Monday, August 27, 2007

101 things to do...

I love the mundane sense of purpose and organization that checklists can give to my everyday life - it's the only way I can remember every minute but necessary task, like paying my bills on time, getting an oil change, buying gel shoe inserts, etc. But what I appreciate the most is the sense of satisfaction that follows checking each item off. If I feel that level of satisfaction from checking off "buy paper towel", imagine the euphoria and sense of pride that I'd derive after achieving and subsequently checking off my more ambitious life goals, if formalized as a "to-do" list. There's something about writing a list that makes you feel accountable for completing those items - instead of only sporadically considering them as fleeting thoughts that are ultimately deferred to the back of your head, and filed away for future reference (when the time is right, when I turn 30, when I get a raise, etc.). So with thes fresh motivation provided by this article in today's NY Times, here's an initial list of some things I'd like to do during my lifetime, in no particular order - more to come.

1. Earn a second Master's degree - an MFA in Communications - from a highly accredited University
2. Become a published writer - have a piece published in at least one of the publications I most admire
3. Fall in love with someone that loves to travel as much as I do (and who's spontaneous enough to plan a trip with me with 1 week's - or less - notice). That shared love of travel might ultimately include an equally spontaneous, little planned destination wedding.
4. Own or co-own my own condo or townhouse
5. Have an exposed brick wall designed or already built into said condo or townhouse
6. Travel to Hawaii
7. Learn to snowboard
8. Take my nieces on a trip
9. Buy my parents a house to retire in, or at least help finance it
10. Treat my parents to post-retirement trips
11. Contribute a sizeable chunk of change to fund children's cancer research and treatment
12. Find opportunities to physically help or do something nice for someone every day (vs. just cutting a check) - for instance, ceding the right of way to someone that doesn't have it, talking to an older person at the grocery store, going out of my way to help someone pick something off the floor, etc.)
13. Find a job (or have it find me) that allows me to spend a significant amount of time in NYC regularly - say, 3-6 months out of the year, or once every couple of months.
14. Be promoted to at least Account Director in my current job
15. Collaborate in a creative project or business of some sort - a restaurant, a shop, a film, or music of some sort

Friday, August 24, 2007

It takes two...

I love the idea of people so enthralled by a particular subject that they form a subculture around it. Even more appealing to me is when they all look different (no visible hipsters here), are of different ages and demographic groups (they're not all South American!), and have completely different day jobs that couldn't be more far removed from the subject they're gathering around. Plus, the shameless, highly romanticized notion of virtual strangers gathering to learn how to tango in the Park is just priceless. *SIGH*, Summer in NYC...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Where should my inner New Yorker live?

I knew it...

You Belong in Brooklyn

Down to earth and hard working, you're a true New Yorker.
And although you may be turning into a yuppie, you never forget your roots.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A case of "wit of the staircase"

I recently read this piece on a NYC-based art world "it" couple's twin suicides. A multitude of thoughts and questions ensued as I read about their lives and the progression of events leading up to their deaths. My initial notion was that of their being a highly romanticized, contemporary version of Romeo and Juliet. Like Romeo and Juliet, at least one of two seems to have perceived themselves to be "doomed", with the other confidently and quickly concluding that life without their departed lover was simply not an option. These were talented artists that had earned more recognition for their work than what most with similar aspirations do. They were in love, intelligent, and had the ability to carve out success for themselves in a different niche, even if the transient dotings of LA and its film industry didn't materialize. They had a vast network of friends and contacts, as well as numerous viable projects to engage their creativity in. But I wonder if the same traits that oftentimes characterize a talented artist or creator - ambition, acute perception, sensitivity, and the ability to become so enamored by and engrossed in a particular subject or issue that it borders on obsession - spiraled into the paranoia and exasperation that made death seem like the only reprieve.

I realize these observations are based on a very limited perspective of these individuals' lives - the facts are those of a third-party publication. But my overarching observation (and question) is universal (and not strictly related to this couple); why does it oftentimes appear that many of the artists, philosophers, scientists and intellectuals so blessed with their respective talent are also cursed with an almost poetic propensity to have that genius turn on them and morph into insanity, depression, or other form of mental distress? You might argue that there's no evidence that these two were insane - merely haunted or troubled - but to be capable of committing suicide, you have to at least be in such a state of mental distress or depression to make that conclusive action appear to offer the only respite.

Is depression/mental distress simply one of the potential side-effects of genius? Of thinking and questioning too much, having too much imagination, and being too sensitive to both the most beautiful and ugliest aspects of humanity? Is it a chemical imbalance substantiated as both excessive intelligence and the absense of resilience? At what point does intelligence, sensitivity or genius derail and spiral into those darkest and seemingly hopeless of places?

Perhaps that's one too many questions from this oftentimes overly-analytical blogger - particularly when I can't supply my own answers. Though far from "genius", I think I'll continue to temper my own intelligence, musings and theories with a shot of idealism and hope, and with the acceptance that life has both light and dark - but the choice to focus on the (greater instance of) good will always help illuminate those darker corners.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


So I closed my MySpace account last week, after checking out Facebook and finding that most of my out-of-town friends were actually on Facebook. The primary reason I'd joined MySpace was the premise of a single source by which to keep in touch with friends in different cities - those that I can't otherwise catch up with on a regular basis. But after about a year, most of the friends leaving me comments and questions were the same ones I was with the night before. I'd read enough about the demographic profile of MySpace vs. Facebook members (surge in 28+ yr-old members on Facebook, more educated/professional on Facebook), increased privacy considerations, etc. to decide that it was likelier the more relevant utility for me. I was right - most of my out-of-town friends are on Facebook.

There are, of course, secondary, much less lofty or openly-discussed benefits to having your profile on a social network. The initial novelty of procrastinating and killing time by finding and adding your friends and acquaintances' profiles to your own "friends" list. Reading about what they have been doing - and viewing the photographic evidence thereof. Seeing who someone you're curious about hangs out with, what spot he or she might frequent on an average Thursday night, who they photograph themselves with (requisite self portrait with dramatic, pouty expression and bangs/hair in eyes), or how many grammatical errors and misspellings have littered their profile. It can offer you a voyeuristic view into someone's life and lead you to develop a very limited assessment of their personality - in some instances without actually getting to know them in the offline world.

Like (but easier than) MySpace, Facebook users and marketers have developed a multitude of applications by which to personalize your content and reflect your personal interests and tastes to your viewing public. A Wall for comments (ala MySpace's comments box) lets you leave and receive comments from those who you haven't seen since last night or since last year. SuperPoke allows for digital high-fiving, poking, or throwing a sheep at your friends or crushes, while iLike allows you to dedicate and send a song to someone for any given reason.

The process of familiarizing yourself with a social utility and personalizing your profile can become quite a time-consuming, self-introspective and anxiety-producing venture. What does giving "Titanic" a 2.5-star rating say about you? Does adding "Wonderwall" to your profile date your musical tastes and imply that you haven't quite expanded your musical repertoire beyond 90's alt rock? What about the fact that after your 5th day on Facebook, you've added 20 friends to your profile, while your former cube neighbor currently has 83? Will anyone care about you enough to send an iconic "gift", or throw a sheep at you? And will noting your political bent turn off prospective employers or dates researching you online?

I can't say I wasn't forewarned. The title is quite accurate: Friendster, Hi5, MySpace or Facebook alike - they're all SOCIAL utilities. They can make it easier to keep in touch with someone when the timezone differences or setting render a phone conversation inconvenient, when e-mail is too infrequently checked, when a text message requires too many key strokes or when a face-to-face conversation is otherwise not possible. But if your offline social endeavors even occassionally create some insecurity or social anxiety (Friend or frenemy? Is he dating her? How can I start a conversation if I run into him? Is my entourage socially crippling in expanding my range of acquaintances?) - a social network has the propensity to generate the same feelings and reactions that you derive from your friendships and interactions offline. What can I say - you can take the 28+, highly educated and upwardly mobile set out of high school - but you can't always take the high school out of them.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Welcome to the Dollhouse...

I'm starting this blog - albeit a bit late in the blogging phenom - to increase the likelihood that I can someday soon say "I'm a writer", instead of "I really want to write more". I'm (arguably) lucky enough to work in advertising and at a large company - a career and location that offers a host of opportunities to muse, ponder, analyze and satirize the numerous characters, archetypes, and passive-aggressive political warfare that "The Office" episodes and certain New York Magazine articles are made of. Shame I haven't been able to turn these experiences into a source of profit just yet...but here's where writing about them comes into play.

I really do love writing, and figure I spend enough time musing on my experiences and observations resulting from my career and from my personal interests, that I might as well put them into written word. I'm hoping that blogging will get me comfortable with writing again - my first love and first undergrad major (more on that later) - and ideally manage to amuse some friends/acquintances in the meantime. You'll finally understand what goes through my head during those moments when I'm clearly only physically present in our conversations, or where a semi-evil half-smirk spreads across my lips...