15 Aug '17  — Chicken Soup for the Vegetarian Soul
My latest video includes a story of how I became vegetarian and what it’s like to taste chicken for the first time in 25 years.
I also mentioned a few books I’ve read or I’m in the process of reading, including The Brothers Karamazov, At the Devil’s Table: The Untold Story of the Insider Who Brought Down the Cali Cartel and Taking a Line for a Walk: Assignments in design education.
14 Aug '17  — What hell taught me
Jesse: “You dug out of hell with your hands?”
Eugene: “It’s not that far.”
Watching the Preacher), I’m more aware of the hell I’ve made for myself.
In the show hell is made up of prison cells and each cell replays the prisoner’s worst memories, over and over and over again.
Hitler is a inhabitant of hell, whose worst memory is sitting at a nice cafe receiving critical feedback for his art.
I realized that hell isn’t something to be compared. Critical feedback on one’s art can be so detrimental to one person and mean nothing to another. It’s not what happens but what these events trigger.
I can no longer judge someone for suffering first world problems. They might actually be suffering more, mentally and emotionally, than someone who has a hard time finding something to eat. The show brought to light that suffering isn’t just physical and I no longer want to condemn the suffering of people who have what they need. As the show suggests, it’s an emotional suffering that led to WWII.
Hell also has an ‘extrapolator’, a place where your worst memories are made even worse. The way an idea is made worse is also determined by the person who holds those memories–there’s no blanketed way to make a situation worse for all.
At times I find myself replaying bad memories over and over. I also replay upcoming situations over and over. When I’m a little sick, like I was this weekend, the replay becomes extrapolated based on my mood. There are times where only negative thoughts arise and memories or situations get altered: people become untrustworthy and the world seems to work against me.
‘Don’t waste your time thinking negative thoughts!’ I hear motivational gurus spout such ideas out…as if I had a choice?!
I don’t have a choice because most of the time, I’m not in control of my mind. It goes where it wants and torments me. Meditation has helped me get bit of control. When I do it more regularly, I’m more capable of making choices. Before getting mad, I can pause and decide if I want to go down a route, rather than automatically react and go down a route.
I thought I was okay, but this weekend my mental state really showed me how I’m a victim of circumstances. My happiness was easily switched on and off by external situations. It didn’t feel good knowing that external stimuli had so much control over me.
14 Aug '17  — My husband's signature recipe
We’ve been making Naleśniki, polish pancakes, every weekend. This is one of the few things my husband makes so I get really excited for Sunday mornings.
Last weekend we filled ours with peaches and blueberries. This weekend I cooked bananas and blueberries. Although apple is the traditional filling, I think I’m in love with the cooked bananas and blueberries. It’s mushy and light.
I try to keep the fillings sugar-free because I hate the sugar high and drop off. When my husband started making these, we’d get store-bought applesauce or apple compote. It usually comes with sugar and preservatives. I’m at the age where the sugar dropoff becomes increasingly unpleasant so I’m always looking for ways to avoid it.
My husband’s recipe:
1 cup of flour
1 cup of milk
3⁄4 cup sparkling water
1 tbsp of melted butter
a dash of salt
Mix and leave in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Spread on a heated pan and wait for it to change to a different shade before flipping. Flip to the other side, only for a bit.
Serve with fruit.
13 Aug '17  — pretty in photos vs reality
Objects can be photogenic like people. I’m always surprised by people who look beautiful in person but don’t have a single photo that looks good of themselves. It seems film is incapable of capturing certain aspects, even if it is physical.
I recently got rid of a knockoff Eames plastic chair. It was the most uncomfortable chair I’ve ever sat in. The seat was a cushion made of pleather and it was the most disgusting surface to sit upon. I also had to sit in the chair fully with my back glued to the back rest. It hurt my back if I shifted slightly out of place.
I posted the chair onto a Facebook Group dedicated to selling furniture locally. 10 Euros. It’s a piece of shit but the chair legs are made of oak. There’s some value in that, isn’t there?
One minute later, a woman replied saying that she wanted it. I was so happy someone was willing to take this awful chair and pay me money for it.
Two minutes later, I received several requests from people who also wanted the chair. I ended up with twenty five requests to purchase the chair.
There are so many things that look pretty online, but their photogenic capacity is uncorrelated with how they appear in real life. There’s a type of beauty that lives within the confines of the photographic medium. It was nice to be reminded–nothing is as aspirational as it seems.
12 Aug '17  — The paint color, the tiles, the furniture...it's not important
I’m reached the age where designing my home is important. I’m often on Pinterest convinced that homemaking is about design. But a home is more than color, tiles, and walls.
I’ve only recently realized this.
“I started to define the word ‘home’ as an environment in which one grows and learns, rather than just a refuge. Think about where you started out as a little kid and you learned to walk. Sometimes there were things you tripped over. There were people who loved you but also made demands on you.”
“In Dr. Bateson’s parlance, homemaking is not so much about decoration and renovation. Rather, it’s a metaphor for community, for the design of an environment — professional or domestic or societal — that challenges and supports its inhabitants…”
These quotes from Mary Catherine Bateson prompted me to take homemaking more seriously. It’s people, the community, who truly make a place home. How did I miss that?
Why had I been persuaded to think floor tile patterns matter?
My ideal home is a place where I feel safe and comfortable. Safe enough for me to try new things, where I’m not afraid to fail. That involves encouragement from my husband, and more importantly from myself. I get a lot of that encouragement already. There are a few kinks that I feel would help, more natural lighting, outdoor space to exercise in and to be located in surroundings that are more green.
I’ll have to remember before stressing out on paint color…the relationships between the people who inhabit a space are what makes or breaks a home.
11 Aug '17  — Quenching the fire inside
I woke up really early today. It was as if someone had turned up the heat inside my body. My skin felt comfortable but my internal organs were burning. I stretched my limbs in awkward positions, trying to get some relief.
I was tired yesterday because I woke up in the same condition. Today I was determined to get rest. My heart pounded heavily as I tried to fall asleep. So many stressful thoughts, anxieties and fears all crept up as I fought to relax.
I did get more sleep. But when I got up, my organs continued to burn. Am I inflamed inside? I've heard of these new diets that focus on anti-inflammation. Perhaps I'm inflamed. I wouldn't have thought so if I hadn't come across the concept.
Determined to distinguish the fire inside, I went to the store, bought a thyme plant and raspberries. I wanted to get some bread so I stopped by the Italian bakery. While I usually grab the ciabatta, I decided to go for the sourdough spelt bread.
Are eggs inflammatory? I recall hearing dairy causes inflammation. Are eggs dairy?
"Eggs help offset inflammation because they contain the potent carotenoids zeaxanthin and lutein (both good for vision), as well as choline (good for brain and heart function)." - prevention.com
Googling is the best I can do. I've tried to go to the doctor but a three hour wait (since everyone has insurance in Germany) to hear advice that might not work...there's nothing else I can do.
Maybe we're just more sensitive these days. I can imagine back a century ago, doctors were called for life threatening situations. Now so many of us are interested in curing less severe ailments, but there's not enough doctors to look into that.
09 Aug '17  — Something I've deemed unconscionable
I started the day thinking I'd learn Java. Totally convinced it was a good idea, I went through lectures and examples on Coursera. Several years back, I spent a month or two learning Python. Even further back, in high school, I took classes on C++.
I often find myself inspired to learn computer programming. Each time, I'm overly optimistic. "Maybe this time I can learn programming..." I start on a book or online course and think it's just going to be like that from now on, I'll be this person who programs and knows how to make the computer work for me.
Although I find it enjoyable in the beginning, I quickly find myself disinterested. I always end up thinking 'oh maybe it's just not for me...'
This morning I was convinced I was sabotaging myself the previous times by saying it 'isn't for me'. When something is hard to learn, isn't it strangely coincidental that it's 'not for me'? Learning programming becomes an existential crisis--I'm betraying myself by doing something not 'me'.
Once I decide not to commit the sin, I find myself spending time scrolling through celebrity news and social media. Is it more 'me'? Well, it's definitely designed for addictive enjoyment that anyone can easily get into. If anything, it's for everyone, designed to feed on human weakness, our short attention span, the propensity to feel jealous and the desire for what's attractive and rich.
Maybe it's not so bad committing the sin.
So I dedicated myself to doing something that wasn't me. I did the exercises. Like all the times before, I found myself disinterested towards the end of the day.
In the evening I watched the trailer for Narcos Season 3. Then I found myself reading At the Devil's Table: The Untold Story of the Insider Who Brought Down the Cali Cartel.
It was hard to pull away from the book since the story is riveting. Then I was upset at myself. How does a person think they're on their way to becoming one thing in the morning only to find themselves in the evening, not caring the least? Why can't I operate more consistently?
Then I realized I couldn't be consistent even if I wanted to. How many days has the same situation occurred? There have been countless times where I woke up in the morning thinking I'll work towards a particular goal only to find myself on a different trajectory in the evening.
And that is quintessentially me.
08 Aug '17  — I like the font
07 Aug '17  — Finding my way back
"You gotta trust yourself"
I snapped out. A reminder appeared in my head.
How did I get carried away? This morning the world persuaded me that I can't be trusted. I'm totally wrong about EVERYTHING!
I felt left behind. I got angry. 'Why did I date that guy I had lukewarm feelings for? I wouldn't have gone to business school. Why did I travel after graduating?' I was wrong in not getting a real job, one worthy of my degree and the loan payments that came with it. Most of all, I was wrong in starting this blog--doing what I believed was right for me.
I woke up with a strange feeling. I didn't look forward to anything in the future and there wasn't a single moment in the past I yearned for. This was all there was and ever will be. As good as it gets. And it sucks! What's the point?!
I thought about it. Imagined grabbing something sharp. Unfortunately I can't handle the tiniest prick.
Maybe because I awoke to loud neighbors drunk at four in the morning or perhaps my mood was the result of a bad caffeine high that lasted through the night.
Getting up groggy, I went to the computer and looked on Indeed.com. "Must have 3+, coordinate with...in a professional manner..."
That helped me snap out. I've been down the same road with these real jobs. Each time I advance 'in a professional manner', I'm led further on a path of more confusion. That's why I started this blog.
Perhaps I will crash and burn. I don't know any other way.
06 Aug '17  — Where did feeling empowered get me?
After college, I hopped around a few internet companies. The few places I first worked at were volatile places of work: the boss would have an idea one day, then the stats suggest otherwise and everything determined the previous day was thrown out. My work seemed so directionless and I felt like I was moving nowhere fast.
Finally I found myself at a online advertising startup where things were moving. Very fast. I had responsibilities for once. My work made an impact to the bottom line! With hindsight it's clear that impact relies on how the world reacts to the work. You might wish you had impact, worked as if you might cause it, and yet have absolutely no impact.
This empowerment I found...working late, feeling energized, I finally felt like I had purpose and place. And where did that lead me? Nowhere I personally wanted to be. I just found myself at another online advertising company after. And I have no interest in ads. But it felt so good to be in an environment where I could work hard and make an impact.
I'm constantly chasing the feeling of empowerment. Embarrassingly, I've watched motivational speakers on youtube. I want to FEEL like I'm moving forward with determination and direction. These videos make me feel that way and I want to feel like my work makes an impact. The feeling is as inconsequential as the feeling of tasting delicious ice cream. The high is intoxicating yet it has nothing to do with getting to where I want to be.
Am I empowering myself by being okay as someone who feels less than empowered most of the time?