All posts by CarterHayes

Brown Bag Nation

Let’s talk about lunch. Yes, you might just be eating breakfast right now, either at home, or at work, or in your car (I hope not). Bear with me.

I love to eat from the food carts on the pedestrian mall outside my institution's main library. Where else can I get loaded beef & plantain arepas, ayam bakar in a luscious peanut sauce (extra sambal kecap, please) with acar, sticky gua bao, fresh fried falafel, and other decadent morsels within a twenty-yard radius? My wallet doesn't love it quite the same way. Since I apparently have horrible career management skills, that doesn't appear likely to change anytime soon.

So, since I'm likely to get hungry sometime between 0930 and 1630, I bring food from my domicile to my roboticile — almost always supper leftovers from the previous night or two.

For years, I've packed my lunch in a small (approximately 2 cup) Pyrex dish & reusable storage bags, but recently I've felt like trying something new, ideally more compact or space-efficient. Part of my motivation is that the Poissonnier has joined Mrs. Hayes & I as a public transit companion. Part of it is the feeling that I keep rolling the dice with the Pyrex, hoping it won't leak. (I've had the occasional dribbles, but nothing catastrophic.)

I've looked at the various Zojirushi Bento products. They seem pretty nifty, but potentially cumbersome. (I suspect they won’t fit in my Tom Bihn Co-Pilot.) I don’t need the thermal capabilities often, but absolutely require spill-proof storage. The Wirecutter likes insulated lunch bags, which doesn't solve the problem of what to put in that bag; also, I don't want to carry a second bag.

Maybe I missed something, but I don't remember us discussing this before. So, I'm curious — how do you transport your vittles from your coolerator to the place where you spend most of your day reading the WGOM? And, more importantly, what [sniff sniff] do you like to pack?

Resilience & Self-Care

I ate a bánh mì for lunch yesterday. The first time I ate one, I was in my mid-twenties, and I instantly fell in love. A sausage bánh mì was the last thing I ate before the Poissonnier was born. Few foods make me feel as happy to be alive. At noon yesterday, taking a walk across campus to the food cart that sells them seemed like a good idea, so I invited a colleague along. We chatted as we walked — our conversation wandered across & back around his childhood experiences in a Hmong refugee camp in Thailand and our shared love of food. Given the news that broke early in the afternoon, I'm glad I had that bánh mì & conversation to sustain me.

There's plenty of evidence all around us to support the observation that resilience is a crucial, but very fragile, personal resource. It can erode in an hour under the wrong conditions, and it can often be tempting to allocate the time needed to maintain resilience to other activities & duties that seem more pressing. And yet, it’s a horrible thing to be caught without when you most need it.

Over the last year, I've tried to be more mindful of my resilience. I'm not always successful. But I also realized last year that I needed to make changes, and that I needed to accept a certain amount of failure as part of maintaining my resilience.

That has meant doing some things differently. Without cutting myself off from the world, I am progressively placing greater limits on my daily exposure to certain kinds of input. I'm trying to cultivate a few habits intended to help me find a more empathetic, thoughtful way to navigate the world. I'm learning to exercise more patience; a two year old can be a very effective workout buddy some days.

At the same time, I’m not approaching this effort as one of self-improvement. I’m not claiming I’m perfect, mind you — instead, I’m trying not to get hung up on the imperfections I’m all too aware of already. Dealing with my shortcomings through a judgmental deficit model, rather than one that is more focused around care & healing, was simply creating more negative judgment, anxiety, and discontent. Piling all my personal shortcomings up beneath the pressures of family and professional life, and then dumping all the anger & resentment I feel about the direction my state, the country, & society is going, meant my reactions were becoming progressively more unhealthy and self-compounding. I’d been doing that since 2011, and it just wasn’t working anymore. Looking at the Poissonnier, I knew I didn’t want to wind up taking any of that out on her one day.

I’ll specify some of the things I’m trying in a LTE below. That’s a more appropriate place for me to contribute to that part of the conversation. What you’ve been reading is simply the best way I could think of to initiate that conversation. Over the years it’s been expressed often enough — and by plenty of us — that this place is a refuge for folks. I suspect that, for a lot of us, what happens at the WGOM is partially social, and partially (since we're all interacting at a physical remove) partially self-care.

If you feel able to share today, what are you doing for self-care? How do you know when you're doing enough, or the right way? What do you wish you could do, or do differently? Have you been able to model your efforts to attend to your self-care for others who might benefit from seeing you give yourself that attention, whether at home or in your other spheres of life?

John Prine – Sam Stone

At least four guys from my unit are gone. The youngest two were killed in Iraq. The older two died after getting out of the Marines, but are casualties of our generation's war nonetheless; I don't think they ever found their ways home. They were good Marines, which means they weren't angels. They had tough times reconciling their experiences in the war with their lives after the war. The first, my one-time squad leader, was beaten to death in a parking lot by four men for saying something he shouldn't have said while intoxicated at a party. He left behind a young son. The second, a guy from my section, died alone & without benefits. Some of us made sure he was put to rest with dignity.

Neither of them will be counted in the war's official death toll, or have their name carved in stone for the ages. Every war creates its lost ones. We need to bring them all home.

5 votes, average: 10.00 out of 105 votes, average: 10.00 out of 105 votes, average: 10.00 out of 105 votes, average: 10.00 out of 105 votes, average: 10.00 out of 105 votes, average: 10.00 out of 105 votes, average: 10.00 out of 105 votes, average: 10.00 out of 105 votes, average: 10.00 out of 105 votes, average: 10.00 out of 10 (5 votes, average: 10.00 out of 10)
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Harry Dean Stanton – Canción Mixteca

At 88 years old, Staton's voice was even more perfect for this tune than when he sung it for Paris, Texas in 1984. The look on Harper Simon's face in the last couple bars gets me every time.

If you haven't picked up Partly Fiction, Stanton's 2014 album, you should. His covers of "She Thinks I Still Care" and "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain" will blow you away. He doesn't steal them from George or Willie, but wears them like cracked old leather jacket he can't bear to part with.

4 votes, average: 8.75 out of 104 votes, average: 8.75 out of 104 votes, average: 8.75 out of 104 votes, average: 8.75 out of 104 votes, average: 8.75 out of 104 votes, average: 8.75 out of 104 votes, average: 8.75 out of 104 votes, average: 8.75 out of 104 votes, average: 8.75 out of 104 votes, average: 8.75 out of 10 (4 votes, average: 8.75 out of 10)
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Hiromi Uehara’s Trio Project – Desire

Hiromi is one heckuva pianist, with a long playing & recording career yet ahead of her. That's MFSB alum & legendary session man Anthony Jackson on the six-string contrabass (his invention) and ex-Judas Priest drummer Simon Phillips on the skins.

2 votes, average: 8.50 out of 102 votes, average: 8.50 out of 102 votes, average: 8.50 out of 102 votes, average: 8.50 out of 102 votes, average: 8.50 out of 102 votes, average: 8.50 out of 102 votes, average: 8.50 out of 102 votes, average: 8.50 out of 102 votes, average: 8.50 out of 102 votes, average: 8.50 out of 10 (2 votes, average: 8.50 out of 10)
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Mathias Eick Quartet – Skala

I somehow had overlooked Eick until he released Midwest, a meditation on Norwegian immigration to America, in 2015. Eick's visit to the upper Midwest inspired him to create a "road" album that begins in his home village, Hem, and travels to North Dakota, carrying Norwegian cultural sensibilities into an interplay with the American landscape. It was one of my favorite albums of the year.

This tune's from his album previous to Midwest.

2 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 102 votes, average: 9.00 out of 10 (2 votes, average: 9.00 out of 10)
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The Comet is Coming – Journey Through the Asteroid Belt

I keep my eyes on Shabaka Hutchings' many collaborations. In addition to this band, he also currently records & performs with his "Afro-Futurist" band Shabaka & the Ancestors, Afro-Carribean jazz supergroup Sons of Kemet, and the jazz-punk sextet Melt Yourself Down. Oh, and he's also recorded with Mulatu Astatke and the Sun Ra Arkestra. This video's misnamed; the track is actually "Journey Through the Asteroid Belt."

3 votes, average: 8.67 out of 103 votes, average: 8.67 out of 103 votes, average: 8.67 out of 103 votes, average: 8.67 out of 103 votes, average: 8.67 out of 103 votes, average: 8.67 out of 103 votes, average: 8.67 out of 103 votes, average: 8.67 out of 103 votes, average: 8.67 out of 103 votes, average: 8.67 out of 10 (3 votes, average: 8.67 out of 10)
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