Tuesday, January 10, 2006


I helped teach a Women's Literature class in graduate school. It was the culmination of one of my dreams: reading and discussing my the greats (Virgnia Woolf, Toni Morrison), hashing out feminist theories, analyzing interesting films (Real Women have Curves and Cheryl Dunye's The Watermelon Woman). We also read Zines--self published magazines usually filled with brutal honesty in word or visual form; and emotionally charged rants or raves on topics ranging from music to sex to food to clothes. The spirit of zines is one of rebellion bordering on revolution inspired by genuine insecurity, inbalance, outrage, and passion. Every student in the class contributed one page to our class zine, producing an amazing aray of the kind of honesty the good zines cultivate: provoking that exhiliarating mix of tears and laughter.

The reason I'm explaining all of this is because one of my favorite--perhaps low-key--aspects of the zine was something called the "googlebox." No, there's no connection to the dominate search engine or a woman's anatomy (well, that might be in there). A google box is a list of someone's top 100 favorite things in life - be it material possessions, a certain time of the day, a particular memory, or person, -- whatever. Only one person in the class tackled this seemingly easy task. It's hard- try coming up with 100 things that you cherish. When the course ended and I had some free time, I attempted to fill up my googlebox. I think I got to #30. The trick is finding the "ultimate" googlebox material - I wanted only the timeless and ultimate items. Also, the more specific the better. For instance, I wouldn't just write "Jack" - I'd probably put "Jack dancing his dance when a song overcomes him during dinner."

For the last five years, I'll think of one or two things that could be added and wonder, fad or established item? In many ways, the googlebox, though a whimsical notion, has become something to represent my ultimate joys - for all time. Hardly whimsical. Hardly an easy list to make. I think it might be what gets read at my funeral.

I've been thinking about my googlebox because yesterday it was my birthday. I have good birthdays- usually perfect. The thing is, I never really do anyting out of the ordinary - for some reason just the idea that it is my birthday taints the day with a subtle magic. Walking around Jamaica Pond with Ed becomes the perfect walk, playing with Jack while Ed makes an amazing birthday dinner instantly feels like one of those memories that flashes across the mind right before death. So, #26 in my googlebox is "birthday." I only need that one word to remind me of one of my best days of the year. It is these "things" that are to be detailed in a googlebox. How do you capture honest pleasure in a list of 100 "things" that fit on one page? It's the simplicity of it all that makes it brilliant. On the way home from the store yesterday (birthday) I had an item to add: Mexican Chocolate. It's my absolute favorite splurge: the mix of luxurious chocolate with the exotic spices of cinnamon and cayenne pepper. It makes me think about the extraordinary in the ordinary day-to-dayness of life. Another perfect googlebox item.

Anyway, I challenge you to create (or start) your own googlebox list. It's a spectular way of counting blessings. I usually don't do the whole new year resolutions thing- but I do have a goal to finish my googlebox list in the next few months, write "2006" at the top and tack it somewhere where I can jumpstart those uninspiring, lackluster, insecure days.

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