Buffalo nickels and loaves of bread. And pennies and cabbage, too.

Buffalo NickelYesterday I was given a buffalo nickel in a handful of change. Of all things! A buffalo nickel! These were minted between 1913 and 1938, and though the date on mine has been completely worn away, meaning I’ll never know when it was struck, I do know that it was certainly no later than 1938 — at which time, apparently, a nickel would have bought you a jumbo loaf of sliced bread (at a time when being able to afford a jumbo loaf of anything was hardly a foregone conclusion).

Anyway – I have some pretty powerful feelings about old coins! And I wrote about them once. Hereunder, that post.

A PENNY FOR YOUR HALF A CABBAGE

I have this odd little habit. It’s harmless, but also seemingly pointless. Every once and a while I stop and wonder: Why is that again? I collect what are known as wheat head pennies.

wheat-penniesAnd when I say “collect,” I mean rather as the girl collects the sticks to all the lolly pops she’s every had — there’s no real organization to it, certainly no rarefied treatment afforded, and I don’t really imagine that I’ll be doing anything with them in the future. I just like having them.

The wheat head penny, you see, was discontinued in 1959, when the wreath of wheat was replaced with an image of the Lincoln Memorial. If I hold a wheat head penny in my hand, it was first in someone’s pocket at least five years before I was born.

My collection is small — only 16, so far — the oldest minted in 1924, most in the 1950s. The boy knows to keep an eye out for them. If, for instance, we see-a-penny-and-pick-it-up-and-all-the-day-you’ll-have-good-luck, we take a good look to make sure it isn’t super old. I don’t much like how they smell — pennies were bronze in those years — and if I hold them for too long, my hands will stink for the rest of the day.

But holding them is kind of what I like the most.

These pennies made a real difference in real people’s lives. In the 1920s, you could get a pound of cabbage or watermelon with just two of them, and in 1932, a pound of wieners cost eight (meaning, if the 1932 wieners were roughly the same size as the wieners currently in my freezer, you could get two for just one of my pennies).

If I were to hop into my time machine with the sixteen wheat heads currently in my possession and head for 1946, I would be able to buy a dozen doughnuts, with one penny left as a souvenir (but of course I wouldn’t collect any more while there, because: Prime Directive). By the time the wheat head was discontinued, each individual penny carried a bit less of a wallop, but hey: With only 10, you could buy a Jiffy cake mix for your end-of-decade bash!

I like to think of the kids who were given these pennies in their stockings, about the woman who dropped them into coin purses or coffee cans in kitchen cupboards — real money, money that you counted and horded and made important decisions with. Something simple and daily that passed through hands and pockets and tills without number, until they came to find me, and I put them in my pocket, and then into a little bag, in a little box, on my dresser.

The day will come, I imagine, that my children will have to decide what to do with them. (“Do you want Mom’s pennies?” “Why’d she collect these again?” “I don’t know…”). I’d like to say I hope they feel free to get rid of them, but honestly? I hope they don’t. Maybe they’ll split the collection between them, or share with their own kids.

Of all the many objects we gather in an effort to preserve our history, it’s these sorts of things that I love the most — the little things. The things that people actually touched and used, carried with them into their day. I imagine some of my wheat heads have sad stories to tell as well: The boy who couldn’t buy the longed-for movie ticket, because my 1927 penny rolled under his bureau and he couldn’t see it. Or the tired waitress met by a surly customer, who thought leaving a one-penny tip might be funny. It’s not all piggy-banks and coffee cans when you’re a penny.

But that’s real, too. I like feeling that somehow, even without knowing the potentially millions of stories each of these coins could tell, I am still holding those stories safe, and — somehow — remembering.

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On boys and princesses (and Barbies).

I wrote the following for the Chicago Tribune soon after the boy started kindergarten; in two hours, he’ll be graduating from 8th grade. If you’re wondering, it happened in the blink of an eye.

A mom’s guide to dealing with a little boy’s life

For a 5-year-old lad, wearing dresses and playing Barbies can be just another part of growing up

The very one.

The very one.

My kindergartner was on the computer the other day, doing his thing on disney.com. I walked in looking for something, and he immediately shooed me away. I glanced at the screen as he tried to hide it: princesses as far as the eye could see, and a great deal of pink. I said “I’m just getting something. Bye!” and there it ended. But I thought “Hunh.”

This is the boy who had a pink backpack for two solid years of preschool. The walls of his room are lavender, because he wants them that way, and he has a heart-shaped plate in the cupboard, featuring three of those very princessi. About a year ago, he said to me that he sometimes wishes he were a girl “because they get to wear pretty clothes,” and, given half a chance, he loves to play Barbies at his friend Stephanie’s house.

As you might have guessed, this is a boy who has never in his home heard the words “boys don’t fill-in-the-blank.” In fact, the “pretty clothes” comment led to a typically tortured, early-21st Century maternal response: “Well, you know, most boys and men don’t wear skirts and dresses, but some do, sometimes, and if you really want to, you can”–a response, it should be noted, that later won full approval from his father, as well. We are very clear on this: He can love whomever he wants, wear whatever he wants, do whatever he wants. As long as he’s home for the holidays.

Or, more to the point, as long as he’s happy. And there’s the rub. If pink makes him happy, even if only now and then (because mostly he plays superheroes and builds with Legos and reads), then I want him to have access to it.

I am not, however, the only one in his life, and neither is his dad. He goes to a public school, and while this is the kind of public school where some of the coolest 8-year-old boys come to class with their Beanie Babies every day, it is still public, which is to say, in the world. The real world, not the world as his father and I would shape it, but the world that struggles daily and mightily with the push and pull between individuality and collective consciousness, between political correctness and political neanderthalism, between what really matters and what we only think matters.

Ultimately, that’s where I would have him, right in the thick of it. To me, this is human, to be in society, slogging away at these questions, wringing out what is best for oneself while fighting that which would diminish us all. The trouble is, he’s 5.

He doesn’t know he’s part of the grand arc of civilization, carving the shape of humanity with the very act of living. No, he’s in kindergarten. He wants the kids he likes to like him, he wants them to think him “awesome.” He wants to be safe. Gender identity, I would wager, is pretty low on his list.

So when he chides me, as he has, for not dressing his little sister in pink, I know that what he’s really doing is figuring out how to be a boy. And that’s fine. We all have to do that kind of figuring out, and it never really ends.

The question for me is: How do I allow him the space to do that in the real world, while still teaching him to blaze the trail that he needs? Today it’s pink, but later there may be tattoos to assay, or a popular war to protest.

I don’t want to tell him that what other kids might “say” doesn’t matter — it does, it matters a very great deal, to him if not to me. At the same time, neither do I want to teach him to hide himself away, protect his less conventional faces through subterfuge. If I have one child-rearing motto, it might be: “No closets, ever.”

So how do you teach a very small boy that the only way to love yourself is to be yourself, in the full knowledge that some people might not like you at all? That sometimes you don’t know who you are until someone laughs at you — that sometimes being yourself requires courage, and there is no courage without fear.

Personally, I fake it. I respond as things come up, hoping that in his little head, my bon mots are being knit together in some sort of cohesive, butt-kicking whole. Hoping that he will see in his parents’ lives a decently maintained balance between enjoying the group and striking out on our own, and that he will know that, no matter what, he will always have us. Even if he grows up to be a pants-wearing, woman-marrying surgeon, or something.

The other day, out of nowhere, he asked me why he has that princess plate. “Uh, you wanted it,” I said, swiftly riffling through my mental files for just the right response to the impending machoization of my firstborn, “so we gave it to you.” He looked past his pizza to the pink, the ribbons, the fluttery eyelashes and the birdies and said, “I shouldn’t have this!”

And then, before I could even begin to react, he said, “But I still like eating off it,” and did. Ah, hope.

Chicago Tribune, February 13, 2005

Breaking: Facebook promises action on gender-based hate speech.

facebook-like-iconHuh! Seven days after the launch of the #FBrape campaign, Facebook has responded in just about the best possible way. From the company’s statement:

Many different groups which have historically faced discrimination in society, including representatives from the Jewish, Muslim, and LGBT communities, have reached out to us in the past to help us understand the threatening nature of content, and we are grateful for the thoughtful and constructive feedback we have received. 

…In recent days, it has become clear that our systems to identify and remove hate speech have failed to work as effectively as we would like, particularly around issues of gender-based hate…. We need to do better – and we will.

The statement then lists a series of concrete steps, “that we will begin rolling out immediately” — these include:

  • a review of Facebook community standards and an update to its hate speech guidelines
  • updated training for teams responsible for reviewing “hateful speech or harmful content”
  • increased accountability and transparency for creators of questionable content
  • establishing “more formal and direct lines of communications with representatives of groups working in this area, including women’s groups,” and other outside resources, such as the Anti-Defamation League’s Anti-Cyberhate working group, legal experts, “and other groups that have historically faced discrimination.”
  • undertaking “research on the effect of online hate speech on the online experiences of members of groups that have historically faced discrimination in society, and to evaluate progress on our collective objectives.”

This is all very, very good news indeed, and as someone who’s advocated around a lot of painful issues in the course of her life, I almost don’t know what to do with it. You mean – people can see reason? Within a reasonable amount of time? Really?

And it’s all thanks to the folks at the Everyday Sexism ProjectWomen Action and Media, and activist Soraya Chemaly – from their statement about the day’s events:

Facebook has admirably done more than most other companies to address this topic in regards to content policy.

…“It is because Facebook has committed to having policies to address these issues that we felt it was necessary to take these actions and press for that commitment to fully recognize how the real world safety gap experienced by women globally is dynamically related to our online lives,” explains Soraya Chemaly.

“We have been inspired and moved beyond expression by the outpouring of energy, creativity and support for this campaign from communities, companies and individuals around the world. It is a testament to the strength of public feeling behind these issues.” says Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism Project.

Jaclyn Friedman, executive director of Women Action and the Media (WAM!), said: “We are reaching an international tipping point in attitudes towards rape and violence against women. We hope that this effort stands as a testament to the power of collaborative action.”

We are hopeful that this moment will mark an historic transition in relation to media and women’s rights in which Facebook is acknowledged as a leader in fostering safer, genuinely inclusive online communities, setting industry precedents for others to follow.We look forward to collaborating with these communities on actions both big and small until we live in a world that’s safe and just for women and girls, and for everyone.

Now, of course, Facebook still has to deliver on all these fine promises – but you know what? Rape culture and domestic violence apologists are EVERYwhere. What we don’t have everywhere are efforts to combat those things. Facebook is to be commended for this swift and solid response, and its willingness to be in dialogue with the very people who called it on the carpet. This is a very powerful, very hopeful thing.

And I have to say: I’ve been active around the issue of sexual assault since the mid-80s, and I have seen huge cultural shifts in just the past few years. Today’s outcome would have been completely inconceivable even just five years ago, I think. It’s utterly remarkable to me – in fact, I think I’m in a little bit of shock.

But it’s the good kind of shock! So thanks Facebook! And thank you very much to all the folks who read this blog and spread the word. We are a part of something that made real change for good. Give yourself a high-five for me, ok? : ) THANK YOU!

Time moves inexorably forward…

…and demands that we march with it.

This person

is graduating from 8th grade tomorrow.

Which is equal parts ridiculous and bananas. Also, it’s requiring a smidge bit more of my time than I apparently thought it would (this morning’s omg-thank-God-I-thought-of-this-now-and-not-tomorrow moment was “His suit! Must be dry-cleaned!”).

Plus I have pretty hard deadlines on a couple of projects this week, not to mention that if I manage to write for Open Zion, that, too would be a good thing – I think what I’m saying here is that In My Head may be less content-ful than I might like over the next few days. (My actual head is probably too content-ful, but that’s another issue).

I’ll just say this – I once wrote this about the boy (who learned to walk in his second year when I was away for 36 hours, and grew taller than me earlier this month when I was away for 10 days) and his sister, and it’s all still true:

But if I could go back in time for anything, it would be to fall asleep with them on my chest, or make them laugh that crazy way, or run my hand over their smooth, wispy hair. I would put my nose against their necks and breathe and breathe and breathe, and check every toe and every finger and every fold in their august thighs, and will my body to remember every single thing. Before I would meet my own father, I would hold my babies, one more time.

Wouldn’t you?

Al-Dura report: smear tactics that work.

(AP Photo/Hatem Moussa). Baraa al-Dura, sister of Mohammed al-Dura poses with a picture of Mohammed at her home in Bureij Refugee Camp in the Gaza Strip, Monday, May 20, 2013.

(AP Photo/Hatem Moussa). Baraa al-Dura, sister of Mohammed al-Dura poses with a picture of Mohammed at her home in Bureij Refugee Camp in the Gaza Strip, Monday, May 20, 2013.

lot of people (not least my editor, Ali Gharib) have been writing this week about Muhammad al-Dura, a 12-year-old boy killed in a fire-fight between Israeli and Palestinian forces early in the second Intifada. They’re writing about him because the Israeli government decided to stir up the hornet’s nest of his horrible, horrifying death and (once again) insist on its own innocence. Along the way, they smeared Israeli-French journalist Charles Enderlin, accusing him of, among other things, “inspir(ing) terrorists and contribut(ing) significantly to the demonization of Israel and rise in anti-Semitism in Muslim countries and the West.”

Such tactics, intended to silence or at the very least delegitimize those who might criticize the Israeli government’s policy or actions, are old hat, and their use is of course widespread. Advocates for a two-state peace, from Israeli-born/Israel-living Rabbis to never-stepped-foot-in-the-Jewish-State Gentiles, are routinely subject to slights on their character, attacks on their professional credibility, and/or physical threats—whether by the Israeli government (see above), organizations devoted to supporting the Israeli government (except if the Israeli government happens to support two-states), or the various and many self-appointed Jewish Purity Czars.

This is not a phenomenon born in the age of comments sections and Twitter. It has always been thus, and if you doubt it, you can look into the history of, for instance, Breira, founded in 1973 by the late great Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf to advocate for positions nearly indistinguishable from those of J Street today, and hounded out of existence within four years. Breira member Rabbi Michael Paley remembers: “Jobs were threatened. The financial supporters of B’nai Brith and Hillel came to the directors and said, ‘Stop this, we’ll fire you.’”

You might also consider the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. In the weeks and days before Yigal Amir shot Rabin in 1995, a vicious hate-and-fear-mongering campaign had gripped Israel, a venting of fury with which the current Prime Minister took no issue at the time (click here to see Netanyahu smiling beneficently while a churning right-wing crowd waves posters with Rabin’s head pasted onto Heinrich Himmler’s body—no Photoshop necessary—and screams that their Prime Minister is a traitor).

On the other end of the significance scale, you might consider someone as irrelevant as, say, me: A year and a half into the second Intifada, back in the States for what my husband and I assumed would be a temporary, academia-related stay, I slipped back into my old gig of writing about Israel. I ran a heartbroken essay in theChicago Tribune in June 2002, and six weeks later an op-ed about how many Palestinian kids had been killed by Israeli forces since the second Intifada began. Among the children I mentioned was Muhammad al-Dura.

I also mentioned Israeli children who had been killed, including ten-month old Shalhevet Pas, and wrote something that I’ve since written countless versions of:

Withdrawal from the territories will not put an immediate halt to the violence or, of course, the hatred, particularly not if the terms are, as in the Oslo accords, patently unbalanced in Israel’s favor. That is the excruciating price we will have to pay for subjugating another people for 35 long, brutal years.

It was this piece that got me death threats, led someone to send letters to every member of my synagogue labeling me an inauthentic Jew and menace to Israel, and inspired a communal leader to tell me that I had “put weapons in the hands of the enemy.”

I relay this tale not to complain (much…) but to make the following point: To whatever extent Rabbi Wolf, Yitzhak Rabin, or some random commentary writer in America’s Middle West offered any kind of threat to a maximalist Israel or the idea that the Jewish State need not take any responsibility for its actions—we seem to have been thwarted.

Whereas those who spread smears both public and private, threatened financial ruin and violence, and the man who murdered a democratically elected national leader—they all won.

Muhammad al-Dura was killed 13 years ago. I’m fairly well convinced that it was an Israeli bullet that pierced his skin, but even if it wasn’t, Israel has been responsible for the deaths of 1,376 Palestinian minors in the years since; in that same timeframe, Palestinians have been responsible for the deaths of 129 Israeli minors.

Also in that same timeframe, the population of Israeli settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem has doubled. Israel has erected a barrier of electrified fencing and 26-foot-high cement slabs stretching more than twice the length of its recognized, international border, 85 percent of it inside Palestinian territory. Israeli settlers regularly carry out “price tag” attacks on Palestinians, with near total impunity. Children as young as 6, 7, or 8 are often arrestedassaulted, and/or simply prevented (like every other Palestinian) from getting where they need to go, like school, or the doctor. In the years since the killing of Muhammad al-Dura, Israel has tightened restriction of movement in the West Bank so much that organizers couldn’t find 26.2 miles of contiguous land on which to run the first annual Bethlehem Marathon.

So it works. The constant disinformation, distraction, misdirection, confabulation, and endless stream of threats actually works. In the 40 years since Breira, the nearly 20 years since Rabin’s assassination, and 13 years since al-Dura’s death, nothing that peace advocates have advocated for has been achieved (the goal never having been talks, or talks about talks). On the contrary, it could be argued that peace is now farther away than ever.

The only thing that changed is the sheer number of American Jews who have understood the danger of being shouted down, and have stood up to and stared down the intimidation. They have carved out a space for both loving Israel and criticizing it, and that is a tremendous thing.

But when I recall poor Muhammad al-Dura’s death, and all the events leading up to this week’s report, I honestly don’t know if our love is going to be enough to shift the tide. Israel appears wholly dedicated to seeing that it isn’t.

Crossposted from Open Zion/The Daily Beast.

Musical crush, awesome-cool update edition.

Matt Priest, of Canasta… stopped by this blog. Today. And left a comment. And said thank you. And also linked to the official video for the song that I’ve twice embedded (how the official video escaped my eye, I have no idea). No, really, he did! Click here if you don’t believe me, you un-believing-type person!

And so it seems only right that I embed the right clip! Especially as I’ve now had this very song on loop in my head for like, I don’t know – a week? Or so?

I give you: Microphone Song – the official clip!

*

(Thanks, Matt Priest! I think your band and musical oeuvre are very, very fab).

PS Squeeing may or may not have ensued when I saw the above-linked comment. We may never know, and I will never say. Ahem.

Why isn’t it hate speech if it’s about women?

Facebook-Unlike

PLEASE SEE VERY IMPORTANT UPDATE, HERE.

I am famously Not On Facebook (well, “famously” among you folks, anyway), but not being on Facebook doesn’t mean that I’m entirely unaware of the phenomenon. And it strikes me that, much like Twitter, there are probably nearly as many “Facebooks” as there are users, all the various different little cultures that have been created and propagated on that platform, most users largely unaware of most of the other cultures that exist right along beside them (kind of like, you know: in the Real World).

Which is why I’ll bet most Facebook users have no idea how much vile, violent anti-woman hate speech is posted there daily, under the guise of free speech and/or “humor.”

This week, Soraya Chemaly, Jaclyn Friedman and Laura Bates posted an open letter to Facebook on HuffPo that reads in part:

We are calling on Facebook users to contact advertisers whose ads on Facebook appear next to content that targets women for violence, to ask these companies to withdraw from advertising on Facebook until you take the above actions to ban gender-based hate speech on your site.

Specifically, we are referring to groups, pages and images that explicitly condone or encourage rape or domestic violence or suggest that they are something to laugh or boast about. Pages currently appearing on Facebook include Fly Kicking Sluts in the Uterus, Kicking your Girlfriend in the Fanny because she won’t make you a Sandwich, Violently Raping Your Friend Just for Laughs, Raping your Girlfriend and many, many more. Images appearing on Facebook include photographs of women beaten, bruised, tied up, drugged, and bleeding, with captions such as “This bitch didn’t know when to shut up” and “Next time don’t get pregnant.”

These pages and images are approved by your moderators, while you regularly remove content such as pictures of women breastfeeding, women post-mastectomy and artistic representations of women’s bodies. In addition, women’s political speech, involving the use of their bodies in non-sexualized ways for protest, is regularly banned as pornographic, while pornographic content – prohibited by your own guidelines – remains. It appears that Facebook considers violence against women to be less offensive than non-violent images of women’s bodies, and that the only acceptable representation of women’s nudity are those in which women appear as sex objects or the victims of abuse. Your common practice of allowing this content by appending a [humor] disclaimer to said content literally treats violence targeting women as a joke.

For me, reading about it wasn’t enough to really jolt me — what jolted me was seeing pictures.

I won’t post any here, because they’re truly disturbing, but if you’d like to see what Chemaly, Friedman and Bates are talking about, you can click here, herehere, or here.

The first example is the one that shocked me into taking action, and after having a dispassionate exchange about Facebook ad policies with me, it was the second one that inspired my Twitter friend and J Street’s new-media associate, Ben Silverstein, to make this happen:

What these posts are, pure and simple, is hate speech. We don’t often call open misogyny hate speech, but that’s what it is. If it’s your idea of a joke to meme-ify a picture of a woman cringing in fear with the words “Women deserve equal rights… and lefts” (as can be seen here), then you are (to quote Facebook itself) “attacking a person based on… gender.” Indeed, you’re attacking half of humanity. That is hate speech.

If you want to help put a stop to this kind of willed blindness about the dehumanization of women, you can click here to learn more and do some pretty simple things: Send a tweet. Post to an FB page. Maybe write an email. That’s it. Five minutes, ten minutes. One minute.

But if Facebook and their advertisers are flooded with protest, if enough people with money to spend on ads are horrified enough, if FB is hassled enough – things can change. And that means we have to flood them with protest. We are the only ones who can.

One image – not horrifying, except for the idea behind it, and it’ll give you an idea of what I’m talking about. Please take action — this kind of thing is part and parcel of the culture in which one in every five women is raped in her lifetime, and one in every four is the victim of violence from an intimate partner.

When we laugh, or just ignore it — we say it’s ok. But it’s not ok. And we need to call it out.

violence against women

My brain, the weasel.

In a wild and woolly happenstance, The Bloggess (who, if you’re unfamiliar, is kind of a Big Deal on The Internet as well as Among Geeks) wrote essentially the same post I wrote yesterday. Only her’s was funny. I highly recommend that you click here to read it, because really, how much earnestness are you going to let me dish out to you?

Also, her’s had the following video, which she posited is an accurate representation of herself, trying to get work done (aka: the cat) battling her brain (aka: the weasel). And it’s totally about me, too!!1! So, yeah, The Bloggess and me? Totes twin-like! I’m just as cool as she is! (I am so!)

So anyway. Watch this. It’s very funny.

Dear Science – here’s a true thing.

 

Getting a handle on my tools.

lake bluff public libraryMy early childhood was fairly peripatetic, but when that part of it ended, around 5th grade, we moved in across the street from the town library.

Having been raised by a librarian, moving in across the street from the library was somewhat analogous to moving in across the street from heaven. I can still remember exactly where the Betsy-Tacy-Tib books were located in the children’s section downstairs, and I can just about feel the industrial carpet through my shirt as I lay down to read whatever was next to them.

Throughout my life, going to the library has involved spending time with books for which I had not intended to reach out a hand. In fact I think that’s how I came on the BTT books in the first place; I know for a fact that I read some sizeable chunk of Maud Hart Lovelace’s oeuvre sitting with my back against that next-to-bottom shelf on which they could be found.

As you can imagine, this occasionally resulted in a trip to the library taking longer, and yielding a much bigger pile, than I’d intended, a fact that was equally true in college and graduate school, which you can further imagine didn’t always do wonders for my workload.

But it is how I discovered Susan Brownmiller’s Against Our Will and an entire shelf of feminist theory (which I can still see, in the library of the Naftali Building at Tel Aviv University), launching my transformation from an instinctive feminist to an educated one, so it’s not all bad — but on the other hand, let me tell you, when one allows oneself to get temporarily lost in random books in the stacks of Regenstein Library at the University of Chicago, it can lead (you know: entirely theoretically) to getting actually, literally lost.

So why do I bring all of this up now?

Because the Internet.

The Internet, I have realized, is One Big (Chaotic) Library, and there you are, wandering down the stacks on your way to the “Israel/Palestine” section, or possibly the “Recipes” shelf, or mayhaps the “Interesting Stories About Scientific Advances That You Can Kind Of Understand If You Read Slowly” department, and boom! You stroll right past baby gorillas practicing thumping their chests! Or an obscure, unknown mathematician who solved an old, thorny problem about prime numbers! (And if you read slowly, you just know you can understand it!) Or a colorful and random appreciation of all things Eurovision!

And just like that, I’m sitting on the metaphorical floor of the library, enjoying baby gorillas or trying to remember what I know about prime numbers.

The up side, of course, is that I find so many utterly fascinating things in my meandering way. Our earliest ancestor! Space flight for regular folks! Everything the Vlogbrothers have ever done, alone or together!

The down side is that I find so many utterly fascinating things in my meandering way.

I mean: The day – still only 24 hours, right? If I’m wandering about the stacks, I’m not sitting on my couch reading the book that’s literally right there, waiting for me!

And I begin to feel a little unhinged when this sort of thing goes on for too long.

This is not the Internet’s fault. This is my fault. The Internet (and Twitter, and BuzzFeed, and Wired, and YouTube, and on and on) are all just tools that I haven’t learned how to use properly yet. I used to know how to keep going past that tantalizing spine in the not-where-I’m-supposed-to-be section of the library when I really had to. I have to teach myself again, is all, and teach myself that “I really have to” includes things that aren’t on deadline, but that are ultimately more important to me than the meandering bit. It’s a constant rejiggering of the hierarchy of importance, and a constant retooling of my skill set in that field. It requires a level of mindfulness that is, I’m guessing, fairly new to the human animal.

But that’s ok. As this young man would no doubt assure me, if I believe in myself, I will get the hang of it, I know it!

Thumbs up for rock n’ roll!

(And libraries).