Based on a True Story!

...the hearing of the so-called joke, not the subject of said joke.

This morning I kept thinking of the meme, "I have no idea what I'm doing." You know why? Because I have no idea what I'm doing. 

That's all for today.


Monday Morning

Sometimes I write out lengthy posts - seriously, I've been writing and editing for over an hour now - and then realize that I can't really publish them. Oh well: maybe I'll draw some cartoons and post them later today.



"I like jazz"
"No, you don't."
I respond with something like, you can't say that.
And she replies, in the last five years, I haven't heard you listening to any jazz, or going to any jazz concerts. Therefore, you don't like jazz.

I don't normally mention this conversation to give her credit, but this morning I will: in that moment I thought, yeah, I do like jazz but I haven't listened to anything in a long time. My stated preferences didn't match my what I was actually doing.

In high school I really enjoyed our jazz band - many of my friends were members, so I heard many of their rehearsals and performances. One of my favorite tapes in college was the soundtrack to the movie 'Round Midnight, and perhaps the highlight of my freshman year was seeing Branford Marsalis in concert. My junior year, one of my favorite tapes was John Scofield's Still Warm. Michelle and I listened to that one a lot, and if I didn't have the tape  anymore it was because I gave it to her after we broke up (and if I did have the tape, I probably didn't listen to it because it reminded me so much of Michelle). Which is to say, there was a point in my life when jazz was important. But it was pointed out to me that my actions hadn't matched my self-understanding. That, I think, was really important, and it made me change my actions (in this case, I started reading about jazz and slowly accumulating a fairly large collections of CDs). Perhaps a trivial example, but I hope illustrative of something more significant.

What's the flip side of that - what do I actually do? Well, every day I read a variety of news sources - national politics from the Washington Post, global news from Foreign Policy, headlines from Slate, analysis and culture from The New Yorker, and of course Paul Krugman's blog and editorials. I care about being informed, and my actions reflect that. (I also like discussing news and politics, but that takes someone who is also relatively well-informed.)

What else do my actions reflect? I care about what I eat, both in terms of health and impact on the environment. I don't always articulate it like that - I'm not proselytizing for vegetarianism all the time - but I try to make sure my choices are consistent with that (also remembering the virtue of being a gracious guest - I like to phrase it in terms of Luke 10:7 - emphasis on "whatever they provide"). Oh yeah, I read the Bible, as well as other spiritual literature - and the poetry of Mary Oliver, Rainer Maria Rilke, and various Chinese poets - not every day, but more than once a week. I think that accurately reflects my need for a spiritual connection, even as I'd like to make it more central to my life.

I buy organic and/or fair trade foods when I can; that's been difficult economically recently, and I worry that's it's gotten too easy for me to just go cheap. I understand that my commitment to organic and fair trade foods isn't enough. I try to shop at local stores, probably not as much as I should, but I never shop at Wal*Mart if there's any other option (and I can say a lot more about that, but not today).

And I wonder, what else do my actions reflect - what do people see when they see me? Not just looking at a picture, or even across the table, but acting the in world? My values may or may not be revealed in the stories I tells about myself - because stories can be a good way of concealing, as well as revealing - but my actions reflect my true values, whether or not they match what I say.

I'm talking about integrity here, and I want to be clear that it's something I'm working on; I think that's a work-in-progress for everyone, all the time (except maybe for people who've reached Kohlberg's Stage 6 of moral development). But not just integrity: it's also about identity, who I am. I can tell you I like Indian food and jazz, I can tell you stories (eating a tablespoon full of wasabi in Boston!) but that doesn't necessarily tell you who I really am.

All of which is a lengthy preamble to the question, who are you?


Another quick update -

Yesterday was spent mostly preparing for my upcoming gallery opening, and was very productive. I matted most of my prints and collages, and put a few into frames, and worked on several different paintings. I'm almost done with this one - another bad photo of course - and I'm happy with how the others are turning out.

Today... well, today isn't turning out as I'd hoped, and I don't see how it will get better (although I think the only way it could get notably worse is if I find out I have TB). 

I'm resisting the temptation to use my blog as a way of sending a message to a particular individual - not that I haven't done that before. But I don't think I'd say anything that I haven't said before. 


A quick update

So: I've been seeing someone the past few months. I haven't really written about her directly; most of what's come out in the past few months that's been personal has been about my previous relationship (well, previous relationships in general, and occasionally the prior one specifically). And maybe that's part of the problem: I've been seeing someone the past few months, but I've continued to be preoccupied with the previous relationship.

Anyhow, I recently broke up with her (not too long after the previous post), and I've had a hard time explaining it to her. I still really like her a lot, and I miss her. She's an attractive, intelligent woman, and despite our differences - primarily age - I thought that things would work, that this would be a serious long-term relationship. But it has been increasingly clear (to me, not her) over the past few weeks that I wasn't the one. Things weren't clicking the way (I think) a good relationship should. Which is not to say that things weren't good with her: they just felt incomplete for me in ways that I've had a hard time explaining to her (which I realize is not quite the same as not understanding it myself). So I miss her, and I feel bad about making her sad, and I also feel bad that I can't be the one to comfort her (because that's a surprisingly natural role for me - or maybe not surprising at this point). I want to go over and hold her and tell her it will be okay, but I know that would only make things worse for her.

I tried to end things the best way I could, but I'm not really sure there is a good way. I left her two of my paintings - she's the only one who really liked the Hand, and she also really liked one of my window paintings - but I worry, is leaving these things behind good? They're something for her to hang onto, but I know they're also reminders of my absence.

In any case, my life is chaotic once again, at least for a while. And - surprise! - no cartoon today.


Another day preaching...

...and I'm actually wearing one of my grandfather's ties. It's not as bad as that, of course - I'm not sure anyone would notice if I didn't say anything.

Today's text: Exodus 10:1-20. Sermon to follow, maybe.



I've been visiting my parents this week, enjoying the weather of a Pacific Northwest summer: hot and dry during the days, cool at night (and in the mornings - I've really enjoyed taking long walks every morning before my parents get up, since I've more or less stayed on Eastern time).

Anyhow, that's (part of the reason) why I haven't been posting.




Your name or your person, which is dearer?
Your person or your goods, which is worth more?
Gain or loss, which is the greater bane?
Excessive stinginess is sure to lead to great expense; 
too much store is sure to end in immense loss.
Knowing contentment you will suffer no humiliation; 
knowing when to stop you will be free from danger;
you will thereby endure.

from Te Ching, trans D.C. Lau