Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Relic Revisited

It was a dark and rainy night, in a city that's very weird, and people were in their homes avoiding the downpour. But one very silly girl was out walking home in the rain, that silly girl was me. As I was walking, suddenly I noticed something peculiar and worth my attention. I stopped and starred. There, in a dark corner, was a man standing outside a building fiddling with a machine--an old contraption--a relic of the past, you might say, covered in cobwebs probably. I hadn't taken notice of one of these machines for years and there existence brought me back to bygone days. I continued to unabashedly stare at him in puzzlement.

The machine in question is...the pay phone.

They sit waiting to be used in the strangest places and some of the most obvious too. They're outside grocery stores, on the corner of a busy street, in airports and inside universities. But nobody notices them, much less actually uses them.

And, as I must have stood starring at this young man engaging in his use of the pay phone for about two minutes in amazement and wonder.

I almost had an inclination to throw away my cell phone and find my own pay phone. It just looked so fun.

These days, we don't have the excitement of finding a pay phone, and waiting in line to use it while the guy in front of us says to his girlfriend "please take me back baby. I love ya kid, ya know that doncha?" And we stand there awkwardly listening to intimate conversations, but we don't want to lose our spot in the pay phone line so we're stuck there, being a third wheel...and then the guy puts in another quarter and we think, "Ugh, I just need to call my mom to get a ride home!" Nope, none of that these days as we have the convenience of a phone safely in our pockets or bag. And if we don't have a phone, chances are our friends have a mobile phone we may use.

I have to say, it's all very unsurprising and unadventurous to have mobile phones. It's been years since I heard someone say to me "Hey, got a quarter? I need to make a call." Nor have I received a phone call that begins with "Will you accept a collect call from: 'Barack Obama.'"

But, I gotta say, having a mobile phone is super convenient, but really, there is no adventure or excitement in it. It's all very predictable.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Blissful Amygdala

They say ignorance is bliss and I would have to agree. It's all rather nice not to know what is going on.

This morning, I experienced the exact opposite of bliss. It could be that I was at the dentist and it could be that I happen to be taking a neurology class at the moment. Taking neurology classes and going to the dentist don't mix.

So there I was at the dentist feeling, well, horrible. As usual my body was erect in anticipation with fear at the anticipation of the coming pain. The dentist poked a needle into the soft oral tissue and I felt it break the surface and hang out in the space for awhile as something was being injected into me. Ow! I couldn't feel my cheek, part of my tongue or my bottom lip.

As I was going through this I began thinking about it in a very neurological/biological sense. I thought to myself "I am feeling this way because norepinephrine is being released at my neuronal synapses. That's why I feel so alert and awake to this pain. It is firing an action potential and igniting the next cell into action and sending this 'pain' message up to my brain. My amygdala is being aroused and I am feeling discomfort because of fear. I wish my pineal gland would kick into action so I would feel sleepy, but that's hard to do when a giant dentist light is shining in my face."

Let's say that I was not taking a neurology class, then I would be in ignorant pseudo-bliss as to what was going on. Although I still would not characterize a trip to the dentist as bliss.

Going to the dentist is far more enjoyable when one is not engaged in the process of attending a neurology class. Because, like they say, ignorance is bliss.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

An Ordinary First Impression

This afternoon I was feeling adrift and a bit cold. I looked out onto the typical gray day and thought brightly to myself "A dip in the hot tub is clearly the answer to my emotional state!" I threw down the book I was reading and removed myself from the sofa.

I quickly robed myself in proper attire, threw a towel around myself and pranced up the block and across the street to the hot tub. I have to admit, I always feel a bit silly dressed in a towel, in the middle of winter, on my way to the communal hot tub. But hey, keep Portland weird, right?

So, there I was enjoying the not-quite-hot-enough hot tub (but nonetheless enjoying it) and imagining myself, at some boutique, buying one of those "Life is Good" t-shirts. When suddenly, my silly day dreaming was interrupted and I was joined by two of my neighbors. We introduced ourselves and made some smalltalk. I eventually realized the time (as I had a commitment I needed to ready myself for) and I said "Bye! Nice to meet you."

And I was off, but as I was leaving I overheard one neighbor say to the other neighbor:
"She was nice."
"Yeah, she was."

Well at least I didn't repulse them, but what a common and ordinary impression. I'm a little disappointed that they didn't say "That girl was dynamite!" or something else tremendously complimentary and unique. Instead, they characterized me using the most typical adjective I can think of: nice.

But, what can a person expect?

I suppose being characterized as "nice" isn't so ghastly. I guess now that I think about it some more, I'm a bit relieved that they didn't say:
"She was revolting!"
"I agree! Good thing she left!"
"Yeah, now we can enjoy ourselves"
"People like that should be locked up!"
"Here Here!"

No, they didn't say anything like that, therefore I must rid myself of the minor offense I took.