May 29, 2007
Benjamin Sells on "Cope or Quit"
Cope or Quit
A lawyer came to see me once and said he was unhappy with his work. Why? Because he was being asked by his firm to do things he felt were unethical. What did he want from counseling? To become "better adjusted" (his words) so he could be happier at his job. Problem? The things his firm was asking him to do were unethical.
Another lawyer complained of being discriminated against within her firm because she was a woman. What did she want from counseling? To develop her "coping skills" (her words) so she could better "accept" her situation. Problem? She was being discriminated against.
In both cases, I asked the lawyers what they would do if they could not adjust, cope, or learn to accept. Both saw only one alternative. They could quit. Cope or quit--now there's a depressing choice.
I see the same pattern again and again in my work: People sense, rightly, mind you, that they are working in a hostile environment; then, through an introspective conversion they decide that the environment is a reflection of their own personal psychology. Answer? They must either learn to change themselves so they can accept the environment or get out. [...]
Let's focus on our two lawyers. Their problem was that all avenues of imagination were closed to them except Cope or Quit. For example, neither of them gave any consideration to staying and trying to make things better. I don't mean they considered their options and decided it wasn't worth the effort to change things, or that they simply felt outnumbered or outgunned. I mean that the very idea of working to change a bad situation didn't even occur to them. And this in two highly competent professionals who were used to advocating positions, taking hard stands, and fighting for a viewpoint. How could it be that so obvious an alternative as staying and, if necessary, fighting for what was right could be so completely overlooked?
--Benjamin Sells, in The Soul of the Law: Understanding Lawyers and the Law, 1997.
Benjamin Sells was a lawyer before becoming a psychotherapist in the vein of Thomas Moore, and this passage makes me think of three things.
First, I think sometimes that above passage sounds a little dated. Who among us isn't aware that corporations make the papers daily when their officers are busted for corruption? Who among us doesn't (now) know that gender discrimination in a law firm is illegal, wrong, and ultimately unproductive? Thing is, though, they're still happening. Maybe not as often as in the past (please feel free to chime in on this guess), but still more than often enough. Vigilance is still required.
Second, and also required: an attitude that we don't have to just "take it", but that we have the ability to make a change. I keep thinking that "most people already have that attitude." But it's just not true. Most people, I think, believe they should have that attitude, but they don't actually have it. It's easy to avoid pushing for positive change. My hat is off to those who do it even when it's hard. May their number increase.
Third and lastly: I realize that a variation of the "cope or quit" attitude too often appears in our own "one-person corporations". In my case -- how many times have I thought about some piece of my nature that isn't serving me and thought, "my choices are to either learn how to accept my flaw/problem so that it doesn't make me miserable any more, or else learn how to deal with the fact that I'm always going to be miserable because of this flaw/problem." How about maybe I can change? In much of The Soul of the Law, Sells pushes the point that we need our imaginations to help us create new futures. As for myself, I'm working on imagining a healthier me -- not stuck with the me I have at the moment.
Addendum: the serenity prayer has its usual relevance: "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." Or the alternate version quoted long ago in Shoe, "Lighten up."
Your own personal copy from just 36 cents, via Amazon: The Soul of the Law: Understanding Lawyers and the Law
May 28, 2007
Something strange happened in the fast-pitch cage at Frankie's on Saturday night. The first ball dropped into the chute but didn't come out. Then another ball passed through a wormhole and went bam! into the backstop.
Honestly, I had no idea what had just happened. I heard the noise but never saw the pitch. Same thing happened on the second ball, but then I adjusted my eyeballs to higher frames-per-second resolution, and by pitch ten or twelve I almost knew when it was time to swing.
After that, medium-pitch looked a whole lot closer to sane.
Frankie's Fun Park
on TW Alexander Drive just south of Highway 70
(just east of Brier Creek)
pic from Frankie's
May 25, 2007
New to the blogroll, Chapomatic, also known as Chap, formerly known as "another one of them geeky dudes at the S&M school".
In any case, Chap is now a Naval Officer with a blog, and he invited an interview from Barry at En Revanche after Barry invited an interview from me.
Here, an excerpt from Chap's responses to Barry's questions.
Used to be, the concept of service was more important and the military part of being a human being was a known aspect of what it was to be a whole person. Used to be, honor mattered. Fools in government were still there, but people understood that if you were one of those fools then you needed to try, and if you saw the fools you knew it was (as Instapundit mentioned today) an example of Robert Conquest’s third law: “The simplest way to explain the behavior of any bureaucratic organization is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies.”
Over time we’ve moved to a place where nothing is commonly accepted, nothing is immutable, no values are common and no hero is not anti-. We’ve decided that technological progress is bad, McCarthy’s sins were way more important than where he was right (and using the now-time-honored principle of moral equivalence, where he was right doesn’t matter), the sins of Communism and its advocates are down the memory hole, the Boy Scouts because of a doctrinal disagreement affecting an interest group is automatically evil, the academy doesn’t teach you Shakespeare or relativity but enforces a political viewpoint, and the One True Viewpoint must be held in public communications to the point that what I like to read starts feeling like samizdat. If Paul Smith is unknown everywhere but Jesse Macbeth gets on YouTube, I can’t get to a solution you request. When is someone shamed? When does someone retreat from public life due to egregious behavior?
I guess my bottom line is that yes, our disconnect between my military culture, a culture that is an additional layer of my own identity, and overall American culture needs fixing. I don’t see that being fixed until deeper problems get addressed: honor, conspiracy theories, innumeracy, scientific and theological illiteracy, lack of empathy for the fellow citizen who disagrees.
I think Matthew Bogdanos had it right when he talked about how important it was to be a complete human, a person who is a compassionate but if necessary fierce artist and engineer and parent and teacher and student. Lazarus Long had it down, too. Much as I dislike living in a small town I think I like their values though I’m not always in sync with them. They tolerate my eccentricities pretty well.
I appreciate Chap's viewpoints and agree with some, though I would argue the brush he wields in paragraph two is a touch too wide. But in the same paragraph, he also uses the word "samizdat," so all is forgiven :-)
May 24, 2007
Taqueria Lopez, Durham NC
Update, June 2008: Carpe Durham (and a commenter) report on management and menu changes at Taqueria Lopez, and the original owner's move to The Best Burrito.
Other reviewers like Greg Cox at the N&O and a mess of people at Chowhound.com have said much more, but I'll just say that the food that I tried is good, the seafood variety is wider than any other Mexican restaurant I've visited to around here (see below), and the service has "personality"*
3438 Hillsborough Rd
Open daily 10:00am-9:00pm
Same building as the Auto Zone, near the intersection of Hillsborough and 15-501.
*Waitress: Thank you for coming, please come again. Except you [points at me.] No, just kidding. You can come back.
May 23, 2007
OK Gerard, Here's Your Answer
Two things, for the record:
1. Philindo Joseph Marsosudiro failed to make a complete stop at a stop sign.
2. Philindo Joseph Marsosudiro is White.
Re: item 2, it looks like the police have finally provided the definitive answer to a 29-year-old question that Gerard Mills asked me back in 5th grade. Pictured above, part of a recent citation.
See below for a essay I wrote for the spring 2000 issue of Spectrum, a quarterly publication that Brown University used to publish for alumni and students of color. One of the alumni relations staff (a Chinese-American alumna, I think; from the west coast, I think) had asked me to write a piece on "growing up Asian in the South." Shortly after I wrote the piece, I got to feeling that I'd been a touch more PC than I meant to be. But that's OK -- it ran with a nice photo.
Brown Like Me
Springtime, 1991. I had graduated two years earlier from what some would describe as the nation’s foremost school of political identification, but it wasn’t until I came back to Brown as an alumnus that I discovered what people had been calling me: “Asian American.” This was, to my consciousness, a term newly associated with me – but one that qualified me to speak at an Asian American Student Association career forum. Students asked about my profession. I told them what it was like, and how they could enter the field. Then they asked me, “how has race affected your career?” I hadn’t a clue. And I realized it wasn’t the first time that someone had quizzed me about my race, and I had come up short on an answer. My memory ran back another fifteen years, to fifth grade in Asheville, North Carolina, and to Gerard Mills.
Gerard Mills was a skinny black kid with a two-inch afro and big eyes. And one afternoon, as we stood together in front of the Biltmore Elementary School boys urinal, he asked,
“Hey Phil, are you black or are you white?”
This question stopped me, cold. I thought a while, hesitated, and mumbled something about “Oriental,” a word I knew from my mother’s occasional use. But Gerard pressed on, “No man, but are you black or are you white?” I never found a satisfactory answer for him, or me, that year.
Another half-dozen years passed in my hometown, snug in the southern part of the Appalachian mountains, and a few people did try to tag me – I briefly changed my race for a Christmas program, (“In Japan, we celebrate Christmas by shooting fireworks at midnight.” I wore a Filipino shirt that my Mom gave me. Charles Bratton wore my Dad’s traditional Javanese/Muslim hat as a prop while orating, “In Africa, we celebrate Christmas by...”). In early high school, my friends called me, “Chocolate Monkey” and “Four Eyed Chink.” (I wonder, now, what names got assigned to the other two brown-skinned kids at that 1,300-student institution.)
Perhaps it’s no wonder, then, that I came into my adulthood at Brown and soon after without much awareness of my membership – as a Filipino, Indonesian, or “Asian American.” I had come through my formative years without a meaningful label, and had come to think of myself as just “me.” If time among Brown folk teaches us anything, a primary lesson is that each of us ought vigilantly carve our own destiny, our own identity, and our own sense of self. That is where I have focused my reflections at Brown and as of late – finding out who I might be.
But now, at thirty-two, still learning from Brown, I am learning another lesson. Slightly more aware than I was when I first spoke to the Asian American community at Brown – better educated on the power and politics of color, culture, and creed, I recognize that like it or not, I am the member of a club. And I am thinking that as I consider myself, perhaps I should move beyond my American moniker, “Phil,” to my full name, “Philindo Joseph,” product of Philippine and Indonesian parents, and raised in these United States, and learn what that means. Perhaps I am ready to ask, “I know who I am – but who are we?”
Philindo Joseph Marsosudiro ’89, serves on the Multicultural Activities Committee of the Brown Alumni Association.
May 22, 2007
Shout out to the very big dude who kept me in the shade through the entire step show last Sunday at the Bimbé Festival held at the Historic Durham Athletic Park.
Of cultural note, at least to me. In the old days when I'd go to Bulls games at the HDAP, I could just about guarantee I'd run into a couple dozen acquaintances any night at the ~5,000-person park. By contrast, while wandering among the 1,500+ folks at the Bimbé Festival on Sunday, I didn't see a single acquaintance or friend. Still a lot of Durham to meet...
May 21, 2007
Sweet Zephyrs Recital at the Duke Park Traffic Circle
Traffic slowed down but was unimpeded by the 30 minute recital (which is, I guess, what the traffic circle is supposed to do under normal circumstances). One car passed by on the left, maybe because the Quintet has just played something by a British composer.
I'd never heard this group until Friday, but you should know that they're quite good, and fun: their last two pieces were "Rubber Ducky" and the theme from Monty Python's Flying Circus.
May 18, 2007
Meme Theme: an Archer Interview with Lisa
[First the news.]
1. I've often wondered about your blog title, "A Clear View to a New Life" and your Blogger subdomain, "eyebrow-raisingfolk". Care to comment a little on their origins? If you've written about these elsewhere in your blogs, feel free to just point us to the permalinks.
When I first created this blog (this one being the first of the trilogy), I called it “eyebrow-raising folk.” I dreamed then of writing for a living (writing things other than legal documents, I mean) and wanted to force myself to write every day for practice. My thought was that I would write about interesting people and things I saw, get in the habit of observing and find something to do that was not law-related. I did not know enough about blogs at the time to understand that this was a title of which I would quickly tire, and one that would not fit what my blog would ultimately become. But there it is still.
I later realized I could change the title of my blog as it appeared on the page, and thus “A Clear View To A New Life” was born. I believe the idea for that title sprang from a night in an Oklahoma City hotel room, smack in the middle of a week of out-of-town depositions. I was talking on the phone with my friend Jay, who had only known me for a short time and who only had (at that point) met me online, but who was intuitive enough and understood me well enough to observe that my way of making a living is not aligned with my—well, soul. We kept talking about what I could do that would be in line with me and came to the inescapable conclusion that I needed to be working on civil rights issues. I returned to Dallas and literally cried tears of relief as I thought over what Jay and I had discussed while driving out to the country kennel to pick up my dogs. Suddenly, my life took a new direction, as I had a goal and a dream.
2. Speaking of your blogs, plural: how do you feel about having three personal blogs instead of one? If you could start over from scratch, would you have organized your digital world any differently? (In my own world, the excess of options drives me a little nuts.)
Other than the titles and occasional pangs of annoyance with Blogger and its quirks, I am actually quite content with my three blogs. The first one (this one) is the most heavily used, and is where my words go. The second (“Travels Through The Lens”) is where I store the tales of my travels . . . it is as much for me as for anyone who might visit. I love going back to it and reminding myself of a particular trip and feeling briefly transported back into that moment, though I want to do a better job of truly capturing the nuances of those experiences. The third one (“Portfolio of Hope”) was created rather recently, as I started working on a portfolio of my photography to show to the guy who selects artists for the wall at my local coffee shop. I planned to use that blog to see which pictures worked together and which didn’t, so I could assemble a nice collection on disc for him to review. As you can see, I have not gotten very far with that yet, due to a shortage of time and computer transition issues. I think if I had more time to cast about on the internet (meaning, beyond the crazy amount of time I already spend there), I might find more attractive options than this, but I’m committed to it, and contended.
3. You recently wrote about a wish to change, and the double role of fear. If you had a magic wish that you could use to either (a) dispel that particular fear and issue, or (b) gain a modest strength that you've often wanted for -- which would you pick?
Gosh, this is such a good question—it actually provoked me into using the word “gosh”! I would use it to gain a strength, though I am not sure it is a modest one. I would wish to gain the wisdom or finesse or magic or whatever was required so that my brother would speak to me again.
4(a). Putting aside both stubbornness and modesty for a moment, what are ten things that your friends enjoy (like, appreciate, etc.) and/or respect (admire, envy, wish for themselves, etc.) about you?
Phil, I’m guessing that you wanted me to come up with ten things myself, but unfortunately, given my current frame of mind, I just couldn’t do it. I tried. But I could not conceive of a list of one thing, much less ten things. So I conducted a highly scientific survey of two of my dearest friends: Beth, whom I have known since we were 14 years old (we met when she poked me in the rear with a sharp pencil in a high school algebra class), and Jim, whom I have known for approximately 12 years (Jim and I have a great meeting story—I’ll have to share it with you sometime). So anyway, the following is a rough amalgam of Beth’s and Jim’s answers, which I was able to combine into a list of 12 . . . I found it interesting that they overlapped perfectly on two items (the “x2”):
1. good listener
2. caring x2
3. appreciates my quirkiness as much as i appreciate yours/ fun to be with
4. ambitious/ independent
5. not materialistic
6. dog lover
7. adventurous x2
9. loves to laugh/ humorous/ wit / wisdom
10. someone who i am comfortable enough with to pee while we talk on the phone.
12. sports lover- loves chicago sports but will be immersed into any sports game even if it was 8 year olds playing
4(b). Of the ten items above, which ones are you most delighted about (either openly or secretly), whether or not such feelings of delight might be considered a vice?
Of the items on the list above, the ones that leave me most delighted are:
1. good listener
3. appreciates my quirkiness as much as i appreciate yours/ fun to be with
10. someone who i am comfortable enough with to pee while we talk on the phone
5. From your Blogger profile's list of favorite books and music, it seems you can't be pinned down to an easily labeled ideology (i.e., dyed-in-the-wool Ayn Rand Objectivists are not, in my estimate, heavy consumers of U2 and Indigo Girls politics). Any thoughts on that?
Feel free to answer this question in the context of an alternate and perhaps better question: whose baseball writing do you like better, George Will's or Frank DeFord's? No need to comment yet on Deford's new book, The Entitled. But feel free if you've already read it.
My ideology is somewhat eclectic. Politically, I consider myself more of a small “l” libertarian, in the sense that my ideal government is no more that is absolutely required and is “hands off” both socially and fiscally. I oppose the death penalty, without exception. I treasure the individual spirit and believe it should be permitted to thrive unimpeded, so long as others are not harmed by it. This is the Ayn Rand-loving part of me, I suspect. I only learned later, after falling in love with “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged,” that Rand is thought of by many as hostile to the concept of helping others. If that’s true, it is the place where she and I diverge in our thinking, as I love people (the global “people”) too much to let them suffer when we are in a position to help them get back on their feet. This dichotomy is also reflected in my work and volunteer choices . . . at work, I defend employers being sued by their employees for alleged mistreatment, and am comfortable with doing so, in that I have no problem battling to defeat employees who were not treated unfairly and are trying to get something for nothing. When that isn’t the case, I work toward a result that is fair for all involved, while representing my client’s best interests, of course. In my volunteer work, I stand up for the rights of individuals against those who try to infringe upon such rights. I don’t know if this is the explanation you were looking for, but basically, you are right and it’s complicated!
I really wanted to write about Will and DeFord, but I don’t read either of them. Though now I will.
How about you -- would you like an Archer Pelican interview? Just ask! (And check out Barry's answers at EnRevanche)
May 17, 2007
International Banking at Wachovia
When I saw this screen at the Wachovia on Hillsborough Rd. in Raleigh, I thought, "Man, NC State must have even more Chinese grad students than I thought." Then I saw the same screen options in Durham.
Any guesses on what prompted the addition? Is this a national thing, or have I missed the explosion of Chinese-speaking* people in the Triangle?
And in similar things, what's the most languages you've ever seen on an ATM screen? Would love to hear comments from blog readers in New York and San Francisco.
*did you know that Cantonese and Mandarin sound different but read the same? Me, neither. Oh, and I keep forgetting that I'm ~1/6th Chinese. Maybe that's why I'm always eating at Rainbow on Main St. in Durham.
May 16, 2007
Banh's Cuisine, Ninth St.
As consistent as they come -- yummy, inexpensive and fast. Chinese every day, more Vietnamese items on Wednesdays and Saturdays, vegetarian any time you ask. Seats ~16 inside, 8 on the sidewalk. One of the rare places in town that has a cloth-roll hand dryer over customer's handwashing sink.
Banh's Cuisine (often erroneously listed (by people like me) as "Bahn's" Cuisine)
750 Ninth St.
May 14, 2007
305 South Anti-Mall, Durham NC
Shame on me for not blogging about these folks sooner. Home of music, art, vintage clothing (the largest selection in the area), food, and (Lord knows) just about everything else, 305 South is an impressive venue in the southeast corner of Durham at 305 S. Dillard St.
From one of the many corners of their website(s):
[W]e stumbled upon the building at 305 South Dillard Street on our way home from church one day. With the help of our friends, families, and GOD we gathered up OUR ideas such as DURHAM LOVE YOURSELF, DURHAM ROCKS and THE ANTI-MALL, and have since then continuosly worked towards making the 305 South Anti-Mall a more and more creatively influential part of this Great Town.
The Anti-Mall now houses The Electric Blender (The Untidy Evolved and bigger), 305 South The Music Venue and Durham's Main Art-ery, SoundScriptureStudios (Recording Studio) Buzzed Coffee, Ha Ha shoes (Local Shoe Designer), Jigzaw Comics, Wooden Whale Skateboards, Father and Son Antiques, Kirk Adam Art Gallery, and The Crafty Local (a Local Craft Consignment Shop), as well as numerous inhouse artists, craftsmen and vast studiospace. We do miss the old Untidy and Ooh La Latte, but with all this going on under our new roof, how could we not feel blessed? Thank you Durham, and to everyone who has ever supported us over all these years: we will continue to try to give back.
The owners, James and Michelle, are among the most creative, courageous, and persistent business people in Durham. It's great that their 305 South Anti-Mall continues to prosper. An impressive part of their story is how they integrate their faith life with the hipster lifestyle that is an essential part of their business profile. God bless them. For real.
image yoinked from 305southdurham.com
May 08, 2007
A Meme for Me
When I was a kid, my aunt made a Friendship Cake that you can't do without a fermented starter. It was so good -- with the flavor you can only get from crispy, caramelized pineapple.
Now, via Jerry's interview via Jenny's interview via someone I don't know, a new meme: somebody asks questions, and you answer. And then you make questions for someone else. Kind of nice, huhn? Kind of like a slam book, but not really. Not at all.
Below, Jerry's music-themed questions and my replies:
1: What is this thing called love?
In Matt Groening's Love Is Hell, I think the dialogue goes: "Who wrote the book of love?" Answer: "Some goddam liar, that's who." As for me, all I know is to keep paraphrasing Thomas Moore who suggests in Soul Mates that it's more important to consider love as something you do rather than something you feel.
2: What difference does it make?
Much, I think. Many, in speaking of marriage, refer to the role and value of commitment. You commit to loving someone, not to being in love. If "feeling" in love was a requisite for people staying married, divorce would be something you could take care of at the DMV, in the express line. Modestly related: my friend John gave a copy of Love Is Hell as a first gift to his new girlfriend Stacy. They have been married for ~fifteen years, now.
3: How can you mend a broken heart?
If you're Denis Leary, you do it by shooting the rest of the brothers Gibb. If you're me, you do it by outliving the pain. And by not binding the ego so tightly to the heartbreak that when your heart is ready to mend, your will doesn't keep you trapped in the sadness (where you once told yourself, "this is my home forever, if my love is really true.")
4: Are you experienced?
At loving? Maybe. At being in love? I don't think so.
5: Who are you?
Some guy who wishes (he thinks) that he were a little more experienced. (And who is wondering whether he'll leave this horribly revealing blog online for more than 48 hours.)
So if you want to play along and now be interviewed by me, please leave me a comment or send an email saying: "Interview me."
* I will respond by asking you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
* You will update your weblog with the answers to the questions.
* You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
* Then others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions and so on.
By the way, I'd looove to write questions for anyone, so don't be shy.
May 07, 2007
Wayang at UNC
May 03, 2007
Rhymes with Shikse
Cement Mixer, $25 at a recent yard sale in Hillsborough. Did not sell, but many other things did.
Related: the 1984 mini-series "Ellis Island" starred Peter Riegert as the musician Jacob Rubinstein, who gets dissed by one of his elders who says, "he rhymes 'shikse' with 'cement mixer'?!"
Amazing Subrelated Fact: Richard Chamberlain appears nowhere in this show.
May 02, 2007
Compare Foods -- Big Latino Grocery Store
Compare Foods is an small chain of Latino-owned, low-cost grocery stores, stretching from Massachusetts to North Carolina. The Durham store is in the old Avondale shopping center just north of I-85 (where Winn-Dixie used to be and next to where Big Lots still is, and not far from where, in a pleasant surprise, Wachovia still is.)
For better, funner details on Compare Foods, click for reviews by other local food people/bloggers:
Joe V: ("...in 3-packs. It really seems like they should come as some multiple of 2.")
Jenny P: ("It's fantastic... I almost mean that in the supernatural sense.")
Rodney D: ("...it makes me very happy to know I'm only a few miles from a store where I can buy a whole cow's head.")
If you know of any other reviews, please let me know and I'll link to them.
Also, if you can tell me a better way to have formatted/punctuated/written the above list of links ("[click here] [example quote]", please advise. I hate my approach.
click for Compare Foods map and info
May 01, 2007
Lucky Jesus at Los Comales Restaurant
Other writers would give this statue a descriptive name, but I'll just tell you that it's Jesus with ~$40 in bills taped to various parts of his body. And if that isn't enough insurance for good luck and fortune, place him next to a Chinese Lucky Bamboo.
Of course, the folks at Los Comales in Durham ("Best Chargrilled Tacos in Town!") might generate some luck with their cooking, as well. I had some cheese quesadillas and pupusas there last week and they were pretty good -- with even and crispy cornmeal tortillas/shells. Los Comales has a very nice condiment tray with several salsas, cucumbers, pico de gallo, lime, cilantro, etc. Prices for everything are pretty reasonable, too. I seem to recall that they had an flat-panel television, too.
I can't recall if any of the staff speak English, but the finger-pointing method will probably do you OK if you need. Their menu is on the wall behind the counter, with as many types of tacos filling as you'll ever ask for.
2103 N. Roxboro Rd.
Durham NC 27704
Just north of I-85, next door to the monster neon CHECKS CASHED place.