Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Forbes Thought Of The Day

 The greatest obstacle to your success is probably you. ”
— Frank Tyger

No doubt. But that doesn't solve the problem in the slightest.

No Downton Abbey last night. Instead I had vague meandering threads of the life of KaHug. Must have been doing a work session with her a bit late in the evening ... perhaps it is best to stay with my own mental dramas at that hour. I seem to be quite susceptible to the problems of others, whether or not they "actually happened" ...

And as I was making my first cup of coffee, (why yes, I am starting this in the morning), I was singing Sympathy for the Devil (it is a good wake-up song), replacing the lyric, "just as every cop is a criminal" with "just as every cat is a criminal." You know I don't think that but Emmy can be challenging.

Just went over to work on my political tweets for occupylive.org. Some doozies out there today: 

Irked by abortion bill, Va. senator adds rectal exams for men

WSJ Publishes Op-Ed From 16 Climate Deniers, Refused Letter From 255 Top Scientists

Winter sun on red brick building. This is not quite brilliant enough.

Utterly egregious crap. No question as to who is running the Wall Street Journal.

10:05 p.m.

Ahhh ... listed enough items for this week on eBay. Tedious work. I hope a couple of things sell, of course, as that is how I am making ends almost meet better. I am not sure if that is proper language there, but I am pooped. It is amazing or maybe merely remarkable how difficult it is even to get rid of things you don't need and aren't using. That might have something to do with the aesthetic value, but I did have trouble even planning to shake loose of some of these items.

This young lady stormed onto the train with a mission, which was to fling herself down and drown herself in her book as soon as humanly possible. And we always love that. I had to see what she wa reading: The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman. Of course. I should have known just by the Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter bag she was carrying. She had pink hair, too. Charming.

I hope I sleep better tonight.

Monday, January 30, 2012


8:05 a.m.

Here's an experiment in different living for me. I guess it started with Downton Abbey last night. Breaking my rule, I brought my laptop to bed so that I could watch the most recent episode. Media watching on the bigger screens has been verboten for a while as I have enough trouble sleeping as it is. But my narrative junkie was screaming for a fix, so I succumbed.

The episode was about the end of WWI and a couple of good characters had bad things happen to them. My sleep was restless and anxious; every time I broke sleep's surface, I was thinking about the episode. Good thing I did not continue watching Mesrine or The Onion Field. both of which I have been watching on Netflix. 

So, when I woke up this morning at 7:15 or so, a good 30 minutes before I had scheduled myself to begin the process, I jumped (kinda) out of bed, made it, and am now trying to get a bunch of stuff done. First up, after having had some breakfast and coffee, is to get going on laundry. It's all ready to go, however, having no clean clothes to wear outside presents a problem. Oh well, I'll go dig around. And then it's eBay shipping time.

8:48 a.m.

Clothes awashing. There is already quite a bit of activity in the laundromat, which I expected for a Monday. There's going to be a lot of jockeying for position for dryers, I can already tell. When I came back to the building, who should be shivering on the doorstep but Melinda who had grabbed the wrong keys when she went outside to do a quick errand. That's some kind of serendipity. How often am I up (okay, usually these days), but also dressed and running around?

10:33 p.m.

So much for any insights. I am not sure where the entire day went. EBay packages were mailed, KaHug was advised, ironing was done, items were prepped for photographing for eBay tomorrow. And I could try to write something smart here, but I think taking down the ironing board, (although Emmylou will be greatly saddened and forced to find an alternate sleeping place), and doing even a little bit of yoga would be the best use of my limited (I hope) awake time. Although I didn't walk far today, I did walk up and down my apartment building stairs quite a bit ... I'll have to figure out what that metric is.


Oh, and turns out the drunk dude is a regular at this subway stop. Here he is on Thursday, earlier in the day, hence less trashed. Why this woman is speaking to him is utterly beyond me. Perhaps he is more pleasant before he is completely trashed. I will keep you posted.

Sunday, January 29, 2012


Address tiles on the mews near NYU.
It's not a good sign when the song stuck in your head is the theme from The Beverly Hillbillies.

I realize I have been remiss in attending to this blog, to you, and to some extent myself. The good news is that it is not depression, sadness, or despondency that has kept me away from this writing. I have been busy with other things, moving toward more work, and not so prone to self-reflection and communication.

So, just to get you mildly up to date on "the struggle" ... after drinking wine and a martini with Jen and Jay last night, I was not full of vim and vinegar today. I did clean the kitchen floor and kitchen, do some work, and take a nice nap. I realized, inasmuch as I was thoroughly cosy, that I really should make myself take a walk, that when I didn't walk or leave the house, it tended to push me more toward depression or some kind of lethargy.

So I took kind of long one, even though it was dark by the time I left the house. I walked all the way down 8th Avenue to Flatbush, then cut down to 7th Avenue and back home. It was about 2 miles and well beyond the 20 minute walking goal.  That part of town had seemed so far away, it had never really occured to me to walk it.

So, what do I do with this blog if I am not thinking anything? I can report that I feel more hopeful than I did even a week ago. I made a little more money (close to $60 on eBay today).

I must be mentally gestating some things. I haven't done any yoga in days and I need to. That will have to be high on the agenda for tomorrow, along with going to the library, and moving the car. I don't feel particularly creative, but I have been helpful to KaHug and I had some good ideas about getting MW moving along again.

For the moment, it's a life that is creeping in a better direction. I hope to have more good progress or even insight to report ere long.

Looking down Sixth Avenue where the World Trade Center Towers used to be.


Yesterday was all right, as close to good as I've had in a long time. This morning I woke up with a negative bank balance again. I almost bummered, but I have eBay/PayPal funds pending, so I think I can make it to my next check. Yes, it's a bit of a stretch and it won't be comfortable.

One of the high-and-low-lights of yesterday was going to Trader Joe's to grocery shop. I was running perilously low on things like olive oil, butter, and inexpensive but tasty proteins.

By now it is Saturday night. To be sure, alcohol has been a part of the social agenda this evening to the degree that I feel disengagedd.

But that doesn't mean that I am disengaged, am give leave to be disengaged. That I cannot comment in  a reasonable and productive form stays my fingers from writing much.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Such a rare thing, it is, for me to say that I had a good day, that even though I am exhausted, here I am doing it. And remember it was just this morning that I mused on my last-night-before-sleep question on whether it were possible to go to bed feeling something like satisfaction?

Don't worry, I'm not that all that. I just powered through lots of tasks. I photographed and posted a bunch of stuff on eBay. I will be pleased when I no longer have to do that for survival income. But some of these items have been sitting around needing to find other homes for awhile, so making progress on that does feel good.

I had a good, intense writing coach session with KaHug. She was all fired up and stimulated by my comments and that is gratifying.

Gosh, not a lot more happened.

Oh, well, there was this funny-ish anecdote. After therapy, I headed for the train, calling Iris who had been trying to reach me. I had on my headset, so it likely looked as if I were speaking to myself and listening to music. I ducked into a deli to grab a little snack before getting on the train. Mostly, however, I was listening to what Iris was saying and thinking about that. As I quickly surveilled the store, trying to find something not fried or equally disgusting, I glimpsed a street-person-ish man somewhat focused on me and moving in my direction up the aisle from the beer obtaination area. I made a quick decision, grabbed what I wanted and headed the other way to the check-out. As I rounded the corner shelf, the fellow was on the ground and I got the impression that he was cursing me.

I just remembered what this reminded me of. I was in Lyon while the '92 Olympics were going on. I had gotten into town late and was hungry, so I set out to see if I could find some food. Yeah, it was a little scary walking around a French town I did not know at 11:00 at night. I was on either Rue Victor Hugo or Rue Auguste Comte, but I think it was Victor Hugo. My hotel was right near the train station there on Place Carnet. Some day, I'll show you the photos.

At any rate, it was late, dark, and there weren't a lot of people around. I could hear a drunk walking toward me on the sidewalk. I believe he was addressing me, but I couldn't hear and don't think I could have understood a drunken man's French from that distance. I waited until he was very near, and then I slipped across the street in such a manner that he could neither access nor follow me easily. He then stopped in some wonder and consternation and berated me for eluding him.

Yes, of course, drunk French man, I am going to stay in your path so that you can accost, annoy, and who knows what else. Asshat. Or as we might say in French, Chapeau de cul ... beret de cul? (I'm sure Laurie or Iris will have something to add to that.) Trilby de cul?

So this fellow today, unfortunately had a prosthetic leg, on display as his trousers were not adequate to cover it. I think he was reaching for me when I moved away, but, as I say, I was fairly absorbed in what Iris was saying, in a hurry, and trying to avoid crazy-person contact. (You learn that in a place like New York. Survival skill.) 

So there I was standing trying to pay and drunk man is still muttering. I realized he was calling me out, saying that I was short, fat, and stupid. I was slightly taken aback but primarily at his fucking ... I'm going to say masculine ... temerity to judge my looks and being and to expect that I would have attended upon him in the slightest fashion merely because I was a female? an unattractive female?

So we have a drunk gimp falling in the store berating my public persona? I don't think so. The other factors may be observable, but I am not stupid, so there is no reason to take the rest of the litany seriously either. 

And as the t-shirt said, "I may be fat, but you're ugly. And I can diet."

My outrage and annoyance were at the high-handed deluded COLONIALIST manner that he was allowed to even address me. Fucking jerk. 


Good morning, Roman Empire! What fresh hell and degradation is in store for us today? I am still reeling from the cat murder and not wanting to go to occupylive.org as I think it will be on the front page and I will have to look at it again.

Dough. Direction. Joy. That's my mantra, the words I try to remember to say to face the day. Dough, preferably in the form of money, but, as chronicled here, I work on other forms. (Cake counts as dough, right?) Direction, because what to do what to do is not clear to me. Joy because dammnit I'd like to be happier.

As I was falling asleep last night, not feeling pepper peppy or optimistic, I wondered who's head hits the pillow and then feels contentment, safety, satiety, accomplishment, even resolve? I had a longer list of words last night, but I didn't want to disturb my relaxation into sleep.

I need to get some work done this morning as there is light and I have many items to photograph for eBay.

A couple of weeks ago, when I quoted John Leonard's remark on embarrassment and moral consciousness, Laurie had a thoughtful response. In the instance that you didn't see her comments, here they are:

I find the out of context use of the quotation hard to react to, except on the gut level i'm not sure it's true. I think that Hegel said that embarrassment is the beginning of moral consciousness, but that there were other stages in the process. Seeing morality as a social or emotional process doesn't entirely work for me, since I have become so introverted that I operate on an internalized "guilt-based" morality. I'm not too affected by shame but I do avoid being judged by others. I think I have been most severely judged negatively for two things: getting old and getting fat. These are an unavoidable and an avoidable "sin" which for me have no moral content. The kind of thing I find appropriate to judge morally is considering what would happen if everyone behaved the same. Killing is wrong in most instances because it would decimate the population, theft would close down commerce, being cruel to others could lead to people being depressed and even suicidal, etc.

Teaching seeks to make students internalize values, knowledge, not seek external validation. Yet so much of it is based on negative reinforcement. I tend to believe the negative can work if it is something the student can control (being late, missing class) but won't work if s/he is stupid or lacking ability. Embarrassing someone comes in the category of negative reinforcement. The master or employer embarrasses the slave or employee as a technique of control. I also read a jewish philosopher who said that embarrassment was the source of religion! but the master, employer or teacher uses negative reinforcement a lot for motives unrelated to morality.


Oh, how typical of me. It's 10:22, I have something cooking. I'm now awake (although I only took at 25 minute nap this evening). And it is crazy hot in here again.

I will spare you the photo, but in my moderating for occupylive.org, I came across a story and a picture of a cat that had been brutally murdered with the word "liberal" carved into it found on the doorstep of its owner, an Arkansas Democrat running for office. Don't look for the story. But I am just nauseated. This is the kind of thing that will wake me at night, as well as keep me from sleeping.

A bit later. Two hours later. Where did the time go? Eating chips and salsa, drinking beer, doing dishes, playing solitaire, reading The Guardian, rescuing Emmylou from the fire escape, and some self-loathing.

You've heard me say it before: lost and spinning. Is anything in the universe besides a human being able to be lost and spinning? (Physics people?)

Even though it sprinkled and gently rained, I walked down to the Library Book Mobile there near B, with a small pile of books (the library book pile is thinning down) then on to to the post office, which is between 4th and 5th Streets, so that I could put some eBay packages into the mail. Then I walked along 5th Avenue, stopped for a slice of pizza that I ate while walking in the rain. At the corner of 13th and 5th, there is a thrift store. Wow. I went in and looked at their goods for a long long time.

I suppose it is a positive thing that I can now go into a thrift store and not HAVE to buy something, come what may. Hell, spending $2.50 on a piece of pizza seemed extravagant. I looked for a long time and allowed myself to buy two used cds, Kirsty McColl and Dolly Parton for another $2.50. And I did give that a lot of thought before I decided to part with the money. Then I walked another block to the shoe repair at 14th and 5th, to pick up the shoes I had polished so that I could sell them on eBay. Then I walked home.

One of my "B" friends is financially challenged also. We had a walk last week, maybe I already reported this. We discussed trying to budget when money is so tight that buying sandwich baggies is food for consideration. B says that she thinks/has read/?? that you need to keep the money flowing. So I did today, although I felt nearly profligate.

Hope I can sleep. (But seriously, folks, not TOO down.)

Monday, January 23, 2012


Sunday, January 22

Oh today did not look good.  The first few hours I worked hard to ward off despair. A not-so-good night's sleep and waking up early did not help. I duly arose, drank some coffee, did my moderating job, wallowed in panic, tried to go back to sleep, and finally figured I might as well try to accomplish something if I couldn't sleep.

Monday, January 23
I just couldn't do yesterday justice by the time I sat down to write. Me old pal, MW, called from California at a much earlier hour than I would have expected from him. (Then again, when your mood challenged people call at odd hours, it is not generally a good thing.) We had a meaningful discussion that, surprising to me, shed some light/relief on one of my larger angst sources. And he's in a unique position to help out with this particular issue, so I was grateful for the serendipity.

KaHug and I had scheduled a work session. She's writing a (cool) book, and needs a second voice out in the wilderness. As is usually the case, we moved along into a more philosophical discussion of the world, our lives, and what the hell to do with them. This, too, cheered me.

After a nearly horizontal morning, I found myself buyoued into verticality and productivity. Bread was made. Clothes were ironed. Beds were made. Yoga was practiced. Top Hat was watched.

Emmy cannot stay away from me when I do yoga. She continually crawled under my face, stopping to make sure that her tail was as much in my nose as could be.

JR thinks this may be a sign of the coming apocalypse: I watched the entire 49'er-Giants football game. And. Enjoyed. It.

John and Melinda had invited me for an early dinner. John excused himself to watch the game. Mel and I drifted in. Three hours later we were all yelling and screaming. John and Melinda were slightly amazed that 1) I knew anything about football whatsoever and 2) that I would becoming a screaming fan. Growing up in Boystown, one gets exposed to sports. And such is my way, I have to know about it and what is going on. I cannot imagine that I will give up reading or my other activities to become a sports couch potatoe, but it was fun for a change.

So, today still raining but warmer. I did not get much outdoor exercise these last two days, so I think I will make a point of a walk today.

Cooder was already in bed.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


The two most important days of your life are the day you are born ... and the day you find out why.
— Mark Twain

Evidently Mark Twain said this, but 15 minutes of snorkeling around the internet did not yield me a proper citation. Yes, I remain skeptical. I will continue to look but if I don't write right now, I will just fall into bed.

That Twain quote seemed of a piece with the Garcia Marquez from yesterday somehow, although I haven't pieced them together yet.

I just read that Joe Paterno died. What the ....? He was involved in criminal activity and that was on beyond terrible, but still, I feel badly that he left this world at such a crappy moment. On the other hand, he probably wanted out of the nightmare his life had become.

And speaking of WTF ... the Republicans in South Carolina voted for Gingrich? Are they smoking, one and all? And I am not thinking about tobacco here. Is South Carolina the land of philandering asshats and they are showing their solidarity for Newt's broad-mindedness/double standard? I don't get it.

And then there's Etta James, who, of course, rocked the house and then some. You'd think every one all along listened to her all the time and that she was everyone's favorite, right up there with Miss Aretha. And yet, I cannot remember a person with whom I discuss and listen to music saying a word about her. Fortunately, I have a lot of her music. John, Melinda, and I had a little Etta wake last night.

So, Saturday night bread rising. Cats are patiently waiting for me to go to bed. Emmylou is made for snow, but when I put her on the fire escape, she didn't seem to like it very much.

No puns on my name please. I hate being called Sal and Salmagundi won't make it any better.


Human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them; life obliges them to give birth to themselves over and over.
 -- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Wow. Is that what's going on with me? I was never that keen to be a mother, and here I am stuck with the big-assed (in more than one way) baby that is meself.

Oh. Oh. Oh. Not a lot to reliably report. Slogging slogging slogging through. Napping here and there.

Snow expected in four hours. The curtain rod over the bed fell down . I decided to leave that window exposed so that I could wake up and see the snow falling in my face, kind of. You know, how often do we have snow falling on our faces as we lie in bed? Not so many unless we have a sunroof over the bed. 

It was not clearly productive, but it was a more enjoyable day.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


'Tis not despondency that stills my fingers from writing. The absence of hope (or the feeling of that), that désespoir, thorough and deep, those are not so with me right now. Incarceration is more to the point. Jailed and held. The confinement of extreme financial limitation, the limitations for work that appear to be present for people, women particularly, of a certain age, the relentlessness of even a mild winter, these are incarcerations. To whom and to what to appeal for recourse and succor and perspective are not apparent. Even if one is one's own warden, possessing the key to change, that key is not clearly marked. Feels like i need habeas corpus right now, feels like being held against my will and unaccountably. Feels like rules and laws and kindness and decency and fair play are all confused and uncertain. Somebody? Ask for my body and my person?

Pain makes one irritable, even psychic pain. 

That was this morning. This is now.

'Twas a most difficult day. I even took to bed in the afternoon for a couple of hours, something I have largely eschewed during this long period of current difficulty. In the past, I slept as an escape, at a particular period in the long past, as much as 16 hours at a clip. I'm nowhere near that these days. I don't even take an afternoon nap all that often.

Today, though. Today I did some afternoon sleeping. Some afternoon escaping. But I got up after a hour or two, took the bath I had wanted to take for the past two days but was not able to due to no hot water, and then, given that the day's productivity was unlikely to be ... productive, I did some yoga. I had not done even the restorative practice in probably five days and did not want to fall back into NOT doing it.

Cooder and Emmylou helped, of course. 

I did cry while in an asana, although now I can neither remember the asana nor why. 

I hope that today was a low, a bottom of sorts and that tomorrow I will be refreshed, energized, and hopeful. 

Only one way to find out.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


This looks better than I feel.
It's not just depression that is keeping me quiet. And maybe depression is too definitive a word. I'm down and I'm thinking and I just don't have a lot to offer beyond what I've been saying for the last week or so.

Plus, it is hella-hot in here. I've been prepping packages to ship from this week's eBay sales, plus posting new things. (If you go to advanced search at eBay, you can search for me, "xosas".) Now, I just want to go to sleep ("What???!!") but that might be because of the heat.

Iris had more to say about "I" ...

…on the discussion about personal subject pronouns:  spoke to a friend about it who pointed out that 1) symbol systems, especially language, are shaped by the culture in / for which they are developed, and 2) the systems shape what can be communicated by them (for example, mathematics is a communicative symbol system that can robustly express the concept of time but cannot express the concept of love; the concept of time is very hard to express linguistically but love is something language expresses quite well). 

So maybe we do know something about culture and peoples if we know that personal subject pronouns are not used / tend not to be used by Spanish speakers: cultures develop symbol systems to express what is important to them, and one could argue that if you can’t express it (in one system or another) you don’t do / know / feel / care about it, that the “personality” of the culture is expressed in its symbol systems, which in turn molds the personality of the members of the culture.   You do / know / feel / care about what you can express and you express what you do / know / feel / care about.

I understand these considerations but they worry me because cultural explanations of capacity can so easily be co-opted to evil ends.

We could sit around the campfire all night on this one.

It's good to keep that conversation going. Guess I will dip back into that pronoun book. I had taken a break to read magazines!

Is this a metaphor for our times? Glittery hats in the rain? The party's over, kids.

We should all be so lucky.

But just to keep the record straight, have been walking. Organized all my jewelry and made a big pile to sell/give away. AND! Started cleaning my desk. So it's not all sturm und drang ... there's slogging in there, too.

Monday, January 16, 2012


I just didn't feel like writing last night. After watching the Golden Globes with John and Melinda, which was fun despite Ricky's tepid "hosting", I came back upstairs to finish watching the first two episodes of Downton Abbey and get some ironing done. Then, it was late and ... enough already.

Yes, I am pretty down about life at the moment. Even deep breaths don't seem to help much. The weather forecast is that it will be warmer today, all the way up to the mid-30s, so I should venture out a bit later.

The financial layer would be challenging enough, but the "gosh, what do I really want to do and then how do I do it?" layer is crushing. I'm not aspiring to be VP of Development at HBO or an executive producer with David Simon. I don't know. Enough I.

The sun is shining right now and I have things to pack and ship from the close of eBay sales last night.

Meanwhile, Iris commented on I-1-I-I

My dear Sally Anne –

I think the kind of positive, productive, though self-deprecating, self-awareness that Pennebaker is talking about requires a correlate awareness of the other which Pennebaker doesn’t articulate. When he talks about the use of in conversation as a submissive gesture, an announcement of self-awareness as vulnerability, the implication is that the speaker not only is considering the self but also is aware of and considering the other, otherwise all those personal pronouns might just be a reflection of narcissism.

Your friend Laurie raises an incredibly important question about the implications of Pennebaker’s theory.  There are many languages that do not employ, or relatively under-employ in comparison to English, personal subject pronouns.  Does that say something about the speakers’ capacity for self-awareness and reflection?  An early developmental theory about thought process posited that human thought was internalized speech – that when we think we talk to ourselves.  Of course, this was quickly challenged:   was the theory implying that people without speech therefore can’t think?  This led to rigorous testing of deaf-from-birth subjects, who indeed demonstrated rigorous thinking.  The argument was that language as it is spoken could not be what underwrites thinking.  The counter-argument was that deaf people do indeed have language, just a differently executed one, and that thought is dependent on a symbol system.  Spoken language, it was argued, was a symbol system but not necessarily a privileged one: thought requires a symbol system that allows us to represent what we know about the world but it doesn’t have to be spoken English.  There’s just that pinch of imperialism, of arrogance, in Pennebaker’s piece that assumes that the way spoken English works tells us something profound about the human condition.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


At the corner, waiting for work.
What is the word for negative synchronicity? When things mesh in a not so good way? For instance, I am feeling quite quite low these past couple of days. And is it ever grey out there.

One of the struggles I am having is with having a voice (notwithstanding that according to one friend I have quite a high squeal when I am excited). To be seen or to not be seen, that is the question.

I spent a lot of the day in bed, sometimes sleeping, sometimes just hiding out. A quiet world seemed the best. I am, of course, frustrated that I didn't get a lot done nor am I leading the exciting, scintillating life I could be, am supposed to be leading here near one of the world's greatest cities.

Well, our fantasy me is out there having fun, I suppose. This one is in here fighting the darkside demons. And making a stab at cleaning the refrigerator so that I can stop thinking about it. Two shelves are emptied out onto the sink. I have A LOT of Asian condiments. I need to keep that in mind while I am menu planning as they should get used up.

I realize I threw out a tantalizing comment about being seen and then drifted away from it.

Many hours later.

Ah, well, the refrigerator cleaning project is not done, as there is cheese to sort. But there is a new organization, much is cleaned and thrown out, consumption prioritized. It did take me an entire bottle of white wine (but I drank it slowly over about five hours) and pad thai, but at least I will wake up with a different relationship to my refrigerator, and I can kind of move on to my next project: bathroom organization!

Before I go to bed, going to get some Sullivan Street bread started for tomorrow. And perhaps I will finish that thought about being seen.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

I-I-I-I ...

I'm reading a very interesting book, comme typique, entitled The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us by James W. Pennebaker who is a psychologist working at UT-Austin. (There are exercises and experiments you can do at the site. Hours of time wasting fun!) As also usual, I've had this one out of the library forever and am hastening to finish it and return it as there is a waiting list.

The use of I-words has tremendous social and psychological significance. By definition, it is an identity statement. Using I in conversation is announcing to your speaking companion that you are aware of yourself, that you are paying attention of yourself. There is a certain degree of vulnerability in doing this — especially if there is a chance that your companion is judging you or seeking to harm you in some way. I’ve often thought of the use of I as a subtle submissive gesture—much like the lower-status dog rolling over and baring his belly to the bigger, more dangerous dog. “Hey, I’m not a problem. I’m at your service. I’m not a threat.”

There have been several studies that suggest when people are forced to pay attention to themselves, they become more humble and honest. Robert Wicklund, who is now at the University of Bergen in Norway, pioneered a theory of self-awareness in the 1970’s. He and his colleagues devised dozens of imaginative studies where people would have to do some kind of task in one of two conditions—in front of a mirror or away from a mirror. If they completed a questionnaire in front of a mirror, they reported having lower self-esteem and generally less positive moods. More intriguing, their answers to questions tended to be more honest—their reports of their weight, grades, and behaviors tended to match objective measures of their true weight, grades, and behaviors. Also, completing questionnaires in front of a mirror caused people to use the word I more.

Why does self-attention make people more honest? Wicklund posited that paying attention to the self made people briefly ponder who they ideally wanted to be. Perhaps their lifelong dreams were to be strong, honest, beautiful, brave, and compassionate. Looking in the mirror made them realize that they had not attained these ideals. Ultimately, then, people would see the gulf between their ideal and real selves, which made them feel bad about themselves, but, at the same time, motivated them to try to be better people. Self-awareness, in Wicklund’s view, drives us all to be the people we’ve always wanted to be.

Indeed, most of us usually want to be honest with others and with ourselves. Self-attention provokes honesty. I-words simply reflect self-attention. Across the multiple studies, when we see the use of I-words increase, it is likely that self-attention is higher. And with self-attention, people tend to be more honest.

I'm not entirely sure why this struck me except that I wonder and worry about this blog. Self-attention, self-examination were the reasons to start and work at it, besides the goal of learning to have discipline and a "practice" ... or practices for life. (Can cleaning the kitchen every day be considered a "practice"? Or a habit? And the difference is ... ? Awareness? Purpose? 

Looking for work at this age and at this time in culture and history demand explication of self and purpose. I feel I have not been as aware of myself as I need to be in order to succeed more consistently. 

Today was not terrible, and moments were even enjoyable or positive. I feel neither joy nor positivity right now. I hope it is just that I am tired and it is the end of the day. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Dizzy's window.
Yeah. Past my bedtime and I did not get to a yoga practice today or this evening. However, getting to bed (dishes are done) is the priority.

Did I think or read today? I must have. You know, the usual sparring with myself, trying to keep up my confidence and energy. Trying to figure out where I fit in the world ... or even where I want to fit? I don't know. Someone told me recently that I really needed to get focused on what I want to do. Yeah? Ya think?

Kathleen and I were talking about my family and during the course of the chat I said that no one, not one of my brothers, did what they wanted to do in their lives and/or careers. As I might have said here before, the oldest one has the best job (from which he is retiring in a few months), the next one has had a job for a decade or two but doesn't like it and never really has, and well, you know about Carl. And you know about me.

I realized that I was always more concerned about what to do, and excited and enthused about things, than I ever really thought about how to make a living.

I know that this is a unfinished post, asking questions and bringing up topics that are not explored. I hope to continue these strains of mental music I have danced to, but not tonight.

Car wheels on a wet road. Somebody is going somewhere.

Sandals in the store windows already.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


So much for ADHD. For the past several hours, I have been focused on photographing and posting things on eBay. As this is only my second time trying to sell a bunch of things, I still have much to learn. And, as with so many new things, tasks take longer than one expects. (My seller name is Xosas.)

Emmylou GREATLY enjoyed the photography sessions when I moved them to the floor. I think being a still photographer for product shots must be some kind of hell. And while I am interested in lighting and light sources when I watch movies, for some reason I am not making any correlations that produce any kind of A-HA!

She did make me seriously crazy today.

Okay, well, we've been over that scenario before. I did some thought-provoking reading and I hope I get organized enough to share with y'all in a productive way.

A good portion of the day was spent in a bit of shock as a friend quite suddenly lost someone quite close. One of those step back and blink kind of WTF moments, and then just sadness and grieving.  I was not close to the person who passed along, though knew the person, but the shock and confusion for my friend is nearly beyond my mental comprehension, but not my emotional comprehension.

Plus, I had some kind of near-epiphany on my way to therapy. I was very much struggling with the day and my feelings when there was a pop.  And, as of now, I will just leave it as a tease as I am too tired to remember the substance, only the event. Hopefully, the epiphany will return as a way forward.

Monday, January 9, 2012


 We mount to heaven mostly on the ruins of our cherished schemes, finding our failures were successes. ”
— Amos Bronson Alcott

Let's just think about that. (I found the quote on the opening page of Forbes.com.) I am not even sure what that means. We achieve heaven (for purposes of argument here) by continuing to strive and once we are dead, we find out that we did better than we thought we had?

Bronson Alcott was kind of a famous failure, I always thought. Of course, not for want of trying. And his daughter left us with some good writing. 

Another day of struggle here in Park Slope. I am yet to be convinced that job hunting on the internet is any kind of improvement over anything. 'Tis quite frustrating and disheartening. And yet one must continue to figure it all out, as, from what I have been told, and that was at a job/career fair, the internet is where it all starts on the job front.

And, the mood can swing, and not in a great way, on a cool January day. At least the sun is shining. Figuring out how to put one foot in front of the other, how to move along, what step to take can be disheartening? confusing? overwhelming? insurmountable? Gotta get that demon negativity back in the cage. The persepctive here is not bright, but, once again, I haven't been outside today.

So, while the sun is still shining, and the temperature is still above/at 40 degrees, I will perambulate for a moment.

Much later and pre-yoga goodnight.

I slogged on. I didn't really take a proper walk until a little while ago. I came back from moving my car, made and ate too much pasta, and cleaned my silver jewelry in anticipation of selling it. Not all of it. I have too much jewelry and I am not wearing it, so I am not horribly sad to move it along. Someone else can love it. And I can love the cash.

Keeping my spirits up and my hope open today was a challenge, but again, I am not going to bed too frightened or miserable.

I have yet to complete parsing out the B. Alcott quote. Somehow it put me in mind of Shakespeare's Sonnet 119

What potions have I drunk of siren tears,
Distilled from limbecks foul as hell within,
Applying fears to hopes, and hopes to fears,
Still losing when I saw myself to win!
What wretched errors have my heart committed,
Whilst it hath thought itself so blessed never!
How have my eyes out of their spheres been fitted
In the distraction of this maddening fever!
O benefit of ill, now I find true
That better is by evil still made better;
And ruined love when it is built anew
Grows fairer than at first, more strong, far greater,
So I return rebuked to my content,
And gain by ills thrice more than I have spent.

Sunday, January 8, 2012


Ah, the waning hours of the weekend. I know it should not affect me one way or t'other, yet it does. I did not get all the things attended to that I wanted to. It's 6:11 and I have not been outside (will rectify that soon) nor done any yoga (still hope) nor posted anything new on eBay (but I can still do that Tuesday).

Where does the time go? I spent a good long time working on a post for MediaVixenRecommends (not quite finished, but substantially done). I made bread, and am working on a batch for John and Melinda, and ??? Some reading? Some dozing? Floating along with the day? Well, most of it is done now so no crying over spilt time and lost milk, right? Hmmm ... need I strive to be more efficient and productive? I want to not strive as much, as striving has the connotation of trying as opposed to producing or succeeding.

I have yet to complete my New Years' Resolution list ... and we are getting on into the New Year. Why not concepts instead of specifics? Things to be, well, in this case kind of, strived for? Big ideas to keep in mind ... okay, they don't have to be big.

I have been thinking. And thinking and philosophizing seem to garner more readers, as strange as that is to me. Needs be more writing. Mais pas ce soir.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


Supporting her shoulder with a sand bag.
Kids, it might just work out that the writing of yoga/yoga of writing deal works out. I've done a practice three or four times this year, which is 3 or 4 100% more than last year. And it's not forced. It feels natural, like the thing I want and need to do.

I kind of took off the day. I got up in time to do a little bit of moderating, drink some coffee, walk to the post office to mail the latest eBay sale, and then get on the subway to therapy. This all before 9 on a Saturday. Yes, it is true.

I rather lazed about the rest of the day, getting in some good napping. When I woke up, my first impulse was to get on the floor (with Ms. Emmylou) and do a couple of asanas, more restorative in nature. I worked on opening my shoulders and loosening up my neck. Ended with some cat/cow and a downward dog. My left knee has been plaguing me a bit, so I worked a bit on some knee opening and strengthening, too.

Necessary yoga props for home practice.

This evening, I picked my little check out of my mailbox and walked back down to the bank, so that I did get a good portion of walking in.

One of my friends, B, (the other B), takes a day of silence on a regular basis. I didn't quite do that today, but I was pretty quiet. And now to extend that quiet to some more happy sleep. I took some great photos today, but I am even too sleepy to post them now, so you'll just have to wait.

Friday, January 6, 2012


1:46 p.m.
I have cheddar crackers baking. I moved the car and somehow miraculously got a Tuesday spot just before the 11:30 Friday street cleaning. I even received automated responses to job possibilities. So ... some hallelujah?!

I am so fighting to stay out of bed. I so want to move into some sweet oblivion.

I woke up feeling fairly okay. I got a telephone call from an old and dear friend who is similarly afflicted with financial and absence of meaning issues. He started the round of how terrible the world is, how he worked in a homeless shelter just last night and how there were two highly educated, professional people, a lawyer and an accountant who had lost their apartments and had to go to a public shelter. And that I should light out for the California territory and the safety of my mother's abode.

And this has so depressed me, I am having a tough time shaking it or moving on to anything else. Like continuing a job hunt, or brainstorming, or even cleaning something that needs to be cleaned (and we all know there is always straightening up to done chez moi).

2:07 p.m.
Just finished the batch of crackers and mostly cleaned up the kitchen. Very difficult to process the disparate elements that are pushing (Not. Driving.) me to that more despairing place. It is warm enough to walk today, being a handsome 47 degrees. Though there is much roiling on the subject of being poor, I think I will stop writing and walk to the library instead of my usual driving.

Even. Though. I. Just. Want. To. Go. To. Bed.

I just want to note this for future reference: when you are talking to those less fortunate than you, whether it is that they have cancer, or are losing a job, or don't have one, or their brother just died, or their car was just stolen, do us (and maybe yourself) a favor: check to see if your remedies, suggestions, and comments are for your benefit or to benefit those with whom you are speaking.

11:19 p.m.
I am holding off on the rest of my "future reference" thoughts. The day kind of got better after I came back from the library. Plus, I took some good photos and that always cheers me up. I need to get to bed so that I can get up and do it all again. Ah-men.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


So, I am tired and ever-so-slightly red-wined after book group. It has been a long day and I am still processing and thinking about it. Iris had a response to the embarrassment/moral consciousness post:

Hmmm…To be capable of embarrassment is the beginning of moral consciousness. Honor grows from qualms.

I think what John Leonard may have been getting at is that when one experiences embarrassment, de facto one recognizes that some action one has taken has not yielded the social (or emotional) outcome intended.  Embarrassment is, therefore, a non-narcissistic experience.  The actor is paying attention to the social / emotional reaction to his action.  The actor is aware of and cares about what is outside himself. 

The state of embarrassment, in this context, creates a learning opportunity: the actor can reflect on what he did, how others responded, what he intended or would have preferred others’ response to be, and what he can do differently in the future.  Embarrassment assumes one cares about how one is perceived.

But moral consciousness?  The state of moral consciousness is also non-narcissistic, assumes that the actor is aware of the social / emotional world outside his own head, but I don’t see how, where, or why the development of moral consciousness would require embarrassment or necessarily result from embarrassment.  Like you, Sally Anne, perhaps I don’t understand what is meant by moral consciousness in this context.

And let’s not forget who said this – John Leonard was a critic, not a philosopher, and not necessarily a really insightful thinker.

I would have written all this as a comment on your blog but I still haven’t figured out how to do that successfully.

I am not entirely convinced, but willing to talk, about moral consciousness being non-narcissistic, but Iris' comments did help to clarify my thoughts. 

Meanwhile, Manuel had some thoughts on the Tao:

Not to get to deep into it but Taoism is something I've spent a fair amount of time over the years reading and pondering. So I say unto you, do not confuse non-action with no action. The difference is huge and one of the hardest to get at, but it is one of the main points that I grok from Taoism.  It's about not forcing and flowing, all the stuff you may remember from Aikido days.  Not thinking too much but just the right amount.  Now what is just the right amount?  Ah grasshopper?

I responded:

thanks! I will continue to ponder that ... is it a conundrum? Dichotomy? I knew that inaction did not seem the correct ... well ... action or response. At the very least, contemplation of action, non-action, inaction, force, and flow should help align the proper course of behavior/attitude ...


Correct non-action can allow the right next steps to percolate or present themselves.  I think alot of what you have been processing and workingout the last few months is just that.  But at some point you have to, (pick your metaphor)--take the first step/s, strike the blow, put the brush to paper, get 'er done.   Again, simple, but not easy.  Not to mention complexity and emotion raising their heads.  Not so easy to chop them off.