January

AGAIN - art and words about repeating, revisiting, deja vu, and fifth times around.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Bodhi trees



By Amy Glynn
 
Everyday my cats circle my feet like piranhas hungry for their last meal, only this is not their last meal and they get fed every morning at the same time.  They jump on the counter, scratch my leg, meow helplessly even though doing so just makes it take longer before they get their half a can of organic, all natural, grain-free, cat food that’s given to them every morning at 8:30am.

I took a mindfulness class.  “mindfulness through meditation.”  An hour and a half each week to sit on the floor with a group of strangers for the low price of just $5.  

Paying for mindfulness just seems somehow wrong, as if paying for something will help ease your mind from the problems living in a capitalistic society entails.  I wonder if the Buddha had any concept of mindfulness becoming a commodity when he sat cross-legged under the Bodhi tree. 

Each week I sat, trying to let my wandering mind be.  We were supposed to breathe in and out, counting each breath until we hit 20 but starting over whenever our mind wandered from just focusing on our breath. 

I think I made it to 1 and a half, but who’s counting? 

We had to do an exercise where we stood in a circle and held our arms straight out in front of us, parallel to the floor.  We were supposed to focus on the discomfort this caused and release our arms whenever we were ready to put them down.  I counted my breaths, tried to focus on how my arms were getting tired, pulled by gravity to the ground, how my abs had to tighten to stabilize my body, how the weight in my legs spread out along my toes.  Seconds went by and several of my classmates dropped their arms one-by-one.  What felt like hours (probably only a few minutes) the teacher told us to release our arms and discuss what we had experienced.  I was one of the last people with my arms still up.  One woman said the exercise made her feel anxious because having her arms getting tired reminded her how out of shape she was.  Another man said it was a lot more tiring than he had anticipated.  Then the teacher asked, for those of you who kept your arms up the entire time even though you were causing yourself discomfort, I ask you why? 

I’m sure some therapist could analyze my lack of putting my arms down, causing myself some pain, with a well thought out answer like I push myself too hard and don’t take breaks, maybe that I’m overly competitive, or unwilling to take risks, putting my arms down only when the teacher did.  Maybe these are all dead-on answers worth exploring, but whatever the reason, I didn’t put my arms down, and got even more uncomfortable and self-conscious if I tried. 

I don’t put my arms down even though I know it causes me discomfort, my cats jump on the counter everyday even though it makes it take longer before they get fed.  I go to work at a women’s health center everyday even though I believe working within this oppressive, capitalistic system (even though I work for a women’s center which employs almost all women, and predominately women of color, queer individuals, and women from other countries and cultures) only upholds it rather than dismantles it. 

The money I make at that job goes towards buying my cats organic, all natural, grain-free cat food and mindfulness classes. 

My teacher said to try and insert mindfulness before you react.  Something happens, insert mindfulness, accept emotions as they come in a non-judgmental way, as opposed to have something happen (like spilling coffee on myself) and immediately reacting (screaming and yelling at myself). 

I think about inserting mindfulness when I see unarmed black bodies dead by uniformed white hands. 

I think about inserting mindfulness when I see a young person buy an extra coffee to give to the stranger behind her in line. 

I think about inserting mindfulness in an age when our “Capital” has become measured by attention span, when we view something for 3 seconds before we are uninterested and move on to the next sound bite. 

I wonder how this ancient practice of mindfulness has been continuously taught for hundreds of years and wonder how to insert it when we’ve cut down all the Bodhi trees?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Wicker Park

By Emma Martin

I sit in the bathtub reading quarter-life crisis self-help books on my Kindle, which sits in a plastic bag, because I’m full of American ingenuity. You work until 8 and we split a bottle of wine. 23 is Michael Jordan’s thing, 23 is not our thing.

We’re driving to Wicker Park, for frozen yogurt. It’s not raining, and it’s not cold, but it’s cold-and-raining-adjacent, and you offer to drive because you know I’ve been silent because I’m anxious. I’m anxious of every canceled plan and every silent hour because I’m young, and I'm anxious because of what you must think of me, being so anxious of every canceled plan, every silent hour. I'll grow out of it and into clawing and fighting for two nights alone a week, in perfect solitude, but for now, every moment feels empty, forever, damning.


The mix cd in your shitty stereo is Robyn. Was it just a Robyn mix? Was it Body Talk? It's skipping and you're laughing at how poor we are. I had seen Robyn last year at that festival and then we had watched that episode of Girls. I pretended not to have seen it so you would watch it with me again. We weren’t supposed to like it but we did, or I did, and I think you did too. It started low, but we creep up the volume until I'm crying. You never say anything.

We try to park and it takes too long. We skip the first 10 illegal spots and then we finally take the last one, because fuck it. We’re gone ten minutes, posted up on the tiny benches outside of the gym that was the Chicago Real World house when your sisters were our age, before Jenny had that Logan Square place. Cheetah gym. I found my boss’s receipt for her Cheetah membership in some grant files sometime that year, and was both amazed she could afford a gym membership, and was amazed that someone paid so little could still afford to have no work/life boundary. "I'm surprised there was no red wine on the application," she emailed me.


When we get back in the car, you can tell I am upset, and we are about to have the conversation we’d had 400 times before, about the high school boys I dated that you never really got to know, about the year Ben was in college and I was still at home, about that hedge fund lawyer who kind of liked me but not enough to kiss me before brushing his teeth, about the bartenders that flirted with me but found me just shy of interesting. Why me? Why me? Why me? You never say anything.


Now we’re far away from each other, physically, psychically. I did to you what I did to them. In the chaos of those years, I had you, on the porch with a glass of wine. You, my date to the holiday party. You, driving back to the city after a weekend with our families. You, at your sister’s baby shower, at my dad’s birthday party, at some friend's shitty show at that place under the Brown Line. And the wavering that I saw in you, that I saw in them, that I saw in everyone, was a wavering in me; it was the wavering I drowned somewhere along the way with that first Kindle, which I should know better than to bring in the bathtub.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Meeting Agenda

By Megan Samelson

1. STAFF CHANGES

bottom of the list
person in the pool
starting from scratch
shadowing shifts
variety in the life
shadowing shifts
letting go 
(of the edge of the pool)


the code went bad
completely implode
good news bad news
super swamped
start to come together
beta testers
data points and polygons
exciting, yeah

3. REPLACING JOHN A.

viable candidates
Agnes is her name
“I have to raise an objection"
understood, understood
willing and planning
things went sideways
“but she’s not crazy…”
no, no.