Monday, April 8, 2013

BLAHSVILLE

I quit. I give up. Nothing's good enough for anybody else it seems. And being alone
is the best way to be. When I'm by myself it's the best way to be. When I'm all alone it's
the best way to be. When I'm by myself nobody else can say goodbye. Everything is temporary anyway.

-Edie Brickell

I had a bad week a little while ago. It felt like everything in my life had gone wrong, good things left and bad things stayed, leaving me to dine on stress and shit sandwiches.

I gave up.

I gave up all hope. I had had it with thinking positive, with being positive, with having hope and wishes and dreams and aspirations. I just quit. What good is it anyway? You think positive and you believe in so much good and yet, you get taken to the mat. Why bother with all this positive thinking if it’s just going to slap you around? Better to be realistic or even better . . . to do nothing. To quit, throw in the towel, hoist the white flag and take the last train to Clarksville. As our dear friend and philosopher, Cartman, says “screw you guys, I’m goin’ home”.

During this bleak time I cried, and it showed. I turtle’d at home. I wondered what my purpose in life is and, indeed, the purpose of life at all. Not to the point where I broke out my pseudo intellectual college girl self and delved into Camus readings, but to the point of . . . hmmmmm . . . how do I describe it . . . nothing. Absolute zero. Null. Barren. Not even shoe shopping sounded interesting. Blah.

Generally time heals all wounds, other times it just opens the wounds that have healed. Imagine you want something, no . . . more than want, you believe so strongly you’ll have it that you don’t even consider life without it, but then, the years pass, what you thought would occur doesn’t, and you finally have to be real and say “that ship has sailed”. That damn ship left without me and I could have sworn I booked passage, but here I stand on the dock, watching it leave while I longingly stare at what I thought was mine diminish on the horizon. Wounded. And then, with many years time, healed. But what if the scar is scratched open and once again you have hope? Is it realistic? Does it matter? Do hope and reality always fit like hand in glove? Do you dare hope a second time for something that was so difficult to lose once? During happy times any one of you, and of course me, would say “Oh my yes, never give up hope, you never know, so many possibilities, so many other ways of having what you want, keep your mind and your heart open”. And then there are times when you say “Bullshit and balderdash”.

Bullshit and balderdash are feelings worth having. In this world of Deepak Chopra and Wayne Dyer we are all conditioned to follow the advice of our Python friends and always look on the bright side of life, and for the most part I agree. But it can’t always happen right away nor, I believe, should it. For craps sake, you’re unhappy, it’s ok, be unhappy a bit. Cry your little eyes out and when your friend says “Are you ok? You look like you’ve been crying”, just say "yes". After all, what if the answer was “no” and you truly looked like crap with no excuse? I’d rather be accused of crying. Besides, you have to let it out so you don’t end up with ulcers or shingles or going on a shopping spree you can ill afford. Just keep your tears and credit cards at home for a while and indulge how sad you are. It’s alright.

But what of the feeling beyond sad, the feeling of hopelessness and what if’s and giving up? These feelings are more than just the illness at hand, these are insidious. These are the bigger questions that only relate to the initial pain in an arterial way. You want a new job. You want a house . . . or children . . . or a garden, or a trip to Europe, or to be President of the Justin Timberlake fan club and you recognize they all require work and effort. You put in the work and effort and yet, your wish remains an elusive shot in the dark as your coin pings at the bottom of the well. Then you feel it. Why hope? Why bother? It comes so close and then runs through my un-webbed fingers as though it meant nothing to me. So you go to work, you leave work, you go to the gym, you go home, you go to sleep, you get up and do it all again along with all the other automatons and you wonder, are they happy? Is this it? Am I asking for too much? I don’t know, all I know is what I want isn’t here and doesn’t seem to be on its way, so what now? What path? Did I miss a turn? Did I forget to book passage on yet another ship? Did the ship return and leave without me again?!

I can’t answer any of these questions. But they’re all worthy questions and therein lay the productive catalyst of hopelessness. It brings up questions and can help foster change and growth. What do you really want? Do you really want that ship that you let sail to return? Then call it back, get that thing back here and until there is no hope whatsoever and the last nail is driven in the coffin of that dream then keep it up because now my dear friends . . .

Time has passed.

Now you can buck up buttercup (I love you M.M.!), and move onward through the fog. Along the way there will be setbacks and moments of struggle and that is all well and good, but you’ve hung your head low and contemplated your navel enough to see inside, and what beauty lies within. Life is fraught with sadness, just as it is fraught with happiness. You will lose hope and determination and drop all the spinning plates, but you can get more plates. All the seasons are beautiful, from snowstorm to sun splash.

I began this writing while wondering “is this it”? I’m not going to fill you up with a bunch of dewy crap and say “my life is wonderful and if this is it I’ll take it”! My life isn’t a musical, I’m not going to burst forth with song and dance, truth be told I hate musicals. My life has some great things in it, no doubt about it, and as M.M. and I discussed just the other day, the 21 year old version of me would look at the life I have now and find great success in at least some of it. But I want more. That’s where the question posed in the very beginning comes in; what comes from wanting more? Do you get what you want or do you get a reality inducing slap in the face? I dunno, lately it felt like a slap, but it’s still worth heeding the advice of Journey and “don’t stop believin’”. And listen my friends, it’s ok to want more. It’s ok to want more love, to want more from your job, to want more days on the mountain next Winter, and to want more out of life, there is nothing wrong with wanting all that you can handle. DON’T.STOP.BELIEVIN’.

Let’s go back to our friend, Edie and her New Bohemian buddies . . .

Everything is temporary anyway.
When the streets are wet the colors slip into the sky.

When the streets are wet the colors slip into the sky . . . and you have to look up to see them.

Chin up buttercup.









Sunday, March 17, 2013

Commodities

Now the parking lot is empty, everyone’s gone someplace.
I pick you up and in the trunk I've packed a cooler and a 2-day suitcase.
Cause there's a place we like to drive, way out in the country.
Five miles out of the city limit we’re singing, and your hand’s upon my knee

-The Indigo Girls

It is 8:00 on a Sunday night. My house is a mess, piles of laundry both done and undone surround me, the bathroom could use a going over, the kitchen as well, the scones I wanted to make remain but an idea I had on Friday, the material I bought to sew new napkins is in the closet next to the machine that has not been touched, I should have gone in to the office this weekend but didn’t, and once again at the end of a weekend I wonder how on earth one manages balance in this life. Two days a week away from work isn’t enough.

I want to be up the hill riding my snowboard, or trekking on my snowshoes. Soon I will want to hike and camp. I also want to be in town and go out to dinner, go to the symphony, go for a walk, go to the farmers market, and ride my bike. I want quiet down time to read a book or watch a movie or even, gasp, take a nap. I want to take classes, I want to use my sewing machine more, I want to cook more, I want to spend my free time doing things I love, but then who will do the laundry and pay the bills and vacuum and grocery shop? How does everyone do it? Does everyone do it? Is it merely an illusion that the rest of you have it figured out while I am grossly behind and ill equipped to manage my own life? I tell my friend, Dave, I am writing about finding balance and he gives me a knowing look. I’m astonished, he seems to have it all figured out, but maybe not? What we see on the outside is not always what is real.

It seems to all be about choices and priorities. I had a fantastic weekend and it flew by. Friday night I was out with Maura and Kim, Saturday I lollygagged around on the couch watching "Downton Abby", then went out in the snow and played, then came home with just enough time to shower and meet up with my friends for dinner, then the art gallery, then drinks. This morning I slept in, went bike shopping, and now I am on the computer. It was glorious just playing all weekend, but now I see how behind I am at work and in the details of my home. I want to read a book, it seems like so little to ask but every day is work, then exercise, then dinner and dishes and getting ready for work the next day. I’m not a morning person, I must do as much as possible the night before, and I need my 9 hours of sleep, and then the whole thing starts over again. Timing is almost crucial or the entire, precarious house of cards will blow away like so much dust in the wind.

There is work. There is play. There is rest. There is down time. There is social time. There are times when I feel like I fail spectacularly in every area. What is the worth of each? I love when I have a productive day. I sit on my couch and enjoy the splendor of my clean home, my completed laundry, my full refrigerator, the smell of something yummy in the oven, feet up on the table with a book and a drink. I feel content and peaceful. I love when I have a weekend in the great outdoors and I come home smelly and filthy and beat. I feel like I have lived my free time, not just had free time.

I have never understood people who say they wouldn’t know what to do if they didn’t work. Are you out of your fucking mind?!!!!! Forgive the vulgarity, but seriously, you couldn’t find anything to do? In this vast world of so much to do, you go to work 40 hours a week for lack of anything better? What is wrong with you?! Oh my word, the endless possibilities of what to do boggles the mind, the classes to be taken, the volunteer opportunities in which to take part, the time to spend indulgently on a hobby that you love . . . what I would give, my kingdom for more time. Alas, my kingdom does not amount to much and thus far no one has offered to trade it for more time.

Have I ever told y’all the “woot doot doot” story? I feel like maybe I have, but if I did it’s long enough ago that I can’t remember so I’ll bank on you all forgetting as well. This is my friends story, not mine, but I love it so I re-tell it often. When she was a young girl living at home her neighbors had a young son. Every single day of the summer, EVERY single day of the summer, he would get on his bike in the morning and ride it in circles on the driveway screaming “Woot doot doot! Woot doot doot”! C’mon, how great is that, now that is enjoying your free time. I love when I’m happy enough to yell out nonsense. When I am having a good run on my board I often yell “Yayayayaya”! . . . and why not, I feel great! Today when I was bike shopping I test rode a lot of bikes, nothing can make you feel the joy of youth quite like riding a bicycle, and a shiny new bike to boot. I wanted to scream “woot doot doot”!

Let’s get back to the choices and priorities part of this. My job is stressful, very, very stressful. There is no catching up, ever. The only way to catch up is to work until 10:00 every night. I won’t do it. I did for a while but I have put my foot down, I will only work painfully late once a week and I will not go in on weekends, or I will at least do my best to not go in on the weekends. My choice is to have balance and to live my life and let me tell you people, I love my life. I love going up to the mountains to play, I love staying in town to play, I love everything I do in life . . . except for house cleaning, gross . . . other than that I love everything in my life.

I don’t know how to make it all work. There are days I feel like I’m going to explode from the stress of trying to fit it all in. Add in the fact the I'm a singleton and that makes it even harder, there’s no one to help out. I was grocery shopping at 9:00 p.m. last week because after work there’s yoga, and then after yoga there’s grocery shopping, and then putting away the groceries, maybe eating something over the sink, and then washing the dishes from this morning and getting coffee set to go so all I have to do is turn the pot on in the morning. I can’t call Lucy Lulu and Delilah Jane to ask them to pick up almond milk, they’re cute but fairly useless.

As I begin to wrap this months edition up I see that I have no answer. No epiphany . No ding ding ding, you’re a winner winner chicken dinner, bell ringing. I suppose something is always sacrificed and you have to know what is most important. I need to do a good job so I can stay employed and continue to enjoy the lifestyle to which I have become accustomed. So, sacrifice work, yes but not at the expense of work. Sacrifice play time? Rarely, very, very rarely, because play is important. Sacrifice a clean house? Yes, duh. I’ll just get over it. And it can all cycle ya know; work very hard for two weeks before I take one week off of work. Take a day off of work here and there to catch up on my home life. What will I never sacrifice? My friends, family, and loved ones of course. . . never. You all come before funded loans and a clean house and a stocked fridge. I can order food in, I can pay someone else to clean the house, and funded mortgage loans . . . well, I guess I still have to go to work and fund mortgage loan, damnit, but I can choose to limit my hours and just do the best within that.

I haven’t purchased a season pass for my beloved snowboard in some years, and I have missed it greatly. My once okey dokey skills are now rusty at best. I have made a vow with the lovely Maura, we will buy passes again this fall and go up often, for fun and sanity and balance. My old bike is done and I’m buying a new one, I’ll ride it to work on Fridays. I leave work early every Thursday to get to the early yoga class, I go in to the office early on Thursdays to make up for leaving early and that part blows, I believe I mentioned not being an early bird, but I stay true blue to my early Thursdays. You gotta find ways and sometimes, you just have to say no to a clean house and give that laundry pile the Heisman. It’ll still be there when you get back, don’t worry about it.

Get out and play for gosh sakes . . . WOOT DOOT DOOT!!!!!!!



Friday, February 22, 2013

Kate

Happiness runs in a circular motion. Thought is like a little boat upon the sea. Everybody is a part of everything anyway. You can have everything if you let yourself be.

-Donovan

You want a thing. Oh man how you want a thing. You envision it, you dream about it, you imagine how great your life will be when you get it, oh my gosh you want that thing.

And then you don’t get it.

Pppphhhhhlllllllbbbbtttttt. Two thumbs down. Call the wah wah wahmbulance. Story as old as time, eh? And then you do the whole "if it was meant to be . . . if was right it woulda coulda shoulda, blah blah blah". Yeah, it is an old story, and it’s boring. But how ‘bout this, you want a thing. Oh man how you want a thing. You envision it, you dream about it, you imagine how great your life will be when you get it, oh my gosh you want that thing.

And then, you do get it.

What the . . .? Now what? What on earth will I bitch about? When I go to brunch with the girls what the hell will I talk about? People are funny creatures, aren’t we? What is it about being happy that’s harder to talk about than being unhappy?

Beauty Queen : “How was your week?”

Drama Queen : “Oh.my.gawd., my butt is so big. I got new jeans and I look terrible in them. My boss is a total jackass, they don’t realize how blessed they are to have me, they’re lucky I don’t walk out. I went out for sushi last night with Brad Pitt and he was looking at another girl the whole time. He’s called like 18 times this morning, but I’m not answering, he’s going to have to do better than that, I mean c’mon, flowers please? And my mother, puhleaze, don’t get me started. I broke a nail and my hair is full of split ends. My life is in ruins! How was your week?”

Beauty Queen: “I had a great week! I got those new boots I’ve been thinking about. The book I had reserved at the library came in and so far I love it. I’m looking forward to getting my golf clubs out and practicing my swing.”

Drama Queen: “Oh.”

See? Not much to talk about with Queenie.

Paintings, song lyrics, poems, books, sculptures, dances, are all created from pain. They are certainly created from joy as well, I would not want to exclude Beethoven’s “Ode To Joy” or Elizabeth Barrett Brownings beautiful poems of love from the list of truly inspired works of art, but mostly we think about our gut being eviscerated as a catalyst for art. And pain is so much more glamorous, right? Pain and martyrdom are oh so cool.

I wonder if we feel some small measure of guilt. Your friend is bitching and all you have are good things to say, just makes ya clam up. It’s tough to say happy things to an Eeyore, nothing’s ever good enough, and that gets tiring. And what kind of creepy peep says “Yeah, that sucks for you, but I got the high score on Galaga! Yay!”

When we get what we want it’s almost hard to believe sometimes. So hard to believe that we don’t believe, or don’t believe ourselves worthy, or don’t trust that it really is what we want. Ever met anyone who sabotages the good things in life? Sure ya have, I swear it’s harder for people to just settle in and be happy. When you’re happy your mind can be at rest. Your heart can be at peace and we don’t always feel comfortable with the calm space that brings. It’s a shame, isn’t it? A shame that we can’t believe we deserve such grace and goodness and then just sit and let the calm and surrender waft over us like eider down on a winter day. You want a potato, you get a potato, and then you drop it like it’s hot, “Goddamn it who gave me that f-wording potato?! Who would do that?!”

So then we focus on what we didn’t get, or we focus on the bad part of what we did get; chocolate cake? Yay for chocolate cake! Chocolate cake? Boo for calories. For cryin’ out loud just eat the cake, it’s yummy. Have your cake and eat it too.

I have a friend I’ll call Kate . . . because that’s her name. Kate lives a life so full of great things. I look at Kate and I marvel at her constant happiness, and her belief in her happiness. Kate knows her value and she never feels guilty about the great things that come her way. She never gloats about good things in her life, she never hides good things, she just lives a life she loves. Kate lives in the moment and embraces everything that comes her way. She goes on great trips, she goes to see great bands, she has a really cute pair of brown boots that I love, and she is about to marry such a great guy who completely loves her. Kate does not question for a second that she deserves happiness, and happiness has found her and blessed her because happiness has a home with her. Happiness is welcome in Kate’s world. If you were happiness, wouldn’t you want to go somewhere that welcomes and embraces you? You would probably avoid places that don’t have faith in you and kick you to the curb. I would. I hate being kicked to the curb.

Oh my friends, ya gotta want it! And then, then, ya gotta love it and own it and raise the roof and can I get a “Hell yeah”?!

Chocolate cake rules. Taking a day off in the middle of the week to chase the snow rules. Having a job (even a job you don’t love) rules because then you can pay your bills and take a day off and buy boots and get pedicures.

So listen, when you get what you want, don’t be scared. It’s not a big scary monster with gnashing teeth waiting to bite you, it’s something awesome. Love it. When you find the perfect jeans buy them. When you get perfect weather CALL IN HAPPY and take the day off, life is too short to work all the time. When you get a promotion know you deserve it and others have enough faith in you to see it. When you finally save enough money for vacation don’t spend your fun money on an extra car payment, bleck. Your car and its accompanying payment will be here when you get back, go on vacation. When you meet that special person, and you can’t believe your luck, believe it, because it’s not luck, it’s life giving you a big ol’ hug. A real hug, not a choke hold, a hug to let you know what a marvelous and wondrous creature you are, and you deserve all the happiness you are willing to accept.

And stop messing things up just so you can have brunch stories. You can still have brunch stories, you’ll just have to learn to tell happy stories instead.

We all deserve happiness, and happiness wants to be treated well so be a gracious host and invite her (or him) to come on in and stay a while.

Blessings y’all!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

EMBRACING THE RECYCLING BIN

I'm grounded and rusty, and my dance card is dusty now because I wanted to be what the angels see when they look down, just a couple on the avenue with their feet on the ground. And I'm nobody's angel now

-Nancy Griffith

I haven’t written in a handful of months, I wasn’t sure I wanted to, but here I am again. Thank you to those of you who have asked where the monthly post had gone. Thank you to my friends who have encouraged me to continue writing, and I suppose a small debt of thanks goes out to the a-holes that add fuel to the writing flame.

You make plans in life. You have desires. You work hard. You do all you can to ensure your dreams become reality, but sometimes life takes you down an entirely different path . . . not of your own choosing. Listen, before you start harping on me with the whole “life is about choices” and “you create your reality” crap, I know. I know all that. Life is about choices, yes it sure is. You do, indeed, create your own reality. And sometimes life you hands you a shit sandwich instead of the pastrami on rye you ordered. Maybe it’s lifes way of saying “pastrami makes you gassy and the shit sandwich will fertilize something amazing later on”. If you’re one of those people who can’t tolerate, even for one minute, the thought that life isn’t always puppy dogs and rainbows, then you’re not living in the real world. I know someone like that and I don’t really take issue with the fact that it’s annoying, I take issue with the fact that it’s not real. (and as an aside, in order to avoid things perceived as “bad” this person hides those things and is outright deceptive, which is significantly worse than just serving up the shit sandwich). Yes life is great. Life is wondrous. Life is joyous, and it’s also life people, it’s ok to be a little less than jubilant sometimes.

When I was young I had a vision of what my life would look like. My life now looks nothing like that vision other than the fact I’m breathing and walking upright. I don’t have the home I envisioned. I don’t have the dog I envisioned. I don’t have the car I envisioned. I don’t have the responsibilities of motherhood and the arterial children to go along with that role. I don’t have the family I always wanted. So how does a woman who was supposed to be baking cupcakes for the classroom while making sure the dog doesn’t pee in the house and my husbands shirts are pressed become a woman who cleans the cats barf while ensuring her own cupcake intake stays down and wondering “Why keep the cupcake intake down? For whom”?

I don’t know the answers, and many of you know what I say to the infamous “I don’t know”. That’s right, I say “Bullshit, I don’t know is a child’s answer, you do know”. And so it is, I do know, mostly. As always fate lends a hand. I didn’t meet the right one. I didn’t meet the father of my children and therefore, they do not live in this dimension. I didn’t meet the master of my hearth and heart and home and dog kennel so the dog is living happily with another family somewhere. The son I wanted to name Jack Rogers ended up being born to someone else, as did Ruby Lee (or Grace), my unborn daughter, and I hope they are living blessed lives with the other Laura Ellen “no longer Rogers but different last name”, somewhere. (Yes, I would take my husbands name, what of it?) And the third child, the one I planned on adopting and would probably already be named, I hope he is happy with his other adoptive family, whomever and wherever they all may be. And I’m sure they are because life didn’t have that in store for me. Life did not send motherhood and familydom my way.

And here we come to the point of the story . . .

Some of you are saying to yourselves “you could have had children”. Yes, I could have. Some of you are saying “You passed up a few marriage proposals”. Yes, I did, because I wanted a life of happiness. Because I wanted a family, not just children, and they are not the same thing in my mind. Children are an expression of the deepest kind of love. To me they are not something you merely set out to have and then find your breeder. I wasn’t looking to simply be a breeder, I wanted so much more than that. But the years went by and I began to realize what I thought was inevitable was becoming inconceivable. At some point you make choices because life takes you down a path you didn’t even realize you were on. You have to prioritize then. You have to dig deep in your belly and ask what is the most important to you. You have to embrace one side or the other, and the hour glass sand is sifting quickly.

Many years ago a girl lived down the hall from me, back when I lived in a tiny little studio in Capital Hill. She was smart and young and pretty and funny. I could never figure out why she was single. I have to imagine she wondered the same thing. I saw her going out on dates here and there but eventually I began to see her with the same guy over and over, after a while “she and he” became “we”. Her face lit up and she became even prettier and happier. Then one night, as I walked down the hall, I heard her inside her apartment crying . . . and I never saw him again. Don’t you dare start on me with how other people do not own your happiness. I know all that, you think I’ve wandered around on this planet without learning a thing or two? But I will tell you that with 49 years of life under my belt, many of the “all smiles all the time” clich├ęs of youth are just pseudo-intellectual crap. No, we can’t all be friends with our ex’s, it’s dumb. No, we can’t all be comforted by our own wonder 100% of the time, how would we ever learn anything? Sometimes other people do hurt us, for cryin’ out loud what’s so wrong with admitting it? Maybe he chose to leave my pretty and smart and funny neighbor and it hurt her. Maybe she chose to leave him, which can sometimes hurt worse. Life tossed her a bunch of roses but a hand grenade was buried inside, who knew? Sometimes you amble down a path and it surprises the hell out of you. Oh look! A rose! Oh wait, a hand grenade.

I’m at yet another point in my existence where I look up from the madding crowd that is my life and see that I’ve somehow gone quite far down another path that, it turns out, is NOT the yellow brick road. How will I embrace this newness in my life? How will accept what I never wanted and yet, is happening? I suppose, as I always do, I will pester the crap out of my friends until I’m done yammering about it and I feel I’ve trod on their patience and good nature and loyalty long enough. I will remind myself that yes, I could have made another choice, but it would not have been right for me. I will look at my cats, the only cats I’ve ever had because I’ve always had dogs, and know that some choices, which are seemingly foisted on us quite against our will, turn out to be wonderful and warm and cuddly, you just have to ignore that occasional hiss and scratch. I will continue plodding down my path and seeing the joy and knowing I’m awesome, even when others do not.

And I will take out the recycling bin twice a month, even though it’s a boy job, because who else is here to do it?