Tag Archives: work

a healthy sense of detachment

NewYork_2012-04_April-5“For [Europeans] work was not an obsession or even, it seemed, a concern. And the notion that a person should subordinate himself to a corporation, especially an American corporation, was, to them, laughable.”

“If you are a self-possessed man with a healthy sense of detachment from your bank account and someone writes you a check for tens of millions of dollars, you probably behave as if you have won a sweepstakes, kicking your feet in the air and laughing yourself to sleep at night at the miracle of your good fortune. But if your sense of self-worth is morbidly wrapped up in your financial success, you probably believe you deserve everything you get. You take it as a reflection of something grand inside you.”

“There was a deep behavioral connection between bond trading and takeovers as well: Both were driven by a new pushy financial entrepreneurship that smelled fishy to many who had made their living on Wall Street in the past. There are those who would have you think that a great deal of thought and wisdom is invested in each takeover. Not so. Wall Street’s takeover salesmen are not so different from Wall Street’s bond salesmen. They spend far more time plotting strategy than they do wondering whether they should do the deals. They basically assume that anything that enables them to get rich must also be good for the world. The embodiment of the takeover market is a high-strung, hyper-ambitious twenty-six-year-old, employed by a large American investment bank, smiling and dialing for companies.

And the process by which a take-over occurs is frighteningly simple in view of its effects on community, workers, shareholders, and management. A paper manufacturer in Oregon appears cheap to the twenty-six-year-old playing with his computer late one night in New York or London. He writes his calculations on a telex, which he send to any party remotely interested in paper, in Oregon , or in buying cheap companies. Like the organizer of a debutante party, the twenty-six-year-old keeps a file on his desk of who is keen on whom. But he isn’t particularly discriminating in issuing invitations. Anyone can buy because anyone can borrow using junk bonds. The papermaker in Oregon is now a target.”

“My father’s generation grew up with certain beliefs. One of those beliefs is that the amount of money one earns is a rough guide to one’s contribution to the welfare and prosperity of society…It took watching his son being paid 225 grand at the age of twenty-seven, after two years on the job, to shake his faith in money. He has only recently recovered from the shock.”

—Michael Lewis, Liar’s Poker, 1989
Recommended to us on yoga hike by Miguel
We got a lot of good stuff that day

Steel-welded Sculpture, The Sun God, by J. McKeon

sunday night on holiday

It’s Sunday night. 8:09pm. I start an intensive yoga training tomorrow at 8:30am, which runs through Saturday. Good word, I have to get up at 6:30am. Where went my week off?

I’m slowly going though the Sri Lanka pics, only about 70 more to edit until I am done with the pics from ashtangalanka and environs. It’s taking a long time because they are all quite similar and I’m not sure which to cut. I’ve never mastered my digital camera, because I quit professional photog when film was still the standard, and I’ve simply not shot that much digitally by comparison, though my SLR is five years old. The way it reads light is still strange to me, which in Sri Lanka wasn’t helped by the fact that one of the two batteries I took with me was so old as to only hold charge for about 3 minutes, before the meter went mad. I discovered this when Andrea and I went to the surf beach (as we called it, because the waves were suitable for body surfing) and there were two sweet cows on the beach. I kind of fixed the exposures, but alas.

Cows on the beach in Tangalle, Sri Lanka
Cows on the beach in Tangalle, Sri Lanka

I’ve also been reading a novel in the blissful quiet of my home, the most vacation-y thing I’ve done this week. I can’t recall the last time I indulged. It’s quite good, though I’d have cut a hundred pages plus, easily, and tightened up the story (which you’ll be saying upon viewing all the ocean photos in the upcoming photo essay). I’m two-thirds through the book, A Trip to the Stars, and am waiting to get through the rest to see as if ends as I’ve expected since page 37.  I just want the separated lovers to reunite and kiss, damn it.

A week from now will be the eve of my return to the bread and butter job, and the next six days are full of yoga. The last 7 days have been full of yoga as well, lest you think I was clever enough to take the week to laze about my home and stroll in the park. Other than the novel and editing, I’ve been fulfilling the requirements for my advanced training, as well as teaching, and reading about php/wordpress, to see exactly what I can do in this realm. I taught five classes, did five hours of required, supervised privates, and assisted/observed other classes for six hours. That was my week off.  I did lunch with friends three times, squeezed in chats with a few others, and reunited with lost friends Ilona and Narimantas, whom I’ve searched for since I last saw them in Kaunas in 1995 (yes, of course it was assbook). Remarkable. I managed to clean and do laundry in <3 hours today and was delighted to have the rest of the rainy day to read, edit and finally write before it all starts up again tomorrow. I think this might inspire the next post on the yoga blog: what does it take to be a yoga teacher?

My mother told me tonight that Mr. Brown, Herb to my parents, died on Thursday, which was 10 years to the day that my paternal grandmother/namesake died. Mr. Brown lived across the street from us when I was a child. He was incredibly sweet and funny. When I went knocking with my girl scout cookie sales sheet each year, he’d tell me with twinkling eyes what a good girl scout he was in the day—sold more cookies than I would imagine. He’d also mow his lawn in the dark (when it was cooler) and sometimes in circles, walking around in the street to get the edges. The Brown’s daughter, about ten years older than me, was the town’s star softball player, which seemed very tough and glamorous to my eight-year-old self. Mr Brown often practiced his golf in the front yard for hours, and hollered jokes over while I mowed the lawn. “What??” Ah, memories. You were a great neighbor and you made us laugh, Mr. Brown. May you rest peacefully.

out of new york (please get me)

My biggest concern about Sri Lanka was that I wouldn’t come back refreshed. Instead, I’d come back, exhausted, to work and teaching, and to start another teacher training. Could I really fly for two days just for the beach? But if I travelled the hill country and Buddhist ruins on my own the last week (Andrea would travel later) it could be terribly tiring, and then the long flights home. Yet I couldn’t imagine going that far just for the beach, and ignoring the rest of the amazing country. Oh well. I’d decide when I got there, I figured. I needed a break, a break from work, from teaching, from my routine, and from NYC. And I wanted to be in the ocean with Andrea.

Rocky Point, Tangalle
Rocky Point, Tangalle

I raced to get everything ready in six days. On the flight I was relieved to be out of the city for a while. I’m so tired of New York. I’m not a hipster. I do not care. I hate the ubiquitous ads. I hate the weather. I hate the MTA (I used to love the subways, and of course, my bus drivers). I especially hate the ads on the outside of our subway cars. I hate the noise. I especially hate the noise my neighbors make, the noise of my neighbors on the train with ipods blaring and the noise of my tone-deaf, retired-pharmacist neighbor who has taken up the violin and asserts his legal right to hack at it between the hours of 8am and 10pm (“I know. I’ve been taken to court,” he once informed, at 7:56am on a Sunday).

But most of all, I hate the sameness of it. I’ve walked these streets so many times. Nothing feels new, nothing surprises. This might sound like sacrilege to some, and I realize I might be slamming the only place I’ll ever feel truly at home, but I need some space if I’m going to appreciate it again.

That wasn’t provided on the flight out. I think every movie on offer, and there were over 20, was based in New York and sought to glorify it in some way. Ugh! I watched one, and then a bit of a documentary about the French guy who tightrope-walked between the World Trade Center towers in the 70s. I’d heard him on “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” a few weeks earlier. Yes, you’re right. It’s my favorite show. Out of Chicago.

The situation was the same on the way back home. When I walked the streets of NYC via the tiny screen wedged into the seat in front of me on my crowded Kingfisher flight from Bangalore to London, I thought, “That place…that place looks like a great place to visit. But to live there? What a mess.”

Rani, at the Millennium Elephant Foundation, Kegalle, Sri Lanka
Rani, at the Millennium Elephant Foundation, Kegalle, Sri Lanka

Unfortunately, I think that about most places, including those I’d just visited.

I did rest a bit. And I traveled the hill country with Andrea (he left Silent Beach early to come with me), which was beautiful. The flight home was long and the jet-lag still lingers. And yes, I was back at work, teaching, and the full catastrophe within ten hours of my arrival. But Sri Lanka was amazing. It was a wonderful trip and I’m so glad I went. But I did come back still needing rest. How do we, why do we, all go on this way?

More to come.

{June 2009 update: Okay, I love NY. We have a strained relationship at times, but I love it. Could use a break, but yes, the love is real.}