Thursday, July 16, 2009


I am not a very constant person. Mondays I'm hard-done-by and surly. Tuesdays I'm magnanimous - pinching adversity's cute little cheekums and indulging the foibles of others. Wednesdays I'm eating local and vegan. Thursdays I have veal and foie gras. Fridays are up for grabs; Saturdays I drink excessively; Sundays I do yoga. Point being - if you don't like what I'm doing or saying, then wait five minutes, and I'm sure something you prefer will come along.

Perhaps I seem more staid from an objective point of view. Sure, there are things about me that you can depend on - I'm a loyal friend and a good cook, I enjoy fine cheeses, I have terrible feet - but if you're looking for someone with a clear-eyed, steady vision of, well, anything, then perhaps you'd best keep clicking. I admire folks who have a vast array of firm opinions - I hate onions, John Cheever was a drunk idiot, I only wear thin socks, my favorite book is Little Women, I approach life with an enduring sense of wonder, I look best in orange, eight is my lucky number, socialism is the work of the devil, whatever. Other than my general beliefs about kindness, the environment, and marriage equality, I don't have many convictions. Now, I will make one up should the need arise, but I'm generally just being quick witted, and I'm always thrown off when someone takes me seriously or refers to my position in later conversation. "No, no, no," I want to tell them. "I was just, you know, saying something, avoiding awkward silence. I didn't really mean it."

It's not that I don't have strong likes or dislikes - it's just that I can imagine situations in which I might feel (or have felt) otherwise. Like, say, last Thursday or next Monday. I don't have favorite books or movies. There isn't one food I most love (or hate). I don't think one attitude or political platform always works (though, surely, there are some that very rarely do). Maybe I'm just too lazy - maintaining lists of things I always do or like or believe seems terribly time consuming.

I was thinking about this last night as I was lying awake; n.o.c. was blissfully sleeping. And snoring. What a turd. Anyhoo, I've been busy preparing for grad school apps in the fall (favorite book so far: Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, & Anxious Patriarchs), and it struck me just how foreign my life now would seem to the me of five years ago. I mean, that me had barreled through undergrad, a masters, and straight into a PhD, with no intention of stopping or slowing for anything or anybody. Then - WHAM! - I was suddenly a hostess at a Hawaiian restaurant in Las Vegas and thinking about getting married. Aloha! Welcome to Roy's! Then after spending years trying to learn Sanskrit - POW! - here I am in Baltimore (what?!), getting powerfully excited about studying women, religion and science in the South. Who'd a thunk? (Please, please, please don't state the obvious. I'm not ready.)

All this to say - I think I am finally square with something that I can always believe: I am not really steering this ship. Oh, I can do my best to learn the maps, chart the currents and master the finer points of ship steering, but if I head for Goa, I shouldn't be so surprised if I end up in Panama City. And who knows? I'll probably discover that I'm wildly fascinated by the cruising patterns of rednecks and their dance club mating rituals.

I've watched several friends come to similar conclusions of late, and while it's disconcerting to hunker down with the bald and scabby truth of your limited control, it's also kind of nice. In fact, I'm going to incorporate my new-found belief in all aspects of my life. At work, for example, I may start saying things like, "Yeah, I think I should be able to meet you next Thursday. You know, Lord willing and the creek don't rise." And then I'll immediately start looking for ways to make the creek rise.


ashley english said...

I have always found great comfort, when questioned about previously heard and since discarded sentiments, in the retort "Well, I'm exercising my existential right to change." That oughta do it.

ashley english said...

DOOD-I totally meant to write "held," not "heard"!!! Or perhaps, I did mean heard. One never knows...the creek is rising!!!!!

enhabiten said...

omg...I have bad feet too. i can't even believe it!
but seriously, i never thought to embrace or at least accept my own fickle behavior. all my life i thought i had to get all defensive and you don't know what you're talking about when me and fickle's been put in the same sentence. i gotta think about this one.

Martini said...

I've learned to embrace my fickle behavior out of necessity. The only thing I've been certain about of late is uncertainty. Oh, and there's the fact that I always surprise myself. Case in point: cucumbers. I used to hate them. Turns out they are quite tasty and now I can't get enough. Now, I don't even remember why I don't like them. Bad wine and bad deserts are however a complete waste of time...or so I think...