Sunday, February 27, 2011

In My Father's Eyes

As humans we learn in two ways... by what we are told and what we see. I've spent a lot of my life wishing that my Dad and I could sit down and have a meaningful conversation about our thoughts and ideas like I do with my friends or my Mom. I lamented that we don't have that father daughter relationship that I had read about or seen on TV. Foolish girl; will I ever fully learn that just because something isn't how I think it should be doesn't mean that there's something wrong with it? Today I realize that my relationship with my father is based on observation rather than conversation, which really isn't surprising considering conversation is not one of our strengths. When I look back on my most precious memories with my dad we aren't talking, but that doesn't mean I wasn't learning. I learned that if your gonna drive a truck, make it a Kenworth, if your gonna listen to music, make it country and if your gonna listen to country make it Garth Brooks, George Strait, Reba or Brooks and Dunn. These may seem like trivial things on the surface but to me they are foundation of everything my dad stands for. You see he started working full time at the age of 14 for his father who owned a trucking company. Through this job he's shown me what it means to work hard and every weekend when he hauls the band equipment for the local high school even though he doesn't have any kids that go there anymore I see how important it is to give back. When I ride across the country in the passenger seat of that Kenworth my dad shares with me his sanctuary. It's a place where you can witness God's handiwork as the sun comes up over the mountains and appreciate the vastness of the universe when you look up at the stars over Texas, but most importantly it's the place where my dad and I listen to country music together. I don't think my Dad ever realized that these songs are my Bible, they contain all the words he never needed to say about faith, hope, love and life. In my fathers eyes life is as simple as country music, it's all about family, friends, God, hard work, American pride, trucks and love. That's a pretty good view from the passenger seat.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Blood and Tears

Two things have been on my mind today; tears and blood oranges. I think i'll start with the blood oranges. I have this fascination with them, it's my aunt Cathy's fault really. My brother and I went to stay with her for a week when we were kids and every day she went out into her orchard to pick blood oranges for fresh juice. By the way, to a kid there is nothing cooler than an automatic juicer, it totally beats the automatic can opener. Lucky for me my aunt turned over all juicing duties to us for the week and I fell in love with blood oranges. I recently started going to the farmers market and was reacquainted with this amazing fruit and have since eaten one a day. But today I really stopped to consider it; what the heck makes it purple? Better yet why isn't it all purple, they should have called it the tie-dye'd orange cause it's a strange dappling of red, pink and purple. It's imperfect. In all other fruit uneven coloring is a sign that it's going bad or it's not a prime specimen. Maybe that's the most fascinating thing about them... they are perfect in their imperfection.
Onto the tears.
It occured to me today that their is no evolutionary advantage to crying. As biologist's we are taught that every trait exists because it provides some sort of evolutionary advantage that is key to the survival or our species through the passing on of favorable genes. Some traits evolve so that we may better attract a mate so that we can pass on our genes to the next generation. But crying doesn't really do either of those things, I certainly don't look very attractive when I cry, and yet humans are the only species that can cry. Studies have shown that it is easier for us to recognize sadness in others through the presence of tears... no duh. I mean did they really need to make a study for that? I think we cry because it's easier to cope with sadness when others can see it and respond to it. There's no clearer signal to others that a hug is in order than when you cry. Perhaps there is an evolutionary advantage after all, it's the ability to signal to others that we need help, that in spite of our attempts to be strong we need to lean on someone else for just a few minutes.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Sunny Way Home

JK Rowling delivered a speech to the graduating class at Harvard University on the Fringe Benefits of Failure. In it she says, " It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default". I wish I had heard her speech sooner, because up until that point in my life I had never felt like a failure. But there I was watching my extremely intelligent friends pursue grad school, and getting published for their work in plant genetics and I was had no idea what route to take to happiness. See that was the thing I wanted to be guaranteed that the path I took would lead to happiness, otherwise why invest time and effort into it. This to me was failure, working so hard at something only to find that it wasn't what I wanted after all and having to start back at the beginning. For some reason I looked at happiness as a destination when all happiness really is is a state of mind.
So what does a lonely depressed person do, in my family we get pets. It would have been far too cliche to become the crazy cat lady at 22 so therefore I set my sights on a dog... a German Shepard to be precise and not two weeks later one showed up on my aunts door step. She was the perfect dog at first, and then my aunt told me that when I left the house she started whining and crying and didn't stop until I returned. She developed strange sores on her face where she had scratched away her fur. Turns out I got a dog with severe separation anxiety which was helped slightly by staying with my mothers dogs when I left the house. So I moved home and started Sunny the dog on a round of Prozac followed by Chinese herbs. Neither of which work all that well.
So my first foray into the world of pet ownership kinda failed but it led to me moving home which it turns out was enough to lift me out of my depression, apparently living in the city is more than I can handle. The funny thing was moving home didn't feel like failure to me, even though I was indeed backtracking, because I wasn't starting from scratch I was simply going in a different direction with newly attained knowledge and a psychotic dog.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

What Happens When You Run Out of Plans?

I only knew one thing for certain when I graduated from college, I knew that in one month I was going to get on a plane with one of my best friends and go to Europe for 50 days where we were going to back pack, sleep in hostels and navigate our way through trains, buses metro's and unending sidewalks. I could go on for ages about that trip and perhaps one day I will. But the next phase in my life started when I got home, with one adventure ending I had no idea what came next. I had always had a plan before that, mostly because my life had three things at the center of it family, friends, and school. You take school out of the equation and your left trying to fill the time. During my senior year I halfheartedly applied to grad school to get my masters in genetic counseling and while it stung slightly to get rejected from every school I applied to, I was secretly ecstatic. Finally I would have the chance to do whatever I wanted, perhaps even take classes in something that had nothing to do with DNA, trust me in my world that is a shocking concept. The future was wide open, creative writing classes, vocal lessons, baking lessons. Of course I would need a job to support these activities so I settled into a full time position at the company I had been working at part time for years and moved in with my aunt in a condo in the middle of a very busy and loud city. Here is when my anything can happen plan fell apart and I found myself depressed. It's also where my story truly starts...