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Strange loops

January 29, 2015

I am fighting a battle at the Toy Factory that I am going to lose.  I know I am going to lose it. I also know that losing it is not a big deal. I know I am taking something personally that is not personal. I know that I am overreacting.  I am trying not to fight it, but there are some kinds of battles that I am compelled to fight, almost like a force takes me over.  They tend to be battles about the mundane, the repetitious.  I am very protective of my time and I hate feeling like it’s being wasted.  I also hate injustice.  So when the two things come together (in my head, only, I fear – – see aforementioned overreacting) I fight. It is not in my best interest.  It is probably not in anyone’s best interest, although I know there are others who agree with me, which is some small comfort.

And now, if I actually told you what this is about, it would seem petty.  But I will not tell you what this is about. I will just reiterate that some things put me in a fighting mood. And nothing more so than having the scales fall from my eyes.  It’s taken three and a half years and I’ve finally discovered my job isn’t perfect.  But it’s still pretty damn good, so I know I should keep my mouth shut. Or at the very least, think before I shoot my mouth off.

Don’t be stupid, Harriet.

On 35th street, I pass a man on the sidewalk. He is standing against the wall facing the street and saying over and over again, “I am a completely changed man!  I am a completely changed man! I am a completely changed man.”  The irony of it is not lost on me. What change?  But there is comfort in repetition. And sometimes in repeating things you discover that things are not as the same as you thought they were. Sometimes in repeating things change happens.

I think back to the time when I visited the Rothko Chapel in Houston. You walk in and you think, “Wow, that’s a lot of black paintings.”  And then you sit there in the beautiful space, a quiet circle of paintings.  And as you look at them, you realize you were completely wrong. The paintings aren’t black at all.  They are full of innumerable colors that jump out at you one at a time in your peripheral vision — when you look at them they disappear.  A riot of color.  How did you not see them all along? Were you blind?

A few months before, in a graduate school classroom, my 20th century music professor is talking about Morton Feldman’s “Rothko Chapel.”

She has said the same thing, how Feldman is getting at the experience of seeing something that is at once black and notblack. I didn’t understand it at the time.  I didn’t understand it until I saw it for myself.  I am a completely changed woman.

Tomorrow, like every day, I will get on the subway.  I will get off the subway.  I will walk down 35th street.  I will ride the elevator to my office.  I will put my bag and phone on my desk. I will put my hat and gloves on the top of the bookshelf and hang my coat on the hook on the back of my door.  I will turn on my computer and take my coffee cup to the kitchen where I will fill it, take one sip, and carry it back to my office.  I do this every day.  I do not always notice what it is that I am doing, until I stare into my cup of coffee.  I do this over and over again, every day.  These things do not bother me.  They give me some comfort.  They help  me do my work.  So why are other repetitions disturbing?  Why do I sometimes see colors and other times black? Strange loops, looking one way in this light and another in that one.

Tomorrow I will look for colors where I see black and black where I see colors.  I will fight different battles.

I will be a changed woman.

I will be a changed woman.

I will be a changed woman.

[fade to black]

6 Comments leave one →
  1. January 29, 2015 8:12 pm

    Hugs. It’s not perfect, but YOU are all the time great.

  2. Typing Chimp permalink
    January 30, 2015 7:30 am

    Best of luck in dealing with this battle. Sometimes impersonal things feel highly personal. Don’t beat yourself up about that. Also, this post reminded me of a song I will post for you elsewhere. xo

  3. freshhell permalink
    January 30, 2015 8:52 am

    Ugh. I know that feeling well. And you’re fortunate that you had 3 1/2 years before realizing it wasn’t perfect (nothing’s perfect).

  4. January 30, 2015 11:07 am

    Sounds so familiar. I had at least a partial win at work recently, and am being given a choice of who to work with on the project I’ve fought for. I said I’d try to work with anyone who is really interested, because there’s no point in being that person who narrows her choices by continuing to hold old grudges. I tend to take things personally that are not personal. But I don’t have to keep repeating that. Maybe it will work this time.

  5. January 31, 2015 2:49 pm

    Take a breath. That’s all I’ve got —

  6. February 2, 2015 6:18 pm

    A very wise woman told me once that if I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror, I should break the mirror. I know that’s a quote or a version of a quote from something worthwhile, but I never cared to go find the origins because it did its work for me. I broke the mirror. Maybe that’s where you are now?

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