Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Very random ramble

I don't remember which Bourne movie it was, but I often think about the scene: Bourne and his once-boss on a bridge in Paris, Bourne just said something along the lines of 'you pay me to kill.' His once-boss retorts, 'I don't pay you to kill; anyone can kill. I pay you to be invisible.'

That, my friends, is how I feel about technology (and probably some other things). I don't want it popping up all the time reminding me of what it can do or asking how it can help. I want my programs and apps to do their thing and leave me alone. I'm not talking about ads; I understand advertising. I don't understand apps and programs getting in the way of the things I'm actually trying to do on any given device, to broadcast their presence. That's not what I keep them around for. Take Clippy, the original interloper. It went away, but now there's Cortana. Go the fuck away forever, is how you can help me. Same with Bixby on my phone.

In the previous paragraph, I referred to "any given device." Because I'm now a person with multiple devices, though I was once a person with no devices apart from a computer. Sometimes I even use more than one device at a time. I--who five years ago didn't know I needed an iPad until I won one--am now shopping for a second iPad (in fairness, the first is getting wonky and Apple is no longer updating the OS).

That's why I blog so infrequently now; I live on my iPad and rarely fire up my laptop. I'm not bad at tracking stories I want to link to, but I'm somewhat bad at remembering original things I want to write about. Rather, by the time I've gotten to the laptop, whatever I might have wanted to ramble about earlier no longer possesses my attention.

Except when it does. All of this reckoning over creeps and predators has brought back memories of RM. In fact, even before the reckoning, I was telling a friend/coworker about RM and he kept asking whether I ever thought this guy was a physical threat to me. I don't know why I didn't, or if I should have; I think I fell for the bumbling-idiot act. which I never fell for thereafter. I wonder what ultimately protected me (RM did keep trying, but also stepped back every time my response denied him whatever bumbling-idiot-based plausible deniability he would have sought), and I wonder whether there were other women--perhaps those over whom he held power--who were not so lucky. I wonder whether those women have or will come forward.

I wonder about other bumbling-idiot men, like that dude I went on an terrible date with. He was so creepy, I still feel creeped out just thinking about him. Creepiness aside, that date is the opposite of how I wish dating would be; I wish it would be easy. I wish it would make sense.

For the second year in a row, I withdrew from a Thanksgiving gathering because a deplorable invited herself. It's not so much that I don't want to deal with her; it's more that I don't want to pretend that I don't think she's a terrible person. Instead, I'm going to another friend's (one with whom I've a long tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving). You may be thinking that's a cop-out, and that it would be better to show up and fight, but there is no reasoning with this deplorable (I've tried). There's only frustration. Last Thanksgiving, I stayed home and smashed the shit out of my old toilets (to get them into small enough pieces that the city would haul away). It was a therapeutic response to the election. This year, the most recent election was my therapy, and in the spirit of even more self-care, I'm choosing my own friendsgiving.

I've been pretty good about meditation, this thing that I've long known was a good idea but struggled to make time for. I've gone to a couple of meditation-at-work classes and downloaded their app. One thing that really sunk in after one of those classes, was the truth that the Vice Abbot who led our meditation class in Kyoto told us at the time: the benefits of meditation stem not from doing it well, but from doing it. Other meditation leaders (I got to Interfaith Meditation Initiative when I can, which isn't as often as I'd like) have made the same point: your mind will wander; that's what your mind does. You have not failed because it has. Anyway, I had a particularly fitful session at the most recent mindfulness-at-work class, and nonetheless felt amazing for hours afterward. The act of meditating, no matter how "poorly," benefited me. I didn't previously take it literally when people referred to meditation as "practice," but that's exactly what it is: you're practicing focusing on your breath and bringing your attention back to it. The practice itself will be imperfect, but that's the very point of practice.

I need meditation, and not just because I'm an inveterate schemer (what am I doing tomorrow, and more importantly, in five minutes? did I turn the stove off? did I forget something? what am I getting at the grocery store?). It's difficult for me to turn that voice off, even when I know how unhelpful that voice is (I've never forgotten to go to the grocery store; I'll either remember when the time comes or I'll write it down). If anything, focusing on the present rather than scheming, somehow clears my mind to make room for the reminders I need.

But I also need meditation because I'm my mother's child--my mother, who's always had so little control of her thoughts and reflexes that even in her demented delirium, she mumbles angry thoughts at the people in her head. I understand my mother; I want to tell people to fuck off pretty much every time I take metro (which these days is every day, but even when I biked to work, there were plenty of people on the trail who drew my ire). I'll never have the response reflexes of a saint, but I can do better than attending every verbal and/or mental fight I'm drawn to. To train oneself to pause in that moment between a stimulus and one's response--to manage one's own reaction--would be divine. To keep oneself out of the rabbit hole of obsessive thoughts--that's a life skill I aspire to. Let's see if I can get there.

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