Friday, February 22, 2013

No exit always means exit

I am stealing that title, though I don't remember who from. A passing thought on my current reading, Omweg naar Santiago: he writes about Jorge Luis Borges' death. I've not read Borges, no desire. Too labyrinthine, too meta. This amused me anyway, since I have, perhaps appropriately, read about Borges a fair amount - Nooteboom quotes the headline from newspaper Liberation on Borges' death.


*Footnote on everything here: Nooteboom also says he wishes someone would name a star after Borges, leaving a "thing named Borges;" it reminds me of Hitchens and his asteroid of course. And of those two very different men meeting in a strange, shadowy way.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Mind over...something

My ritual is in full progress and I am, as promised, making my way through Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World. After some very annoying new agey mumbo jumbo about ancient wisdom and everlasting happiness, the authors thankfully get down to business, and spend some time explaining the SCIENCE! of it all, which I did appreciate. Then they introduce chocolate. So far, so good?

The other book on the burner, going up in slow, licking flames, is Omweg naar Santiago, a lovely, slow book, full of obscure detail and warm prose. Spain twenty years ago - it is like a wormhole, but then I guess that all books are wormholes, so this one doubles up and removes one to another place entirely swiftly but gently, like the nurse at the end of The Streetcar Named Desire, it's here to take you away. You get to go home again only because Franco is dead and Nooteboom mild-mannered.

Cees Nooteboom, by the way, is the best living author writing in Dutch, and if you get half a chance - much of his work has been translated - you should stop for his books like you would stop for your first gothic cathedral on a trip through Europe. He has exceptional control of his language, and no one else that I've read can even approach his standard of travel writing.

Finally, there is the audiobook for Privilege of the Sword, with its Austen-meets-Wilde cynicism. I love how unpredictable she is, how she consistently refuses tropes. It makes for  pleasant change from the endless series of formula-bound fantasy books.

Not a bad little harvest from my combine of a reading mind.

Friday, February 15, 2013


In the morning, pick up the phone. Check. Anyone love me on Facebook? Twitter?

Twitter. So many smarter people - articles lead places I can't follow. Or silliness. High level of.

Pick earrings - what matches best? What makes me look best?

Check the mirror. More make up needed, but no time. No skill. Skills no match for face.

Work. Check email. Do work. Beat my head against the wall of things I don't know. Or manipulate the lesser things with ease. Greater than and smaller than both.

Lunch. Alone, things to do, to learn. Work at my skills. Fail. Fail at people. Am I lonely? Or with people, and fail to get out, or fail to learn new things.

Check the phone again. Am I clever enough to say something to the universe?

Not clever enough. Did I eat too much? Am I putting on weight again? Check a reflective surface. Not too bad.

Mostly not clever enough. Something beeps. Attend, and forget self for a few moments. Immersed, free.

Surface on the drive home. Talk. Compare. Do I talk too much? Fail at conversation, I do talk too much. Home. The mirror again. Still disappointing. Why would anyone?

Dinner. Smiles in public, keen awareness of self. Eat. Forget for a little. Talk about adventure. Smile some more. Get smiles in return.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


UPDATE: It says it has "the secret to sustained happiness." I don't know if I can keep reading this. Please tell me this isn't going to be like The Path Less Travelled. This is why I don't read self-help. Pff.

I always think of the same thing on ash wednesday, which today seems especially apt:

"Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man's gift and that man's scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?"

Except without the past glory and old age.

T.S. Eliot, always good for some nicely worded doom.

I have no resolution for my non-religious lent, because I can't focus on anything for long enough to come up with any ideas. Wait, no, screw that. This lent, I will be mostly working through Mark Williams' Mindfulness*. That might actually help with my perpetual distraction.

If in doubt, do something.

*Though the endorsements on the site are terrifying.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013


I'm a runner. Not in the sense of running long distance (which 5k is not) but in the Doctor Who "Run!" sense. As a commitment phobe, I always have one foot out the door of whatever commitment, country, job or situation I'm in.

I'm like a goat in a pasture, tied to a stake. I get impatient with commitments, and I'm wily about getting out.

Tug, tug.

Tug, tug.

Tug, tug, tug, tug stupidgorramstakeletmeGO.

Chew rope.

Sometimes I get briefly distracted by delicious dandelions, and that's nice too. Sometimes there are daisies right there by my hooves. Most days the horizon just looks really pretty to my little rectangular-pupiled eyes.

Yet I am exceedingly loyal also; I have two hands full of friends I have kept in spite of changing locations (mine and theirs), I have been in my job longer than I would have considered possible, I'm a long-standing volunteer, and, heaven help me, I'm married and still very pleased to be so.

I'm one of those people people count on. It's very awkward, I have to tell you, and I'm eyeing the exit the whole time. Don't ask me how I manage to stick around for the most part, because I don't exactly know.

Just don't ask me to buy any houses or have any babies. Maybe someone can do that while I'm not looking.

Bright and shiny

I am a terrible multi-tasker. I mean by that that I am both prolific in my multi-tasking and that it ultimately has less than helpful outcomes. Oh, I love the stimulus of working on two or three things at the same time, and it caters to my squirrel-like attention span. It makes my brain purr. And yet - it doesn't serve me all that well. It breaks up my already so fragmented attention, and the quick switches mean that I will forget what I am doing half a dozen times a day. It means that I am doing two or three (sometimes four!) things in more time than it would take to do them sequentially (since I'm always having to track back to where I was). It means I do all of them worse.

The saddest, most desperate victim of my multi-tasking is my memory. My natural muddle* gets amplified like a whisper in one of those acoustic shell speakers - those things are amazing - and I completely lose track of the bigger picture. Then, when I'm done, I'm like a sleepwalker waking up in an unfamiliar street. How did I get here? What did I do? This wasn't how I'd planned it.

Rise & shine…

Why? Because what I enjoy most of all is losing myself completely in a single thing - a more concentrated forgetting of self in learning and remembering something new.**

*Whenever I say muddle, I think of E.M. Forster's Maurice and his existential confusion, his difficult trip to the truth. That is exactly what I mean.
**By the way, Internet, just to let you know, this whole blog is a sort of conversation with myself. You're welcome to sit in, but it's not all that exciting. Being public just makes me think differently, like dressing up for work, you know? And I like the vague possibility of feedback.