Thursday, July 31, 2014

Work is Play

My boss got VIP tickets for the Liverpool / Manchester match last night at Yankee Stadium.  If I lived inside my own video game, last night's hot dog and beer might symbolize admittance into the next level of American citizenship.
Our View of the Turf at Yankee Stadium
Tucker, from Boston, told me that he would revoke his friendship if I become a Yankee fan. I say: you can't choose who you love.

Editor's Update with Subsequent Conversation:

Steph: i agree with tucker. you cannot become a yankees fan ;)

Allie: too late

Steph: what???? oh come on. at least pick the mets or something.

Allie: No, they are nearly repulsive to me because they are so meaningless. That's like buying a Kia

The Inevitable Fall of Small Expectations

Maybe the reason we're continually disappointed, is not because we're asking for too much, but because we're asking for too little.

If a dream is specific enough to be grasped in one hand, it's fragile enough to be crushed in the hand when we lose our footing and tighten our grip.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


I slept badly and woke up feeling weird.
Feeling two steps behind.

Where am I, I kept asking myself.

I listened to an encouraging podcast (it failed to encourage me).

I did morning prayer time, but was repeatedly interrupted.

I bought Dunkin Donuts coffee with cream and sugar--a sure fire way to improve my mood.
But the coffee was sour in my mouth.

Where am I?

I went to the Eucharist service at St. John's.
There was a woman with a little toddler boy, playing on the altar while we prayed in the small chapel. He had a little Buddhist hair cut. I was confused. Why are you playing with him at the altar?

Is there no relief from this weirdness, I asked myself.

No; not at the moment. No relief.

Which is why every attempt to sneak into relief is only making me more miserable. 

It's a terrible feeling to eat and feel unsatisfied afterwards. Likewise, it's a terrible feeling to seek relief but not find it where you expected it.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Hope That Doesn't Disappoint

Even when we have nothing to be optimistic about,
We have hope.

Hope is different from optimism.
Optimism is thinking about the future in light of our resources, our investments and good luck. Optimism says "I worked so hard, I bet I'll get that promotion."

Hope is not optimism.

Hope is having the taste of fruit in your mouth when you have no tree and no money.

Hope is sensing that something good is tied up in all this. That this thing in your hand, which on paper does not fit, will be wonderful. Hope tells you that you can have wonderful experiences that don't have anything to do with who you are and what you've earned.

No wonder hope does not disappoint.

NYC, Most Unhappy? Not in This 10' X 12'

The Big Apple is a perfect moniker for the city: 'The apple is the cause of the fall of human happiness' ...'It's the symbol of that desire for something more. Even though paradise was paradise, they were still restless.'
-Jennifer Senior, "Some Dark Thoughts on Happiness," New York Magazine

The big news this week is that New York won the "Unhappiest City in America" title, coming in last in satisfaction measures from the National Bureau of Economic Research. To think, I had once considered working for those schmucks. They said:

One interpretation of these facts is that individuals do not aim to maximize self-reported well-being, or happiness, as measured in surveys, and they willingly endure less happiness in exchange for higher incomes or lower housing costs. 

No, but seriously... self-reported satisfaction ratings are only as good as the people reporting them. They have something to do with how we frame our questions about happiness. If we ask, are you happy with how small and dirty your apartment is versus, are you happy with how many of your goals you have been able to pursue here in New York, we'll get different responses.

I, for one, am learning and growing more here in NYC than ever before. I'm transforming into a more mature, dedicated, reasonable, loving and interesting person than I've ever been. But the cost of transformation is living space is itty-bitty, my shoes are wearing out, my budget is a joke and the competition that built this city is the type of swim meet that might drown a person, even a person as bright and ambitious as me.

I'll do what the natives do, retell this new study's findings with a gleam in my eye. Can you believe it? NYC is an unhappy place!? Secretly patting myself on the back for finding a fulfilling life here.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Ai Wei Wei At the Brooklyn Museum


They felt it the first time they realized they weren't alone.

But also the first time they realized they were individuals,
saying something important about something important.

Ai Wei Wei
China Log 2005

Things That Delight (Summer Edition)

In no particular order, the things that delight this NYC newbie:

The Leftovers
Leftovers from Veniero's Pasticceria in the East Village
iMessage cat face, heart eyed emoticons
Hugs from friends
Cold Sichuan noodles
Saturday Brooklyn museum Ai Wei Wei plans
Birchbox eyeliner samples
Italian cheesecake
Beach trips to Far Rockaways
"Pretty in Pink" soundtrack
iPhone charger
IKEA stuffed animals
A/C window units
Trader Joe's canvas bags repurposed for the beach

Friday, July 25, 2014

Things Change

Everything we post on the web is anonymous, right?

I'd like to get back to that era when I was talking and some people were listening, but nobody was tracking me. Now, everyone everywhere is tracked, and nobody's listening.

I'm in New York now. Five years ago, when I started this blog, I had barely begun a new life and my dad's life had just been snuffed out. I was reading the Economist and thinking about settling in Europe.

Fast forward a few years and I'm working part time for professors, traveling back and forth to Asia every year, speaking at embassies and, most unbelievable of all, eating meat.

It's happening so fast. The world outside me is so loud. I wonder what I'm thinking sometimes.