November 2009 Archived
The Everyday
Published: November 30, 2009 | | Submit An Inquiry


Dear Chivalry,

     I live for moments of intense consciousness.  I enjoy sunsets, crisp fall walks when the noise of the leaves under foot loudly documents each step, a first kiss, the long wait for the second... slightly more passionate kiss, the feeling of the water around my body as I float face up during a night swim.  I continue to search these things out blindly.  To hold onto them and consider them the true treasures of life.

     Obviously,  the drudge of day or the downtime fills in the majority of the rest of the time.  The sweet things in life are sweeter because of the rarity of their presence.  Is the answer to seek a dulling of the sharp intensely real moments and thus de-emphasize the down time... let alone the darkly bland times?  The idea that mediocrity is more bearable than to search for the truly beautiful.  Or do I continue to wander and hope for that which is unattainable?

Yours Truly,

Longing Lover of Life

The response and recommendations for this question have been provided by a special guest contributor.  Enjoy...

Dear Longing Lover of Life,

     Here's the good news: you never have to become accustomed to mediocrity.  Anything can be beautiful, if you pay attention.  There is no shortage, no scarcity, so don't start rationing your enjoyment.
 
     It seems to me "the sweet things" and "the drudge of day" are subjective categories and needn't be mutually exclusive.  The vibrant and the dull are not some binary star, orbiting but never touching.  In my experience, "moments of intense consciousness" can seize us at anytime, even in the midst of routine.  I worry that you may have built up your wandering search for beauty and created a false struggle.  Or is it, as you suggest, that you love the struggle most of all? 

     It might be enough to simply acknowledge the grand metaphor you've chosen and bear it in mind as you live your life.  But frankly, I think you'd do well to reject the dualism of mediocrity and beauty.  And if some things are truly unattainable, then I suspect we are made better in reaching for them.

Sincerely,

A.B.A.
Recommendations.

Playlist:

Wyndham Lewis - End of Enemy Interlude
Cotton Candy - A Sentimental Song
Raccoo-oo-oon - Invisible Sun
Pyramids - Sleds
Stag Hare - Crystal Dust Dream
Kixly - Aura Dell 'Arcobaleno
Marcel Duchamp - La Mariee Mise A Nu Par Ses Celibataires, Meme
Kría Brekkan - Solush
Mick Turner - There's A Great Burning Red Moon Rising On The Lake
Kyle Bobby Dunn - Miranda Rights

Book: Annie Dillard - Mornings Like This

Film: Le Scaphandre Et Le Papillon

Holding It In
Published: November 11, 2009 | | Submit An Inquiry


Dear Chivalry,

     I grew up in a conservative, Evangelical Christian household.  I'm grownup, out of the house, and not a Christian anymore.

     My parents and I have danced around the topics of beliefs and sin for years, and my policy has generally been: what they don't know can't hurt them.  They would be heartbroken to learn that I've had sex and I'm not going to marry a Christian and probably won't even get married in the traditional sense.  This information won't just make them sad, it will eat at them for the rest of their lives, as they mourn their daughter and agonize over her salvation.  That's the part I can't control.  

     My honesty will create a very real chasm between us, but my dishonesty doesn't help anything, either.  I want to be completely open with them about my relationships and lifestyle.  I can foresee a day when I'm with somebody who means the world to me and I'll want my parents to know.

     How can I begin to share myself with my folks in a way that is non-threatening and encourages them to be part of my life, while making it clear that I am committed to my choices?  How do I prepare them for whatever my love life may turn out to be?

Sincerely,

Living In Sin

Dear Living In Sin,

     Such a difficult situation.  I understand your concern here, you're right, disagreements like this can tear families apart.  I commend you for not wanting to take the easy way out and continuing to avoid or waiting until you do find someone and you'll be forced to explain yourself to them.  It's not the kind of thing that simply ignoring can make go away, and it must be very hard on you to hold all this in.

     First off, it may be best for you to take it slow.  I wouldn't suggest a full on assault of all your conflicting beliefs at once, but rather move one step at a time.  You'll have to decide how best to approach this.  But perhaps the next time marriage or religion comes up, instead of dancing around the topic like you mentioned, you could use it as an opening to assert some of your thoughts in a calm and casual manner.  I'm not sure how often this happens, or if you have tried this before, but however far you've taken it in the past, try to take it at least one step further.  It should become easier with time, and each discussion that you share just one thought you may have held in before will start to add up.  Even the most monumental of differences can erode away with the accumulation of small efforts.  The hardest part will be starting.  But the sooner you create the unavoidable chasm you described, the sooner you can start working to repair it through honest and mature discourse. 

     No matter what, remember certain things will remain even after you've shared these things with your parents.  You will always be their daughter and I'm sure they will continue to care for you in the same way they have before.  Hopefully they will at least try to understand where you're coming from.

     I sincerely hope you're able to work things out.

Signed,

Chivalry
Recommendations.

Playlist:

Mimi Parker & Alan Sparhawk - Kindly Blessed
Nina Nastasia & Jim White - Our Discussion
Pieter Nooten & Michael Brook - After The Call
Beth Gibbons & Rustin Man - Resolve
Yann Tiersen & Shannon Wright - No Mercy For She
Suzanne Langille & Loren Mazzacane Connors - Motherless Child
Simon Wickham-Smith & Richard Youngs - Cleveland
Lawrence English & Tom Hall - Veiled Twilight
Loren Connors & David Grubbs - Blossom Time
Thomas De Hartmann & G.I. Gurdjieff - Holy Affirming, Holy Denying, Holy Reconciling

New Surroundings
Published: November 3, 2009 | | Submit An Inquiry


Dear Chivalry,

     I recently took an internship in a small town in upstate NY. The internship is amazing, but the town is a terrible hippy graveyard (near the Woodstock) where 50 year-olds with tattoos and hippy names like "Flower" jump around embarrassing their hipster teenage kids.  I am 23, I would like to make friends, but I haven't found a single place I would really like to hang out yet.  I recently graduated from college.  I am realizing that meeting people is so hard outside of collegiate walls. 

     Do you have any advice?  I've only been here for three weeks, but I am desperately missing my boyfriend and all my best friends.  I feel utterly stranded in the world with no grounding or motivation to get out and make it happen.  I have never been alone like this before and am someone who hates being by themselves... Have any advice?

(Unsigned)

Dear Reader,

     When I finished college I moved away from home and found myself in a similar situation.  I was in a somewhat different environment than the one you currently find yourself in, but I remember having a lot of the same problems.  I wasn't sure if I was ever going to meet new friends or develop any sense of belonging where I was.

     I brought up my troubles to the people around me who had also relocated from somewhere else, and they all gave the same advice:  "Give it 3 months, if you still don't like it, then maybe you shouldn't be here."  I decided to test this theory out and 3 months in - I did in fact feel a new attachment to where I was.  I ended up staying for over 2 years and I look back on that time in my life very fondly.  I bring this up just to highlight the fact that first impressions of new surroundings can be somewhat deceiving.  You should give things a little bit more time and try to make the best of your situation.  Who knows, it may get better, it may get worse.  But giving it a fair shot is important. 

     As far as different ways to meet new people where you live, I really can't provide you with anything past the obvious.  Concerts, lectures, book stores, volunteering, there are a million chances out there.  But you could also try to see this time you spend there as an opportunity to become more comfortable with being alone.  There's nothing wrong with missing the company of your loved ones, but learning how to deal with their absence and developing a strong sense of self will help you for the rest of your life.

     Stick it out.

Signed,

Chivalry
Recommendations.

Playlist:

Blackblack - Emerald Forest
Dear Nora - I'm An Outcast
Cairo Gang, The - Bones In The Ground
Kickball - Imaginary People
Love of Everything - Living Life Too
Au - Boute
Sholi - All That We Can See
Tara Jane O'Neil - A Vertiginous One
Trouble Books - Personal Tornadoes
Harpo Marx - Alone