Friday, September 27, 2013

Places You Can Live (Also, Assorted Thoughts)

Hi People,
I realize, only now that summer is turning to fall and my bags will be packed again soon, how comfortable I've gotten in a relatively short time in San Francisco. For now I'll savor this wonderful feeling of home, then I'll be crossing my fingers that whatever works out next is even better.

In the second installment of questions asked to hosts we have "What is your favorite thing about where you live?"
Generally, East Coast answers seemed to be about the people and West Coast answers often described things you can do outside.
I'm surprised that general city perks- restaurants, museums, jobs, were never mentioned. Answers in red were genuine to the respondent but could have been from anywhere. Any guesses as to what comment goes with what place/person are welcome. From East to West we had:
-Easy place to be proud of being from. People are become somebody here, we're a city based on excellence. 
-Pizza!
-Family
-Chaos/Mayhem
-"Absolutely nothing" muttered a drunk girl at a roulette table. We (E Sullivan and I) prodded her further, "the sports teams I guess." Spoiler alert: This one was Cleveland.
-(The city as a whole has) The coolest people
-Comfortable, easy going
-Tons of outdoor public space
-Unique heritage of larger than life characters
-Antelope Canyon
-Scenery
-Sunsets and sunrises
-Community
-Close to traveling outdoors
-The sun
- Enjoying life outside, being active. The social lifestyle. 
-The beach!
-The big town with small town closeness
-The difference between day and night
-The wide spectrum of people: weird/f'd up to caring/loving

A big part of picking a place to live comes from noticing who is around. If not who then take a look at how strangers act towards each other.  How does the average person carry himself How noisy is it?
Everyone in San Diego seems really healthy and fit- which makes you want to run and stretch and floss and eat more vegetables. San Fran people make it easier to pick up a book in public, not shave for a day week month, meditate in a park. The New York I remember is full of people so focused you want to heroically climb up the ladder and be rich and famous and have a table reserved at all the trendiest restaurants.

Thinking about the identity of where you live makes it easier to try to find a meaningful answer to the big q: who are you? 
When you strip away your job and your house and your stuff and your friends and how many push ups you can do and your favorite restaurant and the books you've read and the secrets you've kept, who are you?

-In trying to answer this question, I accidently started to take responsibility for my own happiness.

-There are a bunch of things that make us who we are: the things we love (and hate), the choices we make that no one else will ever realize we made, the things we laugh at when no one is listening.

-I keep finding mini meanings but not yet that big one that doesn't take any external motivation.

-When you listen to your gut and it leads you to a weird place that's not a failure- that's practice. My life has been very strange lately and I wouldn't change a thing about it- those tough days are just practice too.

-When words won't suffice a strong enough tool to communicate, we use feelings and beauty to describe the world. When I tell you I miss you- do you know what I mean?

-There will be lots of balls that someday we wish we had started rolling earlier. What can you get started on today that you'll thank yourself later? Investing towards retirement? Working out? Learning a new language?

-If I keep typing it will be about Breaking Bad, I'll save that for next time. 

Have a good weekend. Snapchat me a picture of some leaves changing colors or something.
-JP

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Got Bored In Oakland, Wrote This (Poem?)


The street bucks black and bustles. Men brush “dirt off their shoulders” and I wonder why they don’t choose clean shirts. People don’t write poetry any more so don’t dare call this a poem. Maybe I’m a creation or a distraction- a love note or a fraction of a way to get off computers and phones- the old city groans. 

What if we've been alive forever and we lost track of the time?
I saw a future where I'm 30 and I turn to you and say "Let’s run out of here and go everywhere." You laugh, but I’m all serious when I promise to go with you. There’s mischief in the moon tonight; I ache to learn what makes you nervous.
I’ve pondered and wandered, yonder and farther in June’s hot NY breezes and July’s trees and teases. August was a wheel around, now it’s September and how can I write right and make the wind blow you to my side tonight? 
The country I love is one where our work works and we sing long songs around a bonfire that burns off love and never needs sleep or food. Been out over-thinking that I’m over out-thinking how it’s taken a long time of riding the wrong line to find the light wine that makes my rhymes fine.

There’s a spot under your glass of MaCallan where the table’s empty and no less places to be than ideas of how to get you there. Your wit is cunning and you style so stunning. Your banter has a way of turning sexual and I selfishly hope every word is wearing a disguise to hide that it’s actually all about me.

As these warm summer days set slowly orange we’ll pat each other on the back and say “good game” as we promise the next time we’ll meet very differently. 
Then the sky is still again. Won’t you stay here my friend? You took a hard left and bamboo shoots fell from your hair. Carried by the wind they splintered across the road, lost as we were half-nude and drenched in firelight. 
What looks like a freak out might just be shedding (which I’m happier with than treading.) 
Everyone who went to NYU is a little bit hipster.
-JP


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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

PFR #7: Fears/Potentials

Hi from San Francisco,
As anyone at all involved in fantasy sports knows, it's the first week of football season. Yesterday, before the next few bunch season's worth of Sundays are spent on couches and in sports bars, we had a SundayFunday skateboarding and playing disc golf, watching Breaking Bad and getting heated over Settlers (of Catan) too many dumplings and just the right amount of everything else.


For anyone looking to start their (Jewish) New Year with some good Karma, I have three friends doing awesome fundraisers:
-Sam Reed is raising $ for her students- and they are in the hood so they can use every penny. She's a sweetheart and I'm sure a great teacher.
-Kev Aries is doing the Jimmy Fund walk and his muscles are so big and beautiful I can't say no to anything he asks.
-Paul Penczner  is doing the New York Marathon in support of the Innocence Project. So proud of you Paul!
If you've got a few dollars around, click a name and pat yourself on the back. Anyhoo...

All summer I've been asking my hosts a series of questions including "What is Your Greatest Fear?" Before they answer, people usually ask why or what's yours. I'll get both out of the way before I start word dumping.
Why-  As interesting as I find the literal question, I was asking  friends to reveal themselves, to answer a subquestion of "who are you?" without letting them identify this idea of self with a job or an address or a car. Silly people give silly answers, over-thinkers give a whole pile of answers and follow up answers. However a person answers, it would help me adjust my ensuing questions on the questionnaire. Originally I was hoping there would be common fears that my friends-regardless of location- share and others that were West coast fears or male fears or other specific types of fear. In college I studied research psychology and creative writing so asking these questions might be a thing I trained myself to do.
Confronting fear and embracing uncertainty are part of an ever-evolving person. How each person deals with their fears and insecurities is part of being an adult or whatever you want to call it.
Some people don't do anything that they fear and that's a huge bummer. I believe that we choose our own attitude about confronting our fears (but I might have just stolen that idea from reading Victor Frankel) and that in moments of fear- when our guard and ideas of who we "should" be fall down- we reveal who we are.

What's Mine? Greatest fears are asterisked. Thing's I'm afraid of include:
-It will turn out I'm entitled and never really earned/amounted to anything by myself. 
-Good things changing so fast I don't have a chance to realize it's time to hang on tight. 
-People thinking I'm boring/annoying.
*Snapping out of my life like it was a dream or a drug trip and now I'm someone else in a new reality.  Google metaphysics, I'm afraid of any example you find there. 
*Losing my parents.
-Being that guy when I'm 40 (You know: the one who is hitting on young girls in dive bars, renting a shitty apt,  telling himself how cool he is while wondering what the meaning of his life will be.) 

What have other people said?
Please note that most of my friends are white, college educated, employed in a office environment, living in a city, so generalizations aren't meant to be representing all or even most people.

The most common fear I've heard is "not living up to my potential" in which potential usually refers to a job: how high up the corporate ladder I can climb or never starting my own company or not making enough money. About half the people I've asked said they fear not being as successful as they perceive their potential allows. Interestingly, people have a hard time drawing a line and saying "$X salary would be enough" or "_____ is what success looks like for me."
I worry that this vague idea of success is a moving line and every time we get a raise or get promoted or accomplish something we raise our idea for what is enough success. If we keep advancing the line of where our potential could lead is, we will never actually meet that goal and we will realize our own greatest fear. Write your goals down- they can't run ahead taunting you if they are fixed to a piece of paper.

Related to that is the many people who said "letting down my friends/family" where in addition to the professional implications there are fears of losing touch or not being there when somebody needs you.

Others have been all over the place:
Dying Alone, Losing My Father, Leaving Behind a Mangled Body, Parallasis, Pregnancy (that was a guy), Rats, Scary Dogs, Getting Murdered, Abandonment, Feeling Trapped, Giving in to Outside Pressure, Kidnapping, Humiliation, Heights, Losing Someone I care about, Poison, Loneliness, Having My Past Catch Up To Me.

What are your fears?

This pic has nothing to do with fear, it's just my favorite from San Diego last week. 
Two years ago I wrote a post struggling to identify myself between ideas of "artist" and "businessman" because I'm not either. I realized- in a daydream- if I had to drop in a category like these:  I'm an existential romantic. I like the bright side and expect big things out of my friends. I want to travel and write and push people to be happier and live more authentic lives.
For a while there, I had gotten out of touch with my reckless abandon. In certain ways I think I've intentionally numbed myself down into a more expected, uninteresting version of myself. This summer has taught me how important it is to do more of the things that you love and less of everything else. I'm afraid of forgetting that.