So hard to pick a toothpaste when all patterns end in sex or death

trauma in the toothpaste aisle

We process the world through pattern. Our brains filter the sensory madness of our culture through ever narrowing channels of meaning and importance. But let’s be honest, whatever your program of associations, all patterns end in either sex or death. Sex extends our genetics through time and is the only motivator on par with avoidance of death – the eventual, inevitable endgame to all sequences of decisions.

I’m paralyzed in the toothpaste aisle. I feel my temperature rising, my palms getting sweaty. Why the hell does my amygdala have to get involved! It’s just f*&^king toothpaste! The eternal struggle: buy my ‘usual’ and save myself some cognitive calories, or engage in a complex multi-variable algorithm steeped in conflict between conscious and unconscious influences and motivations. Do I want short term gains like fresh breath and whitening? Both driven by the ever tempting promise of getting laid. Or do I go for long term investment with tartar control, enamel repair, and preventing gingivitis (the villain in so many bacteria-in-the-bloodstream early death horror stories!)? Then there are the ‘do it all have it all’ formulas, the ‘full-time working mothers’ of oral hygiene. But like Sheryl Sandberg, I’m suspicious there’s some unspoken compromise that just might result in a root canal somewhere down the line. I grew up using Colgate… its red is so soothingly familiar… but ProNamel’s packaging looks so reassuringly clinical… and Aquafresh has… Oh for heavens sake!!

Pavlov’s dogs were trained to salivate at the ringing of a bell, but his subjects would often begin to drool far earlier in the experimental sequence: approaching the experimental apparatus, when lab assistants entered the room, etc. Our own programming wakes with us in the morning and maps the day into expectations and associations. Our circuitry can be as rigid as rail lines, and neuroplasticity involves the same taxing bureaucratic nightmare of time, energy, and ego as engineering Calgary’s West LRT line. Change is hell. With sex or death being their axiomed ends, we must confront our patterns at their beginnings, especially ones as powerful as those involving ‘the paradox of choice’.

I should have visualized a game plan and anticipated my distress. It’s too late by the time I’m standing here feeling like an idiot for being so overwhelmed by freakin’ toothpaste! At this point, metacognition is my only hope. I calm my breathing and my head begins to clear. My prefrontal cortex takes charge. “What’s the worst case scenario,” I ask myself. It’s just toothpaste! And four magic words follow the analysis: “I can handle it.” I engage a new pattern and apply the retail version of my good-girl-bad-girl personal philosophy, and come home with two tubes – ProNamel and Aquafresh – and ‘spit’ my time between. What can I say? I’m now a proud personal hygiene polygamist (but hopefully not “till death do us part”)!

The Versatile Blogger Award goes Greek when a ‘good-girl-bad-girl’ reveals all!

good girl bad girlBefore Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, there were Anaximander’s opposites (hot/cold, good/evil, wet/dry), which where brought into unity by Heraclitus: “The road up and the road down are the same thing.” Being awarded The Versatile Blogger Award (many thanks to ToKillAHammingBird for the nomination!!) requires me to tell you 7 things about myself. versatileblogger111But there are so many versions of ‘self’ that 7 things can be strategically used to describe. Who do I want to be to you? But no, that’s too easy. I’ve always been a woman of extremes, no nebulous middle ground, and I’m going to allow you to know me at my most honest – and therefore by my opposites: Good Girl …versus… Bad Girl. The Greeks were fearless of ideas. This freedom has been their greatest gift to history. And when you are fearless in who you are, your own history begins to make a lot more sense.

1) Requisite ‘good girl’ volunteering, plus earned full scholarships and A++ ave in high school & university …versus… Dropped out to play (briefly) in the _ _ _  industry and to work (permanently) as a Thinker/Writer/Designer

2) Won fashion (and industrial) design awards, commissions, and designed and hand-stitched my wedding dress …versus… Last ten years could be defined as a tragic series of ugly hand-me-down pants

3) Have accessorized said pants with running shoes, baseball cap, and ponytail 23/7 …versus… Harley Davidson boots other 1/7, with all manner of debauchery above my thigh-high fishnets

4) Match all my man’s socks as soon as they come out of the drier …versus… Have resorted to buying paper plates and plastic cutlery after ignoring the dishes for weeks (ok… so once it was a whole month)

5) Work diligently 9 to 5 rolling paper (don’t ask) and doing academic research on ‘the evolution of ideas’ …versus… My infamous 3 am ‘field testing’

6) Have a deeply Christian faith (with new philosophical proof that would leave Aquinas shaking in his sandals) …versus… Once wrote an essay on cheese being the highest expression of human spirituality

7) If you break my heart you won’t shake my faith in love …versus… But I will have to kill you.

*********

The Versatile Blogger Award also asks that I nominate 15 other bloggers for the next round:
Shoeism ~ HitchhikingColorado ~ TheMusicType ~ LivingDilbert ~ AFireworkInProgress ~ BlueHouseRecords ~ MagicAndMarvels ~ AdventuresAspirations”Aha”Moments ~ Sewbon ~ TheBlondeAlarmist ~ Bun81Bridge ~ BareKnuckleWriter ~ TheStoryShack ~ BalconyViews ~AdventuresInWiferyAndOther…

When doing the dishes becomes a not-so-natural disaster

There are moments when everything changes, and in an instant, your world – or at least your kitchen – becomes a very complicated place. Last night, at exactly 9:43pm, something happened that made everything up to that moment seem so manageable, so innocent. It was something I’ve seen coming for years, “only a matter of time,” as ‘they’ say.

Doing the dishes after watching a documentary on the awesome perils of constructing the Panama Canal, my mind was full of hydro engineering, spillways, and human suffering – all of which would soon cross a continent and a century to turn my kitchen into a perfect diorama of disaster. Clearing the drying tray, I leaned over the counter to toss a Tupperware lid up to the top cupboard shelf, but it didn’t quite make the right sound. It was too loud, as if instantly echoed. Then I felt it, a cold, clammy liquid seeping through my long johns and woolen socks. I knew right away what had happened. I looked down, and time stopped.

Sure enough, my shirt had caught the edge of the George Foreman Grill (brim full!) drippings tray and yanked it off the counter. Brown and sludgy, the watery fat had exploded… everywhere. I thought of Panama, of the flooding and yellow fever, and I thought of the men and women who had battled far deeper demons than the greasy mess I was facing. But I couldn’t blame the mosquitoes, or the weather, or even the French, it was my own fault for leaving the stupid thing so close to the edge.

After a very brief (but entirely necessary) mourning period, I stripped down, tossed my socks in the sink and got to scrubbing. There I was, nearly naked, on my hands and knees on the kitchen floor, scouring the linoleum. In a moment my evening had changed from routine to grim nightmare, but compared to Panama, I suppose I really don’t have shit to complain about.

How to incorporate air purifying plants into an office environment

Plants are an excellent way to improve the air quality in your office. Spider plants offer exceptional purification properties. Of course, you can always take things one step farther into the jungle and create a greenery curtain in your office doorway. Anything to bring more of a barrier between your humanity and the industrial hum of the cubicle wasteland beyond.

Although I do have to warn you, explaining to a befuddled coworker why you’re bushwhacking through spider plant foliage to escape for lunch can be a little awkward – as I found out first hand last week! Click Here to learn more about the Blank Canvas Sampler. And if you’re curious about the font in the illustration above, Click Here.

When doing the dishes becomes an archeological dig

I hate washing dishes. No really – HATE. Coded with a somewhat masculine quirk, my brain is not designed to compartmentalize anything other than Sex/Love. All else falls under the blanket of Life – no enviable Work/Play distinctions that bring comfort to so many when faced with life’s daily bargaining of attentions. All is the exaltation of existence, blemished only by the hell tedium of repetition – where sex, perhaps not so ironically, is the only action worth repeating.

Forced to resort to somewhat extreme – stepping away from our theme here – decidedly unsexy actions to cope with the practicalities of life, I find myself wondering if I can apply Blank Canvas thinking to this latest spread of dirty dishes…

A story opens, and I dive in hands first…

*********************

With a PhD in early 21st century residences, and more than a decade of field experience, our archeologist can’t believe she still gets stuck on dish duty. “Yah yah, women have come so far – bullshit,” she grumbles while brushing off the fine layer of sediment that covers the Northside counter of the perfectly preserved kitchen. Like much of ancient Rome and New York, this home has been buried under centuries of rebuilds and is nearly intact.

What she notices first is the organization of the artifacts: pots on the left, cutlery collected in a large Tupperware (perhaps left to soak), plates stacked by size. A theory springs to mind… Maybe the inhabitants tetrised (‘verbed’ in mid-2100s) the spread to make it less intimidating. There are no other dishes on the shelves, and notably, no dishwasher. “Maybe they hated doing the dishes as much as I do,” she wonders out loud in the still, linoleum floored cave. “Maybe they left them as long as they could – and then time ran out.”

But who lived here? She catalogues each plate, cup, pot, before taking scrapings of preserved food residue, then scrubs them clean for museum storage and possible future display. There are two distinct condiment patterns: some plates have sauce smeared all over, while others show evidence of little dried pools. The latter eater taking more than he/she needed, keeping tastes separate, and taking little dabs; the former mixing the flavourings with the food, or perhaps simply finishing with flourish.

There are more archeological clues. Some of the casserole dishes (and even Tupperware lids) show the same saucing patterns as the plates. Our archeologist considers this proof of her procrastination theory – that once the plates ran out, other surfaces were sacrificed. Most interesting are the dish gloves, the rubber made brittle by time, but still clearly the largest size available. A couple perhaps? A large woman and a smaller man (the dabs)? Two men?

Or a small woman and a Viking man (finishing with flourish), the gloves bought with the hope of compromise. The dabber would be the tetrisiser, but the gloves would better fit the man. Our archeologist steps back, arms dripping with suds. “And like so many compromises,” she muses, “the truth of any theory is proven only when time runs out.”

*********************

I step back, pink gloves dripping. What she can’t see – the archeological evidence long since re-sauced – are the interm loads my Viking washed while waiting for me to man up and take my turn at the sink. And so with one (albeit epic) load of dishes, my faith in an entire branch of science is shaken to the core.

This is a Story Thread post – Click to read more…