H2O Go

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I originally wrote this in like 2006. It was published in one of my Spandrel zines, but I decided not to include it in my e-book, so I’m posting it here for posterity’s sake.

1. Water is the only substance that naturally exists is gas, liquid, and solid form outside of a laboratory setting.

2. The adult human body is about 70% water. This is roughly the same percentage of the planet Earth that is covered in water.

3. 97% of the Earth’s water is oceanic. 2.4% is locked in glaciers and ice caps. Less than 0.6% of water is found in bodies of land (i.e., rivers, lakes, streams)

4. Water is found on meteors. It has also been detected on five of the eight planets in our solar system, as well as one of Saturn’s moons and several of Jupiter’s.

5. Given the right conditions, water can flow uphill. Water molecules adhere to each other via a hydrogen bond (this is why water has such strong surface tension and tends to stick together when it’s, say, running down your windshield in a rainstorm), and because it is a polar molecule. In plants, water is constantly evaporating out of the leaves. The evaporation of one water molecule pulls another to the surface, and so on and so on, so that water from the roots flows uphill via capillary action.

6. Given enough time, water can dissolve anything.

7. Water moderates the Earth’s climate. It can absorb large amounts of heat.

8. Water becomes less dense and expands upon freezing. This is why melting ice does not raise the water level in a glass.

9. Water is a byproduct of a forming star.

10. Ice and snow can sublimate directly into water vapor before melting into liquid first.

11. Blood is, in fact, thicker than water. But if you get dehydrated, your blood gets thicker, which is generally considered a bad thing.

I like water.

Words of Wisdom

photo-1The last two years, when I was so depressed, one of the things I hated about it was how it skewed my view of reality (see this entry). How it made me think that nobody would even notice if I just evaporated. It created a self-fulfilling prophecy. I’d behave as if all the things that Depression was telling me were true–and it didn’t make it true, necessarily, but it did mean that I barely even tried to go to social functions, make friends, connect with people. Being isolated made me depressed, and depression made me isolate myself.

And you tell yourself it’s not true. That Depression is lying to you. And on your okay days, you can believe it. But Depression lurks in the space behind your ears, laughing, mocking you. “I don’t lie,” he whispers, “I tell the truth. I’m smart. Look around. You have no friends, you’ve messed everything up. If anyone’s lying to themselves, it’s you. Listen to me. I’m Depression. I’m an objective observer; I know what I’m talking about. Let me list all the things that make you a terrible person, because I’ve been keeping track. I’m the only one who loves you. I’m just trying to protect you.”

“I think you’re lying to me, Depression.”

“That hurts my feelings, it really does. Why would I lie to you? I want you to know the truth.”

“Could you leave me alone for awhile?”

“Of course not. We live together. We are one. I love you. We’ll be together for always and I’ll never let anyone else have you.”

I tell Depression he lies and he just laughs and sidesteps, and though I keep saying it, I’m never quite sure if it’s true, or if it’s something I need to say whether it’s true or not (because what’s my alternative, really?).

And then I run across this blog entry, (who got it from this other one), written by an actor I haven’t followed for years. Depression lies, he says. It is the thing I have been trying to tell myself, but could never quite believe, because Depression is rampaging around, chewing up my sense of self and shitting out uncertainty all over the inside my head.

Depression lies.

And because these words come from Wil, and not  me, Depression can’t eat them. They don’t come from me, so they can bypass my logic brain, which has so very many weak spots in it right now. Some little magpie in my heart, who has been keeping very quiet so that Depression can’t find her, reaches out of the crack she’s hiding in, and grabs this pearl, and pulls it into the crack and holds it close. Maybe, she reflects, it’s the sort of thing that can grow if it’s carefully tended. Maybe she’ll plant it, if it turns out to be the sort of thing that grows. But for now, it’s enough to look at it, to hold it, to learn the taste of it. Depression lies. Maybe she puts it on a shelf and marvels at it, sees how it catches the light. Depression. Lies.

He wrote that entry almost a year ago, and I read it then, and it still feels as new and marvelous as the day he said it. Depression lies.

In June, I went to see Neil Gaiman at his Last Ever US Signing Tour(tm) at the Tattered Cover in Denver. It was the sort of day that, if I was independently wealthy, I’d do all the time: spend six hours sitting on green carpet, surrounded by books, and read, and talk to people. Listen to Famous Author talk for an hour. Wait on green carpet for another 3 hours so that you can spend 42 seconds being smiled at by Gracious Famous Author. Ride bike home. Fall asleep holding signed book like a teddy bear.

I had him sign American Gods, because it’s the first book of his I read. My Gateway Gaiman, if you will. (He also signed The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, because that’s the book he’s publicizing. I thought about telling him he really didn’t have to sign that one because I really don’t need multiple Gaiman signatures [I’m a one-signature kind of girl], but then to turn down autographs seems rude, so…)

He smiled at me. And said nice things about how battered my book was. Inside, besides my name and his, he wrote “Believe!”

He didn’t say believe in what.

But the little magpie in my heart pulled that into her hiding place too, to turn over in her hands (yes, my magpie has hands. Shut up). Believe.

Believe in gods.
Believe in yourself?
Make good art?
Believe that you can make good art.
Believe that depression lies.
Believe.

big bang theory theory

hubble2.jpgOne of the only sitcoms that I make an effort to watch is The Big Bang Theory. It’s also one of the only sitcoms, outside of The Simpsons, that makes me laugh out loud. When I first started watching, I enjoyed that there were socially maladjusted nerds on tv who weren’t just the butt of jokes–yes, their social maladjustment is sometimes the target of humor, but they have well-rounded characters and full lives and, by and large, give as good as they get in the insult department. I like Sheldon and the line he walks between total discomfort with himself and exasperation with the world because it’s not as good as he is. I especially like Amy Farrah-Fowler, one of the newer additions to the show–she’s got Sheldon’s abrasiveness, but her abrasiveness is a front for vulnerability that Sheldon simply doesn’t have. She so badly wants to be friends with Bernadette and Penny, she goes about it all wrong, and I see a lot of myself in her (though I’m not as smart as she is). Her impressions of social gatherings and friendships seem to be gleaned from movies and Young Adult books, and it’s charming.

Amy: Penny, Bernadette tells me you and she are planning a girls’ night.
Penny: Yeah…
Amy: …I’m a girl. (She says this in a voice that is so desperately trying to sound casual, I feel legit bad for her.)

Also, I love that Wil Wheaton makes guest appearances and is portrayed as a TOTAL ASSHOLE. Heehee.

I have read some of the bloggery criticism about the show, about how it upholds certain gender and racial stereotypes (it’s interesting to me that gender stereotypes, or the discussions of gender stereotypes, are so entrenched in our culture that even a show centered around four very atypically gender-presenting males [with the exception of walking hormone Howard] finds itself the target of accusations of gender stereotyping). And I don’t mean to dismiss any of them, and they’re valuable discussions to have, but let’s just say that others’ problems with the show aren’t my problems with the show.

People criticize Penny for being a “stereotypical dumb blonde.” I don’t know what show these folks are watching, but I don’t think it’s The Big Bang Theory. Penny’s not dumb. She clearly has a normal-to-high IQ and she has social skills that the guys don’t have and (to varying degrees) don’t want. If anything, she’s too smart for the situation she’s in, working at the Cheesecake Factory and trying to be an actress (how did the show’s producers get permission to use that restaurant in the show? It’s not portrayed very flatteringly). She’s not dumb–she’s bored. And lonely. Typically, the guys don’t talk about things that she cares about, but she hangs out with them anyway. She’s not doing very well in the acting world. Not only does she not have many acting jobs, but she doesn’t seem connected to the acting community. She doesn’t have any mutually-struggling actor friends. In one of the early seasons (I think it must have been the second or third, because it was during the Penny-dating-Leonard storyline) (another thing I appreciate: though Leonard has an ongoing crush on Penny, it doesn’t completely take over the show, in the way that the Ross-and-Rachel bullshit took over and ruined a perfectly good show), she has a group of friends over to watch a football game, but other than that, the glimpses that we have of Penny’s social life outside of the guys tends to be discussions of ex-boyfriends. This is either really unfair to Penny’s character, or it’s an honest assessment–in which case it’s just sad.

It does seem like Penny’s unhappy, and whether she copes with that isn’t a path that a sitcom is likely to take–instead they just make it the object of jokes, which I find sad. I recently watched the four episodes of the show that are available on Hulu (they seem to rotate them every week or so?), and a lot of the Penny jokes centered around how much she drinks. She readily admits to drinking as a coping mechanism, which none of the other characters think is a problem–or, indeed, anything out of the ordinary, which I find sad and disturbing. I guess the writers of The Big Bang Theory subscribes more to the frat-boy-drinking-is-a-fun-way-of-life-party-school philosophy, not sober-consumption-of-a-few-drinks-after-work philosophy, to say nothing of the alcoholism-isn’t-funny philosophy.

On a lighter note, I find Sheldon’s character hilarious and endearing and (in a weird way), just as incomprehensible as Penny when you think about him in context of the wider world. Sheldon is abrasive, completely tied to his routine, and literal-minded (many folks have posited that he has Asperger’s; the show’s producers simply describe him as “Sheldonian,” which I appreciate, because it shows they think about him as a character, not a walking diagnosis). He’s also smarter than anyone he hangs out with, and is the show’s resident evil genius, impatient with those who have a lower intellectual capacity than him.

On the other hand, Sheldon doesn’t seem to spend a lot of time attending conferences, teaching, submitting papers, giving interviews, or any of the other things I see world-renowned physicists doing. He doesn’t get along with his university’s administrators, even though you would think that a brilliant scientist that advanced his university’s reputation would get on great with the administrators, no matter how abrasive his personality (what do you want to bet that Jerry Sandusky got on fantastically with UPenn’s higher-ups?). And he doesn’t seem to be anywhere near getting a Nobel or any other award. Clearly, Sheldon’s Sheldon-ness, or his Asperger’s, or whatever it is, gets in the way of his career. It’s distracting people from how smart he is, or his neuroses are legitimately interfering with his work…or Sheldon isn’t as smart as he thinks he is, and simply doesn’t recognize it because he’s never been part of a community that challenges him. Either Sheldon is shockingly under-employed, or he overestimates his own intelligence (considerable though it obviously is). The show portrays Sheldon as neurotic, but not delusional, but the more I watch it, the more delusional-Sheldon intrigues me.

And Amy Farrah-Fowler. There should be so much more of Amy Farrah-Fowler.

“I don’t object to the concept of a deity, but I’m baffled by the notion of one that takes attendance.” –Amy Farrah-Fowler