Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Several months ago, I read somewhere (I wish I remembered where) that when one prefaces a statement of opinion with a qualifying statement meant to dissuade the listener from developing a poor view of the speaker in light of the opinion about to be uttered, it actually has the opposite effect.

That didn't make sense, so I'll just explain it by example. If you say, "I don't mean to sound like a snob, but really? You shop at JCPenney?" what you are doing is actually preparing the listener to think that you ARE a snob. "I don't mean to be rude, but..." ensures that the listener WILL think that you are being rude.

This idea tumbled around my brain for a few months, and I wondered if it might be used the other way around. Like, "I don't mean to sound humble, but it was really all Susan's idea." Or, "I don't mean to be beautiful, but this dress looks great on me!"

I posed this hypothesis to Shaun. The example he thought of was, "I don't mean to sound like an expert, but...." I thought that was a really good one, i.e. one that doesn't sound completely ridiculous out loud.

Any other plausible examples?

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

There are some kinks to work out of the SMS blog post functionality, it would seem....
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Friday, April 10, 2009

Spring Break

Walking past the Green Line Cafe on 45th and Locust today, I passed by a small group of kids. I would've been wearing sneakers, but I was coming back from a last-minute job interview and lunch in Center City, and was wearing the most formal-looking shoes I could walk in.

Girl #1: She's got Sketchers on.
Girl #2: That's so dumb!
Girl #1: What's so dumb?

But I never did find out.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Once in a great while I'll have one of those dreams of song and light that help me understand how it is to be full of life and the universe—my eyes wide open, laughter dancing at the back of my throat. And when I wake and feel the last of the sand slipping through the hourglass, I grab for it, desperately hoping that a few grains might stick to my fingertips, to carry that delicious feeling through the day—all the while trying not to scream for something that never happened, for wanting to keep something that isn't real.

I'm awake now. And it's still real.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Still Waters

Some years ago, I think I was in middle school, I visited a reservoir in Upstate New York with Aunt Beth. We followed the path to the dam, where we could see the lake as well as the cascade. Water was gushing from halfway up the dam down to the river below, but at the top, behind the dam, the lake was still as glass. Beth pointed out to me the tiny stirrings, little whorls flirting, dancing, disappearing and reemerging on the water's surface. They were barely visible, lost in the noise and the presence of the waterfall. "You see those ripples?" she said. "That means that the current here is very strong."

Later, in high school, my English teacher read a story I'd submitted to the school's art and literary magazine. It was a stab at humor, and she read it with the right kind of amusement. "Wow, still waters run deep with you, kid."
I'd never heard that phrase before, "Still waters run deep," and I regarded it as a compliment of the highest order, as I do to this day. It surprises me, though, how often I fail to remember that the same applies to many other people as well.

I'm sorry for judging you too soon. You may not have realized it (or I hope you didn't), but all the same I wish I hadn't.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

This one's for my memoirs

Some months after our dad moved out, and got his own place, my brother and I would visit him on Sundays. Our visits in those days often began with instructions to inquire about the child support check, possibly followed by a heated exchange between our parents. After this, we'd wait for Dad to get ready, and then we'd go to church. I never really liked that church, though I didn't realize it at the time. Our parents were going through a divorce, and I felt a certain shame in that. I also sensed that Dad wasn't exactly an upstanding member of the congregation, and that some of the adults allowed their feelings toward him to be transmitted to Tucker and me, too. I can't even remember a single person my age I felt I could be friends with. I don't know how Tuck felt about going there; I didn't really make an effort to tune myself in to his feelings.

In the afternoon we'd return to Dad's apartment. Dad had his own things he was working through, and wasn't used to having children running underfoot, so often he'd keep to himself, leaving Tuck and I to generate our own entertainment. If we got tired of watching Sunday afternoon television on the tiny black-and-white TV, we'd look through Dad's small record collection. All we really had to go on were the jacket designs, so we assumed that most of them weren't worth listening to. The West Side Story score, however, that had a photo of a young man and woman looking happy, holding hands and running down the street. The music, it turned out, was to our liking, and the album became a perennial favorite. "Officer Krupke" was a great sing-a-long.
We're distoibed, We're distoibed,
We're the most distoibed.
Like, we're psychologically distoibed!

Hm. I'm going to have to think up a better punchline if I want to be published.

Friday, January 30, 2009

A different attitude

I've decided to take a less laissez-faire attitude toward developing friendships here in Philadelphia. Which basically means I've been asking people out for lunch recently. It's just baby steps for me at this point, but it's a little strange to be participating in this extroverted behavior all of a sudden. It's probably not so all-of-a-sudden, though, but more the result of spending New Year's Eve alone, and then finding out I didn't have to, if only I'd sent that e-mail I was wondering if I should have sent.