Smallhouse Log

Good Friday

'Triduum' may well be my favorite word. I wish I could play it in Scrabble sometime. Is it only a proper noun? But I confess, I have not had a particularly holy Lent. I slipped in my devotions a lot, and I am sitting here right now, on the anniversary of Christ's death, wrapped up in my own little problems.

I've been thinking unusually hard lately. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say I've been thinking about unusually hard things. In the past three weeks, I drafted (with some help) Plan Epsilon-sub-epsilon and executed it. Like every other instance of Plan E (summary of Plan E: graduate college), it seems to have failed, but for the first time in Plan E history, it failed due to circumstances and not due to improper execution on my part. Also, it didn't cost me anything but stress, time, and energy, all of which I have in abundance. Further, I discovered that I am ready to go back to school, by which I mean I enjoyed and was interested in the material, something that had not been the case the past few stabs at E. I am so pleased (if not satisfied) with this result, I think I will redeploy E-e at the time of earliest convenience, but with somewhat more set-up time.

Encouraged by the recent sharp decrease in failure for my Plans, I sat down a few minutes ago and tried to draw up a Plan for romance, but I ultimately set it aside as futile. The first part was too obvious and disorganized to be worthy of the name (eg. "stop being too poor to date", "buy a pair of jeans withouth holes in them"), and the second... Well, if the first part was a list of complaints about myself, the second part was a list of complaints about the rest of the world. The second part was longer, and made less sense. It was based, I suppose, on my guesses as to what young women are interested in, and partly on what girls I don't try to date telling me things about girls I do. They usually don't know each other. Result: confusion.

There is a part of me that thinks itself reasonable and always, always suggests that the best way to attract a girl who will be interested in me is to act like myself. No offense, me, but that is a crock. It certainly has not been working to any detectable degree. There is another part of me that insists overwhelming apathy is the correct path, but that has been a bit harder to pull off of late. This is because I'm impatient. A year and a half is bad enough; maintaining full-scale apathy as an ongoing strategy is... resource-heavy.

There is no third part of me offering advice. I sought outside help, and received, variously "go to church more, there are good, religious girls there" (this is true); "you're totally not to old to be dating college girls" (not really helpful); "have you tried online dating?" (am I the only one who still finds that creepy?); and a short refresher tutorial on how to manipulate people (which, apparently, other people find creepy?).

There is a clear, more-or-less permanent obstacle: I don't understand women. Or most people in general, really. I understand a few, such as Brian. But this is not a function of time, really; I never understood Jeremy, and I definitely did not understand Leah. Obviously, that's no barrier to loving people, but it does make them harder to manipulate, my default form of interaction. There is also a less-permanent obstacle: My Chicago social circles are tapped out. Everyone I know knows each other, is fiercely loyal to each other, secretly hates each other, used to date each other, openly hates each other, and so on. There is a graph of it floating around in my head. It ensures that my relationship to anyone who could be introduced to me by anyone I know will already be complicated at the time of the introduction. That is too much work. That right there, and my lust for a good, honest mosh pit, are the reasons I am so eager to move out of Chicago. But I'm not willing to give up on getting my Chicago degree yet, so.

The first twenty years of my life taught me to accept the consequences of my actions, but they did not often force those consequences upon me. I was miraculously spared, time and time again. Except for the broken leg when I was three and the heartbreak in highschool, nothing bad really happened to me until mid-college. Now I have to deal with terrible realities (I admit once more, often of my own making) several times a week, and I find myself thinking, is this what other people have been living with their whole lives? Seriously, how do you people DO this?

Second Sunday in Lent

I have identified my weakest emotion. Or rather, I have identified that I have a weakest emotion. An emotional weakness? The best phrasing eludes me.

As does the specifics of my weakness. Hope? Love? Attraction? Perhaps hope, indeed, for I allow myself to be suckered in many situations. What is my job search but a constant series of convictions that this next application will pan out? Yet this I can analysis in progress, know even as I assure myself that my assurances are false and groundless. So Hope is a weakness, but not a critical one.

Another weakness, often pointed out and just as often forgotten: Projection, the conviction that as I am, so are others. This may be true in specifics or false; the point is to reject the conviction, to come to know others for themselves, or, if my mind cannot handle such a thing, to regard them as sand in the wind, beyond my understanding or control.

Tangentially, can I love sand blowing in the wind? Or can I love only myself? No, I can love others, even if I only realize it in the moments when I understand them.

Perhaps I am incapable of discovering the exact nature of this weakness myself. Not that I could be satisfied with that.

Perhaps assumptions that things sharing an environment are interrelated. Analyzed, the fallacy is exposed. Yet how often do I make these assumptions? Whenever they are convenient, of course. This does not satisfy, either. But I am so tired of processing inputs, so very tired.

Clarity is a blessing.

The Feast of Saints Perpetua, Felicitas, and company

So I think I can safely say that sing-along parties are the best kind of parties. Better than weddings, better than graduations, et cetera. A long and (mostly) fulfilling night, ending with some poetry and not quite enough water to keep a small hangover at bay. A combination of sunlight and Lauren's alarm woke me up nice and early, too; this seems all the more cruel since Lauren hit snooze until I got up, at which point it started raining and the sky got dark again. So it goes. And then Lauren went off to judge the Chiditarod in the rain, and I ate my delicious oatmeal and sang the chorus to "Barrett's Privateers" quietly to myself.

That is pretty much all that is happening, yeah, though I remain optimistic about this latest batch of resume-sendings and menial-job-fill-in-the-blank applications. I decided to not bike down to HP for the Backstory film fest today, cool as it sounded, but I still plan to attend tonight's Contra and perhaps attempt to monopolize a certain young woman's dance card. Easily confused as I am, I never know where I stand in these situations. Then church and gaming at the Partihaus tomorrow, and another week of job hunting and penny-pinching. And a birthday party! But mostly drudgery. Booo.

Seriously, amicus ex machina, somebody hook me a job.

Saturday

So yesterday was sort of a disaster. Lauren and I had planned to meet up as she got off work, eat the food leftover that would otherwise be tossed at the end of the day, and then head over to the Critical Mass. Well! First off, Lauren's place of employment seems to be one of those mystical groves that only appears to those who have been there before. After three quarters of an hour searching in the bitter cold, I gave up and went to hide out in Union Station until the Mass started. (Lauren's reaction: "Union Station! We were right across the street!") Once the Mass did start, my chain fell off twice in the first few blocks. The first time I realized what was happening, the second... I don't know. Then the third time came. I tried to correct it as I rode, but what ended up happening was the chain slipping outside, rather than inside, and links getting wedged between and even hooked around the outer gear and the guard. I couldn't fix it without tools, and it was really cold out, so I gave up and hopped a train home.

Once I got home, I did just about everything but fix Terrence. I cooked, I cleaned, I rearranged furniture and patched some jeans. But waking up today, I knew it had to be done. I need this bike to get to, and home from, my date tonight -using those comp tickets I snagged from the Harris before being laid off. So a-fixing I did go.

'Fix' is perhaps not the best word. I removed everything that wasn't working right and I didn't use. That is to say, the rear brakes, the rear brake cable, the front brake handlever, the gearguard, the front derailleur, both gear cables, both gear thumbswitches, and the rear reflector (which I do use and will put back on... sometime). I also rerouted the front brake cable to attach to the rear brake handlever at Lauren's suggestion, so I can have one working brake, should I need it. That cable is now the only one on Terrence at all; he is, I suppose, now a one-speed bike. One can still adjust the front gears by hand, but the rear set... Well, I left the rear derailleur on because it wasn't causing problems, it looked complicated, and I was tired of working on it. That last is also the reason the rear reflector has not been reattached nor the bracket for the front brake handlever removed (all other brackets, such as the rear brake bracket which held up the rear reflector, have been removed). I took him out for a short test ride to McGuane and back to make sure my efforts had not crippled him, and was happy with the results. The real test will be the ride to Hyde Park and back, of course.

And whether I get more grease, rust, or tears on the cuffs of my pants with the guard removed, naturally. That's 'tears' like Rip Torn, not 'tears' like Conor Oberst.

Mardi Gras
"This is all very interesting, [pause] but I probably wouldn't be interested." -Harris patron, 01/29/2009

"You have a cloak, you be our leader; take charge of this heap of ruins!"

Did not do anything special for Mardi Gras, except go buy Lauren some cola so she could make whiskey-coke. And carrots, so my hash browns can be a little more delicious. And lime juice and black beans, so I can make more black bean dip. Then I got was bored, and wanted to cook, even though I wasn't hungry. Bean dip takes like ten minutes to prepare, so I decided to bake.

Since I'd already been out shopping once, I was determined to use only what we had already around the house. Neither Lauren nor I knew what actually was in bread, but after reading the ingredient list on the breadbag we keep wrapped around the flour bag, we determined that we had everything but yeast and baking soda. So I set off to find a flatbread recipe I could use. I found a modified matzo recipe, and modified it a little more, which created a delicious and very nearly vegan bread perfect for the last day of indulgence -or for filling up the vast stretches of time created by unemployment.

Mardi Gras Whiskey Bread

Preheat the oven to four hundred and twenty-five degrees fahrenheit. In a bowl mix together two cups flour, half a cup brown sugar, half a cup honey, half a cup olive oil, half a cup warm water, and a quarter cup whiskey. Add a dash of nutmeg and three dashes of cinnamon. Grease a nine-by-thirteen pan or baking sheet with butter, and spread dough onto greased surface evenly. Bake for about fifteen minutes, until edges brown. About halfway through, perforate with a fork. Remove from pan or cookie sheet, cut in twelve and serve plain or with butter.

So that was what I did today. Well, and got me a date to the Pinchas Zukerman recital this weekend. And conspired with Lauren. And sang in the shower. And applied for jobs. And complained about applying for jobs. But mostly I bake a sheet of bread that has Jack Daniels in it.

Wednesday

So who has two thumbs and just realized Ash Wednesday is in a week? This guy!

So sneaky! Sneaky, sneaky fast days!

Tuesday

So I went out dancing last night, it being Presidents' Day and all. The caller decided not too spare us the funny stuff; there were two Beckett dances, two square dances, even two proper dances, the latter of which is for sets of three couples only. An interesting little one, I wrote it down. There was also one with quite a lot of spinning for the gents; though not more, I'm sure, than there was for the ladies. A thoroughly enjoyable evening.

Happy as I was to have the night off work, I was less happy to find out I have the night off again tonight. It appears that hours are getting cut, and I've been informed that I will likely be out of a job -I'm certainly not one of the best employees they have, I'm afraid- within the week. So I applied for food stamps! And I'm ramping up the already-in-progress job search. <span style='speech-style: sarcastic'>So much fun.</span>

I'll survive.