Happy golden days of yore

To be stored away for your holiday cocktail party conversation purposes:

"Hugh Martin, the composer, lyricist, arranger and pianist best known for creating the Judy Garland standards “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “The Boy Next Door” and “The Trolley Song,” died on Friday at his home in Encinitas, Calif. He was 96.

Garland initially refused to sing the holiday ballad, which began, "Have yourself a merry little Christmas/It may be your last," until that second line was softened to "Let your heart be light."

-from Martin's March 14th 2011 obituary in the New York Times

It sounds morbid, but the New York Times' Obituary section is one of my favorite parts of the paper. I started reading it regularly on the recommendation of a friend who has it set as her homepage. I was pretty horrified the first time I saw her open her Internet browser, but it made sense when she explained it to me. Think about it: Anyone notable enough to be written up in the New York Times upon his or her death has probably had a very interesting life, and has contributed something pretty major to society.

Now it's one of my favorite feeds on my RSS reader-- I always learn something new and often come away inspired.

Lost and found

Earlier this month I was in my hometown, finally organizing the stuff remaining in my old bedroom, and found a clipping of a poem I loved but had totally forgotten about. It's fun and somewhat surprising to realize that my teenage self had pretty decent taste in some things (the clothing I found is another story altogether.)

The Teacher

by Billy Collins

There is that part of us that believes
We will never die – otherwise,
How could we watch so much television,

and there is the part that believes
when we die, all life will come to an end.
This is the part that storms within us
dragging its robes across the marble floor.

But what I like to believe
is that the minute I die,
the world will change into a map of the world

which I will roll up into a tube
and carry with me wherever I am going.

It could be an antique map with pictures
of sea serpents in the corners
or a huge Mercator projection,
but when I finally get where I am going
(and I have a feeling it will take days),

I will spread out the map on something flat,
and there I will study the patterns
of shorelines and boundaries,
maybe reminisce about a country I once visited
or a strait where a navel battle once took place.

I also like to believe
that there will be other beings there
who will gather around this picture of earth
so I can explain to them what it was like –

how the cold mountains rose above valleys,
how this was called geography,
how the people from this pale blue area
crossed into the light green area to the south
and killed whoever they found there
and how this was known as history

and as they listen, mild-eyed and silent,
others will arrive to join the circle
like ripples moving toward the center instead of away.

Published in the November 2003 issue of Poetry Magazine

Vintage 2005

Talking with friends last night about the sexy new MacBook Air, I realized that I must have had my current laptop for nearly five years. A look back at my iPhoto archives confirmed that indeed, next week will be my trusty (and somewhat crusty) little iBook G4's 5th birthday!

Me and my new toy on the Embarcadero, November 5th 2005

The iBook was an early Christmas present from my then-boyfriend. I came out to California for the first time to visit him during my senior year fall break in November 2005. I was pretty surprised when we walked into the Apple store in downtown San Francisco and he turned and said we were there to get something for me-- I hadn't ever pined for any of Apple's slick products. But, he graduated a year before me and had just started to collect his first paychecks, so he was feeling generous and insisted.

I now know the iBook was as much for my boyfriend as for me: He's a die-hard Mac person, and I learned later that it killed him to be dating a girl with a virus-ridden clunker of a PC. Turns out he winced every time I sat down at the 3-year-old HP that didn't work unless it was plugged into the wall (which I'll admit did kind of defeat the purpose of having a laptop.)

Me and the old PC in my dorm room, September 2005. I still don't think it was *so* bad!

I guess nobody ever told him about not trying to change someone you love, but I became a Mac fan, and the boyfriend and I ended up getting married-- so it all worked out for the best!

It's kind of funny that Apple has rolled out dozens of gorgeous new gadgets since Fall 2005, and I still just have this one. But my iBook still works like a charm and I've had practically zero problems with it-- the only maintenance I've had to perform is installing additional memory.

I suppose what I take away from this whole trip down memory lane is that there's something nice about sticking with something as long as it will stick with you, you know?

On linking in, and out

"The artifacts of our past accomplishments can become so engrossing in digital form that it can be harder to notice all we don't know and all we haven't done. While technology has generally been the engine that propels us into unknowable changes, it might now lull us into hypnotic complacency."

-from a NYT Magazine article by Jaron Lanier (also recommended: his book "You Are Not a Gadget")

I've been putting off adding my new venture to my LinkedIn profile. It might be because Ookoo Media is still in its initial stages, but that doesn't quite make sense-- I've been working on it since May, and have finished products for very satisfied clients. And I can't pretend that I forgot about my LinkedIn profile after I quit my job.

Lanier's comment made me realize I may be neglecting to update LinkedIn because what I'm doing now is a relatively big departure from the other things on my resume. I'm nervous about how my foray into "unknowable changes" might be received by my existing "network."

Now that I've put it in writing, it sounds ridiculous, but then again so many of the fears that hold us back actually are.