are just too…cute.  I supposed they could also be considered clever, but they are either too cute, or not clever enough, or something.  Whatever.  I’m weird and judgmental, I get it.  But I promise there’s a reason for my ramblings.

Back in December, I posted what might be my most inane and useless facebook status ever, about the awesomeness of my socks.  Upon request, I later added a photo of said socks. 

Then, for Christmas, one of my staff gave me a pair of wacky-cool socks as a gift.  She didn’t say, but I wondered if the choice of gift was prompted by that facebook post.

Anyway, today I decided I needed to wear my new socks.  Here they are (and if anyone knows how to do self-portraits of feet that don’t make them look fat, let me know).

And then, suddenly, I was seized by brilliance.  I could take a word that annoys me and turn it into a concept that makes me smile.  It could be a blog title, or a product name, or just a word.  And that word is…

AWESOMESOCKS

*****

In other news, there was some interesting stuff on the interwebs today.  The first comes courtesy of my dad.  Gotta love my conservative dad, who sends me patriotic YouTube video and rants against the government one day, and sends me a tip from Huffington Post that I should check out “El Gordo” the next.

El Gordo, it turns out, is one of the biggest galaxy clusters in the world.  It was discovered via collaboration between NASA and Chile.  It’s something like 7.5 BILLION light years away and will provide insight into such coolness as dark matter, dark energy, and beginnings of the universe.  In sending me the link, no doubt, Dad was remembering me retreating to my 3rd grade self as we left the Kennedy Space Center a few weeks ago, declaring “I want to be an astronaut when I grow up.” Thanks, Dad, that was very cool.

***

Changing gears, I also submit for your review this blog entry about a ringing cell phone during a New York Philharmonic concert. Here’s a bit from the New York Times about it, including an interview with the conductor, who stopped the entire orchestra, turned to the front row, and engaged in conversation with the culprit, eventually getting him to turn his phone off.  

He was in the very front row at Avery Fischer Hall, and it was the final bars of the final movement of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony.  I confess to not knowing one Mahler symphony from the other, but I know how people say the words “Mahler’s Ninth” – with reverence. It’s a spirtual piece, and the final bars, where this unfortunately happened, are nearly silent.  How disappointing for everyone in the room to have their experience ruined like that.

That said, can you imagine being this guy?  I find myself distressed by the hatred and vitriol expressed toward him in the comments and blogosphere.  Yeah, he screwed up.  We all do. But aren’t we supposed to forgive?  I didn’t see a lot of that in the responses to this incident.  In fact, I saw one comment that said the guy should be sued by the rest of the audience, and cynically, I will bet money that someone called the NY Phil and demanded a refund.   What a shame that we’re all so angry all the time.

***

But, let’s end on a happier note. Today I watched musicians from the Blue Man Group touring production do a workshop for 100+ students at Fayetteville High School.  It was pretty amazing, especially when they invited the kids up on stage to drum together.

And last night, I treated a friend and myself to center section seats to the show.  Even though I’d seen it a half dozen times before, it was a complete blast.  There’s something about the Blue Man aesthetic.  Weird, gentle, funny, curious, wordless and always supportive.  Gently mocking of the world, yet capable of sending an entire audience into a paroxysm of delight (I love that phrase).  And the drums.  Oh, those drums, the big, pounding, visceral sound.  I wanna be a Blue Man.

As usual, I must admit I have a pretty great job.

Maybe it’s even….wait for it…awesomesocks?