Wednesday, March 30, 2011

NYC Scenes

The large rose sculptures on Park Avenue don't really do it for me - but do I love the ladybugs:

At Virgil's BBQ, I had a pulled pork sandwich - yum!! We were going to get the trainwreck french fries, but someone chickened out.

Luckily my friends know all about Original Sin:

My friend Joel is mad about musical improv. He won a spot on one of the house "teams" - which means he gets to perform for free now (instead of paying for classes), and we have to pay $5 to see him. Hmmm. This is a picture of his team, Tambourine, up against one of their rivals, BEES:

As you can see, they were transformed into zombies at that point (except for the girl with the crossed arms; she had three heads instead).

Later, Joel and his teammates were singing very earnestly about their survival:

On the way to dinner at the Brick Lane Curry House, I saw this building. It's just so cool from this angle because it looks like someone carved a lower-case "t" into the facade:


The midweek worship service was really uplifting, glad I went. It's really the music that grabs me. Love those contemporary worship songs, and it was great to see so many friendly faces. Just what I needed. It's already been a long week.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Weekend Philosophy

I feel completely wiped out today - physically and emotionally. But in a good way.

It was a long week at work, or at least it felt long. Maybe it's the whole why-am-I-wide-awake-at-3-am thing, which seems to have been striking at me for the last 4 or 5 days.

Friday, I went with a friend to see The Comedy of Errors at BAM. It was an all-male cast, and a modern, campy production. The female characters were very much men in drag. There was a sort of greek chorus or background crowd decked out in sombreros, which made kabuki-style sound effects (e.g., thuds for the ostentatiously fake punches and kicks to the poor Dromeos) and other random noises (they played a xylophone note any time a character said the word "chain" - one of the more annoying choices). The sombrero chorus sang 80's songs during intermission (including Madonna's "Material Girl" and a medley of Eurythmics songs). The show was zany and funny, and I enjoyed it. Mostly. Unfortunately, it went on just a little too long. I got tired of all the hijinks about 10-20 minutes before the end. My friend kindly waited for the subway with me afterward, although I was getting a bit spacey by then.

Saturday afternoon, I saw the simulcast of Lucia di Lammermoor at a local cinema. It was really good, and I think it was a little bit different from the production I saw in 2006. Then in the evening I had plans to go with a friend for Indian food. She had suggested I could invite other people, so on impulse I texted Y and Z about it. Y said he was out of town but would call later, and Z said in essence maybe but is it OK if I bring my partner? My responses were Sure, and Of course! It turned out that both Y and Z could make it ... and a few more folks ... and ultimately, our dinner for 2 turned into dinner for 7.

It was a really fun time. Z and I have known each other for 10 years, and we used to be very close friends. But much less so in the last 5 years. In fact, I don't think I saw Z at all in 2009 or 2010. Although there was a lot to catch up on, it was as if we were able to pick up where we left off; we are still in tune with each other's way of thinking and sense of humor and are just very comfortable with each other. What was really special for me was that I got to meet Z's partner. This was just HUGE for me. I was so thrilled to learn that he has found someone and they are making a life together. Partly it is just that I am happy to know and see that Z is happy; his partner seems very nice (and looks very much like what I expected). And partly it is because they are together openly. In other words, Z's friends and family know now -- so I no longer have to be a keeper of his secret. Z showed me their place (which I last saw when it was just a twinkle in Z's eye) and we played a few hands of poker (Z won, of course). Z kindly drove me home afterward, and I told him that I was really thrilled for him that he'd found a good match. He told me that he'd wanted me to meet his partner before, but he was worried that I might be hurt. Sweet, misguided Z - undoubtedly there are ways I could still be hurt, but never by seeing you be true to yourself, and never by seeing you filled with joy, love, and happiness.

Today, I was at church from 9 am until 2 pm. This just turned out to be really stressful. I knew going into it that we had four officers who would be AWOL. (One of those officers had dutifully lined up a replacement - but the replacement was AWOL.) Then for a while it looked like we were down two more officers. They both ultimately made it, but there was plenty of scrambling around. In the meantime, V was back to the usual program of trying to minimize any risk of making eye contact with me. (I was going to try to say something friendly to V that might help bridge the gap, but I didn't have the courage to do this amidst all the other issues I had to deal with.) Once the worship services were over, I saw Emi and caught up with her a bit - that was wonderful. And then I stopped in to see how things were going with the clothing drive. I thought I would just look in and verify there was nothing for me to do. But there was. I spent almost 2 hours sorting, bagging, and labeling.

After all that, I went to Borders to see if there were any deals of the century. There weren't - the things I was interested in were only 30% off. So I wasn't tempted. I kept walking uptown and went into the Container Store. I found two new styles of boot trees. I got one of each.

On the subway home, I was tired from all the standing and walking in high heeled boots (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and I was hungry as well. When I sat down on the train, I saw a woman with her arms around three of her five small children, who were all leaning into her and sleeping. It was really sweet, and I smiled briefly at her.

But then after a few minutes I was suddenly overwhelmed with self-pity. It struck seemingly out of nowhere - although I know that hunger and fatigue make me much more emotional. It was like a prism reflecting rays from seeing V, E, and Z within a short period of time. And one of the things that made me sad was a particular thought that flashed through my mind and got stuck there. I need to find a good way to defuse thoughts of this type - they serve no useful purpose.

Other than getting the food and rest that I need, there are a few ways for me to defuse unwelcome thoughts.
  • One way is to keep my iPod with me so I can listen to a newscast in French or a story that will absorb and distract me, crowding out the unwelcome thoughts. (Music alone doesn't necessarily have the power to do this - sometimes yes, but often it will just interweave itself with whatever is already in my brain.)
  • Another is to do the Work (i.e., Byron Katie's method in which you relentlessly ask yourself about each painful thought: Is it true? Can I absolutely know that it's true? How do I feel and react when I believe this thought? Who would I be without the thought?).
  • Another is to go get some exercise. (Not always practical in the specific moment, but it has to be a priority in my life, in general.)
  • And yet another is to focus on a time when I was really in tune with my life, living fully in the moment without the constant internal commentary.
One example of the fourth method is from my last day in Florida this year. Usually, the last day is largely spoiled by knowledge that the idyll is about to end -- and ironically I can't even enjoy the things I'm about to miss because I already vividly imagine how much I will miss them. This year, it was very different. I was planning to go rollerblading one last time that morning, but realized that if I did, some sorrow of parting would come welling up from deep inside me. So instead, while my brother and his family went biking to the lighthouse, I walked to the store and picked up some supplies they would need for the remainder of their stay. This did much to clear my mind. After they got back, I realized it was cloudy and it might possibly rain. So I went out to the beach and started picking up the pile of little plastic toys my nieces had left on the beach. I noticed, in the process, that I was completely at peace. There was absolutely no inner dialogue. And then my nieces came out to help -- I'm about 99% sure their mom sent them down, but they were as cheerful and helpful as if it had been their own idea. And it gave me such joy to give them small handfuls and bucketfuls of the toys, until the pile was gone, and then pick up any pieces I saw remaining in the sand thereafter. Life had become very, very simple.

Byron Katie actually describes this phenomenon in her book, Loving What Is. It's so incredibly powerful to live in the moment, to do only the task that presents itself without worrying about whether there might be other tasks in the future, or other priorities. Without the would have, should have, could have. Or the must, should or ought.

It's kind of a zen philosophy, I think, and it reminds me of lines from two movies:
"Simply do, or do not. There is no try." -- Yoda (from The Empire Strikes Back).
"Someone is either a smoker or a nonsmoker. There's no in-between. The trick is to find out which one you are, and be that..." -- Cozy Carlisle (from Dead Again).

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


My heart goes out to you. Every time I think perhaps the worst has passed, there are new images, new videos, new developments, new details.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


When it comes to relationships, I'm not so good at getting into them. I've noticed that the more I like a guy, the more likely I am to be standoffish and awkward around him. It's a bad habit fed by some unhelpful thoughts that are cluttering up my world view.

But to my surprise, I've come to realize that, once I'm in a relationship, my instincts are amazingly good. It's as if I automatically know what to do and say (or not do and not say) to give the relationship a full and fair chance -- or at least the chance it deserves based on the quality of the guy and the quality of his affection. And in my more serious relationships, I've noticed that my heart knows -- long before my brain catches up -- when I need to move on.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Quote of the Day (NYT)

"These Earth people love coffee and little brightly colored, high-tech coffee makers, but perhaps they all live alone, for they seem obsessed with something called 'single-serve units.' ... They are determined to cut back on waste, no matter how many new products they have to buy to do that."

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Preston Sturges

I just read the autobiography of Preston Sturges (edited by his 4th wife and with an introduction by his 2nd son). It really reminds me of Roald Dahl's autobiography, Going Solo (though Dahl had the chance to polish and present it exactly as he wished).

Both men were fundamentally opportunists, I suppose, who took their chances wherever they found them - in work and in romance. Thus a similar worldview and sensibility, leavened with a cynical, dry humor, I suppose.

To me, they also both lived in similar (even overlapping) eras, although Dahl was born 18 years later than Sturges and lived considerably longer. Coincidentally, both learned to fly for their country's air force - Sturges for WWI, though he was never deployed because his training was completed after the war; Dahl for WWII.

What I found surprising in the Sturges book was his repeated, bitter comments about the IRS. As he tells it, he gained and lost some fortunes and potential fortunes in his time -- but he also was present for the inauguration of the income tax, and has some fairly mordant comments about the institution... including the maneuver that essentially deputized employers into tax collectors.

Writing before MPAA rating system (which seems to have been instituted in 1968), Sturges also commented that parents should not confuse movie theaters with ice-cream parlors. Instead, he suggested that parents could easily find out the subject matter of a movie before permitting their children to see it. What a concept! Alas, I don't think this kind of hands-on parenting (closely monitoring what the children watch or even - shudder - actually watching with them to ensure that material is suitable and/or suitably curated) will ever catch on. Nope. So much easier to drop them off at the movie theater or plop them in front of the TV so one can attend to far more important things.


R is on my mind.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Let Your Light Shine

Gilmore Sloan bedroom:

A view of the balustrades on the balcony:

Butterflies in winter:

A bench for meditation:

The death of Lent = Easter?

The Call:

Lights shine in the brightness, and the brightness has not overcome them:

Is this love?

Thursday, March 03, 2011

The Puzzle

Beach Day Morning

The day started bright and clear, albeit with a really cool cloud pattern to adorn the sky:

A pelican takes flight:

Our shadows are the same height:

A stegosaurus sleeps:

A whole flock of rays swim in the shallow water:

Fog set in as the morning wore on, and then this pale arc appeared, like a washed-out rainbow:

There were mighty ambitions for this basin - it was to capture the tide, and maybe a ray or two:

Beach Day Afternoon

Dragon sand sculpture:

Mermaid head:

A rafting adventure: