Saturday, December 31, 2011

Cross Posting Short Girl(s)

I don't do New Year's Resolutions. I don't do New Years, and I don't do Resolutions. It's two different things, really:

New Year's
I am totally willing to go to a party on New Years. I like parties. I like dancing. I like drinking. I like making noise at midnight because I like making noise. But New Year's doesn't hold any meaning for me besides a night that people have parties and make noise at midnight. If everyone in Iowa City started celebrating Canada Day then I would go to Canada Day parties. (No offense, Canada, but I don't really care about you.) There are days that mark the beginnings and endings of things—the first day it feels like a new season, the first day of vacation or the first day of school—those are days that prompt an evaluation of my life, those are days that something changes. Even my birthday, which might be considered an equally artificial marker, feels like a more significant change than the switch from December 31 to January 1st. There is nothing that I want to do or not do on January 1st that I wouldn't want to do or not do on December 31st. Except, perhaps, sleep off a hangover.

A resolution is a promise that I make to myself. And I don't believe in promises, not the way that people seem to use them. I think that a decision is either the best decision one can make given known information, or it isn't. If it is the best decision, then it should be made regardless of promises given or not given. If a promised action is the right action then the promise doesn't make a difference. It only makes a difference when that promised action isn't the best action, because then the promise only serves to enforce the wrong action. We make promises based on our belief in future events. Sometimes we're wrong. Not every goal is attainable, and sometimes we can be harmed by attempting unattainable goals.

It's not that I don't believe in goals. I believe in ever-evolving goals that reflect the best we know at any given time. There are things that I want, that I strive for. Sometimes I reach them. Sometimes I fail. Sometimes I decide that I'm better off if I don't try for that goal. And I never decide if a goal is helping or hurting me, or if a decision is a good or bad one, because of a promise I made.

(written as a guest post at

Friday, December 30, 2011

Heat Transfer

Every time the water turns back, past my ankles and into the opening mouth of a coming wave, it pulls away the sand under my heels, digging little depressions for me to sink back into. The longer I stand, the further entrenched I become. It’s as if I am fighting back the pull of water; the longer it pulls, the deeper I plant myself into the sand.

I always come back to this.

It is the day after Christmas, and my father and I are standing ankle-deep in the Pacific Ocean and talking about heat transfer and temperature. Did you know that if you stood in a room where the air temperature was 34 degrees, but the walls were 80 degrees, you would feel warm? It takes a specialized temperature control set up, but scientists have tried it and it works. It has to do with radiative versus conductive heat.

I wonder what it would be like to live in perpetual sun again.

The ocean tugs at my ankles; I am aware of the metaphor. It pulls me westward, homeward, California-bound. I am surprised to hear myself say, homeward. I lived here for seventeen years. And then I stopped. But here I am, fifteen years later, and the word comes, unbidden. Home.