poetry of propaganda

https://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/575/poetry-of-propaganda?act=1#play

Look, I only linked Act One of the whole episode so you don’t even have to listen to the entire thing. Though if you’d like, of course, you shore can.

This episode is all about propaganda. And how any good propaganda is actually quite poetic. It is beautiful. Moving. Emotionally sensitive.

There was a bit in there that said something like “emotion leads you to trust” — which made me wonder about MM and whether or not he trusted me more. Like if emotionalness is a function of trust in a relationship. Given a whole bunch of other factors, of course, [science-y jargon about controls, blah blah].

Just a thoughtling.

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normalcy, aka all those little Wednesday bricks

this weekend has been full of calm little moments that just feel very “normal” if we’re being optimistic and “boring” if pessimistic. but neither adjective in any bad way. I think it’s just these consistent and dependable little building blocks of normal life that eventually construct you a solid little house — of a friendship, of a relationship, of a life.

dates around town, normal. catch-up meals involving Netflix and jjajangmyun, …normal. I guess. I kept walking away from these things, head cocked to the left because my normal mode of human interaction is intense and full of mind-wracking for sparky connections and out-loud hm-ing and huh-ing.

“we meet up infrequently for long, long conversations,” is how I describe it.

but in all my head-cocking wonderment, I realized that THIS kind of stuff is the stuff of those boring, precious Wednesdays. (see here for the full explanation; here for just the first couple paras if tldr.) I’m just building my house here; it’s a normal-boring Wednesday.

nothing to see here. but also…everything worth seeing is here.

normal-boring is having Binky for the weekend, a creature camping out in my bedroom on which I must look in from time to time and not be so selfish with my gallivanting plans.

normal-boring is googling “things to do in ___ this weekend” and filling in that blank with all the leetle neighborhoods around where ya live because, well, you’re basically, like, a local now.

normal-boring is handing a friend a MUCH belated birthday gift at church, in a quiet little handoff, feeling grateful that you get to see her at least once a week at least.

normal-boring is running the dishwasher and emptying it. for the umpteenth time.

small details, these, but they are the activities that keep our families happy, keep our relationships going, keep our apartments tidy and functioning as they should. they are the normal-boring, precious-bland bits and pieces of life that all add up to something worthy of a look-back-upon when you’re an old, old person, feeling lucky to get to be that old, probably.

and the Wednesday effect works wonders for your goals, too, as the long post explains. so every little Wednesday (but really every other day, too; you know what I mean), read your Bible and pray and be kind to the people in your life. these little bricks will have built you a solid and comforting old house someday.

and, too,

say thank you for all those years to come, stretched out between the now-self and the old, old person self that you get to live now, this realization in mind. in pocket. okay, at least in this here blog post.

so without further ado: thank you, thank you for these Wednesdays.

:) 9/6/16

hi E,

 

I stayed in midtown, right in the heart of Manhattan — Koreatown, actually. I never did walk by the UN building, but if I had, I certainly would have said hello for you.

 

the trip was really nice. I learned a lot at my conference (“editorial freelancers association”) and got to catch up with some old friends…from high school! so that was really weird and nice. it felt like reaching back to three lifetimes ago — through college, through high school in Charlottesville, then high school in Cincinnati (I used to live in Cincinnati!). with those friends, it felt (mostly) the same, which was nice. I mean, our lives are so different now from when we were in high school…obviously…but our friendship and our conversations felt the same, like old comfy…socks.

 

Mark and I did a lot of walking around. it was super tiring but also good. it’s fun to travel with him. I heard on the radio today about couples that are successful, and how the one factor across all these couples was the “awesomeness factor.” basically, it means that the likelihood of the couple’s continued happiness depends on how “awesome” they think the other person is, whether their beliefs are objectively based on reality or not. haha. basically, wearing rose-tinted glasses 😉

 

another cool thing was that the awesomeness factor had the tendency of making the person (the object of admiration) become as awesome as their admirer believes them to be. believing is seeing is being!

 

for you, too, I wonder if this helps.

how’s it been these days? are you still working at the airport? send me news of you.

love,

m

you had one job.

and yet.

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despite all the preparations
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despite the mind-organizations
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you ended up at pho in Richmond;
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cause it was perfect weather for soup
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you ended up at a house concert for the cutest singer-songwriter couple duo;
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cause it was the nice thing to do
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fell in love again, yet another memory in tow,
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witnesses galore,
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and donuts galore,
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cause donuts.
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and smeyelz. ugh.
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pauses and backward movement and french pastries

and yet.

 

like,

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what does it even mean to be in love,

what does it even mean to “choose,”

and what does it even mean to decide that you will love one person for the rest of your life, and to be married to them, and to be committed to a kind of forever that no other decision in life thus far has carried with it.

like,

how is it that so many people are married and engaged and not having identity crises in numbers proportionate to those relationships,

how it is that people “choose” each other and “fall” in love at the same time cause, technically, those two things are opposite,

and how is it that love is the most ubiquitous topic of choice, of songs, of movies, of our favorite collective stories, yet nobody can answer with confidence my question of the moment: “what is your definition of love.”

like,

do people stay the same or do they grow and mature or do they do both, somehow,

do birds of a feather flock together or do the opposites do the attracting, rather,

and do we fall in lust first in order to choose to love and do people ever happen to do it the other way around.

so many pairs I notice around me now are couples of stark differences. count them on your fingers, one by one, and each is a union of two very different characteristics, personalities, interests, and desires. from parents to the couple you see once a week at church, people known deeply and shallowly. one is an extrovert while the other would rather stay home from the party. another is drinks tea and the other, coffee. one dreams of beach vacations with toes in the sand and the other is grabbing a backpack for a trek through Europe. it’s hard to truly tell, of course, because who knows what people are like within the intimacy of their living room slow dances and speaking the language of their private gazes, beneath the surface that they let other people see — not even in their identity as a couple but even in their portrayals of their public selves, as individuals.

when I imagine a couple truly “gelling” together — couples who are so comfortable in the skin of their couplehood, couples that make you comfortable in the observation of their coupleness because they’re so “meant to be” whatever that means, couples who are so together it’s electrifying, wait, not to be so dramatic but I mean like a synapse, like a brain-firing between two, distinct ends connecting as one in one bright blaze of the brain, forming a new idea or remembering an old memory, electrifying — what comes to mind is an artist couple so in sync with one another’s artist-ness it’s unbearable. he’s scribbling out a masterpiece onto bits of toilet paper and coffee-stained napkins while she edits, direct and red pen ink dribbling cause apparently they’re using a fountain pen in my imagination. she comes home from a long day at the office where she’s been interviewing obscure-famous people in the arts world because oh, her office is NPR and he starts a conversation over dinner that makes her wonder how could I have forgotten to ask that question to that person today during our interview. he paints a picture of a bird and she is the only one who calls his bs — that’s really a reimagining of his childhood longing for freedom in the wilderness of his backyard, not really a bird, silly.

but “unbearable” is a key word in that description up there. cannot be beared. borne. bore-ed. my conception of those meant-to-be, gel-hood couples is only complete with: explosive, emotional fights; crying and tearing of hairs over seemingly stupid and mundane details of life but actually full of meaning and secret feelings; multiple ruptures in the plot line of their romances, but always, magnet-like, pulled irresistibly back together until one drinks himself to death or the other walks out of a 14th-floor window, chasing butterflies from her absinthe hallucination.

my very scientific and exact system of logic commonly known as [Gut Feelings] tells me that, (un)fortunately, probably something like 90% of real-life couples do not do this kind of gelling I’m thinking of. that these extreme scenarios simply jump to the front of my mind-brain when wondering about such lofty ideas as Love aaaaaand Marriage, too, because extremes and strong impressions from the media are what the imagination deals in. honestly, it’s all kinda mixed up in there with movie scenes of people running down unrealistic airport places as well as secondhand stories of daily-moment, small-time romance — the kind made of poopy diapers and devoted husbands who clean up after them — really only small in scale, not depth.

so, for those 90% of the population, the 90% of us, what is love?

like,

why is it so complicated for me,

why was I under such an impression that it wouldn’t be,

and why am I so full of questions and qwaveries, still.

I keep coming back to the fact that there are non-negotiables and then there are the negotiables. the non-negotiables you can try to negotiate, but ultimately, your girlfriends will set you straight about them, if you’ve cultivated good girlfriend relationships in your life. and the negotiables, you must…well, negotiate. and isn’t it perfect that the ultimate answer is so plain and tall, so deep and shallow at the same time that you’d see right through it to the bottom of the well, clear and crystal. this is madison in yonderland — where time flexes itself and clarities zoom in and out of focus every other day. certainty seizes you by the moment, and the next week, leaves you choking and breathless for its betrayal. crying tears and stuff.

yep, this is the land of pro:con lists and incessant justifications that aren’t only full of excuses, but actual and VALID reasonings of possibilities previously unimagined. cause what you need may not be what you want. or what you even knew you wanted, or needed, or unimagined. questioning things, deeper things,

like,

is he challenging you to become a better person, and are you, him?

does the combination of her and you make the world a better place?

will there be fulfillment, emotional, physical, spiritual, etc?

and then, even deeper deeper things,

such as,

how do you feel about winter sports and frisbee?

when you text, does it make you cheese-smile at your phone, you-know-what-I-mean? and does the answer to that question make you want to cry a little??

can you let go of everything you feel like you’ve achieved and desired for your future til now, and lay a symbolic hand upon your literal left breast, and say: God, I trust you with the rest.

?

well, can you? stop snickering at the “literal left breast” up there just a moment and think about it.

the complicated yet utterly simple thing is that the answer to all these questions is like yes, and like, no, and maybe, all at the same time. yes, love is a choice, but no, you can’t discount the falling into it part cause that’s how you get started, or middled, or end up — seriously. yes, you will GROW and GROW but no! you cannot set that as an expectation of the other.  yes, no, maybe St. Patrick’s Day was a good, terrible, results-yet-unknown idea. yeah.

your story will be a beautiful one of lots of growth and lessons learned — you’re just not in the hindsight portion of it yet where you see it, yet. but already, so many have touched your life, carrying you from one significant realization to the next: “you two are really different; it’s cause of the s and the n” to “manage yo expectations” to “I think you can have both.”

all to the refrain of “no matter what happens, this has been a worthy pursuit.”

let it be honest. let it not become a platitude.

 

“your life is beaUTIFUL”

so… is it safe to say that dating, in its regular-form, non-emergency, freak-accident-free boundaries of normal life, one will never experience those situations of emotional depth that make or break marriages?

“absolutely”

so… doesn’t it seem kind of unfair, like, how the heck are you ever supposed to know whether or not to make the leap? are we just expected to make the commitment without knowing what it’s really ever gonna be like?

“well, I mean… yeah!”

so… is this some sort of trick?

“no! I mean, it’s sort of like the gospel, isn’t it? you can’t grab a nonbeliever and show them what it’s really like to convince them to become a believer. at some point, that person just has to make the leap… of faith… and say yes, and then begin to grow in faith

oh. WOAH. woah… woah. wait that’s really good.

“I mean, you can apply this to anything in life — like that job. you might have some ideas, some suppositions, well-supported or not, about what it’s going to be like, how well suited you’ll be to it… but you don’t know what it’s going to be like. you’re just going to have to find out what you can, and then make up the distance by leaping. in faith. I mean, are you expecting to time travel here?”

you right. dang. I’m totally getting owned by this…overwhelmingly simple parallel over here. bleh afoewifj wwow

“you just sort of look at a person, you learn their character, see if your relationship has the potential to glorify God and make you both sanctified, and you go for it. and don’t sacrifice it…just because of that little feminist person on your shoulder.”

I know, I know… I’ll keep having these conversations with my little feminist person on the shoulder. she’s not too big, anyways.

–hahahehehoho–

“let’s be real here, it’s gonna be hard. you know that feeling you had in your dream when you were facing that uncertain, scary thing and were so mad at Bark for not doing anything to help? that’s what it’s going to feel like. a thousand times worse. because you’ll actually be helpless. and vulnerable. and going into labor to deliver a baby or something and he’ll be watching a Jackie Chan movie…or something (yeah, it was bad). but you practice serving one another, saying no to your selfishness, and growing together — I mean really together, like two trees, growing into each other — and glorifying Jesus through all of that. you won’t regret it.”

hey. hey, hey. your life is beautiful. let me tell you…as the direct recipient and first-taster of the fruit: how beautiful and blessingful and meaningful your ministry has been in my life. you’re not getting applauded in obvious ways, like you would be in a concert hall, I know, but you two are the biggest unsung heroes I know. you’re affecting and influencing and touching and (teaching to!) all of our lives here so thank you. thank you. thank you. for the first time, I really feel like I can say I have a life mentor; someone to go to, unashaméd. and loved. thank you. please hear that. we love you!

bittersweet begendings. berhaps.

whatislove: not #fomo, but more like #satisfice

thoughts from here, cause fomo is self-destructive. how to escape it? “satisfice.” (or settling? yeah, I like satisfice better, too.)

This simple approach was first introduced in 1956 by Herbert Simon, an American multidisciplinary researcher and Nobel Prize Laureate in Economics. He used the term ‘satisfice’ – a portmanteau of ‘satisfy’ and ‘suffice’ – to suggest that instead of trying to maximise our benefits, we seek a merely ‘good enough’ result. Simon’s strategy relies on the assumption that we simply do not have the cognitive capacity to optimise complex decision-making. We cannot process the mass of information entailed in weighing all available options and probable outcomes – both on the social networks and off. Thus, the best move is ‘satisficing’ – choosing the first available option that meets our predetermined criteria, which is good enough.

Studies of Simon’s method have shown that people who insist on optimising decisions are ultimately less satisfied with their choices than those who made do with ‘good enough’. Other studies clarify why: the achievements of the former are actually lower than those of the latter, especially when the decision involved weighing possible outcomes. In a series of experiments led by the Swarthmore College social psychologist Barry Schwartz, participants filled out a self-assessment questionnaire determining their tendency to optimise decisions (based on their agreement with statements such as ‘I never settle for second best’ or ‘I often find it difficult to shop for gift for a friend’). Another questionnaire measured subjects’ propensity to feel regret; participants were then classified according to their answers on both questionnaires. The researchers found a negative correlation between the tendency to optimise and happiness, self-esteem and satisfaction, and a positive correlation between the same tendency and depression, perfectionism and regret. Another study in the series found that people who optimise also engage in more social comparison, and are adversely affected when they come up short.

Testimony to the method’s effectiveness abounds. In business, sacrificing maximisation in favour of a predefined ‘good enough’ is known to be the best strategy in the long run. As the saying goes, ‘Bulls make money, bears make money, pigs get slaughtered’: greediness that looks to maximise doesn’t pay. Business people also know to ‘leave something on the table’, especially in deals leading to long-term partnerships. Experienced capital market investors understand that aiming to ‘sell at the peak’ will ultimately be less profitable than selling once a satisfactory profit is gained. Corporate graveyards are full of companies that did not stop at a ‘good enough’, profitable product that they could easily market, surrendering instead to ambitious engineers with sophisticated specifications and unrealistic plans.

In his outstanding book Why the Allies Won (1995), the British historian Richard Overy analyses the outcomes of the Second World War, which were not, he claims, a given. One explanation he offers is the German army’s attempt to optimise use of its military munitions at the expense of tactical combat efficiency. At one point in the war, the Germans had no fewer than 425 different kinds of aircraft, 151 kinds of trucks, and 150 kinds of motorcycles. The price they paid for the technical superiority of German-made munitions was difficulty in mass-production, which was ultimately more important from a strategic point of view. In the decisive battles fought in Russia, one German force had to carry approximately one million spare parts for hundreds of types of armed carriers, trucks and motorcycles. The Russians, in contrast, used only two types of tanks, making for much simpler munitions maintenance during war. It was ‘good enough’ for them.

Even when it comes to emotional intimacy and love, ‘good enough’ works best. It was the British psychologist Donald Winnicott who gave us the concept of the ‘good-enough mother’ – a mother sufficiently attentive and adequately responsive to her baby’s basic needs. As the baby develops, the mother occasionally ‘fails’ to answer his needs, preparing him for a reality in which he will not always get exactly what he wants, whenever he wants it. The child learns to delay gratification, a key to any form of adult success. As we mature, we make do with ‘good enough’ partners almost by definition. Yes, out there is someone probably more suited to our needs – but we might not live long enough to find him or her.

Even if feeling that we are missing out is testament to our spirited drive for life, the way in which social networks now enhance our optimisation fallacy beyond all proportion is taking a serious toll on our quality of life. If you still doubt that ‘good enough’ is the best antidote to FoMO, the words of the American essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson might strike the right chord: ‘For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.’


so at the grocery store, in the yogurt section; in business transactions; in making war…

oh yeah, and in the whatislove,

the lesson is to stop seeking Perfect. and look long and hard at the Good you’ve already got. driven by the possibility of missing out on that elusive “something else” will certainly end up with you missing out on the present and the present.


 

and this, personal words of wisdom, fished out of the inbox this morning; timely again —

to answer what you were asking, there is no distinctive “line” to guide you in deciding who to commit to. There are plenty of good people that would probably meet your criteria of what you are looking for in a guy, of course, no one will completely meet all the criteria, only Jesus is capable of that. You’ll always have those ‘what if’ thoughts and scenarios of possible other great matches (because there really are probably some great guys out there that would be a good match). But don’t focus so much on the what ifs or what you might be missing out on, focus on the present and what God has blessed you with.
Being Christian is an essential criteria, but it shouldn’t be the only criteria. Everyone has a different standard, and is attracted to different personalities. Just because someone is Christian, doesn’t mean their personality will match yours. For example, one of the things that I really love about Jim-Bobis his sense of humor, we have developed a very weird humor together over the years.  When you find someone who compliments your personality and brings out the best in you, then that’s a very good thing 🙂
And if being with that person challenges you to grow spiritually, then you know that you are on the right track. (I want to be careful when I say, “challenges you to grow spiritually”, because you shouldn’t depend on another person to help you grow spiritually, but if being with that person helps, it’s definitely a good thing).
And finally a couple of things helped me in realizing that I wanted to spend the rest of my life committed to one person: 1) that person is seeking Christ and expresses the desire to seek Christ together with me, 2) that person expresses the desire to make the same commitment to me, 3) we have mutual attraction, love & respect 4) that person doesn’t have serious flaws that I would consider ‘deal breakers’.

ez, right? 😛

happy wondering. happy wednesday.