Thursday, January 24, 2008

Too Much of Nothing

The other decision I came to during the course of my walk was to discontinue this project that I've been working on for the past six months. While it may just be a convenient time for me to do so, considering the laptop I charged last week or the doctor appointment I have coming up next week that I'll have to put on my credit card as well, I've also had enough of the daily counting of every single penny that I spend.

When I set out I set out to do this for a year. At the end of December it was six months. And I feel that a suitable enough place to stop. Over the next week I'll analyze some stats and make some conclusions based upon those, but the main goal was to show that life isn't nearly as expensive as we might think it to be and for the most part I think I showed that.

Where I failed was knowing, in the back of my mind, I was going to need some money set aside to be able to inevitably and ultimately move away once again. And in constantly pressuring myself to save money, and count every penny I spent (and not allow myself to having next to nothing and trusting things would still find a way to work out for themselves) I was allowing money to be at the forefront of my day-to-day experience: quite the opposite of what I set out to do.

Still, in having a job that will easily be replaced once I get to Portland (umm...I hope), in other words doing nothing in the form of a career, I am able to follow the instinct that has led me to decide to return there. Besides some unfinished business that I left behind out there, what better reason to do nothing and living cheaply than to have the freedom to be able to up and follow those instinctive desires when they beckon?

That's not to say I'm not incredibly strung out and anxious about the move or what I'll leave behind. But having managed the space and freedom to at least attempt it makes the last six months--if not the last six years of my life--a success as far that goes.

And I hope that I've still yet to see just how far that is.

Birthday Monday

Five years ago, to familiarize myself with parts of Buffalo I otherwise was ignorant of, I decided that I would take a day-long walk around Buffalo to commemorate my birthday. I wasn't raised celebrating my birthday and have since never preferred attention being brought to it or make a big deal about it. But why not at least take such a walk on a date I'd remember? Besides, that extra money Mom refuses not to give me (and which I certainly begrudgingly accept) every year for my birthday is perfect for just such an event.

Of course, just as last time, the weather was windy and below ten degrees to start the day off. But, once again, this wouldn't deter my attempts at taking the entire day to make my way around.

This time I started with breakfast at Bertha's Diner and Hertel around 11am and took it from there. I had only general plans at best and decided it best to just go wherever I wished to go. This time especially being significant with my impending departure, I wanted the day to be free of any unnecessary stress and just take the day and the city in as much as I could.

I had made quite my way around North Buffalo for a few hours, making it over to South Campus and as far north as Kenmore Ave before making my way down one of my three favorite Buffalo streets, Starin Ave. But after only two hours, and probably not just because I stupidly only wore one pair of pants but probably also because I am now five years older than the last time I tried this walk, my knee started hurting so badly that it forced me to limp over to the Humboldt subway station and make my way downtown via the Metro Rail.

Still, the walk wasn't a total loss. The simple act of walking has a way of clearing the mind of the unnecessary worries--such as those that have left me, at times, so anxious/analytical/depressed over the last few weeks that I have had little luck at doing much more than finding myself on a deprived and demented sleep schedule--that it becomes medicinal if not even meditative. And as such, I was able to clear my mind just long enough to think of things that I have needed to think about for some time now.

The main one I'll get to in my next post. As for the secondary one, I was once again able to take in another day of enjoying the neighborhoods of Buffalo. I even cleared my camera so as to take as many pictures of the places I walked as possible.

And in walking, and taking in the streetscapes while it lightly snowed on already snow covered lawns and streets, and the others equally bundled up and out walking as though the cold and snow were barely a hindrance at all, I knew I was taking in Buffalo for what I have always appreciated it for and probably always would.

But those streetscapes, and the houses and the general atmosphere they help create will always be here in some form or another. As I made one more gut check as to whether or not I really wanted to leave here, I came away again more certain that I did. For what I find so comforting in the landscape, I now find lacking in my emotional attachment to the city. For whatever reason, true or disillusion, everything here has an air of permanence. From the large, worn-in, inviting homes to the families I've seen my cousins my age now being, it is a permanence I have no direct access to at the moment and may in fact never--for better or worse--have access to.

It was easy for me to pass through the streets an unnoticed bypasser taking in the view. But as has become apparent to me over the last seven months (or more?), it, for me, is a whole other matter to try to feel the sense of impermanence I still find myself in need of amongst such a place that affords the wonderful, stable comforts home and history. For reasons I may not even be certain of myself, right now I know it's time to move on once again. It may just be pointless running that I'm doing, it may not be; I may just wind up back here again, I may not. But right now, as I reassured myself on that walk, it's what I need to do.

I noticed Buffalo will always be my home on my walk.

But sometime ago, I left that home. I came back believing that it still was and wanting to make sure. But just as I couldn't recreate the walk I took five years ago--my knees are getting older--as the saying goes, I also couldn't go home again.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Sleep Makes Me Tired

I once again slept away the day today. I saw a little daylight when I woke up to take a shower at 1pm, only to fall right back to sleep afterwards.

And like I said earlier, there's nothing wrong with this schedule. My body has time and again inevitably found its way back to an up-all-night sleep schedule every time I've been without a job. (I had been doing just fine until New Year's Eve saw me up until 6:30am and my schedule hasn't looked back since.)

But the thing that has really held me back is just how much I've been sleeping. I could easily argue that this too seems to be a natural inevitability for my body. Read: I could just argue that I'm inherently lazy.

But the real reason that I'm so lazy is that one of those basic laws of physics that I thought I forgotten so long ago: a body at rest stays at rest.

If I managed to just muster up the necessary inspiration (I don't think that's the word I was looking for, but it'll do right now) to go out and get just a little exercise, I'll be more than good to go. Today I took a 45 minute walk with my roommate and suddenly I had the energy to put up two posts in the same day for the first time in almost a month.

And if I just manage to go for a walk, or ride my bike down Elmwood, or even just walk far enough to pick up a coffee and read at the shop for a little bit, my body is not only awake enough to not have to go right back to sleep and allow me to read for a little while, but I'm also surrounded by enough human interaction going on around me that, even without a job, I still manage to feel a little less lonely.

Lately, I wouldn't care to ask for anything more than that.

How to Fight Loneliness

Having now not worked for nearly a month, the ironic point has been proven to me: not working can make one feel incredibly lonely.

Looking back, the jobs that I liked the most were the office job I had while going to UB where I was surrounded by more than 40 people each day; the convenient store job that had me face-to-face with dozens of customers every hour, as well as some of the funnest co-workers I've ever had; and even the office job that I had at Buff. St. that had enough people there to offset a numerous amount of over-bearing co-workers.

The bottom line is that each of those jobs had me daily surrounded by people. Whereas, my recent job had me driving around for eight hours to nearby factories with drop-offs and pickups that would last ten minutes, at most, at each stop, before I was alone in the cab again for another half an hour. From there I would wait for the bus on my own before ultimately getting onto the bus and walking home from there all by myself.

Now that I've fallen into my inevitable nocturnal schedule, I can sometimes go the entire day with little more than a couple of hours of interaction with my roommates and no one else. That's not to say they aren't enough, or even to suggest that I despise being alone. But even being back in Buffalo, surrounded by more than a dozen friends, we always go our separate ways once it's time to turn in.

And that's never felt more than on Sunday night. And Sunday nights have a way of especially bringing out the loneliness within me. Last night, after my roommates went to bed, I tried for hours to force myself into my bedroom and write. But the very act of writing is a lonely act. And not wanting to feel even lonelier at that point, I turned to places that offer a temporary, at best, respite for the lonely the world over: I began to watch TV.

Generally, I dislike TV because I'm allowing myself to be entertained by something other than my imagination, something other than my own creation. Likewise movies. And music.

But to completely remove myself from TV, or movies and music, is to remove myself even further from my friends. So much of our collective conversation is rooted in shared experiences (last Friday night, the Bills game, etc) and a shared canon of television and movies (Seinfeld, Simpsons, They Live, to name an incredible few) that even I don't know just how much I miss out in our general conversations by not being as well rehearsed in the movies I've watched or the music I've listened to or the comedians whose material I haven't heard.

And in turning to TV last night, I was simply looking for some sort of connection to something outside my own little world. That's got to be the only reason that news and weather--or work for that matter, as well as the inane sports talk radio I would listen to while alone in the truck I was driving--are so popular: to give us something to talk about with otherwise total strangers (even if they are co-workers or family), just to be able to interact and connect for a short moment. It's better than being lonely for that moment.

But then I turned on the TV and saw only American Gladiators and numerous headlines about Britney Spears and I remembered I would rather be lonely than know about this literal horse shit. If that's the price of sacrificing my own ideals, my own identity, I'd rather be the last person alive.

The act of writing is, by definition, lonely. A main reason that I returned to Buffalo was to not only be around my friends again, but to work on some writing projects (beyond just this one) in a place that was cheap enough to give me the space and time necessary to do so. So in quitting work, I was aware that I was setting out to do something inherently lonely.

But as I've also now come to realize, just in being unwilling to so willingly work, I always put just enough space between me and others that there is yet one more way I have cut myself off. And last night, in finally getting myself to make even the most basic of posts last night, I became even lonelier. Because I also realized the more I remove myself from watching TV or movies, the more I do so.

So it goes.

Getting Late

I have more than just this post that I could write tonight, but we'll just go with this one for now.

It's just before 4:00 am and I'm still awake. Though I might, if I laid down right now there's no guarantee that I'd fall asleep right away. Still, my impulse is to put myself to sleep right now because it's so late.

Yet, without any need to awake tomorrow, how is it that there's even such a concept as "late" still in my vernacular? It's just right now. And right now, I'm kind of tired, but still very awake. And that should be that.

Yet, and it's no surprise really, try as I might to remove myself from a normal schedule and normal time frames, I'm still just as much a part of them as ever because everyone I interact with isn't removed from those schedules. And because I have to be quiet for roommates who have to awake tomorrow, and because I make sure to not be in the shower when someone else has to take one for work, and because I try to make sure I eat before or after someone who's just getting home from work, I cannot remove myself from the standard time frames that effect everyone's days equally. The only way I could possibly do that is to remove myself from society completely. And, especially speaking on a Sunday night, why would I want to do that?

In fact, I think I just talked myself into going to bed. After all, it's getting late.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

New Year, New City

Without a doubt, the biggest development in regards to these posts that came over the holiday season was my decision to once again move back to Portland.

My first posts described this as a project to see if I could spend no more than $1,000 a month, but a large part of the ideas laid out were that I would do it living in Buffalo, both because of its affordability and with the hopes of making myself reacquainted with my hometown city.

Now I'm faced with the decision as to whether or not I should continue this project in another city--and thereby continue to count every penny I spend, which, as one might guess, has begun to leave me a bit spent--or instead celebrate the freedom that doing nothing, in the larger sense--such as not having a career or house to hold me down--allows me to have and thus enables me to be able to travel at whim's desire.

New Year, New Post

I've obviously been slacking on posting here lately, but isn't that a bit more appropriate for someone claiming to be doing nothing?

And because the news doesn't report on the 280,000 people in Buffalo who didn't get shot or mugged or what have you, but only the one or two pieces of bad news, because we'd eventually tune out such redundancy, it would have been equally redundant to continuously post about just how little I've been doing with myself.

In the full holiday spirit, I began to make myself all the more comfortable with doing absolutely nothing all day. Some days I read, some days I wrote, I usually took a walk and on some days managed to awake at a decent hour.

But those days that I slept in far later than I wished to, those days that I didn't read? I enjoyed them every bit as much as those days that I did read (etc). But now that the holidays (and thus, an obvious excuse) are over, I'm going to try to get back at it here, as well as other projects. I'll make a few retroactive posts in the coming days--I wasn't completely void of ideas these past few weeks--and hopefully will have a few new ones to attack as well.