Saturday, June 3, 2017

Dog grandma

   There is a car that is sometimes see parked around Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park when I go walking there that has a sticker on it which read, Dog Grandma. Located just behind the gas tank cover, I have only recently noticed it, even though I have seen the car there for at least a year now. I believe that the sticker must be new, because knowing myself well (if only in this regard), I cannot imagine that I have not seen it before. I say this because of the impact it has on me now.
   I find the statement in the picture below interesting not only for what I see as its' ridiculousness, but because I find its' message is so difficult to tease out. Is the driver of this car someone that has three generations of dogs from the same family, and if so, how many dogs might she have? Maybe she is a grandmother to human beings, with one of them owning a dog. Or, perhaps she herself is a a dog and grandmother that is also able to drive a car?
   When I began writing this blog, I honestly couldn't wrap my head around what the sticker was referring to, but as I write, I realize that she must have a grandchild with a dog, but I love that the two words seemed, at least temporarily, so strange together as to bewilder me. I probably would benefit from more of that feeling.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Not known

   I walked by the object in the picture below twice before taking a picture of it, thirty five minutes or so later. I had difficulty making out what it was as I first walked past it, and the second time seemed to add nothing to my understanding. I now believe that it might have taken me as long as it did to stop and take this picture, at least partially, because I did not want to have a record of it to examine more closely.
   It seems that often times, knowledge of things ruins their allure for me.
   I have written quite a bit in these blogs about what I find mysterious, and what I will call here the unknown, hard to know, and not known, even though they may describe essentially the same thing. Still, I continue to write on the subject because I feel so alive when I do, finding so much wonder and freedom in the what I fail to capture adequately. Perhaps this failure is part of what I find most beautiful.
   Just as I seemed to initially, and continue to lack the desire to better understand what is shown in the picture below, I often relish in the fact that the words that I choose, perhaps all words, cannot do better than to point to my own lack of knowledge.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Seeking silence

  One of the things that I enjoy so much about my early morning walks in Golden Gate Park is how quiet it is when I arrive. This environment helps me to focus on what is going on inside, rather than outside out of me.
    Although complete silence is not necessary for me being able to have a clear vision of my thoughts, jarring and difficult to predict sounds do tend to seriously challenge my feeling at ease. If there are sounds, those with a kind of all over quality usually lead me back to the feel of quiet.
    I italicized the word feel above because I find sounds of all kind to create more of a state than a particular volume or cadence that can be measured, though these can influence the senses I have of them.
   For example, the rustle of leaves in the wind, or the tapping of light rain falling on concrete, I find quite relaxing. Mechanical sounds too, such as air conditioners or some car engines running also can help to create a pleasant environment.
   As I think more about the early mornings in Golden Gate Park, it becomes apparent that places like it allow me to think and feel more clearly because I find the stimulation more manageable. When this is the case, I am better able to focus, connecting me more to the outside.
   The key then becomes how to carry these states within me when the world feels loud and blaring.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Company and security

   This morning I had some time before an appointment, so I decided to take a short walk to the ATM to get some cash. Although it was about eight thirty, the Pacific Heights neighborhood I was in was still bustling with morning rush hour activity. As I passed three young adults waiting for a bus (or some other transportation), I noticed that they were all standing, on this beautiful spring morning, heads down and seemingly transfixed by their phone screens.
   It almost never fails to make me wonder what people could possibly be looking at so often and long on their devices. Sometimes, seeing them do so makes me long for the interactive street life I grew up with.
   Let me add here that I'm  not trying to idealize these reminsences, as there were many times that these experiences felt both hostile and frightening; still, people did tend to look at each other, instead of elsewhere.
   After my stop at the bank, I walked up the hill on Fillmore Street, continuing to see people with their phones out, but noticed that many of them were simply carrying them; I immediately thought of baby blankets, and the comfort they provided.
   I want to be clear that I am not meaning to infer anything condescending, or to imply that these people were like babies emotionally, but it made me a little sad. It reminded me of how difficult and scary being in the world can be, and for how many years I tried to numb and avoid these feelings through various methods.
   I felt good this morning, aware of myself and my body, which helped me to see others with compassion rather than judgment.
   I wondered a bit more about these people, their phones, and myself, and my thoughts turned to the notion of companionship. It occured to me that these screens, and the information they contained, could perhaps help one to access past positive experiences to assist in the negotiation of the potentially terrifying streets of the present.
   I realized at that moment that these people's aims were probably not very different from mine, though I personally find it more necessary and satisfying to look for that similar sense of connection within myself and my actual surroundings, in that order. I felt proud at that moment to be as bare to the world as I was.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Adam Cooperstein

   Adam Cooperstein.
   Like my own body, my name is something that I was born with, and have needed to more or less accept. Until recently, I really haven't thought that deeply aboout it, but just seem to have become accustomed to it. When I use the word accustomed here, I mean it more in the sense of indoctrinated.
   For many years I felt quite ashamed of my name, especially the surname, as I wished that it sounded somehow less ethnic.
   When I was growing up, I wished I had a last name like Jones or Smith, and while I no longer feel so uncomfortable at the sound of it, trying to getting a better sense of my association with it, and how I represent it (or vice versa) has taken regular and deep looking at it on my part.
   By employing different methods to loosen my own conditioning to the words Adam Cooperstein has been helpful, and I've found that photographing it, as written by myself and by others, has been particularly useful. Taking pictures seems to give me a kind of objective distance that is sometimes difficult to achieve otherwise.
   Yesterday morning, as I thought about these things, I wondered about my father, and if he too had ever thought about these things. Was he ever embarrassed about it, or wonder if it accurately stood for what he felt himself to be?
   It is a kind of cultural given that parents are proud (I assume to varying degrees) of their offspring, but I wonder to what extent they think about the surname aspect of this connection. For example, is it ordinary for a man to look past the pride of passing on his own name, and think about the fact that this new person will now be tied to it?
   Although growing up without a name would surely make some forms of identification quite difficult for a young person, I wonder if it could help one to figure out who they are for themselves, without having to adapt to something that they've been branded with.
   While I'm aware, probably for the first time in a very concrete way, that I am free to change my name, as well as my body, it just seems like I would be supplanting one older definition for a newer one. Still, I would in a sense  represent or be represented by that word or words.
   Although difficult and frightening, might it not be wonderful to be that much less defined in the world?

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Penny on the ledge

   It had been unseasonably warm here in San Francisco, and I had stuck my head out of one of our living room windows, as I sometimes do, to feel the temperature and see what was going on outside my one bedroom apartment.

   Looking straight, and then down, I noticed that there was a penny perched on our window ledge, which is shown above (the penny was no longer there when I took the picture). Somehow lodged on that thin ledge, I wondered how it could have gotten there, and if it had been thrown, how it had managed to stay. It seemed to me that it could only have been placed there gently, which could only have been done from our window, which neither my wife nor I had done.
   It was quite a wonderful feeling that I experienced at that moment, and it supplanted the self-critical thoughts that I had had from an earlier naptime dream. This fantastic experience gave me pause to clear that fear and replace it with something of mystery.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Thoughts on caffeine, doing without, and other things.

   At the time that I began writing this blog, I had decided to try to kick caffeine, and had gone roughly thirty six hours without drinking coffee (and it was rough). About halfway through that second day, I drank a long espresso, and that ended that experiment. Although short lived, it was the first time that I can remember going without caffeine as an adult,
   Before making the conscious decision to drink that cup, I had been back-and forth over whether or not to do so, considering both the potential benefits and drawbacks. Unusually for me, this difficulty in deciding didn't feel particularly stressful or anxiety producing. I'm glad I realize this aspect.
   Towards the end of my ruminations, I suddenly remembered how many emotions had surfaced when I stopped smoking cigarettes all of those years ago, and how difficult that aspect of it in particular had been to deal with (aside from the nicotine addiction). Eventually, I got a bit more used to having such a wide breadth of feelings. Still, it's only a bit.
   I have come to realize over the years that there's a lot to be considered when it comes to changing my habits. Of course, the idea of having more control of my body and desires feels empowering, but it doesn't avoid this particular problem; are the potential outcomes worth the freedoms sacrificed in the process?
   I'd like to imagine that there is a way to not feel the need to look at things in this way, but at this point in time, I cannot fathom it significantly differently. I don't know if it's cynicism, a cultural "ism", or just the way the world is, but it seems to me that something has to be lost for something else to be gained.