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Posted by gustav at 08:01AM, Saturday, December 01st, 2001
Having a Happy Life
I always wonder whether there are people who are capable of just viciously rearranging everything in their lives until they're perfect.I've been thinking about this quite a bit, as it's become clear that my workplace will never improve enough to be bearable. This might be a blessing if I could use it as a reason to work up the willpower to change everything in my life.
You see, the idea behind me going into programming, after I decided to leave it behind to go to graduate school in music, was that I could find a decent job where I'd happily plug away, making lots of money with little stress, work perhaps three or four days a week, and be able to come home, leave work behind, and compose. It's a proposition that sounds reasonable enough until you actually start to try it. Then you realize that it's one thing to work full-time while you're in grad school, and have professors demanding projects, and deadlines, and various other motivation to get off your butt and work; it's quite another to completely self-motivate the personal side of your life, when all you want to do when you get home from work is go get some food, run some errands at Target, play with the cat, listen to that new record -- basically anything but devote total concentration to sitting down at a keyboard with a sheet of staff paper in front of you.
On top of that, I'm finding it takes more time than I would have thought just to do the normal maintenance of what's called a Life -- things like going to the grocery store and the drug store seem to take inordinate amounts of time here in blessed New England. Actually, they take more than just time; I've been feeling that they take years off my life, draining my energy to do anything, vicious little vampires just sucking up everything. It's not that these things were totally painless when I was living Out West, but, Jesus. What is it with this part of the country? Why does no one in Boston revolt because life is so painful and unrewarding? It's not just the weather. It's the stony, unhelpful, unfriendly people. There are so many of them now that new immigrants to this area might try for a while to remain cheerful and pleasant and polite, but sooner or later just get dragged down to everyone else's level. And, in contrast to the stereotypes you might hear from New England natives, I haven't found that they're unapproachable at first, but deeply moral, loving, strong folk underneath, in contrast to the superficial airiness of Californians. They're just prickly and unfriendly at all levels, fickle in friendship and as apt to stab you in the back without any prior indication as anyone. What I wouldn't give for some pleasantly laid-back California friends out here these days.
Strangely, I have no reason to be surprised by this. I grew up out here, and experienced almost exactly the same futile attempts to make meaningful friendships with shallow, insecure, backstabbing, homophobic creeps that I'm going through now. I wrote that time of my life off as a bad college choice, but it's becoming clear now that it really is just the nature of New England.
The question then is why do people put up with it? Why isn't everyone making plans to move back to sunny San Diego or San Francisco or Napa or the Valley or Portland Oregon or Vancouver? If New England is this unpleasant, and practically unchangeable (since even people who arrive intending to remain happy get smashed down to rudeness in a matter of months), why doesn't everyone evacuate to somewhere with contagious pleasantness? It's not because New England is some super-cultured mecca. That's a misconception usually held only by sheltered people who've never actually seen any other part of the country, and are weak-minded enough to be persuaded that New York is a pleasant place. Culture in New England is much like anything else here -- outdated, self-limiting, constrained, super-breeder, caught up in conceited notions of propriety and establishment, and, underneath it all, not even the equal of supposedly hick states like Iowa or Arizona.
On the other hand, I'm glad that there aren't too many people abandoning this hell-hole for California. Better real estate prices for me, and more steals on yard-sale Hermann Miller. Maybe I'll really be able to set up a nice house, have a yard in which to play with the cats, and time and money to stay home and do music again.
Posted by Nobody at 2003-05-14 13:16:55Hmmm. I wonder, Mr. Happy, if you've ever entertained the idea of mushing out to the Great Upper Midwest. You might be surprised by just how tolerant, how well-read and how gentle the sled dogs of a much-maligned state like Minnesota are. Oh, the vast majority of the US has been brainwashed by the general media depiction of a frozen tundra wasteland given over to vacant Swedes and Ya, you betcha hicks, but the Great White North actually isn't quite so white. We've been insulated by that nice fatty blanket of ignorance and allowed to flourish in the shadows of perception. All colors and creeds gather in the lovely Twin Cities and reach into the farthest counties. Despite a disgustingly Republican new governor, the vast majority of folks, common and not so common, that congregate in the urban orbs are progressive Democrats and Independants, who are as likely to go Green as they are to smile and shake your hand when you move into their neighborhoods. Not to put to fine a shine on it, certainly MN has its own share of homophobes, xenophobes, dangerous gun-toting morons, chem lawn SUV smilocrats and grumps-- enough to put a bee in your bonnet every other day if you let them get to you, but generally one can come here and build a little birdhouse in your soul.
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