Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Update on the shower business

Due to an unfortunate mismanagment of time (on my part) or a blessed intervention, somehow my mom cannot yet post to this blog. She told me a couple weeks ago that she wanted to write about peeing in the shower. She informed me, ever so gently, that the only reason I was asking was because I knew it was wrong! It's gross to pee in the shower, Mom says.

I just wanted to give light to Mom's opinion (because we've been too busy playing dominoes, I guess, to get her her own identity so that she can comment here) and to point out something fascinating.

It turns out that the only two people in the world who think it's gross to pee in the shower are my mom and the guy I was seeing. Lisa Krogan (I think that's her name) had an article in a recent issue of O, The Oprah Magazine saying that all women (lesbian or straight) are attracted to their mothers, not their fathers, as our society tells us.

Lesson learned, dear ones. Lesson learned!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Book Recommendations

So I've been back home for the holidays, and I might end up staying here for a while longer--I'm just seeing how things are going.

I've been reading Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment because it is the book that St. John's Center is reading for the January book club. I've never actually gone to this book club, but I was thinking I should try it.

And now I really want to go because I'm finding this book to be amazing. Truly. (See how understated I'm being here--no use of exclamation points anywhere--I must really like this book. I really do.) There are a lot of things to share from it, but I can't really express everything right now. Suffice it to say that we should all be living in the moment and that time is a fiction the ego created to keep us miserable.

So there is a lot about time here, and it's causing me to live my life differently and to explore some connections that I hadn't been aware of before. I've been really invested in trying to explore myself and learn more--in many ways I believe all that work has helped prepare me for reading this book. I feel more open and excited than I have in a long long time--maybe ever! I highly recommend the book!

And, in other book news, we're having our book club meeting soon! I'll send details when I remember them, but we'll be discussing Naomi Wolf's The End of America. I've been picking my way through it and I think it's pretty good so far. I think discussion will be excellent, and if you want to join us, then you should!

All the best as this holiday season continues!

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Christmas Miracle!

Can anyone else smell this?  It's the overpowering aroma of lemon Endust--I've actually dusted my apartment!  I made a vow to treat myself like my own best friend (which is easy, given the fact that so many people over the course of my life, and especially this year, have modeled what it means to care for me), and part of that vow is to clean my apartment.  And not only am I dusting, but I'm also doing something utterly unheard of--I'm vacuuming under the furniture.  More importantly, though, I'm eliminating the clutter that has accumulated.  On one hand it's a luxury to have such clutter, but it's been overwhelming.  And people have tried to help me with it, but I never really know what to do about things.  So it's just been ignored.  But now I realize that I have stuff and things to put stuff in and places to put these things.  Just the other night I was telling new acquaintances about the fire and they were saying that they would miss all their big, important things.  It's true, you miss that stuff.  But you can grieve those unique things.  It's the little things, like file folders and places to put file folders, that are really upsetting to lose.  This is because, I think, you lose your whole system of organization and that just takes time to get back.  Especially because, at first, you have nothing to organize.  But, stuff accumulates, and all of a sudden it's sitting in piles all over your living room floor.  That's when you realize you aren't helping yourself and that's when you realize that you need to be your own best friend about this.  (So thank the universe that your own best friends have been around to show you how to take care of you.)

I know you aren't asking for advice (and you may have already heard me explain this before), but here some is anyway.  (And it's free!)  I've noticed, especially being a student, all the things that I just don't get done (until the last minute, or the post-last minute.  Or the post-post-last minute, and so on.)--I'm a procrastinator, like many others.

So here's something that helps me.  In the morning, I make a list of all the things that I'm worried about and all the things that I want to do.  I just let it all out.  Some days I have kind of deep stuff on there, and sometimes it's pretty mundane.  Usually it's a combination.  From there I put a box around what's most important and then I go to it, but under a time constraint.

For example, I've been cleaning today, but only in 15 minute increments.  I decide which project to work on and then do it.  And then I take a break (today it's been for seven minutes).  In my breaks I can do whatever I want, but I have to stop from whatever chore I'm doing, even if I want to keep going.

Sister Ellie gave me this advice and I'm agreeing with her on it's benefits.  I'm learning to trust myself (I uphold these time boundaries, which is good practice), and I'm getting things done, too.  And let me say, too, that you need to praise yourself whenever you do what you say you're going to do.  It feels a little silly, at times, but it's also a nice way to learn to stop being so hard on yourself.  Sometimes my daily lists are impossible; often times I worry about the largest things.  I can't beat myself up for what doesn't get done, but I can praise myself for what does get done.  And that, I'm learning, feels really great!

Additionally, spending time on things in short chunks works well when thinking about meditation, too.  There tends to be an impulse to run from whatever I'm doing, and I'm training myself (while the stakes are low) to stay put.

Last night I was participating more in The Artist's Way and I came across this statement (Julia Cameron recommends using it as a mantra): "Treating myself like a precious object will make me strong."

An Inconvenient Truth

As I sit down to write this, I realize how many movies I've been watching lately.  It feels like such a luxury to watch whatever I want to watch.  And then I get to say whatever I want about it--hooray!

So the other night I watched An Inconvenient Truth and there were some dimensions of the discussion that Gore raised that I found particularly interesting.  He talked about the fact that we did not choose the climate crises, but that we still have to respond to it.

This thought really resonated with many things I've been thinking about and stuff that Sister Ellie and I have been discussing.  During one meeting with Sister Ellie she was telling me that things we can't control (like our gender, race, nationality, parentage, genes, etc.) played much more of an impact into who we are than other factors (like, say, our careers).  She makes the argument that we don't have the power to control anything--the only thing we can do is respond to what is around us.

This conversation came back to me as I listened to Al Gore.  I think there's something so combative and defensive about our society that encourages people to think they have control.  Or that people, when told they need to change, seem to automatically assume that someone is blaming them for the problem.  And, honestly, I think there is a lot of blaming--on everyone's part.

But if we can all get past the blame, we can see the issues that were handed to us.  I believe that most of the problems we face just arise because people didn't know any better.  But what if we assume that people are doing the best they can?  This, I believe, can help us respond to various situations quicker.

All of this is just to say that once we let go of guilt and blame and pay attention to what's actually happening, then, well, who knows what can happen.  Good things, though, I believe.

Also, I think Gore's point makes me think that it is even more imperative for our generation to live in the present moment.  I think, and this is just tentative, that the climate change is forcing us to relate to our world in ways that people who came before didn't have to.  So, in some regards the challenges we are facing are brand new (even while challenges themselves are not new).  I think part of this challenge is thinking about how we think about time (my favorite pet subject to think about, even while I can't articulate any of my thoughts clearly!).  

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Something more lighthearted!

Last night I was talking to my little sister, Vic, and she told me the funniest thing I've heard in quite a while.  We were thinking about Christmas plans with the family and I told her that even though I love playing games with the entire family, that I was thinking it might be fun to all go see a movie together. " I'm dying to see Doubt," I say to Vic, "you know that movie with" and I start to stutter because I've been getting his name wrong, "Philip Seymour Hoffman."  When I saw Syncedoche, New York I called him "Philip Hoffmour Semen."  Awesome.

Well, Vic had an awesome word jumble the other day.  She was telling her husband that she saw the game Twister Hopscotch in the store.  Instead of saying "Twister Hopscotch," though, she called it "Hipster Twatscotch."  YES--so funny!

I was reading more of Eat, Pray, Love (I've been re-reading it slowly--it is such a pleasure!) and just read the part where her and Luca Spaghetti are talking about which word best describes Rome (sex, he decides).  Luca comments that people should live where their own personal word matches with that city's word.

So this led me to thinking about what Tulsa's word is, and what, on Earth, could Longmont, Colorado's word be?!  I was thinking maybe Tulsa's word is "developing" or "optimistic" or, well, I don't know what else.  Vocab is not really my strong suit (nor is describing something with just one word).  

According to this silly Facebook quiz I took, my English word is "revolution."  I feel pretty confident in saying that Tulsa's word is not "revolution"!  Nor is Longmont's, I don't think!

Anyway, please feel free to post any funny word jumbles you've said/heard.  And any words you have for Tulsa or other cities.  I would also, for whatever record, invite you (because "you" are "someone likeminded," right?!) to post on my previous entries.  Especially about Obama/Warren--I'm not sure what to make of that issue today.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Divorce

I've had a lot to say today because a lot of things are happening.  I've been living intensely for some time now, and things are starting be the good kind of intense--hooray!

Last night I had to sign a quitclaim deed for my new ex-husband.  It turned into a bit of a logistic roller-coaster because documents were forgotten and traveling needed to happen, and quickly at that.  His sister was in town, and we were able to drive together and get a bit caught up on what's gone on this year.

Some weird things happened over the course of the evening (like two golden retriever puppies appeared out of nowhere.  Andy's helping them find a new home.).  We ended our night together by the three of us going out to dinner.  Much of our conversation was prefaced by "This might be awkward, but . . ." or "I hope it's not too weird to say . . ." and so forth.  

Overall, I had a great time hanging out with these people that I once called family, and now I call friends.  The evening ended with hugs all around.

I just wanted to send this to the Universe (or the ether, as Sara recently coined), for whatever it's worth.  For whatever it's worth, it's been a great pleasure and curse to divorce Andy.  It's been a hell of a year and there are a trillion things I would have done differently over the course of our whole relationship.  But, truly, it feels like such a blessing to be able to have genuine affection for him after this is all said and done.

And also what it's worth, and this isn't worth a whole hell of a lot, for any woman that happens to fall in and/or out of love with Andy--I think you will enjoy the process.  I've put that guy through a special kind of crazy (not unique, just special).  I have no idea what his own healing process has been like (and that's none of my business and doesn't need to have anything to do with me), but it does say a lot on his part to still be genuine and friendly when going through a divorce.  And he's been self-reflective, too.

I might be romanticizing my marriage and divorce--that's not my intention.  Andy and I both agreed that it was such a relief to have the divorce final.  It's just something less hanging over us, and for that, along with this guy's non/companionship, I am grateful.  

So here's to love and passion and mistakes.  For doing things against your better judgement.  For doing things in accord with your better judgement.  For not doing things.  For patriarchy and feminism and state and religious laws.  For figuring stuff out only to realize you have to now figure other stuff out.  For all of this, thank you.

Obama and Rick Warren

I just want to throw some preliminary thoughts on the Obama/Warren controversy in part by making a comparison to McCain/Palin.  While the religious right scares and angers me, I do have moments when I can see that they are just trying to be helpful.  They are scared and angry, too.  I've spent a lot of time thinking the religious right is just plain stupid, but I think they are more scared than stupid.  I've invested a lot of energy into thinking that if people just knew better than they would be more liberal.  This model helped me explain why institutions of higher education tend to be liberal, for example.  But, of course, there happen to be smart conservative people (or at least nice conservative people; I don't know actually--I'm just assuming.  OK--I just mean sometimes there's a conservative person who truly does have good intentions.) and there happen to be dumb liberal people.  

All of this is just to preface the idea that maybe, just maybe, Obama isn't pandering to the religious right by choosing Warren to speak at the inaugural invocation.  Instead, I wonder if this could help open up dialogue on religion and politics in America.  I was trying to think that if Bush had ever employed some liberal figures in his administration, then maybe I wouldn't have been so mad at him.  I do know that my little brain was never quite sure what to make of the fact that he had racial minorities in high positions (Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Alberto Gonzales)--this cut against my assumption that he would be totally invested in maintaining the white boys' club.  Further, it also made me think more about why any marginalized person would subscribe to Republican beliefs.  All these thoughts were good for me and I guess I kind of owe that, in part at least, to George Bush.  (Gross, but true, I guess.  Gratitude to George Bush?!  Perhaps I'm on too much prozac right now . . .)

Anyway, if there can be dialogue (and not defensiveness or aloofness on anyone's part) regarding the Warren choice, then that would be great.  It would be, I believe, unlike McCain's choice in picking Palin as VP.  Everyone thought (I think) that McCain was pandering to the women's vote.  This was erroneous thinking on so many levels, but primarily because there is no such thing as one women's vote (even while women tend to be more liberal and the limitation to two candidates makes it mathematically impossible for women (or anyone) to disagree very strongly when it comes to making election decisions).  Neither McCain nor Palin could ever really explain gender and politics in a satisfactory way.  But, my hope is that Obama and/or Warren could start the dialogue on religion and politics in America.

Just like there is no one way that all women think, there is no one way that any religious faction thinks.  Offering more options, in my opinion, seems to be the best way to get a discussion going.  And reaching out to different people often lets guards down, often makes people think they are being listened to.  And when people believe they are being heard, they are more likely to listen in return.  And when people both listen and speak, people are more likely to change their beliefs.

In the past I always thought that we all needed to agree.  And then I dug so deeply into my own beliefs that I had such anger towards others.  And now what I want is our society to be more accepting.  No, we don't have to accept Rick Warren's beliefs (in fact, we must never accept them), but we do need to accept that Warren (and others like him) feel fear in our country--he feels threatened.  Where does that sense of threat come from, and how can we all work to eliminate that sense of threat?  I think listening can help.

What I've said here was said (mostly) before I read "Is there a Method to this Rick Warren Madness?," and Lucia Brawley says my thoughts a lot better in that article (from the Huffington Post).



Thursday, December 18, 2008

"The highest five"

Sara has, just now, taught me the secret to the best high five--all you do is watch the other person's elbow.

We just high-fived awesomely, like, a billion times in a row.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Scoring with Francesca Gelato

In Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert mentions that her divorce lawyer once represented a Korean woman who legally changed her name to something Italian in order to feel attractive again.

Today my divorce, as far as I know, will be final, and I think a name-change sounds ideal. I was joking about this with my sister and she encouraged me to go for it. In fact, she kind of challenged me to go out and introduce myself to people under my new name.

At slumber party night the other night (at which I was a total downer, for the record), we were talking about nicknames. It was remembered that Saragraph, in all her witty glory, deemed me Curt Spunk-Largeman. This came about during a time of professional crisis, when I didn’t know if I should stay at TU or not. Sara recommended that I wouldn’t feel so out-of-place in the department if I would only do two things: study modernism and become a man. (True that, girl (, she said in jest).) So Curt Spunk-Largeman was born, and Curt studies periodicals (like The Semenal). Well, now that Operation Dehyphenation is a success (that’s me in front of the American flag saying, “Mission Accomplished”), I’m just Curt Spunk.

And actually now I’m Francesca Gelato. I’ve vowed to keep my hair black (so, clearly, this new identity is so going to work). Let me just say this: since Ye Olde Apartment Fire the only identifying documents I have to my name are my driver’s license and student id (and the picture on that is so hideous, really. What that fact has to do with anything, I don’t quite know. But, if for some reason, you come across that picture and I am not around to defend myself, just know that the id dude stretched the picture when manipulating it on the computer. I have chubby cheeks to begin with and this guy enlarged the image by just pulling on it from one side, and not the corner, like everyone else in the world knows how to do when making a computer image bigger. Seriously.). I lost my social security card, passport (which, actually, had expired—I had vowed not to let that happen, too. I’m bummed about that.), and birth certificate. So now, really, seems like an ideal time to make up a new name.  

I’m kinda tired of “reclaiming,” you know? And I just think it’s worth adding that I would make a great Francesca; if you would have asked me this a couple days ago, I would have disagreed with that statement. But today, my friends, I am the proud owner and wearer of make-up (I made Sara call me “glamorous” yesterday; she complied, but made me stop sitting on her in exchange). Additionally, I am also the proud owner of a winter coat (warning: pity party straight ahead) (remember that Ye Olde Apartment Fire also laid claim to my warm clothes. Even though I was so tired of my winter coat, I still feel completely valid in complaining about its loss. Well, (I say to myself with more compassion than pity) I think I’m more bummed that I had to expend energy in finding a new coat. I love the new coat; I’m glad to have it—but I am so tired of acquiring things, and of having to worry about acquiring things.), and this winter coat has a hood with a fur (I really hope it’s fake—I didn’t even check. I’m pretty sure it’s fake, though.) trim. So you can picture me, all bundled up, with dark hair and make-up, surrounded by (fake) fur—it’s the picture-perfect Francesca Gelato.

I’ll soon be acquiring my divorce papers and soon I will have to acquire new identifying documents; what a perfect time for a name change, yes?! And the absolute best part about this fantasy/possible-reality, is that it’s an escape fantasy where I’m actually staying place, for once. I’m so freaking proud of myself for this one—I only made up a new name, and not a new profession and geographical location! Let’s score one for Francesca.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Informal Survey

This might be really gross to ask (but whatever--stop reading, if you're worried about that): does anyone else think it's perfectly fine/normal to pee in the shower?

And another thing . . .

My dear friend Tara helped me shop for make-up this weekend.  I asked for her beauty advice (you all are reading her blog, right?), and she so nicely indulged me.  So I've spent three days now wearing make-up and feeling girly.  Well, feeling many things.  But mostly believing, "Fuck it.  I don't give a fuck anymore that 'the system' is profiting off my insecurities.  Or that I'm buying into the system.  Or that I actually spent time praising Oil of Olay for creating a product that works to decrease both wrinkles and zits (hello late 20s--what up?).  The truth is, the system is profiting off me some way, regardless."  (I don't really know why I felt the need to put that all in quotes, but there it is.)

T'is the season?

Ok--this blog is going to be an experiment in anger.  I'm feeling angry today, and I'm not too sure why (that's kind of a lie; I have some ideas).  I'm never really sure how to express my anger, so I usually dismiss it or do something unhelpful.  That's kind of a lie, too; I do know how to do helpful things.  Anyway.

Mary Flannery-Scientist's blog has inspired me to think about taking ownership of my body; she powerfully writes, "I don't owe my body to anyone."  Along those same lines, I just wanted to take ownership of my emotions and just say that I'm angry, and I don't "owe" my emotions to anyone.

All that said, I feel a little less angry now.  I was just in a snit because I've been thinking about how much time I've spent settling on things that I knew I didn't want.  And I'm thinking about how difficult it is to actually name what I want.

On top of that, I just found out today that a dear friend is going through a separation.  She is utterly heartbroken and he sounds like he's made quite a few bad decisions (to put it mildly).  And I'm just pissed about this.  I'm pissed that I and my friends have put ourselves through bad relationships thinking that this was the best we deserved and/or (but mostly just and) that if things didn't change, then it would be our fault.  Because, this line of thinking goes, we are responsible for every (little-ass) thing.

As I sit here and write, I'm becoming less mad (I don't know why I needed to give that update.  Now I'm pissed again--ha!).  I think anger and blame seem to go hand-in-hand (at least in my brain).  Or, maybe, if I felt more entitled to my anger, then maybe I wouldn't need to find blame for it.  When I think about happiness, I tend to take credit for finding ways to make myself happy.  And I believe I also give credit to other people/places/things/times when credit is due, too.

But, for maybe the first time ever, I want to experience this anger as my own.  It's not necessarily anyone's fault (or credit, because sometimes anger can be good); it's just what I'm experiencing right now.

That said, if anyone needs to vent about his/her relationship, then I'm here with shitload of good advice (and some Alanis songs and tea).

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bodies

This has been a busy week for many people; a dear friend had surgery, another dear friend defended (successfully!) her dissertation prospectus, friends are traveling, friends are getting sick, friends are both excited and stressed-out by the holidays.  It's just a lot, you know.

I've been reading some things about bodies that I wanted to mention here.  In the latest issue of Scientific American Mind, they had a couple blurbs about obesity.  One article mentioned that there is a link between kids getting ear infections as a cause of obesity.  Another article mentioned that obesity may be a way for a body low on dopamine to self-medicate.  Both made me perceive my weight in a different manner.  And it reminded me of an on-going conversation I've had with a friend who also identifies as a fat feminist (there don't seem to be too many of us around here).  My friend once said that she equated fatness with being gay--it's something people just couldn't help.  I freaked out when she said this, and we talked about it a bit.  Looking back I can see that part of my issue with my body is thinking that I'm in control of it.  This conversation and these article blurbs remind me that there is more of an interplay of biology and self-will than I usually acknowledge.

Add to this the news that Oprah is talking about how she has gained 40 pounds and now weighs 200 pounds.  Feministing had an interesting post about this yesterday.  While that blog talked about how a discussion of weight (loss or gain) means a profit for Oprah, I thought the blog left out discussions of control.  When I read a little thing on Oprah talking about her body, I felt bad for her because she seemed like she was putting so much pressure on herself--it seemed to me like she forgot that weight-loss, for most people, is an ongoing issue.

This is why the feministing post made me a little angry, even though I agreed that there is money to be made regarding her weight.  But there seems to be very few places where process is valued more than results.  Oprah says she "embarrassed" by the weight gain; I read into that by imagining that she now feels like a failure, even though she has the tools to keep a thin body.  Well, I think it's important to acknowledge that not everything is in your control, just as it's important to acknowledge that not everything is out of your control.  

This is just my thought so far; I might revise it later (of course!).

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Meditation Question

I talked to a couple friends about this already, but I want to write about it, too.  I had been thinking that LZ was the best, intuitive cat in the world--he seemed to leave me alone whenever I meditated.  These past two days, however, he has been a little shit.  (It's true, and I don't think I'm breaking my vow to stop calling him "Shitface" to his face.  Well, maybe I do believe I'm breaking my vow--such guilt I have today!)  Sunday night he attacked my arm and hand pretty good.  At first I thought that I wouldn't break my posture, but then I did so that I could yell at him and squirt him.  Yesterday he went after my toes, and I think I broke my posture then, too.  He also moved my rock around.  This was interesting because I had been using sound as a support, but I still enjoy having the rock to look at.  By moving the rock, LZ reminded me that the rock was just support--it wasn't integral to the process.

His whole interaction with me has given me a lot of material to work with (this is what Sister Ellie would say, I believe).  I noticed that I wanted a lot of "shoulds"; I should have done this or that.  In the future, I should do something different.

Then I came (a little bit more) to terms with the fact that there are no shoulds.  I could have done a variety of things, and I did what I thought was right at the time.  This realization is boring.  It's almost as though I'm afraid that I'll have nothing to write/talk about if I get rid of all the shoulds in my life.  I'm not afraid of becoming complacent (but maybe I am; I usually preface my deepest feelings with a rejection of those feelings/thoughts; eg, "It's not as though I am jealous of her" means precisely, "I'm (at least a little) jealous of her.").

I lost my thought.  Do I have a thought here?  Maybe we'll just have another stew of ideas: meditation, rejection of feelings, projection, complacency, prudence, discernment, fear, boredom, shoulds, coulds, lessons, cats, truth.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Another thing I just learned from my cat

As I wrote that last blog, LZ has been sleeping in the papasan chair, which is right by the desk I'm sitting at.  He's asleep (and adorable, of course).

He made me think of the importance of finding good friends and mentors in life.  He follows me around the house.  He only seems to get in trouble when he doesn't have forms of entertainment in the areas I'm at.  (I'm not sure if that sentence makes sense.)  I see it as my job to not only provide discipline and tell him what not to do, but to show him things he can do.

This is probably beyond obvious to most people, but for some reason this is nearly a brand new idea to me!  Often I reject discipline and just try to model good behavior; but, I can see now that this strategy isn't really completely effective.

What I've learned from my cat today


Here is my oh-so-innocent-looking cat, LZ.  He's about nine months old now; I've had him since September.  Anyway, he's teaching me more about how to uphold boundaries and he's making me think more about discipline and structure.  Just the other day (and maybe this should have happened a few months ago) I had to write out expectations I had for him so that we were clear about what he could and couldn't do.  Since then, I've been more consistent in my discipline.  For example, I told him that he will get yelled at and squirted with the water bottle if he jumps onto the table, counter, and/or microwave.  So, of course, jumping onto these areas has become his favorite thing to do whenever I'm in the kitchen.

Today I wondered about something, though.  I was eating breakfast at the table (with the trusty water bottle beside me) and LZ kept jumping up.  So I'd tell him "no" and squirt him.  He'd jump off and start to lick himself wherever the bottle got him.  It seemed as though as soon as he was done grooming, he'd jump up again.  I know the guy doesn't have a large aversion to water (he jumped into the shower with me the other day, for crying out loud), but still--it seemed as though he just wanted to be squirted because he was bored and didn't know of other ways to keep himself entertained.  At one point, he got squirted about five times in a row because he wouldn't get off the table quickly enough--he seemed to enjoy it!

This whole scenario just makes me wonder about the bad habits I have (the things I do that I know I shouldn't do).  Do I have these bad habits because they are a short-cut to attention that I don't know how to ask for?  And how are they bypassing actual healthy habits, habits that could be more productive and exciting?  

Why do I seem to think that licking water off myself is the best way I could spend my time?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

On Being a Control Freak

Well, my appointment with Sister Ellie went really well on Thursday.  I've had a lot to think about, and it's been so great.  She recommended that I laugh at myself in regards to what a control freak I've been.  At first I could laugh because I know that it's true; but since then I've seen more of the extent to which I am a control freak--and now it seems even funnier!  And scarier, too, at the same time!

Like, for example, I think I got married out of a sense of wanting to be in control.  That was one less thing I wanted to think about, even while I wanted to be able to process the complexities of it.  This morning I woke up (briefly) and wondered what Yob (ye olde boyfriend, if you recall) was doing.  I was feeling jealous and curious and I imagined all these possibilities of what he could have done last night and what we was doing now.  Then I sensed all these possibilities bifurcate--it was like watching ice form.  All these possibilities kept expanding and I imagined all these new possibilities, too.

What I'm trying to say is that when I let go of being a control freak (or just try to let it go), I have a more expansive imagination.  And this is starting to feel more like a gift instead of a curse.

It's starting to explain why I never believed I was good at playing dolls or writing fiction; whenever I got a story line figured out, the activity never seemed fun to me anymore.  Just like completing a project never feels like fun--I believe I know how everything will play-out.

Well, I don't.

And things are much more fun and exciting that way, I'm learning.

To confirm this, I offer up a quote from physicist Andrei Linde (who works on multiverse theory) from an article in December's Discover magazine: "I once predicted my own future.  I had a very firm prediction.  I knew that I was going to die in the hospital at the Academy of Sciences in Moscow near where I worked. . . . Because I knew I would always be living in Russia.  Moscow was the only hospital for the Academy of Sciences, and so on.  It was quite completely predictable.  Then I ended up in the United States.  On one of my returns to Moscow, I looked at this hospital at the Academy of Sciences, and it was in ruins.  There was a tree growing from the roof.  And I looked at it and I thought, What can you predict?  What can you know about the future?"

Sister Ellie says we can only respond to the world around us; as scary as I find that thought, I'm really finding a lot of truth in it.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Honesty

In the November 2008 issue of Psychologies (which I've written about earlier), Ricky Gervais (from the British version of The Office and the movie Ghost Town) is asked, "Are you are conformist or a rebel?"  He responds by saying, "In terms of art, I think you've got to be a fascist.  Your opinion is the most important thing with regards to your own work.  Some things should not be open for committee or collaboration."

I've had this post on hold because I thought I would, eventually, have some nice way to round this out; but instead, I just have questions.  For one, this reminds me of a conversation Sister Ellie and I had where she asked me why I valued honesty more than such things as "tact."  To me this is related to Gervais' point on art and your own opinion.  And to that one book's (Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am?) point that feelings need to be shared right away.  

But, as Sister Ellie told me yesterday, feelings can be felt in a nanosecond.  There's no need to pump energy into them and intensify them.

All these thoughts are related somehow, and I don't believe I'm communicating them well.  So I'll just create a soup of ideas: art, honesty, emotions, time/impermanence, individuality, life.  All these things mixed together, marinating.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Meditation Lessons

For anyone in the Tulsa area (for anyone that wants to move to Tulsa; there are two spare apartments in my/Sara's building now) who doesn't know, you must get involved with St. John's Center for Spiritual Formation: www.stjcenter.com.

And by "get involved" I mean take the foundations meditation course and/or see Sister Ellie for meditation therapy.  

I'll continue to do my Sister Ellie promotion as time goes on; but, for now, consider this piece of wisdom she shared with us during tonight's ongoing meditation class: "Anything worth doing is worth doing badly."

Yes!  I both get it and I don't get it!  This phrased is used a reminder that there is really no such thing as doing something perfectly.  If anything worth doing was worth doing "right," then there would be a ton of stuff that I just couldn't do.  So with this in phrase in mind, I feel perfectly comfortable continuing with school--I can get my degree badly!  I can be in relationships badly!  I can do a ton of stuff badly!  "And I do!"  

Hooray meditation class; hooray Sister Ellie; hooray words that help us express these basic, insightful ideas.  

Monday, December 1, 2008

Livin' on Tulsa time (again)

It's so nice to have many places to call home!  I'm happy to report (to no one in particular) that I am back in my apartment in Tulsa.  This past week(ish) has been so great--it was nice to have deep, intense conversations with my family.  And now it feels nice to have some time to back away from that intensity.  

There's something about being on vacation that always feels like I'm making New Year's Resolutions; it's like I say to myself, "when I get back I will . . . [do everything I've been putting off and I'll do it with a brand new, positive attitude]!  Yes!"  Well, this time I have a ton of things to add to my list, but I don't feel so urgent about things.  I've had Pema Chodron's advice in my head (advice my little sis echoed this morning when we were talking) that forcing yourself to change is a form of violence against yourself.  That part of change is acceptance.

Which reminds me of Sister Ellie's advice that making any kind of breakthrough is not diminished if you ever face a setback.  The point isn't to be 100% in a new state of being, but to make an effort to get there.  (Being vague is so unhelpful here (as is LZ, who thinks he can type with his kitty paws).  Sister Ellie would say that just because, for example, you still got upset when someone you forgave said something that annoyed you, doesn't mean that you didn't forgive them in the first place (although, maybe forgiveness is a bad example).  The point being, you can make a breakthrough and still experience moments in the same mindset you had pre-breakthrough--you're still doing a good job.)

My larger point being, I have a ton of vacation resolutions and I'm just going to breathe into them and see what happens.  What is happening right now, though, is that I'm not getting a draft of my reading list done.  And also what's happening is I'm kind of berating myself, even after I said I'd be gentle with myself.

I'm starting to think that blogging is going to be the worst/best distraction ever (I'm pretty sure Tara warned me about this!)!

Also, for those in the Tulsa area, a few of us are reading Naomi Wolf's The End of America.  It's short and is a quick read (I read most of it on the plane, and I'm a slow-ish reader, especially when around people).  The book, I think, is fabulous.  I'm not sure if it's wise to post that on the internet, though (due to government surveillance).  So if you've read it, or want to read it, and want to discuss it, you should let me or Spring know.  (Again, maybe covertly because they are watching.  I'm only kind of kidding.  Which means I'm not really kidding at all.)