Tuesday, October 26, 2004
The World As We See It (Part 2)
I came across an article in the Washington Post last week discussing the science of altering memories. The idea was sparked no doubt, by a benevolent and humanitarian desire to ease suffering of certain people by erasing "triggering memories" from their minds. Much like "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", the hope was that by erasing a traumatic event, a person could be spared its unrelenting and often debilitating consequences (such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). It seems like a noble endeavor.
I admit that there are memories that I have that I would like to forget. I am sure everyone does. I think one of my biggest weaknesses is that I have trouble forgetting.
Itís almost as if I hold on to the memories to ground me and to keep me from flying away into irrational exuberance. When my feet are off the ground (which rarely happens), I immediately wonder what's wrong (or what will go wrong). Perhaps that is the reason I sometimes find myself walking through the graveyard of my past more often than I should, brushing off weathered tombstones and waking the dead (and also for the seemingly large quantity of melodramatic blog entries, for which I apologize). It reminds me that things can (and sometimes do) go wrong. And those paths are well-worn.
But no matter how you see it, the truth for each of us inevitably remains that the world is markedly different than we think it is. Nothing is perfect, and as much as we try to erect fences and emotional scaffolding to support and protect us, pain will continue to occur in our lives. There are different reasons that we want to forget, but 99% of them relate to pain or embarassment. They grow out of the mistaken belief that pain is destructive and irredeemable. That thereís nothing to be learned from suffering. Yes, itís hard to make a contrary argument to the person who was assaulted in a random act of violence, or who was subjected to abuse as a child. Changing the past can seem like a very worthy ambition. But as hard as it seems, I believe that God has a purpose for those events, and that without the scars that we bear as a result, we would not be the people we are today. We would not have the character or compassion we need to grieve with one another. We would not bear the marks of our maker.
It sounds simple and trite, but our pain is redeemable. Something is being worked out in our lives. You can almost feel it, even as you can feel yourself breaking. And that is encouraging. Because when all is said and done, I imagine we'd rather be ourselves, scars and all. There is, after all, beauty in the breakdown.
Posted at 11:43 pm by B.
Monday, October 25, 2004
The menu might say, "Hot and Sour Soup," but it really means "CAUTION! SCALDING HOT LAVA!"
Thins tathe differen when you buun your toung... Ugh, and it's only Monday...
Posted at 01:25 pm by B.
Well, the party went off without a hitch. Everyone had a good time, and more importantly, nothing was burned. So that was nice. Steve, true to form, was runner-up in the most original pumpkin category with his "Cold Beer" cooler pumpkin, and lost points because the judges had already seen the design here. Steve denies all knowledge of this website, though I have my doubts. Rumor has it that I may have influenced the judges, which I adamantly deny. While I may have said something to the effect of, "No way Steve wins," it was a joke. Oh well, controversy once again prevails. And once again, Stovie's the victim. Congrats to Team Arnold who won the Forestree Cup for their rendition of Donald Trump, complete with a "You're Fired!" pumpkin. Notably, team Oozy had an interesting disco ball pumpkin. The pumpkin had a lot of potential, but in the end, was a victim of its own hype (and a malfunctioning CD player).
A good time was had by all, and I now have more beer in my fridge than when I started (which my poker buddies will be happy to hear). That, and a veggie tray half the size of a card table. I've been eating nothing but carrots, snap peas, tortilla chips and cupcakes all weekend (I'd advise against that, by the way). Pictures of the party should be here.
Went to the Sinnott party on Saturday, and had a good time also, watching the Bo Sox come out with a great Game 1 win. I like the Red Sox, although it's hard to root for them seeing as they continually crush the O's every time they come down to Baltimore. At least I'll have the NL Senators (or Greys) or whatever the Washington baseball team is going to be called. That way, there will be two Washington area teams that suck. Until then, I'm decidedly and definitely conflicted.
Posted at 10:42 am by B.
Friday, October 22, 2004
Getting Ready for Tonight
I literally just got this email from a friend who had a question about the party tonight:
"What is the rule in regards to a controlled burn inside the pumpkin. I'm thinking of doing something with the idea of "my head is on fire" theme..."
It's going to be an interesting evening. Details (and photos) to come. Unless the house burns down. Then the insurance people are going to need those photos...
Posted at 03:43 pm by B.
A Productive End to the Week (Monday Redux)
Okay, I think it's official: this has been the slowest week ever. Okay, maybe not as slow as the week last year when the power went out and I was stuck at home all week, but for some reason it feels like a close runner up. Incidentally, I learned two things from the hurricane last year:
1. I don't ever want to live without power; and
2. Power generators are prohibitively expensive. Especially when the power goes out. Then there's a 500% markup. And the dry ice costs as much as gold.
Oh, and I also learned all about expiration dates and food. Ugh. That was a hard lesson.
I've been really busy getting ready for my annual pumpkin party tonight. Last night, I moved an extra fridge into my garage which I've loaded up with beer/soda/other beverages. It looks like it'll be a good turnout. I expect a crazy night. But we're ready for it. We've warned the neighbors. We've blocked off the street. We've bubble-wrapped anything that's breakable in my house. We've got fire extinguishers and pepper spray (for the Red Sox fans).
This weekend is packed with stuff. Another big party tomorrow night to celebrate Rik's birthday (good job, Dutch), and then Sunday football (even though the Skins aren't playing) and hopefully getting outside sometime in between. The leaves are changing colors, and even the trees on K Street are starting to look nice.
I am also trying to get out to Florida next week to work on the presidential elections. If I do end up going, I'll be on the legal team (read: poll watcher). My co-worker jokes that I'm going down to intimidate minority voters on behalf of Bush. I tell him that even though I'm a minority, that's not going to stop me. I'm going to intimidate myself. That reminds me...I need to get an absentee ballot.
I told one of the partners I was thinking of going, and he offered me the chance to do some awesome substantive work litigating instead of the more mundane tasks of a legal volunteer. He said I was overqualified, and that I should be doing something more commensurate with my experience. That is, until he found out I was a republican. Turns out he's a high-ranking guy in the DNC. Man, I wish I was a democrat! Oh well...at least he wished me (and the GOP) good luck.
Posted at 10:02 am by B.
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
The World As We See It (Part 1)
I think more often than not, the way that we envision the world (and our place in it) is much different than the way it actually is. I think if most of us were to draw our world out with the crayons and finger paint of our own ideal life experiences, we would find that it would probably resemble a kindergarten drawing (complete with stick figures and houses with chimneys near big puffy trees). There would be no detail or nuance Ė just bright colors and broad strokes. At first glance, things look simpler that way. They have a sense of innocence about them. But truthfully, the world is much more complex than we give it credit for. Especially when you realize that you are not the only person in this world, and that your actions have an impact on othersí actions, thoughts and feelings. All of a sudden, the world ceases to be flat, and it grows larger with every person you meet.
There are ways to deal with this realization. You can try to control the size and shape of your world by watching your words and actions carefully. You can box people in and fence people off until you reach your optimal comfort zone. You can memorize the color of the sunsets until there are no more surprises left in this world. You can hide under the guise of ďrealistic expectationsĒ and pare back your dreams until they match what you understand reality to be. Or you can seek to extend your world and risk feeling the inevitable distance between the way you wish things could be and the way things truly are.
And donít be deceived Ė there will be distance. We are, after all, imperfect people living in an imperfect world. People donít often act the way we think they should. They make mistakes. They make decisions based out of fear or insecurity. Or maybe itís greed and selfishness. We donít always act the way we are supposed to. God knows I donít. Thatís what human drama is all about. And perhaps in some ways, thatís what makes life exciting. That every now and then, you get off the slow-moving ride of life, and you run through the tall grass to the nearest lake and jump in head first. Is that so wrong? Life isnít a Disney ride. And sometimes, I can't keep my arms and legs inside the car at all times. So why should I expect anything different from someone else?
And itís not hard to measure this distance. You need only look at where you are in your own career against where you thought it would be at this time in your life. Or perhaps to see your friends in the place you wish you were. Or to see the person you wish you were dating and wonder if things could have been different given another place or time. I think this frustration is compounded by the reality that often, there is nothing (and no one) to blame this distance on. People donít always make mistakes. Rather, sometimes they simply choose something that seems right for them. Different than what you would have chosen. And in a split second, what you thought was your future turned out simply to not be what God had in store for you. There is nothing inherently wrong about switching jobs (or relationships for that matter). But in a weak moment, it can hit you like a sucker punch and make you feel as if something is horribly wrong with this world.
There is truth to be sure. Absolute truth. Itís our imperfect interpretation of that truth that causes grayness and lack of clarity. Besides, it is impossible to adequately interpret what is happening to us in the moment. We often need months (or years) to put things in context. And sometimes, it can be difficult to see over the mountains of baggage that hold our painful memories and failed expectations.
That being said, thank God that our lives arenít as simple as finger-painted drawings. If that were the case, Iíd be living with the squirrels in a hole carved into a hollow tree, just like I drew it when I was 5.
Posted at 01:21 pm by B.
Monday, October 18, 2004
A Productive Start to the Week
Okay. It's 2:10pm. Maybe I should start doing some work today. It's amazing how much time you can waste when you have other things to do. Like read about this
. I wish I were four. Then I wouldn't have to worry about things like what I was going to do with my life. I could procrastinate all day. Wait a minute...that's what I'm doing now. Back to work.
Posted at 02:18 pm by B.