Thursday, April 28, 2005

Somewhere recently I came across someone's account of being advised by his meditation teacher to "sit as if you were about to die." The speaker puzzled over that advice for a while before realizing that it's just a variation on "be present." A dramatic variation, sure. If you're about to die, there's no need to worry about taking the garbage out, or to plan your next career move, or to wonder if your butt is too big. There's a lot less room for ego and a lot more room for noticing what's really happening. As Dr. Johnson says, "Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully."

I've been working with that idea the past couple of days. If today is my last day on earth, I don't need to worry about my committee laughing at me at my thesis defence. I don't need to worry about anybody laughing at me, in fact, because at the present moment nobody is laughing at me. (Ususally. That I'm aware of.)

I feel a little self-conscious at having re-derived the cliche "Live every day as if it were your last"--but then again, we've all heard it said, but how many times have you thought in detail about what that means to you?

If I knew today were my last day on earth, I would have taken a nap. I would have told a whole list of people that I love them. (If you're wondering if you're on the list, you are. I love you, man.) I would have listened to some good music. I would have picked some violets. I would have winked at myself in the bathroom mirror. I would have put aside worries and fantasies and regrets as much as I could and concentrated on the task at hand.

--so I would have done pretty much what I did today.

...Well, I probably wouldn't have had quite that much ice cream at the departmental lunch. Like Anne Lamott, I want to have eaten dessert on the day I die, but I don't want to have a sugar rush when I go.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

If your sugar daddy is taking you to the Hamptons this summer

...then you will want to get your underwear from Toot. If you're a seventeen-year-old Man-Vixen, that is.

There are many things to like about this site.
  1. somewhat disturbing icons, including a teddy bear to indicate "snug fit"
  2. extensive use of camel toe
  3. Engrish translations of product blurbs. My favourites:
"Natural cotton stitch makes you feel pleasant."

"With improvement, innovated jock straps are back with 12 color variations."

"Please try this item with color-linking and full of originality. The completeness is quite high."

"Limited items for black tencel, pile processed, painted piece by piece, The two patterns would not be same. Please enjoy the dynamic expression and white hue." (well, okay, since you ask so nicely)

"The material of inside leg is mesh. The cup design protects your anxiety. sporty, sexy and ventilationa are excellent." (But I don't want my anxiety protected!)

"The hue of beige and blend is basie of TOOT. The color combination of waist and legth is so cute. "

"There are not too many left comparing with other items, only for membership holder. Oatmeal and red number show the confidencce of TOOT!"

"The number is 1,2, 3. With different color and diagonal way create demensional shade in original font."

"The best of TOOT! You'll want to experience the feel! The cut is small but you won't feel squashed in. This fine fabric is flexible, very natural, and the gauze stretch has a very pleasant feeling. "

"It is made with thin denim, full-flat of jean type. The stretch works perfectly.So simple, So cool!"(Oh good. I hate that non-functional stretch)

"One of Flat-type boxer. Botton taping in the frontal part,design creates sporty. Long time using will feel it's tasty. Hook under the taping, (Convenience?) . It was made shallowlly than any other Microboxer items, Much more Sexy!!"

"Sturdy denim stretch swim wear with expertise design. All 5 pockets are riveted, decorative loop stopper, side piping -Too much you say? But that's TOOT style for you."

"The stretch is perfect with marcerization material. Through it was made by cotton, but it is so elegant. Low-rise design." (Through it was made...sounds almost theological)

"Basic, *white underwear*, express the truth of TOOT.The material is tencel, more comfort! "

"The style of texture is gorgeous. It may not use for active sport supporter. Y-back, truth of TOOT was made."

"Just think about TOOT when You want to purchase pants." (Okay. I'm having the urge to purchase pants, but instead I'll think about TOOT. ... kinda like baseball statistics.)

"Our sizes are 3 sizes : S/M/L, but we must point out that "Size" have implied meanings, illusions and miracles." (it's so true.)

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Thinking of people I can't do without, my supervisor rocks. Without him I would vanish without a trace. Any prospective grad students out there? Make sure your thesis advisor rocks. No smooth jazz allowed.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Abstinence only sex education, taken to its logical (/hilarious/dirty) end. (Someone also pointed out that by this logic strip bars should be renamed "abstinence bars".)

Thursday, April 21, 2005

pwitty fwowers

Yesterday I was going to start complaining about the weather--something like...

Spring in New Haven is
(a) a time of renewal and rebirth

(b) an intoxicating season of freedom from winter's constraints
(c) April 19th

...because Tuesday was sandwiched between the near-frost earlier this week and yesterday's oppressive heat and humidity (culminating in the first thunder-shower of the season, which left us with an evening full of the smell of wet pavement, a summery smell if there ever was one).

But today was one of those breezy almost-warm days that has everyone walking around outside with these looks of amazement on their faces. There are colours again. After an endless winter in which we all worked very hard at admiring the austere elegance of bare grey branches against a flat grey sky, all of a sudden there are leaves on the trees...and they're green! And the magnoliae are candy-floss pink, and the periwinkles make your eyes ache with their supersaturated greens and blues, and the forsythias make me wonder who detonated the sunshine-mine.

It's all too much, all this exuberant verdure. We could make do with just a little bit of new growth, a little bit of joy. But this is the season when abundant life is poured out upon us, whether we like it or not.

(I do like it, by the way.)

It's official

...I'm going to spend the fall at the IMS. Got word this morning that my registration was confirmed. I'm still vaguely simmering with excitement.

Of course, a bunch of stuff could still happen to prevent me from going. Nevertheless. Woohoo!

The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church's prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament.

- Soren Kierkegaard

bonobo research

cool article from cnn
...who, btw, are a bunch of prissy wusses if they can mention bonobos without mentioning that they are primarily known for having sex all the time in all possible combinations. If chimps are the aggressive, warmongering, sometimes cannibalistic, sport hunters of the primate world, bonobos are the flower children.

Make love, not war, man! ...And use computer touchscreens to permit or deny visitors access to your specially-designed viewing rooms!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

song lyrics

All the cool kids are doing it, so here's my lyrics of the day:

She wore raspberries and grapes
--the kind you buy at a second-hand store
Raspberries and grapes
and if it was warm she wouldn't wear much more.

I ran this by someone earlier today and he set me straight: she's actually wearing "fast-berry sorbet".

Friday, April 15, 2005

best. palindrome. ever.

Tulsa nightlife: Filth, gin, a slut.
Many years ago one of my piano students entered a cross-country ski race--the Silver Spoon, for any Deep-River-ites out there. Even in her age group (7 years) there were some mad keen skiers who zoomed through the course in no time flat. Chrissy, on the other hand, was in no hurry...she'd pause to adjust her toque, look at the nifty bird in that tree over there, wave at one of her friends on the sidelines--so she came thirtieth in the race, out of thirty.

Her mother, who is on the competitive side, assumed that Chrissy would be upset about losing the race, and so was surprised to see her looking so cheerful. She asked her, "Aren't you disappointed that you came last?" Chrissy answered, "Well, I may have come last out of the people who entered--but just think about all the people who didn't enter!"

Chrissy came to mind yesterday when I was giving myself a hard time about my work. Yes, it is true that many people I know could do this stuff better and faster and with less effort than it's costing me--but it's also true that many people's heads would explode at the very thought of attempting what I'm doing.

I'm declaring today to be National Self-Gratulation Day (for two reasons: one, that I suspect that I'm not the only human being who habitually gives herself too hard a time; two, that it's a really cool word that hasn't been used much by anyone since Jane Austen). I invite you as you read this to pause and congratulate yourself for something--anything. Just getting out of bed this morning is something to be proud of: there are people out there who didn't do even that.


in the cemetary
magnolia buds are swelling

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Not by mere eloquence nor by beauty of form does a man become accomplished, if he is jealous, selfish and deceitful. But he in whom these are wholly destroyed, uprooted and extinct, and who has cast out hatred -- that wise man is truly accomplished.

--the Dhammapada

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not selfseeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

--1 Cor 13 (NIV)

There but for the grace of god...

A couple of years ago I looked into management consulting. I went to a couple of information sessions, I almost filled out an application for McKinsey; the career-type counsellor person at the grad school here said that I'd have a good shot at getting a job if I did apply. While I was considering this option, I kept getting messages from the universe that said "DON'T DO IT, GIRL!"--I remember this one newspaper headline, in particular, about how management consultants are destroying the world by replacing story-based local ways of doing things with quantitative analyses. I finally took the hint and threw out the application.

Anyway, this article from Salon is a review of a book written by a former management consultant about what a demoralizing and pointless job it is.

The funny thing is, I still sometimes find myself thinking about it as if it were something I'd consider doing, whereas in reality it's absolutely the opposite of everything I'm looking for in a career...except for the part about the six-figure starting salary. More money is always better than less money; but on the other hand if that's the only attraction of the job there's just no point.

The article makes the comparison with prostitution. I don't think I could actually do thatjob either, but I do think that it would be fun to be a stripper. Think about it--after a couple of years as a stripper, you've got flat abs and some fabulous stories to tell and you know you've brought joy into people's lives, whereas after a couple of years as a management consultant, you've got...a lot of frequent flier points and no self-respect.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

I'm having a very educational day. I've learned two ways to make a do-loop NOT run: either you can require 1 to be not equal to 1 before entering the loop, or you can not increment the variable that you're looping over. Fascinating, eh?

Monday, April 11, 2005

Better it is to live one day seeing the rise and fall of things than to live a hundred years without ever seeing the rise and fall of things.

--The Dhammapada
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.... If God is for us, who can be against us? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns?... Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God.

--from Romans 8, NIV
First and last alike receive your reward;
rich and poor, rejoice together!
Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!
You that have kept the fast, and you that have not,
rejoice today for the Table is richly laden!

--from the Easter Sermon of St. John Chrysostomos (~400 AD) (a couple of weeks after its time)
Joy isn't dependent on getting things, or on the world going the way you want, or on people behaving the way they should, or on their giving you all the things you like and want. Joyfulness isn't dependent upon anything but your own willingness to be generous, kind, and loving. It's that mature experience of giving, sharing, and developing the science of goodness. Virtue is the joy we can experience in this human realm. So, although what society is doing or what everyone else is doing is beyond my control--I can't go around making everything how I want it--still, I can be kind, generous, and patient, and do good, and develop virtue. That I can do, and that's worth doing, and not something anyone can stop me from doing. However rotten or corrupted society is doesn't make any difference to our ability to be virtuous and to do good.

--Ajahn Sumedho
If you let go a little you will have a little peace; if you let go a lot you will have a lot of peace; if you let go completely you will have complete peace.

--Ajahn Chah

Thursday, April 07, 2005

east rock, sunset

the glow fades
the rock remains
Some time ago--it must be several years ago, now--on one of those days when my lungs were rebelling at the very idea of being forced to continue to draw breath (you know the kind of day I mean--don't pretend that you don't) I went and hid in the bathroom in the basement. There I saw the following message:

Posted by Hello

At the time it made me laugh and cry and feel grateful that even inanimate objects were lining up to give me advice. Lately, though, I've been feeling like I've had enough of pushing. I'd rather take a different piece of advice from the same source.

Posted by Hello

Just rest.

Posted by Hello


Yesterday morning I went for a walk up East Rock.

Posted by Hello

It's still very much an Easter Saturday time of year. You have to look very closely to see any sign of buds on the trees. And yet I never doubt that someday--someday soon--the trees will be green again. Why then do I doubt that my heart will find peace?

Wednesday, April 06, 2005


Now this feels like stepping into the void. I just registered for this fall's three-month retreat at the IMS. Yes sirree. Eighty-four days of silence. I knew I had to look into it more seriously when I was describing it to D the other day and realized that I was all but jumping up and down with excitement. (I've written earlier about one of my previous experiences there.)

Of course, this may not be the year I get to do this. I've applied for a job in Vancouver, and if I do get that I'll have to start in September. In that case I'll go to IMS for a week or two in the summer--but I must go. That much is non-negotiable.

I can't decide whether this is a smart thing to be doing or not. As Spinal Tap reminds us, "It's such a fine line between stupid and clever." Either this is bad juju because it's telling the universe that I'm not 100% committed to the idea of being a professor and taking this job, or by making this plan I'm inviting the universe to continue to thwart my plans--and of course the most efficient way for the universe to thwart this particular plan would be to get me the job. --See? Either very, very clever, or very, very stupid.