(last updated on September 20, 2014)
Today I managed to wake up at 6AM, get out of the house, and immediately launch into project work before checking my email. Such days always feel super-productive, because by the time 10AM rolls around you’ve gotten a good chunk of work out of the way. By noon I’d not only caught up with the most pressing project tasks, but I’d also achieved INBOX ZERO for the first time EVER. Holy cow!
After that, I packed up my computer and headed home, slurping on my free Iced Coffee refill (one of the last remaining Starbucks Gold Card membership perks) for a call with a potential new client. By noon, my mind had acquired that “delicately-fried” feeling, which I recognize now as mental fatigue. Food helps dispel that feeling, apparently, by restoring the brain with carbohydrates, so I started up some brown rice in the rice cooker. As this takes an hour, I wondered what to do while I waited.
I decided, on a whim, to clean out my dish drying rack, as it had developed a “bachelor pad patina” over its nominal plastic whiteness. As I cleared the dishes from it and scrubbed the sink, I noticed that my mental fatigue was fading; was it possible that the change of pace from thinking to non-thinking was helping me regenerate?
Encouraged, I deployed Whirlwind, a kind of magic spell (as I think of it) I learned from the family of my cousin. There are three such spells that I know of, and I thought it would be worthwhile to share them.
Whirlwind: The Cleaning Spell
When I was visiting with my cousin’s family in Chicago one summer, I witnessed a technique for getting young children to clean up the living room. Their mom had announced that it was time to put away their toys, and when this was met with less enthusiasm than was hoped, she announced with great authority that it was time to do WHIRLWIND. This was a highly energetic dance of constant movement, toys picked up with alacrity and deposited with maximum speed into the correct basket. It was exciting, the kids were caught up in the flurry of activity, and it actually didn’t take too long to clean things up.
I remember this for times when I’m looking at a dirty room or a well-used litterbox. Whirlwind is awesome, similar to the 15-minute minimum I apply to my work, except it’s more motion-based. It feels more magical because it is INVOKED instead of suffered-through. Mary Poppins would be proud.
The Parking Shuffle: The Feng Shui of Finding Parking in Harvard Square
One of my least favorite things in the whole world is parking in Boston. It either takes 45 minutes, or it costs $30 for the day. The only reliable way around it is to arrive WAAAY early. Or, you invoke the power of the Parking Shuffle.
My friend S introduced me to this, when we were looking for a place to park in Cambridge before a show. It was the early evening just after work, which is a terrible time to look for parking in Cambridge (then again, it’s ALWAYS a terrible time to look for parking in Cambridge, with the exception of “parking magic hour” from 10AM to 11AM).
I was surprised at how calm and positive S, who was driving, was about the whole ordeal. I think I mentioned some concern about parking, and she said it wasn’t a problem because the Parking Shuffle would find us a space. “Parking Shuffle! Parking Shuffle!” she intoned, eyes scanning the shadows for hints of Jeep-shaped spaces that were not plastered protected by hieroglyphic street cleaning tow-zone snow emergency warnings. This went on for some twenty minutes—Parking Shuffle does take some time—but we did indeed find a space. I was kind of amazed. As it turns out, there is a supplementary magic related to the astral topology of Boston itself: everything in Boston is actually right next to each other when you walk; it just takes much longer to navigate by car. This phenomena is related, metaphysically speaking, to the New England expression You Can’t Get There From Here.
Anyway, once you find that space, it is almost always close enough to where you want to go. Parking Shuffle may seem like weak sauce, but it certainly beats being stressed out and angry like everyone else driving in Boston :)
The Treasure Dance: Appeasing the Gods of Good Deals
Scattered around New England are sprawling rural stores that stock everything from grass seed to furniture to tractors, proud holdovers from the days when the General Store carried everything the erstwhile homesteader could possibly need. I was visiting some friends in Maine, out some ways past Augusta, and was introduced to the Treasure Dance by their kids.
Unlike the other spells, this one is more of a spell of gratitude; I think it’s intended to ensure continued good fortune while blowing off excitement in an appropriately-dour Yankee fashion.
The way I’ve seen it applied is as follows:
- Discover an unbelievably good deal tucked away between the baskets of hose fixtures, off-brand soap, and assorted boots of many sizes.
- Double-check the price to make sure you’re not dreaming.
- Clutch the item fast to your breast before tucking it safely into your shopping basket
- Gather all members of the family (and friends, if you happen to be nearby), link hands as a circle, and then hop up and down three times whispering, “treasure! treasure! treasure!”, while looking around you to make sure that no one really sees you doing it (that seems to be really important, at least to the menfolk).
I’ve only really seen one family do this; probably because I was visiting and was allowed to see it. I wouldn’t be surprised if I haven’t seen others do it because they are properly making sure that no one can see them do it. Or, maybe it’s more of a rural thing, and we flatlanders have forgotten how to practice gratitude magic properly.
Every time I come across a good deal, a little voice inside me whispers, “treasure treasure treasure!” in homage to the memory of those visits, and my heart jumps up and down in secret excitement.
I attribute my lack of gray hair to the Treasure Dance. Maybe it, with the other two spells, help keep me young at heart.