the last embassy
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14 December 2002 (Saturday)

freedom's void

It never rains but it pours. Why my brain deems muffin-making and bacterial infections to be blog-worthy, I've no idea. Sometimes ya wanna write, and ya want someone to read it, never mind that it's crap.

A recent Salon article wryly observes that single women these days have it all, and they mostly bitch about it. Marrying young is no longer an expectation; having kids is optional, as is getting hitched in order to have them; the career field is wide open, there's no shame in having a sex life, and so on. But oh, there's always something missing. Some nagging guilt that they're doing it all wrong.

This is a variation on another reported trend: young overachievers complaining that they can't figure out what to do with their lives. After multiple graduate degrees, black belts in two martial arts and a Fulbright, they're still wandering. True liberty, it seems, is such an odd concept that when we do experience it, it feels as much like a prison as anything else. The freedom to be anything you want, anything at all, is actually paralyzing.

Even though I could count myself a part of both groups, I seem to have escaped this particular brand of paralysis, and I'm not entirely sure why. Got lucky, that's the simplest answer. My freedom came with a map and a compass; failure is quite possible, but at least the path is clear. I don't envy those who're navigating this landscape on guesswork alone.

posted by enjelani @ 12:51 AM PST [ link ]

13 December 2002 (Friday)

baking tips from enjelani's kitchen

In case you were wondering, rice bowls make pretty good muffin tins, in a pinch. And you can eat the muffins straight out of 'em afterwards.

posted by enjelani @ 06:04 PM PST [ link ]

12 December 2002 (Thursday)

time warps

Excuse me while I beat my head against the wall for a while.

This has not been a good week for times. That wasn't a miraculously good parking spot; that was the curb marked for street cleaning the following morning. A 2 o'clock interview turned out to be at 1 (fortunately that one was over the phone, and I was home at the time). A performance this weekend isn't at 3, it's at 2. Worst of all, the hour of my most important meeting this month was given to me in Eastern Standard Time. Hence the frantic "where are you??" calls at 10:05 this morning.


I would blame it on the drugs, but I put these on my calendar weeks ago. A more comforting theory, albeit outlandish, is that I have been neatly rescued from tragic disasters with each mismarked appointment -- that a guardian angel is making me dodge bullets of some kind. Contrition's a small price to pay for that.

posted by enjelani @ 03:24 PM PST [ link ]

11 December 2002 (Wednesday)

i do not want what i haven't got

As I came trudging up the stairs flipping through today's mail, I realized something: I've lost my sense of materialism. There's nothing in these catalogs or ads or commercials that I want. I have everything I need already.

I don't mean this in a smug self-righteous way, like I've arrived at some kind of enlightenment that eludes the rest of my culture. The change is just striking is all: the same advertising that would have awakened a twinge of longing a year ago, when I had some money to spare, now hits a mental wall of indifference. Yeah, that's a nice sweater, I shrug. But I've got sweaters. Yeah, that's a nicer apartment than mine, a better shower curtain, a more complete set of cookware. But what does it matter? The place I live in, the things I have, fit me. That's enough -- more than enough, that's how it should be.

If nothing else, it's a convenient attitude to have at my income level.

And there's my question, I suppose: if I were to end up back in my old tax bracket, or even higher, would this attitude change accordingly? Would I suddenly find my little dishwasherless kitchen unbearably primitive? Would my wardrobe suddenly come up for renewal? Does one's lifestyle always expand to fit one's means?

posted by enjelani @ 04:18 PM PST [ link ]

9 December 2002 (Monday)

eating pins

After waiting over four hours in an urgent care clinic to be told by a doctor that I do indeed have what I thought I had (it's strep, dammit, just gimme the slip of paper that says "penicillin"!), and paying an absurd amount out of my own pocket for said information, I think I have become a socialist.

That and I still feel like I'm eating pins whenever I swallow.

All right, enough of this. Everything else in my life is peachy beyond description, actually. But it's the nature of the privileged to whine about what little suffering we do endure. Or maybe it's just me.

In the waiting room I made good progress in Catch-22, whose logic seemed uncomfortably close to that of medical bureaucracy (and that of the hospital's parking garage). The Hemingway short stories have proven marvelous bedtime companions, even if they do give me odd dreams. Of those I've covered, "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" and "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber" -- both set on safari in Africa -- are the most haunting. A writer shouldn't be able to write that vividly about death and dying.

posted by enjelani @ 08:24 PM PST [ link ]

8 December 2002 (Sunday)

passing grip(p)e, part iii

I suppose "passing" is becoming increasingly inaccurate.

Thanks to all for the concern and sympathies. (Goodness, I've never received so many get-well-soon calls.) I have survived the day intact, praise be to All-Day Strong Aleve™ and throat lozenges. I am doing absolutely nothing tomorrow, and seeing a doctor on Monday.

Um. Maybe "absolutely nothing" is inaccurate too. I will be curled up in bed watching movies, drinking herbal tea, and waiting for a post-Thanksgiving turkey to roast. Soren had the brilliant idea of watching The Shining in the middle of the day, followed by dinner, followed by Best In Show to rinse out any lingering heebie-jeebies. (I'm no good with scary movies. Hell, I had nightmares about Back To The Future, Part I.) I in turn had the brilliant idea of having Enjelani-and-Soren Thanksgiving tomorrow, since we were tragically separated for the official holiday by circumstances beyond our control. There'll even be a football game on while we make the stuffing.

posted by enjelani @ 12:42 AM PST [ link ]