The Momentum of Missing

I’m starting to miss Buffalo. It started this past week, really—the week before, I was doing something (or several things) every single day after work, and it was insane; but this past week there was nothing going on, so I had more time to think. I like having time to think, but thinking also gets me to missing. It’s okay, really—it’s natural, and it’s not so overwhelming that it’s detracting from enjoying myself in San Francisco. I’m not exactly talking about the people, either: I miss my friends and family no matter what when they’re not around. What’s new is missing Buffalo, and Canisius, and the whole life I had there. Not only am I missing my specific friends, but I’m missing the level of friendship we had. My housemates are great but we’ve only known each other for a month; it takes me longer than a month to establish that level of closeness with someone. I have yet to figure out how to meet people in the city, outside of JVC and work, so the circle of people I know has diminished considerably…

I came across an interesting passage in the book I’m reading, You Shall Know Our Velocity by Dave Eggers. Will and Hand are swimming at night in Senegal when they meet a French woman who is trying to explain to them her concept of the fourth world:

“The main point is,” she said, trying to contain her frustration, “that we have to cut from hope of continuity. Momentum. We must to see each setting and moment as whole. Different, independent. A staging ground.” […] “My mother urges me to have a chance for the fourth world at all time. You have to forget about momentum and start again, and again, and again, and again.” (141)

I don’t think that what she’s talking about is exactly what I’m talking about, but there’s a connection there somewhere. In a way, what she’s describing is what I’m trying to do: cut from all hope of continuity, to live each moment fully for itself. I’ve noticed that sometimes, when I’m enjoying myself, when things are going exactly how I would want them to, and it should be absolutely perfect, the one thing that keeps it from being perfect is my own knowledge that it has to end, because this world is inherently imperfect and whatever perfection there is can’t be complete, can’t last, and my dread of that moment coming to an end, my overwhelming and futile desire to prolong it, takes away from my enjoyment of the thing itself.

My other thought along those lines is momentum. In the story, she’s urging them to forget about momentum, but Will, at least in the ¾ of the book I’ve read so far, is doing all he can to keep moving, dodging obstacles, dreading sleep, trying to outrun his thoughts. Is this momentum or velocity? My lack of ever having taken physics is catching up with me. Anyway…that’s basically how I work, too. (Maybe it’s how everyone works? It’s possible, but not having polled everyone, I’m not going to be so presumptuous.) Over the summers my life would stagnate; I was working crappy part-time jobs and trying to find ways to entertain myself in the meantime, doing the same things I’d always done with nothing new in my life and nothing to distract me from wallowing in thoughts and memories and the wistful awareness of absence. During school, though, I usually had enough to distract me. I have no desire to completely outrun my thoughts, but I don’t want to dwell in memory to the point of toxicity, either. I think all I need is a decent balance. The thing about balances, though, is that they don’t exist in a perfect form either—most of the time the best I can do is swing back and forth between one extreme and the other.

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Screw growing up.

Seriously. Screw it. I’ve decided that I’m just not going to do it. I’ve heard that this is a bad thing, that I have to become a responsible adult or else I’m basically a fuckup. I don’t give a crap. Being a responsible adult? That’s bullshit. What I want to be is ALIVE, and if those two things are as incongruous as they sometimes seem, well, it isn’t difficult to choose between them.

I would rather burn for unmet ideals and perish in the flames than spend my days in monotonous contentment. Am I saying that happiness is overrated? I think I’m distinguishing between happiness and contentedness. I don’t want to be content; I want to be alive—happiness, however, is something separate. Happiness is what comes from having a deeper understanding of life and my place in the world, no matter what my current circumstances may be.

I am not going to settle for a boring adult existence. It scares the hell out of me: wake up, go to work, come home, eat, sleep, lather, rinse, and repeat, just trying to get through the days one after another, not ecstatic but not miserable, trying not to think or feel more than necessary, watching time pass and waiting to grow old. FUCK no. I recoil from that prospect with every single particle of soul that I possess. I am not going to become boring and hide behind “maturity” and “responsibility” to disguise it. I am not going to resign myself to the mundane just because it’s what I’m told to do and it’s what others have done before me. I will fight for what I love until the day I die. I will be a crusader for my own cause, whatever I want that to be. I think Dwayne from Little Miss Sunshine is right on when he says “Do what you love, and fuck the rest.” If we’re not doing what we love, then we are wasting our time. We have to figure out what inspires us, what gets us out of bed in the morning and makes us feel alive, and get out there and fucking DO it. There is no excuse for settling for a life in greyscale when there is so much out there worth fighting for—when there is so much color everywhere.

“If you’re going to San Francisco…”

...be sure to wear some flowers in your hair...

"...be sure to wear some flowers in your hair..."

If you're going to San Francisco,

"If you're going to San Francisco,"

...you're gonna meet some gentle people there

"you're gonna meet some gentle people there..."

We went to the Power to the Peaceful festival in Golden Gate Park on Saturday. And there was music, and there was dancing, and there were vendors and activists and artists and people “hooping” and people on stilts and people with wings and people dancing while spinning sticks on various parts of their bodies, and people advocating for marijuana and people partaking in it, and guys in frilly skirts, and lots and lots of people with dreadlocks. We heard Michael Franti and Spearhead and Ziggy Marley, and I wandered around the booths set up and got free organic chocolate samples and literature on the benefits of marijuana and a necklace on a hemp string with a green clay bead bearing the word for “peace” in hindi (“shanti”). After the official concert ended, people stuck around and played whatever instruments they had brought and danced. I happened to mention this to an attorney I was speaking with at our Clinic Mixer on Wednesday (held in the office of a big law firm with huge windows overlooking the bay — amazing), and she just nodded and said “…so they had drum circles,” like it was commonplace. I told her we didn’t have drum circles so much in Buffalo.

"...Summertime will be a love-in there."

"...Summertime will be a love-in there."

(Okay, you knew I had to quote this song at some point. Point is, it was a fun day.)

Update from A Laundromat

…the name of which is, brilliantly, “A Laundromat.” It’s about two blocks from our apartment and costs about $5 to run a load of laundry… It’s not bad but it makes me appreciate living right across from the laundry in Village.

So! I’m getting the hang of my job. I’m making fewer stupid mistakes, and I’ve interviewed a whole bunch of people for debt collection and eviction, plus one vehicle towing case. I run my first clinic this coming Thursday. Tuesday we’re going to an EDC event after work where rumor has it I’ve been volunteered to tend bar(?), and Wednesday we’re holding a mixer for the pro bono attorneys and other people we work with. Looks like it’ll be a busy week.

I’m still getting used to this whole “40-hour work week” bit. People aren’t kidding; it really kills all your free time. I get home and I have to cook, or we have community night or spirituality night, or I have to do paperwork and make phone calls and run errands and do laundry. I barely have time to write anymore, and I’m still having trouble finding time to call people. I’m sure I’ll figure it out eventually, though—I mean, this is pretty much how my life is going to be until I retire, save grad school.

In other news, I’m finally not sick anymore! So that’s a huge improvement. I’m still looking for a cheap guitar on Craigslist because I decided that would be a fun thing to mess around with this year, and I’m still looking for a piano to play as well. I got a hold of someone from the music department at USF, but she said that they didn’t even have practice rooms for their music students and said I should try to convince the Jesuits to get some. So I’m going to look into other colleges around here. (Teresa and I want to get a piano for the apartment, but we don’t know how to carry it up two flights of stairs…) I’ve also vaguely started looking into grad schools to see about getting my teaching certification/masters. Being out of school is making me realize how much I really enjoy school and wouldn’t mind going back. I really like the idea of being a professor but I don’t know about the “getting my PhD” part of that plan—the thought of writing a dissertation kind of makes me want to stab myself in the eye. So I figured I’d like to get my adolescent ed. certification for English and Spanish, if I can do that at a reasonable cost in a reasonable amount of time. Right now I’m looking at programs at UB and Canisius, but I might expand that if I decide I feel like going somewhere else.