Thursday, July 05, 2007

Eight wonders: A meme

The ever-thoughtful Squadratomagico has tagged me for a meme of her own devising, based on the "eight facts about me" meme that's been circulating lately. What, she asks, are eight things you wonder about? I am happy to comply, especially because I am feeling giddy and in the mood for a meme. Even though I have put my back out today. Quite badly. Oh dear. I can barely walk, and I can't move laterally, bend over, or lift anything. The toll taken by days of moving boxes and heavy furniture around, and scrubbing floors, etc. It happened when I shifted a box this morning - nothing particularly heavy or anything...But it sent the low back over the edge. hurts. But still, giddy. And I must be damn giddy if I'm still meme-ing through this pain.

Why giddy, you ask? Well, it's because the movers have taken all my things away! On their long haul to Scary City. They came and loaded up the all the stuff from my two storage units this morning, and put it into a container, which was in itself fascinating to watch. All that stuff! One shipping container! So I am feeling liberated from stuff - I have only the bags of clothes and a few books and papers, etc., with me until the unloading in Scary City in three weeks. Which fact - the feeling of freedom - brings me to the first of my eight pieces of wonderment...

1. Why do I - why do we, here in the Western world - insist on stockpiling so much freaking stuff? What does it give us, really? What does it keep at bay? And I say this as someone who has relatively knick-knacks, really. Okay, quite a bit of clothing, but otherwise, the majority of the dozens of boxes moved today were filled with books. But considering how free I feel to have nothing but bags of clothes with me, I wonder if I shouldn't think about seriously scaling down. I think about the Canadian musician Jane Siberry, who recently changed her name to Issa and divested herself of everything she owns - including the masters of all of her music! - except one backpack full of clothes. Well, now that's a bit extreme - one bag of clothes!!! ;) - but I think she may be onto something.

2. Why do people insist on ignoring the undeniable fact that oil is a finite resource? (Like all of the big-picture questions here, this is posed more rhetorically than anything, while still reflecting a kind of grand wonderment...I have some ideas, as do many of us, about things like the reasons for addiction to fossil fuels!) Seriously, something doesn't compute for me. Any kind of governmental commitments to combating global warming seem completely meaningless, in the face of this willful ignorance. I don't really get how people - policy-makers, but also just whoever - make sense of this to themselves.

3. Why do I appear to need external validation in order to feel confident in my abilities? Ahem, driving, is a good case in point. (This is a skill I've learned in order to drive from time to time - like yesterday, when I borrowed a friend's car in order to move some things around - and that's my justification for driving in the face of the above point.) Yesterday when driving my friend's car around the city on a couple of errands, I was driving alone for only the second time. I am, I see, a much better driver when I'm alone. Because I have to be - I have to trust my knowledge. When I drive with someone else in the car, I am constantly saying, "Can I go?" or "Should I move over?" Of course, I know the answers to these questions, as demonstrated by my perfectly capable driving on my own. I just lack confidence. The same was true in the case of the highway test two weeks ago...I took this test - even though I didn't need to - because I knew that having the approval of a driving examiner would make me feel as if I can drive. I can drive, for goodness sake! Why can't I trust that? And this is only one of many instances of this kind of need for external validation. Grrr.

4. Why do most people seem to become more conservative as they get older? I am a case in point. By that I mean that I used to be a young radical, and now I am more complacent, less, well, het up - although my favourite young people are the young radicals. And I have no way, really, of explaining me to myself. There are all sorts of vague but plausible answers involving the words "wisdom" and "experience", etc., but they are not satisfying. This is such a common phenomenon, I need concrete answers! it because you lose hope? I know that the reason I love the young radicals the best, of all my students, is because they give me hope. I guess the longer I live, the less hope I have?

5. Why do I sometimes have to fight with myself to go for my runs, when it almost invariably feels so great? Not always, but sometimes I fight - and sometimes the don't-go-for-a-run voice wins. But running can be the most profound high - why in the world would I ever not want to do it? Is my memory that short? Do I just forget that it doesn't suck energy, but gives me energy? Why, why? I ask this in the wake of the most glorious hour-long run yesterday, during which I felt like some kind of superhero. How can I not always want that feeling?

6. What's up with (non-)monogamy? By that I mean, why do so many of us folks who understand monogamy to be a social construction, still cling to it? In my case, it's in part because I think it's just too tiring to imagine having other kinds of relationships...I don't have the energy for the constant emotional negotiation any other arrangement would require. But I do wonder about others' reasons. Are they the same as mine? Is it also because, like me, they get to feel morally at ease when they tell themselves, "This is what being an adult is about...managing my desire for this other person...whom I'd really like to, well, sleep with, for starters"?

7. How does the postal system work?

8. Am I going to be able to manage a weekend away in Vermont - my annual visit to my dear old friend, who lives in Burlington - this weekend, what with the fact that I can barely move? What am I going to do about my back? I can't go to a chiro - there's no time. Will something as serious as this just improve on its own?

This feels horribly self-indulgent! Do know that there are plenty of other, more weighty issues I wonder about - in particular lately, lots of questions around Middle Eastern political situations! - but I am not in the frame of mind to tackle them. Please forgive my navel-gazing. And -- this is a great meme. I'm not going to tag specific blogfriends, but do know that I'd be very interested to read all of your questions, should you feel like giving it a try!

Off to drink some vodka with my feet up (assuming I can lie down)!

Update: Perhaps have answers to Question 8: What the hell was I thinking? I can't go to freaking Vermont!! This is getting worse by the minute; no, I can't even lie down. I would require bloody morphine to travel. Uh oh. What have I done?


jb said...

Oh no! What *will* you do? I don't have any experience in this area. Muscle relaxers? Massage? Lots more vodka?

Do feel better soon, Hilaire!

What Now? said...

Oh, I am *so* sorry about the back! I pinched something (a nerve? a muscle? I don't really know how these things work) in my upper back/shoulder a week ago Sunday and was in serious pain for a couple of days, and even now I still try to lie flat on the floor for at least 20 minutes each day and am still feeling a twinge when I turn my head.

All of which is to say that these things are grim injuries, and I think that mine wasn't nearly as bad as yours sounds. If you can't even lie down, then something must be done; I'd say making time for the chiropractor is the only solution that I can see.

In other news, I love the meme of eight things one wonders about, and this is a great list!

Tiruncula said...

Poor hilaire's back! I have no useful wisdom on lower back injuries but am sending soothing vibes.

Re: selected questions:

4) Rage is stressful and stress is tiring.

7) You live in Canada, right? System?? Works???

Pantagruelle said...

I'm so sorry about your back! I hope you feel better soon!

I had no idea Jane Siberry was a Canadian. How cool! I only know one song from that cd Women Like Us that I downloaded when first coming out, but I'm glad to know she's one of us in more ways than one.

Non-monogamy is tough. As the relatively recent "other woman" (bad girl, I am!) in the middle of a very, very, very long-term relationship, all I can say is that I am strangely, serially monogamous all of sudden (even though theoretically I didn't really believe in it before), and I long more than words can say that my GF were monogamous too (with me, of course, not with the other one). I've always agreed with all of the sex-positive feminist theory, but somehow things are different in real life. It feels more secure to be in a monogamous relationship, and it feels like the other person's love is somehow stronger when that person forsakes all others. And that's the problem. Monogamy isn't about theory; it's about feelings. Butch as I look, I'm a weepy, girly girl on this front. You're right that monogamy is easier to negotiate in the long run, emotionally, if not also practically, and all the theory in in the world about social construction somehow can't alter my feelings--or stop me from feeling insanely jealous every time I think about my GF sleeping with her GF. Theory vs practice; there's the rub.

Hilaire said...

Thanks, y'all. Well, I'm up this morning, and it's not much better. But maybe a little better. But I definitely can't travel. I suppose I will hunt down a chiro or something. (I don't have one anymore - I thought my days of back problems were over.)

Tiruncula -- you are onto something something about the rage and the stress. And the postal system? I didn't know it was that bad here!

Pantagruelle, gosh, that's a tough situation to be in. I would find that really difficult. I totally agree with you about the disconnect between theory and practice on this issue.

MaggieMay said...

GREAT questions! And I love Jane Siberry. And every time I move, I imagine whittling down my life to some sort of monastic cell existence.

Re: your back. It may be stress-induced muscle spasms. These can be triggered by lifting, etc., and they are CRAZY painful. The only answer (say the 5 or so docs I've been to) is major muscle relaxants and rest.

squadratomagico said...

Thanks for questioning Hilaire! And I hope your back feels better soon, too.

I'm very much with you on the young radicals thing. I've never bought into the idea that age - gravitas - "wisdom" is the preferable state. I always have preferred the energy, idealism, and passion of youth. So exciting to be around!

On non-monogamy: this is an issue I have considered blogging about. I know a lot of people who identify as polyamorous, and two couples in this group are pretty good friends. In both cases, they are a straight couple with a child, dedicated to one another, but also taking outside lovers. I think in both cases, the men, and in one case possibly the woman, have gay lovers outside the primary relationship. These two couples seem to be working things out really well: they're happy, one child seems well-adjusted (the other couple's child is still too young for me to tell).

But... this lifestyle doesn't appeal to me at all. Maybe I just have a monogamous temperament; or maybe I just found someone, early on, who enabled that for me; or maybe since I'm fairly shy in friendship situations I also am shy in seduction. But quite frankly, dealing with one lover is quite enough for me. I cannot imagine wanting to juggle several at once.

Tiruncula said...

Re: the postal system: I never thought anything could make me love the US Post Office for being pleasant and efficient until I met Canada Post! Honestly, the slowness, the wanton distruction of packages, the lack of real post offices, the men paid just to carry junk mail around to litter Toronto's front stoops with...But this is not the place for me to rant :)

Perinteger said...

Re: Question 4

Really? Down here in the SW US, I've always been struck by how younger folks seem to be more extremely conservative. Many (although not all) moderate their views over time.

Strangely, I think I actually became so conservative as a youth that I came around the back end of the spectrum to extreme progressivism :)

Maybe it's that youthful radicalism of any stripe has a chance to mellow with age?

Hilaire said...

Perinteger - thanks for stopping by! I think you're right about one type of youth, absolutely. The conservative ones whose *self-righteousness* tends to mellow over time. That's what a lot of it is, isn't it? I was thinking specifically about the ones who are progressive, of some stripe, to begin with. In a sense, I think that their self-righteousness tends to wane, too - just in a different direction. There's a recognition of social complexity. And I say this as someone who sits firmly on the fairly far left, with many of the same kinds of allegiances I had when I was seventeen, but who also recognizes - I think! - that there are very complicated reasons for certain positions and phenomena...You know, that the world doesn't just neatly divide into good and evil.