PJ: You haven’t been posting as frequently lately.
MM: I’ve been really busy and somewhat uninspired to write.
PJ: That’s right. Evita. Are you glad it’s over?
MM: Yeah. It was a great show, and I’ll miss the people I worked with, but I’m relieved it’s over. It ended up being a bigger time commitment than I expected and combined with grad classes, work, and commitments at church, the past few months have been exhausting. I unexpectedly got yesterday off work and sometime mid-morning it dawned on me that I had no obligations that day. It was a surreal feeling.
PJ: What will you do with all your free time?
MM: I have a job search to do. My goal is to be out of here by the start of September. And it’s time to declutter, both physical clutter and mental clutter. Maybe I can finish scrapbooking my vacations from summer ’12! I have lots of books piled up to read as well.
PJ: I heard you might be going to France.
MM: Maybe. I’d like to visit my cousin while she’s living there, which is only this calendar year. But, it’s iffy. It will depend on how timing and finances work out.
PJ: What’s she doing over there for a year?
MM: She and her husband are about to enter the mission field in Cote d’Ivoire. They’re spending a year at a language school first, so they can learn relevant vocabulary. They won’t really need to know touristy phrasebook things like “how much is that replica of the Eiffel Tower” but words like “communion” will be helpful, and they’ll learn them at this school.
PJ: You have a couple blog posts in the works. One on socialism and one on why you’re single, but I had heard that you were dating someone.
MM: I don’t know where you heard that, but you were misinformed.
PJ: Not even a possible budding romance?
MM: Ha ha, no. There’s no one even on my radar. I don’t have time for that. Well, I say that, but I would make time if I met someone who was worth it.
PJ: I don’t know anyone who could keep up with you.
MM: [laughs]. That does seem to be one of my problems. Not many people understand the way my energy works.
PJ: What do you mean by that? How does your energy work?
MM: I am go, go, go until I’m not. Like this period of the past four months. I was running on adrenaline, I guess. Now I’m in crash mode where I spend a significant amount of time sleeping and watching TV. Then I’ll pick up with new business in a couple days and start the cycle again. I’m one of those “need a vacation after my vacation” people, because my philosophy on vacation is to go somewhere new and see and do everything that I can because I’m probably not going to make it back for a second visit. I am not fun for people who just want to lie on a beach and sip cocktails. I could lie on a beach for maybe a day. Then I’d get restless. If I’m going to do the beach, I will be swimming and playing volleyball or Frisbee or collecting shells. I can’t just “lay out.” Every time I get into one of my packed schedule times I tell myself when it’s over I’m not going to take on as many obligations. When I left for Nevada, for example, I thought ‘this is great. I can just go to church. I won’t be on any committees or anything. Just show up on Sunday morning, that’s it.’ Within a few weeks, I was a youth committee volunteer and singing in the choir. It’s a sickness, really, this inability to take it easy. And I approach almost everything with an intensity that I think makes some people uncomfortable.
PJ: How does it make people uncomfortable?
MM: If I play a game, I do what it takes to win, within the rules of course. When people don’t care about winning, they get squirmy around someone who’s competitive. When I take a class, I’m going to get my money’s worth, so, yeah, I’m going to talk a lot in class discussion. And debate. And sometimes intentionally push people’s buttons. I like to afflict the comfortable. And I think that’s entirely appropriate in a university setting. Some people find that intimidating. In committees I push to do, not to just talk. I invest in relationships. I make big efforts and sacrifices. I’m an introvert yet I arrange get-togethers and throw parties because I take interpersonal relationships seriously. Even massage has to be intense. If they do craniosacral I go nuts.
MM: It’s a type of massage where they focus on your head and a lot of it is them just holding your head. I can’t stand it. I think, “This isn’t doing anything. Nothing’s happening.” I have to get those deep massages where you can feel them hit all the knots and the pressure is so hard you almost start crying. Then I can relax because I feel like something productive is happening.
PJ: Productivity does seem to be really important to you. You seem like you’re all about accomplishments.
MM: I can’t remember the last day when I did absolutely nothing. Even yesterday when I didn’t have work, and I'm in "crash mode," I still got a few things done on my checklist. I have to learn that sometimes it’s okay to take an entire day for yourself. It’s not a waste, necessarily. But I often feel like it is. Especially if there are things I had time to get done and chose not to.
PJ: What drives that? Is it the Protestant work ethic the Puritans contributed to American culture? Is it boredom if you don’t? Why do you think you’re always “go, go, go” as you say?
MM: I think a big part of it is the John 10:10 thing. You’re not going to have an abundant life if you’re not actively pursuing it. You’re responsible for a large part of how your life goes. I guess my thinking is very Western that way (and Arminian). I honestly believe that if I live to be a senior citizen I will be happier about the things I did and regret the things I didn’t do much more than the reverse.
PJ: Let’s talk about the other piece you’re working on. I'm thinking your post on socialism will raise some eyebrows because I suspect you’re not going to say socialism is bad.
MM: We’ll just have to wait and see. It is a response in a way to some of the things I've been seeing online lately, as well as attitudes I've come across in the past. Sometimes my “issues” posts get buzz, but sometimes the ones that I think will generate a lot of discussion don’t even get a peep. I haven’t done many “issues” posts lately. Well, I haven’t done many posts at all lately. I’m still waiting to get off this emotional roller coaster.
PJ: I thought that with Evita done, you’d be relaxed.
MM: Well the last couple weeks have thrown some doozies at me. First there was the rejection from the internship. But it came while I was working on my term paper, so I didn’t have the luxury of breaking down over it. I kind of had to stuff it down for a few days while I worked on the paper. I’m pretty good at that, delaying emotional response until it’s less inconvenient. Then the paper wore me out, but I was kind of on a high about it because I thought it was good and interesting and was excited to present it to my class. Evita itself had highs and lows, seeing people in the audience who came to support me, but having other people not show up. Then the combined high and low of the end. You’re relieved it’s over, but you miss the people, you know. Then the internship rejection hit me full force because there’s nothing stuffing it down now. But I got my term paper back and it got an A and I had a good talk with my prof. Then I found out I probably won’t be able to apply for a job I found in Paris because you have to have EU work papers before you apply, but every source I’ve found tells me you have to have a job offer before you apply for EU papers. It’s a Catch-22. And right now I’m really worried that something has happened to a friend of mine abroad because it’s not like him to go so long without communicating. And this is all in the span of two weeks, and I’m leaving some things out. So it feels like I’m just waiting for the ride to stop so I can get off.
PJ: You need a vacation.
MM: I need a sedative.
PJ: Or a day off when you actually don’t do anything.
Peter Jones is a world traveler who highly recommends not doing anything when you get the chance.