Wednesday, January 30, 2013


I never liked living in a tropical place, but I always suspected that it would be a nice kind of place to visit. Everyone was confused when I told them I was going to Hawaii for a week, because of how vocally I dislike the heat, but my main point has always been that I don't like sweating, and sweating is so much less likely when your time is devoted to reading things and drinking tropical cocktails.

And now I am pretty sure that I need to focus more often on actually relaxing, since my leisure time is usually clouded by thinking about whatever it is that I should be doing instead of relaxing. And if it takes a steady diet of rum-based drinks and pineapple to do it, well, these are just sacrifices I will have to make.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

In Costa Rica there are cloud forests where the trees consider the traditional way of drinking--through their roots in the ground and up through their trunk to the very top--but also the less traditional method of through the leaves and down. This makes clear intuitive sense when you're so tall and the ground is so far away, but it makes even more romantic sense since these trees live with their heads in the clouds most of the time.

But of course everything is getting warmer and the clouds are disappearing, and the trees are going to have to find a new way to sate their thirst. They tend to drink from their clouds during the dry season, when there isn't enough rain to make it all the way up from their roots, and so the trees that drink the most water through their leaves are soon going to find themselves with no clouds and fewer leaves and just the same old ways of drinking. The soil is still not going to be enough for them, but the clouds then won't be either. They'll have to invent new ways of being, or perish in the attempt.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I cannot even express how much I am looking forward to going on vacation, but right now it's most of what I can think about. The weather has taken a turn to the icy and I am a little tired of being cold. It surprises me to say it, but it seems that a beach vacation may be just what I need, all the turtles and sundresses and no mittens. I would like to be able to feel my hands again.

When we come back I have some big life change coming up, which I hear is good for me but which obviously makes me nervous every time I think about it. Still, if the alternative is things staying the same I will look forward to something different and try not to mess it up too badly. In any case it will all be an adventure.

Friday, January 11, 2013

I started reading a book about the Venus transits in the 1700's, which starts out by describing just what a difficult proposition it was when Edmund Halley proposed the observation project about 60 years before the first transit happened. Not only was there the obvious problem of transporting scientists from different countries across hostile waters and over unfriendly boundaries, although in the 1700's this was logistical challenge enough. More poignantly, no one at the time of Halley's suggestion had any sort of unified system of measurement, no way for these men to come back and discuss what they had measured at the ends of the earth. So they were proposing to measure the size of the solar system all using different lengths of string and dented tin cans. What Halley had done was suggest that science do the impossible, and it went out and cobbled the impossible together.

The faith of it is what amazes me, that these men who had rarely left their home towns had faith enough in the need of their mission to get on a boat and sail past the edge of the horizon. That they were going to measure the heavens or die in the attempt, that what they had set out to do was more important than politics or wars or technology. We were certain to figure it out eventually--we always had before.

Cautious by nature, I think about this a lot, the challenge of having faith in your own convictions and the inevitability of their outcomes. Are we sure we needed to know the size of the solar system? Couldn't we be content with know that it was there and wait for technology to catch up with our plans? But of course we couldn't, and we set out to fall into something we couldn't have predicted even if we had unified our measurements and synchronized our watches.

More to the point, I suppose, is Rudy Francisco: "If I was to wake up tomorrow morning and decide I really wanted to write about love, my first poem would be about you, about how I love you the same way I learned how to ride a bike: scared, but reckless, with no training wheels or elbow pads so my scars can tell the story of how I fell for you."

Monday, January 07, 2013

The perihelion was last week, but although the day strung itself out all clear and cold and dry we had all come down with the New Years plague and hunkered down instead warm inside rooms.

I wondered how the sun felt about the Venus transit, since the next time it plays host to such a show will be when almost certainly no one currently alive will be able to see it. How it spent all of the last year reaching loops of plasma out toward us which we captured time and again in photos even if we're unsure what it was offering. I wondered how it felt about us sending robots to Mars and under our ice and into the bottom of our seas, if it realizes how many thousands of years it takes for one photon of its own to reach its surface and fling itself out toward us. And if it minds that those photons would never be able to find their way back in.

The sun shrugged and continued turning, rolling back through its track in the universe, prepared to pay more attention when we decide to send robots to it.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Hi there, 2013.

I rang you in in the nicest way, in sequins and surrounded by friends, kissing my favorite guy at midnight for the second New Years in a row. I woke up a few hours later to a very pink dawn shooting through a very blue sky, which is an omen that I will take.

Still I am having trouble fighting irrational feelings of doom, remembering how quickly things went wrong this time last year, how many blind spots it turned out that we had. I keep waiting for all of the shoes to drop, which as usual is making me act a little bit like a natural disaster myself. Self-fulfilling prophecies are annoying that way, so I should probably just stay quiet and still and sober until the feeling passes. Making mountains out of anything at all is not a skill I ought to continue to cultivate.

I'm not sure how it's happened exactly, but the year is already filling up with fun plans, with trips and parties and changes. In just a couple of weeks I'll be going to Hawaii, to sit in new places and eat new things.

Let's just keep it together, you and me, and move forward in all the best ways we can manage.