Jen Maidenberg @JenMaidenberg: how does your brain not explode during your Thurs night Twitter Q and A? Lots of post twitter party yoga?
When I was a kid (and, uhh, up to the current day) I used to go to Washington Square Park to play blitz chess, right near NYU. There was Sweet Pea, Russian Paul, Flash, Junior, and for some reason, an entire crew of Hispanic guys that were all excellent blitz chess players. One of them, Elias, was a nationally ranked master and we ended up being roommates for awhile. I paid $300 a month to have the bed. He slept on the couch. We had a kitchen that was disgusting. And the shower and faucet never turned off. I had a garbage bag next to my bed which I kept my one suit in that I would change into to go to work. We played blitz chess every night for hours.
(Russian Paul, standing up, was the best)
In blitz chess you don’t have time to think about your moves. Your fingers just move. Hopefully your fingers know how to play chess. Else you’ll be bad at blitz chess. In these Q&A sessions, I get that feeling again of the fingers being smarter than my brain. I love the stimulation of seeing them type out answers. It fuels my entire week. And then, on the weekends, I let my brain join in the fun with these expanded answers.
The other thing about these Q&A sessions is that I realize there is largely one question and largely one answer. The basic question is that people are upset that they are unhappy and they want to avoid that condition.
The basic answer is that we all have high expectations for our lives. We all develop elaborate schemes and mythologies by which our outer life can be transformed so as to also transform our inner lives so we can be happy. There is nothing wrong with having a great business, a great family, great relationships, prosperity, success, and all the trappings of modern life.
But painting the outside of a house won’t make the livingroom look any nicer.
And when you are cleaning the livingroom, to actually make your life more comfortable, you don’t care what the color of the house is. The basic answer is making the distinction between the two.
Two things I remember about living with Elias in that room.
One: the girl across the hall had a fiance who worked on Wall Street. Sometimes at 10pm, when her fiance was working late, she would knock on the door and I would open it and she would say, “is Elias here?” And I would say, “no” and she would say, “oh ok, I was just looking for some salt” and she would go back to her apartment without asking me if I could get her some salt.
Two: one time I had the flu. I was new to New York and hadn’t yet built up my immune system. New York is disgusting. If you move here, you will get sick. People are just gross in general and there are more of them packed in here than anywhere else in the country. So I was running about 102 temperature and was staying home from work. Elias woke me up at 3 in the morning at the peak of my fever. “Man, I’m really sorry, but the landlords don’t know I’ve been staying here. We have to be out of here by 8am tomorrow.” So the next day I moved and I don’t think I ever saw him again. Or my 300 dollars.