Guerilla Art, Humor, Social commentary

The Morning Commute

A poem for disimpassioned cubicle workers:

Copy, file, e-mail, check.

Triple check.

Procedure seizure ensues.

Never thought you’d spend your days in a windowless cube?

What to do?

Go back to college, buy an acronym?

But you see half zip up, Sperry wearing trip ups, carrying a debt like a boulder with that chip on their shoulder.

So, you write.

Creating art fuels you when the computer drools you.

Don’t want to live for Friday to Sunday

Today, you celebrate Monday!

 

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Complaining, Humor, Psychology, Rants, Vent

One of THOSE days. Why do we love complaining?

I woke up this morning at 7am, well-rested, happy to get in to work early. A snooze button free rousing is usually the sign of a great morning. It means I will be able to ease into daily preparations, leisurely bike to work, and be rewarded for my early bird behavior with an early bird departure from my job. The tone was set for an excellent day…until I stepped outside.

“My bike seat looks lower than… no, no…  it’s just not there.”

Upon the realization that someone took advantage of my quick release seat, my expectations for a great day were immediately depleted. Then I remembered that I took cash out the night before (another rare preparedness). Relieved that I didn’t have to scavenge for the nearest ATM, I began to console myself on the speed walk to the subway station. “The seat is replaceable and at least I’m still sort of early for work.”

I fed my twenty dollar bill into the machine. No entry. I tried again. *Bzzzz* Frustration was building and the unmistakable noise of missed train faded out of my ears. “Why!?”

I flattening the bill on the groove of the machine, attempting to regain calamity. My bill ripped apart as if it was perforated. I flashed the two ripped pieces of paper to the Septa agent with a saddened look on my face. He simply shrugged his shoulders.

“We don’t have change”, he said.

“UGHHHH but you don’t GETTTTTTT IT, I’M LATE FOR WORK MY BIKE WAS STOLEN ANDITJUST RIPPEDDON’T YOU HAVE TAPE!? YOU DON’T HAVE TAPE JUST A PIECE OF TAPE??”

“Sorry Maa’mmm”, he shrugged again.

A tear rolled down my cheek and I panted in despair.

At that moment he waved me through. I felt like a gigantic baby, but suddenly everything felt okay again. I debated whether or not I should reiterate this frustrating morning as a ‘one-of-THOSE-days’ story to my boss. Partially as an excuse, but maybe partially as a conversation piece. Then, I realized how lame of a conversation that would be.

These narratives SUCK. Yet, they are pervasive. They are ever present in the peeved Facebook status, the angry yet humorous Yelp review, the water cooler talk, or the hour long therapy session. They are boring stories, but we tell them. Over and over and over again. Why? Because we are rewarded for it. It’s a bit of a Catch-22, as we need empathy (and in situations like this morning, a free Septa ride), but maybe we can consider how often we indulge in complaints. During the rest of my commute I realized I was actually grateful for some of what transpired.  I didn’t have to bike in the freezing cold. I didn’t have to use all of my cash on tokens. It’s kind of amazing what a few moments of pause can do for your attitude.

Scholarly Stuff: A book I am reading now has really aided me in becoming aware of when I am about to complain and assessing the necessity of the complaint and my reaction. It’s called, Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love and Wisdom by Rick Hanson, Ph.D. It’s not brain science to know that complaining is harmful, but learning the science behind our positive and negative thoughts is motivating knowledge.

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Humor, Positive Psychology, Psychology, Social commentary, Social Critique

Rap’s Bad Rap

Current hip hop is constantly being reprimanded for its lyrical obsession with hoes, money, drugs and generally un-lofty ideals.  Re-examining some of the lyrics to chart topping favorites has me wondering what influence rap might have on self-esteem. Perhaps radio edits and censored versions of these songs actually endorse a positive self worth, even if you do lack the Maserati and bootylicious body.

This thought occurred to me passing by someone’s blasting headphones on the street this week. A very audible chorus simply¹ stating, “I’m the *bleeping* greatest, yeaaa…” was repeating on loop. In that fleeting moment, I couldn’t help but notice my posture improve and a little swagger develop in my step. “I should probably be listening to more rap”, I thought to myself.

I took it upon myself to investigate the lyrics of a few of the most recently popular raps and get to the heart of the songs. Expletives aside, I noticed some empowering themes emerging, many of which are the cornerstones to developing high self-worth.

     Knowing Yourself

“Oh Lord, know yourself, know your worth, *bleep*

My actions been louder than my words, *bleep*”

– Drake, Zero to 100

     Positive Self-Talk

“Numba 1, b—- you can’t replace me (Can’t replace me)”

-Wiz Khalifa, We Dem Boyz

   Accepting Life’s Set Backs 

“Battle wounds on me, you watching me lick ’em clean
I know, I know, my pride, my goals, my highs
My lows, I know, I know, it’s mind control
I know, I could prosper, no imposter”

– Kendrick Lamar, It’s On Again

“They wanna know how I got M’s and I didn’t even finish college”

-Rich Gang, Lifestyle

“I done made a million and I didn’t go to college”

-Yo Gotti, I Know

Scraping the surface of money flaunting and sexual objectification, modern rap may be  the propagation of something beyond aesthetic desires. Put a new spin on it and rap is a tool of empowerment; a way to switch out the negative tape currently playing in your head.

Let me know, comment below :

What are your favorite empowering rap lyrics?

¹Unfortunately, the song’s simplicity was also it’s fault as my Google™ search later that night yielded no results.

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Consumer Culture, Consumerism, Decision-making, Humor, Psychology

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions…

 

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Each time I enter a store, even for the most simple purchases, it invariably leads to an inner struggle. I might just need some dish soap. That’s all. Yet, somehow time invested in the experience always exceeds the time I’d allotted once I’m in the aisle getting down to business. I attribute this, not just to a degree of neuroticism, but to option infiltration. When is the last time you saw only one, or two versions of a product in a store that wasn’t a gas station express mini-mart, or a hospital gift shop? And even those places seem to be getting fancy.

Like many people, I enjoy my options. They seem so empowering. I suppose it brings out the democratic, liberty lovin’, part of me. The issue is, much like other confections of democracy, it’s been frosted to excess. And I’m frozen in the aisle of a grocery store. I want to get on with my life.  Despite my awareness of option overload, putting haste into practice in the face of thirty dish soaps is easier said than done.

Instead, my thought process might go something like this:

The spendthrifty, overly-analytical side of me takes complete control of the situation- hijacking my mind and body. I find myself crouching and straining my neck in the strangest and most unthinkable positions, shocked by this new found flexibility. My eyes scan every label and price tag. I might even go out of my way to flag down an associate, only to verify the price of a lone ranger, non-designated bottle. “What if THAT’S the cheapest one?, I’ll tell myself. Price isn’t the only consideration, though. Cheapest one doesn’t mean shit if I’m going to be dousing my dishes with diluted toxins later on. Is there an organic option? It’s mine. Now I’m wondering what organic actually means in terms of safety. *Consults iPhone* Fighting a barrage of distracting characters, numbers and symbols on the screen; now my math brain comes alive. Suddenly I’m converting fluid ounces to ounces. I can do math? The clock on my screen makes its way into my periphery. I glance back at the aisle. Lemon is probably the least offensive scent. What does “Original” smell like? I know I enjoy feeling that way. Abruptly a Dawn oil spill commercial flashes into my mind and I’m sympathizing with their eco friendliness despite the .74 cent upcharge. Don’t you dare act in self interest. But, but.. “Softer feeling hands in 3 uses? …OLAY!” I decide to go with it. After all, it’s still made by Dawn. I proceed to the check out, contented by my utilitarianism. This way I’m killing two birds with one stone…

Oh, but that doesn’t sound good.

Scholarly Stuff : Psychologists are researching how choice can affect our well-being. Check out Barry Schwartz’s book, The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less, to further probe this connection.

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