The Joy of Being Friends with Dawnique

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On the second Saturday of May, I fell asleep within several hours of noon in a suburban neighborhood in Eastern Queens. I don’t remember if the nap preceded or followed chomping down a hard-boiled egg salad, streaming a press conference confirming the winner of Guyana’s presidential elections, or cajoling Dawnique into walking around her neighborhood with me. I just know that at some point our busy bodies crashed.

Neither Dawnique nor I have a strong affinity for languishing. Since college, she’s been photographed in the White House, advised Michelle Obama, shook hands with dignitaries at the UN General Assembly multiple times, and delivered a speech in a second language in front of a former British prime minister. When she goes, she dons colorful and stylish professional dresses, wears her handbag with confidence and strolls in heels with gusto. If only.

Outside of those I share with Dawnique, few phone conversations elicit the breadth of emotion and volume. We squabble and tease. We provoke and roar.* We predictably attempt to get under the skin of each other—but in the name of honesty**—and we more comfortably than most rattle off our accomplishments.

All of that was true, that second Saturday in May. But secure in our superior status to that of the other person, we slept fast and soundly.

* After I told Dawnique that I would be dedicating my first blog post to her, I asked for a photo. True to form, she emailed me my absolute least favorite photo of us (pictured above, along with our friend Josephine), and then before I even had a chance to upload it, inquired about where she could find my eulogy to her.

**Dawnique, I’m about 100 words over my word count for this series so feel SPECIAL.

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My new creative writing project

Over the weekend, my friend Jason flew out from Oakland and spent the weekend biking, drinking, analyzing, and devouring Chicago alongside me. I’ve been friends with Jason since we were sixteen, in polos and khakis and confused upperclassmen at Moreau Catholic. Both longtime Giants fans, our camaraderie deepened after we watched the 2010 World Series at odd hours of the morning while in Argentina and Spain respectively. After San Francisco won, it ultimately sparked me to write several essays reflecting on our friendship. After he journeyed back to the Bay on Sunday, I once again felt moved to write about us.

I’m not on Instagram, even though the past couple months I’ve been badly lusting over some of the lives depicted there. Part of this stems from a wish to celebrate the individuals who inject exceeding amounts of joy, mischief, and conversation into my Chicago existence. Part of this is rooted in a hunger to be desired. I fiercely love my life, but oh that propensity that my weekdays to be validated!

I’m not going to join Instagram, probably due to a reason also linked to pride in that I’d have to take more iPad pictures. I may be my father’s daughter in many ways, but cannot hold up an electronic the size of a novel without shame in most public spaces. Also, I’m not a photographer. Right now, I don’t have an eye which quickly identifies how the rule of thirds plays out in a shot and I’m not strong with composition. And someone teach me about filters.

But I write.

All of this is a roundabout way to announce—and consequently hold myself accountable to—a new project: The Joy of Being Your Friend. In posts of no more than 200 words, I’m excited to share the mini-stories of the rich interactions I’ve had with people. I’ll be writing three a week—a goal, which when I last set for myself—ultimately helped win me a reporting job.

Two last things. First, please read my recent piece on my love of American Girl. Second, I still have to determine my publishing schedule of this series when I head to South America. Be swell.

Dear NYC: It’s Complicated

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To New York City,

Six months after bidding you goodbye, don’t assume I’ve forgotten the irritation of the R train, at all hours of every day but especially nights and weekends. Resist believing that I’ve stopped resenting it for turning a three stop journey from the Jackson Heights platform and a seven minute walk from Woodhaven Boulevard into a half hour ordeal. You’d be naïve if you thought that the rage I felt whenever I’d step out of an F or E Express train and see red station stoplights across the ways (indicating, of course, that a local train had just left) one day just dissipated. Nah, New York, those minutes of my youth were precious. I want them back.

I’ve been avoiding you New York. I’ve been behaving the way I wish I could in my current breakup: I barely talk about our life together, haven’t seen you once, and don’t regularly entertain fantasies that we’ll get back together. But today’s six months. I’m going there.

I need you to know, first, that I have an utterly fulfilling life in Chicago. I’ve channeled the same curiosity that took me on daytrips to the Grand Concourse or in search of tacos in Far Rockaway when I’ve toured the torched Pullman factory or got my eyebrows threaded on Devon Street. Since September, I’ve been enrolled in trapeze class and flirted with the idea of becoming a full-fledged member of Chicago’s contra dancing community. I weekly tutor my bright but truant 16-year-old Elizabeth and improv ballet routines with my two pre-teen neighbors. At home, I barely manage to avoid rolling around on the floor to my roommate’s dramatic retellings of a nonsensical story of us pouring rice through a funnel.

I’m not interested in ditching Chi, I tell everyone who inquires about my next move. I’m not, New York. I’m not and it bears worth repeating because you’ll mangle and tangle by convictions in three months, mark my words. Why? Good question. After all, I not only partied on top of a chair after the Giants won title number three, I did so with the clan with whom I’d sat in suspense all month long. I rely on my neighbors for counseling, affirmation, and spiritual direction – the platonic ideal of relationships on the block. I befriended and dated my true co-conspirator in urban adventures. But damn, I still don’t know Chicago. I don’t know myself in damn city and consequently I can’t love it.

I’ve never powerwalked to the Green Line at 7 a.m. and groggily stared at my breath, observing it obscure the number of minutes I have until the next train. I’ve never neglected to pack my goggles when swimming breast stroke at the community pool because I’ve never swam a lap there, much less purchased a membership. I’ve never pranced around the Loop during rush hour or pinpointed that lesser-known elevated green space by the water where I meet up with all my out-of-office people. I don’t know the state of subway etiquette and I sometimes fear I’ve forgotten about my pedestrian ruthlessness because I defensively bike across six point intersections. I don’t eat Trader Joe’s salads for lunch at City Hall. I don’t know where City Hall is. I’ve read three copies of commuter newspapers all year. I devote very little of my free time exclusively to strange places and unknown people and I only speak Spanish to other gringos. I lost my swag once I realized I’d never have to elbow someone as a reverse commuter.

In some ways, my 9-5 bears eerie resemblance to the former: I’m a journalist with an office across the street from a McDonalds and Chase Bank. But over half my waking moments I dedicate to the suburbs, where spunk goes to siesta.

I’ll have it back, when I see you again New York. That 8 a.m. It’s Monday On The Subway hustle, that Madison Square Park people-watching leisure, that confidence of being fiercely loved by preteens in the coldest city on earth.

Before they parted ways due to irreconcilable differences, the presciently named band The Civil Wars sang “I don’t have a choice but I’d still choose you.” That’s us, New York. That’s us. “I don’t love you but I always will.”

With so much admiration,

Morgan, a happy resident of Chicago

Nah, California, you’re not that Golden

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California is a myth.

It’s an asphalt and parking lot-ridden landscape with four-lane freeways from which you can look up at the arid, tan hills as they blend into the arid, tan skyline. It’s all the Big Box you’ll find in flyover country (and Queens) five years before it debuts out yonder. None of the churches have steeples and I’ve never seen a bike lane, outside of would-be Amsterdam West, a la SF. Buzz over Chipotle and frozen yogurt predated the rest of the continent by six years. Regardless of its temperate weather, it’s not the type of landscape that could make a woman cry.

No one’s interested in loving the Golden State as it is. Ignoring the smog, the fumes, the car-after-car-after-car roadways, the residents of the other 49 wax about the palm trees, the glory of Lake Tahoe, and majesty of Big Sur. Marin County might as well stand in for the rest of the Bay Area. Bakersfield. Fresno. Modesto. All decently sized and likely represented by a Flying J super gas station. California. Where big country rebranded itself as corporate farm land and trailer trucks perpetually terrify motorists through the Grapevine.

No one’s condemned to live there. Indeed, most folks profess a surge of pride recognized only by New Yorkers as the satisfaction of sticking out an extraordinarily pricy place. (In this case, the residence in question is likely a McMansion in a hackneyed development, not a parkside condo/co-up.) But it’s lonely and vacuous and everyone wants space and togetherness, fresh air and short commutes, culinary variety and cheap food. For it’s alleged progressive values and Silicon Valley swagger, its architecture and shopping malls feel predictably capitalistic and terribly generic. We don’t have half as many Target’s as Minneapolis if only because we have Costco and Walmart too.

You want California to build up to its potential; to let be for the sake of its beauty. Donner Pass, the Mohave Dessert, Mammoth Lakes all indicate that there’s so much more to be demanded from a state so devoid of Midwestern geography. There’s the elegant clay walls of the missions, the Golden Gate Bridge for God’s sake, the zaniness of the Santa Cruz boardwalk, and the quaint magic of El Cajon all invoking the spirit California’s duped so many into believing has infiltrated the place.

It’s my birthplace, my childhood, my life landmark and my baseball team. But there are other states that are my home.

(Photo caption: The author with her sister and father at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, December 2014)

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

I’m a little past the seventh month in my twenty-fourth year. For the past 120 minutes, I’ve been lying on a cobalt blue velour couch and tending to my friendships with excess and not duty. As of 26 hours ago, the lower half of my hair has been dyed purple.

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Earlier today, I met Deborah when she made eye contact with me on Walnut Street at 10:41 a.m. I could already hear the tambourine slamming against someone’s hands and another someone pumping the organ but she reassured me that I the service had just started at Greater Holy Temple Church of God in Christ. After she embraced me — a gesture I responded to with effusive positive feedback — she told me that her hug wouldn’t be the last I received all morning. Within an hour, the congregation proved her right.

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The sensation of touch still feels dull on my finger tips and the skin between my toes from my ill-fated bike riding adventure through the Illinois woods this afternoon. I will not forget the war that they waged against the tingling and then the numbing and then the shutting down and the trauma of exposure. But I’m coming back for you North Branch bike trail when the sun shines in the Botanical Gardens and I’ve donned my brown sandals for the season. I’ll have the last word against winter.

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I miss McKenzie the most intensely whenever Mallory and I meet someone new because I worry they obtain a skewed impression of the Lee Girl brand.

Gale Is a Disgrace: How his stunted character betrays the book and weakens the series as a whole

The Voice of Reason. Those were my initial thoughts on Gale following Thursday night’s screening of Mockingjay. He urged a mentally uneased Katniss to follow District 13 brass’ wishes that she participate in the propos, heeded Coin’s pager summons’ to return to District 13 after a would-be romantically charged afternoon hunt,  and returned far too-collected (and somewhat mentally checked-out) after returning from Operation Peeta. I don’t recall a time when he interrupted or spat out his words or showed his lack of fear of authority. His voice was edgeless. His eyes never flashed. He never spoke out of turn. I observed a tall, clean-shaven man with so much screen time but little personality. Good-looking but without any understanding of how to harness his attractiveness to manipulate. Gorgeous but with a loud but innocuous temper.

He was safe and tame and banal.

He was rational and was boring.

Yet, Gale has every reason to fill every scene in with his smoldering. He watched more than 90 percent of his district get torched by the Capitol’s bombs. He has spent years of his life breathing toxic coal air, a hazardous job, and one which still barely made ends meet. His best friend and the love of his life was forced to participate in the Hunger Games not once, but twice, and to survive, she romantically forsakes him. He’s always been politically savvy. He’s not naive. Where are his calculations? Where is his coldness? Perhaps his character is supposed to come off as canny, but Gale’s “measuredness” comes off almost at the risk of being passive.

At the genesis of the series, Collins’ suggests that Katniss and Gale first bonded because of their mutual understanding of one another. They both lost fathers in the same coal mining accident and found themselves unexpectedly the sole providers for their relatively inept families. Any personal softness has hardened as a consequence of this shift in roles but because of their ability to sense this in the other, they allow themselves to occasionally be honest with one another about their anger, their vindictiveness, and their desire for revenge. Gale in particular harbors aspirations of sticking it to the Capitol and has no difficulty conveying that to Katniss. He’s unquestionably devoted to his family, but he’s longing for the movement when his life can transcend coal.

Where is Katniss’ romantic longing for Gale derived? Her admiration certainly stems from the fidelity he lavishes on his mother and siblings. But it’s Gale’s live-wire temperament that both scares–and attracts her. Equally unpredictable and mouthy, their interactions in Catching Fire range from ambitions of escaping and sticking it to the President to finding themselves several blows away from death via Thread’s whip. Whereas Peeta convicts Katniss by his personal acts of selflessness but often resists verbally sparring with her, Gale refutes and rebukes her. He pushes Katniss to find her social pulse and resist subsuming herself in her suffering to the point that it inhibits her advocacy for justice on a grander stage.

What a shame that character has yet to show up in the films.

As the story progress, Katniss’ conflict over whether she has stronger feelings for Peeta or Gale evolve. Her notions of the boys change from personal affection to symbols for the larger tensions in her life. How does one practice love and integrity in the face of corruption, Peeta’s behavior consistently confronts her. How actively should one practice violence against corruption or return evil for evil, Gale consistently pushes. What does it mean for Katniss’ soul that she so consistently finds her actions and desires so often mirror those of Gale? What implications does that have for the broader anger of the rebel movement, of which Katniss is the (symbolic) leader?

In many ways, I’m relieved with Hunger Games’ washed out romantic narrative; its absence leaves space to explore the film’s heavy themes: trauma, manipulation, governance and consumerism. But its flimsiness ultimately costs us a stronger Katniss. A “better” love triangle would not elevate a superficial romance; nothing this integral to the series is deliberately shallow. Instead, it would center on the Girl on Fire’s unwieldy rage and the fight over who can most influence her to channel it in service of their consciences.

Better Not to Give in

Two types of moviegoers will descend the theaters this weekend and flood Liongate’s coffers: those seeking entertainment — and those craving transcendence. The majority of folks who will make Mockingjay Part 1 a $400 million domestic milestone will not pour over Suzanne Collins’ prose or hang out on District 12 message boards. They will not wrap themselves in blankets, sip hot chocolate, and analyze the manifestations of post-traumatic stress disorder that persists in previous victors. Some will perch enraptured and some will clandestinely text but they will stroll from the theater potentially intrigued but now disengaged.

I fall into the second camp.

Some of primary motivations for screening film adaptations of beloved books stem from a desire to visually ingest covert, longing glances, Capitol luxury, and Games’ shock and awe. My imagination does not always do justice to opulence or wretchedness. But I don’t pay to see details on a page turn into sets, props and gestures.

I spend money for truth.

I’m not spending my free time scrolling through slide shows of a gaunt and jagged Homs cityscape, but damned if I don’t see its ghosts in the ruins of Panem. I lack active and mutual relationships with Iraq or Afghanistan War mentally devastated veterans, but Katniss’ disorientation and anguish will never be abstract realities for so many Americans. I refuse to be emotionally manipulated by ISIS’ beheading YouTube submissions, but never forget that the “good guys” have their personal propaganda machine too. An uprising, an insurrection, a movement, they have the propensity to be cast romantically time zones away, but behind each one (failed and successful — whatever that means) throngs of people have left the humdrum of the status quo. Some of them have even swapped that stability, that ennui, that control, for death.

All of the films have been meta. After the first Hunger Games film, I slunk back to my house, a shell of my prior enthusiasm, questioning how my anticipation may have rivaled that of Panem’s most privileged. Surely, I wasn’t enthusiastic about watching children die. (Because they weren’t real children so it was cool, right?) It still doesn’t sit right when you discover your commonalities with the oppressor.

While amping myself for Catching Fire, I critiqued Red Carpet fashion. I devoured every Jennifer Lawrence think-piece in existence. I freely dispersed page views and video minutes to articles which elevated commercialism, stardom, and transience. Multiple of them focused on the artistry behind President Snow’s lavish party. This is of course the scene where Effie reminds her stars “There will be photographers, interviews, everyone here will be to celebrate you.” (“People are starving in Twelve. Here they’re just throwing it up to stuff more in,” says Peeta later.)

On November 20, 2014 I remembered a “real life” version of Mockingjay with more horrifying production values and a crushed movement and no end to the suffering in sight. Real or not real, these headlines?

Syrian Aircraft Drop Explosives on Neighborhood in Aleppo Province

The ICRC on Syria: We Are in a Constant Emergency

Syria’s Economy Set Back Decades by War

Syria’s Treasured Historical Sites: War Damage Captured on Satellite

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“How do you bear it?” I ask.

Finnick looks at me in disbelief. “I don’t, Katniss! Obviously I don’t. I drag myself out of nightmares each morning and find there’s no relief in waking. Better not to give in. It takes ten times as long to put yourself back together as it does to fall apart.”

Tabula Rasa

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“New York will not be won. No one can own New York: test this city, and it will slap you down hard. The city does not belong to you, the joy of New York is that you might make it so that you belong to her. “ – Michael Wear

Every day, I learn the name of someone new and more often than I initially expected, a preliminary Google search reveals that they make their home in my city, in New York. In some instances this has led to me booking them to my news show or asking them to lunch. More often than not, I mentally recognize it as a New Yorker tradeoff — that it is, a validation that the hassle of the rush-hour subway, the frenzy of the tourists and the steepness of the rent are worthy sacrifices for the caliber of the population, the abundance of intellect, the magnitude of its cultural reach.

I’m packing my bags and leaving this city on August 15. My last day of work is July 31. I’m taking a position where I’ll be writing alongside the inspired minds at Christianity Today and I’m thrilled that they think I can contribute to their team. I am moving to the yet un-gentrified neighborhood of East Garfield Park in Western Chicago to be a roommate of a grad student with two cats and there’s a backyard. I have no friends there, but I intend to become a Chicago Fire fan. For the third time since graduation, tabula rasa.

I am not afraid of this new life.

But I grieve the passing of the one I craft here.

This month, it’s swimming in the outdoor pool in the West Village before 8:30 a.m. and biking the remainder of the distance to work. Every day, it’s attentiveness to where I stand on a subway car in light of the stairs from my home station’s exit. For night after night it was showing up and only knowing myself and now it’s night after night of being known. It’s pedaling down 7th Ave and 2nd Ave. and the Hudson River Bikeway and the East River Greenway.

There’s the waterfall on 51st Street, the Elevated Acre, and that the lobby of The James, the hotel just above Canal, serves cookies right after 5 pm wine and cheese. Watch out for the LIRR tracks because they’ll stymie your ability to get from Roosevelt to Queens Boulevard. Bay Ridge has top notch views of the Verazzano Bridge. You can take three buses from Rockaway to Coney Island and in between you’ll see a massive mall, larger than the one which makes up my backyard.

The New York City Botanical Garden lies just off the Bronx’ dustiest streets. It’s free on Wednesdays. Staten Island has a golf course and if you choose to dally around you may get escorted off in a golf cart. You can find a collector’s U.S. Open Grey Goose vodka cup without paying $15 if you hunt in the Grandstand. I am living proof that pedestrians may pass through Williamsburg to Maspeth to Elmhurst. I ate breakfast in Howard’s Beach hours before Sandy descended. Finnertys is a bottle of San Francisco in the New York ocean.

I am dispensable to the New York City machine but much less to its micro-communities. Another young female transient professional but also a breakfast server at St. Peter’s and mentor to my 11 year-olds and deacon at my dinner church. The doorman at my office gave me Mets tickets earlier this year. A lifeguard at my pool has my phone number and the other one lent me her goggles for weeks.

I will board the plane to Chicago alone and it shall cease and commence once again.

Nobody

One is enough.

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“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”

Tim Keller

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An overwhelming number of my subway rides have been solo. Me and my nose buried in The Goldfinch. Me and my chin grazing Ta-Neishi Coates’ latest on my iPad mini-keyboard configuration. Me silently bequeathing names to my fellow passengers and whispering lines of prayer for their ambitions and losses, troubles and joys. Me on my third train platform in a 40 minute evening commute home from the Upper West Side.

Nobody knows me at all.

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Almost every semester and summer I dwelled in Messiah residence life housing, I ponied up my $300 and enrolled in piano lessons. Without the accountability of an instructor and the sacrifice of an amount of money I might have used on a distant weekend away, I prioritized music. Forty minutes. Solo. Rarely spontaneous drop-ins. Me and the grand piano in a white chapel with high ceilings and voluminous, windows with rounded top edges.

Running around all day with a blue backpack, red leather purse, green book bag, and tripping over folks I like, love and delight in and 40 minutes of me and the piano and the sunlight on the ivory keys.

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I had my hands in the proverbial copious social honey pots at Messiah and kept my group of friends mostly isolated from my 1-1 “go-to’s” and never felt intimidated attending guest lectures without a buddy. (Though finding two partners in crime the first day of school set the tone for a warm Messiah four years.) But I was never that person that lived and studied and danced with one tribe.

On a small campus, close friends of mine remained ignorant of one another and I found that comforting.

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I’ve felt more than a little unnerved at the prospect of evolving into an introvert. Like a intrinsic part of what it means to live as Morgan Pomaika’i Lee will have to molt. And I’m not entirely positive as to the validity of this transformation. For instance, when I arrive home to a living situation where everyone has turned on his or her own television set behind closed doors, I wilt in the solitude rather than having a late-night Eureka moment.

But I won’t pretend that I don’t thrive on some level of anonymity. I wonder if I’m almost threatened by the idea of someone picking apart my lifestyle and locating a trope in which to place me. Sure, I’ve kept very few vulnerable thoughts completely within my head. But I maintain a large pool with whom to express those grave thoughts and it’s accurate to acknowledge that for the majority of processes in my head that I wish to share, I’ve intentionally sought out some, deliberately excluded others.

There’s another twist too–though, let’s be real, it’s a little hubristic to assume that my life has ever warranted such fascination that one would seek out a play-by-play of my days, in dreams of a grand reveal–and that’s the fact that even beyond my commute, much of my New York City life, I’ve never disclosed to anyone. As someone who prefers to the discourse of ideas and grows weary of recaps and as one who often adventures with one only companion or wholly alone, there’s much to which so many are ignorant.

And what’s confusing to me is the solace I find in this privacy. That I practically viscerally react when considering how much of me guardedly treasures this sense of “MINE” towards my New York experience.

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Last month, Chelsea and I toured Wave Hill Park, an estate-turned-paid-attraction in Riverdale in the Bronx. Our trip to the grounds was my first time there since I made my way up there by myself a-year-and-a-half ago. As one of my closest friends in the city, whom I have cherished like none other, I had no way of knowing how much it felt that she was intruding into my personhood.

Why didn’t I feel like I was letting her into one of the most gorgeous green spaces in the city? Greater still, how had the city become something that was not just a land mass but a part of what it meant to be? How could I emote such a such a strong reaction of “mine” to something that belonged to the public and was touched by the masses?

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New York will not be won. No one can own New York: test this city, and it will slap you down hard. The city does not belong to you, the joy of New York is that you might make it so that you belong to her. 

Place yourself on any street corner in New York, and it is bursting with life. There is an anonymity, a perspective, that you gain from such surroundings.

Michael Wear

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New York City.

I don’t live in Bushwick. I don’t live in Bed-Stuy. For heaven’s sake, I don’t live in Brooklyn. The seven-floor building in which I reside is in a neighborhood you’ve never heard of but that which thousands of people from six continents have made acquaintance.

I am dauntless about 50 block walks and I don’t have a strong affinity with alcohol and I feel so tempted at this moment to try to force this uniqueness card, of which God may have already assured me, but which may help endear myself to you.

I’ve never signed a lease of an apartment capable of throwing dinner parties but I matter enough to this New York geographic movement we term a city to jump on a bicycle on a Saturday night and watch the sun sink low into the low-rise apartments of Jersey City on the Hudson River. And my heart swells.

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Eight million people. Somebody every one.

Sabbath, Meet Spontaneity

Writers’ propensity for introspection often directly conflicts with narcissism. Often when encountering a given philosophy or reality, they first hold up their own life to its claims, using personal experience as a tool for determining whether to validate or dismantle a worldview. This is exactly where this essay is headed.

Despite a concerted effort over the past week to seek a subway seat and channel the angst of the day into a triumphant and eloquent artistic expression, nothing of the sort has transpired. I’ve come face to face with some of my tritest writing, clunky with forced sentimentality (blame it on three birthdays of close friends) and an irritatingly amount of hype as I’ve been estranged for several months from blogging. I’ve suffered, seemingly from a lack of anecdote, dearth of purpose, and absence of charm. Has my reporter’s mentality hijacked my inner essayist, I’ve mused, though much more despairingly than the verb suggests.

With all gravity, however, I’m more than a little bothered that I’m perpetually exposed to 4,000 word exposés on Zac Efron’s heartthrob plight, 700 word essays updating me on the Tea Party’s Republican Party frustrations, and longreads about Monica Lewinsky and Hilary Clinton’s lives post-coitus say more about society’s scruples than their moral backbone. I’ve entered a reality where I’m overstimulated by perceptions, persuasions and opinions, that I fear have suffocated my ability to generate my own.

Maybe this is how apathy starts. I’ve assumed all my life that the root of indifference is ignorance: that is, if we could educate others, others might give a damn. But right now, I worry that at the other end of the spectrum lies saturation. Somewhere along the way, too much of anything robs one’s desire, one’s curiosity, one’s ability to articulate an ethos at a solo level. College helps mitigate this phenomena due to its learning infrastructure–one may dump learnings (oh Higher Ed lexicons) into a seminar or early morning caffeine-driven existential crisis. But that dialectic may be a $40,000 a year luxury.

Instead, the bleak process of adulthood which often vanquishes generalists revolves far more around pragmatism, than disinterest. It isn’t a fact that we want to retire to our sofas and veg nightly; it’s that making art on top of making money may be impossible. Maslow’s pyramid, y’all.

But how does one move past perpetual inundation with speculations, responses, and reports with a healthy dose of reflection on the side? How ought one use stimulus to enlighten, not shrink?

(I’m not a fan of the notion I’m about to advance.)

Let’s establish a spectrum which places creativity on one end and let’s define that as the ability to think meaningful thoughts and react to them practically, uniquely and timely. Because our society so cherishes creativity, we must be honest that in order to be in such a state, it’s more than likely we must sacrifice something beautiful and often fulfilling to practice this. I posit that something is spontaneity.

Spontaneity’s a bohemian word for freedom; it’s the ability to be brilliant on-the-spot in a way in which one will later recount bedazzled stories. It invokes a sense of instantaneous awe from those who are grounded because it mandates audacity and recklessness.

But spontaneity and shallowness may be closely linked. After all, while there’s something majestic about flying standby to Paris on Thursday night because one can, there’s also a truth that the voyager will be dismissing commitments as a consequence of their flight. It’s all the chatter of staying up till 4:33 a.m. and kissing under the streetlights at the end but none of the actual manifestation of the aspirations laid out in the meandering banter. Creativity, on the other hand, is continually building ritual and purpose into one’s live. Creativity is a discipline.

As someone frequently described as spontaneous, I’m well aware of how that attribute has both served me–and where because of it I’ve fallen short. I picked up and moved to Philadelphia on a 12 hours’ notice in July, in the midst of which hauled all my belongings into a three-bedroom apartment masquerading as an old time boarding home. Two weekends ago I slummed in Elena’s Carrboro apartment, jaunted to Connecticut last Saturday, bummed in Boston on Thursday and Friday, and will arrive in Pennsylvania on Friday night. My weekend zumba schedule died a year ago this month. My commitment to my junior high girls questionable after I will miss my third Sunday in less than eight weeks

I’m wondering if when we say spontaneity, but what we actually crave is enlightenment in routines–and a Sabbath. Maybe, we’ve misunderstood what the words “break” and “downtown”and “rest” denote–interpreting them as ones where we must abstain from (worldly) pleasures and uproarious laughter and the buzz of life. But most of our lives don’t routinely buzz–they drone. Most of the times we reside square in the helter-skelter that looks awfully like a schedule, a rat-race that’s as steady as a treadmill.

Six days let us endeavor to maximize our creativity. We’ll ground ourselves in incremental work that inevitably has elements of tedium but that has the opportunity to be potent. And on the seventh day, we’ll soar.