Whistling noises

April 14, 2013 at 9:06 pm (Uncategorized)

Something is missing.

I’m not really sure what it is, to be completely honest. I simply have a feeling that there is a void.

It reminds me of this comic. Kind of.

I guess I’m just going to have to be alert–on the lookout, as it were. I’m not unhappy or in pain, or anything like that. Just a feeling that there’s something missing from my life. From me. It would be nice if I could put my finger on it, but easy answers elude me. I have some ideas, but nothing concrete.

Sometimes I wonder if it is not me, but rather the world as I wish it to be that is missing. A view I can see in my periphery but is consistently out of reach. That is a possibility, but it seems like this is more personal. I’m trying not to let it bother me, but rather to just live with it and accept it for the moment.

We’ll see what comes of it.

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Road Rage

April 13, 2013 at 2:50 pm (Uncategorized)

People get in cars, and they get angry. I’m not exactly sure why that is, but I think for most of us, it is an inescapable truth.

I’ve been driving a lot more lately with a job that requires a commute (only 15 minutes, but more than what I had been doing) and due to the fact that I sing twice a week in Portland. Throw in a trip in Portland again on a weekend (much of the time), and I’m driving a lot more than I had been living in Moscow. I don’t have a problem with it, but I am noticing that I get upset in the car more than I do generally in my life.

I am a fairly calm person most of the time, but in a vehicle I seem to get worked up a lot. Everyone around me is either going too fast or too slow, or is doing something stupid while driving (it feels like). It dawned on me that I don’t really like driving. I like trips–I could drive 6 or 8 hours in a day and not be perturbed by anything that happens–but commuting and to a lesser extent traveling around the greater Portland Metropolitan area forces me to spend blocks of time driving that I will never get back for other things. On one level it doesn’t bother me–it’s just the reality of living in a place where things are spread out. On another level it DOES bother me, though, and that’s what is so interesting.

It isn’t a conscious decision. I don’t think to myself “I hate driving” or “I’m wasting my life,” but I think that on some level inside of me it isn’t enjoyable. Earlier this week I left my house to run a couple errands and then went to the AT&T store to get a new phone since mine was on its last legs (tangent: say what you want about the Iphone but mine lasted for nearly 3 years before it stopped working well). So I’m driving along and this very VERY old woman is driving in front of me, doing about 15 in a 25 and then 20 in a 35. I feel myself getting angry–why do they let people that old drive? Doesn’t she know there are 6 or 7 cars behind her? Why me???

I then took a deep breath and thought to myself “Jordan, you’re heading to get a brand new Iphone, and you can’t wait 10 extra minutes driving behind this old lady? How entitled is that? What if she’s driving to her grandchild’s birthday party, and she doesn’t usually drive because she’s terrible at it, but she couldn’t get a ride? But by God, she told little Timmy or Susie that she would be there and this is the highlight of her month. Imagine if she slammed on the brakes and caused a fender bender (yes we’re going way to slow for that but think about it) and she explained to you her whole situation. Would you care that she was driving slowly and you had to take a little more time? No, you would feel empathy for her and tell her that it’s ok. So, if you are willing to be forgiving under those circumstances, why can’t you just be forgiving now?”

All of those thoughts went through my head, and I felt better about things. It’s very easy to not think about that, though. Later, as I was stuck in Blazer game traffic as I headed to choir, I was stuck behind a blood bus and all I could think about was the time I attempted to give blood my senior year of high school and they wouldn’t let me. To add a little more insult they gave me a “I tried” sticker which although admittedly hilarious might make some people sad/self conscious. I suppose they wouldn’t have to wear it.

Anyway, road rage. I think that it’s easy to get upset while driving, but that anger generally comes from a lack of perspective (as does most anger). Sometimes it’s important to take a deep breath and remember that 5 minutes will not be the end of the world. Much of the world moves far too fast, I think. I’m not talking about being late on purpose or being lazy, but much of the time we artificially cause ourselves stress by imposing deadlines where they aren’t needed. More stress makes people less productive, and vise versa. I have enough things to stress me out without adding cars to the list.

So remember next time you’re driving–it will all be ok.

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9-5

April 9, 2013 at 9:32 pm (Uncategorized)

I don’t write about work very often, because it’s not particularly exciting to write about and also because a decent enough portion of my job is probably better just kept there. With that being said, I’m going to write a little bit about work.

Today I was asked if I had much experience with PowerPoint. I just looked at them and thought about that scene in “The Dark Knight Rises” where Batman and Bane fight in the sewers. The scene for those who don’t know: “[After Batman has killed the lights] Oh, you think darkness is your ally, but you merely adopted the dark. I was born in it, molded by it. I didn’t see the light until I was already a man. By then, it was nothing to me but blinding! [Batman attacks Bane but is easily overcome] The shadows betray you, because they belong to me!”

Replace the dark with PowerPoint and that was my reaction. I’ve been using PowerPoint since I learned how to use computers. In fact, I am fairly certain there is a large segment of people in my age bracket who are incapable of doing anything on a computer other than Word documents and PowerPoint slides.

I also discovered today that someone I went to high school with works at city hall. He’s not someone I ever particularly cared for, and he was one of those people I had more or less forgotten existed. I wasn’t sure if I was him, in fact, when I saw him, but he turned around and said hey and we made small talk for a bit. He thought I was named Andrew, which is somewhat funny because I totally saw an Andrew that I went to high school with at PDX a couple weeks ago. I was glad to see him, though–he always struck me as a good guy. This individual, by contrast, was probably confused because that Andrew and I both had glasses (if that’s who he was thinking of like I thought).

So yes, it’s a small world. In any case, as we were making small talk and asking about what the other had been up to the previous 5 years there were some comments made about how I had become a paper pusher, and he (who worked in tv for the city) was somehow better for doing a more “artistic” job. I was definitely put off by it–listen, I don’t care what people do and if you’re pursuing film, theatre, music, whatever, I commend you. However, I definitely don’t enjoy people making snide remarks about my career choices. I guess the point of this story is that if you want to make high school acquaintances immediately dislike you, insinuate that you’re better than them. I immediately remembered why I didn’t care for this person before. Fortunately I don’t think I’ll see him around much.

On a happier note, as part of my job I get a firsthand look at all the really awesome events that are happening in Vancouver. I had no idea before starting that there are 4 or 5 beerfests this summer, a pair of winefests, and several opportunities with large selections of microbrews on top of that. I’m not a beer geek by any measure, but I do like to enjoy a quality beer now and then, and there are MANY opportunities to do that in Vancouver.

So when Michael, Sara, Avery, and I are all living together (which I am unreasonably excited for) this next year I’ll drag them to a whole bunch of events. It’s going to be a party.

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Bad Poetry 2

April 8, 2013 at 10:20 pm (Uncategorized)

Always smiling–that laugh that sent the rest to the background.

The open eyes and electric voice.

The robot who was human.

The eyes like the sky.

The cackling electricity–magnetic and pulling at every fiber in me. That pulls me still.

 

Many things fade, but some things do not.

I am a quilt, made of patches.

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Bad Poetry

April 8, 2013 at 10:07 pm (Uncategorized)

Looking down at the world through half working eyes,

That cannot see five feet in front of me; nor the future.

I can fix the vision, but not the uncertainty. I look, think, and do not know.

Outside my window is blackness. It doesn’t judge, it simply is.

 

I am bad at poems, but the words do not judge me. They sit.

I too sit–here on my bed, writing words, failing to express.

I wonder why it is I speak so well but say so little.

 

I like poems that rhyme, but in the end,

they are just word games. They aren’t saying anything…they’re just another distraction.

I am happy and sad all at once. The words fill me.

I think to myself that perhaps bad writing is better than no writing.

Any good writing I have ever done has come out of bad writing–this I know.

Is this the bad before the good?

 

More likely, it just is what it will be. An untalented poet in a mill town, in the dark.

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Sunday Night

April 7, 2013 at 10:17 pm (Uncategorized)

My playlist for the night: Au Revoir Simone, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, Missy Higgins, and Justin Timberlake. It’s got me in a pleasant (albeit weird mood). I’m also in that place where I’m tired and want to go to sleep, but my body isn’t ready to. Unfortunate when you have to drive your sister to school at 6:30am, but worst case scenario I can take a brief nap tomorrow afternoon after work. More likely I’ll just power through. Sleep is overrated anyway, right? …Right. I could get really tired soon and still get like 7 hours of sleep, so let’s just plan on that.

I’m not really in a place where I want to write a whole bunch, so here are just some quick hits:

  • Is there anything better than a book or movie that makes you cry at the end? Love the ability to get that invested in something.
  • Unrelated, but every child (and adult) should read “The Phantom Tollbooth.”
  • Semi-related, everyone should read “The Brothers K.”
  • Being in a book club is great for hanging out and drinking, but a nice side benefit is that I force myself to read more.
  • Appreciate the gifts life and people give you every day.
  • Honesty is the best policy, even when it can be difficult.
  • Fake it ’till you make it.
  • Having two concerts in one day can be somewhat annoying in terms of taking up your entire Sunday, but it is 100% worth it. I never get done with a bunch of singing and think to myself “I should have been doing something else.”

Maybe that’s an argument that I should have committed myself to music in a more formal sort of way–but I think that as long as I’m giving myself opportunities and stretching myself things should be OK. Lord knows it’s a process that I have a looooong way to work on before I can consider myself proficient at all. Fortunately I seem to have a knack for surrounding myself with talented and giving people. Never can hurt.

 

 

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Coulds, Shoulds, and Woods

April 5, 2013 at 8:12 pm (Uncategorized)

The Coulds:

My life could go in many different directions. My job situation for the near future is up in the air at the moment, and I am looking for some stability. I could work for 5 years before going into grad school, or I could head in as soon as the fall of 2014. I COULD do many things. I could fall in love, I could move across the country, I could find a job that I absolutely love. I could make a CD, I could make any of a million choices.

The coulds are the myriad options I have in front of me–the complexity and uncertainly of life.

The Shoulds:

If could is a possibility, should is a value judgement. It’s a way of making some sense of the confusion of life. The shoulds are actually what got me thinking about this topic as an idea for a blog post. I was sick a while back and I decided to go to choir rehearsal but not to sing. For me, that is a very difficult thing to try to do–I was raised in an environment where you push through difficulties. Sometimes, though, that isn’t appropriate–just because you could do things one way doesn’t always mean you should. That’s what makes should difficult–could is dreams, it’s endless possibility. Should is the decision you make (or don’t make), but either way it is immediately prior to the action, whatever it may be. So I decided not to sing even though I could (though at a poor level), because it was better to rest my voice and drink tea. I know people on both sides of the “should” spectrum–there are those who I feel sometimes need to take a break and not drive themselves to the bone, and then there are those who I feel should push themselves more.

Like very nearly everything in life, I think it comes down to balance. Balance, and the ability to be kind to yourself. A lot of the time you don’t realize the “should” until it’s clear in hindsight–and even then it’s not always clear, because your life is the result of the choices you’ve made already. I’m not always good at that, the being kind to myself. I have high expectations for me, and I often realize that I’m not doing myself any favors by not showing myself that inner kindness. Then, I get angry at myself for not being kind to me! How silly is that? Finding that inner love and peace is often harder for me than loving and being kind to others. I shouldn’t hold myself to a different standard (after all, I’m human too), but it can be hard not to. It’s something I’m working on.

Life comes down to decisions, and decisions come down to making judgement calls about what you should do in any given moment. I would advocate being nicer to yourself–life is complex, the coulds are many, and it’s not always clear which path is best. You can get lost. Where, you ask?

The Woods:

I really like the woods–as both a location and a concept. I don’t get out hiking and camping as much as I should, but living in the northwest we are blessed with an abundance of nature to lose ourselves in, to become “part and parcel” of, as Emerson might say. I also like the idea of the woods as a reflection of the calm and quiet of a peaceful mind. Just trees, logs, moss, nature. When your mind is quiet, it’s easier to reflect on the shoulds. Our minds are often noisy, raucous places (I know my mind is) so those moments of peace are nice. It’s the same way with life in general. My life can be the same–we feel like we have to “go” all the time. There was a good NY Times article making the rounds recently that speaks to a similar idea. Sometimes you have to turn off the brain and just be. Nature is good for that, because it simply is. It doesn’t have expectations, it doesn’t rush you. It has been there forever and will be there long after we’re gone–even as we try to destroy it. Much like our minds, our world is built on the calmness. You can get rid of most of it, or all of it, but in the end you just harm yourself, you die, and the calmness returns. Death is about as calm and quiet as you can get (though the woods teach us how to be quietly, wonderfully alive!).

 

If I were a better writer, or my thoughts were more organized I would tell you how this all fits together–I would wrap up everything in a concise way, and you would realize something you didn’t before. Unfortunately, life is confusing for me right now. Things are not clear. There are so many coulds, and as for the shoulds–well, I’m lost in the woods.

 

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.” -Robert Frost

 

“In some mysterious way woods have never seemed to me to be static things. In physical terms, I move through them; yet in metaphysical ones, they seem to move through me.” –John Fowles

 

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Alleluia

April 4, 2013 at 5:28 pm (Uncategorized)

We’re singing this piece by Eric Whitacre called “Alleluia” in choir, and it really speaks to me. I don’t always love choral music (it doesn’t always speak to me even when I appreciate its value/goodness/what have you) but this song just takes me to church. If a song takes you to church (in my mind) the phrase means that a song makes you feel like you ideally would at church–both in connection and wonder with your universe and possible creator, with all of the infinite mysteries of life. The song quiets and expands your mind.

Alleluia does that for me. I highly recommend that you check it out.

 

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Jerbs jerbs jerbs

April 3, 2013 at 3:44 pm (Uncategorized)

So, if I have a part time job, I had an interview for another part time job today, and then a third interview for ANOTHER part time job on Friday, does that mean at some point I could theoretically fuse them all together power rangers/horadric cube/monkey bread style?

If that is the case, I probably would immediately pull it apart again if it were like monkey bread, so let’s scratch that idea. At least I have options–and potential things. Everybody wants to know if you’ll be willing to have your job for a while, though (because only working part time is not so great when you need to save up money to move out/go to grad school/live generally). I will tell them yes, and if I can have a couple jobs at once then I will of course stick with them for however long I can make that work.

One of the nice things about working in the nonprofit sector is that people are generally doing it to help other people, so MOST of the time people are pretty nice and willing to be flexible as much as they can be. Which is awesome when you’re looking for second/third jobs, have to take your sister to her zero period choir, your mom to the airport, or get time off to go up to Moscow or Selah or what have you now and again.

Also, I will take a stampede of part time jobs over the unemployment that plagued me for several months any day. Worst case scenario I work a couple jobs for a year and a half and then head back into grad school–best case scenario I parlay them into an AWESOME full time job and then grad school it up in 3ish years, or maybe I’ll love what I’m doing so much that I won’t go back.

I’m kind of torn about the whole grad school thing, because on the one hand I love public policy and it would be rewarding/challenging/fun/inspiring/intellectually stimulating to work in that field. On the other hand, I don’t really want to accumulate a bunch of student debt, and I sometimes wonder if I’m better served by staying flexible for a while. I guess what I’m saying is that I still have a plan (or the plan, you might say) my plans remain as flexible as ever and branch out in many directions the farther out you go. Of course, I could also fail to land either of the jobs from this week and then I’d be right back where I began.

I also really want to audition for Les Miserables this summer in Vancouver, but they won’t post anything other than that the auditions are June 8th and 9th. What do I need to prepare? When are rehearsals? When are the performance dates?!? Well, the performance will be “In August” but that doesn’t help because one of the part time jobs is coordinating volunteers for an event in August, and if that falls on the same day as a performance I’m essentially screwed.

Deep breath. Uncertainty is ok…there is time to figure these things out. So, there’s an update of life. Trying to be better about consistency with my writing. 3 times a week, at least.

Deep breath. Uncertainty is ok…

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Belonging

April 1, 2013 at 4:57 pm (Uncategorized)

So, I read an interesting post on Slate today about getting married young. Here it is if you’d like to check it out: http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2013/04/i_married_young_what_are_the_rest_of_you_waiting_for.single.html

I myself am neither pro nor anti getting married young, but it does speak to a culture that wants us to pick sides in so many conflicts that aren’t really conflicts. We should just be getting married (or not) whenever it’s right for US. I’m not on a timetable, I want to get married when I meet someone worth marrying. Whether that’s in a year or 20 is largely irrelevant. I think it’s high time that we stop expecting people to be something and just let them be themselves. I know that’s easier said than done, but it’s worth moving towards.

I think at the end of the day arguments like this speak to our basic need to belong–to groups, to a society, to a religion–we want to be valued and recognized. I know I constantly long to be accepted and loved–it’s why we get excited when we see facebook invitations, why people like to be invited to go out even when both parties know that the invitee has a conflict, and why random compliments can make your entire day brighter (inversely, one negative comment can weigh longer than it should).

I think a lot about this topic every time I’m in Moscow for several reasons. First is that the town and university and just generally incredibly welcoming. That attitude rubs off on most people. Add in the fact that many of my best friends live in a very small geographic region (read: Moscow) and I never feel quite so valued as when I’m up there visiting.

I think we should make an effort to make the people in our life know their value…it really doesn’t take much. A smile, or a kind word. We all want to feel a part of something, and at the end of the day we are all tied through our shared humanity. Maybe we can all grow together, as part of something larger than ourselves. If/When I get married someday, I will share life with that person, and we will be each others’ belonging. For today though (and always–because it’s fun to spread the joy) I see no reason why I can’t try to give others in my life a reason to feel good about themselves.

 

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