Speak up, my friends and neighborly readers,
It’s a funny term, to “hold” a conversation —I bet in other languages, conversations are “made” or something— but in fact if you speak only ASL, and you are holding a cup of coffee, that would effectively place the whole conversation on hold. By the way, did you know that ASL and international sign language languages replaced many of their signs as possibly offensive? Here’s an article—from 2012.
Speaking of other languages, I am in love with this hyperpolyglot. You have to read about him to believe it. He can speak fluently in 8 languages, but is conversant in more than 37. You’ll never guess what he does for a living. Also, he’s a nice guy with a big heart. Also, he speaks Lithuanian among his 37 languages. And also ASL.
Seems that he just enjoys how happy it makes people feel when you speak in their language. (Hear that, monolingual Americans? It’s not about you and your abilities or lack thereof - it’s about showing that you care about and respect the other person.)
Is that why science thinks it is a good idea to send out messages to outer space randomly? Honestly is this not like leaving the front door of your house open with a description of the kinds of people inside? The only aliens who are going to respond are the horrifically lonely ones, the ones who want to rip us off, and the interstellar Jehovah’s Witnesses (actually? more likely Scientologists…) But the Cornell geniuses are all ready with a new message. No joke.
Meanwhile, here on earth, at the Tribeca Target store on an early Thursday morning, the WiFi went down while I was buying a picture frame and the whole store was entirely crippled. No transactions could be done because the registers wouldn’t open. The hand held scanners would work to list the prices but not to check people out. The manager was beside himself.
Beside himself. What is that from? Transcendental meditation? We say it all the time - I looked it up. Sounds like a long time ago people thought your soul literally left your body when you experienced extreme emotions. (Another term that is similar is “out of your mind.”) But I have to say, none of the definitions or etymologies I saw explained it to my satisfaction. Feel free to send me your own ideas of where “beside yourself” can have come from. It’s so specific. And not tied to any one emotion: you can be beside yourself with joy, anger, jealousy, even sorrow. It seems to be more tied to the extremity of the emotion than of the emotion itself.
And while we’re wondering about weird phrases that have to do with duplications, what’s a “spitting image”?
Let’s ask Merriam Webster. Oh. Great. No one knows.
I didn’t do much new writing this week, sorry. I only published one long piece, about a spa on Governor’s Island, and one short piece about an art installation I love. I was discouraged from writing articles because Medium demoted me—I had signed up for their paid blogging program, but I did not have 100 followers, so Medium took away my ability to monetize my posts. Granted I had made only $1.32 for the most viewed post, but that is because no one our age clicks the hearts at the end. I don’t know why this is, but it is so. No idea why. And then, a friend stepped up. He read my post on Linked In and he reached out. Asked me what I needed. I told him. Now I have almost 300 followers on Medium. My brain is reeling. I even wrote about it.
If you’re interested in more of me than just once per week, sign up to follow me on Medium. Also? Sometimes click the heart at the end of things you’ve read. Not just my stuff. Everyone’s. We could use the love.
I did get awarded a cool fellowship from Luminary, co-sponsored by Indeed (the search platform) — the fellowship is an online networking and in-person workspace arrangement in a gorgeous midtown workspace where I love to go. I’m hoping that being able to attend weekly will bump up my productivity. I’d like to have some new short stories out soon. And yeah, still waiting for news from the agents.
Last thoughts - just random:
I had never in my life seen a map with all the regions of Russia identified. This is a still from a YouTube video my brother sent me that was a prediction that Putin’s current actions would ultimately lead to the de-federalization of Russia.
I am positively captivated by it. I technically knew there were regions of Russia that used to be independently governed, but I had no idea there were this many. I’m so used to seeing Russia as a big cohesive red swath of map. It’s staggering to see the many parts that comprise it.
So what else are we overlooking in life by not looking too closely, I wonder?
I went to see two shows recently: Jersey Boys and The Little Prince. Jersey Boys was about a band I wasn’t all that interested in, with a story that I didn’t think I would care about—while The Little Prince is a book that may have shaped my life as much as Alice in Wonderland. The musical Jersey Boys had the best-written, most captivating narrative I have seen in a long time and therefore I loved the show and am still raving about it through immense surprise: every transition was perfect, every song in its ideal place, all the elements in balance. It made me care about something I knew little about. It was a success. Little Prince was beautifully crafted with obvious love of the original illustrations—and entirely missed the point (or rather, changed the point) of the book. This production is about individualism, not about being a creative artist. It is worth seeing for the aerialist performances, the dance, and the videos alone, but if you are a fan of the book, I recommend re-reading the book after the show, as a palate-cleanser.
But I could have forgiven that, had I left feeling euphoric about the production—I did not. I was, instead, impressed. The biggest mistake The Little Prince made was to never hold for applause. There was nowhere to stop and appreciate the performer. The librettist and the director intentionally crafted something that had no moments when the audience felt it was okay to clap. As an audience member, this meant that we did not feel like a part of the show, but instead we felt like invited guests: viewers, not fans. I heard, later, that this is something all European shows hold dear: they hate the American idea that shows have “buttons” on each number, anticipating applause. This show could play to an empty house and be just as well-crafted. If Jersey Boys had an empty house, the musicians would go home—because there’s no point in playing if no one is listening: the audience’s love is part of the show.
I think I might suffer from lack of buttons in real life. I never schedule moments to hold for applause—never.