There’s a line in Mad Men where a woman whom Don Draper has just spurned tells him that he “only likes the beginnings of things”. I said once that the hardest part of anything is getting started, but the flipside of that is that it’s also the most intoxicating. Everything is new, which gives it a heady rush that the follow-up can never quite match. I try not to be one of those people who is always seeking the next big high, but that also means that I take a long, long time to get warm. I’ve recently started watching The Fall, a psychological police drama that stars Gillian Anderson as a criminal psychologist. I like Gillian Anderson. Part of what I like about the show is that it is not afraid to let her look her age. She looks great for a woman in her forties, but the show doesn’t shy away from the fact that her character is a woman of a certain age with no husband or kids (that we’ve heard about so far, anyway). This is not a role for a young starlet, and that’s to everyone’s benefit.
I’m coming up on one year since I moved back in with my parents. My first week back, I did almost nothing, and I don’t regret that. Some mornings, I didn’t get out of bed until rather late, and for much of it, I just watched YouTube videos and whatnot. It was fun, but of course, you can’t do that forever. I hear that unplugging appliances when you’re not using them saves electricity, but I don’t know how much. If you leave your laptop unplugged, then plug it back in when it’s down to about 10%, you get the thrill of watching it charge back up. But you can’t do that forever, and some people probably prefer to just leave their laptop plugged in all the time. It’s easier, and clears some space for you to think of other things.
I’m finally starting to understand the expression that you can’t have your cake and eat it, too. It’s good to save something up for when you’re ready, but you can’t hold off forever, as I keep saying. I have books that I got for Christmas years ago that I still haven’t read. In that case, it creates a weird sort of anxiety, as if I’m somehow disrespecting my friends and family by not reading the book they got me. But you can’t read a book just to have read it. That’s idiotic. A great Zen master used the example of a cat watching a mouse hole to illustrate mindfulness. It’s not that you aren’t aware of what else is going on, just that you have your eyes on the prize. I have a vague idea of what the prize is, but I have no fucking idea what else is going on around here. Does this mean I’m doing alright?
Also, Richard Attenborough just died, which is why I feel like kind of an asshole for posting this.
I find myself looking forward to eating breakfast and eating dessert more than eating anything in between, which is odd. Why are the bookends the only parts that fascinate me? In order to explain this, I am liable to get a little bit scattershot.
One of the most important names in the world of environmentalist literature is Aldo Leopold. His book, A Sand County Almanac, is a must-read for anyone with any curiosity about the natural world. I’ve been working my way through it lately and hope to finish it by the end of the month. I don’t read as often as I used to, but that’s the problem with me these days: my attention span is so short. I start watching a movie, then pause it ten minutes in to check my email. Then I watch five more minutes, and decide to break for lunch. Except that by the time I’ve made lunch, I might have remembered a YouTube video I wanted to watch. Or something. This is not unusual. I know plenty of people who have crashed their computers by opening so many windows that they can’t focus on one. I just wish that I knew how to sit down and watch a fucking movie like I used to. I still have that ability buried somewhere within me, because when I go to the movies, I don’t have any trouble paying attention. But of the stuff I’ve streamed on Netflix or Hulu, anything longer than half an hour usually has to be watched in chunks, sometimes days or even weeks apart. My mind is disorganized, but I’m stuck living in it.
I’ve noticed that my blog traffic seems directly tied to how much I have going on elsewhere. That’s encouraging, but the problem is that whenever I’m in a slump, it feels like I can’t catch a break elsewhere. This slump is taking me a long, long time to pull out of. There’s just nothing to grab onto, and seriously, I’ve never had an apartment search drag on for this long before. Maybe it’s because I’m pickier now and don’t want to move in with a total psycho? Maybe that’s progress, but it’s hard to see it when you’re in the thick of it.
Ayn Rand said that people act in their own self-interest most of the time, and that even when people act altruistically, they’re really just doing it to feel good about themselves. That’s not exactly true. It’s not altruism to do something for somebody else, and it’s not selfishness to do something for yourself. You should do what’s best for you and others. Because there are greater forces at work here.
I’m a day late here, but happy 60th, Mr. Costello. I first discovered his work when I was not too far out of high school. Since then, “Veronica” and “Oliver’s Army” have become two of my all-time favorite songs. He’s a charming fellow.