Monthly Archives: September 2013

It’s Okay To Be Smart

Every Wednesday at 7:00AM on 89.3FM (in Cleveland, WCSB), there’s a “Skid Row” blues program. At the very beginning of the show, they play audio from a 1981 Frank Zappa interview. I know this because it’s one of the many things my dad loves. As part of his routine every Wednesday on his way to work, he listens to this. Naturally, his daughters started listening to it, too.

As far back as I can remember, my dad told us, “It’s okay to be smart.” It’s such a simple statement, but it’s something that always meant a lot to me. I even incorporated it into a high school National Honor Society induction speech I had to give. (In case you haven’t noticed, my nerdiness has deep roots.)

It’s been a long time since I tuned in to Skid Row, but I was thinking about it this morning, and I didn’t want to wait until Wednesday to post about it. This is the mood I’m in today: coffee, blues, and a little nostalgia.

Without further ado, here’s the text of the Zappa interview:

Well you have to understand one important fact that many Americans have tried to ignore for the past 50 years … it’s okay to be smart and it’s okay to do things intellectually and it’s also okay to do things with a gut reaction, and it’s also okay to combine the two; and usually the way the media plays on the fears of the public, especially during the 50’s and 60’s that anybody who had an I.Q. over 28, let’s say, was probably a threat to the community because a person who can think for himself is just liable to realize that commercials don’t mean anything, and what they write in the newspapers is wrong. And you know, it’s fashionable to disparage people who are smart, and the bad part is that people who are born smart pretend to be dumb so they can have friends — and that’s a tragedy. I try to encourage people that if they are intelligent to not be ashamed of it, to go out and do it and forget about having friends and acting dumb in order to have friends because those friends aren’t gonna do you any good anyway. And if you know deep down in your heart that you’re a dumb kind of a person, don’t be ashamed of it. That’s what you are. Have a good time. You can sit in front of the T.V. and drink beer and watch hockey and love it. Because the more you know, the less you like it so everybody should be happy with what they got.

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Fair Trade

Five:
Gulping bitter coffee,
drinking active brain cells
to get me through a lecture
that makes me laugh
and makes me feel inadequate,
praying for a moment of clarity.

Four:
Slurping cold espresso,
mourning dead brain cells —
drowned in hops and barley
under the guise of celebration —
reading black letters,
sometimes comprehending them.

Three:
Sipping black coffee,
gently waking brain cells
that danced
til late last night,
preemptively celebrating
the end in sight.

Two:
Drinking an Irish Coffee,
calming exhausted brain cells,
chatting with my Maker
and relaxing
for the first time
since Five.

One:
Gulping free coffee,
reviving catatonic brain cells
and settling a nervous stomach
while all I can think of
is escape
in another Irish Coffee.

Zero:
Enjoying warm, free coffee,
letting happy brain cells
indulge in creativity,
confident and calm
now that the moment of clarity
is no longer just a moment.

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August: The Month of Butt-Kickin’ Babes

I really dropped the ball on posting in the rest of August. All of a sudden, I went from being a once-a-week blogger to a once-a-month blogger. Woops!

Things happened. I got a summer cold. I teamed up with a good friend and excellent lawyer to move my pro bono case forward and drafted a complaint. All my due dates at work overlapped and kept me busy and very happy. I edited (and am still editing) a Cleveland guidebook created by my amazing coworkers for up-and-coming amazing coworkers. Somewhere in there, I continued working out and being semi-social and still managed to rewatch five of the seven seasons of Gilmore Girls on DVD. You know – major contributions to the betterment of society.

One of the big themes for the rest of August was My Friends Are Incredible. (I worked really hard on that theme name, guys.) It wasn’t just me. Ajooma recently said it as well:

“I never had a lot of lady friends growing up. I always had (and always will be supremely grateful for) my sisters and usually one close female friend. Now I am lucky enough to say that I have a BUNCH of kick-ass lady friends. I’m really grateful for that!”

And we do. We have a BUNCH of kick-ass lady friends who rarely realize just how kick-ass they are.

Well, August was kick-ass lady friend month. Some examples:

  1. I got to catch up with two of my college roommates, and our coffee date went from 10AM until 2PM. They are absolutely incredible, strong, smart, hilarious women. All of us are on different paths than we expected, and we’re all damn happy to be where we are. Being around them made me feel reenergized, renewed, relaxed, and confident.
  2. I got to feast on Indian food with another friend from undergrad who I recently reconnected with at the gym (right?). She’s spunky, quirky, nerdy, and driven, and we’ve been living almost the same life for the past few years without even knowing it: switching careers, changing relationships, trying to become our best selves.
  3. I got to hear the voice of one of my most brave, most selfless, most incredible friends when she figured out how to use Skype to call me on the phone from Jerusalem. We correspond almost every day through e-mail, but getting to have a normal phone conversation with her – to share excitement, frustration, laughter in real time – was beyond fantastic.
  4. And of course, within the same period of time, I kept up my relationships with my closest ladies – my sisters and sister-friends – who are all top-notch human beings.

It was just a month to reflect on how blessed I am to know the people I know and how much these incredible women impact my life on a daily basis. Even when we don’t get to see each other for long periods of time – weeks, months, and sometimes years – we pick up immediately as if no time has passed.

When we were growing up and starting to learn how some people don’t or can’t stay in your life forever, one of the things my mom talked about was how some people are “energy vampires:” being around them makes you feel drained and tired, negative, and just sort of empty. These people feed off of good energy, and once they take yours, you’re left wanting. I’ve met – and ultimately, left – these types of people, and I’m sure you have, too. It’s not just about being a pessimist or a negative person; sometimes, that isn’t it at all. It’s people who get energy by taking it from others.

Let me tell you, the women I got to spend time with in August are the exact opposite of energy vampires. These women get energy by giving theirs freely. We make each other feel fuller, stronger, more like ourselves. We are each other’s complements. I am beyond grateful that I’m surrounded by these kinds of people.

So that’s all I have to say by way of an update: that things are good because the people in my life are great, and I am so thankful for them. (And these are just the ladies! I have plenty of amazing male friends, too, but this post is for the women. Next time, gents.)

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