“ What we do with our lives is obviously central to who we are. What we expend our mental energy on, what we put our emotional resources into, where we deploy courage or daring or prudence or commitment: these are major parts of existence and are inevitably much connected with work and earning money. And we need these parts of existence in order to find proper application in activities that deserve our best efforts. We don’t want to reserve our central capacities for the margins and weekends of life.”
John Armstrong, from Brain Pickings’s “How to Worry Less About Money”
What a relevant quote as I am about to expend 98% of my mental energy over the next month on a television project. It remains to be seen if I will deploy any courage, daring, or prudence in that time period, or if this is the activity that deserves my best efforts (though, fear not, faithful reader, for I will apply them!).
“ A frumpy couch oasis of genteel bohemia amid a cookie-cutter sea of caffeine commodification, the Fall welcomes the rootless.”
Mark Jacobson’s “The Laptop Nomads”
Mark Jacobson could be the Cesar Chavez of the Itinerant Lit Worker.
- A woman who lives in an 84 square foot house
- A guy who lives in a bus
- A woman who hasn’t bought anything new since 2007
- A mom who hasn’t bought anything new in a year
- A family who lives in a dam
- Four friends who’ve been roommates for 18 years
- A musician who wrote Judge Judy a love song
- A recently retired NBA player
- A woman with face blindness
- A marathon runner who suffers from narcolepsy
- A 78-year-old vegan bodybuilder
- Two brothers who make YouTube musicals
- A pick-up artist
- A hiker who was lost in the woods for three days
- A fake psychic
- Several girls who suffer from Sleeping Beauty Syndrome
- A man who lost 200 pounds
- Two women with Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder
- A woman with Foreign Accent Syndrome
- A woman designing engineering toys for girls
- A piemaker
- The creator of a shrimp burger
- An Obama impersonator
- A kid who loves LEGOs
- A New York Times bestselling author
- Directors of a documentary
- A female lumberjack aka a lumberjane
- A woman who met all of her Facebook friends
- A mom who lost 17 years of her memory
- A boy pushing his wheelchair across the country
- A mom whose family throws away no trash
- The first man cured of Tourette’s Syndrome
- A girl going a year without shoes
- A woman who went a year without using a mirror
- A family of backup singers
- The last remaining speakers of Boontling
And probably some others, too.
Talk shows are neat.
Kind of. I’ve been writing. I’ve wrote a lot when I was younger—like two years ago—but I haven’t been writing at all lately because of school and technology. I wrote an article last summer about how my addicton to Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook has affected how much I write.
It’s awful. I feel like the second I finish my homework, I go on my phone for like an hour and then I go to sleep. And I don’t have…I don’t make any time to write or do any of the things that I want to.
Maude Apatow, in her Rookie Magazine interview with Molly Ringwald.
Today was a day where teenage girls were better at articulating my issues than I have been lately.
1. Be Kind. If this is the one thing I manage to do, I’ve done enough. Kindness may seem like a personality trait, but I think of it more as a habitual spiritual practice. Being kind has taught me that simple, seemingly insignificant human interactions can be profound. It has opened people and their stories to me. And, perhaps most important to my work, being kind has taught me that I know far less than I think I do. Always.
2. Love What You Do. This is not a passive thing, or a happenstance of trying to do what you love. It is a proactive, daily decision to nurture and seek satisfaction in the work I am doing. I think of it like marriage: sometimes it’s easy and simple. Sometimes it’s a daily, grinding decision to love. And sometimes, when you can’t do it any more, the last act of love is walking away.
3. Keep Your Brain Spongy. This is the fun part. I’m a big believer in feeding curiosity, and offering my subconscious mind a cornucopia of ideas. I read history, literature, and ancient Chinese murder mysteries. I feed the birds, train my ear to identify distinct birdsong, and try to learn the differences between sparrow species (almost all are the same buffy, brown color). I study physics, the latest developments in the modeling of protein-folding, and the genetic underpinnings of personality. I dig big holes in the yard, play and talk with animals, and right now I’m thinking about buying a metal detector. I am never bored.
4. Do the Next, Most Interesting Thing. This is a corollary of keeping your brain spongy, but it requires a very loose hold on one’s life-plans. In fact, I do very little life-planning at all; for better or worse, no career path can hold my attention for very long. So when people ask me how I became an NPR correspondent at such a young age, (or for that matter, how I ended up with a bit part in a Mexican telenovela) my best answer is that I didn’t really mean to. I just did a long series of the next, most interesting things. It’s kind of an informed version of winging-it.
We finished the clip shows this morning. Our host ran through the script we’d written over the past week with a carefree precision. The few mistakes made were met with laughter as the guilty party offered up a confession and two dollars as a consolation, and the crew kept the momentum moving forward until this was done, and our team’s two clip show requirement was fulfilled.
With only one show left next week, and then another week after that to wrap up the season, the feeling in the office has shifted. There are a few more empty desks, there are more people with answers to ‘what are you doing next?’, there are later starts and there are earlier departures. There are less things to do with only one major project left, after all.
In a few days I may find out my next project, or I may confirm a trip abroad. With either one there is uncertainty after June, so time off is almost guaranteed. Even in looking for work there’s a frightening openness, a void, almost. And with that, a wonder of what will fill that space. Mornings spent refreshing job sites and sending resumes? Or mornings spent walking, running, riding? Seeing more. Thinking more, maybe? Being more choose-y, maybe. Of course, there are choose-y type decisions to make in the immediate future as well.
There are two weeks left of the job that was the most interesting choice I could make last June (and in some respects, the only solid one, which certainly helped). There are more choices to make now, and there’s some time to make them. There are two weeks left, after all.
- Phosphorescent: Muchacho
- Rhye: Woman
- Kacey Musgraves: Same Trailer Different Park
- Blu: NoYork!
- Youth Lagoon: Wondrous Bughouse
- Little Green Cars: Absolute Zero
- Justin Timberlake: The 20/20 Experience
This feels about right. Phosphorescent and Rhye have the staying power to compete with some of the best music this year.
I’m trying to stay on top of new music this year, and in particular, the album. This is my list of favorite March albums of this year.
This exercise in cultural vigilance has been exhausting so far, but also rewarding.
+ For new jobs
+ As part of my current job description
+ As a(n unpaid) HuffPo blogger
+ As a (paid) freelance writer
+ For a personal project
Lots of interviews going on lately.
Time to check in on those bold, action-oriented New Years Goals I saddled myself with in January.
+ Run 1,000 miles // 247 so far, including the LA Marathon. Tendonitis is slow in healing but I’m eager to get back on the road.
+ Bake 50 new pies // 2 so far. Free time is on the horizon, so pies a plenty should be coming.
+ Travel to (at least!) 5 countries // 0 so far. Just got tickets for Haiti, and the trip to Sweden, Finland, Estonia and Russia is solidifying.
+ Volunteer (at races, food banks, 826LA!) // ______.
+ Watch 50 new movies // 13! I am pleased with the variety and quality of movies I’ve seen this year. The Place Beyond the Pines is my favorite, so far.
See 50 concerts Listen to 50 albums // 21 so far, and about half I have decent opinions. Tegan and Sara, Rhye and Kaycee Musgraves are my early favorites.
+ Read 50 books // 15 so far, a handful for work, a few for book club, and a few for pleasure. My disappointment is the lack of a real through line or narrative in how the books have been picked, like I’ve been reading for a number instead of for a real purpose.
+ Follow 7 TV shows // 1 down. House of Cards. Terrific.
+ 10 artist interviews // 1 down.
+ 20 long poems + book proposal // ______.
+ 5-act play in iambic // An idea is brewing.
+ Feature animated script // ______.
The balance between consuming and creating is very skewed. The balance between time for myself, and time for others, is very skewed. The next three months have significant amounts of travel involved, so my time not in the air and in other countries should be spent on writing, and given to the community.
“ Right now I’m all about throwing everything out in the world, taking meetings, introducing myself to people, reading what I can, writing where I can. Because it’s all one big soup, right? Something tasty’s gotta come from it.”
- My Kar-bear.
I hope she doesn’t mind me quoting our correspondence… she’s doing very well for herself lately, and she’s doing it on her terms.
Oof. Marathon done. Rest begins.
See you next year, LA marathon. As for the rest of you marathons in between, you better have half options.
I called my parents in early 2011 fed up and frustrated with running. A stress fracture in my shin discouraged me from competing in the LA marathon that year, and after failing to compete in a marathon the year before due to different injuries, I was done. The human body isn’t meant for this, I said, to parents who had both just finished marathons. I’m never training again, I said, with a vitriolic tone normally reserved for teenagers. And definitely not before I’m 30, I said, as if my body would be stronger then. It was a dramatic phone call.
I felt that in deeming marathons physically impossible to complete, I’d given myself the closure I couldn’t get in any otherway than finishing a marathon, and that was fine. For a time. But, here I am, on the eve of the 2013 Los Angeles Marathon, hobbled by tendonitis but overly ready to run. The words I spoke and the thoughts I harbored were a temporary salve, but time wore away this fix and revealed something not so easily solved. Closure, in this instance, comes not with saying finishing is impossible, and feeling absolved from the run before me. Closure comes from finishing.
So here I am, getting ready to go for a long run through crazy beautiful Los Angeles tomorrow with 23,000 other crazy, beautiful elite athletes, joggers, weekend warriors, casual runners, daredevils, fundraisers, and health freaks. See you in Santa Monica.
“ I have just three questions that come into my mind when I get an opportunity. Will this help me, will this hurt me, or will this just make me stay the same and not progress?”
Solange Knowles, from FADER’s Rise and Shine.
Here’s to the opportunities coming at us all over the next few months. May we take them with patience and in stride.