My friend Mike, over at Ten Thousand Pots of Soup had a great post last week about humor.
As someone who has never been the fastest, or the strongest, the most talented or the best looking, I’ve always gotten by with a quick wit and the ability to stay ahead of people. I have always felt underestimated, and therefore I was trying to prove (at least to myself) that I was the smartest and the funniest. And if I was able to make a joke that went over people’s heads, that just made me feel all the better.
This is familiar to me. I have always (and too often still do) used humor as a defense. Continue reading
Spoiler alert: I just sent the email.
I need to email Barry back.
A few months ago, I met Barry at an enneagram workshop. We got to talking about how cool it would be to have a discussion group just for Sixes, because as he said, we certainly need it. We exchanged emails for a while, then met for coffee and laid out some plans. I offered to come up with some content that we could start with. He agreed to create a description and some group expectations we could share. I send him my ideas to look over.
And then things stopped.
Not, to be clear, because he didn’t do his part. He sent me an email with his ideas and feedback on mine. It’s still sitting there in my inbox. As is his follow-up email.
Since sending my email to him I have been second guessing myself in ways that are far too familiar. Did I overstep my bounds? Was the material I came up with good enough? Am I being to assertive? Not assertive enough?
I don’t really need to post a picture of the what’s coming down from the sky, so I? We’ve all seen some version of the same photo on Facebook or Twitter or a news site — or even the olde timey TV. A background blurred by snow or sleet or ice. Someone (or maybe a Tusken Raider, who can tell under all those clothes) shoveling or pushing on a car or falling in a humorous manner.
There seems be to an informal contest over who has it worse, who’s a winter lightweight and who just fricking needs to learn to drive in the snow. It’s cold where I am! You think that’s bad, it was -20 below last night! We got 6 inches of snow! We got sleet! Our schools closed again! Our city is iced in! Our governor closed the whole state!
As I wrote, sweated, swore, over-caffeinated, chuckled evilly in public and generally fussed my way through NaNoWriMo this year some new connections started sparking in my brain. Connections are one of the things that make it possible for me to write. The plot I have carefully crafted connects with a news story I hear on the radio or a favorite character connects with a stranger in the coffee shop I am working in. Suddenly things take off in an unexpected direction and I don’t know what’s happening until I see it appear on my computer screen.
That’s the magic.
Three weeks ago, I was looping the pickup/baggage claim area at the MSP airport, looking for my daughter’s face in the crowd. We hadn’t seen each other since last Christmas and the daily mini-chats online and random three-hour phone calls were just not cutting it anymore. We needed time together and her extended vacation stretched out before us like a long expanse of warm water.
It only took moments for that sense of calm to be shattered once she was loaded into the car. The barrage of words began before we were even on back on the freeway. Mom! I missed you! Veronica! Did you have a good flight? Are you hungry? I missed you too! There’s pizza at home! Tomorrow I need to call the office! It’s so cold and dark here! Aaron wants to know what movie we want to see! I got beer, too. The words themselves really meant nothing. Just our way of reassuring ourselves we were together again.
Then she said the words I love to hear from my daughter: “I’ve got an idea I want to talk to you about.” Continue reading
Today was a good day.
There was a lot on my to-do list. They were not all pleasant things. I had some emails to answer that I wasn’t looking forward to. There were minutes from a meeting months ago I needed to type and send out. I had work to do for a client that — although I do this kind of work a lot — I was suddenly worried I would not be able to do. Worst of all, it was a beautiful day outside and like all Minnesotans this time of year I am aware these days are ticking away.
I realized about 5:00 this morning what I’ve been doing.
Last Friday I decided to do a brain dump; I wanted to get all the various thoughts, half-baked ideas and things I wanted to write off the “white board of the inside of my skull,” as David Allen says, and get them on paper. Then I could see them, connect them, moved them about and hopefully decide how to go about writing.
It was an invigorating weekend, I’m not going to lie. Me and my music and my markers and my sticky notes and a bare chunk of wall. I loved it. And in the end, I had what you see at on the right. Some blog post or short article ideas were a single word or phrase; that was all it took for me to know what to what to write. Others were a bit more complicated. And one – as you can see right there in the middle – went on and on and had connections and theories and thoughts until I started to feel like the guy from A Beautiful Mind.
Someday – hopefully soon – those sticky notes will become a post or two or three about how the internet and social media have changed teaching and learning and the passing on of knowledge and how we must all be both teachers and learners and the beginner’s mind and the gift of ignorance and the synthesizing of information and what it means to be an expert and so much more, maybe even a reference to the Gutenberg Bible.
But first I have to own up to what that mass of sticky notes that have been carefully arranged and rearranged really is about. Continue reading