Sunday, August 31, 2014

Casting about

From What Should I Do With My Life by Po Bronson: "They did not find some Single Perfect Answer to the question; at some point it felt right enough that they made their choice, and the energy formerly spent casting about was now devoted to making their choice fruitful for as long as it might last."

That's the experience I had 20 years ago. I was casting about, jobhunting.  When I finally found a  job, it was such a relief to just sit down and live.  But now for years I have been casting again.  I've been jobhunting, but also, I'm casting with my activities.  I have the urge to join things right and left, even though I am doing too many things.  I want to just settle.  To make choices about my activities, to do few enough that I can really get involved in one, and develop in that area.  Instead, I can't quite put enough time into any of them, so I don't get what I want out of any of them.


I had a lot of dreams last night.  What that really means is  I woke up a lot.  Because I only remember if I wake up right after.  I dreamed about the phantom of the opera, trees, my cousin, my other cousin, my cousins again, and playing bass.

Phantom of the opera: I don't remember very well.  I was a performer, and I had a phantom to help me.  But in the Phantom of the Opera,  it was like a guy hiding behind the walls.  This was more like an actual phantom.  I think I was dancing, and he kind of got inside my body and moved me.  I was glad because I wanted to be able to perform.

Trees: I was at my mother's house, and the leaves had very few leaves on them.  I said, "It's not because it's spring and they haven't come out yet.  It's July.  They should be out."  I was upset.  It seemed to be caused by some human thing, like pollution/climate change.

Cousins: It seems to me that I had a dream that told about my cousin's career or education.  Then I woke up.  Then I went back to sleep and had a dream about her brother.  Then I woke up.  I tried to remember that dream by reviewing it.  Then I was having a dream that I was reviewing it.  I was at my mother's house, where my cousins, their father, and other relatives were gathered.  I told them the story of the dream I had about my cousin.  It was time for them to go, and I was finishing the story about the dream as we were walking them out to their cars.  I was kind of hurrying to finish up telling before they left.  I didn't have time to tell the dream about his sister.  Now I don't remember a thing about the dream about his sister, and I'm not totally sure if I had the dream or just dreamed that I had had one about her that I also wanted to tell.  But it seems to me that I had one.  It seems to me that I remember knowing that when I was awake, before I had the dream about telling the dream about her brother.

Anyway, a few more things about the dream about telling them the dream: We were in the living room at my mother's house, but when we went out to walk them to their cars, it was not like the front yard at my mother's house.  It was flat, and you walk straight ahead for a while, and then you get to the road, and the cars were parked along the side of the road.  It wasn't a city place, with sidewalks and cars parked on the street. It was a country place, where cars pull partly onto the grass when they park on the road.

There was a girl already in a car, and I had some concern, I think that we shouldn't surprise or scare her when we came up to her.  I think that some other relative had a mischievous scheme.

So the dream about my cousin that I first had, then re-told in the subsequent dream:  It seemed to be long and detailed, but I don't remember that many details now.  He went to college.  A friend from high school went to the same college.  The dream seemed to cover details about what great achievements he had in college.  I think he originally intended to major in one thing, and then decided to major in political science.  Then he went to graduate school for a PhD, but did not like it and left after one year.

Playing bass: We were at a place, like a store.  People were going to play music instruments.  Last time, I had played bass.  I didn't know how, so I had just played random notes.  Someone asked why I wasn't playing this time.  The reason was because there were real musicians this time.

Also at some point in the dreams, I was looking online for my high school yearbook, but it was missing.  It was like there was a listing for my high school, but my year was missing.  Then I did a search for the name of one of my classmates.  (Someone I have been in touch with on Facebook recently, but was not close to in high school.)  I got a result.  It said it was for British Columbia.  I looked through it, and all the people in it were my classmates.  So it had just been mis-labeled.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

A good day

It seems like today was the first time in a long time that I've had a day of my own.  Weekdays, I've been working long hours, so I've been kind of exhausted on weekends.  Last weekend, I had social events both Saturday and Sunday. The week before was my radio show.  The week before was car shopping.  The week before was more car shopping and a time bank meeting.  The week before was a time bank picnic and a radio show. But today was all my own.  And it's a three day weekend, and all three days are all my own, except for one hour of giving my friend a ride.

Today I did laundry and got groceries and went for a walk.  It has been a long time since I went for a walk.  Was the last time when my aunt visited in June?  When was the last time I went for a walk on my own? I think I remember one in the winter.  Any since then? I used to go for walks every week.

The weather was superb today. It will rain Sunday and Monday, so it's good I got my walk in, and that I have indoor chores to work on in the coming days.

I had been stressed out about my situation.  Stressed out about:

  • I have to get a new job but I don't know what kind of job to get.
  • I have to get a new job but I never have time for jobhunting.
  • Even if I did apply for jobs, I wouldn't get them, so I'm stuck with my job, and my job bugs me.  It bugs me that the past few months there are people implying that I don't work hard, don't know what I'm doing, and don't work efficiently.  
  • I need more free time, because I need more time for chores, walks, sleeping, cooking, etc.  But in order to get more free time, I would have to quit one of my activities, and I don't want to.
Today I read some job postings.  Today I felt like I had a plan.  I'm going to apply for registrar jobs.  It think I can be comfortable earning a living that way.  Meanwhile, what seems really interesting is oral history.  I'm going to apply for an oral history job, but that's a long shot.  What I'm also going to try to do is volunteer to do oral history.  Working as a registrar and volunteering to do oral history.  That's a plan I can live with.  In my imagination, I get the registrar job here in the city where I live now. Of course it's not so simple.  But when I imagine that, it seems like there's a future that would be okay for me.  Yesterday, I don't think I could see a future that would be okay.

So my to do list for tomorrow and Monday:
  1. Apply for the jobs I found posted today.
  2. Check for more postings.
  3. Looking into oral history volunteering.
  4. Pay bills.
  5. Financial management. Figure out budget, and how to move accounts around.
  6. Sort clutter.
  7. Clean house.
  8. Iron clothes.
There are also several other things, but those are the main things.  

Today, I hung laundry on the porch.

Today it was very windy.

Usually I hang some things on hangers and some with clothespins.

Today was too windy for hangers.

Today was so windy that the two things hanging on my porch fell down -- a plant, and a decorative thing.  

Today was sunny, warm, not to hot.  Blue sky.  Glittering sunshine.  A superb day.  

When I was a kid, teeanger, and young adult, on days like today, I wanted to be in the woods or at the ocean, but I could not go because I had not car, and the people I lived with did not want to take me.

Now I have a car.  Today I drove to a park by a river, and took a walk and saw the sunlight shimmering on the river.

A good day.  

Friday, August 29, 2014

Incompetent unless proven otherwise

At my job I always work long hours in August.  I've told people months in advance that I can't do the activities they propose if they will take place in August.

Yesterday evening as I sat working in my office, it struck me that I don't mind being here.  I like what I'm doing.

But what upsets me about my  job is people implying that I'm not working hard, that I don't know what I am doing, that I'm not efficient.

And at Morris dance, it upsets my that the organizer shuts out people who want to be involved, and that the teacher can't teach.

But the thing is, that's what human endeavors are like.  Fellow humans never behave the way we'd like them to.  Part of life is accepting that and rolling with it.

But there are also times when the situation is wrong, and the best thing you can do is walk away.

Article from the New Republic about what transgender people learn from the experience of changing genders: female to male, you get treated better.  Male to female, you get treated worse.  Article says, “men are assumed to be competent until proven otherwise, whereas a woman is assumed to be incompetent until she proves otherwise.”

It hit me today because that's how I feel at my job.  Like they assume I'm not competent.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Media sensation

In my Facebook news feed, an article published by GQ a few days ago.  I think it might be for what is called the September issue, though it is not yet September.  The article was about Christopher Knight, the North Pond Hermit.  After seeing the article, I looked for other articles about him.  Some were not so sympathetic.  Some called his living conditions "squalid."

They say things like that to make it sound shocking, because if they make it sound shocking, they make more money.

He never wanted to be a media sensation.  A very private person has his life put on display for the profit of the media.  It's obscene.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


A few nights ago I had a dream that was inspired by both my car shopping and my upcoming high school reunion (I had recently seen some Facebook posts about the reunion.)  I dreamed that I was at the reunion, and the it was a lecture given by the valedictorian.  [My high school valedictorian is now my Facebook friend, and someone I like.]  In the dream, I did not see the valedictorian.  What I remember is sitting in the seat, feeling really good because I had just heard a great speech.  Then it was over and everyone went out to the parking garage.  There were some people who I did not know who were getting into their car.  I said, "Hey, is that a Chevy Cobalt? Can I sit inside for a minute and see how it feels?"

Then I was sitting in the back seat, and the two people who came in that car were in the front seats.  It was a two door car.  They started driving away.  I said, "Hey, I want to get out!"  But because it was a two door car, I could not get out unless one of them got out, and they did not get out, so I was trapped.

Then last night I dreamed I was going back to my college.  There is a long campus road leading into campus.  Along the road are houses occupied by the college president and other administrators and faculty.  Apparently I was going to start a job there, because I was thinking about whether I could live in one of those houses.

I was with my sister.  We saw someone walking along.  She looked familiar to me, and I looked familiar to her.  We thought that perhaps she had taught one of the classes I had taken, and we were trying to figure out which one.  "Did you take any political science?" she asked.  I told her that I graduated in 1988 and that I had taken two multidisciplinary courses at a neighboring school  that were partly political science.

We were in a room and there was a shelf with senior theses on it.  Mine was there, and I was surprised to see that it was about education.  I thought I had majored in psychology.  My college did not have an education major, so people who majored in education only did so as a self-designed major.  I was the only education major my year, and there wasn't one the year after, so the thesis next to mine was from the next education major, who was in the class of 1990.  It was my sister, and her thesis was on the philosophy of education.  [My sister is 17 years younger than me and did not go to college.]

Later, I dreamed that I was working on an Excel spreadsheet and I clicked on a cell that it did not make sense to click on.  It was like I was in a daze.  Excel recognized the lack of sense behind my actions, and a message box popped up that said, "Are you ok?"

Low hanging fruit

I think I have written about this before.  It made an impression on me.  I'm still trying to figure out how it applies to my life.  A professor speaking at an orientation for new PhD students gave them advice about choosing which topic to research.  He used a metaphor of low hanging fruits, which are easy to pick from the tree.  He said that people are different.  What is easy for you is hard for someone else, and vice versa.  Students feel that they ought to choose a hard topic.  He advised them to choose a topic that is easy for them, and let the topic that is hard for them be done by someone who finds it easy.

The things that have always come easy for me are observing people and writing.

The things I've always tried to do, but never succeed at are dancing and data analysis.

I wrote some as a younger kid, but it was when I was about 13 that I started writing all the time.  Then it was journals, letters, and stories.  Fiction writing last only until I was about 22.  As technologies changed, journals and letters became e-mails, blog posts, and Facebook posts.  Even when I am not actually writing, my mind is always writing.  As I got through life, my brain is putting together words, writing about my experiences and ideas.

Observing people
In elementary school, I told my mother about who all the kids in my class were.  I might draw a seating chart showing where each one sat, and then described the personalities of each kid.

In high school, there were two named social groups, preppies and burnouts.  I noticed that not everyone fit into those groups.  I thought about the rest of the people, decided what the other groups were, and made up names and descriptions for each of the other groups.

Now, in Morris dancing, I made an effort to learn how the dances go, and my mind knows that pretty well, even though my feet don't.  But what my mind latches onto without any effort is the people stuff.  Who is friends with whom.  Who gets annoyed by whom.  Who likes or dislikes which dance.  Who likes to dance which position in each dance.  Who is good or bad at which part of each dance.

When I was little, about 4, 5, or 6, a group of young people in their teens and 20s, including my parents, gathered round listening to a rock band.  I was so inspired that I got up and spun round and round.  When I was done and plopped down, the adults applauded me.  I've tried  ballet, jazz dance, modern dance, swing dance, ballroom dance, Afro-Caribbean dance, contra dance, and square dance but all went so badly that I did not stay with them very long.  I've stayed with Morris dance for more than two years now, but that too goes badly and I'm not sure how much longer I will stay with it.  I've had more success with kinds of dance that are more about exercise -- I took aerobic dance classes for many years, and then when that was no longer a thing that was offered everywhere, I took Nia for several years until the teacher quit. Now I'm doing tai chi, which to me is just a very slow sort of dance.

Though formal styles of dance have not worked out well for me, all my life, I have danced around my house.  In fact, that is a criterion for choosing a place to live.  My apartment is on the second floor, but it is above an office that is mostly not used evenings and weekends.  Therefore there is no one to complain about the noise if I dance around.

Data analysis
My interest in data analysis started when I was in college.  I chose psychology rather than sociology as my major because at my particular college, psychology was more oriented toward research and statistics than sociology was.

As I finished college, I applied for many research jobs.  I did not get any.  I got an administrative assistant job.  I mostly did not like it, but one thing that I did like about it was working with databases.

Then I went on for a Master's in Social Work because my goal was to do research on how to solve social problems.  I had seen a homeless person provided with an apartment lose that apartment because he invited over a lot of rowdy friends who damaged the apartment.  It seems like commons sense that giving someone housing would be a good way to solve homelessness, but in this case, common sense was wrong.  I wanted to do research to find out what actually worked, so that people who tried to fix things could do so in ways that would actually work.

I generally enjoyed my studies, both the research and statistics parts, and the other parts, learning about people and social problems.  As I came to the end of my studies, I started applying for research jobs.   I applied for many jobs.  I did  not get any research jobs.  Finally I got a job.  One of the things that I liked best about it was working with databases.

And now here I am, many years later still in that job.  In that time, I've taken courses in web design, computer science, statistics, and institutional research.  Somehow, those courses never quite took.  I mean, I learned some things, but then I felt like this is as far as I want to go with these things.

That's like what happened with the dancing.  I've taken dance classes, but then I get to a point where I feel like I don't want to go any further.

I've never stopped writing and I've never stopped observing people.  I've never really wanted to take classes in writing, and never especially liked the English classes I was required to take for school.  I'm a factual writer.  I don't write fiction or poetry.  I don't write promotional materials.  I can write procedure manuals, policy guidelines, job descriptions, reports, and meeting minutes.  Some of those may be kind of boring to write however.

As for observing people, I have enjoyed the classes I've taken in social sciences.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Trying to let go

I composed an email resigning from my radio show.  I didn't send it yet.  It's hard to let go.

I want to do my radio show. It's just that there are other things I want to do more that are not getting done.

It feels like when I broke up with my boyfriend of 10 and a half years.  I could not imagine life without him.  But I wanted to create space in my life to grow.

That worked well.  I did find space to grow.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Choosing how to spend my time

Maybe I'm getting ready to let go.

Radio show.  Time bank.  Morris dance. My activities for the past two years.  Feeling like it's too much.  Not wanting to let go of any of them.

Each one fills a different niche.  They complement each other.

But instead of thinking of what I value about them, I think about what I could do if I opened up more time in my life.

The radio show will be the first to go.  The Morris dance might have to go too.  The time bank is staying.

What I want to do:

  • Dance and movement: tai chi, Nia, free dance, learn various kinds of dance.  
  • Music: learn to play musical instruments and sing.
  • Spend time outdoors: sit on my balcony, go for walks, possibly snowshoeing, kayaking, and cross country skiing.  Sit on rocks beside the ocean.  
  • Be part of a community with people who share my values:  time bank, transition group, UU congregation, and food co-op.
  •  Spend time with family, especially my niece and nephew because they are little, and I think when people are little, we need to see them more often, because time is different for them.
  • Read, write, compile photos, etc.
  • In addition to having free time to read, write, and compile whatever I feel like doing at the time. I also want to accomplish some things.  I want to write three books: one on my family history, one that is my autobiography, and one that is a compilation of nature photos showing the changing of the seasons. 
  •  Live in a solar house.  
  • Spiritual: meditation, ritual, Dances of Universal Peace, tai chi, OBOD, UU, time outdoors. 
  • I do not like doing chores, but I want to have a system in place so that without too much effort, I can get things taken care of with regard to food, clothing, finances, housing, transportation, and health.  I want my home to be a spiritual refuge, free of clutter and decorated in a way that I like.  
  • I want to have sufficient financial resources to maintain food, clothing, finances, housing, transportation, and health.  This presumably will require a job.  
What I want from a job:
  • Focus on integrity and quality rather than on profit-seeking.
  • Comfortable environment, including free of bullying, and able to dress comfortably.  
  • Work that is not unpleasant to do.
  • Work that does not go against my values.   
My immediate concern is that the summer is slipping by, and I want to spend more time outdoors before it goes.  I can think of two ways to do that.  One is to go to a Labor Day weekend event that is happening around here that involves camping out.  The other is to take some vacation time and spend it going to the ocean.  

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Simple living is not having it all

Living simply means you can't have it all.

Summer 2010 I became a druid.  Meditation.  Tai chi.  Nature observation.

Winter/spring 2012 I joined the time bank and Morris dancing.

No more time for meditation, tai chi, nature observation.

I want them back in my life.

The only way to get them back is to give something up.

I do the things I do because I want to do them.

I can't do everything I want to do.

I have to make choices.

The decline of do-it-yourself

The trend these days is that cars don't come with spare tires.  It's because if you get a flat, you call for road service.

Just one more way that our culture is moving toward buying everything you need instead of creating things you need yourself.

The transition movement counters this.  I like the transition movement philosophically.

But putting it in practice is another matter.  Exhausted from work, I'd rather buy prepared food than prepare food myself.  When I first got a car, I took a car repair class.  I wanted to at know how to put in coolant if the coolant was low, things like that.  But over time, I've gotten less and less interested in being able to do it myself.  It's hard, and I have not time and energy.