Thursday, April 12
actually the way there it was greyhound, who sold me a ticket and only refunded 80% when the woman in front of me in line got the last seat - still a net gain of $2 that way (even counting the $5 i allowed a bedraggled lady to scam from me), because that's how much cheaper ctown is. [lost time too, but it amounted to trading tea with heidirob for coffee with jbjonas.] you pay for it in chaos though, and often hours - trying for an early return (4pm) sunday i ended up spending over four, at 5th & H, mostly.
[i stood in the maddening crowd for a while, read my book on the sunny sidewalk, got a bubble tea and tried the undersatisfying crispy duck (by forcible recommendation) at the still appealingly dingy corner joint there - my fortune cookie said "you look pretty" - and then jedd rescued me and we chatted more over measly thai salads.]
but: i didn't mind. it's time; it's money. okay. i have these things. lamenting them, getting frustrated, is more than merely not worth the effort. it's what the world seems to expect - or what we expect from the world - and most people succumb to it, and i see it make them miserable in moments, and slowly seep in. but detachment is dubious - not-becoming-upset is not being happy, and though i can do both, most of the time, and although instituting disconnect as a sunday night stress-saver may be a useful skill, it's nothing to build a life on. i want to get Engaged.
time and money - are not a big deal - they're just things. however - life is made up of things - and life is a big deal - so there is your paradox.
yoga, by the way, does not manifest to me as being primarily about detachment - well, in a sense engagement and detachedness are two sides of the same coin: we disengage from some things in order to more fully engage with others, although that may not be a very orthodox way of understanding it. anyway, yoga absolutely engages me with my physical body, of course (ahh, my camstrings and halves!) and also with my selfy-self: it's a time and space for me to, as they say, go inward, but in a nonspecific way, without reference to my external and emotional life, devoid of content in a sense, strangely, interacting with my self in an unmediated, one-to-one way that doesn't often happen in everyday life (as in: come on, self, make your body work! okay, now you can rest. thanks, that feels good. mmmm.)
but it also engages me with other people, in a communal if not precisely social way - the other selves-being-selves in my little neighborhood class are there together, sharing the space, not interdependent on one another, but resonating. and we laugh at russ's silly sayings, and we mumble together, breaking silence hesitantly, when he asks us a question, and afterwards we talk to each other a little bit, like friendly acquaintances who don't quite verbalize their commonalities, but are aware of them nonetheless.
work, sorry to say, is more opportunity for detachment. though i am still enjoying - maybe even more actively - the actual work that i'm doing, measuring mixing transferring filling and most especially shaping - i almost feel like i could stand there rolling up croissants (esp. the plain, unfilled ones) for the whole eight hours. i'm still learning and improving, but getting up towards a wall, beyond which it's going to take some focus and determination to increase and keep up my speed and efficiency. well enough - most of the time, i'm inclined to want to find that focus - even if it has to be self-derived, since i rarely get much feedback on my work, and when i do it takes some interpretation to be constructive.
but although there's something, i'll say it, zenlike, about that self-containment and autonomous quest for focus - there's also a less pleasant, obligatory sort of cast to the detachment: i have a hard time feeling very invested in my workplace, either in terms of the work itself (i don't really get to see the finished product, and folks don't seem to have much if any sense of pride in what we're doing, which to me seems like a necessity) or in terms of the people that work there. i mostly don't talk - i stay to myself, not to get involved in the volleys of verbal abuse - well-meaning, ostensibly, but still, i asseverate, not very nice - and the outbursts of petty frustration.
and so i slough off engagement and endeavor instead to conceive of my time there as fundamentally separate from the rest of my life. it's not, precisely, that i don't want to be there: i'm usually able to engross myself in the activity of the enough to get genuine pleasure from it, if not constantly than often enough. but for the most part i don't take real breaks, i don't stop to eat a meal, i just plug on and get er done, so that i can then leave and my day can begin in earnest. it's as if - if i packed a lunch and broke to eat it there, or if i had an engaged conversation with my coworkers, or (maybe especially) if i let myself get stressed and frustrated about the way things were going there, it would be acknowledging a continuity with the rest of my existence, giving my worktime a weight and a reality that would force me to reckon with it on a more involved level, which must inevitably turn out to be unsatisfying. like orpheus looking back or persephone eating the seeds.
ahem: this cover story (what a great cover!) from last week's philly weekly is about a "positive psychologist," who studies happiness and espouses "learned optimism" as way to actively counter depression by replacing it instead of just trying to extinguish it. the article asks: what are the keys to lifelong bliss? statistically, it's not money, education, attractiveness, children, or geography (almost - from my reading, it sounds like people in the south, the midwest, and california are happier than northeasterners.) strong relationships with family and friends, unsurprisingly, are strongly correlated (which suggests that my priorities are in the right place) along with genetics (where i seem to be in good shape.) also:
Seligman divides happiness into three “lives”: the pleasant life, which involves successfully pursuing life’s pleasures, such as sex, music or vanilla ice cream; the engaged life, which involves using what he calls your “signature strengths” to pursue your passions; and the meaningful life, which involves using your strengths and virtues to serve a larger purpose.well, i'm fairly solid on the "pleasant" front (guess which of those three things is my favorite - hint: it's not vanilla ice cream, though that's close.) the article suggests that all three are similarly important, but that name seems a little dismissive. i feel like music might cross over into the second category for me - at least, i feel "engaged" with it in a way that goes beyond "pleasant," and i think it's where i try to focus my "signature strengths" (maybe i should try to articulate what those are - i'm not really sure.) "meaning" is often evasive..."a larger purpose" can be vague...i'm not there yet. i'll think about it though.
enough of that for now. (apt as heavy musing is for somebody who's spent the last few weeks obsessing to low.)
my pleasant life continues on its pleasant way. i saw a pleasant play. naw, caroline or change is as meaningful and engaged as they come, and brilliant also - i knew all these things before, but even struggling to stay attentive for much of act one (in the evening after my underslept work-week and a nonstop city day.) really, really, it's so good. i'd happily go again friday (or sunday) if anybody wanted to join me (got $5 rush tickets last night, though it might be hard to do that again.) why why why did it flop on broadway? i'd blame it on the lack of extricable standalone song-hits, if i thought that mattered any more. (does it?) anyway - still not sure i can really sell it in a description (rebecca tried valiantly yesterday but failed, despite calling it an essential piece of american theater, or something like that.) really though.
what else? that was at the recently reopened samosa - yay! - much prettier now, very possibly tastier (with a menu now!), and as cheap as ever. then angela (yay!) met us, lugging a box of clothes (half her wardrobe she claimed) that she'd had little luck selling to buffalo exchange. i accompanied her to greene street and retrospect - still no luck.
d.c. was good: no plans weekend, cherry blossoms going going gone, but got to spend most of it with bobby, home on furlough from iowa, where he's now back to press-office work for the maybe messiah. mostly together, we lots of other people, old and new. joined sarahco for a delicious dinner of lamb and mashed turnips (made by her roommate who - you'll be glad to hear, alyssa - discussed the history of sino-american political relations while we ate) and a lovelife advising session. with jonah and(/or) jedd we walked around the tidal basin, pitied the shivering hula dancers, ate the oldest indian food in washington, watched "beavis and butthead" on dvd, and discussed the future of computing; various forms of social interaction, internet-mediated (e.g. craigslist personals by butch hippies) and otherwise; the corrections and redemption; and home cookin'.
there was also a party - my cousin's friend's ex-girlfriend's friend's birthday - and, of course, i brought another friend (jonah) who immediately saw somebody he knew there. this being d.c. people (everybody seemed to be mid-20s) were very well-dressed, and talked about politics, but the birthdaygirl-hostess was charming and a little hyperactive and agreeably at the center of her own party, and insisted that we dance (to her 80s mix, not, unfortunately, to "40 boys and 40 nights" which came on later) and of course i did. so it was a good random party. next morning was brunch with brooke, bobby's highschool ex i'd somehow never met, who is a bit of a firecracker and immensely likable. (she recently transferred from EPA to ICE, though in times of trouble she sometimes becomes a member of ICS - Instant Command System! - which involves wearing a chemical suit.) good brunch partner too.
so, people. they're alway about, aren't they, the silver and the gold and then there's the ones that got away. ghosts. people of the past still flitting about, in the memory, in the internets. i found some of them, in the nets - one of them is thirty-one now, and has a baby - one's married, another cut her hair, a third looks the same. to varying degrees, they seem more and less real, more and less inaccessible. but, there they are, living in brooklyn. funny things the internet can do with our psyches, but i guess i'm glad it's there to do it. probably i'll get in touch; we'll see.
[the past can be a little heavy sometimes, more so when it's just in your head. just hoping to avoid validating a (para)phrase that's been kicking in my head: the past prevents the future.]
i did go on a bit of a myspace rampage the other night, adding people as seemed appropriate mostly from within available ("extended"?) networks. and now i have more friends. anyway...
meanwhile some others (actual people!) are emerging - back from the coast, to visit or stay, ran-into in a bar, at a concert, while dancing, online; roundabout connections revealing - community. when i get to new york in two weeks there'll be more than i know what do with. first seattle first, philly. better get planning.
time to stop subsisting on the tortilla espagnola that made the other day (after my quiche pan exploded in the oven!?! - did i tell you about that one?), maybe make a sandwich with some of that bread i earned. gotta gonna gotsta DJ tonight, and it's about time to get ready for that. so enough.
here's a list i made (ranking somewhat subject to revision):
1. live conversation
3. phone conversation
5. ichat (w/ video)
6. txt message
7. blog comment
8. myspace message
9. voice message
10. myspace comment
11. blog post
12. gchat status message
13. messageboard post
14. (tie) myspace friend request
myspace picture comment
16. flickr picture comment
gmail paper (hypothetical)
as you pass by, hand them a fortune cookie fortune that says "you look pretty"
we celebrate our sense of each other
we a have a lot to give to each other
don't all voice contacts rank above all text contacts? (or, as my boss would say, don't all synchronous modes of communication outrank all asynchronous modes of communication?)
amelia - cali looking unlikely at this point; i've been doing possibly too much travelling for my own good lately, also alyssa is too busy to come with me. but now that i have stopped travelling and (just now) having people visit me, i should get a chance to blog in the next 24 hours or so, here or there.