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It almost doesn't feel right that I can have a person from my past emerge mysteriously from my memory banks, and within seconds of plugging the name into google and facebook and whatnot, I know exactly what they are up to. I mean, mostly it can be interesting and satisfying. But occasionally, I am weird and want to savor the wistfulness of not-knowing. I suppose I could not look it up, but I am not so good at resisting temptation that is immediately available. I'm better off just hoping to be someplace where I can't look it up (in a car, on the highway between small towns) and then I'll forget before the next time I'm at a computer. I suppose what doesn't feel right about it is the immediate solving of the mystery, which isn't very good fodder for the imagination. Because there are certainly other figures from my past who are untraceable on google searches, have been for years, and I'm perfectly ready for some of those questions to be answered.

I was about to say that my 2009 is getting off to a sluggish start, but then I glanced at the clock on the phone on my desk and saw it was only the 9th and thought, "oh, that's not too bad. Only 9 days." Sometimes I get locked in the hypermodernist way of the world and lose perspective of time passing, not everything has to be so dreadfully urgent all the time, I'm trying to retrain myself a bit on that one. Last year I didn't make a long list of new year's resolutions, I only did one, really, and that was 'working out on a regular basis' and I did a pretty great job of that last year, I'm maintaining it okay right now. This year I have appreciating the art of phone calls a.k.a. overcoming phonephobia (so far, so good), and added two more, one concrete (to get more fiscally responsible and stable) and one metaphoric (to allow myself to be happy). The latter is one a long time in the making, and I don't mean it in quite the sense of 'if you aren't happy, its your own fault' as if hard isht doesn't happen to us or effect us, but rather what I mean is that I'm frequently prone to not allowing myself to be happy when maybe I am, or maybe I could be if I would just quit talking myself out of it for a few moments. This tends to slow things down for me, and then I lose track of time and can make me panic, but I'm trying to damage-control that as well. Its January, its post-holidays, I'm grieving some things, of course I will have moments like yesterday where I don't exactly feel distraught, but just slightly perplexed at how I seem to manage to do everything wrong. Then today, I think, oh silly, its not everything. In fact, its not most things. Part of the allowing myself to be happy campaign is fully appreciating everything around me, because if I examine it, I have amazing things and experiences and people all around me. It all sounds so dippy, which is probably why I haven't written about it publicly, but oh well, too late now. No surprise, I'm a sap, I don't know what I feel compelled to hide it behind clever, wry observations. Or rather, why I don't think they can't co-exist. I think I aspire to have the mind of a pessimist and the heart of an optimist.

Tonight I was going to go to temple for all-night sitting, in honor of buddha's enlightenment day, but I'm feeling anxious about it, not up to doing it, so I think I won't, but then that inspires guilt and shame and that isn't entirely helpful either. I'm looking at those things too. I had a moment recently, during work practice at temple actually, where I was instructed to do something a certain way, because if it was done otherwise, the monk would "yell at us." It was said with a laugh, but I knew it was also real (not 'yelled' in a berating way, just in a firm, no-nonsense way), and so I was being hypervigilent about doing it right so I wouldn't get yelled at and ashamed by it, when suddenly I thought, wait who cares? So what if I'm yelled at? I'm an adult, I don't have to listen to it or take it to heart. And then I kept working fastidiously. But without fear of being shamed. It was far more pleasurable. And you know, hey, what do you know, there goes some big blockade I've been carrying around forever in my unconscious, knocked down spontaneously. I suppose I've been chipping at it awhile though. So maybe I'll got over there at midnight, or maybe no enlightenment sitting tonight, maybe next year. I might instead want to feel enlightened by the discs of Battlestar Galactica that are waiting at home for us to watch.
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It is the end of the holidays which officially means I'm ragged and ready to go back to everyday life, except the inertia of not moving is conflicting that. I'm reading This Breathing World and just now there was a passage about February and its cold and isolation and it suddenly hit me, oh isht, its nearly January 2nd which means its that period of dreary long winter months with no activities to break up the monotony. I mean, Thanksgiving/Christmas can be depressing too, in their own ways, but at least it has built in opportunities to dress up. And drink. And pass the time with travel or religious services or meals. Today, as a ritual for an auspicious year, we had black-eyed peas for good luck and sauteed spinach (greens, of sort) for good fortune and sauteed shrimp for good sex (this last one I created just today). The shrimp I made for my own plate had blackening seasoning and I hit the perfect amount and balance such that when I ate, it was my trip to New Orleans in my mouth. It might have made me cry but instead I distracted myself with the movie. We watched Hulk which wasn't too bad, actually. Then again, it came after Ride With the Devil which was overlong and tedious, so that might have affected my judgment.

Tomorrow I will go to the gym and act a little huffy in my head about how crowded it will be with New Year's Resolution makers, when really I am one of them, I just jumped on the train a few weeks early. But hopefully I will stay on it past March.

This evening, at the conclusion of our Ang Lee movie marathon, I felt like I needed to know what was going on in the outside world. I've been in a bubble for 4 days, with cleaning the house, cooking, having people over on Sunday night, going to temple last night, then vegging out and eating leftovers on the couch. It was 6 pm, and the News Hour with Jim Lehrer was on, and it made me miss being home in the evenings. For the most part, my job is working out really well, but sometimes the schedule is a pain, or at least has drawbacks. I suppose that is any work schedule though, really.

I was re-reading January 1 posts from years past and I forgot how rigorously I closely astrology, and so I went back to an old favorite site and read this. In honor of my 2001 self (because I am a Cancer and we put too much emphasis on the past, don't you know), I will post it in my journal. Behind a cut, of course.

January forecast for Cancer, in case you are one too )

There's something so strangely comforting about the familiar language of horoscopes, with their constant talk of marriage proposals and business partnerships. Its like when I hear the church doxology and sing along without thinking about what I'm saying.
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At the new year's eve service at temple, one of the rituals is the burning of one's defilements, or 'bad habits' as they gently put it. You have a piece of a paper, about 4x6 and a small golf pencil and a few minutes to write down all the things from the past year you want to let go of, send up in smoke. Last year, they started a new tradition of giving out a second piece of paper. On this one, you write down all the 'good habits' you desire to cultivate in the next year. Last year, I left my paper blank. I folded it in quarters and stuck it in my pocket and I still have it -- stuck into my 'writing altar' in the office which is basically my MFA thesis, lots of blank books, and inspirational notes on post-its. The emptiness sort of represented possibility of all the things I could and would do in 2007. It also represented the state of mind I was in, weighed down and paralyzed and trying to get rid of so much of my 'bad habits' that I couldn't even conceive of what positive aspirations I had.

This year, I wrote out my defilements and I felt like I had more jotted down than years' past, but only because I was able to write out specifically what things were bothering me, what I wanted to let go. And when it came time for the good habits, I knew right away what to right there as well, it was very clear the things I want to cultivate and do more of:


Now I'm about to drink coffee and pull out the paper journal and see the concrete 'resolutions' I made last year. I know that I did not achieve lots of them, but I'm okay with most all of it -- because I either learned something concrete about myself in why I didn't do it, or I'm okay with just adding it to the list for this year. Like learning to do a headstand.

May 2010

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