Friday, September 13, 2002

In LA, every waitress is supposed to be waiting for her break to be an actress.

My Muzhik novelist from last Sunday was probably not a professional writer, not yet.
I don't know what he did to earn a living.

One of my friends from book club was telling me about her career in Television. "They are grooming me to be a producer. But I just don't know...I REALLY want to write coming-of-age books for children."

The guy that I had coffee with was the director of a very respected news program. "But that's not what I came here to do," he says. "I have more in mind."

And me?
I'm a video conferencing professional, but I just signed up for a journalism class.

Charles Dickens, author of Great Expectations, had his hero in Oliver Twist say it for us:

'Please, sir, I want some more."

Yeah, we all want some more. More from our jobs, more from life, more from ourselves.

And more from our JOBS. That's a critical thing. After the basics are taken care of--food, housing, clothing, etc.--that job takes on a different meaning. The struggle for survival takes so little effort, that we think we can do it with one hand tied behind our back. That leaves us with an extra hand to do all kinds of other things! Maybe we begin to resent the effort it takes to have a job...And we want to get both those hands working together to do what we "really" want to be doing.

A lot of books are written about that. What Color is Your Parachute? and 7 Habits of Highly Effective People are just two well-known examples. These authors write out systems of how to articulate your values and line up your life according to what you believe is most important.

That's great! that's why those books are such bestsellers. Who wouldn't want to achieve perfect balance?

And they continue to be top sellers, because people are not achieving that balance. In large droves, we continue to have difficulty finding the perfect job.

Does it exist?

I remember talking with my friend a long time ago, we were griping about work. I said, "Don't you think that this is your dream job? I mean, when you were a kid, if someone told you that you would get to be a computer programmer at NASA, you would have been thrilled!"

"Yeah," he said. "I remember taking a tour of NASA when I was about 14 and being completely impressed."

"And you worked hard to get the chance to work there. But now, you complain about it! Being an adult sure turns out to be different than what we thought it would be like when we were kids."

Maybe the idea of the perfect job is not for everyone. On This American Life, they ran a show that talks about it. In the last segment the narrator talks about his love of making things, crafty art pieces that engaged his whole self in the making.

He researched whether he could get a job doing crafts, but concluded that if it was his job, it would no longer be his passion. He would be compelled to do it, instead of free to do it.

That show has really stuck with me lately. I like my job a lot, it is satisfying and it pays my bills. But I have been struggling with pursuing it as a career, since I am not sure that it gives me the opportunity for expression of my best talents.

But maybe we as human being are more complicated than that. Maybe our best talents, that we are all trying to foster and get more opportunity to express, are not things that we can access 40 hours a week.

posted by Murphy 9/13/2002

Thursday, September 12, 2002

My busmate gave me a flower today. It's sitting in a cup of water by my phone.

I met her the first day that I took the bus. She was very friendly and helped me get off at the right stop, since it was her stop. Then we discovered that we work for the same company.

Now she is my friend, She is very careful for me on the bus, and when I get on, she makes sure to point out a good seat for me, if the one next to her is taken.

Once, when I was sitting next to her, we passed by the chinatown farmer's market. I told her that I was fascinated by the different asian fruits and vegetables, but I had no idea how to cook them. She said she was philipina, and she knew how to cook all kinds of things.

This led naturally to a later lunch date...We had dim sum. It was great! she showed me the best places to go. Since I usually am intimidated by the different foods, I was really happy to have her there.

But today, she brought me a flower! It's very beautiful and it smells really nice. She called it a Camia.

I'd never heard of that kind of flower before, and since her accent is a little thick, I wasn't sure that i had heard the name right.

But I found out about it on the net:

"Millions of flowers of all colors and scents bloom all year-round throughout the Philippines. For this reason, many authors call the archipelago the "Land of Flowers". There are about 10,000 species of flowering plants and ferns in the Philippines. Among the beautiful flowers are the lovely sampaguita, the charming cadena de amor, the romantic gardenia, the milky-white camia, the bewitching dama de noche, and the majestic bougainvillea of various colors. "

That was ALL I could find on google.

But that makes it seem more rare and special. Only philipino people know about camia.

And me.
posted by Murphy 9/12/2002

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

This was originally an email, but I thought it was blog-worthy.

Last Sunday, I had a chance to meet someone off of Craig's list...We'd been emailing wittily back and forth, and we decided we had to meet face to face. We decided to meet down at a place called Psychobabble...It was open mike night.

I didn't know what he looked like, but I told him I would wear a beret, and he would recognize me. I was sort of looking around, and I looked hard at this one guy, thinking it might be him.

The guy (it wasn't him) kind of skulkily followed me up to the counter. He nerved himself up to ask me, in a thick Russian accent, if I had come for the poetry.

"Is it poetry night?" I said. "If only I had come prepared!"

"You write poetry?"

I looked him straight in the eye and said, "Doesn’t everybody?"

He said he would be reading his poetry. I told him I would have to make sure to listen for it.

Then he noticed the copy of Crime and Punishment I had brought. You never know if these internet types will actually show up. I figured I'd better have reading material in case I got stood up or had to wait a long time.

"Oh, are you reading that? He is my favorite author"

"Yeah, I'm almost done with it. But I think I like Tolstoy better."

"Well, yes but..Tolstoy was very different. I mean..."

"Yeah, Tolstoy was from a different era."

"Yes! Yes!"

I had obviously impressed the socks off this Russian poet Muzhik.
He had to regain some ground.

"Well, if you like Tolstoy, you would probably like my novel."

That's quite a claim.

"You've written a novel?"

"Yes. I could email it to you, so you could read it."

This is a new line. So much for etchings. We've gone on to novels!
But I know better now.

"Sure, give me your email address."

Better to get his than to give him mine. I had to get rid of him somehow. The guy I was really there to meet had showed up, and it's bad form to be hit upon while meeting another male for the first time. Even though it was a platonic meeting, they can get miffed.

I got his email on a napkin and me and the other guy slipped out of the cafe.
I missed my chance to hear the Muzhik's poems.

I'm still undecided whether I want an e-novel sent to me or not.

posted by Murphy 9/10/2002

I found my grocery store! It's on the way back from school.

Oh, it is marvelous! It's called JON'S. I think it's a take off on the other big store "Von's"

But the reason it's marvelous is because it has all the wonderful ethnic foods you can think of. They sell frozen pelmeni and vareniki. They also have fresh bulgarian feta at the deli section. They have ptitsa moloko actualy labelled "Bird's Milk" on the box.

When I saw that they had Pryaniki, and they were called Pryaniki, I almost welled up. I couldn't help remembering the times I had discovered Pryaniki the first time, in the deli at Mirnyy. I spent SO much time shopping when I was in Russia.

It was all there was to do, but it was also a lot of fun discovering new things.

I also remembered the friends that I shared the bird's milk and Pryaniki with when I was in Russia. I felt very sad because I knew I would never see most of them again.

But it was wonderful to go to a store that had all these treats I had almost forgotten.

posted by Murphy 9/10/2002

Monday, September 09, 2002

Heard at work today, in serious tones:

"...that sounds like a reasonable explanation. Other than the fact that it doesn't work..."

"It's good if they can get you an explanation, though..."

"Oh, Yeah!"

Information Technology is strange.
posted by Murphy 9/09/2002

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Musings about art and the meaning of life