Sunday, 13 February 2011

The Love Feast

In an upper room at midnight
See us gathered on behalf
Of love according to the gospel
Of the radio-phonograph.

Lou is telling Anne what Molly
Said to Mark behind her back;
Jack likes Jill who worships George
Who has the hots for Jack.

Catechumens make their entrance;
Steep enthusiastic eyes
Flicker after tits and baskets;
Someone vomits; someone cries.

Willy cannot bear his father,
Lillian is afraid of kids;
The Love that rules the sun and stars
Permits what He forbids.

Adrian's pleasure-loving dachsund
In a sinner's lap lies curled;
Drunken absent-minded fingers
Pat a sinless world.

Who is Jenny lying to
In her call, Collect, to Rome?
The Love that made her out of nothing
Tells me to go home.

But that Miss Number in the corner
Playing hard to get...
I am sorry I'm not sorry...
Make me chaste, Lord, but not yet.

 ~ W. H. Auden

Monday, 7 February 2011

Weekly Inspirational Quote

"What we earnestly aspire to be, that in some sense we are."
~ Anna Jameson

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Narcissus, or We're All FB Junkies

The alarm goes off, I hit snooze and grab my phone from the nightstand. I slide it open, and my thumbs glide quickly over the keyboard. "Good morning," will beep on my friend's phone, signalling my end of sleep for the day. Thus begins the day of sharing my life...

Before the next alarm sounds, I turn off the clock and turn up the volume on the phone. Making my way to the kitchen, I flip on the lights as I go. The blinds are open - as usual - and I glance across the parking lot to the next high-rise. Who else is awake this early? Who is possibly looking out their window at this same moment. Still scantily clad in my nightgown, I turn on one more light and boldly walk across the living room to my computer, turning it on.

As I wait for my homepage to warm up, I prepare my first cup of coffee for the day. It quickly pours out of the espresso maker as I search for breakfast. Cereal? Toast? Waffles? Oatmeal? I'm too tired to make this decision, so I chose what I've had every other day this week: oatmeal. It's boring, but today I'll add peanut butter.

By the time the food is ready, my newsfeed fills the computer screen. Who has been online over the night? Who is on right now? I haven't the time to chat with so-and-so, but I'll flip through the album they posted last night as the coffee pours down my throat. I pick at the oatmeal. It's not quite right...

I open a new tab and flip open another social fix. I pose the question to my fellow vegans: "How does one improve upon peanut butter oatmeal? It used to be so divine!"

There's never a speedy response to these. I'll check this evening and know for tomorrow morning...

I return to the other window. I'm only halfway through the newsfeed since I was on last night. I comment on statuses here and there, but only if it's something funny. I'm a writer, I have to show off my wit. Even if it's suggestive sometimes... It's generally suggestive...

I update my status with a quote from the other tab. What a great quote - it needs to be shared! And there are a few sites here to share as well. Every one will know I was busy when they wake up this morning... but alas, it's running late. I have to catch that train. I'll think of something funny way to respond to so-and-so's status while running...


The term is tossed around by many, including myself, but who really was the inspiration for it? A man so obsessed with his looks that it killed him...or so I've heard...

Narcissus, a character from Greek mythology, was a hunter renowned for his beauty. (Hardly a man for a hippy vegan like myself to be compared to, I know!) As the story goes, he allowed this beauty to go to his head. Many people loved him, but none were ever good enough for him. The gods noticed, as they always do in Greek mythology, and punished him with the provision of a pool for him to catch his reflection in. Sadly - or perhaps divinely - he failed to realize his reflection was merely an image, and he wasted away to death, unable to leave the beauty of his own reflection.

Thousands of years passed and the myth of Narcissus persisted throughout literature and culture. Vanity, it seems, is a constant concern of humanity. This should make us all feel better about our narcissistic tendencies, which have only been documented as a psychological condition for the last century or so.

As patterns tend to run in my life, it was Havelock Ellis who first adopted the myth as a description of a "disease." Fin de Siecle sexology would not have been complete without his definition of excessive masturbation as "narcissus-like." This was in 1898. The following year, Paul Nache coined the term "narcissism" in relation to sexual perversions.

After Havelock Ellis, there was a lull in psychological breakthroughs...until, of course, Sigmund Freud came along...

In 1914, Freud published his book On Narcissism: An Introduction and narcissism was no longer regarded as a perversion. Well, primary narcissism at least. According to Freud, narcissism is the necessary desire and energy required to drives one’s instinct to survive. We have to be at least a little bit self-involved, no? But, at some point, we all have moments of secondary narcissism, where we cut off interest to things outside of our self... You know, like ACTUALLY caring about the lives/days of the other people around you, rather than merely how those lives/days affect you... Freud said this happens to everybody.

Since 2000, narcissism in the United States has been on a steady rise. Analysts blame social networks...

(I wonder if there's any stats on Canadians? We are a more humble bunch...)

The goal of Facebook, according to creator Mark Zuckerburg, is his mission to bring honesty and openness to the whole world. Last year, Zuckerburg told Wired magazine, "The thing I really care about is the mission, making the world open." And I don't doubt that that is his goal. For us all to share our daily grind with the 500+ people we have ever met in our life, and even some people we've never seen in person. It is truly the globalization of the world - our daily lives travel instantly around the world.

I like this idea...but it also terrifies me. Just as I enjoy continuing to believe that I am the most beautiful person in my world (it beats telling myself about all of my flaws on a daily basis), I also like to know that fifty other people are eating peanut butter oatmeal this morning. It's a new trend. I feel like I've started it. And maybe I have. Because I shared my life on a social network...

That being said, I just finished a 24-hour absence from the site. It was one of my most productive Sundays in a long time! I still have a lot to do, this may be a weekly thing...and that's ok. Sometimes you have to keep some secrets to yourself. Just another reason I'm glad I don't have Facebook on my phone...I "accidentally" share enough of my life with my contacts that way...I don't need to "accidentally" share those thoughts with all of my Facebook friends...well, not on a regular basis...

Havelock Ellis would be pleased:

"Eventually, it seems evident, a general system, whether private or public, whereby all personal facts, biological and mental, normal and morbid, are duly and systematically registered, must become inevitable if we are to have a real guide as to those persons who are most fit, or most unfit to carry on the race."

(Don't blame him for the Eugenics movement...blame his time period...)

Thank you, also, to Wikipedia for providing me with many great lessons today!

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Coffee Shop as a Microcosm

I'm back...and loving it!

In a week or two, I will have been back for three months, working for a company I "landed in" after my first bout of unemployment in Alberta. At that time, it was still a head scratcher to be unemployed in Alberta. Recessions come to every province, though, and that was the beginning of Alberta's. This second time, I had been willfully unemployed for about two days before being convinced that my return would be a good thing.

It's not about the money, although the money helps. For the most part, it's about what this place means to me. It is the common thread of my adult life...

As a hippy, I have been confronted with the question of how I could work for such a large corporation. Mostly, the comments I respond with are attempts at funny quips about ripping it off, knowing I'm taken care of, or abusing the benefits. I'm actually a good employee for them, though, feel cheated about the low wages, and never use my benefits. Then, what is the real reason? The thread. It was a place I discovered in Vancouver, the Canadian version of its birthplace. Vancouver means so much to who I am, bu I can't take the city with me EVERYWHERE. Luckily, I can find this company almost everywhere, and remember INSTANTLY what it was like to be in Vancouver. I remember my cafe back there; my first summer living on my own; writing as I watched people catch their bus; the regulars that I wrote about in my character journal; and all the friends I made along the way...all through a common love for a cup of joe...

Now, I cherish being a witness to some of the ridiculously random events that I see and hear by being that fly on the wall server to the masses. I exist on both sides of the counter, now, and it brings about some of the most interesting knowledge.

There's an example I've been meaning to share since December:

A coworker was working the till, running drinks through as quickly as possible, not paying too much attention to the rest of the world, just doing her job. A young woman approached the till, but was interrupted by an older, but still young man. By their greeting, my coworker believed that the two were strangers...but not for long.
This may not have been the young man's opening line, but it was apparently the one that worked. "Well, we're already here, why don't we share a coffee?" And the young woman acquiesced.
Immediately following this encounter, my coworker found herself within my earshot but not those of the two we began to discuss - as is often the case with the gossip we share. She tried to quickly convey to me what had just happened in front of her, not necessarily understanding the randomness that had transpired. I made their drinks with care, providing them with good coffee to discuss rather than complaints to fill a first date with.
Two hours later, I began to sweep the cafe, and saw the two strangers still talking to one another. She seemed relatively content listening to him tell an enthusiastic story about an area of his life he was proud of. I wonder if they'll return here for a Valentine's Day drink...

So there is the randomness of my privileged people watching that I enjoy. And then there is the analysis of the community that exists here that I love to do. I'll save that for another day. As for now, I'm still collecting data. Maybe after another three months, I'll be ready for my report....

Always the social scientist!

Pain, Love, and Crazy Girl Episodes

“Every little girl knows about love. It is only her capacity to suffer because of it that increases.”

Okay, alright, if one Crazy Girl episode gives me this much insight and inspiration, I'm okay with them happening occasionally. Just maybe, though, could they possibly stop happening when I really don't have time to rock back and forth in the shower, sobbing over love's labour lost?

~ note to myself, January 16, 2011, after writing madly through the pain for an hour...

There is value in that pain. It has sparked a lot of inspiration for me to write. And, this is okay. But, there is so much pain in the world outside of my own self and my pain that I wish I was writing about instead.

The pain has been extinguished. I sit, emotionless in reaction to any more news. I don't look for any more news. My eyes are on other people, including me - my own self. And there is less pain there. I may be a bit guarded, but that's ok for now. I have lived in a bubble before. I became who I am today because of that bubble. This bubble is a bit more fluid...but it will protect me just as much, I hope...

If not, though, what's wrong with that? It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, right?