Doppelgänger Ilgaz

Do you know Jenny Slate? She’s a comic and an actress, was on SNL for a while and made the movie Obvious Child and an internet thing I’ve never seen before called Marcelle the Shell with Shoes On. She also looks like Ilgaz.

In this interview from Conan she mentions that her Great Grandfather is Turkish. I bet he’s from Sivas, that where Ilgaz’ family is from.

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Moving Home in 2016

People used to move to another country once in a generation if at all. It’s never fun to move. Never easy. And moving overseas is even worse. The tight baggage limits on airplanes make me dream for the days of steamer trunks and make me hate things that are essential but take up too much space. Like winter coats.

But I’ll do what it takes to sort and give and trash and squeeze what’s left into as small a space as possible.

It’s kind of stupid to take anything with me at all. I’ll be moving back to Montana where I already have an attic full of stuff waiting for me since I moved out of my place 5 or so years ago. An apartment’s worth of stuff waiting up there for me, baking in the summers and freezing in the winters. Soon enough I’ll be sorting through it all again seeing how I probably didn’t need to sweat about fitting three sweaters into my luggage when there are four waiting for me at home.

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What’s up in the attic?

  • Books, three shelves worth
  • Some dresser from Common Market
  • I think a table, Sara and Chris gave me
  • A couch? Don’t know
  • Kitchen stuff? I think my juicer is at my parent’s house
  • My old desk I got from a crazy person when I turned 13? I think so, but maybe not.
  • Raccoon skin. For sure.

Ilgaz and I were talking about what kind of things I have in that attic and what we might need when she joins me in Montana in December.

I think I’ll need a couch for instance. But I don’t want to have to think about buying a couch. First of all I don’t really need a couch. Maslow never mentions sofas in his hierarchy of needs. (Food, shelter, belonging, pull out couch bed, self actualization.) Plus most couches look terrible. In catalog photos most are flabby leather monsters surrounded by fake plants or huge ‘L’ shaped sectionals that look too heavy to move.

Of course I know I’m getting ahead of myself by thinking about a couch. But here I am, thinking about a couch anyway.

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“What about Ikea?” Ilgaz innocently asks.

I had to look it up, but the nearest Ikea to Helena is 460 miles away. (That’s 740 kilometers for the metric among us.) I learned in High School reading Fight Club that I’m supposed to hate Ikea because it makes me the same as everyone else. But there is a utility to Ikea stuff that I appreciate. Good dish racks for instance. Good mixing bowls. Good bedside lamps. Good duvets. It’s not that bad but it’s probably out of the question for furnishing a Montana apartment.

I looked up the 2017 Ikea catalog anyway. Just out of curiosity, and found this article Ikea’s 2017 Catalog Is A Terrifying Glimpse Into The Tiny Apartments Of The Future

It’s a commentary on the new catalog, and the ideal apartments Ikea is presenting. Unlike the faux-sophisticated Scandinavian sameness Fight Club criticized, the new ideal is micro living. Not far from the fold away functionality of the YouTube famous tiny houses, or RV/van life, a gerbil cage or a prison cell.

Moving back to my apartment in Montana represents some security for me. Over time I want to build it up into some place comfortable. And that might mean getting a couch. But seeing tiny Ikea apartments idealized then criticized makes me think the most luxurious thing about my apartment might be the open space. Maybe I don’t need a couch after all.

Everything Is Not Terrible

The feeling that everything is terrible is a familiar one to news followers everywhere. I question my own news consumption from time to time. I tell myself that I want to keep informed, but most of the time my relationship to the news is like my relationship to the TV show Game of Thrones. I like keeping up, guessing what will happen and getting morbidly excited the rare with dark twists.

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I like this article:
How to Stay Happy When the News is Bad. It moves from the classic advice on news overload (stop reading the news) through the optimist viewpoint (the world is better now than ever before) to something more subtle all together.

Stop Reading

“Out of the approximately 10,000 news stories you have read in the last 12 months,” Rolf Dobelli, author of The Art Of Thinking Clearly, “name one that – because you consumed it – allowed you to make a better decision about a serious matter affecting your life, your career or your business. The point is: the consumption of news is irrelevant to you.”

Good point, but the news feels relevant to people who are connected to many places in the world or who have friends living in some of the places that pop up in the headlines. Reading news becomes a way to stay connected to those people, to keep up with their reality, even if it’s in a superficial way, even if it’s not truely relevant. It feels important.

Look on the Bright Side

We know, rationally, that people in every era have always believed that theirs was the worst in history – and that, by many yardsticks, things are better than ever. Yet the conviction that Everything Is Terrible remains. And now it is joined by the conviction that everything is uncertain, too, fuelling an escalating anxiety about the future.

I find myself saying this kind of thing all the time. I’m safe, you’re safe. We’re all better off now than ever before, but still just as worried because there is a baseline of pain and anxiety that every generation feels. If we judge the circumstance as really bad, then, wow, I can’t believe you made it through all that with a smile on your face. Or if we think the circumstance is comfortable (Millennials) we think, stop complaining so much and get to work. But through history everybody has felt about the same.

“Stability isn’t news” is the argument here. Things are OK but shocking things happen pretty regularly somewhere in the world and we’re reading about those things. Simultaneously expanding our personal circle of compassion and feeding into our worry.

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The Solution?

“The answer is that life is really, really good. I am a complex enough being that I can hold in my heart the understanding that we are really, really fucked, and at the same time that life is really, really good. I am full of rage, sorrow, joy, love, hate, despair, happiness, dissatisfaction, and a thousand other feelings. We are really fucked. Life is still really good.”

Ten years ago I was in the doctor’s office getting a check-up before I left for college in New Zealand. Near the end of the visit my doctor asked if I had any questions or if anything was bothering me. I mentioned that my hips would hurt from time to time, a kind of stiff grinding feeling. I was thinking that maybe I would get some treatment, he’d have a closer look, find that there was some inter-muscular-boneitus failure of some kind. He asked me how often I exercised. “Never really,” I said. “Exercise, and it will go away,” he said. The oldest prescription in the book. Right next to eat better, sleep more.

There are no philosophical tricks to being able to beat the news blues. It’s a simple prescription. Something is bothering you? Do something about it. Make some effort, however small, toward building a better world. Volunteer, donate, write a letter to the Editor. Something that will activate you.

Because the news is not Game of Thrones. We have the option to play along and participate and that alone might be the answer to feeling overwhelmed. It might not fix the world or prevent the next Red Wedding but it’s something.

What Shock Looks Like

Watch this video. Tyler comes to help his boss who seems to have stapled his finger to a plank of wood. It’s a prank of course, the finger is fine. But it takes Tyler a very long time to recognise that his boss is OK.

Maybe Tyler is dumb. But I don’t think so. I think Tyler is in shock. So focused on the task of freeing his bosses finger, that all the new information about the situation is filtered out. It’s like that great video about the kids playing basket ball demonstrating selective attention.

We know Tyler is going to be tricked but his boss removes his own finger three times before Tyler really sees what we see. HIs focus lasts for so long. There must be a name for this in the taxonomy of comedy. Focusing on a problem that isn’t a problem. Is there? I don’t know what it is.

Bannack Got a Haircut

Look up above this post at the TOP TAGS list up there. The list is alphabetical, but the most used tag is “Bannack.” Forty five, now forty six of the posts I’ve made have something to do with him.

Looking through those old posts you might get a sense of my nephew’s life. For most of it he’s been a long haired boy.

Whenever we would hang out in Brooklyn, in the park at the store, whatever, eventually someone would use female pronouns when referring to him. Fair enough, and Bannack was cool about it. “I’m not a girl, I’m a long haired boy,” he would say. And I would smile. He rocked that pony tail.

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Imagine my surprise then when my sister posted a picture on Instagram of Bannack in a barber’s chair with the caption, “it’s happening.” It’s kind of ominous, right? I knew right away what was up. Haircut time. Short-haired boy time.

It was a long time coming, his hair cascaded over his shoulders. Apparently Bannack knew it was time and my sister and Chris were more nervous than he was. But he knew what he wanted and walked into the barber ready.

It’s just a haircut, but it marks a transition and I can’t help but make a connection to transitions in my own life. Hair grows, silently, slowly, imperceptibly. Eventually you just know it’s time. That’s how it is for me at least. I don’t have standing dates for my haircuts. Hair starts tickling my ears or I see a picture of the back of my head looking like a chicken’s back end and I know. Haircut time.

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Something’s been tickling my ears lately. Ilgaz and I look at our life here and see that something has to change. So we’re doing something about it. I’m heading back to Montana in a week. Ilgaz will head home to Turkey. Both of us want to spend time with family, mark transition with bold actions. It just feels right. (No drama. We’ll meet again in December, right after Ilgaz performs in Greece.)

I remember when I moved back home after college I got a haircut, chopped off my sweet hipster fringe and got, you know, a regular haircut. It felt awesome. I felt like less of a kid, people took me more seriously. This time when I come home I don’t have to get a haircut, my hair looks normal but I feel more serious anyway. Ready. Active. Able.

So what does it mean for a kid to decide it’s time to change his hair-do? Something gets left behind, but ultimately it’s superficial hair grows back after all. What’s important is the decision to make a change and every kid knows that getting hair lopped off makes you run faster than ever before.