Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Belongings, goddammit!

A fleeting thought: At the risk of sounding vapid, almost nothing makes me happier than seeing one of my boyfriend's exes in a photo snuggled up to an attractive man with horn-rimmed glasses with the caption 'Us, flying back in to Chicago'. Though it is something women rarely divulge openly, there is comfort in seeing that a former lover of a current love is wrapped up in a separate joyful drama. For this reassuring image there is Facebook to thank. I am moving and have just finished a two-year contractual employment commitment. So of course I have been using Facebook for procrastination research purposes.

Why is moving so difficult? Because it is a forced reorganization of your whole life. Moving our belongings, our physical representations of both ourselves and our power within the economic arena, allows for auto-reinvention. What you buy is what you choose to represent your taste and what you proffer to whoever sees these things with a non-verbal, 'I spent money on this, judge me accordingly'. If your treasured things came to you by way of gift---a designer bag, jewelery, or other 'keep your mind right mami' tokens (and yes I am 12 years late with this reference)---this too is an expression of economic power. This says 'I didn't even need to buy this, it was purchased as a ceremonial offering to my beauty'---but before we open Pandora's box let's refocus on the subject of moving.

When moving we sift through our accumulated pieces and decide what to display and what to obscure, to abandon. For a brief moment in the moving process your priorities shift and new interests can become the stars of your every day. Id est: my former apartment did not have a studio, my new house does. Art becomes a fixture of everyday as opposed to a coffee-table hobby.

On Monday the moving process reached it's zenith. It was incredible how many objects went into the trash bags that had been purchased especially for the occasion. How blessed (by whom?) the residents of the US are to live in a nation where we have the ability to hoard and also to purge our belongings.

At the age of fifteen I began working at the public library in our town. It was one of the best jobs I have ever had, and since the last day I have been striving to get back to that simple place of calm task and clear expectation. One of the greatest perks was working amongst the stacks. It was around this time that I became especially interested in writings on self esteem and how our relationship to belongings affected that slippery 'sense of self'. Modern Western/developed nation thinking is that retail therapy is effective. If you feel sad, the thinking follows, buying something will help you feel better. But it will only make you feel better for a short time before the buzz wears off. When the buzz subsides we are left with a fuller home and emptier wallet.

Basically, the general consensus is that less is more.

Relating to clothes, high-quality, well-fitting key items will always trump a full closet of pieces that are flimsy and poorly designed for your body type. And remember that versatility is also a factor in a piece's longevity within your wardrobe. Every six months or so I review my closet and purge anywhere between an eighth to a third of my clothes. It hurts just a bit at the outset, but donating them feels good. (This year I am selling choice items via Amazon and Ebay, too.)

The less-is-more theory as applied to belongings is harder. Experts agree that there is such a thing as owning too much. Where the line is drawn remains subjective. I still have the immature notion that one should be able to fit everything they own into one car. A friend likes to say that she and I are different because I don't 'need stuff' and she does. Not needing objects isn't it, exactly; it's that I need a palpable sense of mobility more. Though, similar to the properties of water I attest that people will fill any space they have with their things if given the ability.

Proof of this, the past year I lived in a three-bedroom apartment. The difference in the amount of things I own definitely shows. This time a one-car move was impossible. Because the harsh reality was too jarring the trips were split up over five days. Moving into my partner's house was an even stronger reminder that there is too much in my possession, what once seemed like a spacious home is now filled with a mixture of his and hers.

Moving forward to the next chapter of this life has involved embracing the object purging process. I want to be the one who controls my belongings, not the other way around. Already DVDs and clothes have been bagged and tagged, the art supplies and books are next. The hope is that whenever I move next I can get everything into the same car and speed off into the night.

Studded in the text are some hyperlinks to pertinent articles. Give them a look!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Marriage Tips and Such

First off the block, there seems to be a whole bunch of marriages and engagements going on recently. Good job, you have found what we are all searching for. Or you are pretending to! Proud of you.

Wow, Mackenzie. That is really mean. These twenty-somethings are all certain that they have found partners that they want to be with for the rest of their lives and you are just being cruel by insinuating they are getting married because they have are tired of continuing to look. Come on, stop being cynical and just be happy for once.

Hmm Self, maybe you're right. I mean, maybe someday my brain will reach that developed state that all my engaged and married friends have obviously attained and I too will be able to both see the future and feel comfortable spending thousands of dollars in one night that doesn't involve lascivious sexcapades and mountains of cocaine. A woman can dream, huh?

Here are some links in celebration of marriage! Give those a click, then I'll give you an explanation so you don't think I'm a horrible little girl.

Because he wanted to marry her until she cheated! 
Because alcohol hurts your complexion!
Because Dan Savage is worth your time!

Rae and Peter
My parents have been married for more than 25 years. Congrats to them, frankly. The pair came to visit me a few months ago and it was heartwarming to see that love can grow over time as opposed to just persisting. I have often asked my parents what the keystone to a healthy union is but had never until now thought to summarize the main points. So if you don't want to be Facebook messaging me about your upcoming divorce read these guidelines and start living by them.

1. Be honest about who you are. 
When my dad met my mom they were in the dining commons at Boston University. Apparently there was a fish entree that was so delicious my mom got up from the table multiple times to get second and third helpings. Even though it took them months to go out on a second date (haha! I'm not kidding) it really seems like she had set the bar low for herself by accident by looking like a binge eater, and this helped her in the long run. By the second time my parents went on a date they were at an event with dancing and she got so drunk she fell down and then accused my dad of throwing her to the ground. Anywho, be yourself and then when your eventual mate finds out that you are actually a moderate person they will be relieved. That means when you are rarely 'calling dinosaurs' into the porcelain throne or get over-excited at a breakfast buffet they will just remember the good times of when you first met.

In other words, be authentic. My mother is moderate, but she wasn't so concerned about conveying the correct message to a man that she held back from having fun and living in the moment. Along with being moderate she is also an expert of having in-the-moment fun, something that undoubtedly continues to fan the flames of love in their relationship.

2. Don't expect too much from each other. 
My father is a man who talks to many people during his day. He listens to colleagues and answers student questions and occasionally confers with journalists. However, when he gets  home he is not one to 'hang out' with anyone expect those he is legally bound to. Even then it is dicey. My mother is totally content with this. She is not one to push him to create a circle of superficial neighborhood friends because she knows that it would just be taking away from his time to pet the cat and shout out the answers to Jeopardy. Because of this acceptance they have come to have an innate sense of what the other one wants and is feeling. They make it look so easy but I know that it has taken years to perfect. (I can already hear my dad saying 'Now Kenz, I am social! I attend conferences all over the place, there are the guys I watch hockey with on Wednesdays...')

3. Exercise the power to forgive. 
This will not only increase a married couple's chances of success, but a human's chances. Another lifelong work that my parents have perfected. Because when you pool the concrete---assets---and the nebulous---emotions---sometimes the actions of your partner will leave you feeling unbelievably hurt. Somehow I am sensing that Jimmy Buffet helps with getting over bumps in the road because there was an awful lot of that racket going on. Or maybe they're just Parrot Heads.

4. Encourage each other
Since I have known them my father has transitioned from driving into Boston every day to a combination of bicycle and bus ride. My mother has gone from counselor to Census Enumerator to 2nd grade teacher to ESL Instructor and everything in between. My father has climbed two of the biggest peaks in the world and my mother has visited and learned about nearly every noteworthy spot in the UK, London being her specialty. When you encourage each other magical things can happen. Together my parents have been to four continents (and both have visited Africa, separately) and made lasting connections with amazing people. Their lives are colored with varied experiences and as a result they are kind and giving. Travel is not the solution for everyone, but for them it works. Which leads to the last point.

5. Like to do the same things at the same time, as well as separately. 
Both my parents like to travel. They also enjoy the outdoors. But they are totally comfortable doing these activities independently. This sense of autonomy is vital to maintaining self-confidence, something that is most certainly important when following guidelines 1 through 4.

You know, after reading through these I feel a lot more hopeful for all those starry-eyed youngsters mentioned earlier! Maybe lifelong love is possible. Maybe, just maybe we can all find it....

As always, feel free to leave your comments. Going to Vegas this weekend so there should be a whole lot more to discuss upon returning to the Valley of the Sun!

P.S. here is a picture of my parents, being adorable.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Open Letter to Jon Stewart

For those of you who haven't yet seen the interview, click here to watch it.

I was going to wait until tomorrow but am honestly too darn excited to wait any longer! Here we go...

Dear Jon Stewart,
            You were not the first man I would think of to console someone during a break up. I have judged you incorrectly. Though it was an act of good (or depending on the way one looks at it, bad) fortune that Rob Pattinson’s press junket for Cosmopolis started with your show, and in the meantime his girlfriend had a very public indiscretion, you used the situation to remind us all that television be damned---the human element is necessary.
            There had been a lot of press leading up to this episode of The Daily Show. The newer viewers were welcomed with a disclaimer clearly stating that the show was not necessarily about pop culture but instead a satirical look at US politics. However, the pop culture element is there, hence the British actor’s scheduled appearance. When he came onstage the script was broken and it was clear to everyone that this was not going to be a shiny, star-approved interview. This was real, dammit! You whipped out ice cream and gave him comforting words, “You’re better off without her,”, albeit masked behind a character’s voice.
            Had this been the Today’s Show or even Jay Leno there would most certainly have been a script and a resulting refusal to acknowledge private pain. Some people on television as seasoned as yourself, Mr. Stewart, have already lost their sense of empathy. Admittedly it cannot be easy to navigate the intense waters of public backlash if one says the ‘wrong’ thing while televised. However during this interview that could have been just a disaster, you navigated those currents with grace. Your pleasant banter and gentle acknowledgement of a punishing life event in a young celebrity’s life brought the harsh reality of love and loss into focus for the rest of us. Just like a death the end of a relationship is something that is healing when mentioned. It feels better to have someone talk about it even when accompanied by silly jokes or awkward pauses.
            Eventually the interview turned from the stormy waters of betrayal to the actor’s new film, a David Kronenberg joint. But matters of the heart were not put to rest before you addressed the interviewee without shield of a character, saying, “I wish you all the best, I really enjoy talking with you, you’re a nice kid,”. And really, who better to give advice to an up-and-comer than a seasoned (married) man of showbiz?
            For those who have kept their minds out of the scandal your interview is worth watching if only to serve as a reminder of these two points: love is tricky, and Jon Stewart is really a pro.
            From myself and the rest of us, Mr Stewart, thank you. Keep up the good work. Television would not be the same without you.
            Yours truly,
Mackenzie Mathieu-Busher

Thanks for reading, everyone! Let me know what you think, public discourse is something that Jon Stewart and I both definitely value. The more opinions the better. 

Marbled Swarm update and other goodies

OMG, you guys! The Marbled Swarm was not what I had been expecting. Reminiscent of American psycho for the anti-hero's high diction, this novel left me with swirling images of bleeding anuses and children wishing they could be crushed into oblivion. Not for the faint of heart. It definitely made me want to read other works from this author if only to see if the other works are as graphic.

Here is the sneaky little comment I made via goodreads.

If you like books and wasting time on the internet then it is imperative you create an account and begin immediately. They have a function where you can CHOOSE the EDITION of the book you are reading and mark which page you have reached accordingly ::bliss::

In other news, I have written a response to the John Stewart-Robert Pattinson interview which occurred on the 14th of August, 2012. True, there are a lot of other pressing issues going on in the world (More ignorance over Akin's rape comments? Ongoing conflict in Syria?) but sometimes matters of the heart win out. 

Here is the link to the full interview. Watch that, and then tomorrow I will hit y'all up with my take. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Marbled Swarm

Currently I an reading a book by Dennis Cooper called The Marbled Swarm. Since the back cover proclaims that he is a hero in France (at least, an award winner) I wasn't sure what to expect.

And so far the anti-hero main character is a murdering pedophile. With a great vocabulary. This is a modern novel that has made mentions to such phenomenon as iPhones, emo kids, and cutting.

The story is told in the first-person narration style with frequent reference made to the reader. And the narrator begs us not to discount his credibility completely, at least not just yet, so I will refrain.