Thursday, January 04, 2007

I just need to say this

I don’t often read USA Today because there is the air of fast food about it. But it was the only paper available for reading when Dirtman and I went to lunch yesterday.

Here is the reason why: Aside from a story about the sudden revelation that it’s a good idea to teach high school students to balance their checkbook (this is an innovation?), the big news in entertainment was that Britany Spears “fell asleep” at her New Years Eve party and had to be assisted to her car (yeah, we all require help walking when we get “tired”…).

Who do I see about getting this woman out of my face? Who is convincing the media we need to know about this talentless dingbat and her talentless dingbat friends? Shouldn’t the talentless dingbats be relegated to the E! and Style channels where the dingbats roam free and are hired as hosts on shows that are only broadcast in my house when Dirtman is scanning the channels between football plays and Gerald Ford funeral ceremonies?

I was just wondering.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy Calm Year

Yes, siree!

A new start, a fresh year, and three new gray hairs.


As I’ve said before, I don’t do resolutions as much as try to pick a general area to improve. If on 12/31/07 I’m better off than I was, I can claim success.

Last year (and the year before that), my goal was to back out of the ever-increasing need for an adrenaline rush. The resolution, of sorts, started out as “I need to calm down.” But I began to notice that my life was slowly being taken over by activities designed to make my body think something exciting was going on when, in actuality, I was just sitting around. It’s not that I was actually in crisis; my body just thought it was.

In 2005 I remember reading somewhere that some study showed that people check their e-mail three or four times every half hour and the reason they do it is that checking, whether there is mail or not, produces an adrenaline rush that feels good, but is addictive. In other words, this hormone designed for infrequent use in times of emergency, was being used as a recreational drug.

The problem is, when you are constantly on high alert, you develop all sorts of side effects, both physical and mental, that cause illness and, I assume, shorten your life span. That would be a bad thing. For me, anyway.

I wondered, since I was delivering the adrenaline to myself in little short spurts, if that didn’t satiate just enough that I stopped seeking more high-powered, less frequent methods of that sort of natural high. I wondered if I removed those artificial stimulants, if I would be more motivated to get out from in front of the computer and do something else. Something with results.

This was more complicated than you’d think. Every time I’d figure out one form of contrived adrenaline trigger, another would show up. I ended up cutting my television viewing to next to nothing. (I recommend this to everyone, even if it’s just for a few weeks. You’d be surprised how hypnotized you become into thinking that TV viewing keeps you “in touch.” It doesn’t. It creates a false sense of urgency.) I’m very picky about what I consider “news.” Yes, Iraq is “news” that of which I need to be aware. But endless, meaningless speculation that may or may not happen? Useless.

The hardest part of “calming down” has been not getting sucked into the chaos swirling around me. The fact is, while everyone claims that “slowing down” should be everyone’s goal, there is a certain ego-boost (and adrenaline rush…) in being “just so busy.” And there is a judgmental stance that slowing down is merely laziness.

I am better off two years later, if only for the fact that being selective about the media I allow into my head makes me recognize all the hidden methods that exist for grabbing our attention, our loyalty and/or our money. The physical, spiritual and psychological benefits far outweigh that, but would be abysmally boring to relate here, not to mention how boring it would be to read.

The downside? I guess that would be what people think, which should be this year’s project and probably my biggest challenge.

But you all like me anyway, right? If not, what can I do to make you like me?