Three things I noticed

Like most technology-addled people these days, and especially those who share the burden of AD(H)D, I find my mind flits around a forest of ideas without ever alighting on a single branch. Still, occasionally something seems so compelling, whether attractive or unusual, that I not only touch down on it, but also build a nest, take up residence, and let my mind luxuriate in its presence. Over the past few days my mind has been squatting on these three things:


The word abecedarian. I’ve run across it before, but this time I bothered to look it up. It’s one of those words that I’ve only read and never heard spoken, so I was pronouncing it in my head all wrong. I had thought it sounded something like what you might hear when a magician casts a spell: “abacadabra!” Instead, it’s pronounced like you’re reading the first three letters of the English alphabet: “A-B-C-darian.” And therein lies the clue to its meaning. The word refers to someone who is learning the ABCs or, more generally, to anyone who is a novice. It can also simply mean arranged alphabetically, but I find that definition boring. Now that I know how to pronounce it, I’ve been saying it quietly to myself like a mantra.

The Invisibility Cloak

invisibility cloak book coverI had expected that, with a name like The Invisibility Cloak, this odd little novel by Ge Fei would contain a little magic in it, but the cloak is only mentioned in passing, and the plot follows the mostly mundane life of a high-end stereo salesman in Beijing, China. Once I got over my initial disappointment that it wasn’t going to be a Chinese Harry Potter, though, I enjoyed reading the book. And its last paragraph hit me in a way that reminded me of the way the closing lines of The Great Gatsby did when I read it so many years ago:

Then I stood up, hitched up my pants, and said in a tone that surprised even me, “Do you mind if I contribute my thoughts to this one? If you could just stop nitpicking and dissecting every little thing, if you could learn to keep one eye closed and one eye open, and quit worrying about everything and everybody, you might discover that life is actually pretty f***ing beautiful. Am I right?

The Last Days of Night

Graham Moore opens one of the early chapters of his novel The Last Days of Night with this quote by James Watson, who co-discovered DNA:

It’s necessary to be slightly underemployed if you are to do something significant.

Sounds about right.

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Old Obsessions

Sometimes it’s hard to let go. For a few years after I stopped teaching English, I kept a section of this site dedicated to writing-related topics. Somehow, people from all over the world found what I had written and started … Continue reading 

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Take a Stanza — The Windhover

When I first read this poem back in college, I loved it so much that I committed it to memory. It’s funny to think I had time to do things like that back then. And I’m glad I did, because … Continue reading 

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A few years ago while spelunking in my mother’s basement, looking for long-forgotten family treasure, I came across a stack of photocopied newspaper articles from the 1980s fastened together by a rusty paperclip. The articles, both fascinating and horrifying, reported … Continue reading 

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Augmented Audio: Living with In-Ear Technology

As I headed out to the gym the other day, with my progressive-lens glasses, high-tech crutches, and stormtrooper stabilizing boot, it occurred to me that I looked a little like a cyborg—which got me thinking about my friend Sara Hendren … Continue reading 

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Little Red Riding Hoods

Last week I went with some friends to an improv show. For one of the segments, the improv group had to act out a fairy tale suggested by a member of the audience—Little Red Riding Hood—in increasingly shorter time spans. … Continue reading 

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Grand River, Then and Now

Two years ago Grand Rapids, Michigan, experienced its worst flooding in over 100 years. The Grand River, which runs alongside the downtown business district, swelled to dangerous levels, flooding nearby offices, submerging some homes up to their roof lines, and … Continue reading 

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One win, one loss

Last year around this time I wrote about two new year’s resolutions that I was going to try to keep: to read at least six books and to write at least six blog entries.

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If you’ve ever had a twitching eyelid, you know how annoying it can be. If it continues to flutter for many days or weeks, you know it can get downright frustrating. Imagine what it would be like to have your … Continue reading 

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This word — resolute — doesn’t show up as much in my reading as its verb and noun counterparts, resolve and resolution. It seems a little too formal for most writing occasions. Yet there’s something about it that I like. … Continue reading 

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