Tag Archives: modern life

How an Overachieving Work Monger Learned the Benefit of a Good Nap

staged napping photo

staged napping photo

I’m staying at a friend’s co-op which is unsurprisingly full of long haired hippie types with slow eyed dreams. Despite the fact I’m also pursuing an “alternative” career as opposed to something in office dronery, I’m still skeptical of those who dream of nothing more than working on a farm for six months out of the year and going south to roost with the birds come October.

Where’s the ambition? Where’s the love of early mornings and hard work? Where’s the drive to produce every single moment of the day and have a list of goals hanging from the wall and over your head that you must accomplish or suffer failure?

To me, even travel can and should be considered work, which I love. If I’m successful at the work of travel, I go out and see a great many things, write a good many blog posts and thoughts, draw a picture, talk to a stranger and spend little money. I fail by staying in bed and being lazy. Being lazy must be avoided at all costs.

I’ve always felt righteous about my overbearing work ethic, which has often stressed me out and caused me to spend too much time working on things that didn’t matter as opposed to relaxing with friends. In fact, I hate the very word relax. It offends me. I don’t want to relax. I want to learn, to work, to be productive, to produce, to experience, etc. etc. It’s exhausting.

When one of these hippie types pulled out a book two days ago called “How to be Idle,” by Tom Hodgkinson, I nearly vomited in my quinoa. Could there be anything more disgusting than a book dedicated to laziness and encouraging these kinds of people who needed nothing more than a swift kick in the ass? I scoffed at the very idea of it.

Then, minutes later, I picked it up. I started reading the first chapter “8 a.m.: Waking up is hard to do.” And within a couple more minutes I was hooked. I saw my life and culture in a completely different light. The emphasis on productivity hasn’t served me but my corporate overlords. Busyness is a cult that degrades our quality of life, our freedom, and the ability to reflect on and live contemplative existences.

Though I don’t agree with Hodgkinson completely on everything about the idler lifestyle, I did suddenly realize that my relentless focus on production is not productive. Boom. It’s as simple as that.

I’ve not finished the book, but it has been interesting to hear this man’s thoughts on how our culture of work conspires to keep us chained to our desks, away from home, and most of all, to keep us from thinking.

In honor of my newfound appreciate for idleness, I took a nap and spent five hours today in a cafe merely reflecting. It was certainly time well spent.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book so far: 

On working long hours and doing nothing: 

“After all, aren’t modern companies always saying how much they value creativity and innovation? How much they need ideas? Perhaps the truth is rather sadder, that they actually value steadfastness, application and your bum being on your revolving seat for as many hours in the day as you can stand.”

On the culture that rejects illness and taking any time off for it: 

“Drug companies make vast profits out of magic beans which promise to deliver us from torment and return us to the desk.”

On napping: 

“Don’t think that you will be doing less work because you sleep during the day. That’s a foolish notion held by people who have no imagination. You will be able to accomplish more.” – Winston Churchill

“Employers would rather you put in four hours of sitting and accomplishing nothing than an hour’s nap, clothes or otherwise, followed by three hours of productive toil.”

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Why the Office is a Teeming Cesspool of Miracles

BrightTALK hqAre you familiar with the term the built environment? It’s not the mountains or the ocean or the forest or a rocky outcropping. It’s the places that humans have built for themselves to spend tons of time inside. An office, for example.

An office is a teeming cesspool of people operating according to three things: their innate animal nature, the needs of the business, and their levels of coffee intake. The office, as a human creation, is kind of disgusting and kind of a miracle. On the one hand, you’re stuck in the same room or building as a group of essentially random people.

These people may or not make you laugh or care about you. Not only that, there are millions of other beings out there in the world that you could be interacting with but instead you’re stuck with the bozos that HR hired.

On the other hand, it’s miraculous. No where else in modern life are we able to interact with the same group of people so continuously and together-ly. In Western culture, the extended family has pretty much broken down. Both parents work and are 50% divorced, and the rest of the family is dispersed. In many ways and due to sheer time spent together, the office has become a family replacement. And as depressing as that is, after a while you start to notice things like hey, Aaron is attractive and wow, Sunita really loves nuts. But mostly you notice that everyone is a freak in their own special way. I mean this only in a positive way.

Everyone’s a freak with incredibly distinct gaits and styles of talking and weird food habits. Even a complete lack of personality is awesome, because cool! They have the personality of a cabinet. That’s so….interesting. How did they lose their ability to have a point of view or add anything useful to a conversation?

It’s fascinating! And so you might walk into an office (or any other built environment) on your first day thinking, “wow, everyone here is normal.” But by month 6, you realize that not only is everyone incredibly normal, but they’re also wildly bizarre beyond your imagining and you’re part of it too.

You’re all freaks and awesome together and you get over it and work with your pseudo family, bound together by a non-human entity known as the business. The office is also an actual cesspool in that you share everyone’s germs and weird anger outbursts and acts of kindness until you or the business leaves. And that’s what an office is. It’s a built environment teeming with freak miracles. Unless you don’t like where you work, in which case everyone is an idiot except you.

P.S. If you’re in the Bay Area, you absolutely MUST check out the Femprov fest coming up April 24th – 27th because Women + Improv + Comedy = Awesome Sauce. Yours truly will be performing with True Medusa on Thursday, April 24th and you can check out the whole line up for Femprov fest here, and read more about Leela here.

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The Internet Doesn’t Need Me

Please?

A couple of days ago I moved into a less horrifyingly-dirty apartment, which is great. Unfortunately, there is no internet due to a freak accident. The good news is that we’re having a dude or ma’am come pour us some more on Saturday, but the bad news is that they’re coming on Saturday, not now.

I’ve been hooked on the internet ever since Mom took the sisters and me to the library so we could play Neopets for hours on end, pissing off people who were trying to look for jobs and/or porn. Just like many others from the I-Can’t-Complain-But-I-Still-Do generation, attachment to the internet characterizes my hyper-socialized existence. Smart phones are whipped out at every chance, email and facebook checked as routinely as blinking, and barrages of tweets barrel down our throats every other second. Much of what I call “work,” I do from my computer, and using the internet is my only hobby.

Living without the internet, albeit for only a couple of days, has forced me to adapt to what I used to believe was an untenable situation, and I’ve come to a startling conclusion, one that has rocked me to the core and that I can’t wait to forget.

The internet doesn’t need me.

Through my forced detachment, I found that because of the massive amounts of time I spend communicating and throwing tweets out there and cultivating facebook for notifications, I came to believe that people needed me to be out there talking to them, that things would go horribly awry if I weren’t there, that #searchingforemily would start trending if I hadn’t tweeted in x amount of hours, that my emails would pile up and every employer I ever contacted would get back to me and demand a response within an hour and then give up when I was incommunicado.

What I did find was a different situation altogether. When I made it to a café yesterday at 8:15 AM, eager to see what kinds of crucial communication I had missed, I found that not much had happened.  I had one personal email to respond to. Suddenly, I realized that I didn’t need the internet attached at the bellybutton in order to maintain relationships with people I loved, and that for the most part, things go on without me pretty well out there on the web. Most importantly, I learned that more internet does not mean better internet. It means more aimless wandering, the endless searching for the next shock or haha.

Will I take these lessons and make them a part of my life when internet does come home roost forever, or will I greet it and kiss it on both cheeks and say welcome dear one  I have missed you let us never be parted again? I think we all know the answer to that question. Things will probably go back to normal and I will waste time and not get enough done. But at least I know that I’m the only one that really cares.

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“I Will Believe in My Glittery Screen.”

Compy goes with me everywhere.

Today I was using the ‘ol computer, typing away at my reinvented hamster wheel and rollerskating through the nets like tomorrow hadn’t been invented yet and I had the life span of an Old Testament patriarch.

I felt magic coursing through my veins as the web opened its doors and welcomed me with the minty breath of an over-eager date. Opportunities pushed me over and grabbed me by the shirt collar, saying, “I’m for you!” Yes, today was different.

It was not like yesterday, when the internet’s waters were grey like grandfather’s liver and my eyes grew weary as they sifted through the words like picking over dance prospects at a honkey tonk after only one drink. Nothing was exciting.

But today, zoom! Bang! Whip! Smash! Crunch! It felt like things were happening.

And then I noticed that my computer screen looked different. It was shining, no, glittering as I sped across the web’s pages. I didn’t think anything of it except for how much of an improvement it was on the dust blanket that eternally covered my monitor in Cairo. And I thought the glitter looked really pretty. It reminded me of when I liked glittery things and the solution to any artistic or decorative dilemma was to rain glitter on that mother effer.

I thought of a conversation I had with my neighbor, a member of a “charismatic” strand of Protestant Christianity, when she told me about a revival at their church. Apparently at the height of the service, some members’ faces and hands started shining with what later turned out to be 24 carat gold.

Maybe I was experiencing something similar, except for it was my computer that was blessed by the Lord and had become a sign to the believers in this household that the Lord does exist and that my computer was an instrument of holy work and had been sanctified for its efforts, that it would now live forever, slowly becoming more and more covered in these glitter specks until it turned into a Mac Wafer, a kind of computer that doesn’t yet exist.

Then I saw a speck towards the right-most edge of the screen that was slightly larger. It looked like a water droplet or something of that nature, but that was impossible, because water evaporates and I hadn’t had any on my computer that day. Oil, however, does not evaporate, and I had been using my computer dangerously close to pots and pans filled with various things sautéing.

My computer screen was not dazzling with flecks of spiritual 24 carat gold. It was cooking oil, either olive or canola, that had splattered onto the screen. My miracle was nothing more than the result of haphazard placement of electronics.

I could choose to be disappointed to think that I merely have a dirty, oily screen that’s no better than the glasses of a fry cook. Instead, I will believe in my glittery screen, will appreciate it for the fact it looks pretty, and will believe that this was still a miracle in its own way, both the fact that I still have a working computer, and the fact the screen looks better now than it ever has.

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How to Tell Your Partner About the Black Hole You Just Created

a photo I just took in my laboratory

Telling your partner you accidentally set the earth on an irreversible path to destruction is not a comfortable subject. However, if you care for them, then you understand that he or she deserves to know they have roughly three minutes before being swallowed up into an abyss of infinitely dense spacetime.

The ideal way to address the subject is in a romantic environment, while walking on the beach at sunset, gazing into each others’ eyes after a fancy meal, or watching the lights twinkle on in one of the world’s great cities.

Unfortunately, it’s unlikely you’ll be in any of those situations. In reality, you’re lucky if your loved one is even close enough to your laboratory so you can run up and tell them the news in person.

But, if you have the good fortune to be addressing them in person, the first thing you should do is look deeply into their eyes and reaffirm how much you care about them. At the same time, remember the black hole is expanding as you speak. Be brief.

Once you make your feelings clear, lead into the subject gently by saying, “You know that secret particle accelerator I’ve been working on? Well, it turns out that just seconds ago I created a very small black hole. It’s not dangerous now, but–this is the scary part–in three minutes it’s going to engulf the entire earth and swallow all of us into oblivion. There’s a way to reverse it, but the internet’s being weird so I can’t look it up. I’m telling you this because I really care about you. On the bright side, we won’t have to get the transmission fixed. Let’s just spend these last few minutes together.”

Keep in mind that the most difficult part of telling them will not be the black hole itself, but the fact this hole will suck up the entire earth and end both of your lives. Also, make sure they know this is not a joke.

They may or may not have a chance to respond, but if they do, it will likely be garbled nonsense because of the mental shock. They may laugh, say I love you back, or feel a vague sense of gratitude and admiration that you had the guts to tell them in the first place.

You should be grateful for their confusion, because it will allow you to spend your last moments together in relative peace, regardless of what your relational status was beforehand. It will be like the time your puppy was adorable and sleepy after she got spayed. The most important part is that you enjoy your last few moments together.

Should you have to send a text message instead of telling them in person, use the bad news sandwich method, putting the unpleasant revelation of the black hole between two happy bits of news. Here’s an example: I love you and I’m so sorry but I just created a black hole in my laboratory and the earth is going to be destroyed. :(. No need to worry about making dinner tonight. Love you always.

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