Wednesday, May 04, 2011

All in Three Days Work

Two weekends ago, I spent the weekend home in Canada thinking that I couldn't possibly fit any more things into a single weekend. Then, this past weekend in Ann Arbor I proved myself very wrong.


After a long productive day at work in Romulus, Michigan...

4:30pm - Get accepted into the University of Michigan's MBA program!
4:45pm - Call my immediate family and somehow get everyone on the first try
5:00pm - Drive to Staples in Ann Arbor to see printers for an hour, decide to return Sunday for a sale
6:15pm - Drive to celebrate Sean's birthday at Belmark bowling alley. While there, connect with Sean, Anne, Megan and Dan too, buy Sean a pitcher, bowl a few spares (which is pretty good for me), and unfortunately leave early...
7:30pm - Drive north for David's birthday at Stillwater Grill in Brighton, and enjoy good times with Melissa, Tommy and others. Kabir shows up unexpectedly, on the way to Ann Arbor from Kettering
9:30pm - Head to Ann Arbor and pick up Shanna at Starbucks, a favorite swing dance partner (visiting from Colorado!), drive us to the local Swing Dance, where we dance our heart out until 'round midnight.
12:30am - Drive Shanna home, then over to David's house to join the after-party festivities
4:00am - After "encouraging the party to die down", I hit the pillow!


9:00am - wake up to the sound of chainsaws cutting down the tree outside the window, try desperately to sleep through it, with little success
12:30pm - Kabir arrives and hacks my computer
1:00pm - Kabir and I spend time talking about hacking and he teaches me about Wordpresse too, then we order lunch from the classic Hello Faz Pizza
4:30pm - Allie and John arrive and I help them record the final touches on their "Mr. Michigan" Jewish rap/medley competition song. Being a combination of The Pursuit of Happiness (or "Jewishness") and Gangsta Love, it also won first prize in a competition at Hillel!
6:45pm - Kick Allie and John out after handing over the final cut, then bust into the shower, and jump into my suit and tie

7:30pm - pick up Jess for a 7:55pm dinner reservation at the incredibly amazing Cliff Bell's establishment in downtown Detroit. They don't take reservations after 8pm apparently.
- Arrive late and still get seated at the prime table, front and centre, literally touching the stage. Get surprise-treated to a phenomenal dinner, including spontaneous surprise champagne to celebrate recent university acceptance.
9:30pm - The Dwight Adams Jazz Quartet plays two world class sets, completely blowing me away. I can't believe I had been deprived of real jazz for so long, and they even played a billiant version of the classic Round Midnight (despite it being only 10:30pm!)

12:30am - Talk with and thank the musicians personally, then speed back to Ann Arbor to drop off my sleeping passenger (I can drive very smoothly if necessary!)
2:00am - Finish procrastinating the onset of sleep and finally conk out to sleep


7:30am - Jump out of bed to go drive a car-less friend to an early morning class
8:15am - Drive to David's house to wake up the excessively sleepy Kabir

8:30am - Load the car and drive Kabir back home to Kettering in Flint, who sleeps enroute.
9:30am - Wish Kabir goodbye, forget to stop to eat anything on the way back to Ann Arbor
10:30am - Arrive in Ann Arbor again, try to catch up on some emails
10:35am - Take an involuntary nap (involuntary but oh so refreshing)

12:30pm - Play guitar on the front step of David's torn-up house (he's repairing the foundation) as an unofficial part of the local Water Hill music festival. With no spectators (other than the bulldozer and mud mountain on the lawn), I pack up and get back to my emai
2:00pm - Drive to Erin's house to see her friends perform in the festival, enjoy much festival music and witness a maypole dance for the first time.

3:00pm - Drive back to Staples and buy the new printer and cartridge. Use crazy amounts of combination coupons to end up paying only $10 for $100 worth of paper. Realize a little late, that wait a second, do I really need $100 worth of paper?
4:00pm - Leor brings Liz over to say goodbye before her trip, and I help her pack and store extra stuff with some incredible suitcase tetris skills
- Join Peggy, Caleb and other friends at the nearby tent city for the homeless, called Camp Take Notice, for the weekly potluck dinner and camp residents meeting. I play dinner guitar music with Lori and Randy for the group and they all sing along, christening us the Rocky Mountain Pine Trees. I then eat dinner with about 30 people, over half of them camp residents.

7:00pm - I observe the residents meeting proceedings, including democratic votes on whether to readmit certain previously expelled members (removal occurs automatically for any alcohol/drug posession with zero tolerance according to strict camp rules). One member is nearly banned with 7 votes against returning and 8 votes for, so the executive commitee agrees to admit him pending a drug test
8:00pm - I get asked to administer (with Peggy's assistance) the 15-minute home drug test as part of the readmission procedure (an outside-my-comfort-zone experience) and I report back to the campers' executive committee on the results - clean except for one category, which was explained through a prescription.
9:00pm - Drive to Emily's house to talk about many generative topics, and even learn some knitting. Cynthia avoids hugs because she is sick, but I hug her anyway... I don't get sick :)
11:30pm - Pick up some food at Jimmy John's and invite Erin over to share late-night food and commentary on Bin Laden's recent demise while we watch CNN.

1:30am - Erin leaves, and I talk to Dan about his incredible motorcycle accident story
2:30am - I reflect on the weekend, and realize I got even more done than what I had planned, and decided to write about it
2:45am - I go to sleep knowing I need to get up at 6:30am!

My last post on this sort of topic reminds me how much more sleep I used to get! Its been a great start to the month of May and I'm pretty happy. I'm also thankful that I made such good use of my time in Ann Arbor over the weekend, and grateful for all the people that made it a good one. Thanks everyone!


PS This post will eventually get imported into Facebook, so comments can be made in either place.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Western True Love Myth

We all grow up hearing in various ways that we are meant to find true love. Western society seems to interpret this as finding the one and only soulmate that we are each 'destined' to find. The culture places tremendous value on achieving this vision. The media, and especially so many Hollywood movies, does a great job of drilling this incomplete message into young people.

Although this fanciful idea has some very emotionally positive and "nice" feelings associated with it, it is still critically flawed and misleading in many ways, and at the same time does nothing to correct the misconceptions and pressures placed on those forming ideas about what love is.

I've learned that there is no one soulmate, and that makes me glad, when I consider the odds of discovering that individual among the 6 billion humans out there. (And what if my soulmate is in a tribal village that has no outside contact!!?) The whole idea strikes me as silly, as though there is some magical fairy that picks these two people out at birth. I would counter that there are many people capable of being a great partner to a given individual. Admittedly, the definition of "great" isn't clear either, nor is it generally agreed upon. Still, to use myself as an example, I know that whatever it is that I value in a partner or relationship can be achieved through any one of a very large number of people. That doesn't mean I choose randomly, it just means I have more choices. It is not simply a matter of finding the one "right" choice, but rather being able to see the elements of a great match and know what I deem good for me.

The online dating world does a great job of promoting this different philosophy, and is a shining example as it does this better than other sites like and, from my research. I respect the interface, transparency and algorithms on, not to mention the general attitude of the site. Match and Eharmony are stuck in older internet ideas and don't seem to develop much over the years. On the other hand the young and dynamic site is always changing, developing and analysing their vast array of data to provide useful information. Not to mention, the site is a dozen times more fun. And it is also a dozen times more addictive (which is why I've stopped my 'research'!). I mention this because the site's strategy matches you based on how you answer important questions and how you expect your ideal matches to answer, and provides you many matches with a match percentage, as opposed to pretending that there is that ONE person you need to find. guess I'm saying that taking a scientific approach resonates with me, even in the search for a great partner. As a society it isn't healthy to operate on misconceptions that are culturally reinforced.

Don't think that I don't believe in True Love. I really do, but I simply define it differently. In The Happiness Hypothesis (which might be the most enlightening book I've ever read), Jonathan De Haidt discusses the differences between passionate love (which flares up short term but doesn't last) and companionate love (which constantly grows and eventually overshadows passionate love). I think his model of how human relationships work is very apt. According to De Haidt the Hollywood model of love also tells us that passionate love should last forever, and is the love we should expect to find. The truth is, however, that companionate love is more fulfilling over the long term, and ultimately has more potential in my opinion to make a lasting difference. Both can be good and beneficial, but I do take issue with the false impression that our culture can create. (That being said, the culture is staring to mature.)

There is no need to believe that I will find the one soulmate and have an intensely passionate relationship forever. The relationships I seek aren't based on that advertised idea. Just like my platonic relationships, what I am "romantically" drawn to is building trust and love through bonds over the long term. And I'm not only grateful that I've already experienced that kind of relationship, but also absolutely convinced that I can find it with other people.

Happy Valentine's Day.


PS. This post will be imported automatically into Facebook, but comments are welcome here also.