Monday, July 19, 2010

I would SO do this....

Paleoanthropology Division
Smithsonian Institute
207 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20078

Dear Mr. Owaya:

Thank you for your latest submission to the Institute, labeled "211-D, layer seven, next to the clothesline post. Hominid skull." We have given this specimen a careful and detailed examination, and regret to inform you that we disagree with your theory that it represents "conclusive proof of the presence of Early Man in Charleston County two million years ago." Rather, it appears that what you have found is the head of a Barbie doll, of the variety one of our staff, who has small children, believes to be the "Malibu Barbie". It is evident that you have given a great deal of thought to the analysis of this specimen, and you may be quite certain that those of us who are familiar with your prior work in the field were loathe to come to contradiction with your findings. However, we do feel that there are a number of physical attributes of the specimen which might have tipped you off to its modern origin:

1. The material is molded plastic. Ancient hominid remains are typically fossilized bone.

2. The cranial capacity of the specimen is approximately 9 cubic centimeters, well below the threshold of even the earliest identified proto-hominids.

3. The dentition pattern evident on the "skull" is more consistent with the common domesticated dog than it is with the "ravenous man-eating Pliocene clams" you speculate roamed the wetlands during that time. This latter finding is certainly one of the most intriguing hypothesis you have submitted in your history with this institution, but the evidence seems to weigh rather heavily against it. Without going into too much detail, let us say that:

A. The specimen looks like the head of a Barbie doll that a dog has chewed on.

B. Clams don't have teeth.

It is with feelings tinged with melancholy that we must deny your request to have the specimen carbon dated. This is partially due to the heavy load our lab must bear in its normal operation, and partly due to carbon dating's notorious inaccuracy in fossils of recent geologic record. To the best of our knowledge, no Barbie dolls were produced prior to 1956 AD, and carbon dating is likely to produce wildly inaccurate results.

However, we gladly accept your generous donation of this fascinating specimen to the museum. While it is undoubtedly not a hominid fossil, it is, nonetheless, yet another riveting example of the great body of work you seem to accumulate here so effortlessly. You should know that our Director has reserved a special shelf in his own office for the display of the specimens you have previously submitted to the Institution, and the entire staff speculates daily on what you will happen upon next in your digs at the site you have discovered in your back yard. We eagerly anticipate your trip to our nation's capital that you proposed in your last letter, and several of us are pressing the Director to pay for it. We are particularly interested in hearing you expand on your theories surrounding the "trans-positating fillifitation of ferrous ions in a structural matrix" that makes the excellent juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex femur you recently discovered take on the deceptive appearance of a rusty Sears Craftsman 9-mm automotive crescent wrench.

Yours in Science,

Harvey Rowe
Curator, Antiquities

Monday, July 5, 2010

Declaraction of Independence: A Rather Narcissistic Post, but a Necessary One

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. Life's gotten weird, particularly since graduation. I'm having to reexamine who I am as a person yet again. I thought I'd already gotten through this crap during high school, but apparently not. Who am I as a person? What direction do I want my life to go? What can I do to alleviate some of the consequences of mistakes made years ago?

Some of the godawful soul searching has been helpful -- I'm applying for a job at Starbucks, which I'm really excited about. It's going to pay for my trip to Ireland with Alyce and pay back some debts and eventually help me purchase a new car. I'm trying to make small steps to get back to the joyful person I once was. For some reason, this involves painting my nails green, which makes me absurdly happy. I'm going out to dinner with friends and sitting in coffee shops reading and planning out my book and swimming a lot.

I've been doing some more thinking today, though. I tend to compare my life to Howl's Moving Castle a lot, mainly because I admire Sophie's character so much. I have a picture from Miyazaki's film as my desktop background. It's from the beginning of the film, when Sophie is sitting at her long hat-making desk, sewing, watching the train travel by in billows of smoke and dreaming of an escape, of a time when the magic will be real and will reach out and grab her. There's something so mournful and resigned in her posture, but the fact that she's sitting in front of a window, open to possibility through her observations, strikes me as being hopeful, too. I always imagined myself in a similar way; sitting in front of a piano or a school desk, watching the world around me and waiting for the magic to sweep me away. It happens to Sophie, after all. Howl comes along and takes her walking in the sky and she is snatched up and away from the doldrums of her life and tossed headlong into magic.

The point of all this is that I'm not going to passively wait around anymore. All that's brought me has been pain (the "'tis but a flesh wound" variety, only emotional), an obscene amount of angst that should only belong in a teenage drama, and antidepressants. Magic isn't going to sweep me up, up, and away. That's why I'm getting a job and moving to South Carolina next year and taking control of my life. If I don't take charge of myself, nobody else will.

And that's another thing. I refuse to be some guy's damsel in distress. I hate those girls that are never complete without some guy to fulfill their lives and give them a purpose. That's putting an awful lot of power into someone else's hands. I'm not saying this in a morbidly bitter way, please note. I'm just not interested in waiting for my Howl to get off his butt and lazily decide that I'm worth taking a stroll in the sky with. If he wants me, he can meet me in the sky. To use another metaphor, I will climb out of my tower when I am damn good and ready and I'll do it without some nut-job using my bloody hair to get there. I don't want to be rescued, because all that does is say that I am weak and incapable of saving myself.

I look at the people I most admire -- fictional characters like Penelope Garcia and Abby Sciuto and real people like Alyce and Shelby -- and the common thread about them is that they are unashamedly themselves and they don't apologize for it. I'm tired of being afraid all the time that something I say or do will be the thing to push me away. I'm exhausted from the fear. If you try to please everyone, you eventually break. In the end, all that matters is that I please myself and I please the God I love.

So here's the bottom line. You want to be around me? That's fine. But don't be around me unless you plan to stay around me and don't feel like you have to rescue me. I'm all right. And I plan to stay that way.