Half & Half

August 25, 2013 at 9:56 pm (Uncategorized)

“Half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can’t, and the other half who have nothing to say and keep on saying it.” -Robert Frost 

 

I don’t really agree with Frost here, but as far as generalizations go I would argue that it is more accurate than not. There is something to be said for right speech and trying not to say things that aren’t worth saying.

[I just want to interject for a moment that I am listening to Katy Perry’s “Peacock” and I could write a blog post devoted to that song. In fact, I may at a later date. Ridiculous. Anyway.]

I find that at times I am capable of speaking quite eloquently and others I am a stuttering idiot (there’s probably a technical matrix involving knowledge of subject/proximity to attractive females/amount of alcohol consumed/etc), but it’s not always clear to me why I am in one mode or the other. It does often seem that we can speak at length about asinine things, but when it comes time to say what’s really meaningful the words get stuck in our throats.

I know that I am guilty of composing lengthy monologues in my head and then turning to someone and just nodding or saying nothing at all. I do tend to feel at times that restraint and seeing how things play out can be a better choice than letting loose everything I’m thinking. More and more I am coming to the realization that I’m more of a listener than a talker, even though I feel quite comfortable talking a lot. 

For a long time I took that comfort as a sign that I SHOULD talk a lot, should lead conversations, should give my unsolicited opinion about the topic at hand. I’ve come to find that I feel much better just listening, though. I am capable of interjecting when it’s important, but most of the time, it’s really not that important. Words are important, and to waste them can be problematic. 

I find that when I want to just ramble about something I can just write. I write in this blog, for myself, and compose little pieces of things all the time. It lets me form my thoughts, figure out who I am, and try to make sense of the world. 

I also like to share myself with the world, and writing in a public setting allows me to do so without forcing myself on people. If you want to read all this you can, and if you don’t then you won’t click on it. It’s a dynamic I find appealing. 

 

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Writing Sample

August 25, 2013 at 9:41 pm (Uncategorized)

Applying for a super cool job, and they’re asking for a writing sample. That’s simple–I’m a good writer, and I write ALL the time! Then I look through my collection of blog posts (personal, inappropriate), press releases (boring, uninspiring), and assorted papers (written years ago/no one wants to read about populism in the early 1900s). 

Balls.

I’ll probably just go with a press release (it’ll show I’m not inept, at the least), but it’s a good reminder to those of you looking for jobs. If you write something, keep a copy! It might come in handy. Especially if it’s like a page long and more than just canned statements. Oh well.

For the moment writing seems preferable to applications, so this is where I’ll be. 

Life is changing. In good ways, mostly. I feel like I’m finally starting to assemble a consistent friend group, which has been the big missing piece since I’ve been back. It’s a bit of the old, a bit of the new, and a whole bunch of awesome. I have met some truly wonderful human persons, and I hope they feel at least somewhat similarly towards me. 

On a semi-related note, I find that at times I have difficulty figuring out what exactly what it is I want. Not in the broad strokes (friendship, company, fulfillment job-wise, laughter, being challenged) but in individual cases. How often can I ask to hang out before it becomes weird? I am the kind of person who is not bothered by rejection, but there’s a line of politeness that occurs between “I’m busy” and “I just really would rather not spend time with you.” I don’t think I am too bad at making the distinction (for the most part) but I do know that I have my moments of obliviousness. It’s a judgement call, but I do worry about being wrong. 

I think a lot of that stems from the fact that I understand how other people can desire “me” time but unless I’m reading there is pretty much no situation where I wouldn’t be perfectly happy always being around other people. That probably makes me an outlier, but here I am. Can’t be anyone but me.

Also, relationships. I have met some really wonderful people (as mentioned before), and we’re all so wonderfully complicated that I don’t always know how to proceed. I’m navigating this post-my-last-relationship landscape and the events of 2013 in general, and if I’m being honest my decisiveness has waned to a large degree with regards to women. 

All you can do is take things one day, one moment at a time and play it by ear. 

I think the biggest mistake that people make with relationships is trying to force things. We want to put easy labels out there, we want to imagine what the END of the relationship will look like as opposed to just enjoying today with someone you think is great. I also feel that at this point in my life what I want/need is more friends, and making things messier with relationships is perhaps not the best course of action.

Part of me also loves the messiness. I wear my heart on my sleeve, I feel what I feel, and occasionally I can be brave and just let things happen. The Jordan I like best is a person who takes risks (calculated), loves everyone, reserves judgement, and radiates compassion to the best of his ability. 

This is somewhat vague, which is part of the problem with writing a public blog and trying to figure out the line of what is worth/appropriate to share and what isn’t. Changes in my life are here and more are on the horizon. I’m getting more OK with that.

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Naked as we came

August 4, 2013 at 10:04 pm (Uncategorized)

 

Decided to use a random quote generator and do a free write:

“Words ought to be a little wild for they are the assaults of thought on the unthinking.” 

 -John Maynard Keynes

 

John. Maynard. Keynes. Interesting that this is the  quote, because in addition to being (generally speaking) a believer in Keynesian economic theory, what a wonderful little sentence this is. I have written before of my love of words and the English language, but this is something that cuts to the core of me.

Words are magical things; the appropriate one at the appropriate time can perfectly symbolize otherwise abstract moments or thoughts. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but the perfect word can be more than a picture. It can be an image, an emotion, a descriptor that conveys the essence of humanity. Which I think is super cool.

One of the things I love about English is that it IS wild. It ebbs and flows, it steals from everyone else, it is constantly evolving. As humanity changes and grows so does our language, and while I can only speak for English (and mediocre Spanish) I know exactly how true it is that words can be tiny cannons fired at the the battlements of ignorance and the “unthinking.”

One of my favorite novels of all time is “The Phantom Tollbooth.” I read it over and over as a kid, and though a children’s novel it holds up well. There is a moment where all of the sound has been stashed away in a castle, but the protagonist Milo catches a single word on the tip of his tongue when he’s visiting said castle. He places the word (a stifled “but” if memory serves) in a cannon, and when they fire it the walls come crashing down and all the sounds of the world are released again.

In such a way the right word at the right time can have large repercussions. I do my best to use the best words I can at the right times–it’s an inexact science but something that I think is valuable.

I was involved in a conversation in book club today where we talked about how radio waves never really die. They get diluted, but when you say something or play something it travels on into infinity. In that way, we are all in some sense immortal. To me that underscores the notion that what we say is important, that we should treasure our words, and not speak simply to speak but when we have something to say. I am all about the examined life, and examining our speech is a good place to begin.

 

 

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Symbolism

August 2, 2013 at 10:17 am (Uncategorized)

What’s a god to a nonbeliever/who don’t believe in anything?

 

I have a pretty standard 2.8 mile route I run, where I turn back up the hill at the boat dock to complete the loop home. Today I got to the boat dock and was walking up the hill, and I decided to turn right instead and keep going on the trail.

I was in a terrible mood last night and I just needed to run it all out of me. I needed to kickstart something in me, fix the lethargy that I have been feeling. I’m at a point where I sometimes feel stuck in neutral. A lot of things are beyond my control, but I can keep running.

I’m not very fast or good at it, but I kept moving. I thought of all the things I COULD control in my life, of what I know I am capable of being.

I thought about dismantling the patriarchy, of loving the people I meet, of doing nice things for strangers. I threw all of the things I want to fix in this world into one big pile and I lit them on fire until my inner light blazed out of my eyes and ears and mouth.

Today, I turned right, and I ran an extra mile and a half. Today, I reignited something. Today I rededicated myself to the things and ideas and people I believe in.

I’m sure there will be stumbles, but there will be more days like today as well. 

Onward and upward.

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Weekends, Weddings, and Wondering pt 2

August 1, 2013 at 8:46 am (Uncategorized)

I ran out of steam last night, but I’m ready for another crack at writing this morning. We’ll see how it goes as I have to head to work in about 45 minutes.

 

4. Levels of Music

I used to be pretty rigid in my musical tastes, at least outwardly. I didn’t like rap or country, and I was certain that I knew best. Getting to college shattered a lot of those beliefs simply because I came to realize that a) I had hardly been exposed to any music growing up outside a narrow band of what my parents listened to and what was popular and b) I started to realize that my preconceived notions of what I liked were just like that kid who says he doesn’t like vegetables but hasn’t tried them.

Sure, I have certain musical tastes that predispose me to like a given song, but I have come to find that I can see the merit in most things (which we’ll get to in a moment). I also have a pretty eclectic tastes, and it is hard to tell which piece of that feeds into the other. I think it’s a chicken-or-the-egg argument.

In any case, my musical hierarchy goes something like this: 

Tier 1: Music I absolutely love, that never fails to inspire me, lift me up, toss me down, or think about life in another way.

Tier 2: Music that’s fun, that has emotional resonance for X reason, music that I overplay when I first get the album and then leave it alone for the most part but every once and a while it comes back on and I’m like “Oh yeah I love this.”

It’s also a weakness of mine, but there are a lot of tier 2 songs for me that are pretty meh but they have one hook or sick harmony or bridge I will listen over and over just to hear.

Tier 3: Music that I have no strong feelings about one way or another. It can be enjoyable based on mood, but it’s not a priority. I often feel like these songs are great to mash up or change because then you can make them your own a little and fall in love with them that way.

Tier 4: Music I dislike somewhat, or music that is relevant very briefly (I’m looking at you, Oklahoma!) but that I can’t come back to. I have no problem listening to Tier 4 songs, but generally speaking I don’t want to listen to a bunch of them in a row.

Tier 5: Noise. I just don’t see how people like it. I do my best to understand what propels people to listen to screaming and banging, and I am willing to believe that maybe there is merit that I don’t understand here, but for me it doesn’t do it.

 

On the whole, though, my tastes are fairly egalitarian. I think it stems from my inherent love of music (ALL music) and from a worldview that is our next section.

5. Our Place in the World

Something I notice from friends of mine at times is this notion that they are better than the world (I am not immune to this), and it spills into ideas that they have. I see it often from my liberal friends especially, which is somewhat ironic because I think philosophically they tend to believe more in the equality of humanity in THEORY versus my conservative friends. We all want to believe that we are special, and we are. What we aren’t, though, is above the world. We are, to quote Emerson, “part and parcel,” and it’s inescapable. That has at times bothered me–I mean, who doesn’t want to be a little different–but the more I reflect on it all, the more it brings me a sense of peace. 

We’re all just people, trying to make the best of our lives and selves. Sure, there are a LOT of stupid people out there. Maybe you or I are not the most troubled ones out there. Once you see how little difference there is between you and them, though, you begin to see what I and others consider to be a fundamental truth: there is no difference between them and you. 

If you consider humanity and the universe to be an ocean, with you as one drop, you are both the entire ocean and nothing at all. It’s vast and scary and beautiful and allows us to open up our hearts to our shared humanity. It’s not the only way to do so, but I find the mental exercise helpful. 

I have a kind of beat up sticky note on my computer near the touch pad on which I have written one of my favorite quotes, by Karen Armstrong: “Look into your own heart, discover what it is that gives you pain and then refuse, under any circumstances whatsoever, to inflict that pain on anyone else.”

I can only speak for myself, but I know that I am in pain when I feel a lack of love, acceptance, or social interaction. So I try not to do that to anyone else. I’m not perfect, but it’s a journey that I consider worth the taking. 

The past (holy cow it’s been a WEEK?) has been great for thinking and loving and remembering how blessed I really am. There will be ups and downs to come, but moments that put it all in perspective are healthy. I am hopeful there are more to come, and I know that adventure is around the corner for all of us.

 

“Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are travelling the dark journey with us. Oh be swift to love, make haste to be kind.” -Henri Frederic Amiel 

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