Angelina M. Spencer-Crisp
I Have a Crush. It’s Not my Husband. I Blame #TheWeek
I’ll admit it. I have a problem. The Week. It’s the “Best of U.S. and International Media” that arrives at our office, compliments of a colleague. Once I spy a copy, I disappear into the comfort of my favorite coffee shop and devour its contents from front to back, savoring each morsel of news as if it were fine chocolate—or a forbidden Playboy. Yes, The Week, is that good!
Currently, I must blame The Week company founder Felix Dennis and a writer named Ashlee Vance for filling my head with delusions of grandeur thanks in part to her November 15, 2015 article, “A Modern Day Edison.”
From the moment Vance introduces me to Lowell Wood in the Last Word section, I am seduced. He isn’t just any man and this isn’t just any kind of crush.
Wood is a 74-year-old astrophysicist, computer scientist and self-taught paleontologist. He’s also an inventor who now holds 1,085 patents, which is one more than Thomas Alva Edison.
During the 1980’s Wood led the development for “space lasers” designed to protect the rest of us from Soviet Missiles. For the past decade he has been a paid thinker at Intellectual Ventures, a Bellevue, WA based tech and research firm.
Lowell is the modern-day Yoda to my Luke Skywalker! Oh, how can I meet this man?
I glance around my steaming cup of latte to ensure no one takes notice of my guilt and the thrill I’m having reading about a rebel who drives a garbage bag filled clunker, did not do that well in school, uses a cane and gets paid to think.
I’ve always had a thing for the bold and sagacious “I’m too busy to give a shit what you think” under-geek and Wood is no exception. And I want to be paid to think too. Well, I am paid to think…but I’d like to expand my horizons.
When I get crushes, its not good. Shit happens. I need intervention.
Enter my husband.
Rather than wallow in my newfound crush and experience the heartache of unrequited intellectualism, I took my problem to David. He listened patiently as I confessed the motivation Wood inspires within me due to his “rainforest” of ideas that grow faster than he can keep up. I can relate.
“You’ve met a counter-part,” said David. “You should contact Lowell Wood. You read, you think, you do and perhaps he can direct you to a place where your ideas can take root too.”
Okay—those were not David’s EXACT words but it was something close. I was typing and half-listening.
As I considered my intellectual and inspirational crush, I realized Wood symbolizes the push I need to put forth some of the ideas for “doing good” that I have. But who am I to put myself on par with a man such as Wood? I’m not.
I’m a woman with six grown kids who is married to a cop. I had a troubled childhood as a ward of the court, and like Wood, I barely graduated from high school with a 2.0 average. When I wanted to join the FBI more than 25 years ago, they practically laughed me out of their office, cracking jokes about the ignorant hillbilly girl who hoped to become a federal agent.
I had to think and learn a different way. I was ignorant—a late bloomer. Yet bloom I did—much like the giant Himalayan lily.
Fast forward a decade—okay—two decades—and I’m strolling down the auditorium at The George Washington University, a co-valedictorian at The Graduate School of Political Management. Life and work opened up opportunities to attend the Cannes Film Festival, tour the Italian coast, study in London and work in Moscow and to open a boutique government relations firm in DC with the aid of like-minded souls who hope to make a difference. We try. And that’s the point. I reached higher not because I’m stellar, but because I’m different–like a rainforest freak. I can’t relax. I bounce from project to project, like a monkey swings through the trees. Sometimes I even grunt and throw crap.
Occasionally, I look at my life and wonder if my “success” is the result of being a good imposter, the way Eddie Murphy climbed his ladder out of homelessness in the movie, Trading Places. Some might argue this to be true. Yet Vance and Wood remind me that its not. I’m here because I’m genuine…and weird. A geek. There is a place for me. Out there.
Yet I struggle: I have not yet “arrived”. I’m still seeking–still too curious. There is so much more to think about–and I don’t like minutia or inconsequential drama getting in the way. Vance and Wood are the centripetal force to my constantly rotating frame of reference. I have ideas!
Wood shares with Vance that it’s illiterate not to be optimistic and that there exists plenty of really great and big ideas left to be imagined. This is where I swoon because Wood gives me hope, provides motivation and encourages grandiose dreamers like me to think beyond the confines of my desk and my high heels.
“This is not something that’s hoped for, “ he tells Vance. This is baked in the cake.”
I agree. I want the recipe.
Angelina Spencer-Crisp is one of the founders of Empowerment Enterprises, Ltd. a Washington, D.C. based advocacy and government relations firm.