Friday, March 25, 2011

what people are saying, part three

last weekend i took pictures of the l.a. marathon--it was rainy, but of course that didn't stop anyone...


so in my last post i began to talk about how my blog friend jim wrote to me that it might be easier to either stay in los angeles, or leave it, if i had a partner to share the ups and downs of decision making with, among other things. this is not the first time it has been suggested to me that life might be easier if had someone to "share" it with. and believe me, i know that these comments come from a place of caring, and they have caused me to give a lot of thought to the reason that i seem to like being alone.

every so often, i see couples as part of my internship. as you can imagine, by the time they come into the counseling center for therapy, the "sheen" has usually worn off of their relationship, in a manner of speaking. in other words, i get to see what happens to couples who turn on each other, or who are about to. much like what happened in the excellent film from this year, "blue valentine", with ryan gosling and michelle williams. and as you can further imagine, the exercise of seeing love tarnish in front of me has a certain, uh, effect on me from time to time.
for a while, in fact, i decided that i did not want to see any couples, because i did not want to be negatively affected by what they were going through. (for some reason, i am not similarly vulnerable to what my individual clients are sharing with me.) mind you, it was also during a time when i was having some "difficulty" negotiating my own dating experiences. but i think i see things somewhat differently now--thanks to some time passing and the information i have gleaned from a few well written books on the topic of relationship. (these are not of the "self-help" variety, which i generally scorn; rather they are based on psychological theory and brain research--the real nuts and bolts, instead of "feel good" machinations by authors trying to sell quick fix books.) the nutshell: relationship is about "attachment", and when things go wrong in a bad way, it is often because the attachment bond is ruptured, or at the very least badly damaged, and the potential for repair depends on the state of trust, safety, and response-ability already existing between the two partners. super distilled nutshell: if you don't build a strong base, the slightest wind will blow your house down.

when i read jim's posts, i get the strong sense that his relationship with his husband is built on a very strong base--there is an ease in the descriptions that actually make me smile when i think about how they must support, comfort, and provide companionship for each other. i don't think i am making this up--jim has a way of talking about his husband ron that clearly demonstrates respect, care, and enjoyment. i even feel that when he talks about his dog sophie! i suspect that this is because jim is a respectful, caring and nice man, and i hope to meet him someday. but beyond that, i marvel at the opportunity to read about a relationship that appears to work, easily. (granted, they probably have their "stuff", but who doesn't? it is not the stuff that knocks us down, but how we deal with it.)

anyway, before i go on about jim to the point where he gets concerned and stops following my blog, i will explain that the reason i use his relationship as an example is to let you know that for me, when it comes to being with a partner, i have never had what i suspect jim has. don't cry for me, blogentina, because i have had some decent relationships, but i have never felt safe in any of them. never. so...when it comes to feeling safe in the world, i have found that i have gotten really good at doing that for myself.therefore, in a strange way, the idea of a relationship, to me, is not all that comforting.

sometimes i wish it were.

two runners, apparently supporting each other

but we all have to play with the hand we are dealt, to a greater or lesser degree. i have come a far distance from where i was, relationally, five, ten, twenty years ago, and i will travel further still. but right now, where i am right now, is still pretty close to where i have been all my life, which is being able to take really good care of myself and my needs.

so as much as i value jim's comments, i also recognize that they are coming from his point of view, and that this does not exactly match mine. (but keep 'em coming, jim!) for me, decisions are not more easily made with someone--i can do that myself. it's not so bad, really. and i am open to having that change a bit.

a slick hollywood walk of fame on marathon sunday

and until that changes, i suspect that i will continue to attract, and be attracted to, similarly self-caring individuals who, on one hand, connect very easily and willingly, and on the other, only go so far with that. at least that is how it goes for me here in los angeles.

a rather lonely, but beautiful walk

Sunday, March 20, 2011

what people are saying, part two

today the city hosted the los angeles marathon, and it is always quite an event. but then any event where you actually block major streets for hours and keep l.a. drivers from using them is a major event here. l.a. drivers go nuts when things like this happen, and i have to say that i get a guilty pleasure out of it all and just chuckle to myself as i whizz by on my bicycle, unaffected by road closures.

this year, it has been raining like the dickens all day long, so the spectator crowds were thinner, but as far as i know, runners like rain even better than they like sun, so i guess all was well. i rode my bike up to hollywood blvd to have a look and take some pictures, and yes, i got a bit wet; but as you know from a previous post, not only do i not mind that, it is pretty much the point of doing it!

runners, running, on hollywood blvd.

in my last post i talked a bit about what some "experts" have said about things related to the way i experience los angeles. but i also want to give air time to what some of my readers have said in their comments, because i find that it is a) astonishing that i have readers, and; b) very valuable, helpful, and appreciated feedback for me. it has contributed to a deepening in the way i think about leaving here, all of which will stand in good stead at the time that i actually leave.

my new blogger friend ron commented on how he did quite a bit of research before deciding to move to delaware from pennsylvania, and yet he also mentions that it was important for him to trust his instincts. i bring this up because i feel that this approach is a collaboration of what we as humans do best--think and feel. i have even been talking with some clients about this approach--how do we know when to trust how we feel about something? how do we know when we have enough "information" on something to proceed?

this guy knows about rain like i do, i totally get the no shirt thing

since i have no answer to give my clients, i know that there is no answer for myself to this question. but that is okay--as an existentialist i am comfortable with a little anxiety in life--especially when changing things up. but nevertheless, since i am such a smarty pants, i will offer an answer to the question. we have enough information to proceed when our feeling about proceeding no longer conjures a level of anxiety high enough to keep us from proceeding. in other words, i will know that it is time to leave when i find myself gone(emotionally).

the street was full of runners, here in front of the famous pantages theateron a side trip to the hlwd farmer's market, i noticed it was pretty line for papusa today!

one comment that has been particularly thought-raising for me is the one made by my very first reader, jim, who lives in nova scotia with his husband of many years. jim writes a wonderful blog, and i love reading it, in fact, this very post is inspired by his posting style (words and pictures)! anyway, he comments a lot about how my experience of living in los angeles, and even my experience of moving away, might be different were i to have a partner while doing these things. hmmm, a partner...

to be continued

Saturday, March 12, 2011

what people are saying, part one

one of the main reasons i created this blog was to practice writing more often. but the other main reason is that i have an interest in others' experiences of living in the cities in which they live. as i may have mentioned before, if i am going to give up near perfect weather and a rent-free two bedroom apartment, i want to be a sure as i can about what i am giving it up for. fortunately, i am a man who knows a bit about how the brain works, so this is a crucial advantage in the process of decision making about the future. you see, what i happen to know is that we generally don't make great decisions about how we will experience something in the future. we just don't! it is not a flaw or a weakness, but rather a quirk in the evolutionary biology of the brain (one of many!). in the fantastically entertaining and informative book stumbling on happiness, by daniel gilbert, he writes: "research suggests that when people make predictions about their reactions to future events, they end to neglect the fact that their brains have performed the fillin-in trick as an integral part of the act of imagination."

what he means by this is that if, for example, i imagine how i would like living in the east bay, i will naturally pull from my experience as a tourist there, which as we all know is quite different than living in a place. my brain will "fill-in" details from what i have read and what i have experienced for an imaginary future experience so that i have something to reference. the problem is that the reference point then becomes inaccurate. now, we do this all the time! how many times have you anticipated something only to have the experience be something completely different that what you imagined?

to clarify further, gilbert writes:
"if you'd been given your choice of brains at the moment of conception, you probably wouldn't have chosen the tricky one. good thing no one asked you. without the filling-in trick you would have sketchy memories, an empty imagination, and a small black hole following you whereever you went."
"we see things that aren't really there and we remember things that didn't really happen, and while these may sound like symptoms of mercury poisoning, they are actually critical ingredients in the recipe for a seamlessly smooth and blessedly normal reality. but that smoothness and normality come at a price. even though we are aware in some vaguely academic sense that our brains are doing the filling-in trick, we can't help but expect the future to unfold with the details we imagine."

my goodness!! in a nutshell, we SUCK at predicting our future happiness. if you doubt me, just look at the divorce rate. therefore, you cannot possibly fault me for proceeding cautiously when it comes to thinking about giving up my rent-free two bedroom apartment in the land of perfect weather! is some info about los angeles that i think you should know, because i think it is VERY IMPORTANT! in Travel & Leisure magazine's survey on America's favorite cities, los angeles pretty much sits at the bottom. as the article's author christopher reynolds writes: "when it comes to public transportation, pedestrian-friendliness and friendliness generally, los angeles ranked dead last (italics mine) among 35 major u.s cities. the affordabilithy of los angeles and the intelligence of its residents were ranked 34th of 35. (!!) on the positive side, l.a. ranked no. 4 for shopping."

SHOPPING!!!! that is what los angeles is noted for!!!

so it is NOT just me. los kinda. sometimes. unless you like shopping.

to be continued...