Monday, May 3, 2010

Week 18: the ten-minute workout

Wow, this past weekend sure got away from me in a hurry.

Let's see where I left off. Friday. Yes. Friday, I volunteered to cover reception. Yes, this is sort of lame from a charitability standpoint, but you have to understand: plainly, I do not like covering reception. It is boring and a time suck and people ask stupid questions and are rude to receptionists but you can't be rude back. And I like being rude. But there was a dental appointment and the way the thing works is, the person who manages the reception desk sends out an email to a few people asking for volunteers and we all sort of wait each other out, I believe. "Oh no, I didn't see that email yet," you know, that game. Not only do I dislike it but it was a 9 am cover, so I had to be bang on time. Not my strong suit, punctuality. But I was there with several seconds to spare. SEVERAL. Anyway, I covered reception and it was uneventful and boring and a time suck, but in volunteering I made someone else's job easier. Maybe not charity in the classic sense but I felt pretty good about it.

And then there was Saturday. I had completely forgotten about it by the afternoon, but Peter and I were driving up Cicero and there was a presumably homeless guy panhandling. I didn't have any cash on me so I tried to finagle some cash out of Peter but he totally charity-cockblocked me. His excuse was that he only had a $10 and a $5 -- I was willing to give the dude a fiver, but Peter wasn't. And then, it wound up being an unexpectedly late evening, and then I had forgotten again. So, I'm a day short on that challenge, but I have an idea for it that should wrap that up shortly.

This exercise, I liked. I enjoyed it. It's false charity from a certain perspective, I admit, but it kind of does the psyche some good to look for ways you can help, ways you can make people happy, ways you can ease a burden even a little. Shifting my focus from my problems (real or imagined), my complaints, just for a few minutes a day was a break from myself. And I get pretty sick of myself most days.

Unfortunately for both of us, I am stuck with me. So this week, I'm looking to get to know myself better. Not THAT way, perv. Well...maybe that way. But also in ten-minute increments. None other than the Queen of Chicago and Giving Away Cars and Then Moving to the West Coast herself, Oprah, has recommended trying daily meditation in ten-minute spurts to help settle and clear your mind. If there's anything my mind actually does, it's chatter. Constantly. Where's this? What's that smell? When is this thing? Where's your purse? How soon is now? Part of the reason I enjoy yoga, when I actually do it, is because my mind is so focused on not falling down, not snapping a tendon, not farting, not staring at that guy's ball slipping out of his tiny shorts, that everything else fades away. But guys' wayward testes don't present themselves for psychic relief often enough to count on them for a daily meditation.

I gave it a shot this morning and it I was antsy. I kept peeking at the clock and was extremely cognizant of the dwindling amount of time to apply war paint available to me. But by about minute eight, realizing I only had a couple of minutes to go, I yelled at my brain to shut the fuck up for a second and just focused. I respond well to anger, it seems, because the last minute and a half were not so bad. I actually felt a little calmer -- a teeny bit, but it was there -- by the end of it. I wish everyone else would respond to my anger the same way. "I see you are angry, Erica. I understand now. I will just do what you ask." Damn, just imagining that made me feel calmer right now.

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