Events of a week some time ago

Rube Goldberg couldn't have devised a better machine:

How to relax on a Sunday afternoon

Summer weather (A) arrives causing very warm temperatures and sunny days (B) which causes young man (C) to substantially increase his physical activity stimulating the production of testosterone (D). Increased libido (E) creates romantic fantasies about attractive young woman (F). Desire to impress young woman causes young man to organize a dance party (G) with good friends (H). Friends hang out after dancing late into the night (I). Sleep schedule (J) is upset causing young man to nap (K) throughout Sunday afternoon, thereby expending the day in idle content.

"His cartoons were, as he said, symbols of man's capacity for exerting maximum effort to accomplish minimal results. Rube believed that there were two ways to do things: the simple way and the hard way, and that a surprisingly number of people preferred doing things the hard way." (unsourced quote)

everywhere at once

Sometimes I want to be everywhere at once. Like snow. I want to fall into every tiny crevice, and be a blinding haze of whiteness and melt my way deep into the earth. I want to pile in people's gutters and be tracked into their dirty kitchens and across their carpets. I want to fill everyone's vision. I want the whole world be distracted by me.

If I could do this then I would never need to be angry. When your long, confident legs caught the attention of one man and then another and then every man from here to your car, I could whirl down from the sky and swirl and frenzy the air, making them pull their coats and hurry home. When your gorgeous smile said hello to the clerk and the clerk would fall instantly in love with you, I could come from above and howl and darken the sky, and the clerk would look to you for comfort, and know that he was just a child in your eyes.

If I were the snow I could cover your house every night. You would look out the window and remember the peacefulness of a childhood Christmas. You would make yourself a giant mug of hot chocolate and wrap yourself with your warmest blanket in the corner of your love seat. Maybe you would watch a heartwarming Christmas special or maybe you would sit and stare into the fire and dream. You would feel independent and happy and strong, knowing that you'd never have to settle for a man less than perfect for you.

And when you found your perfect man, the one to love and respect and admire and bolster you, I could cover the earth. I would fall in every corner and creep under every rock, spreading myself as wide as the globe and visiting all the untouched places. I would smile at your joy, and my snowflakes, spread so thin, would melt for you. I would embrace all living things and wet them with my tears. And you would walk hand-in-hand. As salt and rock and plant, sorrow and joy and an ocean of loneliness would mix under your feet, and prepare the earth for new beginnings.

the next four years

We have a new president-elect. Barack Obama. And this is our victory, a victory that "grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation’s apathy." What is it that this victory stands for? There is an excitement in the air that after tonight, things are different. The world is changed for the better. But things haven't changed yet. Tonight symbolizes something, and tonight is looked upon as proof that our hopes are well-founded: Freedom from war, freedom from injustice, freedom from economic instability, freedom from inequality. All of those things are what we expect.

"The challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime – two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century." And "there is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair." Not to mention health care, government budget, science and environmental issues. There's a lot to tackle.

Imagine you are president-elect. On January 20th you'll be sworn into office, and you'll have four years to make a difference. Only four years. And not only are there important issues to deal with, but there are a lot of important issues. What would you do to make sure that you would make the most of your time? How would you plan your four years, stay focused on the most important issues but not let the somewhat-important issues fall through the cracks?

If I were president, I'd get a magnet board and post the important issues on the wall across from my bed. Every day I'd get up and look at the board. I'd rearrange it if I needed to, and I'd pick two issues to focus on for the day. If I didn't have enough room in my schedule, I'd call someone on my staff to focus on each of the issues for me. Every day I'd want to have some tangible result toward solving each of the selected issues.

At night, I'd talk with my wife about my progress, about anything in the day that made me hesitate, and about how effective my planning process has been. I'd take her good suggestions and implement them the next day. At least once a week I'd have dinner with someone either from my staff or from an academic or political circle and discuss the overall direction of the country.

Would doing those things help me move fast enough to make an important impact? I'm not sure, but that's what I would start with. If I came up with some better ideas, I'd try those.

So let's get back to reality. I'm not president-elect. But except for having a staff and a wife, I could still follow that same process I outlined above. In fact, I think I have even more of a responsibility. I voted in a new president, now I must back that up with actions; a vote alone will not change a thing.

So we've voted in change for the next four years, and with that comes four years of responsibility. And I for one am committing to solving our problems this term. I intend to work toward that goal in measurable steps every day. And I hope I will have your support.

Thank you, and God Bless America.

(Quotes from Obama's victory speech.)

late night future

I don't feel like I have time either to blog or to brainstorm about projects, so instead I'm going to do both at the same time and hope that that will take less time than doing either one individually.

I want to make a difference with my projects, so I wanted to brainstorm what areas there are for which I think there is responsibility to be taken. The idea is that I can start creating a list of project ideas that I can go to "any time I'm bored" (as Tara Hunt described today).

Areas:

Politics, local politics, social policy, consumer activism, agreement realities, inspiration to advance technology, inspiration to create a bond of brotherhood

environmentalism, economic responsibility, health education, diversity education, tolerance education

educational effectiveness, building communities, connecting similar people, connecting diverse people

safety, household safety, internet safety, supporting people in times of crisis, supporting people in times of doubt

foreign relations, empowerment of the base, artistic expression, exposure to the arts, appreciation of new cultures, acceptance of subcultures

nothing is everything new

Well... um... Hi. Tonight's a little weird for me: there's nothing I need to write about. I've been using this blog to help give myself clarity and accountability in working out some of the more difficult parts of my life. I've basically been writing about whatever has been bothering me at the time, including social skills, how to make a difference in the world, how to connect with people, how to be happy with myself, and how to find a relationship.

But tonight what's bothering me is nothing I ever expected: nothing! Tonight I have no problems. And I honestly can't remember a time like this since high school. I feel like my life is now in functioning condition--I don't need to spend any more time fixing it; I can move on to the real business of living life!

So okay, what is the real business? I've spent 12 years trying to fix myself and get my life in order so that I could do ... what? I've spent so long preparing that I've forgotten what I was aiming for in the first place. So I guess I'm ready to start from scratch again. I'm 14 years old and excited about life :-D

So I'm looking through the news, figuring I could find something interesting to write about. But everything there seems so negative. There's a lot of stuff about internet technology growing to overtake our privacy and freedom. I'm not really interested in writing about that, since I think those issues are problems with people rather than problems with the technology.

But I wonder if perhaps it's time to think what as a society we want to build. We have a lot of science and technology these days, but there's not really a general feeling that it's leading us to a better future. I think as a global community, there's really no consensus about where the human race is headed. Do we want to live in peace? Do we want to explore the galaxy? Do we want to live in a virtual world? Do we want to create our own life forms? Do we want to create art? Is there a business plan for how we're going to use the available planetary resources? Two thousand years from now, what do we want life to look like?

Well that's all I've got for tonight. No answers, but just some thoughts. I can't wait to get back to work on some projects. Oh, and I have this link to share: Nate Ritter - The Power of the Project

P.S. I haven't replied to everyone's comments to my previous posts yet since I haven't had stable internet in a while. But thank you! I'll get back to them within a few weeks.

note to LJ friends

Just a quick note to my LJ friends, I just realized that many of you have been making friends-only posts, which I haven't been reading since only public posts are included in the RSS feeds that I subscribe to to read blogs. I hope to resolve this problem soon. Please excuse the oversight.

showdown of self-discovery

On Saturday I wasn't the possibility of joyful expression and playfulness that I said I would be--instead I was miserableness. I didn't ask people to dance. I was awkward and cold with people who were nice to me. I avoided my friends. If I can't be happy I can at least be comfortable and peaceful when I'm alone. I wanted to be alone.

But I've done that before. At both Swing and Soul and KLX 2007 I made myself comfortable by escaping, and I told myself that it was a good thing. And yet here I was again wishing I had done differently; running away obviously wasn't working. I was determined to have a breakthrough by the end of Showdown. I absolutely did not want another event to go by where I would later have to convince myself that I had enjoyed it.

I wasn't sure where to start because I thought I needed to somehow make myself more extroverted. I considered forcing myself to dance every single song, but I already felt far too isolated to do that. So instead I started with my integrity. I knew there were three things I still needed to do at Showdown or I would regret them: I needed to pass on Jasmine's message (since I had promised to), make amends to Adam for always telling him I want to talk with him and never taking the time to talk to him (since I really do respect him and am interested in his life), and ask Carolyn to dance again (since I see her at lots of events and I always wish I had danced with her more and had come up with something interesting to say to her).

Doing even just three things seemed impossible to me, but it was helpful to focus on them because I could at least ignore all the pressure of having to ask people to dance and do cool moves and have coherent conversations. I came up with a loose plan of how I could work up the courage to tackle the three tasks... and then I decided I wasn't quite ready to take action, so I went upstairs to hide, and where I could watch all the popular dancers enjoy themselves and feel sorry for myself.

Fortuitously, comparing myself to other dancers that I envied was exactly what I needed, and I had my breakthrough: I am not supposed to be like other dancers; I am supposed to be like myself. I've heard and even agreed with that many times before, but at that moment I finally understood it. Even though as a dancer I've tried to develop my own style, I've still been developing my dancing under a framework that is not my own. I've constantly faulted myself for not dancing with enough people, for not making follows laugh, for not entering contests, for not asking for people's contact info, for not getting people to say hi to me and hug me when they see me at an event, and for not socializing better. While I've rejected the notion that there's a correct way to be a good dancer, I've been blindly believing that there is a correct way to enjoy dancing, and I've lived under the assumption that I need to enjoy dancing in the same way that other people enjoy it.

And with that realization, I could forgive myself for not being an award-winning dancer and for not being a popular dancer and for not being an inspiration to dancers everywhere. I could just be myself and be comfortable with that. I could see again what I love about lindy hop: I love the variety of the music and the dancers interacting, and I love the sharing. And I love the awesome people that I've run across in the dance scene. Those are the things I should be putting my energy into instead of subconsciously trying to be more like Adam Boehmer or Dave Madison or Jamie Cameron or Skye. I need to value my own values again.

So... funny story: as soon as I was conscious again of why I liked dancing and why I valued the people in my dance life, it was easy to complete the three impossible tasks. In fact, I completed several additional impossible tasks without even trying to.

So from now on I intend to ask myself as often as possible, "do I love what I am doing?" And if I don't, then I'm going to stop, remember what I do love, and and start doing it. And I'm going to love every lindy hop event that I go to from Showdown onward.


P.S. I'm curious if anyone enjoyed reading this of if this was just for my own benefit.

the pace of relationship

I had thought things were going pretty well. But talking to people at Showdown today, it seems like everyone has been through two or three relationships since the last time I saw them. And I haven't had any. I've been spending my time doing a lot of great things, and I feel like I've really made a difference in the world in the past several months. But I wonder if I've been burying myself in work to hide from the fact that I still end up alone every night.

Back in college, Lee once commented to me how weird and mysterious it is how people go from being friends or acquaintances to being in a relationship. I recently had been feeling that the mystery was behind me and that when the next good opportunity for a relationship came along, I'd be ready for it. But seeing how fast other people are doing it makes me feel like I'm out of the loop again. At the time, I thought it would happen between me and Lee. It didn't happen, and I really wanted it to--I was so fascinated by the way she would talk about seemingly any topic, and by her focus and by her optimism. I never figured out what went wrong, and I'm still sad and disappointed with myself that I couldn't figure out how to start a relationship with her.

So I left the dance for a few minutes to sit under a tree and dismantle my racket. I do feel a lot better after recognizing the cover-up, although it's so easy to fall back on the anger:

My persistent complaint is: that no one takes the time to get to know me.
My fixed way of being is: angry and exasperated.
What I'm pretending is: that it's not urgent for me to find a relationship.
What I'm covering up is: that I think I'm better than other men.
The payoff is: I get to be right and make others wrong; I get to avoid domination.
The impact on myself and others is: I isolate myself from talking with and having friendships with men; I constantly feel like I need to prove myself to women, which prevents them from seeing the real me.
(did I miss any steps?)

-- edit October 11, 2008, 19:58 CDT --

I did miss a step, as Danielle reminds me http://avh4.livejournal.com/7457.html :

The possibility I am creating for myself and my life is: the possibility of joyful self-expression and playfulness.

gross national moon

Good night, moon.
Good night, spoon.
Good night, red balloon.
Good night, baboon in the silly cartoon.

Good night, mice.
Good night, twice.
Good night, sticky rice.
Good night, not-so-nice device.

Good night, hon'.
Good night, bun.
Good night, everyone.
Good night, son of a gun.

Good night, toad.
Good night, road.
Good night overload!