31 March 2010

30 March 2010

This is my life

I've been unhappy lately.  I've been unable to motivate, I wage a small war with depression and my ability to get out of bed in the morning, and I'm frustrated.  I often ask myself what I did wrong, replaying what-ifs in my head and wondering where things went wrong.  I can't quite put my finger on things, but I think what I suffer from is a lack of fulfillment.

Which surprises me and teaches me things about myself I never knew.

I've always prided myself in taking joy in the simple things in life.  I've never been someone who has let my job, my possessions, my friends, my looks, or my income define me.  Yet, here I am, one year and four months out of work, newly moved to California, financially insecure, unhealthier and fatter than I've been in a while, recovering from hip surgery.  Unhappy.  Unfulfilled.

Why do I feel this way?

Why am I so focused on the negatives when in reality, I am surrounded by family and friends that love me, that care for me, that are there for me?  When I have a safe place to live, and a functional car that takes me where I need to be?  When I have access to running water, heat, and healthy food?

I'm so caught up in acquiring my perception of happiness and success that I've failed to just live.  To truly experience.  Which was the reason I took 12 months from work, the reason I spent most of 2009 traveling, doing odd non-corporate jobs, volunteering, being a part of my community -- I wanted to experience life in a way that I hadn't before.  I want to be able to say that I lived my life.

Was I truly happy as a desk jockey that worked 50-80 hour weeks?  Was I truly happy living a life that started at 6am and didn't end until midnight?  Was I truly happy because I bought a $1,200 handbag?  Was I truly happy making six figures but paying $3,000 a month to live in a mouse-infested apartment building in a desirable neighborhood?

When I try to place myself in that life again, I remember that I wasn't.  That I hated that life too.

So, why is it that I'm trying to find that life again?  That the life I have now isn't ok?

JP, the world's best therapist, says that when we're faced with the unknown, we often revert back to the familiar even if it isn't good for us or hurts us.  That's why children of addicts marry one or become addicts themselves.  Perhaps in the face of the unknown and uncertain future, I wish I had my old life because I know it "works." I don't know whether my current life will succeed.  I don't have a map that tells me that I should do next.  I am just here.

I'm scared.  Which is why I've been wishing for something I walked away from. To truly experience life, I ought to embrace my fear.  Live in the moment.  Fill up on my experiences.  Even the hard ones.  Because struggles, personal frustrations, fear, uncertainty.  That's life too.

I am not my job or my ability to find a job.  I am not my income.  I am not the clothes I wear, the bags I carry or the places I shop.  I am not my busy schedule, my social calendar or the hours spent at the gym.  This is my life, and I'm exactly where I should be right now.

26 March 2010

F says, "Poor alligator, probably swimming around thinking 'Where the fuck am I? This don't look like Georgia.'"

Fresh water alligator found 20 miles out to sea swimming with whales
This is why animals love F so much.  Because she always knows exactly what they're thinking.

"You are disturbing me. I am picking mushrooms,"

Best fucking response to anything. Ever. If I were as smart as Perelman, I might have the balls to respond to someone that way.

Grigori Perelman, Reclusive Russian Math Genius, Refuses $1 Million Prize

As to why Perelman lives in a shithole, cares nothing about personal hygiene or creature comforts -- perhaps he's so freaking smart he's transcended all of that? The rest of us of average intelligence, we get caught up in chasing creature comforts. What else would occupy the empty expanse of space between our ears if we didn't have TV and video games?

16 March 2010

Does skin color really affect the way people tip?

This article seems to think so: http://www.thegrio.com/money/does-race-play-a-role-in-the-way-we-tip.php

Here's an excerpt:

Dr. William Michael Lynne, a full professor of consumer behavioral marketing at Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration has been examining the relationship between gratuities and race since the late-80s but due to what he saw as a politically sensitive topic, Dr. Lynne only recently began to discuss some of the implications attached to the subject. "It's a dirty secret in the industry that there is a wide spread perception that blacks don't tip well," says Lynne. Because of this perception, Lynne believes that African-Americans might often receive inferior service.
Beyond the perception however, Lynne who has conducted surveys in targeted areas of he U.S. as a well as telephone interviews across the nation, believes that at least some of the evidence from a compiled research paper titled, "Race Difference in Tipping", first published in 2006, supports the negative perception of blacks and tipping.
According to Lynne, one study from the paper concluded that among whites, blacks, Hispanics and Asians, blacks gave or claimed to give the lowest average tip. In another survey from the same report blacks were more than twice as likely as whites to leave a flat dollar amount instead of a gratuity reflecting a percentage of the bill. Part of Lynne's research also came from opinions and data collected from restaurant servers. (It is critical to note that Lynne's studies, at this point, did not take into account blacks or whites from other countries who may have adhere to different gratuity practices from abroad.)

12 March 2010

Maps versus humor

My obsession with all things diagrammatic and maplike is at war with my love of funny, witty and insightful observations.  I can't decide which will win out.  Check it:

Abstract City: My Way
Published: March 10, 2010
Getting there from here: one artist maps out the most accurate routes for all occasions.

11 March 2010

When I grow up...

I love the movie Ghostbusters. And, I think it was because of that movie that I've always wanted to live in a converted firehouse. While other girls were fantasizing about castles, Prince Charming and unicorns, I wanted to live in a firehouse when I grew up. An old school one with a pole through the floors. By the time other girls my age were hanging dream catchers over their beds, I was thinking about how cool it would be if I could convince all my close friends to live in this firehouse with me. We could convert each floor into an apartment or two, have a couple of dogs and cats, and use the ground floor (with its big red fire engine garage doors) as a workshop and garage. That way, I'd have the best of both worlds -- my friends when I wanted to see them, and my own place when I didn't. Naturally, I never actually lived in a firehouse. Neither did my friends.

Now that I'm older, I no longer fantasize about a firehouse full of friends. Lately, I've had a new thought as I've read about a slew of Napa and Sonoma vineyards under financial duress, and I've been fantasizing about a new future. Instead of a firehouse, it'd be awesome if my friends and I could pool together about $2M for couple of acres of vineyard (complete with farmhouse and barn) an hour or two outside San Francisco. It'd be enough acreage to make about 300 cases a year, which definitely wouldn't be enough to make a profit (unless we're talking about Screaming Eagle), but it might be enough for us to be hobby vintners and have a place to go get away, be outside, work the land and hang out. It'll never happen, but with Ghostbusters far behind me, it's nice to have such thoughts.

10 March 2010

Nice nuts

F has the utmost patience and understanding when it comes to animals. Animals gravitate towards her in an uncanny, come to jesus way. Remind me never to tell you about my embarrassing squirrel incident at Golden Gate Park -- Fran reacted to the same incident with poise and aplomb.

Recently, F told me about her new squirrel friend. She noticed that he spent a lot of time in her yard, so she left him a few seed on the patio. The next day, the seeds were gone, but the squirrel had left her a present. A peanut.

This is her next project: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1256202/The-squirrels-love-stuck-coconuts.html