Monday, November 7, 2011

Total Knock Out or DIY: Haterz Gonna Hate

My new thing is to not let other people get under my skin- to, if I have to "wash that man/woman/those people" right out of my hair - those people who like lice are determined to to get in there, burrow in and stay for the long haul, sucking out my precious nutrients. I've got to figure out a nice way, in effect, to be a b**ch. Maybe a shirt that  says I'm not as young or as nice as I look- to those who doubt my professional abilities or overestimate my naivete. This has always been a problem for me- I'm young, nice and usually have a position of responsibility. Here's the problem for others-those who are older, "not so nice" and have earned no responsibility, but feel they deserve mine and most importantly, any perks that come with them. There are people who apparently can tell just by looking at me that my life has been  a bed of roses, and so have decided by comment consent to be thorns in my side. I wish I were a person who didn't care, who could flip the world the bird and keep going. Because contrary to all sense, the world seems to admire people like that. It seems, in fact, sometimes to encourage that kind of bravado, machismo ( I don't know a feminine word for machismo-note to self; I must find that word and use it in conversation at least once.)And I want some of that swagger.It's not enough to tell myself that people don't know better, don't know my issues, don't know my sorrows (can you hear singing in the background? "Nobody knows the trouble I've seen.....) Ok, maybe I don't really have it that bad, or maybe, just maybe I've just been really working that hard.  Yeah-----I  think that's it. And a little recognition is so little to give when it means so much. I know I can't expect others to appreciate what I'm going through, but every once in a while, it would sure be nice if the world would give me a break. Or failing that, that I had enough Thatchers to take one for myself. Ok, so maybe I don't have enough spite to tell the world to bite the big one, but I can surely strike back at those who keep taking rabbit punches at me. There's one surefire way to do it- and it's guaranteed to make the haterz crazy. I'll keep doing what I'm doing- succeeding, one jab at a time, giving it all I've got and leaving it all in the ring. They can't stand that or anyone who doesn't have time for the bile. Life is too short to focus on the negativity, and I'm too far ahead to let someone pull me down. It seems like such a simple thing, but in the end that's truly all it takes to mark the winners from the losers- just check which direction they're looking in.  It's already been decided. I'm in it for the long haul. I just have to work to  believe that the fight is already won.

"Criticism is something we can avoid easily; 
by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing." 
Don't know about you, but that's not my style, so I'll have to keep on keepin' on. 
Hope you will too. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I've come back from the nowhere land of not writing after a break, or rather a break down. After not blogging for a few weeks I quickly came to realize how much blogging has helped me to maintain my equilibrium despite some harrowing personal and work experiences. Without it my personal compass tends to spin even further from true north than normal and leave my head spinning. It's strange to realize that blogging is something of a ritual for me and when I don't do it, everything just seems off. Sometimes I struggle to produce something I consider "worthy", but the point should be that any time I reflect on life ,I'm doing something worthy and necessary for me. The idea of rituals has other echoes for me as well. While I am not an overtly religious person, I do hold some beliefs quite dear, but have struggled to figure out how to incorporate them more fully into my life-to realize them in a way that has a real, substancial emotional and spiritual impact for me. I think we all feel like sacredness is something that comes from outside us, something from "beyond"-which makes it something we can never hope to achieve. But doesn't every philosophy say somewhere that we are special-whether made in God's image, or just part of the Creation, or just fundamental pieces of the universe? Heck, even He-man cartoons taught us that "We have the power!" So, I've decided that maybe my rituals should be just that-mine. Designed by me, for me and surely packing a bigger punch when I stray from them. I've decided that my rituals should be simple-whether a whispered prayer during the drawing of a deep breath (something I've realized I do not do nearly often enough), or the smudging of my home with burning sage,( a cleansing ritual I've also done with remarkable success). The point is to do things everday with intention- with the intention of realizing my own power and my own connection to not only the world around me but the one within me, as well as my own power to control my fate. I want to become my own wisewoman, my own power worker, my own conduit to the powers that be and be a power myself. I can do that-I can make my own path, and while I am certain that I will get lost again, once I know that I am my own center, it will never be too hard to find home again.

Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again.

Joseph Campbell

Find more on personal power and try the ritual ideas at

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

It's Not You, It's Me or DIY: Death Become Her

Since I was a kid, I've been very conscious of death.  Conscious of a lot of things actually- body conscious, self conscious, etc, ad nauseum. But I really became aware of life the day I became aware of death.   It remember it clearly; I was maybe four or five, in kindergarten at least, crossing the street with my mom.  Picture me, a kid with braids and glasses, walking to school when suddenly...  I noticed the cars. So many cars, it seemed, all around me and I don't know why it had never occurred to me before that they could hit me and I could die.  Actually, I think I do know- before that I had never really thought of myself as a person, a separate organism.  I know it seems strange, -surely I knew I was alive- but honestly, I don't think I remember much before that age-don't know if I even remembered my own name really (developmentally lagging, that was me, I think). And you know what they say- "Cogito ergo sum." I think therefore I am.  I know I wasn't really present until that moment, and then suddenly I was, just in time for a car to blow by me.  And that's when I knew I was real, that I could be hurt.  It's a lesson that reverberates with me to this day.  So much of the time I try to be a good person (whatever that means), someone loving, someone intelligent.  I give myself to people, and I know you're not supposed to ask for anything in return...but sometimes I need something.  I need to be appreciated. I need to be touched.  I need to feel like I'm doing a god job living this, the one and only life I've been given. I hate that I walk around sometimes thinking that that moment, whatever I happen to be doing, will never come again because how many of us are living in our purpose in every moment? Ordinary life takes up so much time.  It's necessary, but sometimes it fills me with regret.  It makes me feel like less that I'm not living a super powered life every minute of every day. But I'm not a flame. I'm a candle, and you know what they say about burning a candle at both ends. I don't want this awareness of death to make me depressed (ironic, I know).  I just want it to give those moments when inspiration does overpower "real life" even more of an edge.  I want to dedicate myself to creating something, if not lasting- after all, writing and art don't always last past their creation or creator- but something, if not lasting, at least beautiful. I want to spend my time with people and things, in places,  that acknowledge me and make me happy and make me treasure life the bitter sweetness that underscores it.  I don't want to squander it.  So I've got to focus- on me and my one life and my story and creating something- leaving my legacy, whatever it may be, behind.   There are some people who would call that selfish- who don't want to be  part of my story. To them  I say, you're not wrong.  It's not you; it's me.  I am being selfish and I going to stay that way.  It's my life after all and I've only got one.  I've got to make it count.

The fear of death follows from the fear of life.  A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.  
Mark Twain

Saturday, September 17, 2011

It amazes me how two people's thoughts on anything can be light years apart-even, maybe especially, on things they agree on. The process of how people come  to an agreement is like watching a Mandelbrot fractal being born-you start off with chaos and make...chaos-just in a beautiful form, because even once we agree, we can never really understand each other's thinking processes or motivations. How do people ever come together when our interior landscapes span mental continents? How do we explore each others mental terrain and decide this person is my friend, my lover, my enemy- or even "this person is just like me!"-when the truth is, you have no idea. We will never truly know what another person is thinking, or why they do what they do. The rules of society help us make our decisions-but they aren't absolute and they change constantly. What's popular, right, moral- all decided, it feels, on a whim. And I'm an outsider loking in, who can't figure out the rules of the game. Some people are experts at moving through life, despite it's unpredictability. I think it's akin to being a mathematical savant who's never studied algebra- you can intuit an answer and be right, but never use the same process twice to get to the final answer. Which means when I try the very same thing that worked for you or even worked for me the last two times, the third time-Kaboom! When talking to people I feel, always and forever, a stranger in a strange land. I have no idea how to navigate the pitfalls of interpersonal relationships and usually wish I could just say "Screw it!", and not obey those damn unspoken rules of society everyone else seems to know so well at all. But I want to be a part of something. And people who don't try don't get too far in any direction.  And...I have to admit I'm not strong enough to bear society's censure for long. I wish there were an easier way to overcome our mental chasms. But maybe that's the point. Chasms can be overcome when people cooperate-when we strive to understand each other. Sure,I usually don't get it-but I am striving. I think we all are. And maybe one day, we'll all get it. For right now though, what I want is for someone on the other side of my mental divide to lend a hand and throw me a rope. Any takers?

"Sometimes it is the person closest to us who must travel the furthest distance to be our friend."

Robert Brault

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

You Don't Know Me And Neither Do I

I had a strange day yesterday. My multiple personalities came out to play. It started when I woke up feeling hipsterish, so I got dressed in tunic and tights, the whole nine yards, despite the fact that I was going to be doing a bit of semi-professional speaking that day. Call me crazy, but I don't think people respond respectfully to other people when they look like they're about to head out to a rave, but I decided to go with it and to hell with the consequences. Besides, I ended up as an elephant that day and no one minded that at all. I went out to do a puppet show for a group of kids and instantly turned into Miss Perky-you just can`t be mean to a bunch of little kids when there`s a puppet on your hand and they`re all smiling at you going "Do it again!" It was a good start to the day. Then I went into my office and suddenly morphed into office lady, checking email, scheduling meetings, taking requests. Still dressed like a college hippie, but now a manager who just happened to have an elephant puppet on her desk. Surreal has been my byword for some time now-my life taking roads I never could have imagined-never knowing who I`ll have to be when I get up that day, and never knowing who I`ll bring back home with me that night. I sort of wish I could use that puppet everyday. I get the feeling all my conversations would be a lot more honest and fulfillin that way. I always thought one day I would figure out who I was, who I was meant to be. I didn`t realize how much impact other people`s perspectives would have on me or how I would worry about it all-about not meeting those expectations. I almost wish I were an actor-given a set of lines and a character description that spelled the whole thing out-where a character lived and how, where they were coming from, and all their motivations. Sometimes I even want to know the end of the story. But that's not how it works. Some stories may be exciting, some predictable-but when it's your own you still have to live it out to the very end, to live through the climax and make your own resolution.I haven't left the house yet today, so don't know what role I'll be starring in,but I hope it's a good one-I'll make it a good one. Maybe a recurring part that I can come back to again and again.

"Many of us go through life feeling as an actor might who does not like his part, and does not believe in the play."

Mignon McLaughlin-The Neurotics Notebook,1960

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Game of Life or DIY: I'll Take Life for A Thousand, Alex

I've written a lot about how life seems like a game, with rules that I've never quite understood. While friends and family are getting married, starting families,buying homes, and settling into their adult lives, I seem to still be.... not drifting, exactly- but not matching up to some societal norms. But, then who says that society knows what's normal? Normal has changed so much over the years-feminism givng rise to a backlash, macho guys becoming stay at home dads, equal marriage rights for all- why we almost had a female president! Things are not the way they used to be and normal it appears, is far more fluid than we give it credit for. So who's to say that my normal isn't exactly the right thing for me right now? I have been an educator, a care giver, a world traveler even, while still remaing the same small town girl ( and yes, I really do still think of myself as a girl.)-Sometimes I wonder if I will ever be a fully grown woman. I imgaine myself still worrying about acne and having crushes at age eighty, but perhaps having grown up enough not to worry who knows it. I have not yet been a wife or mother and who knows if that's to come? Maybe I'll delve back into the past and be a hippie in my next incarnation. You never know- and that's an important realization in the Game of Life. You never know what will happen next- whether the milestones you hit are taking you along the "right" path. You never know if you're winning---unless you can say this- I have been proud of what I've accomplished, eager to see what I'll do next, grateful for the people who have journeyed with me, and humbled by the realization of both my own inadequacies and my own power. This is what it means to be human, to be normal- to realize that the journey takes you as much as you take it. And no matter where it takes you, as long as you keep moving, you're winning. So it all comes down to this-you spin the wheel, take your turn, make your choices- and hopefully you enjoy where the game takes you.

Each player must accept the cards life deals him or her: but once they are in hand, he or she alone must decide how to play the cards in order to win the game. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Same To You, Buddy!

So, I was driving to work today, coincidentally enough, thinking about writing this blog, and I nearly sideswiped another car (which just goes to show how deeply I think about these blogs before I send them out to you in the world-so, respect.) Now, of course, the other driver cussed me out and deservedly so,  and I would have done the same.  But it occurred to me that that person was from then on going to have not only a terrible morning, but an erroneous idea of who I was. Unless you're the sweetest person on earth, you know that road rage makes you think the worst of humanity, and so do lots of other things- the person who cuts you off at the grocery line, who's rude to you at the corner sandwich shop- the list goes on and on.  But  these little snippets of a person's personality that we get (in my case, they didn't even get to see) are like, like the many layers of Martin Lawrence's fat suit in his movies (which one?- ALL of them). They're there, but they're  not all that's there, and you have to peel through the layers to get to the kernel and find out if there's anything there worthwhile (that's a lot of theres!).   I often feel like the people around me don't know the real me- that they know my circumstances, and think that they're all that defines me. I am someone's daughter, sister, friend- and I have certain behaviors for each of these  that  other people who don't see me in that light would find astonishing. I'm sure my mother would be surprised (at the least) if she knew some of the things I discussed with my friends, and my friends would be surprised if they  knew what it is I do exactly as a job (no one really thinks I'm  very responsible in any of my relationships), and I.. I just let people think what they think because their first impression isn't going to change.  A science fiction truism is that psychics don't  exist in great numbers because they couldn't deal with the multiple pyschoses people carry about in their heads... (another is that people in scifi novels almost always have a hate on for psychics and invariably end up killing them to protect their own [sometimes measly and sometimes grisly] secrets- not great options for building a race of super humans.)  At any rate, I felt bad for cutting someone off, and wished they could see into my head to know I was sorry, but knew they never would. So one more version of me (the idiot female driver one) is  out there in someone's head, but it's not the real me.  Being fully known is one of my greatest fears and greatest desires- I want to pull off my own fat suit (the real one too) and stand in front of the world, someday- but for now I'll hide behind my glasses and wait for someone who is psychic or just really really patient to find the best version of me, the absolutely amazing one, and pull me out of the shadows. Who knows, it could even be me.

Self is the only prison that can ever bind the soul.  
~Henry Van Dyke, The Prison and the Angel

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Through The Looking Glass

Getting my thoughts together to send out into the world (specifically to you three guys still paying attention) has been a little more difficult recently. I've been living a quote unquote "normal -life"- albeit even I realize how un-normal (yes, I know that's not a word- it's my word, deal with it!) things are in today's America.  It's so surreal in fact, that I've kinda been facing a hit of nostalgia for Japan.  I miss my beach, and my apartment and the freedom to travel (even though, yes, I suck and didn't do it enough. I do regret that actually...a  lot).  But life in our America just seems so odd right now- debt ceiling limits, the news about Norway (contrasted oddly or disgustingly enough this morning on Today by a segment about mommyrexia- trying to be thin through pregnancy). And it goes on. The famine in Africa (which one, some of you quip- to which I say, don't be a douche), the horrendous tornadoes- need I explicate more?  And yes, I know that Japan has suffered horribly, even though that news seems to have been quietly dropped (well before they kicked our butts in the World Cup -but is anyone surprised that the news pundits haven't touched the ish since (that's ish as in issues, not the "other". If you don't know what the "other " is- don't worry about it.) So, yes, my nostalgia is not based in reality, but nostalgia never is.  I feel like dealing on a national level with our problems, and a personal one with my own is just a leeetle frustrating right now- my weight (America has been trying to kill me with fast food), my indecision- stay at a job I love in a town I don't? (not really don't, just one I've already done.  A sad case of Manifest Destiny maybe?)  Heck, I'm still waiting for my prince to come...and make me dinner, love me passionately and tell me I'm pretty!  (Any time now, dude). I don't know-sometimes I feel I just need to get back to basics- and my island was pretty basic. But I know that I'm seeing it all through a mirror darkly, as they say. (You remember, the ubiquitous "they"). So, I guess I'll just have to concentrate on making my own wonderland here..or finding a bargain basement pair of rose tinted glasses.  Any one got some to spare?

*New postcard series coming soon!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Miles To Go Before I Sleep

Yes, I know how ironic the title of this latest blog is considering I promised to get back to writing on a more regular basis- buuut, a sister has to sleep sometime you know!  The Great Work-i.e. my job, has been going well lately and keeping me on my toes. I'm  feeling really productive which has always been a factor in happiness for me- you know I've said it before ( a lot), but having a purpose is so important to getting through the day, let alone life.  That being said, the getting through life thing started to poke at me a little recently.  When I work I'm kind of like a terrier- I dig my head in and get to work, and it can take a hard pull to get me to back off and look at the bigger picture. Recently a lot of really great things have been happening ...just to other people. My family and friends have gotten married, had children, moved houses, moved towns. I thought about it, and thought about it, and started feeling a little like I might be a little..late, developmentally speaking.  While everyone else seems to be hitting the milestones society tells us are so important, I haven't been able to get anywhere near them with the hopping I've been doing.  Looking back on my life has been a little bit of a disturbing realization- from high school to college, to a job, to..another job, across the world and back.  On paper I'm not sure I've accomplished that much. Sure I've traveled, but having to start at the bottom again at each new job, having to find a whole new community every time I left the last, living in places that while cute  didn't quite feel like home, (but not being ready to settle anywhere  permanent yet, just because... nothing has felt quite perfect enough). Ehh, it's not the kind of life you can bring to the table when you start to think a future with someone, with a community, with anything that demands a long term relationship. Heck, even my cats aren't so sure I won't desert them to world hop again. Every time you leave it's another chapter and sometime the people left behind don't care about your new story. They've got their own lives and sometimes they revolve around smaller, but no less powerful poles. It's probably just me not being quite perfect enough for anywhere I've been,  or where I'm at ( or where some of the people I've met are) in life.  All I really want is to be settled- in myself, in my place in the world. And I don't feel quite there yet, don't feel like I'm measuring up to some invisible but powerfully felt standard.  And then I realized that just because everyone else is walking that path, doesn't mean I have to.  I'm happy to be a part of their lives, to have those true friends who share those milestones with me, because I'm a part of their lives. To realize that even if I haven't decided where to settle and nest for myself, I have a spiritual home with them that allows me the luxury of roaming. So I'll kiss the babies, and celebrate the anniversaries, and send housewarming presents from around the world if that's where my path takes me, knowing that any  milestone I reach is an achievement, not a millstone around my neck or a measure of my failure if I don't. Maybe life will slow down for me, or new adventures will come, one by one as I walk the path I've chosen... either way, it's my journey and my choice and that makes all the difference.

My path has not been determined. I shall have more experiences and pass many more milestones. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

THIS..IS..SPARTAAAA! or DIY: Stoicism- Bend Over And Take It Like A Man

Okay, so first let me say mea culpa, mea culpa- which for you Phillistines means "I suck"- it can also be translated as "My bad, yo!" I promised to write after we reached 2,000 visitors to the site (Yeaah boyy!)...but then I didn't. So, mea culpa.  I have, I am bemused to say, been busy- beyond my wildest dreams.  First I needed a job, then I got the job, now I am the job's b****.  My hours have been crazy, the people surreal (not my staff- they're cool... and remind to tell you in a bit how I got a staff.) And I've been loving all of it when I haven't been feeling like I need to go howl on the mountain.  ( Yeah, I know- no mountains here-sigh.) I am really feeling challenged here for the first time in a while- there are constantly programs to plan, schedules to do, staff to oversee (Yessuh, Boss!) and what I love and have missed the most- kids to interact with.  My job is to help people read (and use the internet, copy, do research, volunteer, and occasionally teach parents how to be better parents-an awesome gift and responsibility.) And I'm loving it, except when I'm so tired I can't breathe, have anxiety attacks, and feel the need to drink. (But more than  half the bottle of vodka remains in the fridge-go me! okay, maybe a little less than half.)  Playing the role of adult, consultant, expert is really, really hard. And I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, for someone to realize that I don't know what the hell I'm doing, and boot me out the door- kind of like when I first started teaching.  Everyday I waited for someone to realize I had no experience and ask why the heck they had hired me? I endured long hours, and training, and seminars trying to make myself a better teacher- trying to be what the job needed me to be.  And I'm still doing it- training and all, seminars, trying to be a leader to a staff I wasn't supposed to have (my manager got promoted, y'all- yay for her!  Oh sh*t! for me)- Suddenly I have a staff, a department and I'm interviewing another employee this week. I hate that kind of stuff.  I'm used to being in the background and I'm okay with that. All I jwanted was  to do puppet shows for kids!  And tell them to read Susan Cooper books-(great books about wizards before Harry Potter was a brain storm in Rowling's head. Before the death threats come, I love Harry too, but the series is over! Live with it!) 
Suddenly, I'm responsible, again, for something bigger than myself- to people other than myself- not my bosses-- but my kids. I get to be a teacher, without a lot of the limitations teachers have.  But with freedom comes responsibility.  If I want to create great programs for tweens, teenagers and kids and infuse them with a passion for reading, I have to make schedules.  I have to plan, and program, and beg for funds. I have to act like a clown for little kids, and figure out how to make books cool for older kids  and do it all on a budget of hundreds of dollars-like 200 dollars, folks. That's just enough to pay for program materials and bookmarks and suckers for after.  I have to be a politician again, and position myself on committees, when I'd rather just talk to kids about books.  Having a purpose again is so hard..but meaningful.  I don't want to be in the limelight, be a boss, be the Man...I really don't- but if it lets me inspire one more kid to read, I guess I'll learn if not to like it, at least to hack it with the best of them.

Put your heart, mind, intellect and soul even to your smallest acts.  
This is the secret of success.  ~Swami Sivananda

*Again, sorry for the late posts. I'll do better, but don't try to guilt trip me- you're still not the boss of me!
okay-maybe a little  :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Onion Girl or DIY: Mix and Match-Doll Parts

I find it interesting that Catherine Zeta-Jones is in the news this week for going to a mental health facility for Bipolar 2, the same day I decide to write about my own recent bout with some highs and lows.  Why is it that celebrities can make mental illnesses the newest trend- along the lines of Loboutin  shoes, purse chihuahas (or little pigs)? How do I get the commiseration of a nation for the mental blow outs we all have every once in a while? I'm not saying I'm mentally ill (though I have my  days and there are people who would disagree), but I don't think it would be wrong to say that we're all getting sicker as a nation mentally, or maybe just showing it more. It doesn't seem right to have days when I'd rather hide in a closet than face the world, and even if I am a girl, and I fully believe that every now and again every girl needs a good nose honking cry, I can't seem to escape the notion that the world is simply too much today. Not that there's too much wrong,--it's just too much all together.  I've spent the week feeling like I could tear my nails to shreds trying to pull off all the layers and masks I wear just to get through an ordinary day and at the same time feeling like I could break my own heart, slamming it against a wall, adding layer after layer of scars, and feeling like it's all right if my heart gets harder every time, because you just can't make it in this world with a tender heart anymore.  I'm tired of feeling tired, and broken inside. If I could replace whatever it is that's missing in me- just replace my parts, like we used to do when we were kids- remember? When you could just switch heads (and even genders- how 'bout  mutant Barbie G.I. Joe, huh?) If I'm a doll with broken parts, I wish I could just switch out all the stuff that makes me insecure, and mean, and most of all, most of the time, just...sad.  I don't want every day to be a burden or a duty. I want to be happy for more than a few minutes at a time.  I don't have the time to check into a mental facility (and I'm pretty sure my salary wouldn't cover it anyway- don't those people know how much better I could do my job if I only had the right drugs?!), so I guess I'll just have to keep doing the best I can, and posting the struggle here for all the world to see.  Guess Catherine and I have something in common after all, huh?

The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans is suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of your three best friends. If they're okay, then it's you.

Monday, April 11, 2011

3-2-1- Cognition or DIY: It's My World, Everyone Else Just Lives In It

Do you know the feeling you get when you have deja vu? You know, when you feel, all of a sudden, like you done this, been here before? (whatever or wherever this or here is.) It's the feeling that everyone is wearing a mask that you can't quite see behind...or that you are, and your wish that someone would see behind your mask almost overcomes your terror that they will.  It's the realization as you cross the street for just a moment, that the street doesn't exist, that you're moving through something else, be it time or space, where nothing is quite solid or real..until the car beside you hits its brakes.  Reality has always been an illusion to me- often times an unpleasant one. I hate feeling like everyone one else got all the directions to the game of life but me.  Cognitive dissonance is defined (by Wikipedia no less, the blueprints to the universe) as  an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding conflicting ideas simultaneously.   In other words, when what you believe should be happening contradicts what you perceive to be happening, you could have cognitive dissonance.  Good examples include the Wikipedia example of buyers remorse- you buy something expecting to feel good about it- a new dress, a car ... and instead you feel dread or anger. "The I can't believe I spent so much" syndrome.. It could also be when you expected to feel happy about something- like a birthday, but instead feel depressed. Maybe you're like me and you eat an entire pizza expecting to feel satisfied, and instead just feel sick and disgusted.  (If you're whispering out there that of course you expect to feel disgusted when you eat a whole pizza, then you're not suffering from dissonance--you're just a  smug prick. Pizza is supposed to make you happy, dammit!)   
Dissonance is a feeling I am too used to lately- and I think it's contagious.  I feel like too many people in the world are the same as me- wondering what's wrong with them that they can't join with the consensus, the reality that other people seem to have no problem sharing- it's like being Picard when he joined the Borg (If you don't know what I'm talking about, non scifi geek, just press on to the next paragraph.)  You want to be part of the group, but some vague sense of dissatisfaction, of not belonging, of discontent keeps you from fully joining in.  You know you should be happy, but you aren't. And nothing makes it worse than people telling you how lucky you are or how happy you should be.  Screw that.  The realization that I'm unhappy about my situation does not automatically equal that I'm selfish, or unpleasable-it simply means I'm smart enough to realize that where I am is not where I want to be.  The corollary to that equation- not being happy, I mean= I should do something about it. That's all. Just do it. (swoosh).  It's not that I can't be happy where I am, but no one should have to settle for less than their perfect reality. If finding my happiness means checking out of the communal reality and creating a new one just for me , then that's okay. If this world is not enough for me, that doesn't mean I'm an awful person- maybe it just means  (to quote John Mayer, and not the racist stuff, I mean come on John!)  that "I'm bigger than my body."  If the world is not enough for you either, then make your own- reality after all isn't really reality at all---it's the stuff of dreams. Make yours come true.

Question reality, especially if it contradicts the evidence of your hopes and dreams. 
 ~Robert Brault

Thursday, March 24, 2011

My (Al)Chemical Romance or All That Glitters Is Not Gold (Yet)

For those of you are are not as educated in the esoteric arts, alchemy was the study of elements- dedicated to trying to perfect things to their purest state.  A common example would be (for you Harry Potter fans), the Philosopher's stone-believed to to able to purify poisons, turn lead to gold, etc, etc. It was, to be succinct, some some powerful mojo.  Now, why should any of that be important to you? Well, recently while reading Eat, Pray, Love (another story from a traveler afar-amazing how travel turns everyone into a philosopher isn't it?), I started reflecting on the idea of a soul mate, the one person who is our soul's other half- who know us like no other, so "they" say- (and you know we hate the ubiquitous "they"-damned autocrats). Anyway, "they" say this soul is out there, waiting for every one of us.  And I believe it's true..but I also believe thanks in part to EPL that they are to be avoided at all costs. Okay, maybe not really, but Elizabeth Gilbert, author of EPL put forth an idea that I'd not really considered before- that soul mates are not people we're supposed to be with forever-they are not the  person you marry who makes you whole (you're already whole and if you marry someone who is your "other half" that means they're really you and God knows you don't need to marry yourself-though some people try.) Your soul mate is not a prize to be won, but more like a phase to go through. They're a scourge, a whip which forces you to be a better person.  I believe I have met my soul mate many times, in many bodies and will again, because I am far from being the completed person I want to be.  My two halves haven't met so far- my alchemical "wedding" hasn't happened yet or maybe it has and is still happening even now, again and again. I certainly have felt somewhat "challenged" lately.  But my journey from the mud into perfect form, my transmutation, if you will, has been informed by so many people in my life-all of whom held a mirror to my better side, while scourging my baser nature- my selfishness, and fears.  The touch me briefly, but powerful-siblings, parents, friends and lovers.  Dear reader, you have all of them  to blame for who I am today and who I'm still becoming...and I love them and you, for it. That's right, you wonderful mofo b******s, thank you for making me better every day (and yes, I's aware that perfected human beings probably don't call their loved ones mofos- you're still working on me, remember? >=)  
The idea of changing lead to gold, of purifying the human soul, is an age old one-prefaced by the idea that change is possible and necessary, to bring about closeness between human beings, to help us create or recreate a unity of spirit, a place of belonging for which we all long.  Like the image of the lotus flower rising from the mud, the symbolism of turning lead into gold is understandable to all- we all want to overcome our frailties, our impurities, and weaknesses and be transmuted into something valued and love.  We none of us are there yet, me most of all-but still and all,  the evolution continues.

Through love the devil becomes an angel. Through love stones become soft as butter. Through love grief is like delight. Through love demons become the servants of God. (Quote by - Mevlana Rumi) 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

You Got The Love -Aishiteru Wa Nippon 愛してるわ にっぽん

Okay, so I don't mean to be inappropriate but this morning the ongoing FUBAR situation that is the news from Japan finally just made me...pop. (too soon? yeah, probably still too soon.) But really, although I no longer live there, really only lived there for a short while, Japan was a place where I learned a lot of things about myself and the thought of what is going on there is really gut clenching.  As far as I know MY friends are safe, but so many others are not, and I've begun to feel what I think a lot people who care about the world feel- completely useless, helpless to help except by donations by text. (Which by the way, I DO encourage if you can.) I feel guilty somehow that I'm not in the trenches, that I'm not in Japan in the wind and the rain. And because I'm selfish, some part of me wonders how they're feeling- almost wishing I could feel it, like a parasite- because those people are living life, and feeling pain, but because they're people (not just Japanese with their reputations for endurance but people) they will rebuild, because this is what we do. So, yes, selfishly I would like to feel, personally, a little of their resolve. Yesterday, I got to take a hot  shower, and eat and go to work- telling stories to little kids...and I'll do it again today.  While I was reminded in emails from my Japanese co-workers that the students I left behind are supposed to graduate in April, (and while I sent  my congratulations) I have no idea if they really will. The Japanese are a stoic people but how do you get the rhythms of a normal life going again in the literal wake of a tsunami, an earthquake, and our worst nightmare, a nuclear scare? Will there be cherry blossoms this spring, and a Closing ceremony? If there is, more important, where will my kids go? I lived on an island which fortunately appears to have been unaffected (by the weather at least), but an entire generation of students will be traumatized by these events- will change their life paths because of them. Many of them dreamed of leaving the island at graduation, some going to college, some going to Tokyo to work where they would have conversations with gai-jin and maybe use some of the English I taught them.  If they ever get to Tokyo now, it will be nothing like their dreams. I feel very much a foreigner now, so far apart from a place that was for a while my home, where I had moments of peace, and which, if I ever visit again in memory or reality, will never be the same.  The cherry blossom season should be starting soon for this year, but  all I can see are images of snow in Akita, falling over  bent over oba-chans (grandmothers) already inspecting their damaged homes and lives to see where the rebuilding will begin.  I can't be there because my life is here.  I can't be everywhere in the world where there is hurt and hunger right now. All I can give is money, and time in thought. All I can send is love and prayers.  I hope it will be enough. It will have to be enough.

I am only one, but I am one.  I cannot do everything, but I can do something.  And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.  ~Edward Everett Hale

to donate money to the American Red Cross for victims of the Japan tsunami and earthquake, visit

Or, text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Karma chameleon or DIY: The Mouse That Roared

“A little rudeness and disrespect can elevate a meaningless interaction to a battle of wills and add drama to an otherwise dull day.”
 Bill Watterson

You can’t go through life without acknowledging yourself.   Brave words, wise words from the gurus at TLC’s What Not To Wear.  But why is it that when you acknowledge yourself,  it’s like a signal for everyone  else to get in your grill for not  acknowledging them?!! Case in point- I was raised to not interrupt adults when they’re speaking, and to always greet people as they come in the door. But in the past few weeks, I have had people (usually older women) walk away from me while I was speaking to them – who then complained that I didn’t greet them the next time  I saw them.  And when I decided not to put in the extra effort for no return, all of a sudden the eye rolls and the skin teeth came out. ( If you don’t know what that means, ask a black friend- carefully. If you are black and don’t know, find a little old black lady- they know everything.)  While being polite gets you a fair distance, it appears that telling the rules to f*** off gets you only disdain from the other people who also don’t follow the rules.  How is it that the rudest people  get to appoint themselves the masters of ceremony and etiquette? Who decided that they get to put themselves at the top of the ladder?   Aaargh! When do I get to tell the world to take a hike,  like  say, every celebrity or rockstar –and be applauded for my initiative, my nonchalance to the slights, the slings and arrows that life seems intent on throwing at me.    I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. My affability has gotten me in trouble in the past- probably because it's  more like passive aggressiveness.    When people demand respect from you it’s usually because they don’t respect themselves.  How often have you had to apologize for what someone else called your thoughtlessness  and later thought, was I really that insensitive? And  sometimes, we really are. But sometimes, the sharks in the water simply smell blood and they come a running –(yes, I know sharks don’t run- mixed metaphor, people!) I have seriously gotten to the point when I have to ask if this is karma- if maybe this is this how I seem to others and I’m simply looking in the mirror. If so, I need a makeover stat. But maybe, it’s not me- and maybe I simply need to prepare myself for the offensive and being considered offensive when I don’t respond with the alacrity others seem to feel they deserve.   How often do you feel attacked because of what someone else felt, which in reality had nothing really to do with you?  One of my pet peeves is people who demand respect without giving it – not in return, but first. Showing respect is not a you show me yours and maybe I’ll show you mine proposition. It’s a statement about who you are and who you want others to see you as.  I’ve determined that I no longer want to see myself as a doormat- and that I owe no acclamations or explanations to anyone. I know who I am, how I was brought up and where I’m taking myself in the future.  If you have issues or you step in my road, don’t be surprised if I politely, but firmly, brush you aside. 

Respect commands itself and it can neither be given nor withheld when it is due.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

What Is Love? Baby, Don't Hurt Me No More

So once again folks, it's time for my annual Valentine's rant- no, not quite the right word. Discussion? No. Lecture? Umm, no. How about verbal eruption? That's it! That's perfect. Now that we've got that straight,  let me preface by saying that I have no problem with the underlying idea of the holiday of St. Valentine- expressing your love and admiration for someone  with the purchase of cheap gimmickry, gew gaws and surf and turf. I quite happen to like gas station velvet roses.  But really, what I want to talk about is the kind of love celebrated on this day- romantic love, the perfect love Disney taught us to expect when walking through a forest surrounded by birds,  which some how leads one to, oh pick one: (eat food from strangers causing you to fall into a magical sleep;  pick roses from stranger's gardens resulting in your parents having to sell you into slavery; or my personal favorite, making  a wish that transforms you and leaves you feeling like you're walking on knives) whereupon a handsome stranger alike to a Ken doll arrives to rescue you  from the terrible fate your own decisions brought you to. (And yes, I know that second one was the father's fault, but really, Beauty couldn't have developed some Thatchers and run away? Really?)   And also -wait for it- is it possible that Mattel and Disney are plotting together in some massive conspiracy to control the romantic lives of American women? Huh? Um- you all already knew about that?  (Sigh, always behind the curve.) 
Well, anyway, sometimes I feel like we should celebrate all loves- not just the "pure" ideal of love, but the weird loves- like the recent guy who Facebooked me and wanted to be my friend- who happens to have a foot fetish.  (I think I need to re-do my privacy settings- there were some pretty good feet pictures in one of my albums- I could develop a cult following!) Or how about my own weird love of corsets- and yes, I know there will be two camps telling me; one, corsets are beautiful and sexy ( and I ain't talking about those pieces of Victoria's secret crap); or two, how terrible it is to want to distort my body that way- to which I respond, how long have you been a woman? ( and/or reading this blog!? All I talk about is wanting to change myself.) Or how about that new show on TLC which celebrates weird addictions like- eating soap, or the insides of sofa cushions? There's weird love for you.
Or weird love  classics- like Nabakov's Lolita- a book I read in college which steal squicks  me out to this day- how can you sympathize with a guy who's in the end, a fairly pathetic pedophile? You sympathize because the kid's a b***h who leaves him, if I recall correctly, in a roadside hotel for another man. So, he's morally disgusting- at some point haven't we all been? (And if you start that "at least I never" thing- you will be banned forthwith from the conversation- morally speaking, all sins are equal- it's just that some are worth killing for as punishment and others, your punishment is that you have to live with yourself after. The verdict is still out on who should be the judge. [ I think it should be me!])
In the end, love is just a weird thing.  A combination of chemicals in the brain? Maybe. An eternal soul connection with another? Maybe. An intense appreciation of  a personal standard of beauty-e.g. my feet? Could be. In the end, whether you're chemically imbalanced, or shot by the golden arrow of love, you've got to dance with the one who brung ya and love the one you're with- even if it is inanimate, leather, or cushiony. (Hey, some of my best dates have been with inanimate wooden blocks- nice guys, all :)

We are all a little weird and life's a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.  ~Author Unknown

*Join the weirdvolution!  And, Happy V-day everyone

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Color Purple or DIY: Surving the Animal Farm

Stop me  if you think that you've heard these words before...(Oh, right.  Already did that post?Well, alright then. Moving on.)  Don't know where exactly these thoughts are coming from tonight, except for the fact that the drive to work gives me lots of time to think, although what I think isn't always very rational.  Actually, I do know where tonight's thoughts came from- a discussion about, twitting.  Whatever the appropriate verbiage, tonight I had a conversation with friends about changing technology, and realized that I while I have always talked about "when I was a kid", that my era really is changing and I wondered whether I had the capability of keeping up.  I won't say I'm old, (unless it gives me an advantage in an argument) , but neither have I really thought about my future much because I've never seen myself as aging- not from the vanity of youth, but from just not being able to picture myself that far in the future. I don't want to sound despairing, but I don't know that I've ever been sure I would make it that far.  The arrogance of youth is to believe that we are unchanging, or failing that, that everyone else is changing for the worse, growing old and senile, no longer capable of innovation in spirit or thought.  But doesn't anyone remember that growing old is a luxury?  That once upon a time, old was living to be my age (if you know don't tell!) and not much beyond. In animal terms, I would be the stringy, cantankerous tusked female boar of the herd ( do female boars have tusks? Nevermind- just go with the analogy.)- wily, cunning, (okay- just plain too stubborn) enough not to die.  I don't know what continuing lessons growing older will teach me- I'm imagine it will teach me patience as I can't move as fast as I once did even now- (who knew I would look back on my twenties with such nostalgia ?) both physically and often I feel, mentally- but then again, I was never really the sharpest knife in the drawer.    And life itself is cutting itself into my face- those crows feet are growing longer every year-( it's like those carrion birds are having a Dance-Dance Revolution party on my face while I'm asleep every night.) But every wrinkle and scar is mine, and every laugh line too (need more of those actually.) And I'll wear them honestly, and pray that they keep on coming because after all, the alternative is worse.  And besides, they make good accessories for that purple dress I'm saving to wear when I get old...just because.

Warning:When I Am An Old Woman, I Shall Wear Purple

                 When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Jenny Joseph

*I'm all for practicing now- any one want to join me? 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

New Year, New Kid On The Block or DIY: Baby, Take All Of Me

Ok, so this wasn't exactly a New Years resolution, (because then I could have broken it, no harm , no foul- like everyone else), but I did say I was going to try to post more regularly once I got settled with the new job. And since I actually have some issues to take care of anyway, here goes. Do you ever get the feeling you're being...watched? (Good old Bugs Bunny chestnut-if you haven't heard that saying, you didn't watch enough cartoons as a child.)     So, yeah. I'm being watched- evaluated- for the first time in a while, and I find it highly disconcerting.  It's almost like being in high school again- people are trying to figure out where I fit in (which is something I never knew before and don't know now)- where I belong in the hierarchy. It's unnerving and annoying, and makes me feel a little resentful that I once again have to prove myself.  The problem is this- after a long time of working jobs where I didn't have to prove myself (not because I didn't care, but because dammit I was good at my job- though unacknowledged), I find that I want to succeed this year where I am, but I don't want to have to go through the gauntlet to do it.  Why can't we all just get along? I have spent most of my life feeling slightly autistic-never really knowing how relationships work, or being able to spot the clues that other people subconsciously can read without effort ( and for those who are feeling all butt hurt about my autistic analogy- I have taught special ed kids, and can honestly say in this day and age, were I to be tested I probably would be one, so take your offendedness elsewhere. BTW, new favorite phrase- butt hurt.)  I am tired of having to play king of the mountain or office politics when all I want to do is my job. Let me rephrase- all I want to do is live my life- if that includes doing the job well when allowed to- great, if not maybe I'll fit in if I do what everyone else does and do my job half-assedly, and just love my life outside of work.  'Cause in the end it's only money, and honey, I've always been broke.  This year all I wanted for Christmas was a job- or really, I meant a purpose. And now I've got the job, and the purpose is the same as it ever was. I want to do something meaningful- I want to find beauty in my life, I want to create a me that feels confident that if I don't know all the "rules" I don't have to- because they don't apply to me anyway.  Rules are for herd animals. Maybe this year, I will just have to be okay with being "She Who Hunts Alone." Because what I'm searching for can't be found at the office, in a clique, or a gaggle (more animal references, anyone? No? Okay, I'll stop now).  This year, I firmly resolve to look at the world and spit in it's eye. I'm not trying to get on board with everyone else- they better get on board with me. Because this year, I'm going places. Catch me if you can.

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.
Abraham Lincoln


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