Fight Club Themes

Remember Fight Club? I went to the movie twice in college, and took a tape recorder so I could get these quotes (the Society section–even more poignant after recently reading the book “Affluenza“):

Fight Club Themes:

“The condom is the modern day glass slipper. You put one on when you meet a stranger, you dance all night, then throw it away…the condom, not the stranger.”
“This was once a bridesmaid’s dress. Someone loved it intensely for one day, then tossed it. Like a Christmas tree, so special then, bam, gone by the road, tinsel still clinging to it. Like a sexual crime victim, underwear inside out, bound with electrical tape.”
Glad it suits you…

“If God is supposed to be our heavenly father, and our father abandoned us, what does that tell you about God? He never wanted you, in all probability, he hates you. It’s not the worst you could do. We don’t need Him. Fuck redemption. If we are God’s unwanted children, so be it.”

“I see in the fight club the strongest and smartest men that ever lived. I see all your potential, and I see you squander it. Goddamn the entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables, slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, men. No purpose or place. We have no great war, no great depression. Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’ll all be millionaires and movie gods and rock stars, but we won’t, and we’re slowing learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.”

Only in death do you have a name.

We’re the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.

The things you own will soon own you.

Wheel of Life

My massage school instructor warned us that taking massage classes would change our life drastically (for the better). She said she had seen it over and over again, that people who study massage therapy make huge life decisions as a result of their time at the institute. Sitting in her class, I smiled, amused at the bold prediction that surely would affect everyone in the class but me. After all, I was advancing in a high-paying, fun job in a great company, and I was merely studying massage therapy in order to become certified at something I had always done on the side for friends and family. It wasn’t like I was going to make a career change or anything…

Flash back 30 minutes, as the 27-year-old instructor hands us each a piece of paper with the title “Wheel of Life.” The in-class assignment was to rate each spoke on the wheel of life with a dot: the closer to the middle, the more satisfied you were with that aspect of your life. She then asked us to connect the dots and cut out the shape with a pair of scissors. Each of us, if we were comfortable, was to explain to the class why we had ended up with the particular shape that we did.

It immediately became clear that my shape was the smallest of everyone’s in the room. When it came around for my explanation, it went something like this: I must be having a good day today…ha, ha…Well, financially, I’m doing well right now. I have a good education, and although I believe I will never stop learning, if I were to die today, I would be happy with the effort I’ve put into my education. I’m quite happy in my spirituality. I don’t necessarily think of spirituality as belief in a higher power, but rather as knowing my place in the universe, and I’m quite content with that. My home environment is good: My brother lives with me and I have a roommate for the summer who has a dog that my cat does not appreciate, but everything is good! I’ve put a lot of effort into making my house a home, and I like being there. As for my relationships, I’m learning more about myself and how to communicate, so things are going pretty well there. I don’t necessarily think of myself as a social person, although others tend to see me that way; that’s why I put my social life a little further out on that spoke. I tend to think of joy in terms of feeling peaceful, and I do feel a very strong underlying peace about my life. The only spoke that sticks out for me is health. I went from being a 3-sport high school athlete and a full-time college athlete, to car accidents, shoulder surgeries, recovery, and not being handed a weekly workout regime, or setting any concrete goals for myself. So in comparison to where I have been in the past, I am not thrilled about my fitness level, and I eat more than I should; however I tend to eat pretty healthy foods.

I ended my introspective soliloquy on the career and creative spokes. I think I said something about that I liked my work–that although people tend to think of the oil industry as evil, that I had no issues about working for a company that produced a product that everyone uses to make their lives more efficient and easier–and that it wasn’t my fault for the unwise “consumerist” choices people make about how to use the fuel and products that we produce. I shared that I was learning a valuable skill–how to bring a lot of people and a lot of money together to accomplish big things, but acknowledged that my current career was a stepping stone to other things I may want to do in life. Finally, I mentioned that I do see myself as a creative person, both in the “creative-at-solving-problems” sense, and in the writing, art, musical sense, and that I had begun expressing that more and more so via the blog/website I had just started, but that I had recently been craving more creative expression.

Fast forward 12 days, to this past Sunday night, as I return from Home Depot with a new hose in hand, and sink onto the back patio under the weight of my future changing in an instant. I find myself Google-ing “how to quit a job,” printing out my letter of resignation, and dreadfully rehearsing just how I’m going to approach my employer the next morning.

Fast forward to Monday night, as I’m in a hotel room in San Francisco breaking down and trying to explain to my boyfriend and parents in semi-rational terms how an emotional Sunday night epiphany had so quickly led to a 2-week-notice and a complete upheaval of my life.

Why, then? Was it the mysterious powers of a massage therapy education? More likely (I’ve just now concluded) a subconscious progression toward the center of the wheel of life.

Stay tuned…

How vast those Orbs

A old quote my brother found today that cheered me up:

How vast those Orbs must be, and how inconsiderable this Earth, the Theatre upon which all our mighty Designs, all our Navigations, and all our Wars are transacted, is when compared to them. A very fit consideration, and matter of Reflection, for those Kings and Princes who sacrifice the Lives of so many People, only to flatter their Ambition in being Masters of some pitiful corner of this small Spot.

~Christiaan Huygens, Dutch scientist (mid-late 1600s)

A social experiment

A social experiment:

I was riding a rental car shuttle a few weeks ago when I noticed the woman sitting across from me did not shave her legs. She had dark skin and dark black hair, and I remember being completely repulsed by her “manly” legs (though I hadn’t shaved in a couple days myself, but at least I was wearing a long skirt to disguise the fact). It soon became apparent that the woman was a kind of girlfriend of the shuttle bus driver, which made me wonder: How can he be attracted to a woman with so much hair on her legs?

It dawned on me that I had never, since adolescence, NOT shaved my legs. Only one girl I knew from high school had been brave enough not to shave her legs for an extended period. She was the governor’s niece; the beautiful & popular senior girl who decided one day to go the whole indoor volleyball season without shaving her legs. I don’t exactly remember her justification, something like it was wintertime and she didn’t feel like shaving every day. I do remember that all her teammates and close friends teased her incessantly whenever we were sitting around in the gym with our shorts on, and we noticed her hairy legs. She thought it was amusing that everyone else was so disgusted.

So I thought to myself, what is this weird social pressure women feel (and project onto each other) to shave their legs? We have hair on our arms, and true, some women shave that as well, but I don’t, so why am I so repulsed looking at hair on my lower legs, while looking at hair on my lower arms doesn’t bother me a bit? So I decided to stop shaving my legs to try to answer that question.

I discovered the following: (1) My boyfriend (who is African-American) doesn’t really care that much about whether or not a woman has shaved legs, which was shocking – as the white men I had dated in the past were pretty particular about me having nicely shaved legs all the time. (2) I also learned that there are loads of marketing stimuli that encourage smooth, shaven legs (Nair, Caress, lotions, Gillette, for example, not to mention waxing and electrolysis commercials). The legs in those commercials looked so nice to touch and stroke, whereas mine looked hideous!

At first, I thought that maybe there was some shorn-legged conservative agenda out there that we were being tricked into buying into–that maybe we would appear less animal-like if we were all clean-shaven. But I ultimately settled for the hypothesis that some women are simply being held to an ultra-feminine standard of beauty. That is, if you were to stand a woman and a man side-by-side, the woman would be less hairier overall, so we as women exaggerate that difference to appear more feminine, thus more attractive to the males of the species.

If you want to know how the story ends, it ended with me being so repulsed last night, before heading to the gym in shorts with my 1/4-inch-long blondish-brown hair on my legs, that I shaved it all off (and spared you the picture). So much for bucking that social norm. I would have made a terrible hippie.

Struggle for Life

Since Oprah is all re-runs lately and I’ve caught every “What Not to Wear” episode on my DVR, I branched out on Sunday and watched the Discovery Health channel for a few hours. I had the good fortune to catch some captivating television. Among the titles, one especially interested me–the one modestly titled “Vanished Twins.” The premise of the show was that many of us had a struggle for life in the womb, and that current science suggests that as many as 1 out of 8 of us may have started out with a twin in the earliest stages of development. They told the fascinating story of a 7-year-old boy from a rural Kazakhstan village who had had a large abdomen ever since he was born. The other boys at school teased him and called him pregnant, while his parents thought it was Rickets and hoped it would go away. But one day the boy had terrible stomach pain, so they rushed him to the hospital and cut open his stomach. Inside they found a cyst, and inside the cyst was a dead, partially-formed human about a foot long with resemblances of legs, arms, testes, a face, nails, and long hair. The prevailing theory is that the boy had split into an identical twin in his mother’s womb. The healthier twin’s cell folded around the weak twin’s cell, enveloping it inside, where it eventually formed an umbilical connection to the boy so it could feed parasitically off him to stay alive! They called it fetus in-fetu. So, in a sense, the mother had a baby growing inside her that had a baby growing inside it.

Apparently it’s not genetic, just a wonderful, terrifying, and grotesque abnormality of nature. They showed two other instances, one, I think, of an American couple who had the same thing happen to them, but they caught it in the ultrasound, and one of a British couple that had a partially-formed fetus in the womb (no head or thoracic cavity) that was separate from the healthy twin, but feeding parasitically off the healthy twin via an umbilical attachment it formed to keep itself alive.

For some reason, I enjoy the type of science that shows the randomness of our existence. I also enjoy learning about our similarities to other animals, and about how our molecular makeup is the same stuff that makes up our entire universe as we know it. It is refreshing to be “put in our place”, when we are bombarded by our own arrogance in every direction: Save the planet from global warming! Save the endangered species! Humans were meant to rule the earth! I’m really quite tired of it all, and a show like “Vanished Twins” is somehow refreshing.

Eloquent Abe

I had no idea how eloquent Abraham Lincoln was until purchasing a book of selected letters & speeches. Here is an excerpt on the price of freedom:

“If the relative grandeur of revolutions shall be estimated by the great amount of human misery they alleviate, and the small amount they inflict, then, indeed, will this be the grandest the world shall ever have seen. Of our political revolution of ’76, we all are justly proud. It has given us a degree of political freedom, far exceeding that of any other of the nations of the earth. In it the world has found a solution of that long mooted problem, as to the capability of man to govern himself. In it was the germ which has vegetated, and still is to grow and expand into the universal liberty of mankind.
But with all these glorious results, past, present, and to come, it had its evils too. It breathed forth famine, swam in blood and rode on fire; and long, long after, the orphan’s cry, and the widow’s wail, continued to break the sad silence that ensued. These were the price, the inevitable price, paid for the blessings it bought.”

It is humbling that someone of Lincoln’s education could speak so clearly yet poetically, and disheartening to compare him to some of today’s political leaders speaking on the subject of freedom and revolution, with their empty and often vague rhetoric, despite “thorough” educations.

#1 Pet Peeve

#1 Pet Peeve: When grocery carts are not returned to their proper location.

I believe every activity in every day is a chance to practice being a better person. Why not start with the small things, like returning your grocery cart to the store or the grocery cart storage area when you are done with it? Leaving your cart next to your car where it does not belong is lazy, and creates problems for other people. Returning your cart practices diligence, personal responsibility, and consideration for other people’s property: Your cart won’t roll into someone else’s car, or have to be moved by someone else to clear a parking space or a pathway to walk. It is also a chance to practice exercising, something 60-plus% of Americans need to do more of anyway. Your time is not so valuable that you can’t take 1 minute to return a grocery cart – no matter what your profession or next scheduled activity. You probably wasted that much time (and fuel) trying to get the best parking space closest to the store entrance before you parked (and ironically, that prime parking spot is still too far from the nearest cart return station!).

The same can be said of work. I personally spend 35.7% of my waking hours at my job in a typical 40-hour work week. I try to think of my time at work as more than just time wasted. Those hours are time to practice being the person you want to be–to practice being successful. For me, that means using each moment to practice being patient, kind, hard-working, diligent, forgiving, and doing my best work at all times. That doesn’t mean I’m perfect, it just means I’m practicing being that person, and not letting my guard down because I’m clocking in my hours for the man. You have to own your life–don’t let anyone, or any job, or any situation stealthily reduce your potential for greatness–you must practice greatness in all aspects of your life.

As great people have noticed: The mind is a fertile garden–whatever you plant will grow. That means checking yourself regularly to make sure your thoughts and actions are reflecting the type of person you want to be. M.K. Gandhi said it best:

“Keep my thoughts positive, for my thoughts become my behaviors.
Keep my behaviors positive, for my behaviors become my habits.
Keep my habits positive, for my habits become my values.
Keep my values positive, for my values become my destiny.”

I believe no thought or action is to small to influence your destiny. This includes returning your grocery cart to its proper location.

My weekend in Washington D.C.

My weekend in Washington D.C. was everything I had hoped for (and more!). Highlights were visiting the Smithsonian museums of Natural History & American History, seeing the Washington and Lincoln Memorials, touring the Arlington Cemetery, visiting the National Zoo and the Holocaust Museum, and finishing with the 4th of July celebration on the National Mall. You can see my video of the fireworks – they were pretty spectacular! You can also view the rehearsal clips from the performance given on Capitol Hill (Crowd and Song). I will have many wonderful memories of this trip…including watching 30 Seconds to Mars perform (again!) and eating at Zed’s, a fabulous Ethiopian restaurant. I found Washington, D.C. to be a friendly, warm city, and the locals I talked to were very proud of their hometown. You can see my few (and quite unimpressive!) pictures from the trip here. It was a relaxing and refreshing trip, and I felt very calm and zen-like most of my visit. I enjoyed figuring out the subway system, and got lots of much-needed walking exercise in. To cap it off, I was bumped up to first-class on the ride home–these are times when living is very easy.