Week 7 – 3/20 – 3/26

I am again late in posting but I’ve come to suspect they may just be the way of things. My initial few weeks benefited from a sort of social trial period – lots of novelty but a bare minimum of routine or responsibility. As I come to more fully embrace the requirements of my job…as well as all the assorted life tasks I’m keen to complete…my ability to document all the little adventures has dried up.

And yet I persist.

There’s no particularly good reason to do so other than a desire to keep going. I hope I’m at least getting better at noting the important things in my own life and describing them aptly. At one level that’s deeply untrue at least insofar as this blog. I very much avoid anything too close to work or relationships. It still feels very gauche to talk overmuch about myself – let alone anyone else – versus the things I’m doing. That said, it was a lovely week.

Much of it was spent slowly watching my way through HyperNormalization.

youtube.com/watch?v=-fny99f8amM

While each narrative thread was interesting I’m not sure the conclusions were cleanly discovered. In short, they endeavor to show how, for various reasons, there is and has been a growing disconnect between what appears to be going on, especially in media, and what actually is. More fully than that, once stuck in a system that presupposes certain truths it’s impossible to see beyond them. HyperNormalization is the inescapable pull of systems upon those within – they are simply paralyzed from seeing a way beyond their status quo and they craft increasingly elaborate break-fixes to maintain the unsupportable fantasy.

This term – and its applications – are compelling. My own reliance upon living in a given place was well shattered by this move…hardly a grand political system…but the allure of complacency and blindness is fundamental to the human experience no matter how unproductive.

Which is perhaps why I ate again at Ayna Agra. That or the garlic naan is too fantastic to ignore…

Saturday was quite the busy day. It began with my first solo trip to Manhattan via the Bayside train. $4.50 weekend ticket and thirty minutes later I was in Penn.

My own mental map of NYC is pretty shoddy but it’s slowly being pieced together. Neighborhoods remain mysterious but I have a slightly better sense of midtown and now the west side via the 1-2-3 line.

The destination for this particular jaunt was a presentation on social justice advocacy by Marlon Peterson. It took place within the school of social work at Columbia university – gorgeous campus – and filled the better part of three hours. All in all, I’m not sure I personally grabbed much in the way of tangible skills but he’s an engaging speaker and I did find myself slightly better exposed to a field I’m only marginally aware of. It’s a shame really that the industries that, in my own mind, contribute most significantly to our collective quality of life – environment, social work, community centers – are so badly funded and generally unable to target their message. In part I think it’s because they attract people who deeply care and therefore have no capacity to understand just how deep uncaring can go. Marketers and advertisers understand shock and awe in a way someone with dedication will never really comprehend.

A related problem – there were barely any males in the audience. Even ignoring the many issues of sexism and privilege that intersect, the simple fact that half the population seemingly has nearly no practitioner connection to social means advocacy messaging seems doomed to a certain functional dilution…

With such heady matters under consideration, food and drink became paramount. Lunch was therefore acquired at Bernheim and Schwartz apparently in the morningside heights area. It was spacious and lively and the black bean burger was genuinely fantastic. It also reminded me of New Paltz – p&gs and cuddles were both beer hall-esque establishments with excellent menus and convivial environments.

Day drinking later continued at West End Hall. This was large and quiet in the mid afternoon. Clearly more of a night spot but the weissbeer was a worthy addition to the day.

From there I reversed direction and largely doubled back home but not before a brief tour of Penn station. There’s very much more I want to say about Manhattan but I don’t feel like I have the words together just yet. My time here has been short but surprisingly well received. I miss my mountains, of course, but I can manage anywhere if the company is right and the urge to explore can be satiated. This saturday offered plenty of that – enough so I passed Sunday cooking and reading.

Next weekend I return home so I’ll get a nice point of comparison. Many more words yet to come and now that the weather is turning hopefully some photos as well…

Final Thoughts