Keeping Stuff Separate (Normal People Edition)

Sometimes I am shocked and fascinated by how cleanly compartmentalized many people’s lives seem to be:

You go to work, which is something you do for money and not fun. You are paid based on what you can do and how good you are at it, which is unrelated to who you are and how good of a person you are.

And work hours are for working hard and shouldn’t be squandered on chatting or joking or mindwandering or checking social media. Work is payed precisely because there are other things you’d rather be doing.

But there is no reason to check your work email or plan out your latest project after hours. Don’t squander your free time–you’re not being paid.

Of course you are a fun person with recreational interests, which are enjoyable and relaxing. There is no reason for these interests to be a source of intense effort or stress, because they are not your job.

And of course you care about being good, so you siphon off some money (and maybe even some time) from the regular part of your budget to donate to charity. You get reminders for this kind of stuff once or twice a year, so its no big deal if you forget the rest of the time.

And obviously you have a personal life too: you should expect to fall in love by going on dates in which you meet for the purpose of mutually evaluating each other as sexual and romantic prospects. These people should ideally have no other significance in your life outside this context, though the goal is that they become your most significant other

And though they should be ideally be people with whom you share similar values and enjoy being around, they should never be compared to “friends,” a category of people who belong in a completely discrete zone.

And don’t bring up politics on a date, because that’s not part of polite conversation. What’s politics got to do with love?

And certainly don’t bring up your love life in a pollitical context, because that’s vulgar and inappropriate. What’s love got to do with politics?

And obviously, don’t talk about love or politics at work. These things are of no professional relevance.

You should care about serious issues like violence and discrimination, of course. It is important to make time each evening to stay updated on such issues, so that when the occasion calls for it, you can voice your concerns in such somber, sober conversations. There are no jokes and no smiling in these talks. How insensitive could you be to discuss big, serious issues as if they were everyday problems?

And the rest of the time, don’t be a downer who brings up race or bombs in fun, casual conversations. Such big, serious issues have no place in everyday life. You shouldn’t have to think about those things when you’re not trying to think about them.

Your body is relevant insofar as it is a sexual object or a subject of medical interest. You dedicate maybe an hour each day to intentionally rigorous physical exertion for those reasons. The rest of the time you can mostly disregard your material existence. (If it gives you aggressive signals to pay attention to it, there are ways to drown that out.)

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I assume that this all makes perfect sense to plenty of people. Personally, compartmentalization has never been my strength.

Lately I’ve been questioning the implications of pursuing artistic careers in which the lines between professional, personal, and pollitical are pretty nonexistent. On one hand, it seems much more natural to me to be living life as an interconnected whole. And I’m really lucky to have the opportunity to do that (or at least try).

On the other hand, when you get your professional ambitions, artistic passion, pollitical expression, personal relationships, physical and emotional health, and income all hopelessly tied up in one another, it seems terrifyingly easy to let one of them pull the others out of whack.

There are advantages to keeping stuff separate, I guess.

This Time with Feeling

It’s good, it really is–but it needs something more

Cause they’re not quite buying it.

We want to see you put your heart into it

So you can just reach in and rip, if you don’t mind.

 

It’s just little dry

Can we get a confession in there?

Some deep dark secrets spilling out of you?

With all the juicy details dripping down your ribcage?

Cracked open, bare, and rare, just how they like it?

So dip your finger in the throbbing cavity

Make your mark on the stage, sign your soul on the page in deep red.

 

We just want to see you put your soul into it

Because souls sell these days

And if you won’t offer yours, I’m sure we’ll find another.

 

Updates from Texas

I interrupt your regularly scheduled blog-skimming for a short announcement: You may have noticed a new “site” tab at the top of this page. You probably didn’t. So I’m telling you now: I’ve been putting together a website for my dance and writing work, so check it out here!

Some other things I’ve been making in the couple few weeks:

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Yeah, I had  a lot of time on my hands . . .

But so much not any more! I’m currently in Texas getting ready to be an RA at a Joffrey Ballet School program. (Slash professional pokemon-tracing artist.)

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Thoughts on Journaling

As my month is Paris is winding down, I thought I’d post some bits from the journal I’ve been keeping here, starting with some feelings about journaling itself (so #meta, right?)


It’s weird for me writing on paper. Usually I like to write on my laptop so I that I can start at the middle, if I need to, then work to the beginning, then shuffle it all up until it makes sense. So I can leave blanks when I don’t know how to say it and come back to it when I find the right word. So I can iterate over a sentence, making little tweaks until it finally says what I mean.

I’ve heard that journaling is supposed to be more “raw and authentic,” “stream of consciousness,” and I see how there’s something in in getting thoughts down as they come out, with minimal editing. But usually, my consciousness doesn’t work like a stream, flowing constantly and unidirectionally down one line (as meandering as that line may be). It jumps around and disappears and stops and runs backwards and circles back on itself and sometimes flies away.

Maybe that’s why I have an easier time choreographing than I do with improv. I like to return and reorder and readjust, but it’s something else to make movement flow out on the spot in order. I guess I just have to get used to the fact that things don’t always come out just “right,” and get on with it.

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Notes from Finals Week: Relevant Procrastination

My latest strategy for procrastinating on papers (and to a lesser extent exam studying): looking at stuff that is at least marginally related to what I’m supposed to be doing.

Like when I’m trying to write a philosophy paper but I have no idea how to answer my own questions and my brains are starting to fall out of my left ear.

So I start looking at stupid philosopher chicken jokes.

And this Tumblr of Foucault quotes with pictures of the Olsen twins on Full House

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Or Judith Butler explained with cats.

And eventually I end up with something new to say.

I’ve always thought that the ideal of being “productive” or “efficient” is a little off, particularly when it comes to things like writing. Because while we may like to imagine that we can just put the fingers to the keyboard and crank out a paper using sheer willpower, the real work is actually thinking, which doesn’t really respond to brute force. It’s just not always possible to make your brain to spontaneously churn out new ideas about a topic that it didn’t have before.

You have to put some stuff into your brain to get stuff out of it. And for me, it has to be something I genuinely want to be looking at if I want a chance of sticking with it (against the siren call of Netflix) long enough to get some gears turning.

Flakes (The Semesterly Poetry Attempt)

It’s that time of the semester again when I write poems to make up for absences in Allegra Kent’s ballet class. I think I deserve brownie points for this one because I made it rhyme and I never make stuff rhyme. In other news, it snowed.

Flakes

Every snowflake is different

I’ve heard them say

But will each still be so special

On a warmer day?

 

When the flakes turn to slush

To murky rivers on the street

A faceless soup

Of flakes once discrete?

 

Were they ever really special

If no one stopped to see

Their brilliant little moments

Of ephemerality?