Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Why Spock Is My Hero

No and I watched Star Trek just about every night, looking for the rarely-shown episodes and our favorite episodes. My favorite character was Spock: He was the smartest person on the ship, observed everything and carefully drew correct conclusions, and loyal to friends (and to the Federation). Most interesting to me, he didn't have feelings. As I got older I saw that Spock did have feelings, but successfully repressed them except when drunk or in the midst of hormone-related upset, or, much later, in a movie.

When I was a kid I wanted to be like Spock. I also was (and am still) an observer, weighing risks and benefits before making decisions. I imagined myself to be a pretty smart person. I think I'm pretty loyal - maybe not as loyal as No, but loyal. However, the thing I envied most in Spock was his ability to control his feelings: He was never sad, rarely angry, and never had hurt feelings. He was always secure in the decisions he made. He knew he was right.

I especially felt this when I was in grammar school. Many of the kids were cruel, so I thought that if I could be the smartest one in the class, I would know I was better than they were, regardless of what the mean kids thought of me. If they knew what a good friend I could be, the kids who were neither my bullies nor my friends would be my friends and I wouldn't be alone in the class. If I could control my feelings, nothing anyone said or did to me would upset me, make me cry, or write "F---HEADS!!!" repeatedly in my binder in big, blocky, letters.

When I was in twelfth grade I had to take a speech class. One of the assignments was that each of us had to make a speech about someone who was our hero. I wrote and spoke about Spock: I admired his knowledge and logic, his ability to know what to do in every moment, and how he never allowed personal feelings to get in the way of making a decision or executing a decision. Spock was a good friend to Kirk, despite the difference in their characters, and to McCoy, despite the impression of disdain that McCoy constantly had for Spock, and I liked that about him too. I described how I'd taught myself to lift one eyebrow in that classic puzzled Spock look.

After I'd given my speech, Mr. S. told the class that we were supposed to talk about real people, because fictional people can't be heroes.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Trip To Laugh About

My right arm was injured (not broken) three weeks ago which has impacted my ability to write and type. I apologize for the extra-long delay, kind reader.

In the spring of 1991, one of Shobi-wan's former housemates was getting married in a lodge somewhere outside Portland, and we were invited. It was spring break (Shobi-wan was a student) so we decided that we would attend the wedding and go camping for a couple nights afterward, first in Tillamook and then in Cannon Beach. As you might imagine, our packing was rather schizophrenic - nice clothes for the wedding, tent and sleeping bags for the camping. Everything was piled up in the kitchen, and we made many trips up and down the stairs to pack The Tub, my first Honda Civic (a station wagon, still my favorite car).

Just before crossing the bridge from Vancouver, WA, to Portland, OR, I asked Shobi-wan to grab me a handful of Hershey's Kisses for sustenance for the rest of the trip to the wedding site. She twisted around in her seat and reached back for the blue cooler (which I still have), but not feeling it with her hand, she turned fully around and said, "Did you put the cooler in the back?" I said, "It should be up against the seats," meaning right behind the front seats. She said, "It's not here."

In that moment, I realized I also hadn't put the shoes I was going to wear with my dress at the wedding. I guess I somehow knew that the shoes had been sitting on top of the cooler, which I could visualize still sitting on the floor in the kitchen. We were in the perfect place for this realization, as we were at the end of the bridge, from which there is an exit to the Jantzen Beach Mall, set up as close to the border between sales tax-less Oregon and sales tax-full Washington as possible. So I zipped off the exit, parked the car, and Shobi-wan and I dashed into a Payless Shoes. We had about an hour to get from Jantzen Beach to the wedding site and to change our clothes, and we didn't know where we were going (and I always tried to allow 30 minutes for getting lost, particularly on the fringes of Portland, in those days). I bought the second pair of flats I tried on, for $12.

The first night of our camping trip we spent next to the Tillamook River. We went to the Tillamook Cheese Factory and that night the rain poured down. When we got to Cannon Beach, the feet of our sleeping bags were damp and the tent was soaked through, having been rolled up wet. We also learned that the Tillamook River had flooded that day. We piled all the stuff in the front seats and slept in the back of the car. Shobi-wan is adorably small, and we were able to lie down stretched out lengthwise, only cramped a little side-to-side.

We had great fun on this trip, laughing even when we made tea in a pot that hadn't been cleaned very well from the previous night's canned chili. Unlike some adventures I had when I was young, this one was funny while it was happening as well as being funny years later.