It took me a while to get rolling on Saturday. I went out for coffee with Luke Skywalker on Friday night, and I ended up having a lot to think about. I hadn’t realized the extent to which I’d been difficult to be around for at least a couple of months, and it seemed like time to do some reflection. I went home to have an “early night” but then stayed up until the morning hours reading and writing anyway.
In the morning, I got through a big stretch of the novel The Martian, by Andy Weir. It’s been a while since I’ve plowed through a schlocky genre novel, and it felt relaxing to read something mindless. The way that Weir dramatizes technical and engineering problems, and weaves science vocabulary in with not too much condescension is actually pretty great. The big weakness in the book is how people dumb the writing is. The narrator constantly makes jokes without once being funny, and every single other character speaks in the same stilted, over-expository SciFi dialect. It reminded me of the scene that follows this clip from Party Down:

I had lunch with Ray Charles, who I hadn’t seen in a while. I had a good time talking to her, and we made plans to take care of the near-summer levels of beautiful weather we’ve been having to go sunbathe on the banks of the Columbia River.
I got my oil changed, which I’ve been stressing out about for a while. I didn’t need to be stressed, which made me feel stupid. I cursed the maintenance costs of Volvos, because synthetic oil is expensive.
In the evening, Luke invited me to her boyfriend’s place where he and his friends were doing a hot pot dinner. I didn’t realize until I arrived that it was going to be an elaborate lunar New Year’s celebration. I ended up having a lot of fun. It’s interesting to get a view into other people’s realities, and I enjoyed the break from being in my own head.


Going to the river with Ray Charles and being in the sun and soaking up vitamin D and putting away my cell phone and not having any noise or being near any other people felt amazing. I’ve been doing a lot of reading about vipassana-style mindfulness, but as is typical with me, I fall into a trap of thinking that an abundance of reading will make up for practice. I drove back to the city feeling dozy and relaxed and still.
After coming home and eating, I felt an impetus to act, to do something, building. Over the last week, I had been listening to an audiobook of Tara Brach’s Radical Acceptance, but found that the introspective substance of the book meant that I was constantly losing my place, wishing I could go back, and not getting the fullness of the material. I decided to head over to Powell’s to pick up a paper copy. The bookstore was deserted and perfect. I still felt like I was floating around from the afternoon, and I wandered through my favorite sections.
After buying the book, I headed back to the eastside to go to a coffee shop to read for a while. I’ve never been a do-work-at-a-coffe-shop guy, but I also didn’t want to be at the house. I decided to go to Southeast Grind for the first time, and was comfortable the second I walked in. Cheap coffee, lots of concentration, eclectic playlists, done.
I started to dig into Radical Acceptance. It had been recommended to me by my friend Kayak years and years ago, but at the time it was way beyond my personal tolerance for magpie, pluralistic spirituality. It felt like it might be the right time for it, though, because I realized that the internal narrative that I had been telling myself was that I was moving down a better path in recent months, and finally feeling like I was working up a head of steam. At the same time, in the past few days I was finally able to get out of my head and see that I had been acting like a real dick to the people around me. That suggested to me that maybe it was time to go another couple of rounds with my old enemy, perfectionism.
One of the most frustrating things about perfectionism is that it can completely hijack the growth process. I see myself in many of the anecdotes in Brach’s book, the patients and meditation students that try and use inner growth as another way to make themselves beyond imperfection.
Anyway, I’ve been thinking a lot. I also think that perfectionism, for me, rises up more strongly when I feel like I’m about to lose something, or am about to go through a rejection experience or something. I’m not quite sure why I was carrying around so much tension and heaviness. It might be work, it might be extended illness in January. Every year I always forget that the weather just sucks too, so maybe it’s just seasonal. IDK.

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