Friday, September 17, 2010


Deb: This is something I have wanted to blog about for a while now. Staring. Ever since I was a kid I’ve been a big starer. I have always called it my “staring thing” and I can remember saying with some urgency “don’t wreck it!” whenever someone caught me in the throes of my stare.

When we were young, my brother would delight in wrecking my staring things and I would curse him round the bend for it. And as soon as he realized how much I loved a good “stare” he made it his life’s work to ruin it for me. Then I would desperately try to “fix” my eyes again, to no avail. The spell was broken. I realized early on that the staring thing controlled me, not the other way around.

When I was researching “staring thing” and “stare” and “fixed stare” online to give it a proper clinical name for this post, the answers scared the stare right out of me. MAN ALIVE, was it scary! From mini-strokes to mental disorder, it was enough to make me run to the safe haven of the Anthropologie website! As a result, got a really cute pair of booties (cream and brown with contrasting laces). But I digress.

So try though I might, I just can’t seem to find an official name for that thing we all do, that stare of solace, that fixed fixation. But I do know this. I love my staring things and, as God as my witness, I am actually staring right now as I type. I guess it was just enough to mention it and my brain said “stare!”.

As I get older, my staring time increases. I use an electric thumper for my bad neck and shoulders and I now find that I stare the entire time I am thumping (said the actress to the bishop!). Rigel left a comment on our blog a while ago about thinking and said that experts tell us that at no time are we thinking absolutely nothing. I would tend to agree, but for the deft skill of my friend, “staring thing”. I can stare and think nothing for minutes on end. Nothing. Nada. Not a thought. And I love it.

I feel that Starey is my pal. Starey slows me down and gives me a break from frantic thought. So, despite the internet warnings about what it could possibly be, I have decided exactly what it is––my buddy. I know that they say this is something all humans do at one time or another, so I would be curious to hear from any among you who don’t have the starey experience.

And btw, if you ever catch me fixed and staring, I would ask just one thing of you. DON’T WRECK IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Barbara: Well, let me weigh in first. I envy you!!!!!!! Oh, for a blank stare, a “stare of solace”, a “fixed fixation”, as you so deftly put it. I do the stare-thing, which is different in nature from “starey thing”, which sounds sweet and soulful and free. No, the stare-thing is a sidelong look at the sky, wide-eyed, intent, yearning, behind which is a veritable hamster-wheel of whirring, solving, dissecting, unraveling, despairing. It is my genie-in-a-bottle. It is my go-to when I need to thinkthinkthink.

But after so many decades of whirring brain, I want desperately to find a peaceful OUT. A blank stare. Deb, it sounds so like meditation to me, this thing you do. It IS a gift. A very precious one. I, for one, would never dream of wrecking it.


  1. I try not to be a big starer ,but sometimes I am. Sometimes, I get so locked on something that I just stare at it and wounder. When I was little I was told not to stare because it was not polite,now I do if for the for the heck of it. There are even times that I stare off into space. I will just be locked onto one thing and have no idea that I am staring at it or why for that matter that I am staring at it. Apparently the advice that my grandparents gave me when I was younger about not staring did not work because I am still doing. Oh well, Maby it's good to stare off into space sometimes,or into your own little world. It gives you a chance to explore your mind and just think for a second.

  2. You know... I've never really consciously thought about this... at least not since my mother used to tell me, 'don't stare, it's rude.' I spent a lot of time in my childhood doing this, and SOME as an adult, though I try to make a point of staring at something nobody can get offended about (like NOT people)--My head DOES clear... I just can't maintain it like I once could, as I have dry eye issues, and the blink DOES break it, at least somewhat.

  3. First I had to stop laughing..then I had to pee. I also am a stary person and have read and been told by my own husband that only mental people do this. He is just hyper and jealous that he cannot zone out. Bugs the crap out of my husband but now after 15 yrs he is realizing best to let me go to La La Land after hearing what some of his friends wifes do. I connect with my soul and spirit when I go to La La Land. We were on vacation once and stopped in a garden shop. My loving wonderful husband had purchased a gift for me. I will post it on my FB wall for you to see later today. For those who do not FB( DEB) it is a little rock eched with the words "La La Land" probably the most precious gift I treasure.
    I just might go to La La Land for a moment now.
    So Deb you are not alone and oh yes yes I agree please do not disturb our Starey Moments in La La Land. I wish them to all.

  4. Deb -
    You so totally crack me up!!! I love the way you phrase things when you write!

    Oh, and please don't give me credit for something not mine. Yes, I did lament my ex-husband's "nothing" answer to "what're you thinking," but I am not the one who invoked the experts. I said that I am never ever not thinking anything. My hamsters are always in their wheels. But, I did not make any scientific claims. Someone else can claim the knowledge on this one. I'll just keep claiming that my ex-husband, in so many ways, is a screwed up person.

    Have you read the Charlaine Harris Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire novels? They are the books that HBO based the series True Blood on. (I read the books long before the TV show was made. Actually, I've never watched an episode of the show. So, I'm not sure how well the show matches the books. But, anyway...) In the books, Harris has her vampires do something called "downtime." The protagonist, Sookie (a human), comes to the conclusion that it must really wear on a vampire person to be alive for centuries and constantly have to adjust to changes and learn so many new things in order to blend in. So, even in the night when they are awake, sometimes when there's nothing urgent to do, they just sit and stare trancelike. It's like a restful checking out from the neverending grind for them, a restorative blanking of the slate by being very still and staring off into nothing and not thinking at all. Hmmmmm. Deb, when was the last time someone saw you in sunlight? And, is that REALLY merlot in the wine glasses in your artful place settings? :)

    Oh, and as for the mental balm of internet shopping, oh my heavens, YES! Needing to splash some mouthwash through my brain to freshen things up? Etsy and ThinkGeek, here I come! I don't even buy. I just click around daydreaming and looking at things that make my eyeballs happy to behold. I'm such a raccoon about shiny objects. Oh, and Deb, I highly recommend setting up a wist. You get to have fun clicking around picking out things you want. It's like internet window shopping. You don't buy. You are making up a "social shopping" wish list. . You'll sign up for an account and then drag a button up to add to your toolbar. Then, when you find something online that you squeeeeeeee over, you click "Add to Wists," and mark it as something you find squeeeee worthy and would enjoy owning. On a practical level, other people can look at your wist when they are trying to decide what to buy you for Christmas or what to sew for you or just to get an idea of what your style vibe is. Mostly, though, it's a fun way to shop without spending money. LOL Most of the entries on my wist were clicked there in the wee hours of the night while battling insomnia and not wanting to think. Here's mine if you want to see how one looks up and running: . Oh, and when wisting, you don't have to be at all practical. Hum some Tevya and click to add a $600 bicycle and $75 panniers to your wist. I recently did. ;)

    BTW, you know what's so good about shoe shopping? The same thing that's good about shopping for earrings. There's no emotional backlash. Shopping for skirts or sweaters can be risky. Shopping for shoes and earrings requires no acknowledgement whatsoever of where the fat cells are piled up and rioting about overcrowding on your body, and there's no unflattering dressing room lighting to point out every droop of skin, mole, and scar.

    Love and hugs,

  5. Hello stareys all! Lyndsie keep on staring into space, it's good for the soul. Hart I was told the same thing about it being rude but I never stare at people. Just fixed little weird eyes at, well, nothing! Lifewaveshighnlow I agree. If only mental people do this then take me away to La La Land!!! Vampire?? Ummmmm what do you mean Rigel? Whatever are would you even think such a...stare...drink blood...bat...

  6. BTW, Deb, when you mentioned your booties purchase above, you said, "But I digress."

    Please do! Yeah for digressions and conversational tangents! Of course, I also realize that I will someday be banished to the Siberian gulag for writers who abuse parenthetical asides.

    Conversational tangents just make the conversation rich and complex enough that it has its own trigonometry (my favorite subject in math)!

    Digressions and tangents are conversational accessorizing. They are the earrings, necklaces, hair barrettes, and purses of conversation. Do you want your conversation to keep its hair out of its face with plain, black bobby pins or with a fabulous peacock feather fascinator?

    I'd much rather interact with someone whose conversation is luxuriously draped, intricately embroideried, sari silk than someone whose conversation is plain, cream muslin that hangs like a potato sack.

  7. Ahhh, don't worry, i do the same thing :) I can sit for long periods of time just staring out into space while sitting motionless. It kind of gives me a sense of peace and serenity, but then as soon as you get snapped out of it, everything comes rushing back at you in such a way that makes you go 'damn it.'
    Unfortunately ever since i got contacts, i am not able to indulge in my 'staring' anymore because after 10 seconds my contacts begin dry out and blur.

  8. Rigel,I love what you said. My life is tangents. You have inspired me to write exactly how I think and I will do that. Coming soon to a bloggie near you. Patricia, you are a starey kindred spirit but I never thought of the contact lens thing. I so rarely wear mine that it never dawned on me. So what you are saying is CONTACTS WRECK IT!

  9. I must be the person you are waiting to hear from, because I don't know what the sam hill any of you are talking about! Staring ... Huh?
    Okay I do "zone out" when my son Everett talks to me about videogames and tries to describe clips of Red Versus Blue and Rooster Teeth online. You know -- some things you really do have to see for yourself.
    But my "zoning out" isn't going into empty mind or a meditative state. I generally start thinking about something else when his topic of conversation loses my interest. But I'm still present because I have to try to keep a look of interest on my face. After all, my teenage son is talking to me and this is a good thing.
    If only he'd talk to me about something else. Like Coronation Street or The Private Life of a Masterpiece.
    Curiouser and curiouser, Girlysues. Thank you for introducing me to a female pastime that apparently is quite commonplace!

  10. Hi Katrinka, I wish it WAS voluntary! I can think of many a time when I would want/need to do it. But as I said, it is the boss of me, taking me over when it pleases and lulling me into my own little world on it's own timing. Not female either. My son does it all the time. Not as much as me though. I am always seeing people in the middle of the staring trance. Subways, standing in check out lines, sitting at their desks. Maybe we are POD people, ya think?

  11. You know what's killing me about this conversation? The fact that I totally assumed Deb would be the odd-woman out and everyone else would be all, Whaaaa? And look -- everyone, except for Katrinka -- seems to be in on the secret pastime. Jealouser and jealouser...

  12. Deb -

    One of the nicest compliments anyone's ever paid me was to say with a big smile on her face and in a very enthusiastic tone of voice, "I love that you write how you talk!" Then, she gave me a big, tight hug and explained that she could hear my thinking and feel my feeling when I wrote that way.

    My dear friend S had been one of the recipients of the breathless email I sent out to (inflicted upon?) my beloveds the night of the evening when I got to fly in a helicopter. She said that she loved the email and that she read it aloud to her husband the next morning because it just begged to be read aloud. That reminded me of how epistles in the New Testament were written to be read aloud and made me smile.

    I've written magazine articles. I've written poetry. I've written book reviews. I've even written an encyclopedia entry. I've written presentations and teaching lectures. And, heaven knows, I can write in proper academic-ese for professorial types (and get A's on them, too, so there!). I can write properly, formally, and with a pretty dang rocking vocabulary.


    I'm a talkative jabberbox by nature. I talk fast, and I talk a lot. Also, I'm not remotely stoic. If I'm feeling it, you'll know it. Well, I talk like I think. And, well, I think fast and I think a lot. All the tangents and digressions you find in my writing and in my conversations are there because of all the connections zinging around in my mind. I am a web of interconnected flow charts (and, they are sprinkled with glitter!). And, everything gets jacked up 10 notches if there's positive emotion involved.

    When I'm writing to friends, I'm in a safe, warm writing environment. And, I simply write my spirit into my words. It's the rawest kind of honesty, that complete lack of pretense. And, the beloved ones who know me best and love me hear and feel my voice, voice being used here in the larger sense. The clickity clack of the keys on the keyboard as I type are just a resonance of my heartbeat.

    So, Deb, by all means, please, write how you think. Write how you speak. Please grant us the privilege of your warmth, your cleverness, and your individuality. Please make us giggle over your fun digressions and make us ponder the more profound, poignant nuggets. You are such a precious, special, wonderful person. You are one of the most dynamic and warm personalities I have ever been blessed to encounter. Please never, ever edit that.

    Love and hugs,

  13. Deb, I am a starer too. Like you it just seems to overtake me. I can't tell you how many times I would come out of a stare to find someone looking hard at me or waving. Hey they weren't there when I started the stare. They walked into and then think I'm rude.
    My friends all know when I'm staring that I am not staring at them but through them. I guess I do it a lot more around people than I thought.
    As for it being Mental, I like to think it keeps me from winding up Mental.

  14. Barb, Just to let you know my sister is not a starer, nor are my brothers. So I grew up thinking I was the only one who did this. You and Katrinka are not the only ones who don't stare. I think all the rest of us are just so relieved it is not just us.

  15. I found myself not blinking as I read that! I didn't realize how much I stare until one of my kids pointed out to me that while I write or use the computer, I don't blink very much.

    Perhaps it's a way to focus?

  16. *shhh... types quietly so as not to wreck Deb's stare. Also, wags finger at Deb for reminding me about the Anthropologie catalogue which I had so valiantly avoided until now... *

  17. (hey, Barb, comment posted much easier!)


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