The Crane Wife by CJ Hauser

“The Crane Wife” is a story from Japanese folklore. I found a copy in the reserve’s gift shop among the baseball caps and bumper stickers that said GIVE A WHOOP. In the story, there is a crane who tricks a man into thinking she is a woman so she can marry him. She loves him, but knows that he will not love her if she is a crane so she spends every night plucking out all of her feathers with her beak. She hopes that he will not see what she really is: a bird who must be cared for, a bird capable of flight, a creature, with creature needs. Every morning, the crane-wife is exhausted, but she is a woman again. To keep becoming a woman is so much self-erasing work. She never sleeps. She plucks out all her feathers, one by one. 

I think I was afraid that if I called off my wedding I was going to ruin myself. That doing it would disfigure the story of my life in some irredeemable way. I had experienced worse things than this, but none threatened my American understanding of a life as much as a called-off wedding did. What I understood on the other side of my decision, on the gulf, was that there was no such thing as ruining yourself. There are ways to be wounded and ways to survive those wounds, but no one can survive denying their own needs. To be a crane-wife is unsustainable. 
Even now I hear the words as shameful: Thirsty. Needy. The worst things a woman can be. Some days I still tell myself to take what is offered, because if it isn’t enough, it is I who wants too much. I am ashamed to be writing about this instead of writing about the whooping cranes, or literal famines, or any of the truer needs of the world.
But what I want to tell you is that I left my fiancĂ© when it was almost too late. And I tell people the story of being cheated on because that story is simple. People know how it goes. But it’s harder to tell the story of how I convinced myself I didn’t need what was necessary to survive. How I convinced myself it was my lack of needs that made me worthy of love.

Review of The Crane Wife:

The Eternal Battle of Oblivious Men V. Needy Women

[...] its delicate portrayal of a feeling many women know all too well: the constant dread and self-management to avoid seeming “needy,” which they’re told is the ultimate relationship killer, ugly weeds protruding out of what could’ve been a beautiful garden if tended to properly. 

if I was in charge of school

“Logic!" said the Professor half to himself. "Why don't they teach logic at these schools?
-- C.S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe

School: a place (for which all have right of access but not by compulsion) for exploring what is useful to oneself and to others in creating a good life for all.

Curriculum, primary categories, to ~age 15:

critical thinking (questioning, opinion vs. fact)
logic (if x then y)
rhetoric (clarity, logical fallacies, ethical vs. dirty argumentation)
research (tools, determining validity of sources, understanding statistics)

interpersonal relations and ethics (autonomy, empathy, human rights, equity, consent, communication)
human welfare (community building, nature and the environment, diversity, the built environment)

life skills:
finances, health, household

the making and enjoyment of art, music, storytelling

the pleasure and usefulness of learning how things work

~Age 16+: opportunities for specialized training and internships


How an 18th-century philosopher helped solve my midlife crisis: David Hume, the Buddha, and a search for the Eastern roots of the Western Enlightenment


Why haven't we found aliens? If the universe is so large and so old, why haven't we found life on other planets?

Answer: advanced intelligence will be digitized, and the universe is too hot to do all they want to do; so it's sleeping.

"Imagine you had the technology to live in a digital world. [...] How barbaric would the physical universe look to [you]?"

"once super-intelligent life progresses to a certain point, it has no corporeal form [...] how do you point Hubble at a hard drive?"

At first this seemed horrific to me, fiction versus reality; the feeling of being lied to about what's real. But of course, the real world is transient; it's also a fiction, in a sense, produced by our senses. They sky has no intrinsic color of blue, it could be countless different things to countless different brains. My brain is already creating that, and the sense of it as beautiful. Thoughts are not physical, and our senses illusionary.  Either at the whim of someone else, in whose world I reside, or of chance, an arbitrary evolution that to me is normal only because it is all I know.

Mountain Man (Around and Around by John Denver)

this morning

I gathered usnea. The lichen has a slightly acrid smell, but on my hands it smells wonderful. Swoon-wonderful. Though I collected the usnea from our box elder tree this morning, and am now disappointed to learn that it absorbs heavy metals so should not be collected for use where it grows close to roadways.

It was cold this morning. I was walking at a brisk pace in order to warm up, and suddenly realized I'd better not because the road was slick, though it didn't look like it (black ice.) It was nice being out early because it was so calm. I walked east to a "little library", then back toward the school, stopping to take pictures of plants. I'm interested in plants that thrive in the winter, stay green and beautiful. The exception being most conifers, which feel too dark and heavy to me. The exception to that being the redwoods, though they shouldn't have been planted in a residential area, they feel soft and majestic and magical.

this afternoon

The smell of garlic and butter and tomatoes roasting wafting through an open window, alternating with the perfume of honeysuckle, to me where I float in a warm bath and doze and dream of the Italian countryside, catching glimpses behind a gauzy white curtain of fluffy clouds floating in a blue sky, the air illuminated with gold by a late afternoon sun.

a most spectacular sight

From Mask of the Sun: The Science, History, and Forgotten Lore of Eclipses:
Not until nine o'clock had the sky noticeably darkened. By then, faces had taken on strange appearances. Dark yellowish-green circles appeared around eyes. Lips had turned dark purple in color. Only a thin crescent of sunlight was left. There were only minutes to go before the total solar eclipse would happen. Then, without warning, bands of light and dark started to shimmer over the crowds, looking, as one onlooker said, like a great ribbed shadow fence was passing over the ground. That lasted almost two minutes. Immediately after, some would remember feeling a brief gust of wind. everyone sensed an increasing coldness. The sky darkened more. The sun itself was now a sliver. Only hushed voices could be heard. Then, as the last ray of sunlight disappeared and darkness came over everyone, the silence was complete. Many would later say it was the quietest moment in the city's history. No one spoke. Not a vehicle moved. 
As soon as totality came, those in the gondola began their work. The scientists and their Navy assistants operated cameras. Someone called out the seconds to keep track of how much time had passed. The corona-sketchers began to sketch. Commander Klein, looking outside, would remember the scene succinctly as "a most spectacular sight." The sky overhead was a blue-black. All around, miles away at the horizon, beyond the limits of the shadow, was a flood of merging orange and red light.