Saturday, September 29, 2007

Monthly Totals

Unless I decide to spend an unforeseen amount of money tomorrow, or if I decide to go out tonight--which is sitting at a comfortable 50% chance right now--it would look like my monthly spending has come to its total and it once again is slightly over $900.

And again that still feels like way too much for me to be spending, especially considering that I've managed to remain without a car, which alone saves me almost $300 a month. Picturing myself spending almost $1200 a month with those car expenditures seems even more lavish, if not almost too expensive even.

But once I remind myself--and my don't I need to constantly do that for myself?--that while my goal here is to generally do as much nothing as possible, it's specifically to spend under an average of $1000 a month for an entire year. And not only am I successfully carrying out that goal at the moment, an average of $900 a month calculates out to a mere $10,800 over the course of the year.

And while that may sound like nearly a million dollars to a third world resident--though I do not mean to speak for someone I have never met--in terms relative to my home and its financial standards of living I am far from living a lavish or even, statistically speaking, a comfortable lifestyle.

But yet, that's the very joke of it. For I am living as comfortably as I ever have. I always have enough money to satisfy my occasional consumer impulse and have even continued to save money for yet another possible trip across country or to give up work altogether for a few more months in the near future.

I don't know where this internal pressure I'm always putting on myself comes from, but once I put it into these terms and relate them to my surroundings, they seems all too pointlessly burdensome if not ridiculously unnecessary.

Though so too does the idea of having any more money than I already have.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Cloud Cover

I don't whether or not it's the impending weather change that suddenly has me talking about weather and weather related things, but yesterday I once again noticed that an awe inspiring imposing wall formation of clouds that seemed to stretch for miles inland was noticeable from the 290.

They appear to be just about far enough from my viewpoint that it would make sense that they are the clouds just coming off of Lake Erie just south of the city. I don't know how I never noticed this great view before I left, but this was the second time I've noticed this since I've gotten back and will be one I will continue to look for now whenever I have the chance.

Thankfully, the first time I saw them, my roommate snapped a pic of the view:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
(photo by D. Magee)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bills due...

Watching football is about as collective as this country gets in doing nothing together. (Or anything for that matter.) Rather than play our own pick up games or participate in any event that we can directly influence and are more than just a spectator in, we stand unified in saying that we would simply rather sit around and drink beer and watch others have the fun.

And while I would rather play my own pick up games, I do like the sound of hanging out and drinking beers with the possibility to crack each other up for at least three hours just as much. If not more.

And so, even though this Bills team is godfuckingawful (and I get shit for saying that) and I vowed to stop scheduling my entire Sunday around their games, I was nevertheless baited once again this past Sunday into watching them "play" all because of my addiction to said hanging out (our house is the central locale for Bills' road game get togethers).

It almost makes me long again for a town like Portland where if I did watch a Bills loss it would be over by 1pm and I had the entire day to reclaim those three wasted (pun intended) hours because I wasn't surrounded by an entire disappointed fan base.

Portland or Buffalo. Pluses and minuses. You win some and you lose some.

Except in Bills games. Then everyone loses.


Blowin' in the Wind

If Buffalo wasn't already so self-conscious about it's weather reputation--not to mention the inevitable lawsuits that Buffalonians would certainly level against any signs of such change--I would suggest it should do it's best to rightfully claim for itself the title of "The Windy City" from Chicago.

I already knew that statistically speaking Buffalo is windier, but this has also been something that I've noticed the entire time I've been back, especially on bike. It seems that it is windy almost all of the time here. And not just breezy, but actually windy.

It certainly helps keep the air moving on yet another unseasonably warm day like today (unless you live on the east side of a duplex that faces north and south) but you can't prepare for how sharp it's going to get in the winter. Probably a lot worse in wind chill factor than Chicago.

As to why Buffalo is afraid to embrace anything that allows it to claim any sort of distinction, even if is supposedly bad whether (you really couldn't spin that into a positive in any way? How Buffalonian to be so easily defeated!), I would be surprised and confused about if only I needed to look no further than everywhere to see just how alike each of us is and just how negatively most react to even the slightest observed difference, if not an altogether supposed defect, we see in others.

As the old adage goes something like, I am the only one who can allow myself to be embarrassed. It's too bad Buffalo seems so embarrassed about being a cold weather city. Strange, but certainly human. But, whatever, let Buffalo continue to deny it's windy and cold reality. I however know it's best to ride a bike towards the east and preferably during the summer around here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Giving Directions (The Nothing that We Do)

On the bike ride I just took to go get some sleeping juice (aka a 40oz)--a ride and purchase that were spurred on by all my talk about breaking today's routine--a driver asked me for directions.

For whatever reason, probably just some awful combination of knowing that I know something that someone else doesn't and the narcissistic feeling that I get in helping people (all help is like that, right Brandon?), there is little that comes up randomly in a day that I love more than giving directions.

And yet, how many people are able to help with such a basic thing as knowing the streets around them? How many people can point out east/where the direction the sun rises right now? How many know the quickest way to the thruway from where they are? In my experience, not too many. And while they might argue otherwise, it's not because it's something that people are incapable of picking up on without a lot of practice.

Obviously, there are things other people think are obvious that I am unaware of (I'm being modest of course) it's just that it seems to me that knowing one's way around is a very valuable piece of knowledge if not also, unfortunately, all too uncommon.

Still, I'm willing to bet that that driver was thankful that I had developed the pointless accumulation of knowledge of Buffalo's street grid that will never get me a new house or a fortune to retire upon but one that nevertheless can, and did, help two people's nights feel just a little better.

Does This Bus Get Off at 82nd Street?

That said (re: the previous post), the bus rides home have given me a new, if not odd, reattachment to the city of Buffalo itself.

Most of my experience in public transportation has been in using it in other cities. In using it in my hometown for a change, it gives me that feeling of being somewhere new, someplace not altogether known to me. By no means is Buffalo ever going to be fully known to me (only a routine mindset would argue otherwise). And just by finding something that proves this point has been somewhat liberating.

As well, now, rather than riding a bike alone amidst enclosed cars I am personally exposed to the others around me. Even if no interaction takes place between them and I it is still a situation that enables the possibility of that personal routine to be broken. Not to mention one can always over hear conversations and those eternal laughs like the women across from me on the bus yesterday.

And lo and behold, I’ve even yet to be mugged or assaulted. In the city no less!

Perhaps a very romantic view of the situation, but one that has helped alleviate that routine that has been haunting me and given me the necessary boost to get me to be ready to consciously break that routine even more.

Labor Days

I cannot believe that September is already half over.

And that fall is only a few days away.

Nor can I believe that I’ve only posted eight times this months.

Time flies when you’re caught in routines.

Everyday I get up at seven.

But now, rather than getting to work via bicycle, I catch a ride with my friend Andy to work. And just having someone who is in a relatively similar boat as I am—he’s only working to save up and quit his job again next month—helps alleviate the otherwise stressful disdain I hold for work and reminds me that I am not the only one who is going to work every morning. Not to mention that I no longer have to worry everyday whether or not my bike will go flat.

Every night I go to bed at midnight or thereabouts.

And now at the end of every work day, due to our unstable workday schedules that makes me getting a ride home too much of a pain, I catch a bus ride home. And suddenly my entire day is much more at ease. For one, because the busses I can take home only come once an hour, there is little difference between 4:45 and 5:15 (both will get me the same bus) and thus time becomes less of a pressing thing: there is nothing I can do to make the bus come earlier or make it get me home any faster.

But I have consciously allowed myself to be in this position of routine.

Also, with such waiting times looming, I come prepared with a book to read while both waiting as well as riding and so have managed to bring an otherwise neglected as of late hobby back into my daily routine.

If it is routine that I despise so much about the workday, is it at least possible to alleviate that routine so that it is, even within the strict pillars of my times of sleep, not so predominate?

Still, at the end of each day, I find myself not riding my bike as much. As well, other things that I had set out to do in returning to Buffalo, or just little things to mix my days up a bit, such as taking more bike rides through the neighborhoods or hanging out with my friends every night have gone largely neglected. Hell, I’ve even been drinking less on the weeknights.

Even giving our tired bodies is a routine. If not the basis of most of it.

I understand I get into ruts here and there. Quite routinely actually. And I understand that I will not be able to go completely without working at the time. Still, I have my eyes set on working until I am comfortably set with enough savings to do so.

Routine thinking is also very evident in my day-to-day routine.

The important thing is to be sure to break out of these ruts and routine ways of thinking as quickly as possible and, if not immediately, to make sure they still do not dominate my entire day. To make such breaks takes a constant conscious effort. Because I've failed to do so lately, it is once again my intention to make sure to do something everyday that, even if it is the minutest detail, does not subscribe to such routine that keeps me from doing nothing.

Less I find myself suddenly a year from now again wondering where the latest September went and awaiting the routine of yet another seasonal change with no change to show for it myself.

Shat Mat (The Nothing that We Do)

After another weekend of excessive drinking left me too hung over to even drink during the Bills game—and the Bills leaving me too sick to even watch the entire game—last night I was able to reap the benefits of all the people that were over the game by plundering the leftover beers they left behind.

And while doing so my roommate and I decided to play some chess.

Chess is like so many things that I really enjoy doing—drawing, playing music, playing sports, doing chicks, doing nothing—in that I just don’t do enough of it. And it always takes only a brief moment to remember how much I like these things as soon as I get to doing them again.

The thing that fascinates me so much about games is just how representative they can be of human intelligence and ingenuity. Chess alone, from what I’ve read, has more possible moves than there are believed to be atoms in the entire universe. One has to consider that games are mostly the result of people who were sitting around with nothing better to do and simply decided to create something out of doing nothing. (If you’ve never been a part of a creating a game that was maybe played for even only a day, then by all means your life is truly representational of doing nothing.)

And while ultimately, unless the feelings of competitiveness and enjoyment actually do count for something, they contribute nothing in what would be described as a meaningful way, especially in the arenas of making money or pointing your life in that all import direction, that is the very point of them: a natural expression of what we are capable when the burden of meaning or having to do something is lifted from us.

In my mind they are just as pointless as making money, only much more memorable and far more fun. And if that isn’t the purpose of our lives, it has at least be the purpose of our games.

If the two are in fact separate entities.

Check mate.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Short Open Letter: To the City of Buffalo

(Which leads me to this.)


You know I love you—even if I don’t necessarily know why (see: obvious painful end to Bills’ game on Sunday)—which is probably why you don’t give a damn about these complaints. As such, they must be aired.

It’s bad enough that you’ve allowed the majority of both the people and jobs to move away to the suburbs—as opposed to having them all in one obvious place like downtown maybe—all but requiring a car due to the lack of any light rail system like most cities might have in the 21st century. And it’s bad enough that everyone here instinctively suggests that I should just get a car as the obvious solution to such travel demands. But if you had one person for every ten shards of glass in the streets, New York City would be the Queen City; if the streets weren’t lined with nails and potholes perhaps those jobs in the suburbs would seem a bit more accessible.

But they’re not and they won’t be any time soon. And so I get pissed off at you and how demanding you can be and the mindset of the people here—though I’m really enjoying getting to hear the accent again—even though I know I still love you.

But that doesn’t mean I will allow you to change me. I won’t change for anyone or anything no matter how much I love them. I gave up on the car for my own reasons and I will only take it back up for my own as well, if I ever do at all. But I can assure you that if I do it will not be for a job, and especially not one in the fucking suburbs.

So now I’m leaving it up to your Metro System. Maybe, even though the subway/light rail line doesn’t go all that far, perhaps the buses will make up for that. Holding my breath will be withheld, though I hope to be surprised.

Just be reliable long enough before I ultimately quit. Maybe a month or two. That’s it.

That shouldn’t be too much to ask and I hope it isn’t, not even here because I am glad to be back and hope to be here a while still. Should I need to leave for reasons as arbitrary as poor public transportation I will do so with no hard feelings but would do so still nevertheless.

So now it’s up to you. Thanks.

And, hopefully, thanks for the ride.

Bend But Don't Break

Even though my stated goal to “work as little as possible” automatically suggests a certain amount of work will have to be performed, I nevertheless despise the time that must be dedicated to the act. Obviously. And my constant irritation over the last week was only amplified as I have slowly begun to feel as though I’ve been completely compromising myself in the way in which I have been working.

My spending for the month of August, though exactly on par as to what I said I would spend per month over the course of the year, still felt far too extravagant. There is no reason why I should be spending nearly $1000 a month—especially not on going out so much. Also, the willingness I’ve shown in spending the necessary time to travel the nine miles each way to the job—not even all that noticeably shorter by car—is equally excessive in its extravagance in my opinion. Combined with my savings being lower than where they should be—and thereby making me feel as though I had to keep working even though they are enough to get me by for at least the next month and a half—and, by last week, a mounting misery was accumulating.

And then, in the face of yet another flat tire on the way to work, I realized that, while I will bend my beliefs—and hopefully only temporarily—I will ultimately not allow them to be broken. As I have tried every which stubborn way to get to work on my bike with only frustrating success at best, I told the kid I’ve been working with that I will no longer be riding my bike to work and will instead rely only upon rides from friends and public transportation. If that will not work, I told him, then I will simply have to find something else closer to home. Even if that means less pay.

And from that came a soothing sense of relief. It may not quite be a teenage girl standing in front of an army tank, but it at least reminded me there’s only so much I’m willing to do in the course of working. Just as well, it reminded me to stop allowing my thoughts to be governed by arbitrary numbers that must continually accumulate and simply trust that I will be able to eat each day and, beyond that, nothing more need be considered necessary.

Friday, September 7, 2007

[aside] Ode to Friday Night, 6:00

It was just about 6:00 as I rode home from work today and I could notice an immediate buzz in the air: Friday! Who doesn’t love it? Who doesn’t notice it? I even began constructing an ode.

Ode to Friday Night, 6:00 (As Sung by One Who Is Employed)
Ode to Friday Night, 6:00
The furthest away from work all week
Everyone’s as happy as they get
The furthest away from work all week

That’s all I got. I don’t compose poesy (or “poetry,” for you post-Victorians) but I won’t argue the point it makes. Still, I did decide to compose one more:

Ode to Friday Night, 6:00 (As Sung by One Who Is Unemployed)
Ode to Friday Night, 6:00
I did not know it was you right now.
But I still sing my ode to you
For I always sing to the moment that is now.

That’s all I got. See above for the reason why.

Though it’s a great time either way, I think I like the second interpretation of Friday Night, 6:00 just a little better.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

[aside] Thanks for Nothing Instead

While watching TV the other day I caught an election ad where the candidate was bragging about having brought jobs to the area.

Why the fuck am I going to vote for someone trying to give me work?

Timecards and Timetables

As I have not been mentioning much here, I’ve spent the past month or so working full-time. As one may have noticed, in the same span of time I have also been posting less. It would be correct to assume a direct correlation.

With work now taking up nearly two thirds of my day between sleep and getting to and from work, by the time I get home there’s too much to do, and too little summer remaining, to be easily encouraged to sit in front of a computer.

But that hasn’t been the worst of work’s inconveniences.

The worst offense of them all has how work immediately influences me to begin setting timetables in my head: ranging from 9am’s countdown to 5pm and Monday’s inevitable countdown to Friday, to mentally calculating when I will have enough money to quit if I wanted or how soon I would be able to have enough to pay rent and do some traveling, I constantly find myself mentally drifting away from the moment at hand.

And while it is these very carrots that I hang over my head—such as quitting or traveling—that get me through each work day, it is also the very thing that distracts me from fully enjoying the moment in front of me.

During the three months I wasn’t working I was laid back about both time and money—for I had all the time I needed despite the dwindling funds of money. But now that I have some money, though by no means all the time that I need, I not only spend that money, but also set different standards in regards to it. Whereas $20 was what I was spending for a full week’s worth of food, that is now a Friday night out—and probably a cheap one at that. Whereas I previously looked forward no further than tomorrow, I am already counting the pay before it comes and seeing a small amount begin to be saved. Even though by the standards I was holding without a job I would, at the moment, have enough money to pay October’s rent and bills and still eat—meaning I would be set all the way through November 1st already—I am also figuring how long I would have to work in order to not have to work at a later point.

Unnecessary timetables. And until I can overcome this and instinctively be able to still enjoy moments at hand, even perhaps during work, I will look to pack as much fun in the free time that I have and post whenever possible.

Or just as well, quit as soon as possible.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Monthly Totals

In what I hope will be my most frivolous month in terms of spending, my monthly total for August came to exactly $998. Just two dollars under the amount I have allotted on average per month, but still a number far, far higher than I wish—and especially, need—to spend. It goes to show that when I have money I still spend it. And so the less I have the less I spend and the better I feel about it.

But unlike last month when I broke down my spending by category (for the record, my going out and dining out spending was way higher with bills, food and unexpected spending remaining rather constant) I will instead breakdown the nothing that has been occupying me.

Over the last month I have continued to ride my bike for a daily 18 mile round trip commute, hung out constantly on the porch with my housemates, and managed to fit a few books and short stories in as well.

Additionally, my friend Mike and I have begun using all the recording equipment that he owns and have been working on a few musical ideas that we have. I have also began to research, line by line (using wikipedia mostly), what is perhaps my favorite book, Reader’s Block, in hopes of fully understanding its intricate system of cross-reference and literary allusions. Beyond that I have continued working on posting these thoughts, as well as slowly continuing work on some other thoughts that I’ve neglected far too long.

I have been carrying out these last ideas all with no monetary incentive nor even necessarily the completion of them, but rather only for the enjoyment of the acts and the processes themselves. It beats watching TV and demanding to be entertained.

But still, I haven’t begun drawing again.