Thursday, December 08, 2011

The Mantra

I never walk the streets, think it's all about me
Even though deep in my heart, it really could be
I just try my best to like go all out
Some might even say yo shorty black you're buggin' out-
Phife, Buggin' Out

By way of the ridiculously creative mind of one person I know, I found the blog post of another ridiculously creative person I know. And it struck a chord. Took me back to a place I was a couple of years ago as I approached New Year 2008. I dubbed it my year of Tyler Durden. Then I fell off. Way off.

"Wherever I go, ego." Damn, Nicholas Payton. That's it. You put your finger right on it.

When I started the exploration of my concept of "a knick-knack life," the way I described my lack of self-importance apparently came across in such a way it overshadowed that I also clearly stated my belief that I, and others for that matter, are unique and marvelous.

One of the best compliments I ever received...because I thought it fit me to a "T" was from an attorney friend who told me I was "neither fungible nor interchangeable."

I was tipsy from drinking Grand Marnier at the time, but once he explained what it meant. I thought, then said out loud, "Damn right." I really should start drinking Grand Marnier again. It never fails to bring me to a transcendent plane, but I digress.

As I was saying, I never heard it quite that way, but I embraced on the spot that was exactly who I was. It also greatly raised my opinion of the person who said it, because I feel like very few people get me and I was mightily impressed he did...but again, I digress.

Nicholas goes on in his blog to say:
"I never got why when people said someone was “tooting their own horn” it was a bad thing. Isn’t that what my horn is for? If I am not to toot my own horn, then who?"

and then:
"Why can’t we say what we are anymore without “people” feeling threatened?"

"I’m convinced that in the long run, the passive approach bites you in the ass. You must claim what’s yours. Nothing is given, not even to those who deserve it."

"Don’t lower your leg to make the other dancers comfortable, lift that leg as high as possible and make them stretch themselves up to your level.
They’ll hate you for it in the beginning, but in the end, they’ll be better off for it."

Now these are the passages that resonated for me. I was perhaps on the verge of it, with the whole Tyler Durden pop culture thing I blogged about to start 2008 [was it really that long ago?]. I understand popular culture to be a rich mine from which to take references that easily resonate for others.

So I started with Tyler Durden and "if you want to make an omelette, you've got to crack some eggs." I still stand by that. If you're going to do anything worthwhile, you have to accept you must disrupt the status quo writ small or large.

I think was on the path to step into the personal light that Nicholas puts out there in such a poetic way (no surprise there- sitting in band class with him learning music from his father Walter Payton, we were all pushed to find and then perform the version of greatness that was within I probably started drifting off when I stopped feeding my kinetically creative side and why I miss it like amputees describe the loss of their limbs, but again I digress).

The reason that phrase "neither fungible nor interchangeable" exactly captured who I am is that I already know that there "ain't nobody bad like me." I know this. I just think it's true of other people as well. That's what I meant by ordinary. Ain't nobody bad like me, and ain't nobody bad like every individual I encounter. And therefore to me, that fact is unremarkable, but I did not mean to imply I thought I was insignificant-I'll have to check and make sure I didn't use that word. [By the way. next time I'm going to cut-and-paste in a exchange I had on facebook about my spiritual perspective because it completely relates to all this, but let me finish this blog's thought...]

My issue has never been that I don't recognize my own uniqueness and marvel at it. My issue has been 'tooting my own horn.' [at this point, if you haven't already gone to the link and read Nicholas' post, you should because I can't keep stopping to paste in quotes].

I was satisfied that those who really knew me, would see me. But instead in fact, I think I was not being "unapologetically myself"at all times, but only when I was alone or safe with the handful of people who I thought understood me. I think that's all wrong not the least of which because it presumes only a small number of people will understand me. It's not my job to coddle or protect people who don't get me from who I am, full on. It might chase some away, but really, they have work of their own to do. It might delight others and give me the opportunity to expand my community. And, as Nicholas noted, it might even kick some folks into their own high gear.

Nicholas suggests we should all have a mantra:
"It’s not boasting, it’s an affirmation of what is possible when we exercise right effort with consistency. This is about the right for me to say what I want to say in the way I want to say it. The mantra you repeat is what you will bring into your existence...'It ain’t bragging if you can do it.'
Unless we put forth the mantra we want the world to repeat back to us, it’ll never happen."

In my young womanhood, I had a mantra. But I only acknowledged it to myself. I'm pretty sure, though it clearly manifested itself to other people, because I was then and remain consistently authentic.

Referencing another one of those popular culture adaptations I like so much, even before it was a plot line in an episode of "Ally McBeal," I had a theme song. And I was seriously into my theme song, I heard it in my head all the time.

If you knew me then, it will not surprise you to know it was (and to some degree remains) :

But it's time for me to state my mantra in my own terms and live in it consistently.

Guess what? I'm a bad bitch and you'll love it.

Surprised? You shouldn't be. But if you are, it's because I haven't been 'tooting my horn' as I consistently as I should...

Monday, December 05, 2011

My Ro

Exactly a year ago, I lost my little alter ego. She reluctantly came into my life at one transition and quietly left me at another. I wish I could say I was stronger when it was time to let her go. She stayed a bit longer just for me, especially on her last day. But it only made me love her more. I can't really complain about the difficulties life sends my way for very long, because it has also brought me more than my share of true loves. And Ro was definitely near the top of the list.

She couldn't talk. Wouldn't keep a job. Never backed down from stirring up a little trouble. And she made her own rules.

I am very proud that I kept the promise I made to her the first day we met. When I picked her up, I promised I would always take good care of her. I lost her for awhile, but God sent her back to me and we were never apart from then on. At least I thought I was taking care of her, turns out she was taking care of me.

Of everything I lost this year, losing her was the only thing that made me feel lonely...

Sunday, December 04, 2011

It's really my own fault...

Not what has happened so far in my life, but how I have chosen to react to it. Most days I think the "what has happened" version of my life is like a modern-day version of The Grapes of Wrath- I can clearly see the footprint of the zeitgeist right square on my ass. But the 'so what' of it all? That's all me.

I'm not the only person life is tossing around, so the variable is me.

The cards you're dealt make a big friggin' difference, but not nearly as much as how you play the hand you get.

I'm old enough now to sit myself down and face the facts. A lot of the things I secretly hoped would happen in my life, probably won't. Some of them because it's just the luck of the draw, but an important handful- actually the ones I hoped most would happen- probably aren't going to happen at all. Because instead of taking some risks, I sat around waiting for them to happen to me. And I finally see things don't work that way. If I had been more honest, a long time ago about how much I really wanted those handful of things to happen, they might have. But now, the chances are slim to none.

But first, the things that aren't going to happen that surprisingly enough I don't give as much of a damn about as much as I thought I would when I was younger.

I am not going to end up in the corner office with a gold key to the executive washroom. Not gonna happen. I just do not have a passion for the rat race or a drive to conquer the world. I've tried to fake it for awhile at different times in my life and it just doesn't catch hold. I love to do a good job at whatever it is I'm doing. But not for the sake of getting ahead. Usually I get my ass in gear if it helps someone else or if my livelihood is in jeopardy. Those two things will kick me into overdrive. But other than that, I'm not all fired up about getting the employee-of-the-month parking space. If I could figure out a way to support myself doing something that helped other people without any possible peril to my sustenance, I would do that. So that's one thing.

Because of that last thing. I probably will not end up in a deluxe apartment in the sky. I'm not even good about playing Powerball. I'd be really happy if I end up with a nice place to live where I can enjoy my days. But I am not going to end up stinking rich. I don't have the drive for it. Wait, that's almost the same thing as the first thing. Somewhat. My lack of professional drive means I have to accept I will probably not have the accoutrement of material comfort. I'm just not probably going to earn enough to access them. So I'm satisfied. I get what I get.

So what are the other things? I'm probably going to remain single and end up with a couple of cats instead of a couple of kids. I really like cats, so that part is not so bad. But the single, no kids part? That's a little bittersweet. I really did want those things. Like really. I never longed for siblings. But I thought when I grew up I would be so happy if I had a family of my own- that's my definition of stability and safety and success. I like taking care of other people. It's one of the few things I know I'm good at and gives me any sense of fulfillment and desire to follow through.

But I spent most of my young womanhood so scared that no one would ever want to be my partner, that I chose to get involved with people who either I was never going to commit to or recently who were never going to commit to me. Almost every day of my adolescent years someone was telling me I was ugly or ignoring me or being annoyed about me being around. I am a very sensitive soul. There are many people who think they know me and actually don't, who probably think I could give a flying fcuk about anything anybody says or does to me, but that's not true.

Every time someone says or does something hurtful to me, I spend a little time absolutely sure I am going to fly apart right on the spot.

But since it's happened so often, I just pull it together-on the outside- and get on with it. Over time though, it's just convinced me that I would never be accepted and loved and it has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I have made it true because at the end of they day I have believed it would be so. And now because I took that and made it my truth, I have lived it and made it so. And I have to live with the consequences of that. No one else.

It's good to be honest about that. Because the consequences for me have absolutely nothing to do with the men with whom I've been involved, God bless them all. It's been because I have not truly believed that want I wanted would be what I would get. And being dishonest with myself about that is why I've made the choices that have gotten me here.

For the first part of my young womanhood, I got involved with guys I was not going to commit to. Not purposefully so, I had this insight in my grown-womanness.

At the time, I was aware that I was very emotionally guarded. I even knew why. But I didn't understand at the time, that as a result I was choosing to get involved with men based on my ability to keep myself emotionally protected and out of risk. I could bounce at any time. I thought that was a good thing. And to some measure it is. No healthy relationship should involve a 'need' or 'lack' but for the other person. But there should be an openness, interest and willingness to share and connect with another person. I did not have this in my emotional repertoire.

Luckily, I am not a sociopath. After hurting a couple of people, I realized that what I was doing was very unfair to the other party. I was letting someone else take a trip down a path I had no intention of travelling- risk. It actually rattled me to the core. I thought I was a risk taker. But I wasn't. And I am also not a heartless person. It never occurred to me that by focusing exclusively on not getting hurt myself, I was hurting other people. And I was very disappointed with myself. I know what hurt feels like and had no intention to visit it on another. I was just trying not to get hurt.

So I swung to the opposite extreme. I would be so open, so willing to take a risk it would make up for the guardedness I had operated with before. And so I have chosen to get involved with men who for whatever reason have no capacity to commit to me thinking: hey, once I was like that and I got over it. If they see me doing it, they'll see it's OK and do it too. Not that these men knew that they weren't ever going to commit to me-they all claimed they wanted to and maybe they meant it- but they couldn't and it wasn't going to change because I was being such a good example. But it is what it is. That's what I've been doing. It didn't work on me, and it doesn't work on them. People do what they want to do when they are ready to do it.

But I have been indulging myself  by investing  a measure of time hoping things will change in relationships when I really don't believe they won't. Once I realize a guy isn't going to commit, I actually know that's not going to change. I'm not that goofy. But I've been wasting too much time on the 'hoping' part.

I actually know I'm hoping. But I guess going back to the fear no one will ever want to actually be with me, I've now convinced myself that my own cynicism is the problem and that if I just hope a little harder and a little longer  that things will work, they actually will. But they won't. Because I have chosen to lie to myself about the truth instead of cutting my losses. I mean maybe they could, but I don't believe that kind of shit will ever happen to me. So it ends being a lot of comedy and aggravation for everyone involved.

Right now, I'm at the tail end of doing this for the second time in a row. That irks me. The first time wasn't a surprise. The hoping part was really pro forma. It was way past time for that dude to be gone. But I think a part of me felt a little guilty about not regretting the end of it all. And I was genuinely pissed about how it went down. It offended my sensibilities, really. So I spent a couple of weeks on the hope-and-change of that. Then I was cool. On to the next.

But this time it hit me right between the eyes, I can't lie. But I saw it coming a long time ago. In fact, I've been hoping and therefore lying to myself this second time a lot longer than I expected I would. I've known I was doing it. I just haven't known how to stop. I think because I have been petrified to do so. Part of the time because my life had become so intertwined with the other person that I needed to hope it would change awhile so I could get my bearings. It gave me something to do so I wouldn't have to acknowledge I was having that fly apart at the seams thing. And I truly was in love. For the first time, after some hesitation, I really had opened up to that wanting to connect and share with another person because I thought I had found that unicorn- someone who wanted to do the same and with me. I should have known that wasn't going to happen, right? I have never believed that was possible.

So at the end of the day, even more than being willing to test my ability to alter situations with the sheer force of my hope and powers of persuasion, I am a pragmatist. If a man doesn't want to commit to you, he's not going to change his mind about it. It's a lost cause. And if he packs up and moves, it's a wrap. It ain't gonna happen. Not because of him or because of you. It just isn't, so you let it go.

The little hurt girl in me wanted somebody to choose me. Because nobody ever did. But it was my job to take care of her. I shouldn't have let her take control of my emotional choices. Because children are irrational, they don't know any better. But adults aren't. They can't afford to be. I can't afford to be.

I am single now because of me. And I may remain that way, because now I think 1) there really isn't a person out there for me to find, 2) even if that person manifests, I'm not sure I'm emotionally capable of walking the line between protecting myself and opening up and I wouldn't even try and 3) the lifestyle I lead- mostly solitary- just works against me. I just have to get right with the whole cat thing.  Which leads to the second heartbreak.

The other reason this has been a struggle is because it means facing the fact that I won't have the kids either. I wanted both the partner and the kids. There's nothing wrong with being a single parent. But for me, it would be a form of emotional selfishness. It would meet my needs, but I'm not sure it's fair for someone like me to be a parent without giving the child a spare...a spare port in the storm, a spare point of view on life, a spare voice of reason... So I don't think it would work for me. There's a lot more fertility behind me than in front of me. I had the chance to really think about that a few weeks ago. But I'm a pragmatist. I did the right thing for all involved with no hesitation whatsoever. My vision doesn't involve anyone being unhappy about being there.

The end of the year is coming up and soon after, my birthday. And also somewhere around there, my secret deadline to stop acting like unicorns and hope and rainbows make the world go around. It is what it is. I've had this secret deadline for awhile, a long time actually. And I am a woman of my word. I'm going to honor it with some dignity. There's no crying in baseball or break-ups. Don't get me wrong. I am crushed. Right up until that day comes, I am going to hope as hard as I can with my fingers crossed, pinky swear, the whole nine. But when the day comes, I'm going to wake up and let it go.

So where from here? I have absolutely no idea. The things I have spent my time focusing on so far, have not actually been the things I really wanted. And I knew it. I was just too scared to admit I was not being true to myself. I get it now. But I can't go back and undo it.

So what comes between now and the sunset of it all seems like a big sigh. I mean, who the hell cares? I kind of don't. Like I said blog before last, I don't have a sense of self-importance that makes me think my life makes the world go around. I like myself and all. Thank goodness because my own company is something I got plenty of...But I'm not sure exactly how I'm going to spend another half life. Geez. And if it stretches on...I'm not sure how I feel about that.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My bra is too tight and my eyes hurt

That's the truth. I just got finished driving down a parkway with no lights in the pouring rain and I have absolutely no desire to do anything but decompress.

As soon as I reclined against my pillows to think about my impossible schedule tomorrow morning, I realized two things. My eyes hurt. That's one. I squinted the whole time I was driving trying to keep sight of the lane markers and praying I wouldn't hydroplane off the parkway. Roads up here aren't made of the proper material for rain and it get really treacherous. I get really anxious driving at night.

But most urgently, my bra hurts. I am officially at the point where the most relaxing thing I can do at the end of a hard day, or even in the middle of one, is to unsnap my bra. This is a relatively recent phenomenon. Well into my mid-thirties my bra size was wholly unremarkable. But around three years ago, the girls took off. I need substantial trussing-up. Cute, novelty lingerie is completely out of the question. And I have tried. Just a few days ago, I bought some naughty unmentionable thinking, hey what the hell. I got the thing home, put it on and promptly spilled over the top. I need a grown-woman, industrial grade bra.

Once I take off this bra, my day is over. So I may as well turn out the light and call it a night.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Singular Sensation

I got a couple of emails after my last post. And I just re-read what I wrote. So before I go on, I am not in some bad place. I feel fine. Maybe it's an only child thing. I don't dread being alone; I kind of like it. Loneliness is what brings people down. I don't think I have an undue amount of loneliness in my life. So please don't be concerned about me in that way.

Last year about this time, my life was in a great state of upheaval. And not for the first time. So over the last few days or so, I probably have been more judgmental with myself about certain things I thought I would have accomplished by now. But that is never a useful exercise. The life you think you will have was always only a figment of your imagination. Being disappointed that your reality doesn't match up to that is just as false as being satisfied if it does. None of us can predict what will come. Therefore do not worry...

But the whole idea of a knick knack existence is not a concept that I could flesh out in one sitting. It will take me a while. In the end, it may turn out to be a bunch of BS. But it's not a bad thing.

I have to say the only aggravating thing about my life thus far has been the upheaval. I am periodically reminded that I have very little control. When that happens, I take a deep breath. And I remember that I am very blessed because what I need for my journey in life is not material and therefore can never be lost. I have faith and I have to ability to endure most of what comes my way.

I feel like a character in The Grapes of Wrath some days; swept up in these huge phenomena like a tumbleweed blowing across the social prairie. So what I meant last time about about feeling disconnected from anywhere was that having been physically relocated so many times now, I have become convinced that where I am is of little consequence to whether or not I am happy. I can be satisfied anywhere. I can live anywhere. In that sense then, it doesn't matter where I am.

So now I'm tired...I'll have to get back to this later. I hate it when Daylight Saving Time ends. I get super sleepy, very early.  I'll pick this up again...

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Out the Revolving Door

I can't believe it's been a couple of years since I've updated here. But what can I say? At the time, I thought I needed to direct all my writing energy elsewhere. And then I thought blogging was cheating on the writing I 'should' be doing. But it turns out, if I don't have an outlet for what I want to say, I kind of resent what I must to say to make a living.

I wish I was back with some sense of accomplishment or enlightenment about the meaning of my life, in particular. But I don't have that at all. From the last time I wrote to now, I feel as if I have been in a revolving door. Pushed in at one side and out the other having expended much more effort than it should have taken to get so relatively short a distance, if anywhere at all.

Everything I have, I think, I feel has been stripped down and away. Making it hard for me to believe I ever really had anything at all. Most days I would just as well prefer to retreat, but I go out. I do my job, then I return to where I started and prepare to do the same the next day.

I don't have a personal connection to where I live, but I might just as well stay here than move somewhere else because my life would be just the same wherever I went.

This not what I thought life would be like. It's not depressing; it's just inconsequential. If I had aspirations of grandeur, I might be ambitious. But I'm not. I've had some pretty remarkable experiences, but they are no better or worse than the remarkable experiences someone else may have had in life.

A few years ago, actually now that I think about it -quite a few years ago, I was walking in San Francisco. I stopped into a shop for no reason and saw a Lalique figurine. Immediately, I wanted that figurine. I couldn't afford it, of course. I was in graduate school. I admired it for a moment and left the shop. A few years after that, when I was settling into a new place after getting a job, I remembered that figurine. I took to the internet and eventually I found the figurine. Before I bought a sofa, or a table and chairs, I bought that figurine. When it arrived, it was much smaller than I remembered from the shop, but there it was. I had it. I put it on a shelf. Occasionally I looked at it. I dusted it. It had no purpose or importance other than my admiration of it.

Since then, I have taken that figurine with me wherever I've gone. Sometimes putting it on a shelf, sometimes keeping it in its box. But I have held onto it even when I have thrown most other things away. It probably isn't worth as much as I paid for it and it does absolutely nothing. But it's mine.

I am a knick-knack. This much I have decided. For a while, I thought I would just sit down and write something proper about that. But that seems daunting. Instead I'll just chip away at it. Perhaps in retrospect it'll make itself into something. Or it won't.

What does that mean? That I'm a knick knack. I figured it out when I was thinking about what it is and who it is I am in the scheme of things.

I don't have a specific purpose. I am not essential. I am not important.

None of those observations are meant to seem disparaging about myself. In objective terms, I just mean the relative impact I may have on others isn't that much. Everyone in my life could just as easily have never met or encountered me. No one needs me. Nothing I think or do can't be thought or done by someone else.

On the one hand that's rather humbling. There are very, very few people who can say with surety and veracity that their lives are essential and important in the larger scheme of things. It doesn't mean they aren't intrinsically valuable.

But for the most part, if anyone has a purpose or is cherished in any way by another, it is by way of indulgence. It's not that anyone couldn't get along without another, it's that they don't want to get on without someone (or even something) in particular.

I don't have that role in anyone's life. Sometimes that makes me very sad, but then I grab a hold of myself. It's only an indulgence on my part, me feeling sorry for myself. In fact, wanting to wanted and important in another's life is only an indulgence of my sense of self. I exist whether I am wanted or not.

So let me also give the other parts of that reality, lest you think it's wholly depressing.

I am unique. In every way. There's has never been, nor will there ever be someone exactly like me. And that is a marvel. A very humbling and magnificent marvel. Who I am, the thoughts I think, the feelings I experience and the life unfolding in front of me is absolutely incredible at the same time it is insignificant. Just like and even with 7 billion other people inhabiting the planet right now, no one is like another. Like a single snowflake or grain of sand.

As unique as I am, I am also ordinary. There is nothing about me that is particularly exceptional. I am so quirky, in fact, that some might be disgusted by my oddity.

I am smart. Not so smart that I could revolutionize anything at all. But smart enough that some people don't like to talk to me at cocktail parties, or play games with me. I figure out the plot twists of movies minutes after the credits. I can look at a pile of jumbled pieces and figure out how they fit together.

But I am also dense. No matter how many times it's explained to me, I cannot understand how insurance works or selling money. I can analyze people, but I don't understand them at all. I can tell what people are going to do, but have no idea what to do about it. I can connect with someone on a very deep level, but I loathe day-to-day contact with people and the kind of socializing that puts others at ease.

I'm not a great beauty, but with some effort, I can pull it together. But most days, I forget or don't think anything I have to do on that particular day merits the effort that would be necessary to do that.

The job I have is useful. But I could be quickly, probably easily, replaced. The people who seek me out are most likely trying to use me for their own ends and the people I seek out are merely a means to getting my job done. I do a serviceable job overall: somedays very good, others not so much.

These days I have anxiety attacks. I don't like talking on the phone. If I get really frazzled, I stutter. My hands rattle so much I can hardly hold a cup of coffee.  Spending so much time alone, when I do get the chance to talk to someone else, I go on for too long. I tell stories in circles instead of a straight line.

Too many people freak me out; too much noise makes me jumpy.

The people who love or care about me get along seeing me infrequently or rarely, with no consequence. And when they do spend time with me, it might be more exhausting for them than it is for me.

In sum, anyone who honestly says they want to see or talk to me on any given day, is doing so because they want to, not because they must. I am the cliched pill. I know it.

I am a knick knack. And I only recently realized I have been one since I was born.