Friday, July 31, 2009

Rearranging

I've moved a couple things in my apartment and now I sit, defeated, on the futon cushion in the middle of the living room floor. I have no vision! No idea on what to do with that leather love seat thing! No idea what to do with the cat peey papasan!

But I will not be paralyzed by my indecision and noncreativity, for I have a) a bottle of merlot, b) Paul McCartney on Pandora ("My heart is like a wheel, let me roll it. Let me roll it to you."), c) kitties, and d) fond memories from childhood.

Remember when it was so much fun to walk on the back of the couch? Good times! Queenie is doing that on the back of the futon--she's a gymnastic superstar!

And remember when it was so much fun to hang upside down on the couch and envision the ceiling as another world that could be lived in, if only we had the ability to stand upside down? Good times!

And remember when Queenie could hide under the futon to stave off attack by LZ? Well, now her usual areas of safety have shifted. Sad face.

Well, I'll see how much else gets moved tonight. (And/or how much more wine is consumed.)

Love

You know, today is such a beautiful day. It's sunny and clear outside without the oppressive heat. I slept in (again, still) and it felt amazing. I went to bed while watching tv, which is one of my favorite things to do; and it's even better when it's beside someone I adore. Argo and I played a little while outside. Then I came back to my apartment and found the cats all sleepy-faced by the window. Now they are sleepy-faced on bed with me, and they are so cute!

I'm going to go make some coffee now; coffee is amazing! Sara and I wrote a poem against capitalism last night; I can't speak to the quality of the poem, but it was a lot of fun to write.

What else? Oh yeah. On The Compassionate Eye blog, he writes about loving ourselves and uses the term "unfold." As in, all we can basically do is let our lives unfold. Sister Ellie talks to me about this and I love it (when I'm not busy railing against how much I hate not having control over everything).

On one of Sister Ellie's blogs, she has a great quote from Garrison Keillor on what a person can do with an English degree. I thought it was pretty funny!

I read headlines that Aung San Suu Kyi's trial has been postponed, and that Iranians met with police force while trying to mourn those who died in the election protests. All of this news is pretty sad.

And, another thing: what about free speech? Is the Skip Gates arrest primarily about free speech--that Prof. Gates was being punished for speaking against the police? And what about those people who go commit crimes after listening to Rush Limbaugh and the like--should there be sanctions against hate speech? I'm not even sure what I think about free speech anymore.

Today as I was driving back to my apartment I thought, it's amazing our society gets anything done. And then I thought, our fear of being unaccomplished drives us to do so many things--it's amazing to even get a moment of clear-thinking.

People are so amazing and fascinating--I'm just kind of blown away by it all today!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

NYT on Dr. Tiller

I thought this NYT article on Dr. Tiller was helpful in understanding just how much adversity he faced at his clinic in Kansas.

Dear Diary

Well, it's another dear diary entry. I think my period has started, which is good because I was wondering if I was pregnant (I had a whole slew of reasons developed; the most "out there": the animals were acting weird around me.). Last night Scott (who noticed I used his name in my last post, on accident) and I talked about what would happen if I was pregnant. Would we have an abortion? Get married? Take a paternity test (I repeatedly hit him with a pillow when he suggested this. Then I went all scientific on his ass--it's not in my evolutionary benefit to be sleeping around right now because I'm looking for a stable mate to help raise my offspring. Punk ass.)?

It was good to have this conversation with him, but I was high when we had this talk--I have no idea about the truth of anything we talked about! And isn't that just like life--to be so slippery and funny and serious, all at the same time?

So, another thing: I was in email contact with one of my professors today and 'fessed up to being in avoidance mode. We're going to meet next week and I really look forward to it. I've been feeling really confident and no longer find myself seeking others' approval or being apologetic for what hasn't been done (nor have I been forceful in insisting upon things that I have gotten done). I think this is just an acceptance of who am I at this moment.

It kind of relates to last night when I kept wondering if Scott was mad at me; I think I keep looking for other's anger and, even to some degrees, try to provoke others' anger as a way to get attention. Oooh--this is a smart realization! Sometimes it's as if I have to get angry at something or myself in order to get to work; and, it's as if I secretly believe that I'm not worthy of someone's positive attention. Or if I'm myself then someone will be mad at me. Or I should always keep myself under control, at the risk of making someone mad at me.

(I can see that these are generational patterns that I'm enacting. That's my belief, anyway. I can also see how letting these kind of ugly insights be ok is a form of acceptance and can lead to other kinds of insights/actions.)

The rainy weather has been amazing. It reminds me that soon it will be fall and then soon winter; I had thought this summer was going to last forever. It never does. This year I'm going to try to be mindful of going into crazy fall semester mode; school sends everyone into a panic, and I don't want to buy into it this year.

Michael has left for his bigger and brighter horizons today. Stinky. I wanted him to stick around forever, too.

So, I'm going to put some more clothes on and go into the office to do some office-like work. Then, I hope to rearrange and clean. And then maybe do some creative writing tonight. My memoir has been on hold for probably months now--what happened?! Anyway, I also feel a large urge to research and read for school, so indulging that would be beautiful, too.

I think the larger point is that I keep seeing the mind-poison of greed spring up everywhere I set my attention. I haven't been happy with the way things are; I have always been wanting more.

Hmm. I talked with Sister Ellie about this last week, which lead to our discussion on patience. So, I continue with patience as a goal.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Dad says "lighten up"

I feel really lucky to have both of my parents around; unfortunately, I know this isn't everyone's situation. Last night I was wishing my dad a happy birthday (happy birthday, Dad!) and we had a good chat about things. He asked me if I rearranged my apartment.

Me: "No. I basically did a load of dishes and then gave up."
Dad: "Great. I guess we'll have to read three pages on your blog talking about why you didn't rearrange."
Me: [horrified and offended look translating to silence over the phone]
Dad: "Your blog brings me down. Lighten up. You sound like a poor college kid!"

Well, Dad, clearly this blog is not about lightening up! I'm so serious and melancholy--ALL THE TIME!

(Why don't people get me?!)

Actually, I have been feeling kind of light lately. I spent yesterday afternoon willfully avoiding work. It was pretty wonderful; Sara and I hung out in my living room and we had a great conversation. All the world's problems have been solved (you're welcome, World) and our lives have been planned.

Scott and I have been saying "don't be ridiculous" for about five straight days now (a la "Perfect Strangers"), so here's some Balki and Larry--in honor of lightening up!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Talk to Me Tuesday: Melissa Edition!

I am so happy to have one of my dear friends from high school, Melissa, answer the questions for this week. Hooray! Melissa is smart and beautiful (and she has some of the prettiest handwriting I've seen). She is also very brave--she's faced a large amount of personal tragedy and yet she still continues being an open and vulnerable person. On top of it all, she's also really funny. In short, I adore her!

1. Why are you a feminist? What does being a feminist mean to you? And if you don't consider yourself to be a feminist, then why not?
[Are you a feminist?:] Yes. [What does it mean to you?:] Sticking up for myself. Always. And I am a barefoot, pregnant, and stay-at-home mom, so try that on!

2. What place(s) make you feel truly alive?
On the back of a horse, when I am anywhere doing anything with my daughter

3. What books, music, blogs, movies, etc. would you/have you been recommending to friends?
Books I have read and liked in the past few months: Twilight series (even with its themes of co-dependence, suicide, and drug use...), The Shack by Wm Paul Young, Rebecca by Daphne Demaurier, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

4. When was the last time you laughed really hard?
This morning!

5. How are you different from who you were as a child? How are you the same?
[Then:] I generally felt safer, and I didn't have as much empathy. [Now:] I like to smile and make people feel happy.

6. What issue(s) are you passionate about?
early childhood education, breast cancer, depression/suicide

7. What have you learned about yourself within the past year?
I was not meant to be a working mom. Who knew?

8. What are three things you want to do in your lifetime?
Raise healthy, well-adjusted, happy children. That's three things, right? Um... travel the world, ride horses

9. And: what are the top five things you most enjoy doing right now?
1. spend time with my daughter 2. eat desserts 3. read 4. do nice things for others 5. write emails

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Diary-Like Entry

I don't think I have any larger morals to this post; it's just a report of what I did this weekend. A report with some omissions, that is--I'm in the process of learning not to divulge the full, uncomfortable truth about every little thing. [Courtney perks up at her own thought; "maybe this is the 'tact' Sister Ellie advocates?!" she asks.]

I spent Friday trying to grade papers and not really getting a lot done. S and I spent the night together doing everything I wanted to do and the next night we did everything he wanted to do. I ate a lot of good food this weekend (curry at Lanna Thai and curry at Sara's!) and drank a lot of beers. For, my dears, this weekend was Dfest. And, alas, I thought it was a little lame. S and I just went to it on Saturday night, though. We arrived as it was starting to rain and it felt wonderful. I danced around in it and S reigned me in; I wondered if this was the larger metaphor of our relationship. I wondered if I want to dance and look for someone to tell me no and he wants to dance too, but is afraid what others will think.

I was being vicious to S around this time; I was calling him "square" and other names. We fought a little at Dfest because I thought I knew where everything was (I had no clue; I was so disoriented) and we couldn't agree on where we were on the map. And now I can see that we probably had a different set of expectations of what we wanted to do and what was going to happen.

In fact, I can see this coming out last night, too. We spent the night cleaning and reading together--trying to help each other get done what s/he doesn't want to do. The dust enflamed S's lungs and when we were trying to go to bed, he was having a mild asthma attack. He wanted to be left alone and I wanted to care for him.

Neither one of us was sober, so that certainly didn't help communication. I don't think at either Dfest or last night our disagreements lasted very long, but during each one I felt a deep pool of anger. I felt misunderstood and angry at being misunderstood. I felt anger towards S's anger.

I think, ultimately, I felt alone and abandoned. I wondered how this other person could make me feel so bad (especially when I didn't do anything wrong. Especially when I'm so cute and smart and helpful and funny and everything else that is great in the world.).

At Dfest I could say that I was being sensitive and I went back to being amused by everything around me. I recognized how I was depending on S for my happiness. It could be true that he picks up on this and that's what makes him angry. In fact, this could have happened in every romantic relationship I've been in; perhaps the whole time I've thought I was sensitive to others' issues, they were really sensitive to mine. Whatever. ;)

We met up with a couple of S's friends at Dfest and we spent the rest of the night being silly. We heard Cake play. I think their trumpet player is sounding better and better. The glockenspiel, though, well--sometimes it's just too much.

Yesterday the creative writing group I've been participating in had a poetry reading; it was such a fun time! Sara and S came, and I was so happy! Six of us read and then Sheila led us in a collaborative project at the end. We all wrote some sentences, phrases, and words and then read them, spontaneously, out loud. For me, it was initially horrifying, but then a lot of fun!

After the poetry reading, S, Sara, Mel, and I all went out for pizza and chatted. I had such a good time with them because they are all my close friends and I didn't feel like I had to act differently in front of anyone (you know that feeling when you try to combine your boyfriend in with your girlfriends and it just feels weird? That didn't happen yesterday.).

S and I then ran some errands and got to see a beautiful sunset.

Then today it's been overcast and a little sprinkly. Argo and I hung out a little bit. And now I'm at home with the kitties and I'm going to get my cleaning on. And then my work on, perhaps. I guess I just needed some time first to check-in with myself and take stock. Stock taken!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Planning to Rearrange (A Girl Can't Fight Her Genes!)

So I've been up ear-ly grading papers, and I just met with the professor I've been working with. I adore her and have had a great (exhilarating, frustrating, freeing) teaching experience this semester. While grading, I was coming up with some great metaphors for writing. I'm such an amazing teacher in my head.

Thinking about writing metaphors has prompted me to think about my home as a metaphor of my well-being. I ask myself, "Is my home in order?" and I'm referring to both my apartment and my own needs. I've had the instinct to run from cleaning my apartment (look, I'm avoiding it right now!), which has served to remind me of what I'm running from within myself.

Honestly, what's happening with my apartment is that I want to move, so it's like I don't want to spend time taking care of it. And I do the same thing with myself. I say, I want to be doing something else, so I'm not going to focus on things right now.

The cat hair accumulating where the carpet meets the wall is not dire. But it now feels like a burden that I've repeatedly ignored how annoyed it makes me feel whenever I see it. My anger is at my ability to repeatedly ignore what I notice.

I do this with myself, too, of course. I'm getting better at not being surprised when the same old thoughts enter my brain. But I still get caught up on certain beliefs and tendencies. I keep wanting someone else to take care of my house. And I have a very limited way of recognizing what that care would look like.

To interrupt this kind of thinking, I want to remind myself that it's alright to play. Which means that I just might rearrange the furniture in my apartment! I kind of want to and the stakes are way low, so it can't hurt. I had been trying to ignore this apartment, but I think with just a little bit of attention things will feel more peaceful.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Not So Nice

I believe that I definitely have the mind poison of anger today; so, I really would like to indulge in a rant. I'm trying to view my anger as an opportunity to look inward, but I'd rather just spew outwards.

So here's the thing: I've really had enough from the conservative right. I've been trying to understand them, and now I just think they are being immature. There are a few things we need to realize and then go forward with: racism still exists in America, global warming is a fact, humans did not mingle with dinosaurs, and evolution is real. God did not reveal America only to Christians, Obama was born in Hawaii, and Alito said much more about race and discrimination than Sotomayor did but didn't receive half the flack because he's a conservative man in America.

The response to Skip Gates' arrest has me worked up. One person I know on Facebook commented that professors tend to act like know-it-alls, so in this case Gates sort of deserved to be arrested.

Why do we try to keep our smart people down? Why do we let stupid celebrities get away with heinous behavior unscathed? But heavens if a smart person acts up. And even worse is when that smart person is a black man.

I do think that everyone needs and deserves to be listened to. I just also think that some self-reflection would be nice, too. It's like yesterday when my workshop students were complaining that they didn't understand the professor's essay prompt because she uses big words (like "prevailing"). They said, why can't she say "yo" and "man." I asked what that would do in their eyes if she spoke like that, and they said they'd be able to understand her.

I told them about freerice.com and told them to learn some words. "Now is the time for you to rise to her level instead of wishing she would lower herself to yours."

It is perhaps this kind of ranking of levels that makes some conservatives angry ("No one is better than anyone else," I hear an imagined person declare.), but seriously, what. What? Some people just are smarter than others and rather than be resentful of that, we could all stand to learn something from them. The process of learning doesn't actually have to be threatening--it can be liberating.

It would be fabulous, I believe, if my students and our society in general would stop feeling entitled to their own ignorance.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Teaching Knot

OK--a one minute teaching rant. I'm invested in trying to teach my students that all writing is important and connected and that who they are as a writer is as connected to any other facet of themselves.

In the process of letting them be, though, I find that I am still wrangling with them to do things my way.

This feels like a knot because how can one teach connection? How can one teach someone to be themselves? How is teaching not a way of saying "No, you're doing it wrong" and then how to teach while not believing in wrong answers?

"Circles and circles and circles again"

So, the same old worries and concerns make themselves known to me. And I've been dwelling in these thoughts, which I think has been easier to do because I was experimenting with going off fluoxetine (the generic prozac). So I'm feeling the symptoms of depression and trying to pay attention; I've noticed that it's harder to pay attention when I feel this way.

My views of antidepressants have changed, especially over the past year. I used to think that if you were on medication, then you weren't being who you really are. It's been my experience, though, that I feel more like myself when I'm taking an antidepressant. It doesn't tune me out to bad feelings, such as despair, but allows me to notice the feeling for what it is (a temporary, transitory thing) instead of believing that it is the only reality.

Sometimes I get so driven about trying to find something authentic, that I forget how this drive is precisely what keeps me from being happy. I get wrapped up in finding the right way to live my life, especially with trying to find what it is that I want to do. From talking with Sister Ellie yesterday, I was reminded about how much impatience I have! Sister Ellie uses the term "unfolding" and I think it's a beautiful approach to life. It is a reminder to let things be instead of believing I can engineer things to go a certain way.

I want to offer up this Mary Oliver poem as a reminder to myself (and to anyone else who feels similarly) of the near-paralyzing belief that I won't be happy until I discover my true vocation or live in a place I love. That, in fact, those drives for one profession and one place to call home might be a way of shutting myself off to the world. (Which, dear brain, does not necessarily mean that having multiple professions and localities would mean I'm staying open to the world.)

"Going to Walden," by Mary Oliver

It isn't very far as highways lie.
I might be back by nightfall, having seen
The rough pines, and the stones, and the clear water.
Friends argue that I might be wiser for it.
They do not hear that far-off Yankee whisper:
How dull we grow from hurrying here and there!

Many have gone, and think me half a fool
To miss a day away in the cool country.
Maybe. But in a book I read and cherish,
Going to Walden is not so easy a thing
As a green visit. It is the slow and difficult
Trick of living, and finding it where you are.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Less-Is-More Day: It's Today!

So today is the one year anniversary of my apartment fire. And to commemorate, today is Less-Is-More Day! In the elimination of everything, you're forced to come to terms with what is actually around. That sentence sounds dramatic; I just mean, when you lose almost everything, you get to evaluate what's important. This process of evaluation (and exploration) has been ongoing for me; it has been painful and exciting.

It would mean the world to me if you spent any amount of time and energy to celebrate Less-Is-More Day with me. Like I posted last week, celebrating could mean getting rid of a material possession you don't need and/or anything else taking up mental or emotional space, space you could use for yourself!

If you do this, please post a comment sharing how you celebrated--it would mean so much to me! (In my head I have legions of followers, so even if I don't know you exist, you can still comment.) In my reality, there are so many people who helped me through this past year. Without the love and support of my family and friends, well, I don't even need to finish this sentence. In Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert speaks my sentiment:
. . . maybe it's wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

This is the article Tulsa World ran on the apartment fire. In the image with the article, the apartment (on the second floor) that is being consumed by fire was mine.

Some pictures from after the fire--my apartment was on the second floor (I've posted these already).

Talk to Me Tuesday: LZ Edition!




I've really loved the Talk to Me Tuesday series; thanks to everyone for participating (and I'm always accepting submissions)! Since today is a holiday and holds special significance to me, I picked LZ to feature this week. I adopted LZ from the Tulsa Animal Shelter after finding him online at PetFinder.com. Actually, I found Queenie on PetFinder. I just went to the shelter looking for a kitty and LZ was there. Sara and I went to the shelter together and LZ was the first kitty I saw. When I brought him home a couple days later, I didn't have a definite name for him. Sara, Spring, and I sat around the living room and LZ would travel between all of us in his special, slinking, strut. Spring called him a whore, but I just said he's "gotta whole lotta love," so I named him LZ, for Led Zeppelin, in honor of that song.

1. Why are you a feminist? What does being a feminist mean to you? And if you don't consider yourself to be a feminist, then why not?

I am very pro-woman, and I'm not like other feminists who believe in gender equality. I firmly believe women are better than men. (Men get in the way of women, who could be spending more time loving me.) In fact, I'm a member of S.C.U.M. (viva Valerie!). So, I am a radical feminist in that sense.

However, I'm not a feminist in the sense that I only want women to love me and lavish me with attention. And I'm not a feminist in the sense that I want to keep my sister down.

2. What place(s) make you feel truly alive?

The human face. I love being in human faces.

3. What books, music, blogs, movies, etc. would you/have you been recommending to friends?

Nothing, really.

4. When was the last time you laughed really hard?

Today when I smacked Queenie off the microwave.

5. How are you different from who you were as a child? How are you the same?

I used to knead Mom's hair, but now I knead my kneading blankie. I still love getting into water and I'm still a badass.

6. What issue(s) are you passionate about?

Getting enough attention. Ruling the universe.

7. What have you learned about yourself within the past year?

Catnip is amazing.

8. What are three things you want to do in your lifetime?

Catch a bird, have my own talk show, and learn to ride Argo.

9. And: what are the top five things you most enjoy doing right now?
Sleeping, keeping others in line, dancing to Feist's "Mushaboom," watching bugs crawl around, and pooping standing up.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Happiness Today

Well, this weekend has been pretty full of activity and I was hoping to spend today getting some work done. That hasn't really happened yet.

But I did write this--perhaps it's the start of something larger. My voices feel all mixed-up today and I intensely want to write something creative, but I feel bogged-down in triteness. Anyway, I wrote something today and here it is (I share just for sharing's sake):

It's not one day going to get easier.
It's not this and this and this
then happy.
So happiness today comes surrounded
by the cat's rice-like tape worm
creeping out of his kitty ass, a toppling
sinkful of dishes from the last
two weeks, an absent message from my boyfriend,
anger at some teachers, a sinking
suspicion I'm doing something wrong,
bills I don't want to pay, and an
intense craving for a chocolate-covered donut.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Sonic Youth

Oh, how wonderful it is to hear live, loud music! I forget this fact in my day-to-day life. Last night S took me to see Sonic Youth at Cain's Ballroom (I love that place), and the concert was amazing. There is nothing like an electric guitar--simply nothing. And I'm in love with that whole band now. And I'm especially in love with Kim Gordon; her primal screams are amazing. At one point I think she looked at me and, you know, the whole world trembled a little.

The opening band, Awesome Color, was pretty alright. I was liking them. And then Sonic Youth came out and they were amazing; it made me realize how time and practice can do so much for a craft. The whole evening inspired me and got me thinking about how cool it is to stay with something and let it evolve.

*sigh!*

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Feed Things!

Here are a couple of sites that have recently come to my attention:

Freekibblekat.com (thanks to Kay for pointing this out): This site donates 10 pieces of kibble to animals in shelters every day you go to the site and answer a trivia question.

FreeRice.com: This site donates 10 pieces of rice to the UN World Food Program for every question you get right. There are quite a few subjects: vocabulary, grammar, geography, math and you can play for as long as you like.

It's not uncritically or with over-enthusiasm that I recommend these sites; I just thought they were good ideas and could help others and ourselves at the same time.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Compassionate Eye

I know I've mentioned that I love this blog; I just read this entry, "Have You Found Your Rhythm?," on The Compassionate Eye and I love it. Love it!

The Post Wherein I Reveal a Make-Up

So S and I made up from our big, huge, ugly fight from this weekend. It kinda seemed to happen in a hug. He came over the other day and I was putzing around with some bills so we just made small talk. And then we hugged and I apologized for calling him a big, fat dick. And he said sometimes that's what he is. And he was sorry for arguing semantics instead of engaging my feelings. And so forth. We continued to process our fight over dinner and commented on how we could have done things differently.

One thing that really stood out to me was that I developed a more defined view of what I believe a romantic relationship is. I told S that I think any relationship, in part, mirrors what's happening inside ourselves. In our most intimate relationships (and my relationship with S is my most intimate relationship. It feels weird for me to say this because I feel so dependent and vulnerable--I'm used to masking my vulnerability, but I'm being more open now, I suppose.), we come the closest to seeing ourselves for who we are. Or, we have the opportunity to see ourselves clearer. (We also have the opportunity to shy away from ourselves and call the other person names.) This, I think, is so amazing.

For me the whole fight and break-up allowed me to put into practice some meditative principles. Some ugliness came up, we fought, we made up; it doesn't necessarily mean anything. This is the piece that is brand new for me. In the past, I always thought fights were signs that something larger was wrong. Since I've had practice noticing my own ugly thoughts and not investing extra energy into them (that is, being able to accept them without judgement), then I was able to do this (to some extent, at least) with this fight.

In many ways I'm glad this fight came so close on the heels of our great weekend together. It's a reminder to not become overly-wrapped-up in the good times or the bad. It's a reminder that I don't have to let good or bad times define how I feel about myself.

That said, I noticed today that I'm still kind of dwelling and obsessing about the fight. And, in fact, I'm bringing up old fights with other people (one fight and one person in particular); I think I might be trying to punish myself for ways I've acted in the past.

It's perverse the ways in which I start to build confidence only to then try and sabotage this confidence. It's almost as if I believe I must always be at war with myself in order to truly trust what I believe (because if it can withstand attack, then it must be true--that's what my brain says).

But what I can do today is to notice that I'm having some obsessive thoughts and to take care in staying present. What helps me is saying to myself, "Oh, I'm bringing up the past. And I'm not sure if I trust myself right now." Well, the neat thing about trusting yourself is that it builds trust when you say you're not sure you're trusting yourself.

Another neat thing I noticed today: I automatically praised myself for doing something little! I've been practicing self-praise for a while to try to get the hang of it, and today it just showed up--and right when I needed it! It's gratifying to see some practice pay-off!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Talk to Me Tuesday: Tara Edition!

I'm so excited to post my friend Tara's responses to the Talk to Me Tuesday questions. Her responses were going to the next ones I posted no matter what, but lately I have felt a strong connection to her, so it's just cool to me how things come together like that. In case you haven't met Tara (which is a shame), you can learn more about her aesthetic sense on her amazing and beautiful blog Nothing Elegant. She also runs an Etsy shop of vintage clothes, A Single Charm Vintage; I go here to fantasize about an alternate life I could be leading.

1. Why are you a feminist? What does being a feminist mean to you? And if you don't consider yourself to be a feminist, then why not?

Personally, I came to feminism through reading on my own and in school [Camille Paglia, Simone de Beauvoir, Anne Sexton, Erica Jong, etc.]. I feel lucky that in an academic environment, I was given the chance to learn about historical inequality and recognize its implications today in my own life and in the lives of other women. It just seems ridiculous to not be a feminist, much like it seems ridiculous not to be pro-gay rights or pro-racial equality, etc. In my mind these are all beliefs and values that stem from compassion and an understanding of the horrors and injustice enacted on people throughout history [and still today]. I cannot fathom the hatred, elitism, narcissism, bigotry, and sense of self-entitlement that comes with the unwillingness to believe that all people are deserving of happiness and fair treatment.

2. What place(s) make you feel truly alive?

Well, these answers probably seem cliché, but being out in nature can often make feel a combined sense of gratefulness and awe. Also, when I travel to new, interesting places, I feel simultaneously invigorated, uncomfortable, excited, afraid, overwhelmed -- alive!

3. What books, music, blogs, movies, etc. would you/have you been recommending to friends?

I always recommend Tolle’s book The Power of Now. It is so simple and so helpful – I really cannot emphasize how much it changed my own negative thinking patterns. For fun reading [think, sexy-lesbian-historical-thrillers!], I highly recommend Sarah Waters. Music-wise, I am full of recommendations!! But, the recommendations would be different from person-to-person. I have to know what kind of music you like first! Blogs…geez, I literally look at hundreds of them, and most of them are fashion/art blogs. Check out the blogroll on the side of my blog, and you will find some gems. As far as movies go, I just recently watched “Let the Right One In,” and it was amazing!

4. When was the last time you laughed really hard?

I laugh a lot, but there is a distinction between that kind of laugh that makes your side hurt and brings tears to your eyes, and just a regular ‘haha’ laugh. I’m sure it was probably before my boyfriend left to go out of town last week – he really knows how to make me laugh…maybe when we watched Talladega Nights together, for about the 9th time and acted out some of the scenes!

5. How are you different from who you were as a child? How are you the same?

I think about this question a lot, actually. I think when I was a child, I acted quite calm and content for the most part [my mother has told me I rarely cried or complained]. But, in my own memory, I was sad and scared quite often – I kept this very private. As a teenager, I was bubbly and cheerful at school and with friends, but at home I had a tendency to be isolated and melancholic [we won’t even get into my home situation]. As I’ve grown older, I’ve had to try and come to terms with those two opposite poles of my personality – to try and be more honest about my negative feelings, but not dwell on them, and to assess when my cheerfulness might simply be a mask and when it is truly genuine.

6. What issue(s) are you passionate about?

There are issues I feel strongly about – human rights, women’s rights, etc. But, I would never try to pretend that I am an activist in the political sense. This is something I have struggled to come to terms with over time. I have an innate suspicion and discomfort with politics that is very real. I have been very critical of this inclination in myself, and for a very long time was convinced it stemmed from some weakness or laziness on my part. I always felt drawn to activists [look at my girlfriends!], but have never myself felt a part of that in any real sense [other than my own personal convictions]. However, I TRULY believe that I am an activist in another sense – call it what you will – my actions, my words, my research, my blog, my academic interests, my life, all reflect my convictions in one way or another. For me, activism has taken on the form of critical analysis and exploration. Perhaps it is more of a personal thing for me – I am always learning and changing, and I have never felt completely comfortable asserting an ideology in an overt way [see question #1 for the exception to that, LOL]. But, believe me when I say, I have a strange and strong admiration for people who do!

7. What have you learned about yourself within the past year?

That I am far more anal, controlling, and in need of balance than I was in my younger years. I have also learned that I truly enjoy being in a relationship! Shock!

8. What are three things you want to do in your lifetime?

Visit the Galapagos Islands [random, I know], create a work of art or writing that I am proud of, and do something that really helps people, like a volunteer mission of some sort.

9. And: what are the top five things you most enjoy doing right now?

Blogging [and all of the research, reading, and conversation with interesting people that goes along with that!]; just hanging out and enjoying the company of my awesome man; good drinks and conversation with friends; watching films of my choosing [sorry J.!]; cooking – Whoah! Never thought I would say that! Is that five? Well, either way [because it’s summer] I would have to add to the list all manner of warm weather activities: barbecues, swimming, lake, river, boating, etc.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Less-Is-More Day: Get Ready!

So, the one year anniversary of my apartment fire is next week, Tuesday, July 21. This has been a really big deal in my life. It has helped me experience a whole range of emotions from exhilaration to devastation. (And back and forth and on and on.) I've posted about it before, in case you're interested in reading my thoughts from six months ago: "I stand on the shoulders of giants."

To celebrate the one year anniversary, I would like to propose the Less-Is-More Day. I would like to suggest that we clear our material, intellectual, spiritual, and/or emotional worlds of stuff we have that we just don't need any more. This could range any where from cleaning out some things you don't need in your home to deleting messages in your email inbox. Maybe you examine a belief you've been holding onto and you realize it isn't the full truth anymore. I don't know, you know! I just know that I've believed the fire wiped out everything about me and that I've been starting over this past year. In that loss, I've come to learn to much about myself. Being forced to clear out everything has been such an amazing experience for me!

I want this for other people and I would delight if we could share our stories. It would mean a whole lot to me for anyone who reads this to, next Tuesday, spend even as little as five minutes getting rid of something you no longer want. And it would mean so so so so much to me if you then posted about what you did and/or how you felt about it on my blog.

So please consider participating and next week I'll post a spot to share stories.

Also, if you are in Tulsa and you are getting rid of material things, things that others might be interested in buying, please consider donating them to Sister Ellie's garage sale for St. John's Center for Spiritual Formation. The garage sale will help the Center; I or Sister Ellie could hold onto your stuff until the sale.

Thanks so much for listening to this idea!

The Post Wherein I Reveal a Huge Fight

So S and I are having a huge fight! Huge! Major! Awful!

The details of it are endlessly fascinating, but I don't want to post such personal things right now. We been orbiting around talking about what happened between us; nothing is resolved yet. Or a better way to put that would be that I'm not done processing it all with him.

I think it's fair to say that he is angry and I am hurt. In the course of fighting, I found myself wondering why he couldn't stop being angry and just comfort me. And then later I wondered why I couldn't stop being hurt and comfort him. I realized that I'm afraid of anger, especially that from a romantic partner. In the past I've dealt with anger by trying to get rid of it in another person or by completely shutting down and ignoring it. Both of which trigger my own anger. So I guess I'm afraid of my own anger. (I think new that about myself once.)

My wonderful capacity for projection was telling me that S was afraid of losing himself if he consoled me. I got kind of mad at that thought because I never believe that I'm asking a whole lot from anyone. I used to believe this, but now I don't because I'm learning to trust ways in which I can get my own needs met.

So I turned my projection on to myself and realized that I was afraid of getting lost in S's anger. I've seen myself do this in other relationships, and it feels awful. So I was glad that yesterday I wasn't all ass-kissy to try to make his anger go away. But I realize that I still had fear and that I wasn't able to work through it very effectively.

What is making sense to me is the idea that if we know and trust ourselves, then we can handle other people's business without taking it on as our own. This is what I'd like to keep in mind as S and I further explore what's happening between us.

I'm also playing with the idea of "love means never having to say you're sorry." I've always thought this was crap, but now I'm wondering if there isn't some deep truth to it.

In part one of our fight yesterday, I believed myself to be remaining pretty calm and present. And then later I got angry and then later I got really really angry. S suggested I write out my thoughts, so I did. And he wrote back and then I wrote him back and I regret, to a certain extent, that last email. I told him this:
On some level, I'm trying to say, that this is just how life is--a series of communications and meanings that we can't control. So we can debate meaning and language and communication forever, but I suspect there's something else going on, something else that has to do with your anger and your perception of me as manipulative, false, ridiculous, and wrong. And something else that has to do with whatever mind-poison I have. I don't think I have a mind-poison right now, so maybe I'm being delusional. Or maybe I'm simply being fabulous and you're being a big, fat dick who owes me a huge apology for lashing out at me.

That's just one theory on what could be happening here.

What I regret is the name-calling and the rhetoric of payment and being owed something. Earlier I was trying to communicate to S that I respected his anger because it was part of him. And then I practically annihilate that sentiment by claiming that he's incomplete the way he is and that he "owes" me something. This language also implies that I'm incomplete the way I am; that there's a void in me that can't be filled until he does something for me.

I'm so wise, right?!

So I come back to that previous quote of never having to apologize. I kind of think the best we can do is to say "Oh, that wasn't skillful" and then to move on. In this big huge fight, I've been more skillful than in the past, but still really unskillful in other regards.

One of my larger points, I've learned a lot this weekend from S and for that I am grateful.

The Burrito Hypothesis

Many years ago in college my friend Joe pointed out to me that I tend to use food metaphors when speaking about relationships and love. I got really embarrassed when he said that, but now, years later, I'm kind of accepting it.

With that in mind, I'd like to present the burrito metaphor of life.

Last night Lealou and I went to Qdoba for dinner and I got a burrito. I asked her opinion on whether it would be weird to combine the salsa verde with the pico de gallo. She said no and I went for it; using two salsas on one burrito--insanity! The burrito was good, and I was painfully full by about 3/4 of the way through. Part way through I noticed that the two-salsa combo wasn't really any different from one salsa. And I wondered where in the hell the guacamole was. So I ate the rest of the burrito as if it were my job. I got to the end of it and the guacamole was there and so I ate it, but I didn't enjoy it.

The other day I told S that it was a form of violence to the body to get up when you're still tired. And I thought that it's certainly a form of violence to eat when you are already full.

So I thought, how could I have handled this better? I realized that I could have simply picked apart the burrito and spread the guacamole around. I could have looked at where the salsa was. I could have enjoyed what I ate and then stopped when I was no longer hungry.

But instead I believed that I kinda needed to trudge through the hand I was dealt, the burrito hand I was dealt. It all made me think about community and individualism. I asked for help in getting a burrito and if I'm not completely satisfied, then I can learn to trust that I can ask for help or figure out my own way to find satisfaction. It's a community. I wanted to have a burrito, others wanted me to have a burrito, so there's no need for me to not enjoy it. That just doesn't make sense. And it doesn't take a whole lot of time to create some satisfaction.

This is probably one of the dumbest things I've ever spent time explaining, but it makes a lot of sense to me today! So, you know, please go forth and enjoy your burritos.

From the WTF File

As students at TU, we got this in our email today:

Provost Roger Blais has approved the distribution of this e-mail.

[Image of an American flag with the City of Tulsa seal on it; I can't get it to paste in this post.]

Welcome Home Day

Join Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor, the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center, the Blue Star Mothers, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, American Legion, the National Association for Black Veterans, Marine Corp League, and the Military Order of the Purple Heart for "Welcome Home Day!"

"Welcome Home Day" is a celebration to honor all veterans, service members and the families that support them! This event will take place on Saturday, July 18, from 6 - 8 p.m. at Centennial Park, 1028 E. 6th Street.

This event is FREE to the public and includes…
· A live band
· Blue Bell ice cream
· Refreshments provided by Quick Trip
· Military vehicles
· Jupiter Jumps for the kids
· Climbing wall provided by the National Guard
· World War II Re-enactment
· Tulsa Fire Department fire trucks
· U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs officials to answer any questions concerning VA benefits and healthcare
· And much more………

Please join Mayor Taylor and celebrate all of our country's heroes!

For more information on military and veterans services please visit www.tulsaveterans.com.


I don't really think I need this in my school email. My other complaint is that there is such thing as WWII Reenactment? What?! What?! It's bizarre that there are reenactments of other wars, but one that was so recent just blows my mind. So, I have an idea, what about a reenactment of the Vietnam war and, I know, let's not tell others we're playing, but let's to go to say Iraq and Afghanistan and reenact it there. Yes, fabulous.

(grumble, grumble, crankypants)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I'm going for a jog now

That's all I want to say here. I'm going for a jog now. It's a little less hot out and that's great. I hope to see some fireflies; it's about that time of day when they appear.

Ok--I lied; that's not all I want to say here. I feel confident that it won't matter to anyone else, but I just want to make it known that I think I'm pretty in tune with what's going on in my little world and that I'm right about everything I'm saying.

So I'm right about everything and I'm going for a jog now.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Woo Hoo!

It's important to announce that yours truly is currently experiencing the most personal freedom she has felt in a long time! I've been working with some things these past couple of days and I have a ton to say. But I just said it all to Sister Ellie, and so I'm really really tired.

My personal insights are kind of beside the point right now ("Don't worry; we'll make more"). The point right now is to celebrate what we notice about ourselves right now. Well, first to notice and then to celebrate that noticing.

So, go ahead--notice how you're feeling and what you're feeling and what's going on.

And now congratulate yourself for noticing!

And now dance around like an awesome person: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwEMxYggoKQ

Accidents and Mind Poisons

Here's a clever way my mind works to prevent my own happiness.

The past couple of nights I haven't been able to sleep very well and I keep thinking and thinking--I'm having difficulty turning thoughts off and ending the obsessing. Rather than just get caught up in my thoughts, this time I've been trying to notice what's happening, so I say, "This is what it feels like to be up later than you want and to be thinking about about yourself. This is what it feels like to obsess over past conversations. This is what it feels like to . . . [and so forth, ad naseum]"

In this I've noticed my tendency to want to know what it all means. What does it mean that I'm up late? And then the flood of answers begins and I spend time with each of them. Does it mean I'm depressed? Does it mean I never grew up? Does it mean I should drop out of school? Does it mean I'm going to get married again? Does it mean that I'm ordinary? Does it mean . . .

I was finally able to name this as the mind poison of greed; I have an attraction to wanting more knowledge. This is often, especially in an academic setting, a praised trait. But it keeps me out of the present moment. And it leads me to believe that if I just try hard enough then one day I'll know everything (and I'll even know that I can't know everything); I used to value this belief in myself.

What I've noticed is that it causes me to establish quite a few "shoulds" in my life and leads me to believe that there is a right and wrong way of doing things. I get really focused on doing things right. If I'm doing things right, I start to think, then I'll be getting to bed earlier and so forth. If I'm doing things right, then I won't have any problems, is what I actually believe.

I didn't know I believed that until I wrote it out. That's such a damaging belief and it's one that keeps me in near-constant pursuit of answers. In this pursuit, I've come across things that have helped me, like meditation and writing. But that doesn't necessarily mean that these things are the answers. They are more just like lucky accidents. I think if I start to ascribe a higher meaning to things, then I start to pursue and strive for finding other such truths. Or I demand from them things that are unreasonable.

Sister Ellie once told me that the world would be so boring if there were no accidents and I politely agreed with her. What's happening now is I'm starting to see how magically and complexly accidental this world is. I keep thinking I am in control and I'm seeking out my own path, but it all just kind of happens to me and I respond in a certain way.

I used to believe that you can change your response to things, but now that idea seems to self-hating. Why would you want to change your response? I think that idea is inherently self-damaging. Sister Ellie would promote the idea of noticing your response. Just notice.

Just a little bit of noticing helps. And it's helped me trust myself a little more and in this trusting, I start to understand that what I perceived as obstacles can actually be tools. Which sounds so trite--I'm not a good enough writer to say what I mean here. I think it's that I have a mindset of believing that everywhere I look people are telling me no. I especially believe this when it comes to school and studying what I want to study. But now I'm noticing the ways in which I create these false nos myself.

I realize that people want to help me, but most importantly, I want to help me. I get tired of saying no to myself, which is fascinating, given all the things that I do and pursue. Perhaps that's just one way the mind poison of greed works; I pursue and pursue and pursue because I don't realize that I fundamentally have enough. I don't trust myself and believe that I need to bide my time until I can truly be who I want to be. And in the process of being who I truly am, there's plenty of space for me to realize that some things that seem so true can be the merest of accidents!

Can't Sleep

So I'm all wound up and have been playing online for a couple hours now. I came across this on The Onion and I had to share because it's pretty much perfect!

History Doomed To Repeat Itself, Reports Man Who Just Dropped Food On Pants

DENVER—After dropping a chili dog in his lap Tuesday, area resident Marcus Nielson addressed the food-related blunder, calling it but another example of how history, marred by the inevitable folly of man, repeats itself. "Will mankind never learn?" asked Nielson, gazing into the middle distance, his outstretched palm holding a limp and sodden paper plate. "Sausages, ground beef, onions, garlic—oh, what blind and obstinate fools we've been!" According to friends, Nielson has previously compared the spilling of macaroni salad to "the inexorable march of time: its conclusion already a certainty," likened the tipping over of various beverages to the "age-old dance between balance and chaos," and once, after falling down an entire flight of stairs, remarked, "Jesus fucking Christ."

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Cuteness

I just wanted to share some cute animal pictures and one of the best Super G stories (see below); I hope you're having a good day!

Teenage duckies at Swan Lake:




LZ bein' all cute in the blanket:


Queenie was falling asleep with her tongue out, but then opened her eyes as I was taking her picture (tongue still out):



Argo driving the car in Kansas City:



S posing in front of this weird taxidermy shop in Independence, MO; he's a mandeer:


This story comes from my little sister, who hung around our nephew this weekend. In my sister's words:
After we ate dinner he was laying on my belly. It was making noises. He goes, *gasp!* 'I just heard your baby fart!' He then started singing, 'Let me hear your baby fart' to the tune of the 'Tootsee Roll' song.


Here's the video of that song--it's really funny to sing it in Super G's words!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Robert McNamara

I found Bob Herbert's NYT OpEd piece on McNamara to be quite chilling. I don't agree with everything Herbert says, but this is powerful.


(from film-forward.com)

Talk to Me Tuesday: Anonymous Edition!

The following responses comes from a dear, lovely friend who wishes to remain anonymous. Ooh, mystery!

1. Why are you a feminist? What does being a feminist mean to you? And if you don't consider yourself to be a feminist, then why not?

Because of course I'm a feminist! If you're not a feminist, you're a misogynist as far as I'm concerned. I consider feminism to be the belief that women are equal, valuable members of society who shouldn't be defined in terms of their bodies.

2. What place(s) make you feel truly alive?

My lover's eyes when she reaches orgasm.

3. What books, music, blogs, movies, etc. would you/have you been recommending to friends?

The New Yorker, Anti-Christ, The Passion of Joan of Arc, "The Owl and the Pussycat"

4. When was the last time you laughed really hard?

This afternoon.

5. How are you different from who you were as a child? How are you the same?

I'm more supple, less concerned about being right, more open to exploring the rightness of doing things that are wrong.

6. What issue(s) are you passionate about?

Skin makes me realize that all other interests hardly qualify as "passions."

7. What have you learned about yourself within the past year?

That I'm too trusting, and have the potential to be vengeful.

8. What are three things you want to do in your lifetime?

Participate in politics in a more hands-on way, run a marathon, publish a book.

9. And: what are the top five things you most enjoy doing right now?

Consuming spectacle, see numbers 2 and 6, drinking with friends, sleeping, running.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Some NYT Articles

Here's a couple articles that I found interesting:

"'Family Friendly' White House Is Less So for Aides" discusses the toll of working in the White House while raising a family, even under an administration that is family-oriented.

This is a lovely travel article on Provincetown, where poet Mary Oliver writes: "The Land and Words of Mary Oliver, the Bard of Provincetown."

This disturbing article, "Were They Just Paper Airplanes?," discusses a flight school that went under when KeyBank no longer provided student loans to incoming students.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

"so much anxious striving"

I'm not sure if I blogged about this last week or not (like I actually read this thing), but I wanted to share something that has helped ease some of my anxiety lately. And that is observation. A couple weeks ago I realized the extent of my own insecurity and neediness and I just sat with it and let it be; I didn't try to fix it or pretend it wasn't there. I certainly didn't enjoy discovering it, yet it also felt good to take stock of what was there.

I tried this again yesterday as S and I were coming back to Tulsa. I was feeling bummed and then I realized that I wanted to feel happier than what I was actually feeling. I thought to myself, "This is as happy as I am right now. This is the extent of it." And when I could do that, I felt so much better.

I tried to take ownership of my happiness in the same way I did of my insecurity. It seemed easier to say I was happy because of outside circumstances, though, rather than to take responsibility for my own happiness.

As I write this, I realize that maybe yesterday I was seeking more gratification (since I had such a great time being with S), but that I found happiness when I was able to make note of where I actually was and how I was actually feeling. In my bathroom is a quote that has the line telling us that our society is filled with "so much anxious striving" and this striving is what's keeping us unhappy.

Striving is everywhere and it creeps in in even the tiniest of openings. Noticing it is brand new to me--how fascinating!

Feeeeeeeeeeeeeeelings!

While S was away on his mancation last weekend, he told one of his friends that it was so nice to drive back from Colorado without having to talk about his feelings. When he told me this, I thought, "Ha ha, sucker! You're back now! And I have a ton of feelings to share!" While I understand that sometimes guys just don't like to process things like girls tend to want to do, I just never understood why talking about feelings and relationships would annoy someone.

Until yesterday, that is.

On the drive back from Kansas City, S asked me a question about our relationship that, to me, seemed like it was coming out of nowhere. In a flash I felt angry and I thought he was dumb. In the next flash I felt insecure. And then the situation was funny to me because for once I thought that this is what it might feel like to be in a relationship with me--and damn if it didn't feel like the best thing in the world! ;) Actually, it felt annoying because I didn't understand where his question was coming from. But then, from talking, I understood things better and I realized my initial response of anger was because I had already assumed I knew why he was asking his question, even though I didn't know at all.

S and I talked about his question and to me it seemed like we were both adults being able to share our perception of our relationship while holding ourselves, and not the other person, responsible for our feelings. An opening and an owning up--I haven't been able to do both at once before.

Realizing this made me feel a twinge of remorse for not being able to do this sooner, but I've had to learn this in my own way. Thanks to those for helping me along the way. With a lot of thanks to S for being here now.

Weekend Fun!

To celebrate S's birthday, we decided to skip town and run to Kansas City for the weekend! We left Thursday evening and got back last night. We went to a Royals game (they lost to the White Sox) and walked around downtown and in Independence, MO. We drove around quite a bit and happened to come across some great bbq (not a chain place, like the hotel person recommended).

Argo got a lot of attention from strangers, and even started doing little flips at one point! As we were driving back, we saw fireworks and lightening all around--it was very neat! We even ran into some rain, which was absolutely amazing! I haven't been in 90 degree weather since Thursday; it feels fabulous.

So, happy birthday, S! (Thanks for the great weekend!)