Thursday, July 29, 2010

What Makes Us Happy?

I suddenly realized that four days had passed and I had yet to update this blog. This is the problem with this whole New Initiative. I've started too many New Initiatives recently and it's going to have to be a whole separate New Initiative genre to involve keeping all of these New Initiatives organized and managed in a timely fashion.

So....the question of the week is supposed to be "Savor everyday moments" in the happiness quest. And, in the spirit of this question, I will say this: I'm working on it, but the process of truly savoring everyday moments has left me with little time to actually blog about it.

This is ok. I've made peace with this, and you should too. Right? Right.

So this project is going to be a little more stretched out than I anticipated. But that's ok. It might take us a couple of months to get through these happiness points. But hey- that's just more happiness, right?

In other news, I can't believe it's the last weekend of July. This summer has been dominated by change and fun and lots of outdoor activities. Tonight is AVAM's outdoor Flicks on the Hill (King Kong) and this weekend is a kayaking trip with Ye Olde Book Club. Last night, Book Club destroyed about eight sushi rolls and a somewhat obscene amount of baked goods while watching Mansfield Park. Our summer agenda has been "Movies made from books." Mansfield Park is a bit more palatable to watch over dinner then our last movie, Precious: Based On the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire.

In other news: why is the cast of the Jersey Shore on the Today show? Seriously?

More to come on this savoring everyday moments thing.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Home for FoundCat


Happy FoundCat!

FoundCat has a home, thanks to....a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend. According to Whack, this woman recently had to put her beloved older cat to sleep and viewed our finding of a cat some sort of cyclic karma.

It's an incredible relief to us to know that FoundCat has a home. While she's charmed us with her easy-going and affectionate personality, it just wasn't viable for us to keep her.

It amazes me, too, the power of networking. Our message probably reached close to 500 people, if I add up the numbers of friends, family, and co-workers in the Baltimore area who forwarded on our plea. We wound up with so many kind offers of temporary homes, shelter ideas, or forwards to other resources and "try this person- he/she might be looking for a pet!" Within just four days, we found a home for a cat abandoned in a bag in a grocery store parking lot.

This means that in 2010 I have returned someone's lost wallet, volunteered in New Orleans, helped TWO cats find homes (one, actually, was returned to its distressed owners after it got out, making for a lovely reunion), and made some other pretty worthy deposits in the bank of karma. Selfishly, of course, because human beings are by nature selfish creatures; I don't find too much fault with people who do-good because it makes them feel good.

Karma isn't an eye-to-eye transaction, I know. Carrying out these actions doesn't mean an exact exchange will be refunded to me at some point in time. But I do know, all too well, that attempting to make the world a little easier/nicer/prettier/gentler/friendlier place to live goes a long way towards coming back around to you when you need it most. There are two ways to approach this life: with the attitude that it's a series of crimes and punishments, or that help is always just around the corner in some way.

Anyway, our hearts are glad for FoundCat though we will be sad to see her go. Her little mew and friendly head-butts have become welcome parts of our day, although my own cats are a little jealous, I think.

Thank you to everyone who helped FoundCat, whether by offering love and support, admonishing the malicious actions that led to her being abandoned in the first place, and forwarding, forwarding, forwarding our desperate emails!

In other news- I just want to say that my friends rock. All of them. All in their own way. I've been feeling a lot of love lately, from a lot of different venues, and I feel a lot of gratitude for this. Recently they've all been going ridiculously above and beyond in the friend department, and I'm feeling as though all this positive karma is manifesting in this way. Thanks, friends. And, subsequently, thanks world.

Smooches.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Goodbye.

He came in everyday, sometimes twice a day.

It started about a year ago. He would come in with his book and order a salad to go. If it was midday, he drank a Guinness. Last in the afternoon, he wanted an Irish coffee made with two shots of espresso. He always expressly asked for me to make it, claiming that I somehow made it differently then everyone else, and asked me to train the other staff to learn whatever special trick it was. There wasn't a special trick. Maybe my pours are just different.

He was older, early seventies maybe, and wore the uniform of older European men although he wasn't expressly right off of the boat from Ireland. Maybe his parents were. Panama Jack hats in summer, wool newsboy caps in winter.

He knew every staff member's name, and apologized as his orders got more complicated. No hot peppers on the salad, quesadillas cooked lightly so as to be somewhat mushy. I don't remember when we first found out or who he told, but after a period of time it was common knowledge that he was buying meals, twice a day, for his wife who was dying of cancer. Some days she wanted a spinach salad, some days veggie quesadillas. Maybe once or twice, a hamburger. Mild, everything with no seasoning.

In the past month or two, it was quiche she wanted. Even during non-breakfast hours, staff would get a cold piece of quiche wrapped up for him to take home and warm up.

"How are you doing today?" he always asked me. "You look very energetic!" or "You look like you just got back from the beach!" He always tipped us well, always smiled, always called us by name. "Busy today!" he'd comment and take a seat in the corner to read his book, drink his Guinness, and wait for the to-go order.

Once or twice, he seemed exhausted. "You have no idea how nice it is to just come here and sit and read," he told me once. "Just a few minutes of the day to relax." I imagined that taking care of someone dying of cancer must be one of the hardest things a human could do for another person, but he never once seemed run-down by it. Quieter, at times, and grateful for the few minutes of relative quiet he could grab sitting at the bar reading his book, but never down-trodden.

"She wants a veggie quesadilla today!" he'd proclaim. I started trying to figure out if this was a good thing; if quesadilla days were better than spinach salad days. If quiche days were the worst of all. I never asked.

Once, I told him about how several of my friends relocated to San Francisco. He said he thought I'd love it there. When he left that day, there was a note sitting on the bar from him. If you make it to San Francisco, let me know. I have many contacts there. I have been carrying that note around in my wallet ever since.

He passed away in his sleep yesterday. His son came into the coffee house this morning to tell us. The whole time, we'd been waiting for news of his wife. Not to hear this about him.

He spent the last year or two of his life taking care of his ailing wife. And, once or twice a day, walking over to pick up to-go food for her and enjoying his afternoon beer. He read philosophy and history books, mostly. I don't know what he ever did for a living, if he still worked. I knew he had a son that came to visit periodically and lived somewhere far-ish...Phoenix? Albequerque?

Death seems to reach us in ways no other thing can. It touches something, it offers an awareness. His kindness, his patience with the world will be truly missed.

And I will carry that note with me forever. Wherever I make it, I'm sure he has a contact or two.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Artscape 2010

I am attempting to learn to use the [admittedly probably very pedestrian] film editing software on my computer, so bear with me as I get all excited about this [not so] new technology and post [five thousand] a few videos.


video

Goodbye.

He came in everyday, sometimes twice a day.

It started about a year ago. He would come in with his book and order a salad to go. If it was midday, he drank a Guinness. Last in the afternoon, he wanted an Irish coffee made with two shots of espresso. He always expressly asked for me to make it, claiming that I somehow made it differently then everyone else, and asked me to train the other staff to learn whatever special trick it was. There wasn't a special trick. Maybe my pours are just different.

He was older, early seventies maybe, and wore the uniform of older European men although he wasn't expressly right off of the boat from Ireland. Maybe his parents were. Panama Jack hats in summer, wool newsboy caps in winter.

He knew every staff member's name, and apologized as his orders got more complicated. No hot peppers on the salad, quesadillas cooked lightly so as to be somewhat mushy. I don't remember when we first found out or who he told, but after a period of time it was common knowledge that he was buying meals, twice a day, for his wife who was dying of cancer. Some days she wanted a spinach salad, some days veggie quesadillas. Maybe once or twice, a hamburger. Mild, everything with no seasoning.

In the past month or two, it was quiche she wanted. Even during non-breakfast hours, staff would get a cold piece of quiche wrapped up for him to take home and warm up.

"How are you doing today?" he always asked me. "You look very energetic!" or "You look like you just got back from the beach!" He always tipped us well, always smiled, always called us by name. "Busy today!" he'd comment and take a seat in the corner to read his book, drink his Guinness, and wait for the to-go order.

Once or twice, he seemed exhausted. "You have no idea how nice it is to just come here and sit and read," he told me once. "Just a few minutes of the day to relax." I imagined that taking care of someone dying of cancer must be one of the hardest things a human could do for another person, but he never once seemed run-down by it. Quieter, at times, and grateful for the few minutes of relative quiet he could grab sitting at the bar reading his book, but never down-trodden.

"She wants a veggie quesadilla today!" he'd proclaim. I started trying to figure out if this was a good thing; if quesadilla days were better than spinach salad days. If quiche days were the worst of all. I never asked.

Once, I told him about how several of my friends relocated to San Francisco. He said he thought I'd love it there. When he left that day, there was a note sitting on the bar from him. If you make it to San Francisco, let me know. I have many contacts there. I have been carrying that note around in my wallet ever since.

He passed away in his sleep yesterday. His son came into the coffee house this morning to tell us. The whole time, we'd been waiting for news of his wife. Not to hear this about him.

He spent the last year or two of his life taking care of his ailing wife. And, once or twice a day, walking over to pick up to-go food for her and enjoying his afternoon beer. He read philosophy and history books, mostly. I don't know what he ever did for a living, if he still worked. I knew he had a son that came to visit periodically and lived somewhere far-ish...Phoenix? Albequerque?

Death seems to reach us in ways no other thing can. It touches something, it offers an awareness. His kindness, his patience with the world will be truly missed.

And I will carry that note with me forever. Wherever I make it, I'm sure he has a contact or two.

The Found Cat

Whack saw a black bag sitting in an otherwise empty parking spot at the grocery store yesterday. A duffel of sorts. A bomb? Someone's luggage that accidentally fell off the back of a truck?

It was 100 degrees in direct sunlight at this point, and whatever was in that bag had to be cooking. She circled around to get a better look and discovered that part of the bag was mesh, and the contents within were visible. And then....an ear twitched.

The cat was exhausted, hot, and completely dehydrated. She was panting when Whack found her, crouched in the bag. And still, despite her discomfort, completely friendly.

I came home from work to find Whack in a state of dizziness. It didn't take me long to understand why.

Found Cat is beautiful, all black with some white patches. She's tremendously affectionate, full of purrs and rubs, and appears to be fairly well-kept. Once she got some water, she was fine. Absolutely fine. Cold wet nose, curious mew. She even lets the dog hang out with her, which I am not happy about because this is setting a precedent in the dog's mind that cats are Friendly Creatures. In the year and a half that Whack's dog has cohabitated with my cats, she still has not learned that my cats: a) do not like her, b) do not want to play with her, and c) WILL lash out if she comes within ten feet.

I digress.

There are things in this world that move our foundations in ways that leave us with a little less faith in humanity. Who, on this planet, could leave a cat in a black carrier in a parking spot on a day hotter than the surface of the sun? And, the even worse question- what would have happened if Whack hadn't come upon the bag? I don't want to know, and whenever my mind starts to wander down that path I have to reel it back.

It's not worth thinking about. It's not worth thinking about because Whack DID find this cat, and this cat found the right people. We have given her food, water, a litter box, and a warm little bed. (Actually, the bed was generously "donated" by the dog.) We have emailed everyone we know in this neighborhood (which, between my trivia list and my neighbor's Emergency list, totals close to 300 people.) At this point, I'm not terribly concerned about finding the owners. Mostly because, unless there is some ridiculous circumstance that robs them of culpability in leaving a cat in a parking lot, they don't deserve to get this creature back. I am of the lot that believes in making animal cruelty a felony. I have no pity for anyone who knowingly harms an animal. I worked in a shelter in college and am all-too-familiar with the sick and twisted things people can do to animals.

Whack happened to be in the right place at the right time, and the cat is comfortable and already spoiled. We can't keep her. Not with two cats and a dog already residing here. But she is possibly the luckiest of Found Cats because we will take care of her until we find her a home, and in the event that we can't find her a home, I will take her to one of the No-Kill rescues. I don't care if I have to drive to the Eastern Shore. This cat will not be left anywhere that she might be euthanized. It was her good fortune to have found us, and our responsibility to do our best by her.

So, regardless of how this pans out, for this cat the story ends happily.

Anyone want a cat?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Things That Make You Happy


Graffiti found written on bathroom stall, Charles Theater, Mt. Vernon.

Over the last six or so months as my life has been rolling through a series of changes, so too has this space experienced some growing pains.

The New Glitterati started out as a Kvetching Ground. It was a fertile space I could fill with creative comparisons, expletives, exploits, comical happenings, and, let's face it, there was a time in my life where it served as a dumping ground. For those of you who have been reading since Day One (and I love you for that), you've borne witness to those late nights and bad decisions, bad dates and serious musings.

But, as things began to change for me, the center couldn't hold. My perspectives of life, and subsequently my views of the world and my place in it, have changed and it no longer felt right to me to have this space continue to exist as it was before. The result was six months of staggered postings, some only photos with quotes, some vague hints, some deeper musings. It's taken me awhile to figure out what my vision for The New Glitterati ultimately is, and how it could fit with the Me that has somehow, in these awkward, beautiful, graceful, and sometimes broken and faulty processes, emerged.

Unfortunately, in this process, I've lost the bulk of my readership, who no longer tuned in once the gossipy melodrama dried up and The New Glitterati lost its voice for a little while. My apologies for that, but in retrospect I simply don't know how I could have handled it any better. I kept the domain name and the space with the hope that, eventually, I would find some way of orchestrating it better and moving forward.

After a great deal of thinking, brainstorming, musing, and researching I've finally decided how I could continue to make this space work FOR us both (me as The New Glitterati, you as The New Glitterati Die-Hard Fan still reading!)

I started to think of this site less as a barstool upon which I perch myself to bitch about life, and more like a squashy beanbag chair in a sunny corner. Next to a plant. And a small, round cafe table with a large, steaming cup of coffee and an oversized cookie. A blanket if you get chilly. A book waiting to be read, lying open and welcome on the chair. I've started to view this place, again, as escape; only not a place where I can unload. Rather, a place where I can find myself again.

The New Glitterati is shifting, and my goal is to make it a place of warmth, inspiration and, above all, happiness. I've learned that much of the reality of this world is heavily subjective to viewpoint. TNG can be that hope, that optimism. It's a place for quotes, for pictures of things that make me happy, for moments of joy in my day. And a place that I hope, on some level, you will find that inspiration and happiness too.

My goal is to be more diligent about posting, yes, but also to start to shift the focus of this blog away from Kvetch and more solidly into the realm of....ugh, how can I put this without sounding oh-so-very-Oprah--I can't, ok, FINE...into the realm of the best life. The life where happiness is still a glass of wine that's probably a bit too heavily poured, an ice cream cone eaten on the couch while watching a rom com, where quotes and meditations and long runs and yoga bring as much satisfaction as a good old vodka session used to.

My attempt isn't to make this some New Age-ey Love-In. It might feel that way sometimes, though. Bear with me, Glitteratis.

The snark is still there, but I intend to wield it more carefully as a tool as opposed to a weapon. ("Every tool is a weapon if you hold it right," -Ani DiFranco.) We can still have our laughs, readers, just perhaps not always at my expense.

To begin: an article from Alternet.org that lists ten things that Science (Facts! Statistics! Control Groups!) says will make us Happy. Read article for further details and examples, but here they are:

1. Savor everyday moments.
2. Avoid comparisons.
3. Put money low on the list.
4. Have meaningful goals.
5. Take initiative at work.
6. Make friends, treasure family.
7. Smile, even when you don't feel like it.
8. Say 'thank you' like you mean it.
9. Get out and exercise.
10. Give it away! (Altruism.)

It's true. All of it. It won't change the way you look, the amount of money you have, whether or not people actually like you, or make your car run better or your whites whiter and brights brighter. But it will make this world an easier place in which to live. It will offer you a focal point in moments of stress. These things offer perspective, and perspective (I've found) is the key to more fully understanding situations and making the best of things.

So, let's start here. Let's start with #1. Savor everyday moments. And let's work our way down the list, Glitteratis. Let's build some happiness. My goal is to address each of these 10 items as a weekly theme, so to speak. There will be other posts, of course, but one big one each week corresponding to these items. This gives us a starting point from which we can move forward and see how this space adapts in the process. Your feedback is welcome and appreciated.

Exhausted

Jeez...I finally start blogging again and then find myself so busy that I don't even have time to post all of the updated blogs! I have them all queued up, all nice and neat like pretty wordy soldiers in a row, but with nary a moment to edit/insert photography/etc.

Fail, Glitteratis; I'm failing at balancing things in my life right now. This week, however, was horribly top-heavy in terms of scheduling with things easing up towards the end of the week. Just in time to reclaim some of my sanity.

Seriously, I forgot how hard it was to try and keep everything up in the air whilst holding down a 9-5.

I'm working on it. I promise. Updates to come soon, bear with me!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Witchcraft

Last night found me on the couch with an ice pack on my shin and a warm compress on my face.

I am attempting to fight two different wars on two entirely different fronts: shin splints and ANOTHER sinus infection.

Because I can't stand the thought of subjecting myself to another round of antibiotics, I've decided to go holistic this time. Which means chugging a glass of water with 2 TBS of apple cider vinegar 3x per day (gag), eating boat-loads of garlic, inhaling a bucket of steam every half hour or so, warm compresses, hot showers with the water running directly onto my face, and pretty much any other method of breaking up this congestion and getting the crap out of my head. Believe it or not, all of these things work.

The trouble is, as always, "user error." These methods do work, and in ways far more conducive to overall healing then blasting your poor body with a Z-pack (which is like blasting an ant hill with a hand grenade), but they are time-consuming, sometimes expensive, and require diligence. I spent the greater part of last night transitioning between icing my shin on the couch (20 minutes on, 20 minutes off) and sticking my face in a pan of steaming water.

I also spent last night out-geeking myself. I freaking love crossword puzzles and documentaries. So what's not to love about a documentary ABOUT crossword puzzles? (One of the things I love the most about being single is the ability to Netflix whatever I choose without comment.)

So, icing and steaming to keep this body from falling apart. Have to take a couple of days off of running as well. The shin splint in my right leg is getting out of hand, and I'd rather take a couple days off now then an entire month later.

In other news: Artscape tonight! And how convenient that the Charm City Drinkulator--I mean Circulator--has a stop a couple blocks from my house? Artscape is fantastic. An incredibly eclectic mix of Baltimore's best, amazing artists and live performances (Cold War Kids!), beer gardens and block parties and all of the things that make Baltimore street festivals fun and interesting.

In the mean time: steaming and icing. Have to be in tip-top shape for summer daytime drinking-out-of-doors.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Recalibrating Perspectives


(Given my penchant towards birds in the aesthetic/allegorical senses, I felt it was a good omen that this creature found our office inviting and decided to stay.)


From Idealist.org: Some of the nicest, most caring, and selfless people you will ever meet work for nonprofit organizations. Many of these organizations also hire very bright and well-educated individuals who contribute to an intelligent and stimulating work environment.

I don't know why, for so long, I equated a 9-5 with corporate drudgery. It's not as though that was ever instilled in me. To the contrary: my family is filled with entrepreneurs, self-starters, teachers, adventurers, artists.

The end of week 2 has brought me to this point of exhaustion, a little mental burn-out, but a general feeling of satisfied relief. As I settle into this new life, this new career, these new ideas and philosophies I wonder how it is I existed before.

Everyone I've met in this field thus far has an incredibly interesting world view. They are intellectuals, artists, and interested in the aesthetics of life. I don't know why it took me so long to find "my people," or where these people were before. Maybe I wasn't ready to step up; maybe I wasn't ready to take a seat at the table.

Regardless, I find a sense of happiness that kept eluding me all these years. I wake up the morning grateful for the day, and I drive home in the evenings with a sense of accomplishment.

Make no mistake: I'm not wholly disillusioned and wrapped up in the honeymoon phase. I am aware that I'm walking that fine line of a new relationship: where everything seems great and amazing, but both parties have been burned before and are just waiting for the red flag to fly. The freak flag, which we all have. This job wants to like me just as much as I want to like it, but we've both had our share of ill-fits and crossed connections. We're settling into this slowly, both afraid to admit how well this is working out. So far. Always with that added validation. So far lets us off the hook if something goes south.

And, of course, it's transition and it's bumpy. Just because I wake up in the morning glad to be me, glad to have my life doesn't mean I spring out of bed like some cracked-out cartoon character. Of course I still hit snooze. Who doesn't? And just because I drive home feeling accomplished doesn't mean I don't grit my teeth at traffic. My shoes still feel uncomfortable by 5pm, I still have to deal with inane bureaucratic drudgery, and I still face that 9-5 "grind." Again- who in this arena doesn't?

But it's all different now, somehow. Maybe it's the "higher purpose," aspect. Maybe it's that I had to come to this part of my life when I was ready. Maybe my priorities are different. Maybe it's because success for me now is measured in the well-being of other humans, which feels better to me. Maybe it's only two weeks into this and I have yet to reach the burn-out that's so common in the non-profit world. Who knows? All I know is that I finally have a field that, so far, seems to fit.

So far. Maybe at some point I'll lose the fear of commitment and be able to make declarative statements without addendum. Working towards this point.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Monday, July 12, 2010

Run, Baby, Run



And she's pictured all the places

Where she knows she still belongs

And she smiles a secret smile
Because she knows exactly how

To carry on

So run baby run baby run baby run

Baby run

"Run Baby Run," Sheryl Crow

may I be I is the only prayer--
not may I be great
or good
or beautiful
or wise
or strong
-
e e cummings

It was pouring rain on Saturday morning.

I mean, pouring.

Like the kind of rain that comes down in movies, the kind you scoff at and say "There's no way that's real. It doesn't rain like that in reality. That's totally production."

That kind of rain.

It was raining, and it was humid, and I was running an unfamiliar course. An unfamiliar hilly course.

Baltimore City does not have hills. Unless you count Fort Avenue, which I do, but only when I am physically in the process of running it. I'm told the Mt. Vernon route has some elevation but, again, this is more of a long incline. No doubt tough on the leg muscles, but not what I'd consider to be...hilly.

This Annapolis course, however, was hilly.

And wet.

So, within the first quarter mile, I made a deal with myself. I was exhausted, having completed my first week back at a 9-5. I hadn't been able to train as hard as I would have liked, I felt a little unprepared, and I didn't know what sort of skill level I was up against. This wasn't like the Baltimore Women's Classic, with 2,500 women racing through the streets of Locust Point. There were only about 200-some women running this race and, very shortly after the gun (which was a verbal ready, set, go!), we had disbursed enough so that I found myself running alone with no one to which to match my pace.

I made a deal with myself to finish the race with the understanding that this would not be my best time. I would push through, knowing that I probably couldn't beat my previous record of 26:33. It's only my second race, I reasoned. There is time for improvement.

I lengthened my strides the way I'd been told, to take some of the exertion off of my upper body in the humidity. I kept my head down to keep the rain out of my face. And I pushed forward, through wall after wall. It was a hard race for me.

Along the river, branches heavy with rain dipped low to the ground. Beautiful homes tucked back along the water, trees taller than the buildings that normally surround me. I had forgotten what it was like, greenery. You live in Baltimore long enough, you become accustomed to the random splotches of scraggly trees poking up from the sidewalk. You forget what real trees are, how they arc and branch upwards so heavy with leaves it forms a ceiling. A living, breathing ceiling.

It was like running at the beach. A new perspective. The light is different, the sky is different, and as much as you're focused on the path in front of you, you can't help notice the scenery.

I started to enjoy the race. I was still pushing; pushing through those walls. When I run, I hit mental and physical walls. They come in a series, and I feel them start to hit and I feel myself pushing through, and I feel them dissipate. It's just a wall, I tell myself, and on the other side of it is a new rush.

I ran past the home of a childhood friend. We used to play in the woods behind her house; games that involved witches and magic powers and sticks that yielded spells and rocks that were secrets. I hadn't seen this home in....fifteen years? At least. It looked the same. Smaller, maybe. I hit another wall. It rained harder. I kept running.

In my mind, I could see the finish line. Who is this person? I suddenly asked myself. Who am I? I have pushed through so many walls, mainly self-inflicted, in the last six or so months. I have pushed, I have worked, and I know that I can do this. I never knew that before. I know that the finish line is coming, and that I'll cross it, and that no matter what the time is, I will be proud of myself for finishing. I will not stop and walk, I will not slow down. I'll just keep going. Because the walls will fall apart and the finish line will materialize.

And there it was. I sprinted the last 50 or so yards and crossed the finish line.

At 24:55.

More than a minute and a half off of my personal best record.

Some mornings I wake up, and I do not know who this person is. This person who gets up, excited for the day. I get up, and I smile at strangers, and I make conversation with cashiers. I comment on the weather to passersby. I have no idea where I found this peace, this solidity. I know, somehow, that it has something to do with the running. With the goals and the accomplishments and the training and the diligence. Somehow, this is all connected.

I am getting to know this new person. I understand that I am not always Zen. I know there are walls to push through, still and always, and patterns of thought that must be broken.

But I find, existing in between all of these walls and maybe even in the walls themselves, this happiness that I did not know existed. That I felt had somehow alluded me for all these years. It was as though I finally plugged into some stream of consciousness or some energy flow that finally lit up my personal light bulb of a soul.

Run, baby, run.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Vegas of Intellect

Since it's been 2 years since I was working a 9-5, I somehow forgot that the Internet is a wholly fertile ground for so much useless crap.

I sort of ignored the blogosphere for awhile; excepting, of course, the blogs of my friends and friends of this website; and tuned out much of the "information" floating around that has absolutely no bearing in reality whatsoever, regardless of what might be claimed.

Not that I have much time at New Job to be trolling the Internet, but a few things have popped up here and there in my research that reminds me of the theory that the Internet is the Vegas of Intellect.

It's showy, poppy, glittery, sprinkled with buzz words and key phrases, intoxicating, and pretty much a complete and total show. Does anyone REALLY know what they're talking about? I'm excepting Huffington Post, NY Times, and other generally-respected sites (although not legitimately "news" on most fronts, they still check sources from time to time.) I more mean the sheer amount of OPINION that is circulating out there. And I am not referring to the numbers of opinions on certain topics, I mean the fact that there are so many damn topics upon which people are ready to plant opinion flags.

Certain things are important, yes. Go ahead, take a stand on the oil spill, on how the Euro might once hav destroyed the dollar, on Obama's performance, on health care, maybe even (MAYBE) on LiLo's recent (or soon to be) incarceration. But opionions on whether the original "Grease" is too suggestive? Or whether or not making out with your boss is appropriate? (If I were to proffer opinions on these, I might succinctly say: "Not nearly enough," and "Absolutely never," in that order. But I would leave it at that. No need to devote 1,500 words to it.

The Vegas of Intellect. The showiest, glitteriest, most sinful display of opinion. Fast and easy.

I could build on this metaphor a bit more right now but, well...I should probably reserve some of that energy for some other opinions that matter.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Boooooooooooring.

OH, LOOK!

Lindsay Lohan has violated her probation and been sent e nc e d t o. . . .............zzzzzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

Honestly. My complete and utter lack of surprise is manifest in the fact that; while I admit I rather like the whole red-eyed, tangled bleached-blonde locks, I-May-Or-May-Not-Be-Drunk-Right-Now look on Ms. Lohan; I actually physically yawned upon reading the headlines.

I read an article in some magazine (clearly it made an impression because I can't recall the name of said magazine, or when I might have read it) about what will ultimately make women happy in the next ten years (think closing the wage gap, better health coverage for specifically female issues, etc.) would be a definitive effort in lessening the focus of "news" on the lives of celebrities. It creates this hollow sense of impact. UP TO THE MINUTE COVERAGE........of what? Who cares?

I say this. I was as caught up in the Britney saga as anyone else (possibly, weirdly a little more so because I was going through an exceptionally boring point in my life) but, at the end of the day, I was left feeling as though I'd been eating Krispy Kremes all day. Full to the point of nausea on nothing but lard and chemicals. Nothing of value, nothing substantive, but sticking around me for far too long. I had to read a cold shower dosage of Zadie Smith to wash some intellect back into my system. Which is like going raw vegan after a McDonalds feast, but damn don't you feel better the day after?

When Lindsay Lohan goes postal and sets fire to the Hollywood sign, let me know. I'll totally YouTube that clip until my computer fries. But unless it's something completely and totally sensational, I just. Don't. Care. Violated her probation and stuck in jail for 90 days? Yawn.

In other, more substantive news: I like my new job. This rocks. Another 5k race to run this weekend. That will also rock. Today was my first day of not reporting for regularly-scheduled table waiting in two years of service and it felt weird and strange, but in a welcome sort of way.

In other news: I totally don't want a Kindle, but I have a feeling that this will evolve much the same way my feelings towards the iPod did. I didn't want one, thought it was stupid, and then I borrowed a friend's and coveted it madly. I see this happening.

Seriously- if LiLo sets fire to anything...call me. Immediately. Otherwise...eh.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Not Zen.

Snap and I used to keep a running list of all things "Not Fashion." Like- all-white sneakers. Acid-wash jeans (although Urban Outfitters seems intent on bringing those back.) Scrunchies. "Not Fashion."

Recently, having made leaps and bounds in my personal goals, I have been desperately trying to cultivate the sense of inner peace that's grown in all of these accomplishments. Part of my outlook for 2010 was to treat everyone as worthy, to be as sincere as possible, and to step outside of my own little box of self-contained trouble and attempt to not sweat the small stuff. Focusing on kindness towards others is an excellent way to not freak out internally about stupid crap.

But then Life creeps up on me, and I backslide, and I have these moments that I am now calling "Not Zen."

As in: the sheer opposite of Zen.

As in: everything else shrinks and my personal problem becomes larger than the universe and has to be dealt with RIGHT NOW.

This happens in a number of places: traffic, the grocery store, waiting tables. My patience gets stretched to thin threads threatening to snap.

A few weeks ago, I made a mistake at work. I forgot to ring in an order. It happens. I apologized, I did everything I could to make the situation right, and the ornery guest whose order had been forgotten (rather than accepting my blunder and genuine apology) rolled her eyes at me and slammed her silverware around on the table. Her decidedly "Not Zen" reaction created in me an equally "Not Zen" disdain and a frighteningly strong "Not Even Close To Being Peaceful" urge to inflict bodily harm. I had visions of flipping the table, plates and glasses going everywhere, while I instructed the guest precisely what physical action she could take with herself.

I did not do this.

Instead, I gave myself a time out. I walked away and went upstairs and cleaned glasses or something until I could breathe normally again.

I am reminded I am human when things like this happen. That I am not nearly the calm, peaceful person I aspire to be at times. Yes, I have gotten better. What makes me flip my shit at 28 is certainly light years beyond what could set me off at 19, 22, 25. But it still happens. And it becomes frightening to me how quickly I can enrage over the slightest thing.

Today it was the air conditioner.

I am frantically attempting to balance multiple things in my life right now: starting a new job next week, tying up loose ends, packing for this weekend's trip to the beach (which was supposed to be a relaxing, fun weekend away but is starting to feel frantic, hectic, and stressful.)

I was in the midst of said packing, after a day of running errands and getting ready to leave tomorrow, when Whack came upstairs to inform me that the air conditioner was leaking.

You would have thought she told me that someone had murdered my cats.

I just completely lost it. Thinking about calling an AC repair person (because between Whack and I we have this extensive knowledge of AC units: they turn on and off) on a holiday weekend, waiting for him/her (you never know) to come out, living in a row house in July with no AC, worrying about the pets, possibly having to postpone my beach trip to wait for said repair person, worrying about fronting the cost, worrying that wires would short and the house would explode, and then not being able to call a "Time Out" for myself because I was in a hurry and this needed to be addressed Immediately.

I did the two things I always do when something breaks down, blows up, or (in this case) begins emitting mysterious water: called male friends who know things about machines, and Googled.

Meanwhile, I bitched to Whack about the situation. OF COURSE this happens at 5pm on a Friday on a holiday weekend. OF COURSE this needs to be addressed, and OF COURSE it happens when I'm trying to get my act together to get out of town.

Because, you know, I am the victim here. The underlying thought was: OF COURSE this is happening...to me. Like my air conditioning unit and the universe conspired to push me over the edge. Because, you know, everything revolves around me.

This is what happens in these "Not Zen" moments. I become so utterly self-absorbed that I am actually convinced that this is not something stupid or awful that is happening because of a series of random coincidences, it is happening TO ME. Losing your Zen is losing your perspective.

After a lot of freaking out, a lot of confused advice from patient male friends trying to get a grasp on the situation while I am commencing said freak-out, and a lot of Googling it appeared that there is a magic equation for sweating AC ducts in your laundry room.

When you do four loads of laundry, as Whack and I did today, it causes humidity. When you close the door to the laundry room, the chilly cool air ducts coming out of the air conditioner sweat in the humidity like a whore in church.

Solution: turn off the dryer and the AC. Open the windows. Let things dry off.

Such a simple answer to what, moments ago, spelled disaster in my mind.

These things trip me up. I get frazzled and stressed and caught up in MY world that when the real world interrupts, it's viewed as this incredibly violating thing. "Not Zen" moments are still things I just have no idea how to circumvent or deal with, and although my tendency to fly off the handle has gotten somewhat under control the past few years, it still happens.

At least I didn't throw anything this time, like the epic "Not Zen" episode of 2005 when I spilled a bottle of champagne on my laptop while I was finishing a final paper for the first year of my Masters. My ex tells me he still cites this "Not Zen" moment in his stand-up comedy shows. Rightfully so. It was beyond "Not Zen." It bordered on "Psychotic Freak-Out."

Those are fewer and further between, thankfully.

But still. "Not Zen." Not good.