Between us, there are books

It’s not difficult to spot us.

Those of us in love with old books.

We have shelves full of them.

We smuggle them into our homes despite the eye rolling of our spouses, our parents, our roommates.

We tolerate repetitive sneezing due to dust and the mildew and the ancient tree pollen lurking beneath pages 204 and 205 of the worn book of poetry; for the last time it was opened was beneath an olive tree in the rain.

We can be spotted inside libraries caressing the faded red jacket cover of a 1930s edition of Alice in Wonderland, both in awe that this edition is in our hands and moved by the many hands it has passed through.

Hands now wrinkled, hands now dead and buried, hands that have held wonders of their own in the years since they last held Alice’s.

old edition of Alice

We weep at inscriptions:

To John, Love Grandma

To my beloved wife on our 5th wedding anniversary

To the 8th grade graduates of Merrick Long Island Hebrew Academy. Mazel Tov!

We rescue old books from the recycling plant or, worse yet, from the dump.

We hold on to them in case of the apocalypse or hand them over to crafty friends to offer them a secondhand chance at life as a kitschy framed work of art for sale on etsy or as an IPAD cover, a final project for graphic design school.

Sometimes you hear us sighing in a used book store.

Sometimes we get lost in a used bookstore.

Sometimes we get caught longing for a used book store. Someone asks us, “What were you thinking about just then?” And we answer, “I was looking at your canvas tote bag from The Strand and wishing I was there right now.”

Truth be told: If I could be anywhere right now, I would be inside a used book store.

I would be sneezing my brains out. I would desperately need to use the bathroom (book stores have done this to me since I was 7.) I would lose track of time and part with lots of money, but this is where I would choose to be on any given day.

Even on a beach day.

I suppose TV had a hand in this, what with Charmed and Buffy and farther back even still, Friday the 13th The Series.

I suppose that movies had a hand in this, what with The Neverending Story and The Ninth Gate.

I suppose books themselves have had a hand in this, too. By becoming old. By becoming rare. By becoming obsolete in a way. By carrying in their spines the secrets of a thousand and one human beings.

I don’t know why, exactly, I have such a strong affection for old books, but I imagine it’s wrapped in my curious regard for the passing of time.

It’s a way to touch the past.

It’s a way to relate to people who I will never have the chance to speak to or behold.

It’s time travel of a sort. It is. Stop saying it isn’t.

Old books make me weep for the people who once read them.

For the person who will read it after me. Whom, I hope, might weep for me, too.

Might remember me, the ghost of me … with fondness.

For, despite the space and time between us, we both once turned this book over; swiped the top corner with a damp pointer finger; placed it spread open wide on a night stand or flat sandwiching a clean white tissue inside.

Times passes. We pass.

But between us, there are books.

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: I am not the me you think I am

In the days since the Justine Sacco twitter incident (which has officially been labeled a mob by the New York Times), I’ve spent a little time on a project that I’ve been meaning to focus on for a while:

Cleaning up my internet bread crumbs

You see: I’ve been at this a while. This thing I call “sharing of myself with strangers.”

I’ve been writing and posting opinion pieces, and uploading and approving photos of myself online since … well, at least since 1997. That’s as far back as I am able to trace myself though I imagine a stalker or a fairly good sleuth with a wad of cash with my name on it could identify earlier instances. Let’s hope that the first doesn’t exist, and the second never does.

For most of those 17 internet loving years, I stood firmly by the belief that sharing was good; identity theft was bad; and that since there was no way to stop people bent on investigating you or stealing your credit cards, why not position yourself in the light you prefer.

There was one little detail I didn’t pay attention to.

It’s that the light I want to shine in is ever shifting.

Even more so, there may come a time when I don’t desire the light. When I prefer to be hidden in the shadows.

Shadow me

Shadow me

If one day, a mob were after me, they’d find judgmental rants I am now ashamed of; they’d unearth unkind comments that were written on an off day; and they’d be able to amass a decent collection of really unattractive photographs of me in really unfashionable clothing (especially if they come across any from 2001 – 2003).

They’d find pictures of my kids that were cute in context, but now seem inappropriate. They’d stumble upon references to wacky dreams I’ve had or remembrances of drunken bodily performances. They’d certainly find articles written in a voice that is no longer mine; in a tone I no longer wish to express myself in.

I am not the girl you will find on a Google search.

I’m not even the girl who began this blog in 2011.

I’m someone else entirely.

In the cleaning up of the bread crumbs of me, I began by deleting or making private any online content I thought might embarrass my growing children. An effort of Herculean proportions that I will certainly never complete to their satisfaction.

Next, I tried to dig up the most obnoxious, off-the-cuff public statements I’ve made over the past year or two on Twitter or Facebook. Things I meant in jest, but might one day be held against me in a court of rash, cruel, public opinion.

But I know — even as I do this –

I know

That my efforts are nearly inconsequential.

Because what is appropriate now might one day not be. And what I see as an innocent or well-intentioned sharing of myself  could, at some point, be used to position me as anything from self-centered to irresponsible to crazy.

What do you do with that knowledge?

Do you unplug completely? Do you spit in the face of future detractors?

Or do you do what any good lawyer would tell you to do?

Add a disclaimer.

disclaimer jen

 

 

Do your dreams predict your Facebook feed?

I’m entering dangerous territory.

Dreamland.

Dreams — and how they figure into our waking lives — fascinate me. I don’t remember which came first —  my vibrant dream life or my wonder for that version of reality. But both have been with me since childhood.

What’s curious to me these days is lucid dreaming and predictive dreaming, both of which I seem to be getting better at.

The other night, for instance, I noticed I was in the middle of a super frightening nightmare, and I willed myself awake.  Not bad, I thought, when I woke up in a sweat. Now how do I start teaching myself how to fly?

For the past year or so, I’ve occasionally (a few times a month) experienced deja vu during the day in which I am certain I dreamt the interaction already the night before. Nothing momentous; in fact, regular every day occurrences that have a particular interesting twist. Not just the regular drop off at my daughter’s preschool, for instance, but one in which her classmate starts to speak to me in Russian.

I’ve read that such predictive dreaming is, in fact, not uncommon. Famous physicist Russell Targ (most well-known for his work with the military on remote viewing) writes about his own experience with precognitive dreams “predicting” newspaper headlines that he’d then read the next day.

But here’s a peculiar phenomenon I haven’t come across yet in reading on the subject of dreams, and I’m wondering if any of you have: Sometimes I dream my Facebook feed before it happens.

I have 851 Facebook friends. I’m pretty well aware of the 50 or so who appear regularly in my feed. So that when I dream of someone far away — who is not present in my day-to-day interactions and who is not one of the regular 50 people who appear in my feed — and that person shows up in my Facebook feed the next day, I am … to say the least … startled. Like, “Hey you, weren’t you just randomly in my dream last night? What are you doing in my Facebook face?”

Is there an algorithm to explain that experience? I say that only half-facetiously. There probably IS an algorithm to explain that. (If so, please share it, and if possible, in graphic novel format, which is how I best understand geek.)

In addition to dreaming about someone the day before they show up in my feed, I have, on multiple occasions, been talking about something with my colleague at work during the lunch hour — something seemingly obscure — only to find the topic being explored in an article posted by one of my Facebook friends in my feed when I return from lunch. As if Facebook was eavesdropping on our conversation.

Is there an algorithm for that? For overhearing a discussion on, let’s say, the ecosystem of the gut after eating meat or milk? Is there an internet worm crawling from our ears, our minds, and back into “the system?”

I know that readers of this blog span the spectrum of futurists believing we already live in the Matrix to religious devotees who believe the Bible literally happened. (And I appreciate that diversity!)

So tell me:  what do you think? Does this ever happen to you, too?

Is it more common than I think,  this transmission from mind to physical matter (our computers) and back again?

Or am I naive to think of “the internet” as matter, at all? Isn’t it, too, mind?