Music for your weekend

Didn’t get my flash finished today (although I did write one yesterday for a Coursera class I’m taking on exoplanets). To amuse you, I give you the video that is currently my daughter’s favorite. (She really loves the tiger.)

Oh! And drabble up at SpeckLit! Teleporter Blues

Going for a walk

Those who know me know that walking is a biggie. I touch on this on my About Me page. I had a major accident, and as a result, I had to relearn to walk — more than once. Before my accident, I walked everywhere, and afterward, I remember telling my roommate that I resented her put-upon attitude about having to walk four blocks. I was on bed rest at the time and would have given anything to be able to get up and walk.

Now? I don’t walk as much as I used to. Part of that is because, despite the fact that we’re technically within city limits, we might as well be living in the suburbs for how close we are to anything, and there aren’t a lot of sidewalks between here and, for example, the closest supermarket (both Wegmans and Giant are about 2 miles away on busy streets). It’s not like living in Berkeley and popping over to Andronico’s or Berkeley Bowl. I don’t walk because there’s not a lot of places to walk to.

Part of it, though, is habit. Over the years since my accident — especially the years before I got my ankle straightened and fused — I stopped walking. It was painful, it was difficult, and there didn’t seem to be a lot of point. So even though I now can walk, I still haven’t as much as I used to.

Last year, I worked at running again. Even tried to start up again in December, which is a bad time to try to make a new habit with all the calls on my time. I will run again this year — I probably won’t aim for a half marathon, just another 5k in September, most likely, with the goal to finish in less than half and hour this time (cutting my time in half!). On days when I’m not running, though, and to work up to it, I’m going to walk and remember how grateful I am that I can walk, that I still have my own leg, that this is something I enjoy.

I leave you with this video, and the usual question: what are you grateful for this week?

There’s no place like . . .

We’ve been traveling a fair bit recently, and — having a modern minivan — we’ve played DVDs for the kids in the back. Sometimes, we make them use headphones; Looney Toons are fun, but “The Rabbit of Seville” loses a lot if you can’t see it. Other times, we listen to the DVD, too, and it’s given me a lot of food for thought.

As much as I enjoy the movie The Wizard of Oz — and who doesn’t like saying “Lions and tigers and bears. Oh, my!” or singing along with “We’re off to see the wizard”? — I can’t help thinking about how it changes the truth both of the book it is based on and the entire series. (Spoiler warning!)

Not only is Oz real, but it winds up being Dorothy’s permanent home, as well as Aunt Em and Uncle Henry’s. Yes, it’s an escape from their farm being foreclosed on, but it has its own dangers to face. The big, important thing about Oz for Dorothy (and Trot, Button-Bright, and Betsy Bobbin) is that she has found somewhere she belongs, with friends who understand her, somewhere she fits in.

Looking back on my childhood, I think that may be part of what I loved about these books, almost as much as the magic.

Finding somewhere the characters fit in is a theme in many stories, both in print and in movies. Goonies, the Ice Age series (“We look like a normal pack to you?”), Anne of Green Gables, even the Harry Potter books have it as a theme . . . on and on. As someone who grew up with only a few friends at any time (and rather unpopular with the world in general), I needed stories that said I would, eventually, find my place.

And that’s why I’m going to make sure my children know there’s more to the story of Oz than the movie shows. There is no place like home — but we all need to know we can find somewhere else to belong, too.

N is for nectarines, Netflix, and Nutella

Just because I like them all.

Nectarines. The fruit that most means summer to me, juice dripping down my chin, and none of that fuzziness that can be so irritating with a peach.

Netflix. Wonderful service if you’ve got kids. Being able to stream so many things at a moment’s notice for a monthly fee? And then there’s my husband, who is rewatching several series from when he was growing up. Or the fact that we can now watch the new version of Battlestar Galactica from the beginning.

Nutella. Awesome spread, great on toast or a crêpe, and absolutely delicious stirred into oatmeal. Spreadable chocolate — what more could one want?

If you haven’t already, give them a try.

What random “N” things do you like?

happiness is a choice

Last week, I watched a TED talk by Dan Gilbert on why we’re happy. He talked about natural happiness versus synthetic happiness — how our brains decide that we’re happy with what we’ve got — and more, how we’re happier with irreversible choices.

They did an experiment with college students, letting them take photographs, teaching them how to use the dark room, and making prints of their two best pictures. After all of this, the students were told that they only got to keep one. The students who didn’t get the chance to change their minds were more satisfied with their choice.

This intrigues me because I always have more story ideas than I have time to write, and when I decide which one to work on, there has almost always been a tacit acknowledgment that I can change my mind if it doesn’t work out. According to Gilbert’s study, that’s the wrong approach.

According to his work, the best approach if I am to remain satisfied is to pick a project, work on it to completion, and then choose again. I don’t think that necessarily means I can’t slip small projects in, as long as I continue work on the first choice, but rather if I’m trying to decide between a fantasy novel, two science-fiction novels, and a cozy mystery as my next major project, I don’t get halfway through (or one-third — 30,000 words seems to be a big hurdle) and say, “I need to think this through. I’m going back to this other idea I set aside.” More importantly, I don’t second-guess myself, saying maybe I should have chosen X, Y, or Z instead. I choose, I work, I’m happy.

That’s the theory. We’ll have to see how it goes in practice. The current project is getting the urban fantasy edited and out the door, and everything but paying work and family time is taking the backseat to that. So maybe I’m on the right track.

What about you? What makes you happy? Or have you watched a different TED talk that influenced the way you think about your life?