Friday, October 8, 2010

The Productivity Threshold

If you have a 9 to 5 job, and are at work today, chances are your productivity peaked at about 9:15 AM.

I feel like I have this conversation with people a lot. Offices are not perfect machines. At some point, the innate absurdity of the cubicle kingdom sets in and you can only distract yourself enough to avoid a total breakdown in productivity.

Don't get me wrong, you're still working. But it's a sluggish kind of work, the kind that feels like you're in your own personal traffic jam, and you're looking for the next route where you can hit the gas with some comfortable sense of pace. You feel like "If I just had a coffee, I could get going" or "If I just try and dive into a task, I'll make it all the way to 5." But it just won't happen. Your spark will fizzle, motor will stall continuously. You're passed the threshold.

It's not for lack of motivation or lack of trying, just the fact that you are a human being and you are not meant to be doing this all day every day. Strictly speaking, your natural behavior as a human doesn't go much beyond walking upright and procreating. Offices aren't exactly engaging, dynamic environments. They don't produce stimuli to engage your senses, they aren't environments you can manipulate or improve upon.

They are off-white, gray mazes bathed in mind-numbing fluorescence. You can't be blamed for your lull. You can only endeavor to endure it while you squeeze out the last remnants bits of accomplishment from your work week.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Worst Thing You Could Do

I have some advice for you: if you're going to quit smoking, just don't.

And if you do, don't promise anyone that you'll never smoke a cigarette again.

Unless you like breaking promises, or lying.

From a personal standpoint, it's really easy for me to approach a commitment I've made to myself with a fair degree of malleability. It's not about being wishy washy, it's about adaptation. It's also about being able to admit that you were wrong. No one ragged on me when I gave up my dream to be Batman, no one ragged on me when my plans to go the U.P. last summer failed. I certainly didn't punch myself in the nuts over it. I could easily take up smoking again despite the fact that I aimed to quit.

But one thing I cannot, will not do, is break a promise, assuming I can help it. I think about 50% of stress in my life comes from the prospect of failing to do something when and how I said I would do it. You could say that's because I'm a man of principle, but I think it's because I have an obsessive personality disorder. Hey, maybe I ended up like Batman after all.

When I told Bean I would never smoke a cigarette ever again, when I promised her I would never do it, I don't think she expected me to live up to that promise. I think she anticipated failure, but what mattered to her was the intent, the effort. She expected me to operate in a capacity that was human. I think she played a card she now at times regrets, having misunderestimated 1) how important it was that I have a reliable form of stress relief and 2) my fundamentally unhealthy approach to not being false.

So now I stir in cyclical disquiet, craving a cigarette, needing a cigarette, incapable of having one, further desiring the contractually unattainable.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sometimes I feel super guilty when I'm typing my last name and put in three k's instead of two. Such is the depth of my conscience.

Last night Bean and I were talking about how our relationship differs from others we've been in. All that aside, one of the things she mentioned was that a lot of her problems in previous romantic endeavors (both in choosing who to be with and how to be with them) stemmed from not knowing who she was. In reflective comparison, I realized that a lot of my general unhappiness came from trying to figure out who I was. Hey, how about that? A topic somewhat related to the concept of this blog.

I've struggled greatly with self definition and purpose in my life. I'm not sure why these concepts are difficult for me, in particular. I acknowledge that the rest of the world has a similar existential conundrum, but for some reason they don't seem quite so crippled by their own questions. They work, they go to school, they raise families, they pay their taxes --

Oh yeah, I need to do my taxes tonight.

Anyways... Meanwhile, I toil, sleep walk, stay up or sleep for days on end, find myself going for walks or taking sporadic night drives in an effort to "find myself." At least, that used to be the case. All this searching ended in part because I simply didn't have the time for it between work and a love life. In larger part, however, it ended because I simply decided that there was no "me" to find. Everything we are is dynamic, instantly malleable. Sure, we have standards, beliefs, ideas, habits that are developed through time and our interactions with the world, but -- assuming some general capacity for sentience and a tendency to be self-aware -- everything boils down to a single choice in the moment. Through that choice, every choice, we are determining, stating, who we are and what we value.

Struggling with a typo that makes me appear to support white supremacy, even unto myself, only troubled me because I was still denying myself choice and agency by attributing my presence and actions to a possible predestined character. In essence, a part of me still (the psychoanalyst, most likely) believes that the typo is a subconscious statement about who I am. I am drawn to extremes, and yes, drawn to defining myself.

Recently, though, I have been allowing myself the freedom to negotiate between making a choice that I, the concept of who I am, would make, and letting my own unfiltered decisions define me. As a result, I've been a much happier person.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

And the Heart Goes To...

I'm wearing a new suit today. I'm not only pleased by its appearance, but also the fact that it is new. You see, despite the relatively formal attire socioculturally demanded by my place of employment, I'm not well-off and a new suit is a rarity.

We can thank the girlfriend.

I had mentioned to her recently, much to her surprise and possible offense, that I still struggle to think of myself as part of a couple. I am reminded only when I speak to others who mention that they are alone or when another member of a couple mentions their partner. This is despite the fact that I see her literally every day, and have since we started dating. It is not out of any desire to be with someone else, nor any desire to be single. Certainly, no. Yet every time I am reminded, there is a pleasant, sedated surprise -- as if I never really knew it until that point.

I struggle to concieve of myself as a member of a couple because it has been so long since I was in love and, truthfully, I've never been with anyone long enough for the feeling of partnership to set in, the kind of conceptual understanding that develops only with time and trust. Psyche glimmered with those possibilities, but our relationship was apparently destined to be transient, as if perhaps a dream. A vivid dream, but a dream nonetheless.

With Bean things are different. Yes, what a silly statement. Everyone says "with this one it's different", but I suppose it's always true given that no two relationships are alike. I guess I should say that with Bean things are different, in a way that is proven to be good and established.

One of the questions I constantly ask myself now is whether or not this relationship, despite it's passion, health, partnership, and understanding, could fail? The thought of it seems ridiculous, but I am a man of possibilities. I strain to see these scenarios, how they could happen, and how to prevent them. Bean and I are always offering one another reassurances, and we both sincerely mean it, and have little doubt, if any. Promises of forever are, however, on the grand scheme of things, a best intention and literally could not be more, given chance and life's randomness.

And its frailty.

My heart presumes no outcome, but it loves, and so it hopes and hopes and hopes. From those hopes, the seemingly endless will to fight so that it never ends.

Monday, December 28, 2009

You've Got My Number

I'm a consummate self-analyst. Not only am I fond of reasoning out my every decision and feeling, but also of acknowledging the limitless possibilities inherent in a single action. This results in a lot of paranoia about the future and choices made in the present. It also results in a lot of situations (as often happen in sitcoms or HBO dramas) where I'm the subject of some diatribe or lecture whereby the person thinks they are revealing knowledge of myself, to myself, only for me to be generously irritated at the assumption that I hadn't thought of it. I'm crazy, no doubt, but delusion is not a spice in my recipe. Among other things, I think I suffer from some mild form of obsessive compulsive disorder, or "The O.C. disorder." At any given time, my mind is traveling down the tunnels through scary or wonderful non-terminal butterfly effects.


I think that the self-defeating prophecy is my favorite, sort of like saying that blue skies are my favorite, since both are found in abundance. Still, I try not to let my paranoia or insecurities completely determine my personal life. Frankly, despite how beautiful I can swing a sadness, I rather enjoy being happy. It tickles my fancy, and I'd like for it to keep on tickling well into eternity if I can help it.

Relative to the lone wolf, gray attitude which I took to in the past couple years, it comes rather as a surprise how in love I am, and the happiness that that love has generated. Sure, I may not show it openly (in fact, I was recently asked if I was depressed, because I was acting differently), but it nests so close to my inner thoughts that it practically becomes me. I'm operating on a whole other level of internal dialogue, which I think is the most important dialogue -- except, perhaps in this case, those which I carry on with Persephone.

Every love is different, and while that which I share with this woman encompasses with varying degrees all other loves which I have ever felt, it is defined by a truth of comfort, an ease which I am not accustomed to. It permeates every experience I have with her, however minor or insignificant. Persephone is everything I imagine her to be. Yeah, we surprise each other sometimes. Yeah, we have random fun. But most of all, it's that smile I have in my heart, even if it's not on my face, every time I kiss her cheek or she walks into a room. It doesn't shatter down my defenses, it glides through them. It doesn't trip me up, it doesn't send me through the roof. It floats like feathers on the wind, landing and lofting up again, over and over, across the empty plane of thought and feeling.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Just Because

I can't believe it's been over a month since I posted in this thing. Do I really have no commentary to offer? No snark, no existential musings? No self-indulgent, presumptuous statements about the way of things?

You often hear that ignorance is bliss. Maybe the reverse is true as well. I have found that though I am quite happy right now, thanks in large part to that thing called Love, I lack the traditional depth and focus I used to have on life's finer mysteries, the nuances of behavior in those around me, and how to perform rudimentary simple tasks such as walking without running into things. Last night I walked into the edge of the stove. This morning, I sliced my toe on a stray DVD player. Today I find myself unable to perform the function of sorting data in Microsoft Excel, or to remember where I stored a particular drafted letter. I put a sheet on my bed the wrong way and didn't realize I had done it until I was under the covers.

Is Suffering perhaps a close friend to Mental Acuity? And I, now hanging out with Peace & Contentment, have been ostracized from sitting at his lunch table? Seriously. Maybe bliss does beget ignorance. When you lack nothing which you desire, you lack the urge to discover, to analyze. You generate no answers, because you generate no questions.

Oh yeah, I was also in a car accident recently. I don't think that, at least, had anything to do with my not hasing smarts. Rather, that had to do with my not hasing tractions. Michigan winter can be pretty brutal, especially in an economy where plows and saltings are no longer affordable. My car turns from just having an offensive color to being a death trap on wheels. I skid, slide, and drift while going less than 20 miles an hour. Let me put this another way: if there is ice anywhere on a road, my awareness of my own mortality expands infinitely.

No one seems to really understand this either. There is some notion, somehow, that because I've only lived in this state my whole life I could somehow just be bad at driving in winter. I seem to remember driving in winter for 6 years prior to getting this car and not almost dying every time I got on an icy/snowy road.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I have determined that tired and hungry could be mutually exclusive feelings. I'm used to feeling both at once. Whether this is pure coincidence or merely that I'm tired because I'm not eating, I will leave that up to logic to decide.

Right now, I just feel tired. Last night Persephone made me dinner (which was delicious by the way), so I feel full. I ate breakfast AND lunch today (Ho-ho!) as opposed to one or the other. I don't crave any organic sustenance. I am sated.

Now the exhaustion. My coworker is back today, so I imagined I'd feel, I don't know, less like I was running a marathon. No such luck. From the get-go I am the hamster in the wheel, spinning into infinity. This combined with my now resurrected romantic life has left me feeling burnt out even when I wake up in the morning.