Sparkling Observationalist: Technology Dependency

observations

While watching an episode of Mad Men, it occurred to me that smart phones are the new cigarettes. We’ve replaced one addiction with another, trading the experience of taking a drag and having an idle ponder for dragging our fingers across a screen in search of idle distraction.

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Ten years ago, it was rare to see someone texting in public. The only people photographing their food were actual photographers and tourist. Blogs went months without an update. Those were quaint times. Not as quaint as the previous years of typewriters and phonographs and word processors and one-hour film developing booths. Ten years ago, we were complaining about the abbreviation of “app” for “appetizer” at TGIFriday’s. Ten years ago, it was rare to find a hotel with an in-room ethernet hook-up for internet access. Now the wi-fi waters run (mostly) free and deep and everyone’s texting and tweeting and snapping pics of everything everywhere. Instant messaging is now more instant-y than ever and there’s no excuse for being AFK or opportunity to BRB.

Look, I love the glowing screens. I’ve been staring into them for nearly 34 years. I experience minor panic whenever I’m thrust into a situation without a television and/or internet access. Television was my nanny, my first love, and my connection to the outside world. My addiction predates smart phones, social media, Web 2.0, Mac OSX, and the birth of the average Tumblr user. But even I need a break sometimes. I know when it’s time to step away from the black mirror and join the rest of humanity in meatspace. Unfortunately, meatspace is now overrun with earbuds and little glowing rectangles. And once again, I find myself in a minority.

When I go out, it’s to get away from the devices. I’ll load up a bag with my notebook and pens and go to a coffee shop for a caffeinated scribble. My favourite spot is usually filled with people having a casual chat or reading a book. I stay away from the cafes filled with laptop workers and I leave the wi-fi connection off on my ipod. I pretend to smoke and let my mind wander, free from the compulsion to press a button to release a bit of information that it won’t retain. Are we retaining any of the information we consume from our constant connection? Can you recall which site had that headline that you skimmed before checking Twitter for reactions to that headline? Can you remember whose baby-smeared-with-food photo showed up in your News Feed?

We’ve been conditioned to check email and social networking sites with the possibility of a reward. “Has so-and-so responded to my note? Oh, who clicked ‘like’ on my photo? Have there been any new tweets in the last thirty seconds?” We satisfy that mental itch only to be sent scratching away mere moments later. My diminuitive social network does not minimize my own urges to switch between the Facebook and Twitter tabs/apps. The rewards are minimal (or non-existent, if you’re in the mood to be hurtful), making my behaviour more inexplicable.

To cut oneself off from “social media,” to declare “email bankruptcy,” to disconnect from the internet entirely is a lovely fantasy. What must it be like to be without computers, mobile phones, televisions and toaster ovens, refrigerators and stereos? Oh, the sweet relief from electronic hums! Except toast is delicious and refrigerators are quite handy. You could purge yourself of all technology, but you’ll be leading an inconvenient life in the modern world. Every generation, or sub-generation, now has to make the choice of being deemed irrelevant or adopt and adapt every new technological “upgrade” and social media “innovation.” It’s becoming impossible to say “No, thank you. I’ll sit this technology fad out and join in again later.” Mostly it’s impossible because technology won’t allow it. Which is why we’ve gone through five generations of iPhones in just five years.

Is it ridiculous that iPads and tablets have built-in cameras? I’ve certainly found it handy in sneaking photos of my camera-shy cats. But apparently it’s considered rude or something to use one’s iPad to record an event or take photographs in public. It looks stupid to some people and they would prefer if the iPad people would stop doing it. Who decided there was a size limit on obnoxious behaviour? “Please don’t hold up your big flat glowing rectangle to photograph that concert (that has clearly posted “Photography and Video Recording Prohibited” signs all over the venue)” says them. “But it’s totally cool if you hold up your smaller flat glowing rectangle (even though recording is still a no-no, but maybe you’ll be a bit more discreet).”

Built-in cameras mean that everyone’s a photographer now. Take a photo, slap a filter on it, and post it on the Internet. Welcome to everyone’s holiday slideshow. It’s easy to dismiss the glut of candid photos and videos as noise until something big happens. We live in the era of Threat-Level Scary and crime procedurals, which fuels the need to capture every moment for the what-ifs. Every event has the potential for a breakout buzzy moment. Someone could jump on a stage and do something wacky. Something could erupt. History is being made somewhere. Concerned citizens become journalists and papparazzi. The rest of us become observers and commenters.

On the average day, the smart phone just contributes to man’s obliviousness to man. People are in the cinema right now, blithely texting away like they’re in their living room, unable (or unwilling) to notice how bright their little rectangles glow in a darkened room, unaware that their faces are illuminated by their ignorance.

Will the pendulum swing back to more natural pursuits? Will Pinterest links to DIY tutorials pique the general public’s interest in making and doing things for themselves? Will we ever yearn for the reward of hard work and manual labour? Isn’t the result of churning one’s own butter or mending one’s own trousers much more satisfying than the swiping of screens and pressing of buttons in pursuit of “information”? The possibility remains that we’ll kick this technological dependency in my lifetime, by choice or by force. Some entrepreneur will tire of his food truck and discover there’s money to be made in technology rehabilitation centres. In another ten years, I could be sat in some hospital playing with a grown-up busy box to break myself of my crippling addiction to refreshing the Facebook home page. Maybe then I’ll finally learn a skill that can be monetized in the real world.

Step away from your electronic device. Go look at the sunset. Watch the squirrels. Look at how the sun streams into your backyard at a particular time of day and illuminates a spider web that’s seemingly floating in midair. Have you noticed that before? How many times have you almost walked into that thing? Is that squirrel smoking a cigarette?

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katharine makes an observation: feminine feminists

observations

Close your eyes and picture a feminist, not necessarily a famous feminist. Conjure up a generic stock photo of a feminist. Have you pictured a lady? Did you immediately think of that lady you saw at the organic farmer’s market? Or did you picture Zooey Deschanel? In either case, you’re probably right, if also a little prone to stereotyping.

Can feminists be pretty? That’s a stupid question. Attractiveness has no bearing on the opinions of gender inequality and human rights. Beautiful people can believe that everyone should be treated fairly and plain people can believe that one gender is biologically superior to the other. Feminists are perceived as being less concerned with outward appearance. Which isn’t farfetched considering the fact that people committed to human rights might also be committed to environmental conservation and ethical treatment of animals. Once you start looking to limit your use of potentially harmful toxins, cosmetic enhancements tend to drift off the list of priorities.

So it’s weird to think that feminists might be a little vain. We live in a time when a small segment of people want to turn words like “feminist” and “liberal” and “intellectual” into pejoratives. They would have you believe that the Liberal Feminist is out to emasculate all the men, murder all the babies, and put the entire world under petticoat rule. The Liberal Feminist is loud and annoying but could be so pretty if she shaved her pits and put on some lipstick. Oh, Small Segment of People, how so very misguided you are and how very sad you make the Rest of Us. How much effort can one put into one’s personal hygiene and appearance to achieve gender equality? Do women really still need to butch it up in order to be taken seriously?

I thought that society was done trying to stigmatize feminists. Feminists aren’t all man haters. “Militant feminist” should not be a euphemism for “ugly chick who won’t shut up about her vagina.” I shouldn’t have to worry that by wearing a cute dress I’m somehow communicating to society that I don’t care about women’s rights. If a girl excels in math and science and her favourite colour is pink, must she sacrifice one over the other to fit some kind of stereotype? Must a boy do the same? A feminist, regardless of gender, should be able to wear make-up and dresses while pursuing gender equality. (We live in The Future. Why aren’t we all just wearing silver tunics and leggings now?) Has everyone forgotten the message of Legally Blonde?

The problem with making a statement about female empowerment through fashion is that dudes don’t really get it. Whether it’s Nancy Sinatra or Madonna or Beyoncé, when a female performer traipses around in skimpy clothing, she’s still being objectified. A lot of guys don’t care whether a woman is dolled up because it makes her feel good about herself or that she’s making a political statement about sex in the modern age. Flesh is flesh to the unsophisticated male, just as meat is meat to unsophisticated carnivores. They aren’t very concerned about whether the cows and pigs on their plate were treated ethically or come from local farms.

One of the survival tactics of modern life is to reward oneself with little treats. For all the physical burdens women endure—from gestation to childbirth to breaking in a pair of stillettos, we deserve the right to polish and powder ourselves. The regular internal distress can make a lady feel more like livestock, so it’s nice to indulge in delicate luxuries. The act of fingernail painting or baking or making impulse purchases doesn’t negate one’s belief in freedom and gender equality. A woman shouldn’t have to dress for a role that does not exist. Feminists can look like Bettie Page or Reese Witherspoon or Diane Keaton or Buffy Sainte-Marie or Ryan Gosling. Zooey Deschanel wants to “be a f-ing feminist and wear a f–king Peter Pan collar” and she’s probably doing more for women’s rights than your central casting hippie chick.

katharine makes observations: katharine hearts words

observations

It’s time for an airing of the grievances over the English language. We’re fighting a war over grammar here on the Internet. Those of us who care about the language are constantly suppressing urges to correct people or we’re posting tweets and statuses with complaints about recent encounters with sloppy usages, which in turn incites a mix of commiseration and defense.

As someone with life-long hearing difficulties, I get cranky when other people show blatant disregard for the written word. When I was in grade school, I always aced my spelling and language classes. Even on spelling test day, when were were made to write the week’s spelling words in the form of sentences, which the teachers would read aloud for context. Thanks to my creative hearing, the subject matter of my sentences were occasional experiments in surrealism, but the words were always spelled correctly.

English is an evolving beast. How we read English now wasn’t quite how it was read two or three hundred years ago and might be entirely different in three hundred more. Or it might circle back around on itself and be exactly the same as today. We’re forever altering it to fit our own needs, ripping it apart and gluing it back together. We steal words from other languages and bungle up the pronunciations. We invent new words and change around the meaning to old words. We use language to connect as well as to alienate.

My particular trouble is not with the evolution of language. We live in the future, and as such we are party to the invention of new words. We need those new additions to the lexicon to describe all of these items and experiences that did not previously exist. And of course we’ll lose antiquated terms which have no place in modern society. But we’re also mucking about with perfectly legitimate words with little reason. I’m ambivalent about portmanteaus, the blending of two words to make a new word. Most of them don’t serve a real purpose but they are silly. And I do love silly. I also like to verb nouns for an occasional giggle. What I am adamantly against is the unnecessary abbreviation of words. Honestly, what does “totes adorbs” convey that “so cute” (or even “soooo cute”) doesn’t, aside from a subliminal craving for cupcakes? Are these abbreviations saving time? What do you gain by saying “cray cray” in place of crazy? Because you’re losing my respect.

Abbreviations and shorthand have been around for centuries. Even legitimate words have always been shortened. Like legit. And lab, info, memo, fax, vet, abs, ammo, limo, mix, max, and typo. I’m sure you can now think of thousands more. We used to associate the abbrev-ing of lang with crunchy-coiffed dude-bros who were going out of their way to seem hip. Texting and the 140-character limit allowed stuff like “natch” and “sitch” and “sesh” and “whatevs” to seep into common vernacular. We’re also using text abbreviations in spoken language. People now say LOL and OMG and WTF without irony. How long before people start saying IMHO or AFAIK or TTYL instead of “in my humble/honest opinion,” “as far as I know,” and “talk to you later”?

The Internet has played a large role in the recent evolutionary phase of English as she is typed. We’ve adopted some text lingo, which was to be expected given regular exposure and widespread use of it. We’ve also been exposed to the grammar habits of our nearest and dearest. People we communicated with only on holidays via greeting cards and social gatherings are now integrated into our daily newsfeeds and we’re inundated with their inanities. Some people, whom we once admired, come across as less than respectable with a slew of status updates and comments littered with typos and misplaced punctuation.

There is no legitimate excuse for typographical errors on the Internet. Typing on your phone? Use an app. I wanted to use “hors d’oeuvres” in a status update, as one often does, and instead of bungling the spelling and excusing it with an “or however you spell it, lol,” I simply typed my potential misspelling into Google, verified my error, and copy/pasted the correct spelling into my status. Voila! The Internet is here to help you, but it will mock you if you resist its assistance. I’m willing to let some things slide in personal emails and similar correspondence. But if you’re posting something that will be seen by multiple strangers, maybe you take a few moments to proofread.

A popular defense of typos or grammatical errors is “Oh, you know what I meant.” Of course I know that you mean “definitely” when you type “definately” or “defiantly.” Do I excuse your lack of care simply because I understood it anyway? Look, I get that language isn’t everyone’s strong suit. Maybe you’re gifted in other ways. I’m terrible at math. And a lot of science. And you probably shouldn’t ask me about any of the countries in Asia or Africa.

We’re being conditioned to believe that if there isn’t a red squiggle under it, it must be correct. Which is why we’re subjected to the “there, their, they’re” and “your and you’re” mix-ups. We expect our technology to catch our mistakes and fix it, which is why many people still rely on auto-correct. And why we have Damn You Auto-Correct. The dudes over at Reddit or Fark should start circulating new (possibly crude) definitions for all the variants of definitely. Maybe “definately” now means “monkey fondling.”

This is the tl;dr (too long; didn’t read) era. People can’t be bothered to read an entire article, much less proofread their hasty replies in the comment section. Can we really expect people to carefully craft clever Facebook responses? “Like” buttons and Hallmark cards serve the similar purpose of allowing people to express a sentiment without necessitating actual thought. Shouldn’t that be enough? Perhaps my problem lies not with the abuse of language but in the absence of thoughtful consideration.

katharine makes observations: subcultures

observations

I am not a nerd. I am not a feminist. I am not an atheist. I am not a writer. I am not a designer. I am not a hipster. I am not a solitary something that can be easily labeled. Even trying to nail down my official ethnicity would be tricky thanks to European-Indian sexual habits in the early settlings of the United States. I am a colourful tag cloud where no keyword is ever significantly larger than another.

We want people to be easily categorized so that we can connect with the “right” people and not waste time with everyone else. We search for ways to fit in and seek out kindred spirits to not feel so alone. The labels make it easy to find like-minded individuals (in theory).

Life would be much easier if, instead of career aptitude tests in junior high, schools issued lifestyle tests. Kids would take a multiple choice quiz and based on the results, they would receive little lifestyle kits and computer print outs of similar individuals in your school. Boom. There’s your personal life sorted for the foreseeable future. You know where you fit, you know who your people are, you know your cultural pretences. If something goes wrong, you simply retake the test and try to get placed in a different group. No more time wasted feeling things out by taking up band or joining a bunch of school clubs or crying in your room after school and reassuring yourself you’ll make your friends in college. Sure, you’ll be dealt an off-the-rack personality but you’ll fit in! Fitting in is half the battle of life.

If we had our interests and peer groups all set out for us, there’d be none of this discovery of new things or broadening of horizons. We’d know our friends, we’d know our enemies. My subculture can beat up your subculture. And a thousand micro-wars break out in major metropolises over microscopic differences between micro-subcultures. Subcultures allow us to exercise extreme prejudice. Our tolerances for the big differences have been raised, but we’re left with this primal urge to discriminate. Maybe it’s some sort of tribal protection reflex that we haven’t evolved out of yet. Subcultures offer a sense of belonging with a hint of exclusivity. My subculture is so exclusive that I’m the only active participant.

Just as the labelling helps us find our tribes, so does it allow for stereotyping and discriminating and bullying. Boy nerds certainly have a joystick up their somethings over the rise of girl nerds on the Internet. As if girl nerds are a new concept. Never in the history of human existence has woman dared to take interest in science-fiction or role-playing games or technology? And why can’t pretty girls be geeks? Does it matter if a girl becomes a nerd because she got into Doctor Who last year and that prompted her to watch and read more science-fiction? We discover things at our individual paces and sometimes popular things can serve as gateways into unexplored subcultures that often lead to the wormholes of obscurity. Do you really want to deny someone’s journey of discovery simply because they don’t fit your particular vision? (And does it really matter if her facial features are symmetrical and she likes to play with make-up?) Nerds used to be inclusive. They used to be excited to find kindred spirits to passionately discuss minutiae. They knew from personal experience what it was to be excluded from social circles and vowed to make an effort to cast people aside. Would you cast out the bee girl from your commune of bee people simply because she also enjoys tap dance and you feel that bee people are really more into freestyle jazz?

I understand why people who feel they are actual things get upset by people who pretend to be things, like hot models pretending to be nerds at comic book conventions. It devalues the label, the prestige, or the condition. People misuse all sorts of cultural identifiers to manipulate situations. People pretend to be deaf, gay, autistic, terminally ill, and interested in whichever subculture has the most promise of human companionship. Pretty girls calling themselves nerds simply because they’ve expressed moderate interest in an icon of nerd culture weakens the meaning of nerd. But “nerd”and “geek” have already been weakened as shorthand for anyone with an intense appreciation or considerable knowledge about a particular area, regardless of genre, gender, or girth.

What happened to “enthusiast” and “aficionado” or the simple “fan”? What happened to the excitement in sharing knowledge and books and music and whatnot with new people? Where are the subculture mentors that scoop up newbies and educate them on their newfound passions? Must we be all be hipster assholes casually sniffing “Yeah, I’ve been into that for a while. Good luck catching up to my level of intense love”? Are we competitive in our passive hobbies as well now?!

We have to make allowances for unexpected people doing unexpected things. We need to accept that grown women can watch Spiderman cartoons on Netflix while knitting.  The woman you’d label as a militant feminist probably makes lovely wedding cakes. The unfashionable nerd actually has a collection of skin care products that could put a Real Housewife to shame (if such a thing were possible). Getting lumped into one subculture denies the multifaceted dimensions of a single person. We don’t fit neatly into little boxes. Life isn’t that tidy. It’s possible to be a Trekkie surfer and a steampunk juggalo and a fashionista Whovian and a new age furry and a rockabilly bodybuilding cosplayer. Let people self-identify as they please. Or, as Leslie Love put it:

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Cat videos are the new peace treaties.

katharine goes to extremes

Moderation. Compromise. Reason. These words have evaporated from our modern vocabulary. I guess something had to go in order to make room for Lol and Dubstep and Gif.

Look, I’m always taking things to extremes. I always say I’m never going to do something ever again. I make sweeping generalizations about large groups of strangers based on a small sampling. I play every scenario out to its very worst case. I am forever ignoring logic and reason in pursuit of my selfish whims. So I get the instinct to be unreasonable, but I don’t really get it. Maybe it’s something in the high fructose corn syrup.

The pendulum swings too far and too fast these days. Maybe media saturation is to blame. We see so much in the course of a day that trends and memes can ignite and fizzle within the span of a week. We pretend that we can keep up so as not to look out of touch and foolish, when we should really step back and take a moment of reflection. Social media gives the false impression that strangers on the internet are anxious for your opinions. The perceived pressure to make split-second decisions encourages oversimplification of an issue. So we quickly choose our sides without all (or, sometimes, any) of the facts or careful consideration so that we can then share our knee-jerk opinion with the twitterblogoversesphere. Take away all the guns or give everyone a gun. Taxes for everyone or taxes for no one. This or that. For or against. Black or white. Red or blue. My way or no way.

I grew up in Alabama where college football reigned supreme. You were either an elephant or a tiger. Roll Tide or War Eagle. Red and white or blue and orange. Pick a team and stick with it, regardless of gender, education, or interest in sports. Most of the people I knew barely finished high school and had no aspirations to any sort of higher education, but they were relentless in their fandom. Nothing else mattered, especially during football season. God help you if your family roots for Alabama and you reckon that Auburn has a better team this season. I refused to pick a side because 1) I didn’t care and 2) I wasn’t going to care and didn’t see the value in blindly picking a sport team to “support.” In retrospect, I see that my social and family life might have fared a bit better if I’d rolled with the damned tide. I alienated more people by abstaining from football than by being atheist.

The 2000 presidential election taught us the concept of “red state” and “blue state,” these over-simplified concepts for political division (and the opposite of Canadian and British liberal and conservative parties) allowed political parties to become teams. You’re either on the red team or the blue team. Team Republican or Team Democrat. Turning politics into a team sport resulted in an uptick of conservatives and liberals trash talking each other. We’re no longer people who can overlook a few conflicts of opinion over government programs with friends.  We forget the qualities we liked in our individual friends and acquaintances and now judge (and dislike) them based on political beliefs. The mudslinging in online news comments and Facebook posts would make Beelzebub blush. Each new election season brings new issues on which we are increasingly divisive. The moderates get lumped in with the actual extremists and the middle ground erodes.

We live in a time where we take things to their logical extremes and then some. We have extreme sports, extreme fitness programs, extreme weight loss, extreme eating, extreme couponing, extreme hoarding. We live in excess. Extreme excess. We commit to things 110%. Everything to the max! We demand the impossible of each other and ourselves. And we endanger ourselves every time we push too hard. Why do something when you can overdo it? Are we any happier when we push to make everything be a certain way?

The world is neither red or blue nor black or white. We live in blurred purple and gray world. And those purples and grays range in values and saturation. Sometimes there’s a nice ombre blend of purple and gray. Grays and purples come with information and facts and knowledge. The more you’re willing to learn and the more receptive you are to the perspectives of others, the blurrier the edges become. It’s tough to allow the possibility that the other side has reasonable ideas and good intentions, especially once you’ve jumped aboard your own team’s bandwagon. But maybe we could stop beating each other black and blue and embrace our own inner purple.

katharine-of-all-trades

Creativity is a lot of work. It isn’t enough to be talented at a thing. One must know about other things in the world, to possess an awareness of other fields and industries or a willingness to research and learn. And then one must be able to apply a creative filter to that knowledge and produce something worthy of public consumption. And, if one is creating of one’s own volition and not for a client, one must also be able to successfully promote and sell that something.

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Versatility in creative trades is necessary. In our glorious modern world, writers must also be photographers, graphic designers must also possess web development and coding skills, actors must also sing and dance and do heavy lifting. Some creatives can switch gears elegantly and brilliantly. When I switch gears there’s grinding and scraping sounds and a bunch of unhappy people backed up behind me. The combination of creative skills can dilute the power and strength of a project or creative person, especially if those skills haven’t been mastered individually. I spread myself too thin, attempting too many feats. I haven’t mastered anything. I don’t have the patience for practicing ’til perfection. Instead, I flit around to other things with hope that I find something at which I am naturally brilliant. The trouble is that I’m interested in a variety of arts and crafts and I often fall prey to the notion of “Hell, I could do that.” Alas, hell, I could not do that. Or that. Or that, either, though I will convince myself I was kind of okay at that. I am not naturally brilliant at anything so far.

It seems impossible to commit to just one thing because of all the other things that are necessary in order to promote the first thing. You’ve written a book? Congratulations! Now make a website, start (and maintain) a blog, host a podcast, make a viral video, tweet, contact everyone in the media, host a party, develop all the skills that you would’ve originally developed had you not been an introverted misfit who turned to writing in the first place because it was the perfect creative outlet and all those other things are terrifying. To create a book, I write, I illustrate, I design, I package. To promote a book, I make videos, write press releases, build websites, create supplemental freebies. I exhaust every part of the Katharine. No skill left unused. Is it the work of genius? Do I have control issues? Or am I simply an impatient woman? The age of digital presence and hyper self-promotion feeds my creative impulses.

I’m a creative hyphenate. I’m a dabbler. I am a vessel. I am a tool. I wear a lot of hats.

But maybe I shouldn’t.

Right now I sit in a pile of my own mediocrity. Things made out of perceived necessity. Skills developed half-assedly and cobbled together from poorly written online tutorials. Great ideas destroyed by poor execution. I know just enough to be dangerous but not enough to be successful.

Eventually one has to settle down, pick a thing and obsess about it for a while. One has to stop tracking trends and following fads and simply work on one’s own style. One has to stop referring to herself as “one” because she inevitably says “Why are we so concerned with what Juan does?” That was funny once, self. (Ed: It never stops being funny, self.)

Can I commit to one creative outlet? Do I need a special adapter? Do you think I’d be brilliant at ventriloquism?

katharine has a condition

I need to talk about something very serious. It’s about a condition that I have been living with for many years. Nobody seems to know much about it or how to cure it.  You see, I suffer from chronic creativity.

As a child, I was constantly inventing worlds and imagining situations. My toy box was a spaceship. My tape recorder was a radio station. My light switch was a drive-thru intercom. I wrote songs and plays and stories. My toys were cast in fiberfill vaudeville and Barbie burlesques.

My mother could sense something different about me. The way I put my puzzles together upside down. The way I said “updown side” instead of upside down. The way I organized my crayons by personality traits instead of colour. She tried her best to protect me from the outside world (or was is outworld side?) and vice versa. We tried to harness and suppress my creative urges. We tried to channel them into socially acceptable and productive projects. We did all the creative tests. I went through creative therapy. I tried the creative aids. Nothing worked.

I was ridiculed in school for my inappropriate outbursts of creativity, but I just couldn’t control it. As you can imagine (DON’T! That’s how it starts!), creativity made it impossible to function in “normal” society. The Urges come on suddenly and without warning. In one minute I’m thinking about sandwiches or analyzing NewsRadio‘s wardrobe choices and the next I’m furiously scribbling on nearby scraps of paper or flesh.

Sadly, being creative does not necessarily signify great skill or talent. Like how being chatty doesn’t mean one is also eloquent and well-versed. Quality of output varies. Opinions of quality of output wildly varies. The production of ideas often outpaces the ability the process and capture ideas. These ideas can get lost and mangled. Chronic creativity is an unpredictable condition. No one knows when a flare up will occur; we can only hope to manage the attacks. I can go several weeks without incident. I once went five years without a single creative impulse.

Is it chemical imbalance? Is it contagious? Is it genetic? Is it genius? Is it a blocked nostril? I don’t know. But it’s a very serious and very real condition.

Treatment and management of creativity is costly and time-consuming and often requires special equipment. Just recently, my partner and I had to invest in a new vacuum and linens.

If you know someone who is afflicted with this condition, do be patient with them. Be kind about their creative output. Keep them well stocked in pens and paper. Give them gift cards to coffee shops and grocery stores. Hire them to create materials for your business or event. Pay them for said materials. Click “Like” on their silly projects on Facebook. Organize a marathon to raise money for creativity research.

My great hope is to one day be cured of this ailment. I’d like to merely exist for a while. No allergies. No sciatic pain. No hearing impairment. No frantic scribbling of half-baked whimsies. I imagine it must be nice to be normal. Uh-oh. Here come the scribbles.