Category Archives: thoughts

canadian culture as emotional pajamas

The metaphor I use the most for being in Canada or being with other Canadians is that it’s comfortable.  Canadian cultural references are embedded in the foundation of my brain.  They are patterns I recognize.  Some people’s brains light up at the idea of comfort food, or their own local state traditions, mine lights up at talk of parliamentary government and references to the Hip.  It is that bedrock of knowledge that corresponds to my childhood in Victoria, which means it brings a sense of security and comfort, an emotional halo, as it were.   Being in a space with Canadian culture is the mental equivalent of wearing pajamas.

This is not uncommon for immigrants.  If it were not, we would not have opportunities to experience other cultures in NYC.  Everyone coming to America needs a connection to their home cultures.  It’s just that mine isn’t that different from the dominant, mainstream, white American experience.  I’ve said to my husband before, I feel like I just came from a slightly alternative dimension of America, one where a bunch of stuff happened that didn’t in this reality that he and I live in.  Being Canadian, after all, I still have the historical knowledge of America as it happened in my lifetime.  I just have an extra layer of Canadian specific memories on top of that.

So that’s why I appreciate the opportunity to go to Canadian expat gatherings.  This includes going to Dirt Candy for the Great Canadian Beer Hall, to which I enthusiastically drag my American friends.  Often this is more of a Canada themed event full of Americans who are fans of Canada rather than actual Canadians, but it is still a direct connection to the homeland, and one with an excellent house wine to drink if one does not feel like drinking a Molson’s (I didn’t drink Molsons in Canada, and it therefore has no nostalgic appeal to me.)  Last night we went to see a screening of Iron Chef Canada because the Dirt Candy chef, Amanda Cohen, is from Toronto and is a proud Canadian as well as an extremely badass chef:

The main point of the event was to screen the episode of Iron Chef Canada where Chef Cohen took on a challenger from Ottawa, but afterwards, the Canadian culture resumed, with Anne of Green Gables on one screen, SCTV on the other, and both without sound so the restaurant could play a mix of Canadian music that was heavy on the Hip.  That is the draw for Canadians: the references to our own cultural touchstones, an environment where our brains are constantly releasing serotonin as a response to familiar media.  It’s also a reminder of some of the cultural influences that have impacted my own personality: the open-hearted nature of Montgomery’s original Anne series, and the smartass comedy we keep exporting to the USA.  Hey, I’m a smartass with a soft spot for my own Island too!

The flip side of all this is that one cannot sit around all day in pajamas (although when working from home, I certainly try to do so).  Similarly, I felt like I needed a different challenge than I was going to experience as a grownup in Canada.  Staying in my homeland would have been both too difficult and not difficult enough.  My life has been significantly easier in America: within two years of moving to L.A., I had met my husband and placed myself squarely on a solid career path.  Even now, my income-to-housing expense ratio is better than it would be in Toronto or Vancouver, and my career options are wide open because I work in a city with a high concentration of marketing jobs.  However, the cultural challenges are much more intense in this country.: America has much less equality than I thought it would have when I studied the Constitution and resulting Supreme Court decisions at university.  In the last two years especially, America’s worst legacies, of racism resulting from white supremacist foundations, along with the economic inequality resulting from capitalism, have been at the forefront of my consciousness in a way that those issues might never have been raised to me in Canada.  Those issues certainly exist in Canada, we are just better at making them less extreme and less visible, with our socialist leanings and our cultural mosaic narrative.

I’m not sure if this is a common dichotomy for all expatriate Canadians, to feel like our lives are easier here, but to also feel like being in America is less comfortable than being in Canada.  Maybe that’s also an experience that differs based on location.  I might feel less psychologically challenged in Seattle, a city that is culturally similar to Vancouver and Victoria due to proximity.  I might feel more discomfort outside of my neighborhood in Brooklyn, which is pretty much Vancouver in NYC.  Still, when given the opportunity to take comfort in a Canadian expat activity, I take it as a few hours of nostalgia.  But at some point today,  like every day, I will take on the challenges I’ve chosen by moving to the States, and I will also change out of my pajama pants.

disappointment

Last night, I stayed home instead of going to House of Yes with my friends  There was no doubt that this was the smartest decision I could make.  I’ve been struggling with a cold the last few days that migrated from my allergy-weakened sinuses down to my throat and chest.  I need to rest and keep my defenses up.

This was me on Tuesday, until I realized…nope, sick.

Ever since the Great Walking Pneumonia episode of 2015, I have been extra careful when sick.  That episode cost me the summer of 2015 (much like my broken ankle ligament cost me the summer of 2018).  I had reduced capacity in my lungs due to the fluid in them and had asthma on top of that.  So now, when I don’t feel well, I stop moving.  I work from home.  I try to get extra sleep.  It may make me stir crazy, but at least I know I’m not making it worse than it has to be.

Unfortunately, this time, the cold hit right before Halloween, meaning that I had to make a difficult choice for a Friday morning.  I could keep my plans to go out with a half-dozen of my good friends, or I could hand off my Halloween party ticket and my costume to a friend who missed buying hers, stay home and rest.

I chose the latter and then was disappointed all day.  I didn’t regret the choice, I resented the choice.  Therefore, I allowed myself to wallow in a certain amount of less-than-adult resentful pouting.  I was supposed to go out with my friends!  With my best friends!  In a group costume! And we were going out in Brooklyn, which I love doing with my friends because they all live in Manhattan and I like showing off how cool my borough is!  And we were going to the House of Yes which I am probably too old for but is super inclusive of everyone and always has the best costumes.  (the David Bowie x House of Yes party at the Brooklyn Museum had amazing costumes).  I love my friends, I love costumes, I love going out in Brooklyn.  And I had to miss all of this because of a stupid cold.

Of course this was the right choice for me for my health.  But still, as I sat on the couch at 8pm, combing Ben for lice while watching Parks and Rec with him, I still resented it.  And I realize, there isn’t going to be some sort of epiphany to this tale that reduces that resentment.  As adult women, we’re told that our best place is as wives and mothers, so if this was a piece of popular culture, then this story would end with me combing my son for lice and sharing a beloved TV series with him and then getting in bed with my husband and realizing that my place was with my men all along.  If this was a show on Lifetime, it would end with me feeling like my cold was truly a blessing to make me stay home and realize that I belong here – not in a converted warehouse in Bushwick with my child-free friends.

Nope.  Not here.  I’m still disappointed that I couldn’t go out last night in a wig and horn and sparkles to a converted warehouse in Bushwick.  Perhaps that makes me less sanguine than I should be at forty.  Perhaps that makes me slightly immature even, to have that response to missing a night out with my friends.  And if so, that’s okay.  This is the response I have to missing Halloween and I accept that.

Oh, and the cold?  It’s drying up.  Much less coughing today, and the goopiness is receding from my chest.  Paul and I even made it to Pilates this morning so I’m back on to my top priority of fitness goals.  I got nine hours of rest.  Taking care of myself by staying home was the right thing to do.  It just wasn’t the easy thing to do.

 

the post online argument shameover

shameover (n):

1. a feeling of regret and self-shaming that remains even after the cause of the event is forgotten by everyone but you
2. a feeling of regret and self-shaming that continues after a particularly shameful action

I am in the throes of #2 of a shameover from arguing on the Internet.  It isn’t the argument itself I’m ashamed of, but the sheer waste of time it represents.  It’s time I could be spending with my family, or time I could be practicing the piano, or time I could be doing my writing class homework.  It’s time I could use to clear out my work inbox or finish up some Scouting responsibilities (as District Commissioner and acting GSM for one group, the Scouting never stops) or just return personal emails.  There’s a dozen ways I could productively use time.  Arguing on the Internet is not one of them.

Duty Calls

Therefore, after two hours of generally wasted time arguing over the child migrant separation crisis, I have a shameover.  And it feels awful.  I feel like I do when I over-indulge in other ways.  I feel like I do when I carb binge, when my blood sugar spikes and I know it will eventually crash as well.  I feel like I do when I watch waste of time TV.  I feel like I do when I spend too much money, on impulse, on an item I do not particularly need and cannot return.  I feel like I do when I drink two glasses of wine too fast and know it will mess up my sleep.  I feel like I did last week when I trolled Trump supporters on the street. I feel like have cost myself something I cannot get back: in this case, time, energy, and a whole lot of adrenaline.

I consider it a waste of time to argue online, because  no argument online can be won anymore.  No one’s mind can be changed anymore.  No one wants to acknowledge logical points or even facts in an age when everything can be dismissed as “fake news”.  There was once a day when people would engage in civil, well thought out discourse on bulletin boards; now we all wallow in fallacies of online arguing.  There is no winning an argument or changing anyone’s mind online anymore; there is only being better at arguing and feeling better about being right.

The only saving grace of arguing online is that there are some cases where I learn something new.   Which I did, actually, tonight, from the original post that sparked the entire argument, which was moderately educational!   This Medium post similarly argues that arguing is a positive in that it helps one “bulletproof” one’s arguments.  Unfortunately, it’s almost always at a disproportionate amount of time and energy investment to argue for that knowledge.  Often, the knowledge I get from arguing online is information could have acquired elsewhere without paying such a high price in time, energy and effort, without arguing, without getting my blood pressure and my adrenaline up.  If I go poke around outside my own liberal bubble, I am pretty sure I can hear others’ points of view without having to waste time being polite and logical to random people I don’t even know who jump in the middle of an argument and decide to engage via deflecting and whataboutism.

Idiot

TRUE.  Because one person’s “FIRST HAND EXPERIENCE” is totally representative of thousands of other experiences and makes them an expert in the subject!

Why then, do I continue to waste time arguing online?  It inevitably results in me losing sleep, not over the argument itself, but over the guilt of the waste of time and energy from it (not to mention the adrenaline coursing through my veins from any argument).  I think it’s because there are two factors of appeal to online arguing for me: the need to hold people accountable for the social injustices they are supporting or failing to fight, and the need to be right.  On the one hand, I have always wanted to crusade for justice and against what I see as wrong, so having the entire Internet in which to do so is great for arguing for what I see as morally correct.  On the other hand, I just really like being smarter than everyone else and I will totally admit that.

Arguing online may hold a thin veneer of justification in that it allows one to try to use rhetoric to convince someone to do good.  Perhaps one will have the opportunity to impart knowledge and understanding to someone else.  Perhaps one will learn some critical piece of information or insight into the logic of the argument.  Perhaps one will learn a new way of looking at something, a new perspective that helps one understand the initial discussion topic better.  In some cases, when people share their perspectives with me, I’m actually grateful for the insight and knowledge.

However, ultimately, the knowledge that one cannot win an argument on the Internet means that if one is arguing, one is very likely arguing wholly due to ego.  It then requires a degree of mindfulness to recognize one’s ego as a primary motivator so one can pledge that one will not argue on the goddamn Internet and then have to write an entire blog post on why doing so is a bad idea before one can peacefully fall asleep.  Now, 900 words later, I feel like I’ve acquired some of that mindfulness – and I can go to bed.  Goodnight world!  Tomorrow is another day of being nicer on the Internet.

 

passiviTV

I have been watching more TV lately.  This started when I realized how much content I could download to my phone or Kindle to watch while in transit on the subway.  This was initially great!  I could immerse myself in television programming any day of the week, not just the one or two days when a favorite show came online.  I started picking entire series to watch, starting with Parks and Rec and adding Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.  I watched a huge chunk of the first season of Outlander while traveling to and from Toronto.  And I could keep watching all the weekly shows that come up in “real time” like Divorce, so long as I watched them on the above ground bus to work in NJ.

Then the TV watching time began to creep up.  I started watching episodes of TV at home, on an actual TV.  I would watch two or three episodes at a time.  Suddenly, entire hours were disappearing.  I would look up and realize I was looking at a screen still at 11pm or midnight, throwing off my sleep schedule and my body’s ability to stay asleep due to the light suppressing the melatonin production I need for a good night’s rest.  I’d make up for that with a melatonin pill, and then I’d wake up groggy and start compensating for that with caffeine.  Which, as I learned last fall, I can only consume in moderation as well.  TV is both a bad influence and a bad habit.

Image result for download netflix meme

It isn’t as if I’m watching crappy TV even!  I’m watching a lot of consistently smart, female led, well reviewed content.  CexG , for example, is an extremely smart show, digging into its characters motivations and human frailty and mental health and changing sense of identity with a great sense of compassion and insight, sometimes expressed through musical numbers.  Parks and Rec is one of the best comedies ever, mostly based on the strength of its ensemble.  Neither show relies on gender tropes to build their characters.  Neither is based on laughing at its characters, as some sitcoms consistently do.  They are both well written, compassionate programs.  But they’re also passive content, and as long as I’m sitting there consuming the content, I’m not engaging in anything else.

Image result for crazy ex girlfriend

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: the only show to compare our mammary glands to the density of white dwarf stars.

It’s addicting to consume passive content.  It’s addicting to have an entire entertainment feed directly into my brain.  I have always read so much that I’m used to what Jasper Fforde called the “imaginotransference” process in the Thursday Next books.  To have multiple senses provided for me, without having to use any imagination myself, is fantastic.  It is so much richer an experience to see each nuance of a character’s facial expression, to see their setting, to hear their voice. This is why we all universally love television and movies, after all: they are a full display of storytelling that shows us a full, exacting vision, without relying on our brains to place the information in context or create our own visuals.

So as much as I try to justify my consumption of television, I also know I’m being lazy when I watch.  And I also know that as long as I”m watching, I’m not creating anything of my own.  I’m not blogging or writing.  I’m not practicing piano.  I’m consuming someone else’s creation, and as smart as that creation may be, the only good it does me is to be entertained by it.  I’m not thinking my own thoughts when I’m consuming passive content.  Sometimes, that’s OK, because I need a break and it’s nice to be entertained and heartwarmed by someone else’s vision of, say, Pawnee, IN: a place full of hope and positivity.  Other times, it’s just consumption, and it’s just taking up my time…and, to an extent, my energy.

Am I judging passive content?  No.  I’m judging how easy it is to be passive when consuming media.  With the infinite access to entertainment that is Netflix and its counterparts, one can access the cream of the art form of TV, the best comedies that are out there.  Even those of us with very specific comedic preferences (“Female Driven Sitcoms With Women Who Swear A Lot“) can find hundreds of hours of our preferred content on these platforms and watch those hours all at once.  Yes, I’m sure passive TV watching happened before this, but it didn’t happen to me.

I have to figure out more balance in this area.  Still, I enjoy watching these shows.  I’ve rarely watched much TV.  Doing so now opens up my ability to participate in more conversations around what makes a good vs. bad piece of video content.   And it’s also given me a whole new respect for the writers who make their visions happen in the long run.

Image result for parks and rec meme

 

From symbolism to symbols

There is a moment, in the First Sex in the City movie, where Carrie realizes that Big isn’t coming to their wedding venue (because he is a ridiculous man child, obviously, who only showed devotion when he could buy his way out of it BUT I DIGRESS) Carrie, panicking, asks for a phone. Samantha throws her an iPhone. She looks at the screen, covered in the first generation of apps, and says, simply, I can’t use this. I don’t know how.

Thinking of that scene, it seems so quaint. How could anyone be so clueless as to not be able to use a smartphone? How could anyone have lacked the intuition to grasp the technology, driven as it is by pictures and icons? It is a moment made for empathy from the audience, as if to say, see this confusing technology? It’s OK not to understand it! Even sophisticated New York women cannot efficiently use this newfangled geek device from Silicon Valley!

Now, at the age that the character was in that movie, I think, how did we manage to grasp all this technology? How is it that most of us swam so smoothly into the tide of all of this change? All of these smartphones, all of these computers, all of this digital existence? How is it all of us, all of my generation, managed to transition from the first days of a text-only Internet, to the bright icons, shapes, colors, all of the wordless material that makes up the apps and pictures on our phones? How did our brains transition from having the information, in the format of words that we were used to for centuries, and just suddenly seeing it flow through in a completely different interface every few years?

Look at all these tiny pictures!

In the world of today, I feel fortunate enough to be from a unique generation. I remember A World Before the internet, but only barely. I am still able to see the internet as something miraculous, a conduit that allows for a flow of information and communication we never could have imagined in the past.

That, however, was words. The smartphones are all about images. They are a new way of looking at information, full of symbols. There are the pleasingly aesthetic squares of apps, the shortcut sentences of emojis, the flash of lights on the phone itself to represent a message from another person. My phone speaks to me in a code of shortcuts.

This is why I had to delete the Facebook app off my phone: the notification icon babbles at me otherwise.

How did the Xennials all learn this so quickly, changing the way we interpret information in so few years? How were we poised for this absorption of information? Words alone, I get – Western culture prizes ourselves on our ability to absorb words and change them into images and emotions in our brains. We have done that collectively for half a millennium, since the printed, widely distributed word accelerated the ability to read. The Internet as it was in 1995 makes perfect sense to me. The way we choose to communicate now though, it goes around the words. It is a direct transfer of simple information, including emotions, without the need to take in words and change them, in our brains, to a concept.

🍆🍆🍆🍐🍐🍌🥒🥒🥒🍑🍑🍆🍆🍆

Pretty sure this means something filthy IN PHONE SPEAK

Maybe this is how we moved so quickly to smartphones and this image and metaphor laden technology. It isn’t that we went forward, it’s that we went backwards. Most of what is done in smartphone communication is images and symbols because it is too cumbersome to pull together a coherent set of words. Going without words entirely may be more efficient on this device, but it strikes me as lazier .

I’m actually typing this on a smartphone, using it as a small computer. It isn’t efficient, but it’s how I write on the subway. The concepts I’m trying to express, I want a reader to interpret through the nuances of words. There are no cookie cutter symbols that can replace original paragraphs. Maybe there are images, but I’d rather forces a reader to create those themselves. It’s effort for both the writer and reader this way.

Oh and that smartphone Carrie caught in the movie? Thrown to her by Samantha. Who is ten years older than the other girls. Proving, of course that anyone can learn this nerdy new tech, especially when it helps them run their successful small business. And I am sure the writers would have forced a gratuitous use of a series of sex icons like the ones above in lieu of dialogue on the extremely well spoken and articulate Kim Cattrall if the 3rd movie had taken place, proving my point about laziness as well.

unfeminine

The last few months of open conversation around sex and power have been both enraging and illuminating.  It has been like flipping on a light switch to see horrors that were only barely camouflaged by darkness, that we all knew were there.  It is the way we have now shone lights on the society we have built, the way we have encouraged male and female roles to the point where men are expected and encouraged to prey on women who feel trapped.

This is a many faceted discussion, and it will be a long one.  It will take years to identify all the points at which behavior is conditioned towards inequality, and begin to change it.  But for right now, I’d like to just look at three minutes of the conversation, in which Aidy Bryant sums up how she constrains her behavior in order to make her statements palatable to men:

“I, like most girls, have been taught to be accommodating and nice.”

“I’m trying to keep it cool and chill so I don’t come off like a shrew!”

“That’s a straight up sports reference for the boys!”

Yes.  That, right there.  That is the behavior that women are expected to adhere to.  We put, “I think,” or “I feel” in front of our statements to appear non-threatening.  We do not negotiate hard enough or push for what we want, because we don’t want to be seen as threatening.  We try to take up as little space as possible.

What angers me about this is that this is the behavior I learned and taught myself.  It doesn’t come naturally to me, to shrink back, to be quiet.  It comes naturally to me to be loud and vocal.  I don’t “feel” something is right, I usually know I’m right, and I’m ready to argue it.  And yet, over the years, I’ve considered it a positive to have learned how to polish my behavior to be nicer and more accommodating, less aggressive, more passive.  I have tried to be quieter.  I have tried to take up less mental and physical space in an attempt to be more likable, less threatening.

Perhaps I was better off unpolished after all.  Perhaps I placed too much value on the idea of what acceptable adult female behavior looked like, a series of gender constraints and tropes that are just incongruous with who I am.  Now, I’m just furious that women are expected to function within these lines and boundaries, and, worse, that so many of us still think we have to adhere to these unwritten guidelines of being nice, being accommodating, and never speaking up to make anyone else remotely uncomfortable.

I don’t like this.  I believe in making people uncomfortable when they deserve to face some sort of social consequence.  As an example, last week at a bar, my friends and I were discussing a play we had just seen.  A drunken boor kept coming over to hang over one of my friends at the table.  She was charmingly polite to him, hoping he would go away.  I ignored him entirely and continued talking because I didn’t think we needed to be polite to him – he was in our space, uninvited, and distracting from the conversation.  His response to this was to announce that I was “the Professor”, a lecturer, and yell that I was lecturing about something boring.  (I was comparing the play we had seen, Mankind, to LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness).  I wouldn’t participate in the female accommodation of a rude man, so I was labeled with something sexless.  Then he came back to the table and grabbed my friend’s ass because she was nice to him, and he thought he could get away with it, even though he was a drunk slob and she’s about a zillion levels above him on the social attractiveness scale.

This wouldn’t be a big deal (other than the entertainment factor when we had him kicked out) except as a metaphor for male response to female behavior: if you are nice, you are inviting sexual behavior.  If you are kind, you are open for grabbing.  If you are neither nice nor kind, you are neuter, devoid of the femininity that is the only coin of value in these social transactions.  I am certain that the “neuter” response a lot of men respond to me with has just as much to do with my size as my behavior – I’m literally the size of most guys at five-ten – but this has happened to me my entire life.  If I challenge someone, if I am not nice and accommodating, I am no longer feminine.  I can be dismissed, because femininity is of the utmost value in these kind of low-meaning, public interactions.

I spent ten minutes at my next workout getting this out of my system, beating a punching bag at the gym while muttering, “take THIS patriarchy!” All the years I’ve tried to behave in a more female manner so I would receive a positive response from the world.  All the times I’ve been dismissed for not being female enough.  All of it from men who have no right to assign or deny any woman her value, and yet who feel they have the right to judge us.  I thought about that and it gave my jabs and hooks even more power – enough that I think Paul looked slightly worried when I came out and headed over to the leg press.

This is a minor offshoot of the greater conversation we’re all having right now, about the way our society has formed to give men this ultimate social power over women, and how women are punished if they try to step outside subservient behavior.  We’re all engaged in this question of how we re-write our everyday social transactions to be on equal ground, because right now it feels like every encounter between the sexes is one where men have the advantage, and choose to take it.  My quibble with gender roles is minor in the scope of what many women have experienced, and what they are now brave enough to voice and share, one by one.

And yet, my quibble is part of the foundation that leads women to be taken advantage of, over and over, without recourse.  It’s the invisible barriers.  It’s the rules that say we must shrink back, or be punished with labels, insults, social consequence.  It is a small piece in the scaffolding that is holding up our society in this inequal structure.  Perhaps if we change the way women feel comfortable behaving, and reward those women who choose not to be nice, choose not to be accommodating, we will be one step closer to the balance we need.

art vs craft

I’ve been thinking a lot over the past few months about art and craft. They seem as if they should be interchangeable terms, as they go together so often in our language. Yet it is only art that we apply the term “fine” to. The “Fine Arts”: drama, music, writing, visual arts, etc.

This, to me, exemplifies the difference between art and craft. I believe Art is based in talent, a calling to create. It begins as a gift of creativity, an ability to transubstantiate emotion and thought into something others can experience. Creating something is an astonishing process, one Elizabeth Gilbert called, “Big Magic” for a reason.

Craft is more achievable to me than art. Craft is when you practice crafting something. It is ironic we call a craftsperson an “artisan”, a word that conjures up images of a handcrafted product. Craft is what we associate with making things, with shaping and perfecting aesthetics, perhaps, but ultimately with a functional product. That may be something as prosaic as a clay bowl, or as decorative as jewelry, but it is a tangible, functional item meant, mostly, for use.

In an age where so much work is now knowledge based, where does that leave us for craft? Are we no longer artisans? I believe that means we have to adapt our ideals of craft to intangible work. Knowledge work is now a craft. My expertise in digital marketing and in business is my craft. It is the work that produces something functional which I practice every day.

Art, however, remains art. The arts have always been a form of knowledge work, producing intangible, cerebral creations. That has not changed. That’s what makes art, the idea of transforming neutral, bland materials into full neural responses. And still – every art is also a craft. There is talent involved in art, but how does one become adept and skilled at transforming that talent into a chosen medium, unless one practices? That’s where art and craft dovetail again, in the requirement for practice, repetition, that constant refinement and polishing of words the same way a blacksmith would polish and re-shape a sword. It’s the challenge of making something that’s as perfect when formed as it was in it initial ideal. Without the same practice one would apply to a craft, art has far less impact and may not even be viable.

It is hard to create art in a form that one isnt innately familiar with. When I noodle on the piano in free-form mode, I still use music theory to pick out the harmonies and chords. I still calculate the relative minors and majors, dominant sevenths, diminished minors. I couldn’t create without that framework.

So an art must be practiced like a craft. Craft can also, at its most practiced, become art. Once an artisan has the practice of creation down, they can take it to the next level, embellishing and decorating, stretching the medium into something extraordinary. This is where craft becomes art, where the statements and thoughts, emotions and intellect, are added to a piece to make it resonate in our minds instead of merely functioning.

What are my arts and what are my crafts? I see writing as a craft. I see my work as a craft. I see music as my art, although I work at it like a craft. No matter what the medium though, I feel the same part of my brain light up when I translate a thought into a medium outside my brain. When I have the right answers at work, when I have just the right word for a blog post, when I hear music in my mind and replicate it on a keyboard, it all hits my brain the same way. It lights something up in me. Whether it is art or craft, do we not all need to have something that lights each of us up?

Perhaps I am thinking about this too hard. Arts and crafts are what each of us have, on some level, to make us extraordinary. It’s what lights our brains up and, if we practice hard enough, we can even extend that to other people and their brains. Both are miraculous that way.