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Daily Post

Streak

I had a good run of posts going, but then I hurt my back, and the energy that I needed to write something here was usurped by the pain and inconvenience of tending to acute pain. It was my own fault, though, and ultimately not too bad. It has more or less passed after 3 days, and the loss of mobility directed and focused my attention on plowing through schoolwork–a mini convalescence, but I don’t think I’m any closer to being a genius.

I hurt myself doing deadlifts at the gym. It’s the compound olympic lift wherein you lift a lot of weight on barbell from the ground into a standing position. Form and mechanics is of the utmost importance, and I actually have really good form, but I just lack the abdominal strength to really own this exercise, and I probably never will. It’s not because I don’t train my abs, because I do, but rather because I’m literally missing some of them (maybe half?) from a birth defect. It is a shame because I actually love deadlifts, in a way. It is one of the only exercises that basically requires the whole body, and yet, it is so simple. But, I think I have to let them go. I guess there are plenty of other ways to exercise!

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Daily Post

Begin

Scrolling through Instagram as a brief reprieve from the mocking stillness of my already mountainous pile of readings to complete by next week, one of Esther Perel’s posts invited us to consider our resolutions this year in terms of promises we may need to break, or ending commitments that no longer serve us. It’s a refreshing take, I think. She suggests that we start to do this through the poetry of David Whyte, and I just happen to keep this screen shot of his poem Finesterre on my phone. I had come to know of him through his interview on the program On Being (linked to his episode). It is excellent, and I recommend it highly–and, as always, the unedited conversations are in my mind superior to the produced versions.

I think the line that captures my state of mind the most, and what I am experiencing most fundamentally now are the words ‘no way to make sense of a world that wouldn’t let you pass/except to call an end to the way you had come.’ It feels like more than a turning point; rather, a much greater endeavor, the forging of an entirely new path. And this includes cutting many things away that perhaps once did serve me, but now no longer do. Broad things like control and resentment (the heaviness of resentment… what a weight), but also narrower and smaller, specific things, like understanding that my wife will never figure out how to correctly load the dishwasher. I’m working on it. It still drives me crazy.

I think that there are a ton of people my age around me right now that are going through the same feelings and emotions of change that I am, and there is an important decision to be made: Do you hold on to and perhaps dig in to all of the things and words and deeds that you think have defined you, made you who you are, and maybe even stagnated you? Or, do you say, that’s all done, those stories aren’t relevant to me anymore–those stories weren’t even mine!–and let them go in order to build yourself in your own ideal, and in your own vision of success and wonder? Walking into shadows will always be hard work.

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Cooking Daily Post

Tea Cake

My blog used to be a bit of a cooking blog, but it is decidedly not anymore. I do still cook and bake, though! Tonight I made this sweet potato tea cake from bon appetit which is a recipe they shared from the Tartine people. I had some left over oven-roasted sweet potatoes that I didn’t want to go to waste. It turned out pretty good, if not perfect, due to my loaf pan being slightly smaller than the one called for. I tried to remove some of the batter before I baked it, but I didn’t scoop out enough, and it rose from the vessel and overflowed in a cascade of crispiness on the left side. There is 2 cups of sugar in this tea cake, which feels absurd, although 2/3 of one of the cups is in the meringue topping. For those wondering, everyone just thought it tasted like pumpkin. Alas, the lowly sweet potato, forever living in the mighty pumpkin’s shadow. I blame the cinnamon. Down with cinnamon, I say!

Sunk Cost Fallacy

01/06/20

The “Sunk Cost Fallacy” came up in conversation on a podcast I listen to, The Dave Chang Show, with his guest David Epstein, the author of ‘Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World’. I haven’t read the book, nor do I intend to, as I’ll be crazy busy with school work, but I am interested in the concept of sunk cost. The sunk cost fallacy is when “individuals continue a behavior or endeavor as a result of previously invested resources (time, money or effort). This fallacy, which is related to lose aversion and status quo bias, can also be viewed as bias resulting from an ongoing commitment.” Lately, I have been considering that my job as a truck driver, which I have had for the past 10 years is an example of this. The fact that I am temperamentally at odds with the work I have been doing drove me to apply at Portland State University in order to finish my bachelor’s degree (from credits almost 20 years old haha), and to try and cast myself into an entirely different career that has almost nothing to do with physical labor. Honestly, it has been kind of scary, and starting in on my second quarter, I still feel somewhat adrift, and don’t have any real, concrete career plans yet. I am looking at 2 years of study minimum to achieve a bachelor’s, though, so there isn’t any pressing need to choose… yet.

However, experiencing my job as a sunk cost is very real, and it causes me a lot of anxiety. I don’t exactly know how to walk away from it; the wage, the vacation time, and the comfort and familiarity of it (a doubled-edged sword, for sure.) Considering it causes me to go into a kind of mental paralytic state, as stepping forward into an unknown void is bound to do. It has afforded me a home, and a reasonable amount of money to support my family, and, the works not even that hard anymore. It’s rarer now, but some days are organizationally such a shit show, that I will go in and do literally nothing for my whole shift. I’ll essentially sit and read in my cab, or fuck-off for a 3 hour lunch. Oddly, but perhaps not surprisingly, much of this dynamic is why keeping the job has become untenable. But, the actual walking away from it part… It feels like I will have to figuratively lop off a whole part of myself, and it’s still hard, even though I am so, so positive that what will come to replace it will be of infinitely more value than work as transactional drudgery. If someone out there has gone through this before, reach out. I’d love to hear from you.

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Daily Post

Good Will

01/05/20

This is the top of one of a pair of speakers that I bought with a credit receipt from Goodwill today while I was out with my daughters. This is so mundane, but I am posting about it because of my criminal tendencies towards shoplifting, and general shadiness, which I am trying to kill off. The reader will note that the price says $7.99 for the single speaker. It is my experience that speakers are usually sold in pairs, with a single price for the pair at Goodwill, and I was somewhat perturbed by the fact that this pair wasn’t. My first inclination was to find a pen and scribble in a “1 of 2” and a “2 of 2” note on each price tag. How absurd is that? These are neural pathways. This is how my brain works. I’ll probably spend more time on this issue when I feel more competently able to address it nakedly and honestly, but for now, I’ll just note that it is a thing about me which I don’t like. Anyway, I have something that I say to myself now whenever I have one of these backwards instinctual moments that has been working well for me lately, and I ultimately didn’t follow through with my plan. Instead, I took all of our selected purchases–enough to hopefully satisfy my expiring credit receipt–up to the check out, and the very kind cashier noted the same thing that I had, that there was indeed usually one price for a pair. She consulted with the lead cashier, and rang the pair up for the price of $7.99. Again, this is so small, but for me it was kind of magical; a note from the universe that it will always make more sense to do the morally right thing.

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Daily Post Work

Laura Berger

Find Ourselves Here by Laura Berger

Strength. Surrender. Balance. Entanglement. Weight. Resilience. Resignation. Expectantancy. All of this, and more… then, the long shadow.

I was very pleased to make it over to Stephanie Chefas Projects today, the last day of Laura Berger’s solo exhibit. Though I think her work is centered on women’s experiences and struggles, the images of these resolute bodies tangled together in a tight knit of solidarity speaks to something inside of me that I have always longed for. Facing hard work, and struggling together; giving way, and giving support; a fading self, and an emerging self that is one and the same thing, though somehow inexplicably different. How do we teach ourselves to do good work, exhausting work, and carry on day to day without losing sight of it? I mean this, of course, from the perspective of perhaps never having done good work. Many of us were not born into, or raised into, or have any notion, really, of selflessness. Indeed, I don’t think selflessness is a well-known or practiced American virtue. We give what we think we can, but in my experience, what we give is based on a scarcity mindset; of ownership of something that belongs only to us, and if we lose it, we’ll have nothing at all. My question is, how do we give everything we do have in abundance, without fear of losing everything? This is not about things. It is about vulnerability, and love, and dignity, and gratitude.

Fluidity

Narrative

01/03/20

I began my day at work listening to an episode of the podcast Finding Fred, an in depth study of Mr. Rogers hosted by Carvell Wallace, ultimately listening to the first 3 in the series. Wallace opens the series by posing the rhetorical question “Are you a good person?” Perhaps this question drew me in, because it is something that I wonder about myself everyday. Lately, I have come to believe that questions of personal value and worth have a great deal to do with the story that you tell yourself. Mr. Rogers core message of “I like you just the way you are,” is not one that I ever remember receiving from loved ones, specifically from my mother and father. I received an entirely different message from them, and it ended up being the story I told myself for most of my life. I had been telling myself their story, which makes me pretty sad, if I am being honest. Now, at 39, when I ask myself whether I am a good person, the answer is all mixed up–the new story that I am trying to tell myself, with the old story that never belonged to me. It seems like it should be easier just to shed it all, but unfortunately, after living with it for so long, my history is all tied up with it, and with the manifestations of living a life thinking that I didn’t have value, when it’s not true at all.

I wonder why I never took Mr. Rogers seriously when I was younger, and why it has taken this seemingly boundless renaissance of his work in the current day for me to take him seriously. Perhaps I never saw him when I needed to, or simply saw him too late, after early onset cynicism and distrust set in. Experiencing him in this podcast so far (and, I haven’t seen the movie that is out yet) has been humbling. Hearing stories of kindness and acceptance from those acquainted with him, and the attention he gave, and the respect he gave, and his belief in the goodness in everyone, even when it was clear–especially when it was clear–a persons goodness had been buried in pain and suffering and were living in a dark shadow… Well, crying while driving is one of my things. Nothing beats tooling around the country side of town in a semi with red, wet eyes.

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Daily Post writing

Expectations

01/02/2020

The expectation that I had set for myself was that I would start writing a daily entry on this blog…yesterday. It didn’t work out that way, and that is okay. One of my kids got sick, and we all spent New Years Day acting as though we all were hungover, even though I am trying not to drink–I didn’t on NYE–and my children are children. We watched movies and snuggled in bed all day long, and by the time we started watching “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” after a takeaway dinner from Franks Noodle House, it was too late. I had already forgotten about doing this. It is towards the end of the second day of the year now, and I spent a long while earlier deliberating whether I should do a back-dated post, followed by, well, this post, but then the deliberation of committing a subterfuge in order to start ultimately felt wrong, and also almost (and perhaps, most alarming) kept me from starting again today. So here we are, a day late, with a post about yesterday, written today, and no one noticed, and everything is fine. My expectation is that from now on my posts will not be excuses, but, they may be explanations, and hopefully someday, something worthwhile.  Happy New Year!