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This is Dani Smith

 

I am Dani Smith, sometimes known around the web as Eglentyne.  I am a writer in Texas.  I like my beer and my chocolate bitter and my pens pointy.

This blog is one of my hobbies.  I also knit, sew, run, parent, cook, eat, read, and procrastinate.  I have too many hobbies and don’t sleep enough.  Around here I talk about whatever is on my mind, mostly reading and writing, but if you hang out long enough, some knitting is bound to show up.  

Thank you for respecting my intellectual property and for promoting the free-flow of information and ideas.  If you’re not respecting intellectual property, then you’re stealing.  Don’t be a stealer.  Steelers are ok sometimes (not all of them), but don’t be a thief.  

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    Saturday
    Jan262008

    Presidentialness

    Cass has nominated me for President. Of the United States, I think. (Note to Cass: you should let me know if you meant president of something else, like the National Dairy Farmers Association or Geeks Unlimited or whatever).

    I am nodding politely in her direction and smiling. Thank you my dear. I think though that your poise and charm make you the better presidential contender. I see myself more as one of your back room deal-makers. Or perhaps a cabinet member. I could be your Director of Homeland Security, only I’d rename it the Department of Domestic Bliss. More Scope For the Imagination* in that one.

    OK, maybe that’s just silly. But I realized as I thought about my presidential aspirations that by election time later this year, I will actually be old enough to run for president legally. The U.S. Constitution suggests that 25 is old enough for the House of Representatives, 30 for Senate, and 35 for President. The first two passed me by without a thought to running for elected office, but as 35 approaches (thoughts of Dante* drift lazily through my mind), I see that I should start taking this president thing seriously.

    How to get started?

    Realistically it’s too late to enter the race for one of the major parties. The Republicans and Democrats are already duking it out around the country to choose their nominees (this weekend, most notably, in Cass’s South Carolina for the Dems, and Florida for the GOP). So I guess I need some independent party.

    So I guess that’s my assignment this week: Find a political party to lead to the White House.

    Next time: More lame political jokes.

    *Can anyone identify my two obscure literary references here? Snickerdoodles for anyone who can get both.

    Thursday
    Jan242008

    Discomfort

    I have a wee note here in my notebooky list of bloggy ideas: “discomfort.”

    I wracked my brain trying to remember what this might indicate. I thought of advertisements for remedies for various discomforts and decided it wasn’t anything quite so gross or banal. Then I—sort of—remembered. It was an overheard complaint someone was making about not wanting to do something because it caused her discomfort. Or something like that. Ok, I didn’t exactly remember the referent, but I did remember my reaction.

    Give me a break.

    How many things cause us discomfort in the world. I mean, just right now, my feet are a bit cold, which isn’t totally comfortable, but you know, I can deal with that. The person’s comment, though caused me to ponder, in general, about how people seem to want to avoid any kind of discomfort or inconvenience whatsoever. Buying any little thing, taking any little detour to try to avoid the inevitable little discomforts of life.

    I don’t, for instance, need any kind of foot warmer to avoid my little cold foot problem right now. Neither any special piece of apparel. Thank you, I already have a perfectly good pair of socks.

    Granted, if something causes me enough discomfort, I generally try to do something to change it or to fix it. I’m currently wondering whether a pair of shoes over my lovely socks would be a good choice.

    But it seems to me that the original referent was about avoiding an activity or a situation because of some rather minor discomfort. And to that I say again, Give Me a Break. I can count any number of experiences that caused me “discomfort,” things I knew ahead of time wouldn’t always be pleasant, but I did them anyway. Childbirth is an easy one. But perhaps a more colorful and exotic experience would serve here.

    Hot air ballooning in New Mexico, let’s say in October, during the International Balloon Fiesta,.

    Seriously. You have to get up really early in the morning. Predawn is best, so that take-off can occur just on the other side of sunrise. It’s dark. It’s cold. It’s damp. The high-desert air prickles the insides of your nose. You’re wearing eight layers of clothes because you know that over the course of the morning, it will warm up gradually, but dramatically, so that by lunchtime you’ll wish you were wearing shorts. The coffee or hot chocolate is altogether scalding in the flimsy cup that inevitably slops sticky and/or hot liquid onto your gloved hand and sleeve, which will later be caked with sandy mud.

    The work of getting the balloon set up is hard. Lifting, pulling, lugging, yanking. The inflation fan is dead loud. Oh, and cold, if you have to help hold open the throat of the balloon for cold inflation. The propane burners: also dead loud. And hot. Really hot. Especially if you’re holding open the throat of the balloon for the initial hot inflation.

    From here, there are two beautiful paths. One has you in the gondola, and one has you hanging onto the outside of the gondola with a dozen other people to keep the jumpy balloon from taking off.

    In the gondola, it’s crowded. You’re squished very close to at least two other bodies in a small gondola. There is probably a propane tank or some other apparatus jabbed into your butt or your shoulder. The top half of you feels sunburned with each blast of heat from the burner, while the rest of you is cold. Especially your feet.

    On the outside edge of the gondola, it’s crowded. All of those other bodies piled on to hold down a balloon that wants to pop up above the cooler air are squished and jabbing into each other trying to maintain a handhold. Someone’s face might be in your armpit. Someone’s elbow is almost certainly in your ribs.

    Why would you endure these things?

    Because when the pilot gives the go-ahead, and everyone let’s go… It’s like magic. In the gondola, the world floats away from you on a puff of air. You are flying like a bird, and in the long quiet moments between burns, the world of sounds is cushioned, peaceful. The tranquility is momentarily infinite. On the ground, this monstrosity of wicker and metal and fabric and fire that weighs hundreds of pounds, just gently lifts from the ground, lighter than a feather. And floats away like a bubble.

    No matter your perspective, it’ll take your breath away. And without enduring the myriad discomforts, you’d miss it.

    But the endurance of discomfort need not be so grand.

    Sitting here at the computer, next to my window, enduring my slightly chilled feet, I just saw a little bird, a tiny brown fluffy thing that would fit into the palm of my hand. It’s shuffling around in the garden, rummaging for bugs, the remains of last year’s basil seeds perhaps. And then it just fluffed itself up into the sky. It’s likely much colder than I am.

    Isn’t everything worth doing like that, though? Anything really worth doing is going to have moments, or eons of things that are not only uncomfortable but unpleasant or even undesirable, but once surmounted they lead on through to the goal. No thing that you love is without parts that you hate. But that doesn’t mean you quit.

    I love to knit. I hate weaving in all the little tails at the end, or sewing bits together. But I do it. I love my children, but there are many aspects of child rearing that I’d love to take a pass on (shoe tantrums, just for instance). But they are all one. Without the discomfort, the experience is incomplete. The triumph less full.

    Don’t quit when it gets hard. Don’t pass because it will be uncomfortable. Let’s figure out a way to find beauty, and value, and appreciation in those parts that we find uncomfortable.

    Next Post: My presidential platform. ;)

    Tuesday
    Jan222008

    Roe v. Wade

    I want to live in a country where my children have equal access to education and opportunity regardless of their gender, their sexual proclivites, their race, their class, their religion (or lack thereof), or any other traditional or innovative marker of identity. I want to live in a country where women have strong reproductive rights with meaningful reproductive choices.

    I believe that these two guarantees—education and reproductive control—will continue to make ours a stronger and more democratic nation. Not since the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion has the threat to reproductive rights in the United States felt so dramatic. If not in terms of literal limitations governing a woman’s options (of which there are many), than in terms of actual access to physicians and facilities willing and qualified to offer those options.

    Regardless of outcomes, it is a rare individual who has not been directly or indirectly affected by unintended pregnancy. Let’s try not to presume that we know what is right or wrong or reasonable or feasible in the lives of others, and let’s simply try to be supportive of each other as human beings. And let’s try not to go backwards in the building of our freedoms and independence.

    Tuesday
    Jan222008

    Love Note

    From “Pepper” by the Butthole Surfers

    I don’t mind the sun sometimes
    The images it shows
    I can taste you on my lips
    And smell you in my clothes

    Monday
    Jan212008

    Running Week Two

    One little pill. One little, 200 mg ibuprofin caplet made a huge difference in my morning.

    Running went really well at the beginning of last week. Temperatures were quite a bit cooler, and I had to do some fiddling each day to figure out what was comfortable. Too many layers at the beginning was too sweaty at the end. But bare ears were out of the question. Friday night was the coldest. I ran directly into a brisk wind for half the run, and the temps were in the low forties F (~6C) with a wind chill in the mid- to upper-thirties (~3C). The cold air chewed at the inside of my lungs and made it very hard to run at a relaxed and easy pace. I knew I would pay for the tense muscles at the end, and tried to concentrate on relaxing, running easier. But I was only warm during the running intervals, and so tended to run a smidge more than I’m used to. Then on the way home, I felt comfortable, relaxed, warm enough and with an easy stride.

    Then it started to rain on me. Cold prickly drops of rain. So, I ran the last running interval, and ran much of the last walking interval as well. Tensely.

    When I got home, my left hip, knee, and ankle were sore. I stretched, relaxed, took a warm bath at bedtime. Decided on Saturday to skip the run, and let the joints rest.

    Sunday is usually a yoga day, but I woke feeling good and ran on Sunday morning to make up for the breather on Saturday. The run was good, and warmer, but when I cooled down at home, both ankles and the left knee were sore again. I stretched.

    I woke this morning (Monday) with my knee still feeling a bit wobbly, and it occurred to me for the first time to take something. Duh. I took that one caplet of ibuprofin and the pain melted away. I took forty-five minutes this afternoon to slowly and carefully stretch out both legs and my back. I’m feeling pretty good, but I’m waffling about tonight’s scheduled run.

    I may let the rain forecast decide for me.