Monday, August 29, 2005

my sunday afternoon

rice and beans for dinner, a day without spending a dime.... and i've never felt like such a wealthy man.

this morning i went to st. stainislaus', just a few blocks from the apartment. after wandering around with only a vague idea where it was, i missed the 9a service in english but i returned for the 10.30a mass in polish. it was delightful. the church is majestic and the song leader's voice was like an angel's. it was interesting not understanding the language (though i always knew where we were in the mass) which really added to the transcendent dimensions of the space. the icon at right is on the altar and really commanded my reflection for most of the mass. some people get uncomfortable about marian devotion, fearing comparing her to god. i don't fear comparing her to god at all. i wouldn't argue with someone that told me mary wasn't a god, but i for one appreciate the idea of a feminine god. christianity needs it. the beauty of the picture in piercing in person. mary's eyes are like an abyss that has something to say to you.

i took a nap that afternoon and when i woke up, went to check out a jazz fest in the nearby park. it was good jazz. jazz i liked, which i'm discovering doesn't include nearly everything characterized as such. while standing in the crowd, glimpsing the stage, i felt that jazz wasn't meant to be listened to like this. jazz is meant for ambience while working at the computer. or to keep you soothed in the car. or in your peripheral while you enjoy a drink. or while you're cleaning. but its not very fun to stand and listen to. so andy and i sat on some nearby benches and talked about life, the universe and everything. jazz is good for that, too.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

wooo hoo!

today i rediscovered the joy of a caffeine buzz in the evening. the past few days i've been up late, woken (waken?) up early and spent my afternoons tooling all over town like a chicken with my head cut off trying to tie up loose ends (getting books, groceries, bank account, etc.) which really takes a lot out of a person. haven't been able to figure out where my desire to read and ability to focus on reading went to. i spent an hour or so reading in the park, trying to force myself to perk up. i just couldn't. then i swung by a coffee shop at 9p and halfway through my mug, i felt rejuvenated! for the past year, i've been cautious about coffee in the evening, because i like to sleep.

now i remember what kept me interested in life after 4p. other than napping.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

i'm pretty sure that thought alone is not enough to prove one's existence.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

mr. mouse

mood: cheerful
music: radiohead myxomatosis (judge, jury & executioner)

while waiting for a train to come home from work, i noticed a tiny rat scurrying along the tracks. he ran around some trash that had gathered below a loose rail tie before pausing at a tiny puddle of water to wash his face and take a look around. he noticed me staring at him, but continued about his business. the tracks began to quake from the force of the on-coming train and the tunnel began to roar and the mouse vanished. i wonder what he's doing now.

books!

i felt like a kid in a candy store yesterday as i made my way through stacks of books at a barnes and noble outlet in the west village. after some confusion and coaxing the staff for some extra attention, we looked up and found the books for my classes. i'm thinking i'll be taking three courses, but not sure which course not to take, though i'm leaning towards not taking PHI 508:61 Contemporary Problems: Aesthetics: Reception and Process as Themes of 20th Century Art only because the other courses just seem too good to pass up. that would make my current schedule:

Tuesday PHI 506:60 Art and Its Problems: Aesthetics and Ethics
Wednesday PHI 506:61 Art and Its Problems: Art and the Real
Thursday PHI 508:60 Aesthetics: Core Course

i'm getting really excited. if any one cares to check out the class offerings and make recommendations or commendations on my course selection, it would be most welcome.

i've got a train to catch!

battery park

here's a picture i took of the view from battery park one evening. that's the statue of liberty in the lower left corner.

mood: sleepy

Sunday, August 21, 2005

sunday

as a young boy, sundays were always a bummer. church in the morning was never very enjoyable to me and often times resulted in authoritarian squabbles between my folks and i. after church, in honor of the sabbath, i could count on no support from my folks for purchasing things, getting around, working, etc. (which is a really big deal when you're living way out in bfe)—in keeping with the judaic requirement to rest, but we weren't quite so strict as the orthodox, we just tried to be very conscious of it but never beat ourselves up if it didn't happen. and by the time i was able to drive myself to mcdonalds for a big mac, the whole idea seemed absurd. anyway. i've been noticing within myself a fear of money, consumption, and frankly, how easily i identify myself with various consumption communities and sometimes even become nervous or feel not quite myself when i can't be a part of them. so, in an effort to cope with this anxiety of mine, i thought i'd keep holy the sabbath by refraining from buying anything today. and next sunday. and the sunday after that which i hope will help me to resist these indulgent consumptive tendencies (even throughout the rest of the week). i was really proud of myself, until i thought, "shit, matt, what about all that orientation stuff you were told to do? you won't have time. you can't just sit here and read. you need to access the internet, make shit happen. get these monkeys off your back. it can't wait! go now, young man!"

and thats when the voices escorted me out the door and straight into starbucks, whose internet connection is always reliable (i can't find wireless anywhere else and the library is closed), frantically trying to think of all my tasks to accomplish. it wasn't until i got to the cafe that i realized i had totally freaked myself out and interrupted a perfectly relaxing afternoon by thinking myself into a stressful situation. and how often that must happen to myself and others. i suppose this is what happens to those of us who become addicted to stress or any other emotion, really.

well, i did get my internet connection and received some happy news from melissa and was able to check a few other things in addition to cooling off in the air conditioning, but it cost me $6. well, maybe next week. still, not a wholly unenjoyable way to spend an hour on a sunday, but i'm going to go back to the park now and catch up with folks on the phone and read and maybe even play some video games later if the mood strikes me.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

orientation

volgon jetzmood: excited/jittery

hrrrumph. yes. would you like to listen to my poetry? mmmrr.... did you check the appropriate box? can't give the boy an education until he's signed the form. hrrrrmph.

i really should be more grateful. i certainly am receiving a lot of help and loads of wonderful services from stony brook. i just can't bring myself to enjoy the hoops one must jump through for adminstrative matters. i keep trying to remind myself how lucky i am... getting loans, health services, education—of course, i could imagine a world in which these are humanely provided to all—and of course, i strive to appreciate the difficulty of managing these great services for such a large number of students. still. as i sat through the volgonic display of tedious mediocrity from scores of administrators i damn near lost my mind. i'm sure the information i received will be useful to me. as they pointed out early on, every thing has a procedure associated with it—mrrrph...has he filled out the appropriate form?. i just hope i can figure out the one for wiping my ass before anything bad happens. *sigh*

i ditched one lecture to search out my books. no luck there, the book list hadn't been received yet. maybe it won't be. maybe i'll just have to order them online when i get the list of books from my professors.

i didn't like going all the way out to stony brook. don't get me wrong, it's a wonderful facility and there were times i wished i was there, living right near the brilliant library and helpful health services folks and weight room. of course, these aren't the times when i look at the area surrounding the campus. or when i consider the other graduate students, who, i am sorry to say, strike me as overgrown babies. i felt a moment of sadness when a lecturer asked all those who received ta/ga positions to raise their hand. i looked around. these folks looked far less capable of the position than i feel... and probably look (i place a high value on those things we learn through superficial judgment). enough. i'm likely to start telling you how i can climb everest and run for mr. universe. anyway, that bummed me out a bit. though, i'm sure philosophy receives much less funding than these programs... and, if i do say so myself, the competition for grand poobah of intellect in philosophy is probably much more fierce. also, i hope the graduate school helps to curb my bigotry and humble not my spirits, but at least my pride. judging from my last foray in academe, that shouldn't take too long.

so far less than helping me accomplish what needed to be accomplish, the orientation gave me a nice long to-do list. which, might be good in that i now have a fair grasp of the things i need to get done so they don't become problems later. but still, i had hopes of taking care of them during this incredibly long day i spent at the campus. instead i listened to bad poetry. the worst in the galaxy.

a couple of bearded men...


Just thought I'd post this picture of my dad and myself. Not sure why he looks so grumpy. Could have been a lack of sleep and a daunting ride ahead (this picture was taken by my lovely fiance on my last visit to e.r.c. before heading to ny). Still, I like it. And I think I'll keep posting random pictures as I become struck by them. For whatever reason. Do I need a reason? No I don't.

Friday, August 19, 2005

morning

sleep fills my head. what was i going to do? right. coffee. and while that's brewing, brush my teeth. am i running late? nope. right on time and successfully extending my hours of wakefulness. i really should eat something. what can i stomach? i'll have a bowl of cereal. should i get dressed fist? maybe if i just brush my teeth—sure would hate getting toothpaste all over myself—ok... teeth are clean, why is my throat so sore? am i catching some sort of cold? i better keep an eye on that today. what time is it? oh, i've got time to see if i've got an internet connection this morning, just hope i don't wake up hal. what's this? an email from tim... that's nice. and ed. he reccommends three classes, though it isn't enough for full financial aid. i'll remember that... and take the course on art and the real. right. wouldn't be a bad idea to pack up and head for the train. it's a long way out to stony brook... make sure you've got something to read. can i avoid jammed packed cars to penn station if i leave this early? i really hate having to run into people just to make it out at my stop. or do i? there is something enjoyable about putting your head down and silently, but resolutely saying, 'look out world, here comes matty j.'

its turtles all the way down...

Mood: Apprehensive
Music: Elton John, "Tiny Dancer"

Can I juggle school full time (is that four classes or just three?) and my new job? This has been the question weighing on my mind today, since I recently secured a job through a temp agency. The job is pretty sweet... I'm working for a non-profit called Wildcat Service Corporation that is honoring one of theirs by throwing a benefit in honor of her retirement. So, I'm managing a database of invitees, sending out letters to important people like former mayor Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Rodham Clinton—in addition to wealthy folks prone to donating large sums of money to our cause—to garner support for the endeavor. It's been an intense two days, but I'm finding it a very enjoyable experience so far. And learning how capable I am. The office is in downtown Manhattan (just North of Battery Park) so I get to feel like hot shit on my way to work.

People really seem to like me there and I work primarily with a sassy hispanic woman who calls me things like, "Hon" and needs me to repeat most things I say. She's cool though. The woman we're working for grew up in Lansing, MI and though she is quiet and reserved, she clearly values my opinion a lot and we've established a decent rapport. After a hectic day yesterday (they didn't really have their stuff together and have been behind schedule on the project), she seemed surprised and grateful to see me back at the office again the next day and asked, "So, you decided to come back to the madness?" And to be honest, I had considered not going back, but felt I needed to help them out and truth be told I enjoy being needed. I told her that the thought, "Maybe I should just ditch the place..." had crossed my mind, I couldn't tear myself away. And it was true. But oddly, I'm really glad to be working there until November. I just hope it doesn't interfere with school.

Which is another concern altogther—you know, I sometimes wonder if this blog is like a Dumbledorian 'pensieve' where I can suck my manic worries out of my head and look at them for a clearer picture—I'm currently feeling pressure to get my academic administrative stuff taken care of. But even when that is taken care of, there is still the course work to compete with working 25 hrs/week. Now, I feel like an ubermensch so can someone who has been there before tell me if I can handle a part-time job and full-time school? In anticipation, I'm trying to gradually train myself to need less sleep... waking up earlier and staying up later. Should give me some more read time. Tomorrow is orientation, which should help get some of my questions answered. So. There you have my concerns. Don't mean to be so selfish. What are yours?

And now for your moment of zen, a man with the weight of the world upon his shoulders:

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

apartment pictures!!!


Here's Bean and me on the steps to the new place. I've got loads of other photos, just need to find the best way to upload them.






Sunday, August 14, 2005

i'm here now.

Moved into the new place on Tuesday. The quarters are tight, but the city is enormous. I've been having a hard time finding a reliable wifi hotspot, so when even the libraries proved a bust this afternoon, I broke down and am paying for service at a nearby Starbucks. Could be worse. You, my devoted readers may have to be patient as the posts are fewer and farther between, though I will work to remedy the situation as I am able. Am hoping to be able to afford a connection for the apartment, but maybe that's more convenience than I ought to expect.

Off I go to scour the net for job hunting information. Will be looking into temp agencies tomorrow and maybe I'll even hear back from some places that got my fabulous resume soon. Then I'll make some pasta for dinner, read Harry Potter and sleep more comfortably with the hospitable weather being thrown my way.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Sleep.

After a tiring, but mostly uneventful 694 miles (plus some time being lost in New Jersey) we checked into our comfy Comfort Inn room. Tomorrow's journey is much shorter. Much to my delight, the hotel is equipped with wifi. What a country.

Reading Melissa's notes & blog, I become teary eyed and lonesome, but soon draw comfort from family, some decaf coffee, and a smoke. Despite radical changes in my life, at least one thing tangibly remains the same. Sleep. And it's always good.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

I've never seen the movie, but if this survey is comparing me to Jimmy Stewart, I say, "MERRY CHRISTMAS MR.POTTER!!!"

I watched Donnie Darko and The Big Lebowski with Melissa, Jim and Hilde on Hilde's fabulous new Aquuos television as a sort of going away party. I'll be leaving for New York City early on Monday morning, with a truck full of my stuff and a very generous father. We'll be moving in on Tuesday morning.

The air is becoming very heavy between Melissa and I with the move coming up so soon. Little things like the way she might tip her head or act pouty while I pack set me nearly to the point tears. Last night, she laid in my arms and before we knew it, we both had begun to sob. Later in the evening I went outside, thinking what a weird thing life is at my age. Always changing. Then I heard some music being played blocks away:

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
Turn and face the strange ch-ch-changes
Don't want to be a richer man
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
Turn and face the strange ch-ch-changes
Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me, but I can't trace time.


I thought it was funny and it reminded me of my uncle Ray who used to fix my car with me. The song came on the radio quite often and he would always seem to pay special attention to it. Turning up the volume or ignoring my questions while it was on. I asked him if he liked it one day. Turns out it was a popular song when he was graduating from High School, marrying my aunt Pam and looking for work. He said he always felt that the song was about him, that it was a soundtrack for his life.

Me too.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Google Sightseeing

My new found fascination with Google's mapping service, which allows a satellite image of many places on earth, has brought me to Google Sightseeing in which users post either bizarre findings or other wonders of the world. If like me, you find Google's satellite images not only creepy and disconcerting but compelling and engrossing, prepare yourself to spend hours being awed by this enormous orb we inhabit.

After two and a half hours of sleep, Melissa and I woke up to open the coffee shop. It was difficult, but mostly uneventful—trying to convey all the tips and tricks that I picked up throughout the past year really didn't take too long, despite how clever I think I am. A tall, thin and sick looking man (probably homeless) came in around 7am and used the bathroom, sat down on the couch and fell asleep.

The day went on without much event. I said goodbye to old regulars and they said hello to Melissa. I'm glad to know that in some extended way I'll continue to be connected to them. As the morning wore on I became more enervated. Just as I was delighting being done and was having fantasies of reading 'The Half-Blood Prince' for the second time, with a purring cat on my chest, Paul asked if I would work his shift. "I can't," I was quick to insist, "there's just no way. I'm so tired. I bet I'd pass out." It didn't even feel like I was exaggerating. The homeless man had tipped over so that his body above his waist was lying down but his legs and butt were still in a sitting position. It looked very uncomfortable.

"Oh, well, seeing as you're broke, I just thought maybe you could use the money," Melissa was quick to remind me. And she had a point, even if thirty five dollars wasn't going to solve my problems.

I took the shift from Paul and though I did feel extremely tired, this quickly turned to that kind of tired you get at a sleep over, where you could fall asleep at any time, if only Sean would stop making you laugh so damn hard. And giggle I did. For nearly the entire shift, writing notes on people's drink club cards like, "YOUR LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL" and "YOU WILL DIE TONITE" to name a few. I began to wonder if the homeless person had died on the back couch.

He hadn't. When I noticed his tired, bloodshot eyes and slow, stiff and jerky movements I brought him a croissant and cup of coffee. He thanked me, but I couldn't help but be shocked at the self-satisfaction I felt from giving him a croissant that we'd have thrown away anyway and a cup of coffee that I might easily have spilled on the floor the day before. My 'generousity' was anything but. It's easy to be generous with things that aren't yours, especially when it makes you feel so hospitable. And who doesn't like having guests that they can serve coffee to? When the man told me how grateful he was and that may 'God bless' I could only answer, 'It's no problem, really. My pleasure.' I really meant it. Which makes me wonder whether an act of kindness amounts to a moral action when 1. it was so easy and 2. my own will experienced no conflict with the duty that compelled me to feed a man who was obviously starving. My impression is that a philosopher like Kant would insist that the true test of my hospitality would have been whether my offer would stand for a disgusting man who called me an idiot and wanted the money in my tip cup, not the stale croissant that wouldn't sell. Whether I've understood Kant or not, would my duty compell me to the same action when I didn't want to do it? Is this where morality lies?

Christ said, "Whatever you do to the least of my brethern, you do unto me." Maybe Kant is right, without negating the importance of offering hospitality to all those in need. We just shouldn't stop because, "This one is smelly" or "I'm having a lousy day" or even "This one has more money than I do."

Thursday, August 04, 2005

sadness can creep up on a person so stealthily, so quickly. i wake up in the morning, encouraged by some optimistic dreams that i can't recall, but which never the less leave an unmistakeable residue of resilience, greatness and sovereignty. i can accomplish whatever i put my mind to. obstacles fall below my concern.

but then... the morning goes on and suddenly, this energy finds no outlet. there's nothing for me to conquer today. it subsides and becomes wasted? misspent? or latent? potential?

i now find myself not only unchallenged, but without any goal. its hard to overcome that which resides in nothingness. what was it that i wanted to do today? what did i feel the need to uncover? what will i defeat?

i'll be meeting with my new roommates this evening, if all goes according to plan. we'll discuss hal living with us and likely, finances. having been something of a leech off andy's own security, this conversation makes me nervous, however much i respect, enjoy and trust andy. i'm not afraid of his scrutiny, i'm afraid to fess up to my own financial state, which won't be an easy affair this month.

enough of this. on with it then. i can read some harry potter until we all connect, being encouraged and comforted by this familiar hero whose support and resources aren't unlike my own.

test post...

Monday, August 01, 2005