Just For Tonight, I Will Try to Be Kind

I started using the Headspace App a few months ago and have been fairly consistent in meditating for ten minutes every day. They have the option to increase the amount of time, but I haven’t tried to commit more than ten minutes. More than ten minutes and I’m likely to think I haven’t got the time for it.

I started out really well, I think, and then after a while I was less good at it, falling asleep a lot, letting my mind wander all the time. Andy, the Headspace guy, says you’ve got to train the mind even when you’re not meditating. Well, he doesn’t say it like that. He always says use a gentle touch with the mind. He says you should be noticing when you’re indulging in thoughts that take you away from the present moment and seek to gently bring yourself back to the present moment. So anyway I got to the point where I was letting my mind wander as much as I had been before I started “training my mind.”

But a few days ago I decided to “give it another go” and “get serious” again. Side note, does putting cliches in quotes absolve you of the literary crime of using them? “Fuck it.” Haven’t we been down this road before…

So anyway, I’m meditating on different kinds of “happiness,” as silly as that sounds. Yesterday, Andy said that I couldn’t feel happy if I was simultaneously being unkind towards anyone. And he said I also count as someone that I shouldn’t be unkind towards.

Today at work I tried to be kind to everyone, including myself. It worked well, even when I found it a struggle for a few moments when some customers seemed to respond with vitriol and condescension, and even when I forgot to keep “being kind” at the forefront of my mind.

One thing I tried to realize is that being kind to everyone and yourself doesn’t mean self-abnegation. It doesn’t mean you have to be subservient or obsequious. What’s the right way to balance being kind to an asshole and being kind to yourself…not sure yet.

But I’ll work on it. In the meantime, I’m on break, sitting in the sunlight and feeling good about the morning, which is not something to be taken for granted.

Paul Graham said that anyone who insults us hurts us twice, the first time when they insult us and the second time for however long we ruminate on it. By focusing constantly on kindness, you don’t have a lot of time to get hurt in the second way. Also, in regards to yesterdays’ rant about customer service and finding a way out of it, Bob Dylan says that everyone has to serve someone. And that’s really ok, because being waited on all the time makes me uncomfortable anyway. It’s good to serve other people out of our own free will and kindness, not out of avarice and not with bitterness. Is it possible to serve people at your job while feeling like you’re doing it out of the “kindness of your heart?” Maybe.

But in any case, it will be good to eliminate bitterness from my life, if possible, because Benedict Cumberbatch was right when he said, “Bitterness is a paralytic.” I think I’ve written a post about that, but I forgot about it until now. Maybe I have not made much progress in my career because I am bitter about the past, how I graduated college at the wrong time; how I took on too much debt for no reason; how I didn’t pay attention in school; how I didn’t put in enough resumes last year, or the year before that or the year before that. Translating that bitterness towards the customers gives it fresh life and keeps me from breaking free.

Now, I’ve tried to be positive about customers before, and that fails after a while. But maybe the way is not to be positive about what they’re doing, or who they are, because after all you can’t know those things, and when you think about it nearly everyone is as clever and complex as you are, but anyway to disregard all that and focus on what you can control, how kind you are to them and to yourself, that may be the way. So if someone berates you unfairly, not to stand there and take it as if you deserved it, but rather to return to them a kind response and to remind yourself that you don’t deserve that kind of treatment, and move on. Any thought you have about their hopefully impending horrible death is fine, you’re allowed to have the thought, since thoughts don’t define who you are, but at the same time you don’t want to leave the present and walk very far down into that fantasy.

And you especially don’t want to do it and rationalize it by telling yourself that it will make good material for a story, since bitterness the paralytic will keep you from writing any stories.

So for me I will not seek to understand people tonight at work, only to be kind towards them and towards myself. We’ll see how happy I am at the end of the shift.

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Two Blog Posts in a Row

I’m going back to work today. Shit I just wrote a post and deleted it. Got to get back to the old days of just writing some shit down. Stop deleting shit. Traffic out on the street is a bitch. I guess everybody is leaving for Labor Day, but the sky is gray out there and it’s hot. I got my Birkenstocks yesterday and wore them around town and my feet hurt like a motherfucker. That new leather just dug into the tops of my feets. God damn that shit was rough.

I went to this bar that newly opened up like two blocks from my house. I’ve never lived this close to a really cool bar. I didn’t realize it was cash only though, so I couldn’t get a cocktail or deviled eggs because I only had sixteen dollars.

I’m listening to Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde. I usually listen to just the Stuck Inside of Memphis or whatever because Hunter Thompson refers to that song in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but this is the first time that I’m listening to the album from start to finish.

My morning routine is getting really set. I mean I wake up and do the same shit for the first hour of every day. I don’t mind it, it’s really preferable because it sets up the rest of my day really well. Basically I keep adding shit that makes my wife’s life easier right from the jump, so then the rest of the day I don’t have to go out of my way to get anything done, not only because the perception is that I’ve done more than I have but also because I actually have gotten a lot of shit done. I water the plants, make the bed, do yoga with her, fill the water filter in the fridge, clear the dishrack, do the dishes, make the coffee, make the toast, put out the condiments, clean out the cat shit since her sister isn’t here to do it, take the trash downstairs, fill up her water bottle and put it in the fridge, eat breakfast with her, then clean up and wash the dishes and then it’s only 10:30 and I can just chill until work.

But can I though? I don’t know, there’s always some lingering shit that has to get done around here, I feel like, and should I be studying up on wine and the restaurant menu and shit? I don’t know! Fuck it.

Plus what the fuck, I was taking a multi vitamin every day for like two weeks and now it’s been five days and I also did not go to the gym at all this week. Everybody’s got their own life I guess fuck it.

John Drives to Mississippi to Meet Hughes and Little Frankie

The air in lower Tennessee on Tuesday morning was bracing but getting warmer by the minute. John was driving south straight and fast in a white Camaro with no top. He could taste the Mississippi River in the criss-crossing currents of wind. He had both hands on the steering wheel, half a cigarette in his teeth, and Dylan’s new hit on the radio.

He thought of the coal miners. He thought about stopping in town and staying a while. He imagined getting to know the men who descended into the earth every day. Did they shower in the morning?

He slowed down and swung wide around a build up of trucks waiting in line at the first gas station he had seen all day. He glanced at the gages. A quarter tank left. He downshifted and slammed on the accelerator, spitting the last of his cigarette over his shoulder.

A half an hour later he crossed the border into Mississippi and pulled over behind a black sedan.

He grabbed the worn out duffel bag from the passenger’s seat and stepped out of the car.

He opened the back door of the sedan and got in, putting his bag on his lap and taking out a pack of cigarettes.

A fat man in the front passenger’s seat asked, “Did you drive the whole way with that top down? It’s not even forty degrees outside.”

The driver said, “What kept you?” He started the car and continued the south.

“Couldn’t be helped,” said John as he lit up.

The driver had a handlebar mustache and dead eyes. His name was Randall Hughes. His passenger was a man known only by his nickname, Little Frank, and as the son of the legendary bootlegger Frank the Fox.

“What’s the job?” asked John.

“Another convoy,” said Hughes. “Armed escort is bigger than the last one, but manageable. I heard you ran into trouble in New Jersey.”

“Ran into a lot of trouble since,” said John.

“Makes me wonder,” said Little Frank.

“Makes you wonder about what?” asked John.

“About you.”

“We can’t imagine how you avoided prison,” said Hughes.

“The United States justice system protects freedom of the press. You boys’d know that if you’d’ve went to school once in a while.”

Little Frank laughed and looked back at John. “I still wonder.”

“Wonder if you want,” said John, turning to the window. “United States justice system protects the freedom to do that, too.”

“What do you think, Hughes?” asked Little Frank.

“I think it’s a bad idea having a reporter around and I’ve thought so from the start, Frankie. It’s you and Perch the reason he’s here.”

“You’ve no sense of history,” said Little Frank.

“You’ve a fat ass,” said Hughes.

John stretched his legs and leaned his head against the window. The humming of the road and Little Frankie’s labored breathing lulled him into sleep.

Dukes and Queens and Things Like That

The Goodreads quote of the day today is from Richard Feynman:

Nobody ever figures out what life is all about, and it doesn’t matter. Explore the world. Nearly everything is really interesting if you go into it deeply enough.

Yeah that’s pretty good. Who cares what it’s all about, just find something to be interested in for a hundred years and you won’t have to worry about it anyway.

Sometimes I think about living in the moment and then I think I am living in the moment or trying to and then I think well when I’m dying will I look back and remember this moment and think well I was really living there, so that’s great. I think when I’m dying I won’t be able to remember anything I did, except sleep a lot. I’m the best at sleeping.

I really like these lyrics from “The Two Sides of Monsieur Valentine” by Spoon:

He makes love to the duke

He sword fights the queen

He steals the whole show

In his last dying scene

I like dukes and queens and kings and things like that in songs, like in Bob Dylan’s “Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts,” or in Captain Beefheart’s “Party of Special Things to Do.”

You Can Hear it with a Different Kind of Ear

Ain’t it funny when you discover that he wasn’t really where it’s at?

Ah shit, I’ve had too much to drink and it was so nice outside today, and this morning I posted about calories and got more views than I got in months, and almost beat my record, which isn’t so impressive really anyway, but fuck you for thinking that, you bastards.

But anyway, fuck the microverse, I’m going to eat fried chicken and lose the robots in the wake of a thousand dumb experiments, and conceal the whole thing in a grocery bag made for two.

Seriously, though, in the end we’re all just paper-mache that your little brother brought back in the Winnebago that he bought in Canada for a half penny and a smile and a proper donut, the kind with the several light speed dynamos that were illegal in that time of the month for ladies of your stature. And then, like Lot’s daughters, you realized the folly of your ways and sucked the dicks of angels, and tried for the life of you to get rid of your tuberculosis cough, and in the end you switched internet providers and called it a night. A cold, hapless night where the reindeer bayed at your front door and left you nasty messes, and ate the chains from your porch swing, and forever grounded your soul.

And then Tupac came to town and really felt what he was saying, and once in a while, well, the fort Breys windy what ankle trapezoids came through and swept the Oscars.

Stat Junkie

It was clear that these people were swingers of some kind, sodomites up from L.A. for the weekend. There was talk of orgies and flogging, and also of calling the baby sitter and getting back in time for the Rams game. One of the women asked me what I thought about Ed Meese, the new attorney general.

“He’ll get you,” I said. “You’ll all be in jail before long.”

She backed away and stared at me. “What are you?” she muttered, “Some kind of creep?”

“I am the night manager of the O’Farrell Theatre,” I said, “the Carnegie Hall of public sex in America. I am the final authority on these things. I know the face of decadence.”

Hunter Thompson wrote that in October of 1985. In his early days, he would type whole manuscripts of great writers just to see what it felt like to write those words. The Great Gatsby and I think some Hemingway, but I might be wrong about that. It feels good to write those words. Especially, “I know the face of decadence.” And, “He’ll get you.” I don’t know why this is funny, I guess because I can just see him walking up to these cats in front the elevator in the middle of the night, and they’re asking him about Ed Meese, who he no doubt knows all about, being a politics junkie, and he tells them he’s the night manager of O’Farrell Theatre, for no reason at all.

When I read Thompson I like to listen to Bob Dylan. He liked Dylan and so do I. He was a self proclaimed politics junkie. He said following politics and being a part of it was a rush better than sex. A habit worse than heroin.

I found I have a problem, too. I’m turning into a stat junkie. I check my stats all the time to see how many people have looked at my blog since I was last here. Sometimes I just write a post lately so people will look at it and like it. That’s not a road I want to go down. I want this to be about more than stats. Although I do love cataloguing and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. And maybe stat checking has something akin to that. But I’m running out of things to write about because I’m not putting more things into my head because I’m trying to get home and read the new comments and check the new stats and so on. I don’t know what I’m going to do about it, nothing drastic. I guess I’m just going to make an effort to read more and take more stuff in and all that. Live in the moment and whatnot.