Braddy Reads In Real Life (By Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang)

No matter what, you can never not be yourself.

Our century provides us with unprecedented opportunities to achieve anonymity. Online, you can be anyone. And, often, you choose to be someone else.

Online, usually civil adults lose temper over the most innocuous tweets.

Online, children ape older, fouler mouths their parents think they keep hidden.

Online, a chubby computer geek can be an elegant, dangerous redhead.

I started this blog to be a personal project, and even I admit that, here, I’m playing a character.

But the edges can blur, and actions in the “virtual” world have real-world consequences. And they need not all be bad. A comment unsaid online may lead to a civil discussion at a dinner table. A simple click of a thumbs-up button can bring a smile to a forgotten friend’s face. A girl can dye her hair red.

Our online personality can be a distillation of our best parts, rather than our worst, if we allow it to be.

Braddy Reads Eleanor and Park (by Rainbow Rowell)

“Hell is other people.”

That’s what Sartre said.  But he didn’t mean it.  I mean, he didn’t mean what people think he meant.  I think.

It’s not that other people cause you to be miserable.  If that were true, then we’d never fall in love.  We’d never miss someone.  We’d never feel that buzz in our fingers before we take another person by the hand.

We’d never stare at someone else, watch as they bit their lip and smile, and wonder what they’re thinking.

We’d never ask and wonder if they were telling the truth.

We’d never lose sleep over that question.

We’d never want to give so much to another person, and we’d never learn so much about ourselves in the process.

We’d never hate ourselves so much for the things we learn.

We’d never cry when such a masochistic string ended, and we’d never.

Ever.

Ever.

Want to relive it.

Song of the Laundry

I have a clothes washer and a dryer in my house now, and this may be the most significant thing that’s happened to me all month.

For the past year, I’ve been taking all of my dirty laundry to my parents’ house, about a twenty-minute drive away.  It’s not been all bad – I get to chat with them for a bit, watch the telly, maybe sneak a yogurt from the refrigerator… but, at the same time, it’s been… I can’t think of the right word.

Dehumanizing?

Not a bit.  Way too strong.

Alienating?

Getting closer, but still wrong…

Whatever.  I’ll think of it.

Anyway, now I’ve got these two machines in my basement – brand new machines, all white and chrome and shiny.  A bit out of place in a dilapidated basement with dripping pipes, crumbling walls, and all-you-can-breathe asbestos just a lick away.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt quite like a neanderthal as I did when I first nervously approached my new machines.  I’ve never had to read a manual to figure out how to use a washer, but it took me some study to figure out how to get the machine started.  I’m still not sure how I’m supposed to clean it without a professional pit team to disassemble the detergent dish.  But the strangest thing of all was when I pressed the on switch for the first time, and a peppy string of tinny notes suddenly played from the machine.

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My washer and dryer sing.  They sing when they turn on.  They sing when they turn off.  They sing when they switch modes, and they sing when I leave them alone for too long with the laundry still inside.

And that’s a wonderful song.  I put the laundry in the machine, I go run an errand, and then, when I come home, I’ve got this choir of appliances singing to me, welcoming me home.  I’ve never felt so liberated, walking into my own home.

Confining?

Yeah, that’s it.  That was the word.

Dental Intimacy

I think part of the reason I’m still single is that I’m afraid to let anyone get too close to me. I figure, the further back I can keep people I want to impress, the less likely they are to notice my many dazzling luminous flaws. Given that, it’s a miracle I consent to be examined by a dentist at all.

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The dentist is a bizarre creature. You walk into her office more or less voluntarily, ask her to jam her hands awkwardly into your mouth, and then pay her for the privilege. She scrapes away at your teeth, one by one, a sensation you can feel all along your jawline. Meanwhile, you’re trying to pull your tongue as far back down your throat as you can, because… well, there’s only so much room in your mouth, and she’s got to fit a rubber hose and a vacuum cleaner in there. The worst part is that if you accidentally lick her hand, you’re the one who feels like you’ve been invasive.

Then there are those creepy goggles that she wears. You know, the ones that completely obscure her eyes so that the whole experience is even more like an alien abduction than it would have been otherwise. When the light’s shining, you can kind of see yourself reflected in the inhuman glass, and that’s when the real insecurities begin:

“She’s spending a lot of time on those molars. The back of my mouth must be hideous!”

“Do I have spittle in my beard? Did she trail a line of saliva behind her when she pulled that hook out of my mouth last time?”

“Oh no! What if I have a boogie in my nose?”

I’m positive dentists see the worst side of people. It’s a miracle they can get close enough to another human being to ever make little dentists.