Wednesday, October 17, 2007

on employment

right now i am sitting at my desk, at home alone. one of us being out of the house in the evening is a rare occurrence, something that both my partner and i tend to strategize and plan for. i had thought i would write or work on one of my websites, or at least, do something that i hardly have time for.

i sat down, opened the short story i've been working on and then decided to checkout what kinds of jobs were on craigslist. i've been contemplating looking for another job. life at the woodshop has become more chaotic and as much as i still enjoy making cabinetry and furniture, there are many things about the shop getting on my nerve. it also pays very low, meaning that it takes time away from my art while not giving me enough money to live.

well, looking at craigslist jobs is probably one of the best ways to get discouraged really fast. no, i don't have a degree in graphic design. i haven't worked 5 years as a web designer and i don't feel like making a site for your eyeware. i don't want to give up my weekends, and i don't want to work for free or very little.

shit on a stick. is this all that is out there? i have so much to say, but i'm getting sick of this screen. maybe i'll go pop in my old standby, pride and prejudice with colin firth.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

hello out there!

just a quick note, if you're out there, i'd love to get a comment. even if it's just, "i'm reading." thanks!

Monday, October 8, 2007

on happiness

i just got back from the wedding of one of my oldest and dearest friends. it was a strange experience, seeing the girl i've known so long at the alter, with a minister, wearing a $4000 dress (that she apparently bought for $500 on ebay), smiling and crying. i still remember that morning in sixth grade when, in the moments before the bell rang for homeroom, she pulled me right next to the radiator and whispered in my ear, "i got my period." being who i am, i of course said, "what?" but once i understood it, we were really bonded for life. i knew i was the first person besides her mom and perhaps her sister to hear this news. and ever since, i feel like we have been a kind of family, albeit not always in touch.

it was an overwhelming weekend for me. i got to hang out with a few other friends from my adolescence. i left massachusetts when i was 13 to move with my parents to japan. even though that experience was confusing and strange, i took it as it was. having moved to the japanese countryside, i took it as a given that my new friends would look at me as some exotic presence. but i never thought the friends i left behind in upper-middle class wellesley would see me any different. having gone back and experiencing a strange aura about myself, this was the first time i realized that what had been very matter-of-fact for me was actually out of the ordinary for my friends. i was not only their friend that moved away, but their friend that moved abroad. not only was i their friend that moved abroad, i was the friend that somehow fully assimilated the language and culture of that new and very different place. i guess as much as i see our world as transnational, it dawned on me finally this weekend how that experience might have seemed, well, glamorous. even though i felt it as an experience of deep estrangement, from the onlooker, it was an experience of broadening.

and here i show up--men's suit and all, wearing a bowtie and designer haircut. when asked what i did, i said, "i used to work at university of texas as a lecturer, but now i'm trying to be an artist full-time. meanwhile, i work in a woodshop, sanding." my friends took it with aplomb. even though going back to my place of origin made me realize exactly how different my trajectory was from many of my friends, i was really heartened by a certain bond that radiated warmth and renewed compassion.

you see, during my years of college, i learned to hate many things about my childhood. i hated my upper-middle class background, i hated the wishy-washy liberal values, i hated the manicured lawns and preppy clothes, i hated the perfect, hetero-normative families. but my opinions slowly softened since college. my hatred turned into critical observation, into contemplative problematics. now, instead of hatred, i enjoy exploring the tension between loving collective politics and procedure with an undying desire to get rich. my once radical politics are a bit more pargamatic, and somewhat lazy. and even though i see the problems with marriage, i also notice myself staying home on weekends and savoring domestic bliss with my partner, so much that i find myself daydreaming about our future decades together; marriage seems like my kind of bag.

and there i was at a straight wedding, surrounded by upwardly mobile young professionals, bawling my eyes out.

my friend had planned for everything. it was a moving ceremony and a mean after party. it kept me thinking about what my own "wedding" might look like. who knows? the room was mostly awash with urban professional asian americans. i believe there were something like 40 yale mbas there. lots of lawyers, bankers and doctors. it's not the kind of room i'm used to working. a kind of culture shock. but i was smiling all weekend. and then the bonny bride (she really was bonny, glowing, in fact) took the time to call me and another old friend to her honeymoon suite just to spend some time talking with us. she was so in the moment, happy and yet caring, i was overcome with emotion. it was really inspiring.

somehow, the weekend has made me very contemplative. nothing like a blast from the past to help me assess where i am right now. how is my current state fitting in with my plans? how am i going to get where i'm going? and how am i going to do it, even if i don't win the lotto?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

on termination

today was my last day of individual therapy. it's a big day in a lot of ways. i've been seeing a therapist for almost six years, this particular one for almost five. the relationship with one's therapist is a very intimate one--albeit complicated and one-sided.

we first brought up the idea of "termination" about two months ago. after flaking out on several appointments, i faced up to the fact that it could be a possibility. i'm at a different place in my life. despite the economical hardships i explore here, for the first times since perhaps my childhood, i have been experiencing a prolonged and constant content with my life--happiness, if you will. so it turned out that every time i went in to therapy, i didn't have topics of deep significance to "work on."

i feel a bit lonely about it. besides the fact that my therapist is very good, i've grown to like her a lot. and she has really helped me dig myself out of depression--a depression i've had since i was at least ten years old. (the image of jung above is a kind of tribute. my therapist mentioned a couple of times that of the psychoanalysts, jung was her favorite, though she always refused to identify as a jungian.)

when i quit my job, my therapist gave me a discount on my sessions. i ended up paying half of her hourly fee. before i went to session today, i imagined winning the lotto and handing her a big check to make up for the money she discounted me. i imagine she wouldn't take that money now.

anyway. i'm not completely out of the care of mental health practitioners. i still go to non-individual therapy and you might see me writing about it here in the future. but for now, please share my bitter-sweet triumph. here's to hoping for continued mental health.