Prolonged Mutual Hostility

“As you can see, you have two strikes up there. You really need to get one here, or the Davidsons will get a chance to steal the bank.”

“I’m ready.”

“He’s ready. Alright, Michael. Name for me, a food that looks like a body part.”

“..walnuts.”

[clapping] “Walnuts sounds good to me.”
[clapping] “I like it. Walnuts. Walnuts.”
[clapping] “Let’s see it. Let’s see walnuts.”
[clapping] “Alright. Alright.”

“Walnuts. Back in Hastings, he’s the nut. Haha. Ok. Do I see walnuts?”

[DING!]
[applause]
“Alright very nice, Michael. Joanne. [soft compulsory kiss] I need you to name a food that looks like a body part.”

“Clementine!”

[clapping] “Clementine, I like it!”
[clapping] “Woowoo!”
[clapping] “Clementine. Yeah. Clementine.”
[clapping] “Alright. Alright.”

“Clementine. Alright. Do I see clementine?”

[BRRrrrrrrr]

“Oooohhhhh.”

“Davidsons. You have one chance to steal the bank, otherwise the Hendricks will keep the money. A food that looks like a body part. Quickly.”

[in unison]
“Sweet potatoes.”
“uhh…Lengua de vaca?!”
“Kidney beans.”
“Legs! Legs! Legs! Legs! Legs! Legs! Legs! Legs! Legs! Legs!”

“We’re gonna go with…sweet potatoe.”
“Legs!”

“For the money, and the round. Sweet potatoe?”

[BRRrrrrrrr]

[winner/loser music plays]
[applause]

“Hendricks, it seemed your strategy worked. The ninety four dollars is yours. Now let’s see what the remaining answer was.”

[DING!]

[unintelligible mumble-shouting]

At Least One More Thing About Ticks!

This didn’t fit anywhere in yesterdays post, but as I was editing I remembered that when I was young my parents would flush all the ticks they found in the house down the toilet. As a child, I definitely had an image burned into my mind’s eye of the end of the sewer pipes all leading to one subterranean room that contained a giant compressed mass of feces, toilet paper, and dead goldfish. And of course this mound was swarming with ticks.

Have a great Tuesday.

Pacifism & Ticks

Recently while out in the woods, I felt a progressive line of prickling on my left leg. Being on this earth for three decades, I have trained my consciousness to ignore any sensation that doesn’t last for more than three seconds or inches. Anything longer than that is probably worthy of an investigation, though I still find myself checking inside my socks and behind my elbows for things that are not there. My time was not wasted in this instance as under my pant leg I found a tick crawling his way up to the thinner parts of skin at the top of my body.

Having grown up surrounded by woods and dogs, and already having survived Lyme Disease, ticks are nothing to me. Picking them off and destroying them has become one continuous action over the years. On this day, however, I paused and reflected on the sadistic action that I was about to unconsciously perform. Why was I about to kill this arachnid here in the middle of his home? What would that actually accomplish?

I would be lying if I claimed that I valued or respected his existence. But I stood in the forest, with the tick pinched between my thumb and index finger, and broke down my feelings and impulses searching for a reason to kill him. I came up with nothing. His intent was parasitic in nature, true, but would killing him be more effective than throwing him in the opposite direction that I was heading? What are the odds that this tick would ever interact with another human ever again? Do I kill him on principle? Am I sending a message to all the other ticks who might be watching?

In the end I let him go. He is out there right now draining a minuscule amount of blood from a rabbit or deer without the animal having any conception of its presence. There isn’t really a lesson here about harmony with all things, I am not becoming a Jainist (Seriously, do Jainists not kill anything? Do they take antibiotics?). I simply realized that if I am deciding between two actions that are ultimately equally meaningless, I would like to leave this world having decided to kill as few things as possible.

Tim Boking

Untitled copy

In 2009, I was wandering aimlessly around Manhattan, when I was approached by a man who forced a Memorex jewel case into my hand and then demanded payment for the album that it supposedly contained. This happens all the time to me, but if you aren’t a compliant-looking white boy the idea here is that most people will be too uncomfortable with figuring out how to get the album back into the hands of the salesman, and will happily part with a few crumpled bills to end the interaction as fast as possible. The most persistent amateur musicians are definitely in Las Vegas. They cluster in the tourist thoroughfares and after literally tossing the cd into your arms, will walk backwards shouting prices at you with their hands inconveniently obscured. These days I just lay the case down gently on the ground and walk away, but they get really angry at you when you do that.

Back in NYC, I wasn’t hip to this procedure, but I certainly didn’t have enough cash on me to purchase the cd, and I told him as such. In the end the album cost me three dollars. All the money I had on me at the time. When I got home, I was surprised to find that not only was the album not just a blank cd that the man had found on the ground and sold for a profit, but was in fact a very solid hiphop album from a young artist who did not show up in a google search.

I uploaded what I think is the best song. High Ranking. A tight track with blazing horns in the beat, and dozens of rapid fire insults that seem to trample over each other. The album has been converted from .m4a to .mp3 and back again, and been with me through three laptop transitions, and I still smile at lines like: “You a light weight, you weigh about a buck-ten with your clothes soaking, eating pretzels with Bush, choking.”

Incidentally, that line is delivered by someone other than Tim Boking, but there were no other names written on the case in Sharpie, so I have nowhere to properly place credit.

The other day when one of the songs came on shuffle, I again typed his name into google, and “tim boking rapper” returns “Did you mean: time booking rapper”. I don’t know where you are now Mr. Boking, or if you were even the guy who despondently accepted my three dollars all those years ago, but the album was worth every penny.

A Shortcut To Becoming Slightly Happier

A daily affirmation is the act of saying something out loud every day in order to train your mind to understand and be conscious of something that you can’t seem to remember by yourself. The simpler that something is, the easier the training will ultimately be.

One past example that I personally had some success with was my attempt to completely cease complaining. I am often asked why I chose this particular niggling flaw to remove, and unfortunately the answer is a complaint. All you need to know is that every morning when I got out of bed, and dealt with the alarm clock, I would stare at my own eyes in the mirror and audibly declare “I am not going to complain today.”

And yes, you have to speak the words each time, and yes you have to look at your own eyes while doing it even though it makes you feel silly. And it is silly, but it works. I was just thankful to not be staying in any hostels at this point in my life. It began working immediately. My thoughts at that time of day are susceptible, sluggish bores. The daily affirmation adds a mental element to the otherwise physical routine that comes from having to bathe and leave your house daily at an unnatural hour. On the second morning of my “complaining” affirmation, I spent my entire shower dwelling on the words I had just dreamily spoken. These thoughts become part of your procedure, right there with the shampoo and conditioner. The more you spend your morning thinking about this change you are trying to effect in yourself, the more it begins spreading into your afternoon. If you choose something properly undemanding, on a long enough timeline it becomes effortless to carry this thought with you from the moment you look dumb in the mirror until you lay your head on the pillow at night.

Another trick I use in order to ease the transition is a purposeful interruption of my day whenever I catch myself making a mistake. By interrupting my day whenever I found myself complaining I was given proper time to reflect on everything from whether or not there were appropriate times to complain, to why I began complaining in the first place. I would also speed up the entire process by apologizing to whoever I happened to be speaking to when I had let a complaint slip mid-conversation. “…and she didn’t even want to work that shift, she just was pissed because— Oh. I am sorry, I was just complaining.” This would occasionally create an embarrassing tangent in the conversation that I was eager to avoid in the future. I still complain here and there of course, but their occurrences have dropped drastically. And even if you never shake a single vice in your life, it is still worth your time to think about them.

I encourage the act of daily affirmation as often as I can while still effectively dodging the label of “that daily affirmations guy”.  And so to you, I offer a few easy examples in the hopes that you can have similar success:

“I am going to work on my posture.”
“I will not yell at the neighbors dog. He cannot understand me nor can he relate to me.”
“I will tidy up as I go.”
“Stop opening the bathroom cabinet before you have the bathroom door completely closed. You’ve been here over a month already, and will one day have to explain the scratches in the paint.”

The human experience is made up of an uncountable amount of habits and quirks that we pick up along the way. Some of these habits are detrimental to our goals and desires. Daily affirmations are a useful tool I use to figure out which of these negative ones that I am personally able to change, and then do the work required to change them.