I just posted this on Twitter, where nobody cares, and maybe nobody here cares either, but whatever! I Posting useless baloney nobody's asking for is the only reason this blog exists. I threw it up on Facebook, too, because those are the rules of sharing circa 2018. She who shares not is dead, or melting, or something. But I'm offering you more links than I gave those other bozos, so rejoice! I mean sharing's the worst, obviously, but what can you do. At the end of the day it's just me and 10 fingers sucking the life out of one brain. Something's gotta give.
Anyway, we're having a snow day at work—l-i-t-e-r-a-l-l-y—and I'm tired of packing & thinking about leaving so I'll just post links to some of my important thoughts on the theater I've seen during my 11 years here and will remember dearly forever & always. THANK YOU FOR TAKING MY MONEY & GIVING ME RICHES, NEW YORK CITY! Thanks for making it worth the dream.
And of course one to rule them all: Mary Stuart at the Broadhurst
I wanted to toss these but couldn’t do it. I firmly believe in not clinging to physical items for purely sentimental reasons but my heart is here, in all of them. My best times in this city, with my friends, are in the memories printed on these tickets. How can I throw away my own heart?!
There's a new book out about my favorite religion:
One fine chapter covers swearing and gender. Research shows we are much more judgmental of women who swear than we are of men. “Sometime around the early eighteenth century there was a significant change in culture” — that is, in Western Europe and the Americas. The shift in language was power for men and purity for women. Women were expected to adopt a “clean” language, while men retained the right to swear and its power of expression: “Those insisting that women’s language should be pure managed to rip the most powerful linguistic tool out of the hands (and mouths and minds) of women for centuries.”
Don't quite know how to express or process this, but just now as I swung my coat on, a full-sized rat fell out of the pocket, thudded to the ground, and ran away.— Tom Philip (@tommphilip) March 8, 2018
1. I went to Chicago on Tuesday to rent an apartment. And when I say "Chicago," I mean the suburbs, as I am done with big cities for a good long while. My increasingly fragile constitution needs a rest.
[I]n the two years since my divorce I’ve sometimes walked out in these winding, bowery streets after dark on some ruminative errand or other and looked in at these same houses, windows lit with bronzy cheer, dark cars hove to the curbs, the sound of laughing and glasses tinkling and spirited chatter floating out, and thought to myself: what good rooms these are. What complete life is here, audible. And though I myself wasn’t part of it and wouldn’t much like it if I were, I was stirred to think all of us were living steadfast and accountable lives … but it is for just such uses that suburban streets are ideal, and the only way neighbors here can be neighborly.
You don't have to love the suburbs, but I do. We all will survive.
2. I saw Hamilton yesterday. It really did blow me away.
3. I also saw friends who soon will be friends I see often, again. I'm thrilled by the simple fact of that reality.
4. I got to O'Hare at about 5:30 this morning for my flight back to New York. After sailing through security (TSA Pre√) I purchased an iced coffee at Starbucks and carried it to a small grove of those electronically activated resting tables that decorate the corridors of international travel hubs these days, where I intended to rest. I set the coffee on the table, swung my backpack off my shoulder, and knocked the coffee off the table and onto the floor. All of this happened before I even unwrapped the straw from its paper.
4.1 I sat there for a minute, a little stunned, and then I threw the cup away, cleaned what I could off the floor, and walked back to Starbucks to purchase a second iced coffee.
4.2 I purchased a second iced coffee.
4.2.1 I carried that second iced coffee back to the same grove of tables but selected a different table this time, since the floor was still wet where I had spilled the first one and I did not wish to be identified (although I did notify a cleaning person).
4.2.2 I set that second coffee on that table, swung my backpack off my shoulder, and knocked that second goddamn motherfucking coffee off the table, onto the floor.
4.2.3 I sat there for a minute, a little stunned, and wondered if I was having a stroke.
4.2.4 I was not having a stroke.
4.3 I threw the second cup away, cleaned what I could off the floor, and walked to a different Starbucks to purchase a third iced coffee. I drank it standing up, with my backpack on. I didn't notify anybody of anything.
5. The flight back was not quite full, so there was room in the overhead bin for my Eddie Bauer coat (long, black, quilted, faux-fur-trim hood). We landed a little early but taxied for a while, and by the time the captain pulled the parking brake I was ready to bolt. Isn't everybody? Are you dying to spend more time on an airplane? I stood up when released and pulled my coat from the overhead bin, and I checked it: Eddie Bauer, long, black, quilted, faux-fur-trim hood. I had no second bag, so I grabbed my backpack and headed for the taxi queue.
5.1 Whilst standing in the rain in the taxi queue, I pulled on this goddamn motherfucking Eddie Bauer coat and thought, hmmm. It seems to have grown. I reached inside one pocket and thought, hmmm. This is not my lip balm. I reached inside the other pocket and thought well, this is not my crumpled Kleenex.
5.1.1 I stood there for a minute, a little stunned, and wondered if I should steal this stranger's coat that I was already standing outside wearing, in the rain.
5.1.2 I did not steal a stranger's coat.
5.1.3 I walked back into the terminal and dropped off the coat at the United baggage claim lost & found. Then I walked back outside, stood in queue in the rain without a coat, and took a taxi home.
Sometimes I forget that I’m brave, that I’ve done brave things in my life and will do them again. That there’s no quota on the number of times I can jump without a net, or rewrite my own rules. I forget because my life on a day-to-day basis has been quite small, and safe, and even a little boring. This is fine! More people would be happy if they understood a little boring is fine. If there's one secret to survival in this world, I think this is it.
I moved to Chicago alone in 1996, without knowing anybody. A few years later I left a good job to freelance full time, and I hired and managed my own team. I had no idea what I was doing and it was the scariest thing I've ever done but I did that myself, and I was successful. I moved to New York alone, I spent a month in Paris alone, I made my own money and paid my own bills and I did okay. I made all of that happen. I took a temp job that turned into a permanent job and I’ve worked there for over six years. It's been a good job. I've been incredibly lucky, but I also worked hard, and I was successful. I made that happen.
It hasn't been easy: I talk a good game but let's not kid ourselves. Near the end of Casablanca, Ilsa says to Rick, "You decide! You think for both of us." I don't have that. Nobody can decide for me, or be brave for me, or catch me if I fall. Other people forget that sometimes, but I never do. I can't afford to. But I promised myself a long time ago that I would never let fear make a decision for me. I have no Rick, but I'm no Ilsa, either. I also don't have Nazis on my tail, but that's another story.
I told my boss today that I was leaving. We've talked about this before so it wasn't a total surprise to her, but it was a hard thing for me to say out loud. I like this job, the company, my boss, and I'm not leaving because of them. I’m leaving because my priorities have shifted, and I want different things now than I did when I first came here, once upon a time. I have no job yet and no apartment, but I’m ready to move on to something new that is, finally, also familiar—I'm ready for a softer landing.
What I've learned in the past few years—what I know for sure™—is that you can't cling to old dreams, or live on old memories. I know the Chicago I'm moving back to is not the one I left. It moved on without me, too. Some friends are gone and some friendships have ended. "Life is made up of meetings and partings," Kermit tells his frog/pig family in The Muppet Christmas Carol: "That is the way of it." Lord knows I don't believe in God, or frogs breeding with pigs, but to this I say amen.
I waited patiently for the end of January to set my 2018 goal, which is to be more patient. I set a delayed timer on it in order to test myself and have thus far—obviously, because I'm writing about it—exceeded all expectations.
It has not escaped my notice that "patience" can also equal "laziness," which is a state of being I long ago absorbed into my body, like a tapeworm. One may therefore assert that the two always run hand in hand, but one would be wrong. While I am indeed very lazy I also have zero patience and a tragically short fuse. So when my wi-fi started acting up in November, I lazily neglected to seek professional help while throwing an enormous tantrum every time the signal dropped out, which happened, on average, three or four times a day. How I didn't have an aneurysm, I'll never know. But through sheer laziness I gave the problem plenty of time to sort itself out, which naturally it failed to do, since a cable company was involved.
Anyway, this story is making no sense to me even as I type it, but the TL;DR is that I finally got off my can, scheduled an appointment, waited two weeks for that fucking appointment, and now I have a brand new modem. Glory be! Praise the [fill in the blank]! Buy American! (Just kidding: it's made in China.) So far it seems much slower, load-time-wise, than the faulty equipment it's replacing, which is where I truly start learning the patience, unless of course I kill somebody.
Bearing the above stated goal of "patience" in mind, I appreciated this piece by Firoozeh Dumas in the NYT this morning, about having surgery in Germany:
The anesthesiologist explained that during surgery and recovery I would be given strong painkillers, but once I got home the pain would not require narcotics. To paraphrase him, he said: “Pain is a part of life. We cannot eliminate it nor do we want to. The pain will guide you. You will know when to rest more; you will know when you are healing. If I give you Vicodin, you will no longer feel the pain, yes, but you will no longer know what your body is telling you. You might overexert yourself because you are no longer feeling the pain signals. All you need is rest. And please be careful with ibuprofen. It’s not good for your kidneys. Only take it if you must. Your body will heal itself with rest.”
Personally I would have been tempted to slug this man, but it's a nice lesson from a German to think about, if you're into that sort of thing.
* I recently found this List of Latin phrases (full), which I shall henceforth use for stupid blog post titles. Sometimes lazy just = smart.
This song was playing in our elevator lobby today when I left for lunch. It's a nice song, you should take 4:29 out of your harried schedule and listen to it. I mean really l-i-s-t-e-n to it, and then ask yourself: does anyone have a friendlier voice than Huey Lewis? Could there be a sweeter, more sensible, more grounded-in-reality sentiment on which to base both a relationship and a catchy mass-market mid-80s pop tune; i.e., sometimes success in love and life comes down to laziness? No. There couldn't. People should learn from Huey Lewis and his non-"news" News. Thanks.