Monday, February 28, 2011

AN OLD-FASHIONED GRRRL

Those of  you  who have read J. Austen and some of the other 19th Century British novelists (Gaskell, Trollope, Eliot) will be familiar with the country-side denizens quaint habit of going to "town." The Bennet sisters visited Meryton to check up on the militia. Frequently, walks were taken for the dual purposes of mailing a letter and shopping.

I bring this up because, in this one regard, I am beginning to feel like an Austen heroine. I am and have always been a big fan of the US mail. The effort involved in getting a piece into the mail is a clear sign of "I've been thinking about you." I prefer postcards to email, particularly these days. And I am taking my daily constitutional by walking .5 mile to the post office and back. Whatever gets you through the day. Writing letters is writing. So far, recipients have been both appreciative, affectionate, and reciprocal.

I am taking various routes through the neighborhood. As more daily light and warmer weather approaches, the pleasure of a simple walk increases. I am learning my neighborhood all the more and expanding my mental neighborhood's boundaries. Little by little, day by day.

All in all, I feel a BIT more relaxed and hopeful. And perhaps some greater creativity will creep in as well.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

FOR REAL

Oscar night.
Although I don't take them too seriously, I enjoy watching them.
But now I am too tired to write for real.

A SIGH OF SPRING?

In the cool of the evening, when everything is getting kind of groovy ...

That's a more upbeat start, right? I am beginning to worry people, so I will attempt to lighten my tone. The snow is finally melted on all but the northface sides of the street, and even that is limited. The tree outside my window has the barest bit of bud. I tried to photograph that, but I am no master of digital photography and couldn't get a picture. The asshole squirrel is on the fire escape again. AND there was a dove scouting out the fire escape as a nesting area! I hope he comes back and builds a nest.

This adds up to some signs of Spring and perhaps allays some worries that I cannot see anything positive in the world. I can. But  my brow is furrowed (and you know how I have that knife-life scar of worry in the middle of my wrinkled forehead) and I am hunkered down emotionally and psychically to figure out this little room of life limitations I find myself in. The darkness comes from knowing that I, largely, helped close myself in. And I need to get the hell out.

A couple of the immediate problems have short-term solutions, now I just have to parlay those positives into a bigger positive.

Just keep on with your love and support.

Friday, February 25, 2011

PEARLS AT SWINE

I like to swim. But today was a swim through molasses. Thick and viscous fear and discontent pulled me down all day. Well, I shouldn't say all day. I popped awake around 7:30am ... quite early for me ... full of a reasonable amount of focus and ... enthusiasm for the day.

But it didn't last.

I worked with my cool project remotely. But I had a lot of frustrating computer issues when I wanted to go sit in the corner and say "Wah!!" No IT around. I will be forced to think it through myself. Oh dang.

I am afraid. No cash, and not too many expectations. When you know there are accomplished, talented, experienced people out there snorkeling around for gigs, it doesn't make for a lot of confidence.

So hit the link, listen to the Stones. I'm hitting the pillows and purring.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

LOOSE FRAGMENTS

Today was a bit better. Some of the biochemical aspects of depression are ameliorated by slumber. My alcohol-free system sleeps better, too. And boy, do I have dreams. Lately, dream fragments hit me during the day, rattling my reality cage. I have to do a physical check of where I am and what was that (masked) fragment. Fragments coming loose and getting stuck in your brain or your heart ... isn't that what heart attacks and strokes are all about?

Security, financial and otherwise, is truly ephemeral. On the other hand, hassles from bills and landlords have tangible outcomes. How to balance the two? And then the fear factor kicks in with all the ancillary self-doubts and under-valuing. From what I can see, selling and marketing have plenty of openings and opportunities. Just not my skill set.

I saw a man, kind of panhandling, on the subway today. He was well-dressed, somewhere above 50,  and, as he stated clearly, indigent. His beautiful black leather jacket and dress pants did not suggest indigence. He said he had a master's degree (didn't hear in what) and had been on 270 job interviews. That is just plain crazy and disheartening. Of course, I didn't feel that I had enough ready cash to share.

Sometimes, it is a challenge...

BTW ... library book number 2 is finished! Only one more to go that has been here since last June!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

SNAKES TODAY

Oh, how that depression is a serpent, trying to coil all around you, squeeze you for dear life. At least, that's how it feels today.

I am not maniac depressive in the truest sense, more of a depressive depressive. However, I do have rushes of ups and downs in short periods of time. Depression often makes me think of the Lou Reed/Velvet Underground song, Heroin. Not that I am planning on taking any. Depression keeps me away from alcohol and anything else that might interrupt my attempts to be in a better space.

"I guess but I just don't know."

Unemployment and age are a fucking tough row to hoe these days. Every day is a run toward that huge wall you must get over. Each try to get a job, look for work, make a connection, and then fail is a body blow of disappointment and anxiety, leaving you stunned (even if your hopes were low) and out of breath.

I imagine PTSD feels like this. You are always worried about "incoming:" bill collectors, financial surprises, health issues ...

Then again, a quick trip to the New York Times says

 "It is time for you to stop all of your sobbing."

Some crazy and maybe frightening things going on all around the world. Relatively speaking, I've got it pretty good.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

THE HAPPIER FOR IT

These are the trees outside the front door at the cabin at Pottersville. It's hard to see the snow outlining the branches from below.

I had never seen an ice fishing hut before. On one lake, there were several of these, plus giant pick-up trucks driving around. And, it looked to me like the ice was pretty thin some places.


This is Cooder, basking in the afternoon sun, glad that I am home. I did not give Miep short shrift; she doesn't like her photo taken and rarely stays still.

The train I caught had started in Buffalo at 4:45am. It was quite crowded, lots of teenagers and families with children taking the week off. The fella sitting next to me on the train from Albany felt the need to chat with me. He shared that he was a roadie for the circus, on his way to Sarasota and an 11-month tour of the United States. He told me he had been working with the circus for so long, since 1982?, that circus folks were lots more comfortable and sane than the outsiders. I observed that perhaps they had found their niche and were the happier for it.



NIGHT IN A SNOWIEST PLACE

Did you all know that Albany, New York is one of the snowiest places in the United States? I am here to testify that this is so. It is colder here than in Pottersville. And I lost one of my favorite earrings. Crapola.

Kimmie suggested that I was on on an Adirondack vision quest. Hmmm … more like an indulgence quest, although after the 23-hour marathon, Larrry. Liz, Jane Anne, and I kept it relatively low key. Our indulgences were primarily in the eating arena, with antique/junk store foraging a robust second. Crackling fires, movies, quiet, and contentment.

For those of you, and that included me until last Friday, who have never seen a substantial lake frozen over, it is something to behold. The tonal beauties of light and shadow of bare trees, ice, and snow in the golden afternoon light are an intense delight. The thicket of trees flashing by in the train windows was nothing short of mesmerizing.

A dinner tonight at a first class Albany restaurant, The Point. Followed by merriment, literature, and music discussion.

And I sigh as I head back to my life and those issues I left behind not so many days ago. One more two-hour train ride, some heavy luggage wrassling, seven flights of stairs back in Park Slope, and then a substantial nap with the kitties. Cooder will sit on my shoulder and curl up in my arms purring. Miep will curl in the curve of my back.

I will wake on Wednesday, back at home.


2/21/2011

Sunday, February 20, 2011

BE HERE BREATHING NOW

Day Three of Adirondacks Getaway.

As it turns out, getting away from yourself is rather enjoyable, too. I realize that this is dangerous. Up here in the land of snow, woodstoves, a fire across the room with iron owls glowing in the grate, and something that smells pretty great in the oven, it's easy enough to not think about rent, the challenges of selling your old-self in the marketplace, lack of work, taxes dues, health insurance, and retirement funds.

I think I will take a deep breath, opt for "be here now," and think about the peace of mind I can bring back.

Gosh, I could even extend to the grateful stage for being in the company of new friends (I just met Liz and Larry and Jane Anne, the rat terrier) who just happen to have two cool abodes in the Adirondacks. I had scrapple today for the first time from an awesome (and I don't use that term lightly) local smokehouse, Oscar's. This is the sort of place that would bring tears and tremors of pleasure to many of my foodie friends. Liz and Larry took me there so I could get some of THEIR FRESHLY-SMOKED, PULLED FROM A LOCAL RIVER TROUT. Ah yes. New York sharp cheddar aged-in house.

And hey! Turns out they have wireless here in Pottersville. Not to mention amazingly awesome chocolate chips cookies, 21-year Balveine single malt, and innumerable other amenities that I am returning to.

Check out this version of Gimme Shelter with Fergie and Mick. (Find the DVD as these are all badly recorded and the HBO version is killah.)

2/20/2011

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES


What a difference a day makes, twenty-four little hours …

Day Two of the Adirondacks getaway ….

And how fun if you are awake for 23 of them. Larry and I, in the later years of our fifties, did 23 and 23.5 hours of wakefulness with only a minimal boost from vitamin Adderall. Admittedly, the last two were a little hazy for me, after several shots of Bailey’s Irish Cream, but I thoroughly enjoyed the music we watched/listened to.

Visiting the Adirondacks is humbling in any number of ways. The startling beauty of the mountains in winter was perhaps the most striking. The moon was nearly full. The frozen lake reflected the spectacular moonlight, the bare trees accenting the grounds, both fore and back. I was baying like a beagle at the sight.

No matter how hard we think we have it, we educated urbanities, being in a rural depressed area sets us on our ears. We have opportunities for random and strategic movement. The urban life allows us a chameleon life, to change with economics and technologies. Not so here. City life offers waves of different humanities. Here, it is the same old folks, mostly, struggling, and not always understanding. And largely untrained or unmotivated to reinvent or re-cast themselves. 

2/19/2011

HEADING FOR THE HILLS


You know the first time I traveled out
in the rain and snow,
- In the rain and snow.
I didn't have no payroll...

On the road again. Sitting on a stopped train somewhere south of Poughkeepsie, NY.

Although I have been to the northeastern parts of New York in the snow, I have never seen the Hudson River (actually an inland, tidal sea) frozen with lots of ice. And although  I have taken the train along here many times, it is completely different in shades of white and grey. Broken down mansions and skeletons of buildings from earlier centuries sit on the palisades and hills of the far shore. When all is verdant, these specters are barely visible.

Just a little out of urban NYC, we passed one crumbling brick house, once clearly ornate and fancy on a very small island (islet?) not far off the mainland. In the mist and snow, against the limited palette of grays, the remaining structure stood silently screaming wreckage and decay, kind of a visually noisy Miss Haversham, in a near exile.

Enough waxing. You just can’t see nearly as much most of the year because of all the foliage. It is a cool train ride. I hate flying and all the time spent at the airport is a barely bearable mini-Hell, not to mention being on the flight. But I get a bit excited taking the train. Yes, it takes more time, but it is so much more comfortable and civilized. And the air is much better.

I often complain about being tired, but it generally late at night. I had to drag myself out of bed at 5:30 to wake up, finish packing, and get to Penn Station to get the 8:15 train. Maybe I am being tired in advance as Larry wants to stay up late listening to music and watching videos.

2/18/2011

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I'M JUST A SOUL WHOSE INTENTIONS ARE GOOD

"The way you get to know yourself is by the expressions on other people's faces, because that's the only thing you can see, unless you carry a mirror about. But if you keep saying 'I' and they're saying 'I,' you don't get much out of it. They're not really into you, or we, or they; they're into I. 
- Gil Scott-Heron, in New York Is Killing Me by Alec Wilkinson, The New Yorker, 8/9/10

Hmmm. Having just been in a conference situation this struck at least a chord of interest. Everyone runs running around, any kind of focus, from eye contact to actual attention and attending to what's being said, is ephemeral and peripheral. And that's not throwing out any blame. I figure I do it too. But I am aware of it.

How much direct attention to we give one another anyway? My friend Rebus called me on multi-tasking while I was conversing with him on the telephone. And it's true I rarely do only one thing at once. I mean, I even dream while I sleep ...

This is how I feel today:

But I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood



(Listen here.)


Or unemployed. Or underpaid. Or undervalued.

On another note, I am heading to the hills in the morning and I might not be able to post. Gasp! If not, I should back at it by Tuesday night.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

SAMA VRITTI SAVES!

I am learning to practice some breathing when I am stressed. 


Sama Vritti Pranayama

exhale for 4 seconds
then pause for 4
inhale 4 seconds
retain for 4 seconds
repeat for a while

Today was my meeting at the Kidscreen Conference. As I mentioned earlier, I had a lot of reluctance to go. When I have been a paid attendee at this event, I often felt overwhelmed and depressed, during the conference and after. Not to mention, those hotel conference rooms are ALWAYS cold. 

I wanted to cry on the subway because I didn't want to go into that awful hotel space full of grown-ups, poseurs, and people who, theoretically, had the power to fund, hire, and fire me. As I started to well up, I remembered Sama Vritti and did a few rounds on the train. The crying feeling subsided.

I don't see as well as I would like, so I can't always recognize people. And the general feelings of anxiety and the over-stimulation of people exacerbates my ADHD. I feel flustered and failed. And then I was usually dragging around a bag full of flyers, freebies, and other swag destined, for the most part, for the dustbin. 

Today I dressed simply and comfortably. I took nothing more than my purse, a notebook, and an issue of The New Yorker (which I read cover to cover). Robert and I had one good, fast meeting. Then we hung out in the bar for a little and said "Hey!" to a few people. Then I left.

Going to a industry conference like this makes me question my life, my career (whatever it is), my goals, my self-image ... All in all, ewwww. Quite emotional. And who wants to feel all of that in a hotel lobby bar? I wasn't even buying alcohol, drugs, or companion services after a failed day of selling.

I'm going in again tomorrow, for a sprint. Perhaps I will remember to do Sama Vritti when the emotions come up again. I am just saying, it's getting to be a top option in stressful situations more often, and that has to be a good thing. Better than a drink.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

WHAT COULD BE DONE.1

So my dear friend Laura is an animator. She wrote this on Facebook today:


You know how I know I like my job? Because it gets to 5 o'clock and I wish there were at least 6 more hours in the work day to animate on this show.


Well, that set me to thinking about what I loved to do so much that I would want six more hours in a day to do it. 


I suppose I should note here that I have long known that if had a job in a fairy tale, it would be as a sleeping princess.


I know lots of animators and puppetteers. And almost all of them do it because they love it. Those aren't the kind of jobs you get randomly. You have to chose those things. And it is not an easy life for most. 


Besides reading and sleeping, things I can do for hours without getting bored:


surf the internet doing research
make music mixes
cook
thrift shop
watch movies
read/research publishing
develop ideas
talk about books and literature
pet cats (I actually do get tired of this, but I like cats a lot)
collaborating (not in the colluding sense)


I may come up with more.


Later that same evening. I might not come up with more, but if anyone has any great ideas about what all of that adds up to, let me know. 



Monday, February 14, 2011

HE'P ME MAKE IT THROUGH THE NIGHT?

You've heard it mentioned and now you can see it! The messy desk! Not really live and in person, but as my friend Charlie would say about a non-messy space, "This is where the magic happens." 

It looks A LITTLE BETTER because I did a little cleaning up and organizing. There's more white space.

But I had a day of funkiness ... and not in the "Everything I do gohn' be funky from now on" way. I was in a combination of a snit and a depressed-ish fugue-ish state with a dose of self-destruction (I didn't go for a walk and I drank some red wine. So there!). I didn't do much of anything that would be good for me or further me except file/do my unemployment claim and move some boxes and furniture around my living room.

Instead of reading or filing or getting business cards made or anything tangible, I became focused on, and lost myself in making a new cd mix (not finished yet) in "honor" of our romantic holiday, tentatively titled "The Love I Lost" ... big fun, right. 

I used to make a lot of mixes and have pretty much stopped for a variety of reasons. But I was tearing through my CD collection today, 3000+, like a person possessed. Even though I knew I had other things, pressing things, to attend to.

I watched Big Love instead of reading (about) Montaigne. (I may be the first and only person in history to write that sentence.)

Yes, buttons were pushed. The "failed romance" on the romantic holiday button, the looking at taxes button, and the "a-cat-needs-a-home-or-will-be-sent-to-its-death-because-the-new-baby-is-allergic-and-can-you-help?" button. I think there are only a few buttons UNpushed. 

So, I will leave you and this unfinished bummer mix (but some beautiful stuff). Here's where I turned it off: Kris.


  

Sunday, February 13, 2011

FLYING TIME

Time not only flies when you are having fun, it can fly while you are just wasting time or trying to write a blog post, for chrissakes.

I am feeling oozy-bloozy this evening. I am fairly sure that several things are contributing to my vaguely anxious ennui. And none of them are that earth-or-vibe shattering in and of themselves, but they add up.  Earlier today, I was chatting with me mam, and remarked that hunger could have something to do with it. Sure enough, some pizza helped.

I think sleep is the next step.

Although I am not, by nature, a particularly anxious person, this week is Kidscreen, the stupidly expensive kids' media "conference" ... I certainly don't have the extra jack for this. We miscreants and unemployed roam the bars and hallways watching the desperate, bored, and uninitiated bargain and jockey for a position in the kids media game. One always sees folks who ask what you are up to. And then you are forced to smile and simper and fib depending on who are speaking with. I don't even like to get dressed up like a grown-up; that alone causes me stress. Plus, I have to get up early and get to mid-town ... ugh.

I think that is my negativity speaking. Maybe something good and fun will happen!

I exercised my flabby discipline muscles today and made myself read that damn Montaigne book. I hit my target and am now in the homestretch of 100+ pages with two days until the meeting. I began to get cabin fever from sitting around reading, so I went out for a walk to the post office (0.5 miles) to send back my Netflix. Just for that discipline, of moving.

I also posted an old wedding mix. You can download it here if you are feeling nostalgic, romantic, or the like. Some great artists and great songs. Here's a track listing.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A SMALL PANOPLY O' PHILOSOPHY

The rising sun on the red brick buildings out my window this morning was stunning. Golden red is always striking against sky blue, but all the more so for the rarity of such a sight in these grey cold days. Looking down at the street, of course, there are still filthy mounds of stubborn snow, and filthy cars as well. But for a moment ...

As I have previously mentioned, the fabulous smart book club I have been recently invited to join is reading Sarah Bakewell's How to Live or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at An Answer. I only acquired the book last week, thinking I had until next Thursday to read but no! our group is meeting on Tuesday. I have a lot to read in the next two days.

I haven't read much philosophy. I have been required to read Plato for more than one class, but, truthfully, barely understood what I was reading. I remember my dorm neighbor (hi, Laurie!) who was a French major having those intimidating editions of Montaigne around. I always assumed it would be far over my little head.

This Bakewell book is a good introduction, I think. Not only do I now want to read Montaigne's essays, but am keenly interested in reading the Stoics as well. I had no idea that their philosophy had any correlation to some of the Buddhist/Eastern thought. I imagine these are not good translations as I grabbed them off an internet quote site, not necessarily renowned for erudition.

Do not seek to bring things to pass in accordance with your wishes, but wish for them as they are, and you will find them. Epictetus 


That sounds like "be in the moment" and "go with the flow" to me.


All philosophy lies in two words, sustain and abstain. Epictetus 


Freedom is not procured by a full enjoyment of what is desired, but by controlling the desire. Epictetus


If virtue promises happiness, prosperity and peace, then progress in virtue is progress in each of these for to whatever point the perfection of anything brings us, progress is always an approach toward it. Epictetus


I suppose you never can tell where the guidance for your practice might arise.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A FALLOW DAY IN THE LIFE OF THE MIND

"Was a sunny day. Not a negative word was heard ..." Couldn't find it on youtube, but this a an interesting Paul Simon clip.

A slow day today, too, feeling the effects of the outrageous dinner that Tim LaGasse and I made ... and then the red wine we drank. Big fun. And one of the best dishes I have ever made (Savory Bread Pudding.)

But I did spring out of bed and work assiduously to get an assortment of packages wrapped, addressed, and to the post office. That felt like a gigantic accomplishment.

And, of course, in sheer awe about Mubarak and wondering how things will be in Egypt in the coming weeks, as well as the future. And what's going on in Tunisia?

A fallow day in the life of the mind, perhaps.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER DOLLAR

My dad, who was born in 1916,  had lots of catch phrases and sayings. One of them was "Another day, another dollar." I had no idea until now that it was a song (and not a bad one at that).

That's kind of my day. In "practice" terms, it felt like progress. I had a lovely lunch with my dear friend Charlie S wherein we discussed business, literature, publishing, writing, and life. I did some ... I wanted to say relevant shopping ... relevant to getting by but still pleasurable if not luxurious or indulgent ...

I had a nice amount of time to read my Montaigne book.

So progress. Certainly not as much as I had envisioned. On the other hand, I rather enjoyed the day more than some. And, although I think of myself as a hedonist, I am not sure that I enjoy all these processes as much as I might.

Ah-ha! Some consciousness might be well applied to the small pleasures of the moment an the process.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

SLOGGING DAYS

We all need Slog Days just as much as we need mental health days.

And why aren't there holidays for those folks/figures who we REALLY relate to? Like Sisyphus? Sisyphus is more of a god than Zeus or Neptune. (Am I mixing my Greek and Roman here? Better check.) Poseidon. Anyway, Sisyphus, the god of eternal tasks and vocational frustration, right? Groundhog Day all over again.

And Athena has clearly left not only the USA but likely the planet. Signs of intelligent life seem to be diminishing.

I digress from my digression.

Here's some news: even when you are unemployed and have seemingly endless amounts of free time, Sisyphus and Slog still rule. Maybe less than the hard-working employed, but when you are left to yourself, and single, who else do you have to direct the angst and venom at but yourself? The unemployed can't even use shopping and expensive (or any) restaurants as momentary soothers. No dull lullaby there.

I'm only slightly facetious here. But today was a Slog Day and damn it! I want my reward ... or respite. Always so much to do.

In a less whiny tone, I have spent the day as Sisyphsus. Through paperwork, more misfiled and random compact discs than most of you have seen outside a Tower Records close-out sale, and countless bits of half-conceived/half-started projects, I sorted, tossed, assessed and some went back to bin of  "I'm-ignoring-this-now. (Hades? Maybe we need to rewrite these myths.)  All is akimbo. But I sense the light at the end, even if I can't see it yet.

I did some emotional slogging today, too. Maybe that's what's got me snarty (snarling/nasty) tonight. Still letting the information, the tears, the realization percolate through the consciousness and reality.

But! the kitchen is clean. Progress was made. And tomorrow is another day. Maybe what I need is a short walk around the 'hood for perspective.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

FEELING RIGHT AND FEELING WRONG

How many days in a row, or how often, do you have to do something before you can call it a habit and stop paying attention to it? I know, I can hear you all. "Whatever it is, we've heard it before." This quotidian accomplishment is the more-often-than-not leaving the kitchen all tidy and neat before bed. To be sure, it is not a daily task, like writing, but it is tending to happen. I am encouraged to think that when I, once and for all, finish moving in and put things in their final resting place, I might find it easier to keep up with the organization and housework.

Let's hear, (or drink, if appropriate) a round for the daily practice. I am encouraged to write, clean, and move gracelessly through another day.

I certainly didn't feel that last night. Some tetchy emotional/stress points were tetched and stressed yesterday. And besides finding inappropriate solace in white whine, I could not sleep until the wee hours were getting older. After tossing, turning, wrestling, and benadryl, I was able to sleep long enough to get through the day (and I didn't even forget to move the car on street-cleaning day!). Hours, however, were spent in that twilight of disquieted dreaming doze, waiting for the plunge into a good drool.

The better news is that I was able to obsess through the general miffiness and despair to get down to what is really wrong. And armed with that knowledge, I can see if I can adjust behavior, expectations, and all of that kind of good stuff.

My next feat of discipline is try to get to bed and to sleep at a better hour so that I can get up and enjoy the morning.

Here's a great/fun version of Van Morrison's Caravan. "Then we can get down to what is really wrong." That's where that reference came from.

LESS DRAMATIC THAN A ROLLER COASTER

It's late, so I can admit my tiredness. I'm on a bit of an emotional/spiritual/motivational roller coaster, although roller coaster is too dramatic. And then there is the brain death and dull buzz I feel.

In the aggregate, however, it was not a bad day, even if I did succumb to a bit of white wine. I suppose my disappointment in myself comes from not having completed the desk re-organization and from having spent time watching Sunday night's episode of Big Love instead of working.

To the positive side, I did go out and do some walking and grocery shopping, picked up my laundry (and even got most of it put away), did some work on both projects, did some writing, made two different kinds of soup, got the kitchen all cleaned up including dishwasher running and litter boxes clean.

Which leads me to question my expectations of myself. Living alone and not having an out-of-house job may be skewing my self-image. On a daily basis, I don't have too many markers or guidelines. I know that I prefer that in many ways, so that I can operate in my will-o-the-wisp mode, but perhaps it is also at odds with some of my goals and ambitions.

I'm going to take that musing to bed.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

WALK, TALK, AND READ

I've been thinking about Rebus' comment, asking me why I just don't return my long-held library books.

Why not bring the library books back? If you never finished them in that time then maybe they were not all that to begin with. Let them go, take some of the pressure off. And if you feel the need to to return to them later you'll know where they are.


It's not that I am not interested in them, or that they aren't pretty good books. I am a reading magpie. I skip around and look for the bright and shiny. In my reading life, "bright and shiny" can mean a short, satisfying read, a bestseller, or a subject that grabs top place in my current interest. I always have at least five or six things in progress. Books get shuffled back and forth.

And, these books, and I am aallmost through the longest one, represent an investment of time. I feel as if that investment would be a bit squandered if I didn't finish them. And once they go back to the library, that tends to be the end of it. There are lots of books vying for my immediate attention.

Also, there is a discipline involved. The books I have not torn through are more difficult reads, not easily consumed. But I think worth the investment.

Another kind of practice perhaps? I can't quite articulate this, but getting through these books is something related to my walking the walk I would like to walk, and talking the talk I want to be talking. Another aspiration?

And for any of you who might be interested in what these tomes are:

The Eitingons
101 Theory Drive
A Thousand Peaceful Cities

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A DAY

Hmmm ... not getting much inspiration from the cosmos or the peanut gallery.

All in all, I had a good day. My "practice" was pushing myself to act on something I had been thinking about for awhile. I unplugged my tv, unwatched for 7 or 8 months, unplugged the dvd/vcr, and cable box and dismantled their place in my home. I replaced it with a table and a bunch of baskets for yarn/knitting projects. Feng shui-wise, this was clearly a good idea.

I didn't get much farther than this, although I did read 20+ pages in one of those straggling library books. I had drinks, but not too many, with Betts. Talked YA lit with her soon-to-be=13-year-old. Did a little Monsterwood confabulation.

It was a day just like any another day. Reminds of this song, Black Peter.

Friday, February 4, 2011

EMPTY HEAD AND ASPIRATIONS

Sheesh. I have been trying to find something to speak/write/muse upon for a couple of hours, in between mindless tv shows and the random organizational task, but I scarcely have a thought in my head tonight. None of the usual reasons (drunk, depressed, stressed, distracted) are in the way. I feel a bit like that line in Sugar Magnolia "Head's all empty and I don't care" (Check out this version with Yosemite Sam singing. And I was at that Stanford show.)

I have come up with a few New Years' Resolutions ... that's some progress. These are the details I obsess about:

- make four new cookie recipes
- make bread
- make a pie from scratch
- read four cooking books
- read French (I keep telling myself I am going to do this year after year)
- go back to journal writing
- show my appreciation for my friends, family, and kitties
- a daily random act of kindness
- make something at least one time per week (new recipe, knit, sew, bead ... something)
- write more actual letters and postcards
- re-instate poem of the week
- live music/theater/readings once a month
- three movie a week
- one book a week
- take my vitamins
- eat more vegetables

Okay. There's a symmetry in the cookies and vegetables. Are they resolutions? Kind of goals or ideals or benchmarks? Aspirations might be the ticket. I could put some yoga thing in there, but I don't seem to have quite found the motivator there. Although I do do the 4/4/4/4 breathing pretty much every day for at least a minute or two.

- be able to do a headstand again ...

Now, there's a goal. (For those of you who haven't seen this, this is my 84 year old Mom demonstrating yoga. Photo credit to Debee Bracho. And happy birthday to her (2/4 and my mom 2/5).

Thursday, February 3, 2011

MAKING THINGS

On my still as-yet-unwritten list of New Years' Resolutions, is one to actually finish some of the 2/3s-to-3/4s-read books about the house (three from the Brooklyn Public Library which have been carted around since Summer 2010), as well as those on my own shelf (too numerous to mention). With this in mind, and having just finished the quite light-weight and only-read-because-I-found-it-on-the-street Julie and Julia, I returned to Bill Buford's Heat.

Having dated a New York City chef for a while, I have heard so many horror stories about restaurants that I have considered not eating in them at all. Whenever I am asked if I wouldn't like to own/work in one, I respond in the emphatic negative. Although I do love to cook, I am clear that restaurant work is mostly a form of the money-pit, the addiction haven, and likely the ultimate no-win start-up.

But Buford nailed my feelings about cooking here:

"The satisfaction of making a good plate of food are surprisingly varied, and only one, and the least important of them involves eating what you've made. In addition to the endless riffing about cooking-with-love, chefs also talk about the happiness of making food: not preparing or cooking food, but making it. ... The simple, good feeling ... might be akin to what you'd experience making a toy or a piece of furniture, or maybe even a work of art..."


Making things does feel good. Making things that other people like/love is even better. I don't know if cooking and my other creative pursuits take me out of myself, or place me firmly in this meat suit/mortal coil.

I would like to expand my "practice" to creating more: writing, food, knitting, sewing, and a whole lot of other crafty things. I have, for the first time in many years, started making music mixes again.

Here's a playlist that I uploaded for y'all, from back in 2002.
Playlist for I'm Gonna Sit Right Here Until I Die

And here's the music. It's a big file, so it will take a while to download.
River Songs: I'm Gonna Sit Right Here Until I Die

Enjoy.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

PETITES éTAPES

I know it seems like I posted today, but that one didn't really count. That was more of a solicitation or a call to arms. Now for something a little more ... I was going to say "real," but maybe "stream of conscious" is the accurate term.

More time for musing. Am I of a slightly better, more productive mind because the days are getting a little longer? or that I am listening to more music? or that I am alcohol-free for 10 days? or have a little little little more money in the bank? Or maybe I the kind words have worked and you all managed to encourage me?

Maybe things do get better in small increments. I did something I had never done in the nearly twenty years I've lived on the East Coast. I went for a walk in the snow, for exercise. Did I already tell you this? I walked to the Main Library on the other side of Prospect Park (something I did in good weather). I was sort of amazed that in all this time, I had not overcome my "Mediterranean weather roots" to do this. Truthfully, I had been housebound all weekend, Monday was sunny and warm, and the weather reports were dire for the rest of the week. And then, I managed to put back all but one of the library books I cruised because I have library books at home to finish that I have had since June 2010.

That was, like, self-awareness AND self-control.

What will be next?

And I leave you with this interesting thought, particularly when applied on a  micro-level:

"No action can be understood apart from the motive which prompted it."
Arthur Shopenhauer, "The Wisdom of Life"

AN IDEA AND A NEXT STEP?

A couple of people thought that some creative writing might be in order. I am pretty sure I was one of those people.

I duly picked out one of my many writing books, in this case, Writing Toward Home: Tales and Lessons to Find Your Way Home by Georgia Heard. And as I was on the subway perusing this, I thought about how many of those who read this are friends from the old country, California, and my childhood. (And how great is that?) And some of those people, and some of my newer friends, too, think about creativity and writing.

So, I was thinking that perhaps an on-line, private, voluntary writing group might be fun/valuable/amusing. The structure I see at the moment would be something like this. People who want to participate let me know, they get a gmail account, we start a google group. I post assignments. We write and post them. Comments and constructive criticism could be good. If we want to do something else with the writing, we can discuss. I aim to have one non-yoga/writing post on this site per week.

I think short, but this is more generative than anything else. Doesn't have to be fiction. Poetry. Journal entries. Whatever.

Let me know here or one of my email addresses (sallyannemediavixen@gmail.com is easiest to get through).

A dieu.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

WHAT TO DO AND WHAT NOT TO DO?

When we practice looking deeply, we have the insight into what to do and what not to do for the situation to change. Everything depends on our way of looking.”  Thich Nhat Hanh


That quote was lurking in an unread newsletter in my inbox. I know the "depends on our way of looking part" is true (or can often be demonstrably so). It's the first part I don't seem to be able quite get a handle on.


Maybe I have not been practicing the "looking deeply" part enough lately. Eating pizza and gorging on mystery novels and thriller films are not particularly spiritually enlightening, although they might be/they are spiritually refreshing. 



On the other hand, I feel a sliver of insight light here and there. I have begun to look at myself and my skill set a bit differently. Perhaps I will "rebrand" meself some. And move my target employment market at bit. I mean, really, other than despondency and rejection, how much would I be risking?


And, I thank you for your responses to my further blog idea. A few "next steps" have occurred to me. I am still not quite sure which direction to go in, but it is a bit less daunting.


As is so often the case, I am very sleepy. My schedule is whack. I am staying up late and sleeping in, which is not so productive for me. Tonight I took some sleeping medication so that maybe I would crash by 11:00 or 12:00. Let me head for the bed.