On a Thursday
I started my day running late, pissed at myself for setting my alarms too early. At work, I’m able to keep mostly to myself. There are a lot of new staff in the building, like rain on parched earth, but it’s been so long since we’ve been adequately staffed that I have to try and remember what I do when it’s like this. During my lunch break, I go on a run to Walgreen’s to pick up some new pens (my all time favorite are these Pentel EnerGels, but I’ve been making do with Pilot Precise V5s).
During the workday, I was mostly fine and focused on the day at hand. I’ve been doing Planet Earth based activities for 4th and 5th graders on Thursdays, so that meant I had some time to learn about deserts in the morning.
While I was cleaning up in my room, I listened to an On Being interview with Maria Popova from Brain Pickings. Brain Pickings is one of those things that is new to me as of this year that has really enriched my life. It gives me a little hope that I’m not the only weirdo that has this well of deep questioning and radical sincerity that I can’t get rid of yet can’t figure out how to do anything with yet, like a Superfund site. Popova on success:
I am going to side with Thoreau. And he said something like, if the day and night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers, it’s more elastic and more starry and more immortal, that is your success. And for me, that’s pretty much it — waking up and being excited and curiously restless to face the day ahead, and being very present with that day, and then going to bed feeling like it actually happened, that the day was lived. I mean, there’s nothing more than that, really.
The weather was gorgeous in Washington, which meant that we went outside for an hour. I had gotten talked to by my boss about cellphone usage during work (something I’m really not proud of), so I reached back to 2004 and made myself a hipster PDA to use (#pinterestbeforepinterest). While outside, I had some time while the kids were mostly playing by themselves to make a small sketch of the playground:
I’m not very good or practised at visual art or drawing, but it’s little things like this that keep me going. Taking every micro-opportunity to turn something mundane or some mundane experience into an artwork is a core part of my aspirational values, and I’m always happy when I can live up to that standard.
Later in the day, I ran my crew of 9 to 11 year old junior programmers, as we tried to make a simple game in the MIT kid’s programming language Scratch. They are incredible kids, and there are two boys that have been doing Scratch games and videos for a long time that are so creative and mentally flexible while working on their projects that I feel privileged to be able to be around them and watch them work.
After work, I arrived home while it was still light out. I had been feeling guilty about not doing enough yardwork to the point where it is stressing out one of my roommates. The grass had already been mowed, so I decided to do some of the finish work, cleaning out some of the beds and weeding. It ended up being very relaxing and a nice way to end the day.
After eating, I had a very nice and unexpected long video chat with my sister. If you get me talking long enough, I will eventually circle around to a gibberish of frustration and overflowing of feelings that doesn’t really make sense and is probably pretty boring, an all around not cute display of Young Werther like hysteria*:
Anyway, she was pretty patient and indulged me, and is an allaround Good Egg.
Watched some more Chef’s Table. Still couldn’t fall asleep, so listened to the new album Never Were the Way She Was by Colin Stetson and Sarah Neufield. It’s an instrumental album, violin, saxophone, and electronics. It ranges from moody pieces, to incredible reedy noise, to joyful, ecstatic, Steve Reich-like shifting patterns:
I’ve been intrigued by Stetson since New History Warfare: Vol 2, but this is him in just as experimental a mode but with so much more lightness and fun. I’m loving this album.
It didn’t make me fall asleep, though.
I had to cue up the latest Bad Plus album, Inevitable Western.
It kills me that their originals are way more hit or miss for me than their covers. I’ve also been listening a lot to their newly released collaboration, Brand New Day, with the singer Donna Lewis, which is fantastic. I particularly love this cover of the new-to-me David Bowie song “Bring Me the Disco King.”
And, finally, sleep.
*Goethe: “It must be bad, if not everybody was to have a time in his life, when he felt as though Werther had been written exclusively for him.”