Thursday, August 15, 2013

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Universe Talks

Disclaimer: most of what I write is absurd, like life, and that's pretty much why I enjoy it (both the writing and life, most of the time).  So a lot of times what I write is also a bit tongue-in-cheek and I tend to not take myself too seriously the majority of the time.  Ok, that being said...

Maybe it's the influence of The Alchemist, which I love, and is my favorite of Paulo Coelho's books, I do think the universe tells us certain things or points us and our destinies in certain ways.  Like when I was in Xela and people would ask, oh so how long are you here, and initially I had an answer but then I decided to stay until the universe told me to go.  I think certain situations present themselves and make it fortuitous that you make certain decisions.

I'm leaving here soon and I have the mixed emotions that always come with arrivals and departures.  But I was thinking how the universe is telling me to go, and maybe I'm just searching for reasons or rationalizing.  But I think my random recurrent, yet mostly minor, health issues are the universe's way of saying I should leave.  I'm doing almost complete better after being hit by the truck and the infection I got in my ankle.  But I guess me attributing things to the universe could just be further proof of (wo)man's search for meaning in the chaos that is our lives.  And maybe I do really believe that the universe talks and tells us things and when we listen we can realize our true destiny.  Or maybe The Alchemist just had too much of an influence of me... 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Hit by a Truck

I got hit by a truck today.

I got up early to run before work and before it was too humid and hot.  The residential streets were quiet, intermittently and sparsely populated by a car or a fellow exerciser this morning.  I was about a half mile from home and completing my run, running straight and passing a street entry when a large Ford truck turned right into me.  I put my hands up to block the car as it plowed into me, and I remember thinking that it was going to stop, that it had to stop because that's what cars do when there are people in front of them, but it didn't stop and it him me.

I laid on the ground for a few minutes, in shock.  The driver got out of the truck and came to me asking me questions, like if I was ok, but I couldn't say anything.  I couldn't really comprehend what had just happened so I just lie there.  The man came behind me and put his arms under my arms to lift me up and offered to drive me home, but I declined.  I was in total shock and I just wanted to get home.  I cried walking to my home, my ankle hurting and random cuts bleeding.  I called my mom and my sister took me to the hospital. 

I only have a sprained ankle and cuts and bruises.  I was really, really lucky.  The driver wasn't driving too fast.  I still can't believe, even as I type this, that I was hit by a truck at around 6:30 this morning.  And I'm ok.  Those last two sentences seem so out of place and unfamiliar.  As if I should be writing a fictional story and not what really happened.

I guess I could get all philosophical or metaphysical, contemplative in some manner at least, but I don't really want to think and analyze.  I'm good with just being here, right now, in this space.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Living Everywhere

I was walking around NYC yesterday and I was thinking how I absolutely love and adore New York.  But only part-time.  Or as a tourist.

New York has basically everything and I do love the mood of the city.  It does have its disadvantages, too.  It's so weird how people's attitudes and lifestyles are so contrapuntal when comparing California (like specifically LA, San Diego, and San Francisco) and New York.  Here everyone that is a regular New Yorker is all neuroses and anxiety.  There are so many control freaks it kills me.  And I definitely get a little anxious and neurotic just being around them. But there is a vibrancy and a life to the city that I do really like.  Living here and working twenty hours a week would be great - to be able to enjoy my life and not let all the neuroses infiltrate and to be able to find the time to relax here would be amazing.  As a tourist, too, New York is amazing.  There is just so much to do and you can enjoy it and fall in love with it because it's on your own time that you're absorbed completely into the city until you can't see or feel anything anymore except the lights, noise, and traffic zooming through you.

Most places I have lived in for a time were really nice initially.  Cities and towns can bring you in by what appears to you to be their newness, their foreign-ness, their simultaneous strength and fragility, their malleability, their ambiguity to be whatever you want them to be while at the same time being whatever it is they intrinsically are.  Of course, what to you is new and exciting is to someone else a loathed or boring old town or city they can't wait to leave or a regular place filled with its ghosts and possibilities. 

I've lived in different places and the only place I've ever really wanted to stay was LA. Part of me still does.  But there are lots of great places out there.  It would be nice to live in them all, for a time.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

A Marathon

I ran a marathon.  I kind of can't believe I did it. I wanted it to do it so badly and had started training last year but then I sprained my knee.  I had kind of just stopped thinking about it, but it was always in the back of my mind.  I had started running again recently and the idea resurfaced.  I looked at a website that listed marathons but the closest one wasn't until the end of August and I would have had to take trains, stay at a hotel probably, etc.  So I was like, "Fuck it, why don't I try it on my own?"  I could fail or quit part of the way through of running it as that's always a possibility, but if I don't at least try to do it then I won't learn from that experience.  I planned out a route on (a great site) earlier in the week, maybe Tuesday, then on Wednesday I ran for an hour and biked for two hours to just kind of prepare my body for hours of exercise, then on Thursday I ran for an hour or so run, then on Friday I did nothing except for a walk just to keep my muscles and body alive but rested.  Previous weeks to this, I had been running about six miles or ten km, and either walking a lot in New York City or biking in Toms River.  I also ate a lot on Friday but like good things - a ton of fruit, veggies, lots of beans, oatmeal, a protein bar, and tortilla chips (ok these probably aren't a good thing but hey corn and fat, whatevs).  I went to bed early Friday night.  On Saturday, I woke up early (it was going to be 90F so I had to start early), had a coffee and some oatmeal, then went for my run.  I had tried not to think about how things would go too much beforehand because I didn't want to psych myself out.  If I made it through awesome, and if I didn't, then I had a learning experience to grow from.  My primary goal was to just run the whole thing and complete a marathon.  And I did.  I kept track with the walkjogrun app on my phone and I had made a playlist during the week that lasted about five and a half hours for the marathon.  I had to stop three times to buy water (I kept some money in my sock).  I would just buy water at 7-11 or Rite Aid, drink it, then keep going.  I remember from the half marathon I did in San Jose, there was a time where I got tired but I pushed through it and my energy returned somewhat.  Here my energy level was actually pretty steady until about the last three miles or so.  I felt dead but just kept on jogging.  My times for the last three or four miles weren't so bad, just a little slower than the other miles, but it felt like I was going much slower even though I wasn't time-wise.  Then I got home, drank more water, and after a bit of eating and resting, I think I might have sprained my knee.  I didn't feel any pain while running which was good.  And I accomplished a life goal.  This is something I have really been wanting to do and just the idea of it seems kind of ludicrous to me.  Like running all that much?  And why?  It's just something that is a real test for you both mentally and physically and I think it's good to try and challenge yourself.  It kind of reminded me of getting my tattoo, like physically and pain wise.  The first hour or two is all right because there is adrenaline or excitement or this sense that hey I'm doing something here that I want.  You're calm and decided in what you want to do and things are going ok.  Hour three starts to get to you, like you start to feel what's going on.  Hour four is basically beyond your body's comfort zone and your body just wants you to stop.  It might start doing weird things, like goosebumps or odd reactions to warm and cold.  But I guess this is only if you've been trained for a max of 15 miles or so.  I would think that if you train for longer runs then your body gets accustomed to it and doesn't react like mine did for the forty minutes or so.

My body hurts today and I feel a lot of fatigue, but that's to be expected.  It's just all crazy to think about.  I started running about 9 years ago after returning from Paris because I wanted to get in shape and lose the weight I gained in Paris (oh French food how I love you - crepes!).  Then I could barely run a mile and a half.  I still remember the first training runs I went on that were five miles with a group in LA.  I kind of prefer running on my own (though don't mind running with another person every once in a while) but I thought it would be good to force myself to run a longer distance.  Running with that group made me realize I could do five miles.  That was a huge leap for me.  Then the half marathon in San Jose.  I realized I could do an even longer distance.  But I have always really been afraid of more than that.  When I started training for a marathon last year and was doing longer distances, like 15 or 16 miles, it wasn't really mentally registering.  I was just training and not thinking too much.  Then I hurt my knee and I was so sad.  Running just de-stresses me and I felt lost for a while and tried different things, but running had become such an integral part of my life that I felt lost without it, without being able to just clear my mind and see the world as I ran.  I have heard a bunch of negative things about running - how it's bad for your body and your knees, and how it wears your body down.  And part of me understands but part of me doesn't.  We have bodies so we can use them and move and exercise.  I don't understand sitting in a chair all day long, staring at a computer screen.  I also don't understand running on a treadmill, running and running and going nowhere (unless maybe the weather is bad outside and you can't go outside).  I kind of think we were meant to wander and/ or run and work physically.  I don't think we should push our bodies to the extreme more than once in a while, but we have bodies to use them.  I've run in rain when the weather was both warmer and colder and in hail (in Central Park.  It was pretty but cold and kind of painful), and yesterday it was either close to or 90F eventually but you keep going (with a little bit of water) because it does, ultimately, show you what you and your body can do. 

I still  can't really believe I did it.  I wanted to do it for so long.  I feel like it was and wasn't me who did it.  I'm surprised I didn't crap out and give up at some point.  But I guess that's one of the things in life.  If you want something for a really long time and you internalize that desire and you really work for it, over time it becomes something different.  Many times we want something and we get excited for it right away and just want to have it as soon as possible, without really earning it, realizing its worth, or seeing if it's really for us.  Like a tattoo, for example, maybe one day you want one, you get it within a short period of time, and then later regret it or aren't really as fond of it.  But in the beginning, in those first few moments you really wanted it, and it almost seemed palpable, like you could touch your desire as it danced in front of your mind.  We can fool ourselves with the things we want.  But there are some things that can start out similarly, but if given time can become part of who you are and the desire becomes a sublimated, internalized constant.  Like, still the tattoo, maybe you want one but you think, hey this could be an ephemeral desire so I'll give it some time and see if I still want this tattoo in a year.  You look at pictures, you do research, you take your time, and, if it's really something you want to do and is part of who you are, that desire stays with you and the excitement wears down though is still there but there is a deeper element now; it's not so much a foreign thing you want but a part of who you are.  So when you do get the tattoo after waiting some time, it's a surprise yes but it has become more an actualization of a part of you, but a part that you weren't sure was ever going to happen because it started out as something foreign and it's hard to incorporate that into yourself.  I am terrible with metaphors, and this metaphor, like all of mine, is horrible, but hey I hope I conveyed my idea which is that I have wanted to do a marathon for a long time and I eventually incorporated this desire into my mind and the fact that I actualized it seems both real and unreal.  When a long term desire becomes actualized, it's really hard to believe initially because it's existed in a wish-state for so long that transitioning it to a reality is difficult, but in a good way :)  But hey, it may have taken nine years and started out as a mile and a half, and through many sprained ankles and some knee injuries (even one within this year that I thought might have taken me out of the game and oh isn't it true that just when you've given up almost all hope things can turn around - not always true but sometimes) things do eventually work out.  It's a long road, sometimes a twenty-six mile one, but it's worth running sometimes.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Our Future Selves

I was folding shirts with my coworkers and one of them jokingly said something about being able to meet anyone living or dead and who would you choose.  Most people say relatives who have died or someone famous, living or dead, like John Lennon.  I used to say Buddha.  But it was only a joking question and not serious.  But I thought and said I would like to meet me from the future the day before I died to see what advice future me would give me (hahahaha it's like Jason Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis, right?  From the movie or like Terminator.  Or like The Time Traveler's Wife parts, too).  Besides the obvious and shallow, like future me should have come back and told me my first summer after college that I shouldn't dye my hair red because yea that was bad, I wonder what future me would tell me?  What would we tell our old selves if we had the chance to go back and see ourselves ten years ago?  If we had the wisdom we have now, if we had it then, ten or fifteen or however many years ago, what could we tell ourselves? 

Can we even try to imagine our future selves and what they would say to us?  Can we attempt to appropriate future versions of who we are or our own possible sagacity? 

Part of this thinking comes from meeting so many new people, lots of whom are younger.  I can see a lot of uncertainty and lack of confidence and also a want to be accepted from them.  As you get older and more comfortable, it's no longer quite so important that you get people to like you as weeding out and discerning the people you like for what they actually are.  But when we're younger, generally we're more open and malleable in our personalities, not out of any sense of legerdemain or intentional manipulation, but out of a general desire to be liked.  But once we have met many people or have become more solid in who we are, what we like, what we can deal with in others, etc, it's not so important that people like us.  The desire fades and we just become our natural selves.  Which is probably why I like young kids and old people so much: neither group tends to care whether or not their personalities are pleasing to you.  They are just who they are and if you like them for that then great and if not, well it doesn't matter to them pretty much.

I think people also become this sort of template where you have personality types.  You can meet people and hang out with them for a bit and already discern who is the worrier, the leader, the jokester, etc.  Not that this oversimplified generalities are the essence of people because they're not.  These are the superficial faces we show and categories we fit into because they are so comfortable for us and convenient in their social proscriptions.  Who we are underneath these faces though, our complexities, our intricacies, our pasts that form our patterns today, those are really who we are and much more difficult to ascertain and, usually, if you get to those parts of other people, you can pretty much get along with anyone.  If you understand someone or you see their real lives and backgrounds, it almost becomes impossible to not find a commonality with them or to not feel an affinity or rapport with them.  Even if they act like terrible, you could dislike them for an action or what they do, but if you know about them and why they do it, it's hard to disregard them. 

I feel like that happens a lot, where you meet someone at work or through friends and you can't stand that person or they're just this huge and terrible person to you who does things that set you off or you just get angry at, but if given multiple times to meet that person or to learn about them, you begin to understand them and yes, you hate what they do, but it becomes hard to just dislike the person entirely.  Usually the people that are the meanest or do bad things are the people who dislike themselves the most and it's hard not to feel sympathy for a person who is struggling against themselves because that is a hard battle to see. 

But, I digress.  The faces we see, the roles we fall into, a lot of times we just see those from people and there are roles we don't generally prefer in others so we keep our distance from people who fall into those roles unless we need to be around them more for some reason.  So as we get older, those templates of behavior or personality allow us to easily navigate social situations and we can easily identify who we would, presumably, get along with best.  And these roles are derived and solidified with age.  When we're younger, we are not so confident or know ourselves so well (in general) but with time we become more confident and the solid in ourselves.  Hopefully, we become more wise.  Who I am now is the same as who I was ten years ago, but I (think and hope) am much wiser than I was before.  I can't change any of my past but it would be nice to be able to see the myriad playing outs of the different ways I could have made decisions and what would have happened from them.  And I wonder what old me would tell me now - I would think something heartening and maybe that it would all be all right, but it will all be right anyway, because it has to be and it must be and even though right now or yesterday or tomorrow, even if they are far from all right, still in a certain way they are ok because this is how it is supposed to be and changing it would make it all wrong and incongruous with that your now should be, so hypothetically and in my own mixed up logic, everything at every moment is all right because it's how it should be and thus how it is.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Success & Failure

I read a line in an Isabelle Allende book about how success and failure were Western ideas or inventions, about how they don't really exist as per se.  I quit the other day and one of my bosses told my students (asking my permission first if it was okay) and then told them to implore me to stay.  One student (who I like a lot but don't generally think similarly to) told me I shouldn't quit because I move around too much and I should stick to one thing because it's a failure to quit.  She was basically equating quitting with failure.  This is the same student who also thinks I should get married and live probably a normal, "respectable" life.  It's difficult because a lot of people I know think like this.

I don't think in terms of success and failure anymore.  My greatest lessons, what I have learned the most from, have been the hardest things in my life, the struggles.  I hated almost every minute of being in Wulinguyen, China, mostly because I was so sick and that shaded so much of my experience there.  But it changed me forever and made me appreciate life in a whole different way.  My friendships and relationships, the most difficult parts especially, have made me evaluate myself and be more aware of whom I am and how that affects others.  I have learned so much from them.  Success and good times are great, I'm not saying they aren't, and I hope they always exist for me.  Of course I would prefer a life filled with more "successes" than "failures" but I find both terms problematic in that they create this ideas that the former is good and the latter is bad. 

I kind of view failure as never learning or as doing the same things over again and not changing yourself or not doing something different.  That's really the only way I ever see people as "failing."  I don't think quitting a job or moving or changing something is failing.  I think gaining new experiences and change are valuable.  I would much rather have a life filled with new, different experiences that challenged me than one where I had one or two or even three long term jobs.

This student also kind of thinks similarly with relationships, that I should get married and have kids, you know, the old settle down routine.  I'm not entirely against this but I'm not really for it either.  I think relationships, almost all of them, are valuable.  Sometimes they last and sometimes they don't.  I think it's good to have long term ones, but I don't equate one major long term one as success and the lack of that as failure.  Sometimes I want to want what everyone else wants, like I want to want to live the traditional life of marriage, family, and a stable singular job, but I really don't want it.  I used to be annoyed at myself sometimes for not wanting these things and most people don't understand why I don't want them.  I just accept it as it is at this point.  I don't want to have these things because I can't think of something better to do or because I'm too scared to live the life I want to have.  I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with marriage, children, and a single stable job and if they happen for me then they do but if they don't then right now I am perfectly satisfied with them not happening. 

I value experience and living out the ideas you want.  Quality time in a life of your own design filled with however you want to spend your time, whether it be working, in a hammock on a beach, reading, writing, with friends, family, or whatever you want...I think it is all valid.  I think if you can see what you want and you can go for it, whether you "succeed" or "fail" then that is valuable and that those two terms don't really exist.  But living a life chained to those two terms and letting them decide your feelings or your way of life is ridiculous.  Living a life conditioned by society and wanting things because you're told to want them as opposed to inherently wanting them, to me, is absurd or, probably more accurately, a lack of creative thought.  If you really want them though, the things society tells you to want, then that's great.  But if you're not sure what you want and you go after the things society tells you to want, then that might not end up fulfilling you.  I think you should figure out what fulfills you or search for it, and that search in and of itself is valuable.