Monday, January 12, 2009

Monday Musings: Part one of X...

(X being the result of an equation which extrapolates productivity  based on various factors including (but not limited to) how long it takes me to edit the book, how much whining said process will cause, and how many pirated episodes of The Office I can watch before my brain becomes permanently impaired, unable to produce anything more substantive than a "that's what she said" comment.)

Which is to say, I think it's time I finally commit to a blog schedule, or else no matter how hard I moan and groan nothing will ever get done. (That's what she said.) 

Some of you know I've been experimenting with various forms of meditation for a while now, (see me channeling serenity in front of San Fran Japanese tea garden.)

 If you're anything like me, living inside your head is kind of like living inside one of those really loud obnoxious European dance clubs. 

There was this one I visited during my summer semester in Prague called Karlovy Lazne which was particularly sketchy and well suited to this analogy because it boasted 5 whole floors of loud obnoxious sketchiness. Pop music blared from the bottom floor, R&B boomed on the second, there was country and rock and psychedelic and no matter where you went you were always surrounded by sweaty, handsy, drunken people shouting at you in different languages. 

Welcome back into my head- no matter the sound-system or cerebral floor, whether I'm in academic mode or social mode or relaxation mode, I can usually hear the pounding bass of other floors echoing all around me. If I'm working I wish I were relaxing, if I'm relaxing I know I should be working, and all the while there are these slimy thoughts who, like oily club-men with ponytails and wifebeaters, I always wish would just go away. And even when they do, their pungent BO/cologne mixture lingers, reminding me that what I'm working on is boring, that I'm being lazy, that terrible things are going to start happening to people I love, and that I'm looking rather fat this afternoon. 

The point being that I cannot express the relief of 10 minutes of meditation. You don't have to be "good" at meditation to do it- nobody can just shut off their thoughts. It's more like popping out of the back door of the club for a breather. Sure, you might still hear the shrill crooning of some Eastern European pop star in the background from time to time, but you choose to tune it out each time it appears. And sure, those pony-tail wifebeater guys might come out and try to offer you a cigarette. That doesn't mean you're not meditating the right way. All you have to do is tell them to screw off for a moment. They don't speak English so the best way to shake 'em is to just nod and hold up the "one minute" finger. They're not so smart, they'll lose count after a few seconds and you'll be alone again. 

Meditating makes me excited to explore small day-to-day things instead of overwhelmed by the immensity of the world's fucked-up-ness, my lack of health insurance coverage, job prospects, and the meaning of life in general. 

Here are a couple pictures I took whilst attempting to be more mindful of my surroundings. The first is a huge freakin' chair. Seriously, look how huge that chair is. I had to do a running jump just to get up there. It reminded me of being a little kid and being just tall enough to peer across the kitchen table. I used to watch 90210 and marvel at all of those "adults" with their adultly fashion and adultly problems. Most of the world was full of very tall people who got to use the stove without supervision and eat sugar cereal for breakfast and who put magic cards into machines and got free money out of them. 

I very much enjoyed sitting in this huge chair. It made me feel like a kid again, and I realized that I'm still sort of waiting for those tall people with all the answers to come in and whisper all the answers to me. Except that now I am one of the tall people- I can tell by the way my 5 year old cousin looks up at me with half reverence for my command of the TV remote, half distain for what she deems undo storytime stinginess.

And now I look at the adult world and it looks a little like this guy:
disorienting... whimsical and amazing and also really disturbing and creepy. Multitudinous. Note my ambiguous glance... I think I'm trying to make sense of it all. Don't hold your breath folks.    (P.S. does anybody know who did this statue?)

In trying to make sense of it all I've realized that it's never a good idea to write things off, no matter how silly they sound. Enter the card game Dominion, which I've been told is sort of a Magic: The Gathering light. In middleschool I would have run screaming out of any room containing a camera and the hint of a whisper of D&D tournaments... that's the sort of damning evidence that could confirm the demise of your 12 year old popularity for good. Luckily for me, I now know that the people who don't think I'm cool are seriously misinformed, no matter how many tequila bodyshots they consume off of rippling tan abs during their Cancun spring break.

Dominion is a turn-based card game with witches and gold and festivals and an almost infinite combination of set-up possibilities which makes it enjoyable for the lay-gamer (me) while keeping it interesting for the brilliant dungeon masters (my opponent.) 

I'm thrilled that I stuck it out through the "I'm a total idiot, no wonder I sucked so bad at calculus" phase into the "I'm the ruler of the universe" phase, because it turned out to be lots of fun. Here's me haughtily wielding my many province cards before beating my two skilled opponents. Sorry boys, there's a new dungeonmaster in town. 

Which is to say, keep your eyes open and try new things no matter what you think you know about them, because you don't know until you try. Plus, if you keep your eyes open you might spot someone like this walking down 7th avenue: 
That's right, it's a real live cat hat. His name is apparently Nicholas. He stays up there for six blocks at a time, said the man with the cat for a hat. I didn't get a chance to ask what he does after the sixth block. Maybe they switch. 

Anyways, have a productive week folks. If you're a writer who has been reading the blog- you are NOT ALLOWED to judge what you've been working on until you've written another five whole pages. That's right- five whole pages without a single "that doesn't make sense" "that's not funny" "that's what they did in Fight Club" sweaty smelly club thought getting all up in your creative grill. It'll work, trust me. And keep me posted!

I'm trying to keep my eyes and mind especially open this week. Make the rest of us tall-people proud- go do something fun.



  1. i really enjoyed your post, thank you.

    i wanted to mention something about my own meditation practice.
    i run my own little company and i micromanage everything else and all day long i make decisions large and small about business and home.
    guided meditations are a huge relief for me.....i can lie back and be told what to do for thirty minutes every day.
    it's absolute the way that i imagine high-powered executive corporate types feel absolute bliss whilst indulging in a spot of bdsm.
    speaking for myself, my own need to be dominated is limited to having someone with a podcasted soothing voice telling me i don't have to do anything right now, except breathe in and out.

    well, that's my theory anyway.

  2. I always know it's time to meditate for a bit when they start setting off fireworks in the dance club that is my mind. Then the question just become whether or not I can beat my (other) thoughts outside.

  3. Interesting, informative, entertaining. Come to Sderot, if for no other reason than to be able to tell your grandchildren that you did. Kol tuv....

  4. Hey there! Just stopped by to say hi and let you know that I'm already enjoying your updates on Twitter. I hope you are able to see mine as well - I confirmed your request but then it didn't add you to my followers. Weird. Let me know if it fudged up and I can try to fix it.

    Also, was wondering if you found me just via Twitter or if you found me some other way. Just curious. :-)

  5. Ahhhh~ That's my sigh of relief when I come to your site after thinking for days that I must be going nuts and living in a different dimension from the rest of the world. (Please take that in the positive way that I meant it) ;-)

    And... I needed a break from the text books. :-(

    Oh, and just to share, I like to meditate on the following (besides the Bible):

    - Marcus Aurelius' "Meditations"
    - Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
    - Seeds for the Soul by Chuck Hillig (my friend!)

  6. right on. i once meditated for 30 minutes trying to bend a spoon like in the matrix. I actually thought I did it, and I freaked out, but that was just the shadows jumping around because of cars going outside. Anyway, I felt really relaxed, and then used the cereal to eat sugar coated cereal (though I wasn't a tall person...haha! rebellion!)

  7. uhhh i meant spoon eating sugar coated cereal..though if cereal could be used to eat cereal...woah

  8. I love you! You helped me think of a new years resolution.

  9. Thanks Hannah your blog is ace, thanks.

  10. were you in 'skull and bones'?

  11. If I told you I'd have to kill you.

  12. I saw the cat hat man when I was in NYC once!

    My mom pointed me at your blog and I think it's pretty damn awesome, Hannah. Keep up the good work!

  13. Does that cat know it has a human on its arse?

  14. Niiice, you posted a picture of Cat Head Guy! He is legendary in my circles.

  15. can i say WOW.gurl you totaly wore me out i think i had my workout for the day.and the next; crawl out of youre head ,live life,believe it or not life is good,but who am i to say ,i read youre blog lol took two hrs, so what that say about me,im 42 and my life revolves around my grandchild her name is paige,sweety have you ever considered just letting it all go .be happy,and go just go to where youre hearts wants you, trust me when you reach my age you will wish you did. by the way im jammie or cutiepie on tweeter