Friday, December 24, 2010

Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time

Just a quick note for all the readers out there in the black hole of the interwebs- Merry ChrismaHanKwanzaakah, Festival of Lights and what have you. This is a very different holiday season for me than last years. While I came home, my life wasn't here anymore and it gave the holidays a very different feel- no less nostalgic but certainly  a nostalgia seen from a different perspective. Seeing the holiday from the Japanese view point actually wasn't that startling-because truth be told much of America treats Christmas like a day of relaxed ... not morals, but attitudes as well.  And there's nothing wrong with that. I think the problem for a lot of holiday Scrooges is the insistence by so many that the holidays are supposed to bring out in us a kind of spirit that is not seen the rest of the year and for those of us who suffer from what might be a marginal form of holiday seasonal disorder, this bipolarity is grating ( as is the continual barrage of Christmas music from young children, particularly men who would have, as recently as the Renaissance, been castrated to keep those sweet voices pure. Now, doesn't that just make you want to sing Silent Night?) At any rate, the disparity between what we're told we should feel at this time of year and what we actually feel  can be dispiriting. Perhaps its time for a more realistic view of the holidays- that it isn't the only time we symbolically come home, but it is a time when we're not alone in doing so. If nothing else, it can give one that extra push to be kinder that we all know deep in our hearts we should always have. If you  need an excuse this year to try one more time to come home, this is as good as any and it doesn't take  much. The tinsel, and wrapping paper, eggnog and sweets don't have to obscure the real message- or the real objective that we're all searching for.  Tonight I stood outside in the freezing cold, and  searched the skies for a sign- a feeling that there was still something magical about the season that we all as children loved. What I saw was... a space station--floating across the sky. So much for magic reindeer. But I wasn't too disappointed. After all, I never did believe in Saint Nick. But I  realized that while I was searching the stars, the magic was already happening.  I was surrounded by darkness, but even in that night I was also surrounded by family... and the stars.  I hope you find yourself safe at home this holiday, wherever you are, surrounded by whatever gives you faith in magic again.  Happy Holidays.

"This is my wish for you: peace of mind, prosperity through the year, happiness that multiplies, health for you and yours, fun around every corner, energy to chase your dreams, joy to fill your holidays!"
--D.M. Dellinger

Monday, December 13, 2010

Stop Me If You Think That You've Heard These Words Before

So, I know I've been a little lax ab about posting, but I've been busy. No, really- I've been busy. It seems like the Fates have finally heard me (God, please don't let me jinx it!), and suddenly all the things I've been waiting for are, if not right at my fingertips, getting ready to happen and happen fast. I finally rented my house, which means soon ( within weeks, actually) I'll be moving and making some real decisions about my life plan for the next few years. I've also (ta-dah!) managed to convince someone that I am in fact a mature, responsible person who is capable of supervising others. (Yeah, I know- I can't believe they fell for it either.)  So, in this holiday season, it looks like I will be getting everything I was hoping for for the first time in a while.  Oh, and lest I forget, I also just published my first book (remember back when I told you back in October it would be finished for December? Just in time for Christmas presents? Well it's done-hint, hint.)  For the first time in a while, I'm proud of myself. I struggled through depression because I couldn't get a job, I felt like a freeloader and I wasn't sure where I could go next. Now finally, there's something concrete for me to work on, to get back into my element. I know in the past I've talked about finding your own way, and believing that it can work out for you.  But I have no problem with saying it again, because in the end, it's true.  Never have I felt so unsettled about my situation, but at the same time I knew, I had to believe- that I had the experience that someone was looking for, the attitude, the background, and more importantly, I had to believe that I had the strength to keep looking for the next opportunity, whatever it might be. I hope that despite the troubles we've all been facing this year, that you keep hope alive in the next and know, really know, that all your dreams can come true.

“Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting. That is laziness. 
But to keep going when the going is hard and slow - that is patience.”

P.S.  You won't have to be patient with me much longer- blog posts will be back on a regular schedule as soon as I get settled!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What Dreams May Come

Everyone knows that listening to someone else talk about their dream is soooo boring.... because yours was way more interesting and important.  So, yes, I know right off the bat you will not be able to picture whaw\t I'm going to talk about next....but I'm gonna do it anyway.  So, there's an old belief that dreaming about snakes means a woman is pregnant (no, that's not what I dreamed, sheesh!) In fact, I dreamed about being in an aquarium looking into a beautiful round window on a seascape- filled with ferns,  and tiny organisms.... and what looked like a proto-Pokemon floating in amniotic fluid.  Now, keep in mind that whatever you dream of is not literally what you're dreaming about.  So dreaming about a tiny floating creature does not (again) mean you're pregnant or want to be.  In fact, according to the Dream Dictionary, (plus, of course, my own intuition) water generally represents your unconscious and your emotional state. So to see my emotional state as beautiful and calm should be considered a good thing, right? Only, here's the tricky part-  in my dream, I came back to the exhibit again, and this time the staff wouldn't let me in. Imagine, the nerve to keep me from my own subconscious!  So naturally, I did what anyone would- I tried to sneak in.  Over and over I kept trying to find a way into the exhibit so I could see the little creature floating in space that was me- I jumped the line, I snuck into a restroom past security, I actually broke another exhibit- (whoever you were in the hall of dreams, I'm sorry!) But I couldn't get back to myself. How many times have you felt like that? I've felt at something of a plateau for a while now.  My friends either have well established lives or are starting new ones, and I'll admit- I'm a little jealous.  I know that my new life is out there- I keep getting little hints, times when good omens seem to abound- I hear news of interviews coming, and someone looks at my house.. and then they back off. I'm afraid being in stasis  much longer will kill me.  That new little life floating in space belongs to me. I just need to get my hands on it. So maybe tonight I'll try a little lucid dreaming- controlling my own conscious.  I want to walk back into that exhibit, knowing that in real life everything does take time- but that my time will come.  So I'll watch my life, that little creature in the picture window, and not let anyone keep me from it. Tonight, I'll stand in front of that little window, and watch myself float and grow in the sea of dreams.

Dreams are like may never touch them, but if you follow them they will lead you to your destiny.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher or Variations on a Theme

Hi. My name is Dee and I am a Stumbleupon addict.  Lately it seems all of my posts have been inspired by sites I've found on Stumbleupon, lackadaisically web surfing (instead of putting out resumes or practicing for interviews).  Because we didn't know that the world is full of wild, wonderful, disgusting, atrocious things, we needed Stumbleupon to expose us to all the world has to offer, and give us a like or dislike button and (God have mercy) forums to interject our opinions, because the world desperately needs to know how we feel about double rainbows. (If you missed this internet phenom, you didn't miss much.) But sometimes it seems like Stumbleupon is almost like an It shows both how venomous, malicious and sometimes, startlingly awesome the world and its people are.  Case in point- I love  the websites 
and one of which has thousands of examples of what jackwagons people can be, especialy if you're on the wrong side of the customer service desk, while the other is examples (not many as on notalwaysright, I'm sure) of surprising, tear inducing examples of human decency.  Try an experiment- load both pages on your pc at once, and see which one you gravitate towards.  Ten'll get you fifty, it'l be the one that provides all the evidence you'll ever need that human kind's trip to hell in a handbasket will be mighty crowded.  Not only is it full of examples of flat out stupidity, but cupidity (e.g. excessive greed) - grandmother's steal from stores, people curse telemarketers (ok, so on a scale of 1-10, not a sin that will send you to the ninth level of hell, but, having been a telemarketer, I can say with sincerity- most of these people are just trying to do their jobs.... and I'm glad none of you know where I live so you can "return the favor.")  These people mock their children, throw things at cashiers, and in every way possible try to gyp the system- these are the common man. Or so you might believe if that were all you ever read.  Reading websites online has the propensity of making one cynical, because everyone can put their opinions, unedited, oh God, how they're unedited  (and no, I didn't forget my own case in point, I know), their prejudices, their ignorance online. Is this how we all really are inside?
But I didn't forget the flank of my argument.  On, we find the other side of the internet- the community, the freedom to share anonymously the daily selfless, random acts of kindness and civility that allow us to continue to live on top of one another like rats in a cage.  Examples of grace under fire, of teenagers standing up to hate, of true love (however nauseating the details) overcoming time, and  other obstacles.  There are so many stories out there of people everyday doing the right thing.  Wouldn't it be nice if that were the majority of what you read on -line, instead of random drunken texts from textsfromlastnight or "humorous" cartoons on hipster hitler?  People should be more careful of what reflection they cast in the mirror, on t.v. and on-line.  The monsters we read about, are thrilled and terrified by are real.  But then again, so are the angels.  They are us. I can only continue to read, watch and stumble, horrified and fascinated by it all, and hope that in the end the angels prevail. Until then, I think I'll skip textsfromlastnight or hipster hitler for a few days, and maybe, just read  I think we all could do with a little more lohope, don't you?

I hate mankind, for I think myself one of the best of them, and I know how bad I am.  ~Joseph Baretti, quoted by James Boswell, 1766, commonly misattributed to Samuel Johnson* 


 * Don't hate- liberate!!  

Monday, October 25, 2010

P.S. I Love You or DIY: My Confessions

The thing about secrets is that, good or bad, they add a kind of tension to your life that can be addicting.  Some people are all about the drama, the gossip, creating secrets to keep themselves occupied. Others are completely bland--at least externally, the kind of people one couldn't imagine having secrets. But we all know still waters run deep. A secret is by its nature something that can keep people apart or hold them together, creating relationships you might never have under other circumstances. They can cause you to be, and do, and act completely out of character. How many of us have secrets from each other, about each other that'd we'd never share because having a secret gives us- even if only in our own sight, importance?  I have secrets- not always good ones, juicy ones- some that are just sad, and some that are only important to me and might not even be worth the determination I hide them with. Some of us share the same secrets- a feeling  of invisibility, or loneliness. But who wants to be told that everyone feels that way some time? Secrets are part of our identity- of who you are. But, while your secrets might identify you, they shouldn't always define you. Who you keep a secret from or share it with- what you do with it, and how you handle it tells far more about who you are as a person than you know. No matter how well you think you know someone or yourself, you can always be surprised. And that's what's surprising, sad  and sometimes lovely, about us all.

Part I of My Confessions

1. I  have never been in love with someone who was also in love with me.
2. I have been skinny diving twice... and plan to do it again, because it's one of the only times I feel happy.
3. I have never seriously considered marrying anyone, because I believe any one who would marry me would have to be crazy.
4. I have seriously considered how I would commit suicide... and decided not to only because I didn't want anyone to be bothered with my remains.
5. I often dream of drowning in the ocean- it is one of my most peaceful, recurrent dreams.
6. I am more afraid of making bad decisions in my life than I am of dying.
7. I am afraid that I am the worst person I know.
8. I  have few male friends because men scare me.
9. I love cooking because it is a way to show people I care about them.  It is also why I rarely cook good things for myself.
10.  When I am alone, I often talk to myself. I am never surprised when the voice in my head sounds different from my everyday voice. The voice in my head is way smarter than me.

Take the challenge and send a post card to PostSecret- a really great community project where people can mail in their secrets anonymously and share their secret selves with the world. Send your postcard to  the address below, then check out the website for some seriously moving confessions.

Post Secret
13345 Copper Ridge Rd
Germantown, Maryland 20874 
Postcard size requirements- 4X6 inches

Trade your secrets and become who you are.

Frank Warren- Post Secret

P.S. - one secret I'm glad to share.  I love all of you- thanks for sharing my adventure.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Average Everyday Sane Psycho Super Goddess- or DIY: I'm Gonna Pump (Clap) You Up!

I'm slamming two topics together today with my usual witty (read: haphazard) writing.  I've decided that I need to get on the bandwagon and really visualize where I want to go in the next few years. As much as I've been contemplating (read: whining) about my situation, the truth is, I really have too many options right now, not too few.  I feel in need of some clarification about what I want to accomplish, and since my Magic Eight Ball is currently out of commission, it's up to me to make some choices despite feeling like I'm floundering in the dark. So, two things to accomplish today; look back at what I've already accomplished and decide what I want to accomplish next.  Earlier this year I did a Bucket List  of things I wanted to do before I die. While I've been busy bemoaning my current state, it occurred to me (after talking to my friends and family, all of whom said "get over yourself"- thanks for the support, guys!) that I really was doing okay in my life. I had accomplished things on my list and not even acknowledged them, even though they were kindof a big deal.

Let's look at the list-

Dee's Bucket List
1. Learn to dance-  the waltz, the tango, salsa- whatever.  
Check- I actually can do the waltz, and got a chance to dance in a little bar in Nagasaki City for my half-birthday. (Don't ask)

2. Go horseback riding on the beach- like on the cover of a romance-
      preferably with a guy with ripped abs in a poet shirt open to his navel. (grrrowl!)

3. Write a book- on anything. Just finish one.   
Check- I have written the book, it's currently in revisions, and hopefully will be available soon. 

4. Travel to every continent at least once. Preferably more than once. (and buy lots of tacky souvenirs.)

5. See an opera.  (Not the Gotterdamerung- too much Wagner isn't good for you.)

6. Read my poetry on stage -without collapsing in a puddle of sweat. 
Check- have already done this, didn't collapse, and might do it again soon. 

7. Adopt-even if I'm sure I'll suck as a mother (though I have a pretty good role model. Hi Mom!)

8. Sing once in public- again, without melting into a puddle of sweat.  
(I do a pretty good Tina Turner- "polite snickers in the background"-    ok, fine, maybe Nina Simone?)
Check- did this too- again in  a little bar on an island off the coast of Nagasaki. Tune? "Knocking on Heaven's Door"- --gospel style!

9.Buy a motorcycle- or at least drive one on my own. 

10. Start my own business- and get some good advice so I don't run it into the ground. 

11. Learn to shoot a gun- and hope like hell I'll never have to use one. But at least I'll know how.

12. Fall in love at least once more- and this time really pay attention,   
 instead of just drifting around in a  rose colored fog. Those memories might be all I have one day. 
  (okay- maybe more than once- if at first you  don't succeed and all that.)
Ummm- still working on it.

13.  Wear an itty bitsy teenie weenie bikini- but not yellow or polka dot. (Polka dots make me gag)

14. Go to a really great party- I mean a New York at midnight on New Years party,  
a Mardi Gras or Carnivale in Brazil type party- a   party and don't stop till three days later party. (and it goes without saying, be the life of the aforementioned party. Body shots anyone? )

15. Write a love letter- and get one in return.  
Check and check...Ok,  I still haven't gotten one in return, but it's a start, right?

Ok, so currently I'm five for fifteen- not so bad when you think about it.  So okay, some of the things on my list were a little...out there. But thinking about those things happening in my life makes me happy. So if you're gonna go, go big, even if your dream seems a little insane. Right now, I just have to decide what to do in my new year, which starts.....right now.  I'm gonna put together a vision board (yes, I did see this on Oprah and it worked!)  and will my life into shape. Last year my vision board had these main things on it- fall in love, write more than I had in years, start a cool new job, get in shape, and go to Japan.  Curiously, every one of these things happened, although not the way I had expected. I did fall in love, I have been writing more (helloo? blog?), I did find a cool new job,  and it  just happened to be in ...wait for it...Japan!  I don't know about you but I believe!  (oooooh- in scary voice).  So this years challenge?  

1. Publish the first (of many) books- before Christmas.(Plug- Black Girl At Large the book will be available online before soon as I finish the editing!) 

2. Make a decision about my next relocation- current top runners- Texas, Kentucky, Mephis, Tennessee, Kentucky, or Europe- send your vote if you like and reasons why would be good too!

3. Decide- business or culinary school- and don't vote for culinary school if all you want is free cake.

4. New relationship or adoption- or both? I'm not gettin' any younger or less selfish. That might be a hard one. 

Maybe when I get the new vision board done I'll post a picture, or you can send me one if you'd like that I can  add to the montage. It's time for me to get this thing we call life, off the ground.  At the risk of sounding a little crazy, it really comes down to a choice of which makes more sense- being stable or being happy? Before, one move, one vision, changed my life. Admittedly,right now everything's a little topsy turvy- but if I had to do it all again...I'd do it all again. So send me your votes for where to go next.  My vote is the same as always- if there's a choice between being stable and unhappy, and insane and joyful- I'll go for insanity.  Care to join me? 

For me, insanity is super sanity. The normal is psychotic. 
Normal means lack of imagination, lack of creativity.
Jean Dubuffet 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

God Bless The Child That's Got His Own

I didn't know how good I had it. Two months ago, I lived in a fairly nice apartment, I had enough money to send some home every month, my rent was about 150 dollars (yes, really!) and I had a Japanese car that I  bought when I arrived for about 5,000 yen (around 500 US dollars.)  Then I moved home.  Suddenly, I feel like I'm paying to breathe, let alone move. The times, they a'changed while I was gone.  Everyone knows that the recession is over (no, really it is!)  But hard times are still around- it's just that those of us who maybe hadn't suffered before, now are- and we aren't doing it in silence. Forget the vast majority who has always had it hard. This is about us. (Please God, don't let someone completely ignore the obvious sarcasm and take this quote out of context. Then again, mid-term elections are coming and politicians are everywhere. It's their job to take things out of context.) At any rate,  I'm incredibly fortunate that I came home to a family who were willing to house and feed me with no qualms while I try to find my place in the new America. On the other hand, when I left, I had my own house, car, no student loans, and a job that gave me a structured life  and enabled me to hold conversations with other adults.  Despite the love, I kinda feel sometimes like I'm on house arrest. Oh well, beggars can't be choosers. And I am currently a beggar. It's amazing how I got used to not having cable, walking everywhere and not buying clothes, books, Starbucks coffee (but I did live for weekends in Nagasaki City, which had the closest Starbucks to my island...and a mall! So it took a two hour ferry ride to get there- it was a mall!) Now I'm home with, still, no job, although there are finally some prospects (wish me luck!).  This morning I lived the definition of irony... or is it paradox?  While looking online for coupons to go shopping, I was simultaneously checking my stocks.  I own a part of a company, and I'm still looking for coupons for Gain laundry detergent, because every penny counts.  BTW, those stocks? Worth about 400 bucks- maybe more if Microsoft's new phone  lifts the company's sales out of the doldrums. Yeah, I own Microsoft, baby. At least a couple of shares. It's incredible that that things that were once worth so much are now not even worth the paper they're printed on.  My house, which I bought as a young teacher, is and will be worth only as much as the market downturn. It seems to be stable now but ... My 401k- let's not go there.  It depresses me.  My bank account? Enough for now, thanks to a southern coogking mom who always happens to have "a little too much." But it certainly feels like I'm not where I wanted to be at this point in my life. I'm 33 years old and living at home, hoping like millions of other Americans that this interview or the next will be the one. I'm hoping that the next stage in my life is going to be what I've been looking for- productive, creative, and satisfying, filled with love and a little more certainty about what "it'" is all about. I want to feel like an adult again, fulfilling my goals and (love you Mom!)  living in my own space again! I'm so fortunate that I don't have the burdens that so many others are bravely carrying.  But Lord, what I wouldn't give to be able to walk in my own home in my undies again. (sorry, TMI) To have my own car, a job I love, time to spend with friends,  money to spend on foolishness, and to save. It's all coming, I know.  And I can wait. I'm blessed. To all those who are working to the same goal, I wish you good fortune and good (job) hunting.  After living in another country, I still truly believe that America is one of the greatest nations in the world. And we will lift ourselves out of our troubles again by depending on each other and working as we've always worked, for a brighter future for all.  We, (I) will rely on the great inner strength that we all have, and while I can't guarantee a chicken in every pot, I can guarantee that those who work to the best of their ability will always get it (what they want, not a chicken) in the end.

It is not wealth one asks for, 
but just enough to preserve one's dignity, 
to work unhampered, to be generous, 
frank and independent.*
W. Somerset Maugham

*Actually, I want the wealth too, but this will do.  Does that make me a bad person? :>

Saturday, September 25, 2010

So Not The Drama

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more; it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
William Shakespeare 

Save the drama fo' yo'  mama, Willie.  Or your boyfriend, co-workers, friends etc.  Even your postman.  I knew my drama was about to hit the fan when I saw our postman this morning.  I had woken up feeling melancholy and a little purposeless. Ever since I came home from Japan I've been busy...really busy. Unfortunately, it hasn't been for a job.  I'm still looking but in the meantime, I've been writing,  cooking, cleaning, babysitting, trying to sell my house, trying to find my next adventure  and feeling really distant from it all. And this morning, I met the postman, who was incredibly cheerful even at 9:30 in the morning and in his words, feeling "blessed". So why was my first thought, "Why is  he so happy? There must be something wrong with him"  Or with me.
While babysitting an extremely cheerful child this week, I was stressed out, tired.. and happy. Because I had a purpose. My job was to ensure that this beautiful child was happy, cared for, learning, and growing (and eating...a lot). All week long she giggled and smiled and I teased her, saying what are you so happy for?  But the thing is, babies don't need a reason to be happy. They just are- the reasons come later.  They also don't need a reason to be unhappy- they just are..but then they get over it. Really quickly-especially if there are cookies.  All week I've been thinking about drama. How people create drama to make life more interesting, themselves more interesting- like we all need to be the over -emoting stars of telenovelas or life won't mean anything.  In Japan, I didn't have to have drama- I was in Japan. Everything I did had that as its suffix. So I was terrified of humongous spiders in my tiny apartment. I was terrified... in Japan. So I was just going to the store for bread. I was buying Japan.  It was a running joke among our neo ex-pat community. Everything sounds better over there.  The grass is always greener and all that. So now that I'm home, in a great city, that people wait their whole lives to move to, why do I want to get out...again?  Because I need drama.  Or maybe just purpose. Kurt Vonnegut explains it this way.
People have been hearing fantastic stories since time began. 
The problem is, they think life is supposed to be like the stories.” 
Check out the full lecture here at  (With graphs and everything!)
People like drama because we've been conditioned to believe that's how life works. There are highs and lows and every story has a satisfying conclusion.  But real life has very few real highs, though I won't quibble about the lows. They're out there- believe me.  We believe that every person has the right to true love, to wealth, to adventure, and contentment. We turn relationships into talk shows, our money woes into excuses, our boredom into blame. We idolize celebrities, we stalk personalities and we polarize issues at the ballot box.  We not only feel like life owes us something, we want to be larger than life altogether. Inside every delivery man and waitress , the so-called "little man", is a diva waiting to emerge like some gross, obnoxious, overbearing butterfly.  Enough. I don't want to be melancholy. I don't want to invent reasons why my life is the way it is. I do want purpose, but that's on me to create, wherever I am.  I don't know if a new town, or new job will give me the life I want. I don't know that staying where I am would be so bad. While I'm worried about the future, I'm still glad I have the time to think about it and where it's going.  Life isn't a drama or a crap shoot. It doesn't have to be over the top to have meaning. I am where I am right now and right now things are okay. So I'm gonna take an example from my mailman and a little kid and take a deep breath- laugh at nothing and everything... and just chill. Be blessed in the here and now. And save the emoting, the whining, the pathos and tragedy for the professionals on stage. Real life is happening right now-  get out there and enjoy it. Drama queens need not apply.

~ To see your drama clearly is to be liberated from it. ~
    Ken Keyes

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I'm Ok, You're Ok...Aren't We???

     Maintaining relationships takes a lot of...well, maintenance.  And the question is always whether or not it's worth it.  Let's be honest. The relationships a lot of us have in our lives are not ones we have chosen. Or at least not directly.  If you decide to take a job, you have to have a relationship with your boss and co-workers. If you go to any group; church, sport, book club, whatever- you create, instantaneously, relationships with those folks that you've joined.  Even when you shop, move house or travel- you're creating relationships, albeit maybe not eternal ones.  And all relationships come with responsibilities, which we can fulfill or not.  The hardest thing is deciding whether or not to fulfill those responsibilities.  Say you're at the grocery, buying more wine (or you know, whatever)- for a brief moment, you make eye contact with the cashier and chit chat ("Can I use my VIC card for this?" Oh, sure. Like you've never tried to use Greenbax stamps or card rewards on wine...or cake..or whatever.  Look, don't judge me.)  For one brief moment, you are forced to acknowledge another person as a human being... or you do if you're a good person. (And yes, this time I'm judging you.)  But sometimes we don't acknowledge people- not the grocer, not our co-worker, not a good friend, not that person we wanted to be a good friend. Because sometimes we just can't decide if it's worth it.  Let me explain- being aware of other people is hard. It's hard because, in the main, we are selfish, egotistical, narcissistic people, people! ( could just be me...but no, I think it's you guys too.)  We also happen to be loving, faithful, extremely sensitive people who don't want to be hurt and can be hurt by the most ridiculous of causes.  The cut direct can be a simple as not receiving a phone call,  an email or not having someone show up on time, but it still hurts. And therein lies the dilemma, the hedgehog's dilemma, to be exact. To summarize, it basically states that people are like hedgehogs (I can totally understand this simile.  People really are like small, prickly mammals who forage)  who want to come together to share warmth. But once the hedgehogs are huddled (nice alliteration, huh?) they can't help but prick each other with their quills. So, while they may want to be close, some hedgehogs (I mean people) may ultimately feel that the  more loving act is to stay away from other hedgehogs to prevent hurting them...and themselves. It is both intrinsically introverted and loving- because loving people don't want to cause pain in anyone, including themselves.  So are you a hedgehog or aren't you?
Well, at heart we all are- only we have it a little more difficult- both because some relationships are involuntary and because some are worth it- but only by our own estimation.  If you've been having to think and re-think some relationships recently , maybe it's time to take a point from the hedgehog and figure out, how much pain are you willing to put up with, to be in the relationships you're in?  How willing are you to deal with the fall out if you decide they're not worth it?  Yelling at your boss equals both the possibility of being fired...and never having to kowtow again.  Standing up to your family equals maybe being written out of dad's will...or maybe gaining his respect.  Standing up to pushy friends may mean having to find new ones or deciding that the old ones other qualities are worth keeping quiet.  Sometimes it means making that phone call or sending that text or email that says either I'm still really interested in getting to know you or asking the hard question -why are we still together?  Not every relationship is meant to last forever, but they're all meant to have an impact.  Do you curl up in a little ball when it comes to relationships or are you willing to stick it out and work for the intangible rewards good relationships can bring, and the freedom that comes with ending negative ones?  In the end, you've got to love the ones you're with, so make the right choices. Then--- get to work on being loving and loved.  (Now, if you'll excuse me...I've got some calls and emails to make.)

Some people come into our lives and quickly go.  
Some stay for a while, leave footprints on our hearts, 
and we are never, ever the same.  
~Flavia Weedn,Forever, ©

Monday, August 30, 2010


This was the week of fail on so many levels.
Check this out- in the course of one week I
1. learned a former student of mine was up on murder charges.
2. Tried to investigate a house in a new city only to learn
 a. it was a dump (that I couldn't really afford anyway)
 b. the city was a dump too, and
 c. have a tire blow out on the highway on the way home from said dump...with my mother in the car.
(Thanks to my excellent driving skills, [direct quote from the momma] however, no one was harmed during the filming of this maudlin scene... I mean, no one was harmed, thank God.)
To continue, I then
3. failed to win the Georgia lotto while in Georgia (not so bad, I know, but still not a great feeling) and
4. was hit on by a young mack daddy,who also looked like a former student, [ewww] while at my local bookstore.(Not so much a fail on my part as his, but since I was an unwilling participant, there goes one more tally on my score).
I also failed to land a job, failed to live up to my own expectations, failed to tell others to lay off me with their expectations and may have gained back the few pounds I lost while in Japan. (Damn that red rice and fish!)
At any rate, all of this together led to an, (let's say it all together, folks)-Epic Fail.
      Really, it's not that bad, I guess. I mean I'm fully aware that I do not follow the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People ( and anyway, don't we all really, deep inside- hell, not even so deep inside, kinda despise those Highly Effective People anyway?) But I'm doing my best.  I mean, that forced break on the side of an interstate highway did give me a chance to bond a little more with my mom.  And, not getting any rejection letters from the multitude of employers I've been soliciting isn't bad news- and may give me more time to discover if any of those jobs are what I really want to do and if I'm ready for them. ( I won't even discuss whether they're ready for me.)  And if I failed to win the lotto, I also failed to "win" the taxes that come with them.  And as for my former student- again, I reiterate with a "sigh "- I did the best I could.
Appropriately enough, an article in today's paper cemented my feelings about my recent failures- saying that failure is an invaluable teacher. I know that that's right, if not always great consolation.  Failure teaches us the price of success. We will do it over and over again, before we get it right, but each time hardens our determination, and inspires new learning, in essence making success inevitable if we don't give up. At any rate, it makes me feel a little bit better and it should make you feel better too.  We all make mistakes and we're all in this mixed up world together, but every failure will take us a littler further, if we learn before it's too late.

“My imperfections and failures are as much a blessing from God 
as my successes and my talents
 and I lay them both at his feet.”
 Mahatma Gandhi

* No need to go this far, folks. After all, we're all losers sometimes right?  ..... Is it just me, then? :>

 ( I only hope Fail Blog will forgive my mistake- Please note; this is my official notice that Fail Blog is a trademarked website distinct from my own and in no way is my content their responsibility.  P.S. -go over to their site and give them some hits, just in case!)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Plus Ca Change...? The Heck With That! or :If It Ain't One Thing, It's Another...and That's Okay

"The more things change, the more they stay the same."  What a crock. Since returning home, it's true that I've come across a lot of things on my nostalgia tour.   Same town, same streets, same students,( yeeeeah, saw a couple of them at the local grocery store. Talk about awwwkward!)  Everywhere I go is the same... except for me.  It's weird.  People  are so happy to see me when we meet by chance on the street, but when they ask how I'm doing or what I'm doing ( which at present is nothing, but don't fret, dear readers- I mean after all, it does allow me to spend more time with you. Aren't you happy?), I find myself at a loss for words. How do I explain what I've been through, and how it's changed me to people who are still perfectly content right where I left them? I My experience doesn't show on my face (except for a few less stress lines than I used to show.  And apparently, a little weight loss from a year long diet of fish and rice. Anyone interested in financing a great new diet idea?)  For a year and a day (poetically speaking) I've been separated from the life I had always known...and to be honest, haven't missed it a bit. In fact, I'm more eager than ever to go again-not necessarily abroad but away... away from the people who thought they knew what I was capable of, and who still can't believe I've accomplished what I have, or that I want more. Away from a town that always seemed charming, but too big and  is now only one of the millions of charming places I could be seeing and in comparison to some I have seen- not so big afterall. Away from my own expectations. I thought I would be able to fit back in smoothly, that coming home would be as easy as shucking off a kimono and slipping back on my southern accent.  But it's not. It's  rather more like ( gross metaphor to follow- you have been warned!!) like a snake shedding it's skin, or an insect shedding it's exoskeleton....or maybe just a butterfly coming out of a cocoon. I spent a year away from the real world and for awhile I've felt like I was struggling to get back into my cocoon, and suddenly it occurred to me that I don't really want to go back there and I don't have to. Whew, what a load off! did it really just occur to me that I don't have to be what I was before, just because I am where I was before? Sadly, in the turmoil of moving back home, and starting to settle in, yes.  Happily, it didn't take too long before I remembered that settling is the last thing I want to do in life. I've been back in the home of the free, and land of the brave for about two and a half weeks.  Last time, I was here for thirty two years. Guess I'm a slow learner, but eventually I get there. I don't have to stress about where I'm going to be or what I'm going to do, next.  Everything I've ever needed has always been provided for me (including a swift kick to the butt, when needed). Change is growth and chaos is the fertilizer that feeds it. (Yeah, I  bet you like that spider metaphor a whole lot better than this fertilizer one, huh?)  But it's good to remember that  an old dog can still learn some new tricks or at least  new attitudes.  See? Sometimes things really do change for the better.

Garuda from Andres Salaff on Vimeo.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Never Can Say Goodbye or DIY: I Don't Know Why You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello

Sorry for the hiatus, folks. In the confusion of moving home, the original  blackgirlatlarge became, well, more  at large than usual, if only because I had too little time to begin moving home in, and found myself in a sea of packing tape and odds and ends that had be shipped back to America. It was an unsettling feeling to pack up a life in little boxes and send them away. Without a clear goal to return to, I did indeed feel lost and at large. And since I've arrived home, I have found that I have  way too much time on my hands. In my typically bi-polar manner, I  find myself at loose ends, except when I'm trying to keep myself busy. Unfortunately, I am curently sans job. In trying to correct that oversight,  I have been wavering between frenetic, anxious resume mailings, and online research, and staying up late and sleeping later, getting over the inevitable and unenviable jet lag, all of which results in me feeling constantly hungover and blue, hoping someone will bring me a waffle in bed so I don't have to face the day. (Which, hallelujah, someone did. Well, okay, I did have to get up, but there were waffles to be considered. Anyway,thanks, mom!)
I'm trying to jump back into the American work  pool, but unfortunately, the entire pool now seems to be only the shallow end. And while I'm in the middle of being frustrated about the job market, ( I know, like seventy umpty million other people)  Fate seems to think I'd appreciate the joke of reviewing my not so distant past in Japan.  Like flotsam on a beach, pieces and memories of Japan have been showing up at my home every few days- pictures of my students, omiyage( that's Japanese for gifts, folks), and mementos from vacations with friends, all of it begging the question, "Why did you leave Japan, exactly?"  Suitcases,boxes, duffel bags, every day a little more,  all of which has to be tucked into whatever space can be found in my childhood home- talk about your emotional baggage. All of it  reminding me that I left a stable job and a fairly fulfilling life in another come back home to uncertainty. While I appreciate the memories, I realize that  the big impact of my overseas journey  still hasn't really hit me. But I have a suspicion,  I'll appreciate it more, once I have achieved  the "normal" life I'm now trying to resume- when it's resumed, that is. Right now, I feel like I am trying to squeeze myself myself back into a life, that  while extremely familiar, is not so exciting. It's like trying on your favorite pajamas- they fit, but they're a little nappy, and soiled and don't do much for your image. And didn't I leave to get away from that? But everyone needs a starting point, and it only makes sense to come back to mine and build from there. My dream was to experience Japan, and boy, did I! From island life with too much fish, typhoons, winter cold like you can't imagine, (you with your central heating!) to tea ceremonies, dragon boat races, and the fabulous ancient beauty of Kyoto, I lived Japan. My new dream is-to live whatever comes next. What that will be,  I don't know, but I'm fairly confident it will come to me. On the one hand, a girl's gotta eat. Practical matters are a concern right now. On the other hand, man does not live by bread alone.  In a third hand, (don't ask where that mutant hand came from, btw) lies my future. For right now, I want to survive. But I don't want what I learned about myself to die. I learned that striving for a dream, even if you don't always achieve it, can lend a power to your life that makes even the most mundane things seem purposeful. I want to keep that in mind. Somehow, I'll manage to say goodbye to Japan and that surrealistic dream of a life without forgetting how it felt to hang over a precipice and feel alive.  I'll take that feeling into the rest of my life-  and hopefully, not regress  into letting my job become my life, when my life should be my life. (Does that make sense?)  So, it may be sayonara to Japan, but it's hello to a new life, wherever it leads me. I know I won't ever forget what I've experienced-- and because of it,  I'm  more than  ready to  keep moving on.

      "When you're safe at home you wish you were having an adventure; when you're having an adventure you wish you were safe at home"
 Thornton Wilder 

I say, make it all an adventure, in every way you can. 

Monday, July 12, 2010

You Can Get With This or You Can Get With That or DIY:Taking a Stand Against Misdirection, Indecision and Independent Angst

Making choices is the essence of living. Even when you don’t consciously know you’re making choices- you are. We are constantly evaluating stimuli, and choosing the path our next footsteps will take.  We are constantly making wrong turns, …or not necessarily wrong as  not direct, just random turnings in the Labyrinth.  We do this because we are desperate, to make the right choice, some choice, when we cannot see, and sometimes even when we can ,the consequences. We move because not moving is a decision to die. Like lemmings over a cliff, we know that we are rushing forward heedlessly, but we can’t be still in the midst of a roaring tide of humanity. We run, and we hope, always, that the trampoline is there- Deus ex machina working behind the scenes. (I don’t know, maybe lemmings don’t know they’re going to fall over the cliff – does that mean they’re lucky or not?) We are desperate and often, that automatically means stupid.  We want things to be known, we want the pleasure of life without the pain or depending on your mindset, the exact opposite ( which still comes out to about the same thing).  There are some of us who are so desperate, that we willingly walk into the jaws of Cerberus, or bring Hell to us, wherever we are in our misery- because in hell (maybe especially), you can surrender to a higher authority (or lower, considering the terrain). There are some of us who want to be less than we are, because it hurts less, costs less, demands less. As simple as that. But, oh, my loves, my very own, dear loves, we all know, it’s never as simple as that, don’t we?
To make choices is to acknowledge responsibility, and to acknowledge power. And there are consequences for having  power, for shouldering responsibility… but there is also glory. It is your choice- anonymity or grace, knowledge or ignorance, power or powerlessness; to go striding to your destiny or be dragged along by the whims of fate.  There is only one path for each of us- whether we turn and turn about or go widdershins in the circle- no matter how we circle the issue in our heads,  no matter how tangled it looks on the surface, the choice is to move forward on the path or to fall by the wayside and die.  The road to hell is paved with good intentions. We don’t want to do the wrong thing for the right reasons. We are scared and we long for certainty when the path  of life is  blocked by indecision and fear, but you cannot stand aside. You cannot step off your path. You can only decide if it will be a walk of shame or triumph.  Choose today to walk the hero’s path, to be troubled and alive, and moving , to make decisions when you know that sometimes you will (not might) be wrong. Because, maybe, some choices aren’t that hard after all. To live is to choose- sometimes, simply to choose to keep living, moment by moment.  The Glory Road is there for all of us. Which path will you step onto today? Choose.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Beware the Jabberwock or A Simple Kind of Life

I'm so ashamed, I've been so mean

I don't know how it got to this point
Now all those simple things are simply too complicated for my life

How'd I get so faithful to my freedom?
A selfish kind of life
When all I ever wanted was the simple things
A simple kind of life

No Doubt- Simple Kinda Life
Lyrics and Vocals - Gwen Stefani

Beware the jabberwock, my child, the jaws that bite, the claws that snatch-Lewis Carroll

Life can be a lot like a jabberwocky- a kind of cage that encloses you in imaginary what ifs. What if I had chosen a different path, what if someone had chosen me, what if, what if, what if. And sometimes you can’t even remember what choice you made that led you here, or what dream you had that disappeared. I often wish I had had bigger dreams for myself as a kid. That someone had had dreams for me. I wish I had had dreams at all. Most of my life has been spent working, nose to the grindstone, and looking up every now and again to realize that I had no idea where the grindstone was rolling to. I have felt trapped in that hardworking, but oblivious persona. And every now and again, when some blinding flash of the obvious hits me, I realize how little time we have, and yet I still can’t seem to use it well enough. I never wanted to be the person who scaled Everest- I simply wanted to see it happen, to know that it could be done. I have accomplished some things in my life, simply by plodding away at them, but I’ve never felt the bursts of inspirational fire that the people I admire have. I will never see in the way of Picasso- in bursts of color and abstract shapes. I will never write in the way of Neruda, cool, honeyed, exotic words. I never wanted to. Then I did. And it was too late. I thought the simple life was all there would be for me and now I find that even the simple life may be beyond me. There are so many things I don’t understand. I want to be inspired by real life, and the imagination both, and find myself existing in one, wishing for the other, and not really feeling either. Where have all the Muses gone? And why did they never touch me? Life can feel a lot like a jabberwocky- a cage that encloses you in neverending “ I wants”. I want to be special. I want to be creative. I want to be loved. The simple things in life. Is there anyone out there who knows the answer to it all? Does anyone have the key? Tell me. I want to know what would happen if only......

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Can't Get There From Here or After The Wreck, I Picked Myself Up, Spread My Wings and Flew Away

     Desperation has a bouquet all its own. It’s the scent of the hunted, of rage and fear, adrenaline pumping from your pores. Desperation is an outstanding evolutionary culling tool, because it separates the quick and the dead, predator from prey. It sometimes feels like the world is designed to make you desperate, to place you in perilous situations- (the truth is we do it to ourselves, adrenaline junkies, drama queens that we are. We act like it makes us feel alive. By definition you’re alive, dope- the question is whether you’re living. And most of us aren’t.)
       Desperation has a tendency to force you to make choices, to act. It focuses you, makes you more of what you are. If you were smart before, it sharpens your wits, sometimes enough to slit your own throat. If you were (ahem) less than stellar, you tend to get dum ber while under the wire. Desperation is like the Sword of Damocles swinging over your head. Jump one way or the other, you live or you die. Really, you live and you die. But maybe it doesn’t have to be that way. In life, the thing is, you have to realize that those desperate moments are just that..moments. They can be overcome. Life is like a tunnel and depression is like plaque in your arteries. It can make you sick, squeeze the breath out of you, make you wheeze and shake like a user in rehab. But if life is a tunnel, you are a conduit (to extend the metaphor)- you can expand. Life flows through you and in desperate times, that is when you need most to enbiggen (thanks Simpsons!) yourself, not to seal yourself in. You need to open yourself to the flow, to hope, to inspiration. If the Sword hangs above you, cut through it like Alexander. Trying to force down a big knot of pain, is like trying to swallow one of those horse sized tranquilizer pills that doctors often prescribe for “stress”. It will choke you and it won’t really solve the problem, only exacerbate it. It numbs you and makes you afraid to feel anything- and if you can’t feel anything, what’s the difference between being alive and dead? When you figure that out, it makes all the difference in the world. You can’t get where you want to be in the world by being desperate, or afraid. Desperate rats in a cage may scramble and climb, but they never get anywhere. You are not a rat- you are a conduit, a pipeline for the essence of all things. Don’t close yourself off. Don’t beat your head against the walls. Be still and listen and feel. Then move. Whatever direction you move, you’ll no longer be huddled under the knife. And even if you still don’t know where you’re going, you’ll go straight and proud, walking on the edge.

I do believe that most men live lives of quiet desperation. For despair, optimism is the only practical solution. Hope is practical. Because eliminate that and it's pretty scary. Hope at least gives you the option of living.

Harry Nilsson

Waltz For Life Will Born
I like the idea of waltzing for life- how 'bout you? Shake off your desperation today and dance!


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