S1E9 - Beds: How Do We Spend ⅓ of Our Life Asleep?

5.22.18 (for 5.28.18)

S1E9 - Beds: How Do We Spend ⅓ of Our Life Asleep?

 

To begin with, beds are great and can be soft or hard, flat or lumpy, and people find all kinds of strange things comfortable. I mean, water beds? (Actually, the few nights I’ve spent on one were entertaining and cozy enough.) I try to quiet my mind and settle into a drifting state when getting sleepy, which usually works. Sometimes I wake up super early and can’t do it again, though. How do you fall asleep at night, and what about if you wake up and want to fall back asleep?

And what about cats? ½-⅔ of their days are spent sleeping. Cats are crazy and sleep everywhere - I mean, my cat Drogo has bed #s 1, 2, and 3 on the couch cushions, plus our bed, another new spot on the arm of the couch, and now today he is laying on a chair in the kitchen that I have never seen him on before. It seems he explores slightly more each year in our small door-less apartment (not counting front door, closet, and bathroom). He’s a real living being finding variation in the monotony of day-to-day confines. He is more spatially confined than I am, and really cute.

Something people are often divided on is a desire to be in the outdoors while sleeping. Wilderness, camping, tents, hiking, swimming; there’s something about bacon and eggs after waking up and stepping outside - it’s just not the same in a house. As hard as the ground may be beneath a thin sleeping mat, it works just fine as a bed. I found myself as a young person realizing I like a firm mattress because I decided to start sleeping on the floor one day. Then I got a futon, and now my bed is a super firm IKEA bed with wondrous storage underneath.

The following is a stream of thoughts, as concise as possible. With this podcast I never try to exhaust a topic, rather I always hope to change and learn from these ramblings and actual conversations with other humans. Returning to the ground, aside from camping there are lots of people who find the ground to be their bed. Homelessness is something I will make no claim to understand, but I see people every day in stages of waking and sleeping as I am driving and walking around the Bay Area. They carry their lives around with them and have to somehow find moments of mental rest for sleep. There are still gypsy-type wanderers and people who find a way to live in a forest without owning the land, but with housing and social protections the way they are in the U.S., which is my only point of reference, homeless encampments are prevalent and lack a lot of basic necessities. To compare humans and wild animals, the signs at the zoo are true - animals who live in the wild have a lower life expectancy, and it’s quite drastic. The wilderness of humans seems to be the cities, the concrete jungle. When I visit family and see my grandfather at age 92, my grandma at 89, they may not feel like their 20-years-ago selves, but they amaze me with clarity, independence, and calmness. Once in a while I do see a white-bearded homeless person, but we don’t see many elderly people on the streets, and it’s not because someone thought they finally deserved help. Living outside of a house, and sleeping daily outside of a bed, that is a life of extremes and difficulty beyond my comprehension. I often find myself thinking I couldn’t take a daily grind 40-hour workweek in one job, and the freelance always-driving-somewhere-and-trying-to-save-for-a-someday-house is tiring but flexible. I’ve known one person who spoke of being homeless after not being able to afford a living situation, but years later he is growing older with a home. Luck is there for some of us and not for everyone. Studio apartment, mansion, cardboard on a sidewalk, we’re human and we sleep. And hopefully those of us with a home appreciate it and the bed it contains.

S1E8 - Nitpicking Control: Why Are We In It To Win It?

5.21.18

S1E8 - Nitpicking Control: Why Are We In It To Win It?

Most of us are in the middle of being really kind and really mean. We’re alright people and we think we do our best. Do we keep getting better as years go on, like fine wine or parmesan cheese? Sometimes. But if you’re like me and not a super horrible person, yet you still like to control things, you might have figured something out like this: nitpicking little tiny things that grate against our ideas is not helpful when it’s only for the purpose of wishing something unimportant went our way. For example, if it’s a matter of waiting a minute to let someone out of a driveway or having tomatoes cut in a weird shape for salad when someone else helps, why rush or worry? It’s different when it’s truly harmful like seeing a car next to you almost hit a pedestrian and trying to get their attention, or a detail in something meant to be super detail-oriented in one particular way that needs to be right. But how do we know what is important? I’m thinking back to an episode of this podcast when I said 3 things I always want to be, and they were: dedicated, kind, and assertive. Specifically related to nitpicking and control, assertiveness can of course become overrated. I come from a point of having basically always waited for someone else to make most decisions that move things forward. And I take a lot of time sometimes to get things thought through. Mainly, I’ve found that I don’t take initiative for many shared projects or things where I’m an employee working for another person because I don’t want someone to tell me it won’t be helpful or even work. So I don’t even try, and then I wonder why things aren’t better and more figured out when I was the one who had a thought about it needing to change in the first place. I’m like a backseat driver for everything without having ever taken the written and practical tests for a license. Yes, I’m busy every day and always thinking I should take a better look at priorities, but do I always wish I could help work out the kinks of something and never do? That’s me to a T. Of course in some situations it’s getting better, just calming down and making observations out loud to other people of what I would love to work on, and asking what they’ve done in similar situations. I’m one of many, billions, whatever, and I need to do things when they mesh with the intention of the project, sit back and breathe, you know, take a chill pill. Or maybe move to the East Coast? Nah, I bet my tree-hugging self will end up staying here and working through this interesting high-strung portion of my life.

Thinking back a few months to some crazy guy at the Pilot gas station in Dunnigan CA on my travels to and fro playing gigs, I was getting gas and heard someone yelling at an employee of the gas station, something like “you’re my bleeping bleep, I’m the customer, I’m in charge here and you made me wait for 2 minutes and blah blah blah.” From what I remember, the customer yelling looked like a nice-on-first-look hipster dude with a long beard and some sort of band T-shirt on, but appearances don’t tell us someone is aware of how their interactions affect other people. I thought for a second, got out of my car, and said to the guy: “hey, do you have to be so rude? Wait a minute - he’s doing his job. Oh and instant gratification isn’t everything.” There goes me listening to too many Philip Glass minimalist slowly changing string quartets in the car. Mean people, even hurried hipsters, don’t know they are mean. They are delusional and think they’re helping someone. At least themselves. Really, though, isn’t it making their own lives have less value? I see mean people and generally don’t think it’s worth my effort to share interactions. They don’t care what I think and I definitely don’t need to know their selfish thoughts.

But everyone from teachers to members of Congress to pilots to chefs all have a level of authority over some pretty important decisions. And we probably each know that other people sometimes depend on us. When we are in positions of power, we often forget that we all come from humongously different places inside ourselves and are just trying to make the best of things. Have you ever said something purely because you want to prove that you are in control? We all have. No matter how small the interaction, being kind and present without lording over other people goes a long way. It seems we often lose that connection to other people, the listening to others that is so important down to the smallest of details. One miscommunication and another person could decide I’m not trustworthy, and it’s the same in all personal relationships no matter how shallow. We judge and we overdo things all the time. My favorite bumper sticker says: “don’t believe everything you think.” I hold this dear as I become a bit more adult-like in age and responsibility, and every day I hope and strive to learn how to open myself more to critical thoughts, trying to become a bit better of a listener and a person and a presenter of practical information. Not critical thoughts like always putting myself down - there’s already plenty of that. But I appreciate that people always help me, and maybe at times I actually help people too. I’m not a classroom teacher or president of a country or anything, but I’m around people a lot and they’re usually pretty great if I take the time to listen. Especially the kids, and even the adults sometimes. Adults are much more guarded and defensive, and I can be as well. Working with younger music students as they find their voices, I find that they have much more openness to sharing what they learn in life than most adults I see in any context just once a week. To end, here is a lyric from Modest Mouse’s song, Bukowski:

So tell me now why, you'll tell me never.

Who would want to be?

Who would want to be such a control freak?

S1E7 - Socks: Why Do Our Feet Always Get Hugs?

5.14.18

S1E7 - Socks: Why Do Our Feet Always Get Hugs? 

 

I know some people feel stifled at times by socks, like how jean-wearers 5 years ago “can’t move” now unless they’re wearing leggings. Probably other better reasons exist; I’m just comfortable with socks so the non-wearers seem strange. Especially people who can’t wear socks to sleep. What if they kick away the covers? IT WOULD BE A TOTAL DISASTER! Socks make me feel warm and comforted, complete an outfit, fill out slightly wide shoes, keep a blister at bay on a hike, and stop feet from sliding around in shoes that aren’t meant to be exposed to bare feet. They also become a towel for drying feet from an unexpected dip in a river, facilitate wondrous slides on hardwood floors, and perhaps they even mask stinky feet. Whoda thunk it? I appreciate socks quite a bit. But holy smokes, holey socks make me sad when they’ve been my favorite for years. The holes are always in the heel for me, and I hear tell of people who get them at the toes. Wowza, humans are so varied. I do have a stack of mending from the past few years I’ve been meaning to get to, and it includes a few socks for sure. My calendar is always telling me I have a day off in 2 weeks, now it’s time for rehearsal. One of these days I’ll whittle the pile away and wear the stuff again! Back to the topic at hand, I really like hugs. Warmth, envelopment, comfort, there are all kinds of reasons humans and other animals like to cuddle, and hugs are like a slightly less personal version of cuddling. Also, it’s kind of why I like socks. Haven’t been wearing them much recently because of symphony weekends and visiting family in Chico, where it’s too hot to not break out sandals. Anywho, I usually wear socks constantly. Not for showers or yoga stretching, but all other times are fair game. When do you like to wear socks, or not? My feyoncé reminded me of the whole childhood-Christmas-present-socks-are-not-great thing, but now as adults we really appreciate them. I actually bought Eric a subscription for monthly socks as a birthday present and he kinda loved it. Visually, socks can be fun! I like patterns but usually wear tamer wool socks because they’re more durable-seeming and good for chilly-ish weather. Cool patterns unfortunately seem to add a dollar sign at the store, but the happiness they bring might be worth it. Sometimes. Like my Sasquatch socks! (They’re only visible if my outfit is strange, but it’s bound to happen sometimes.)

 

Here is a haiku:

Socks are on my feet

They embrace my very soles

Fabric hugs the skin

 

I’ve always liked that haikus are concise and often spring from the most mundane and beautiful aspects of life. When I was 16 and on a gap year after high school, I was doing a program away from home for a few months and wrote about 50 haikus while on a short solo camping excursion. No phone, just burritos and a notebook and a sleeping bag. I’d write more if I didn’t have a smartphone for sure - more on that later. Well, happy Mundane Monday and have a great sock-filled or sock-free week!