Saturday, October 31, 2009

Creative Exercise #2: Bad Art

What a great/horrible day to try to think of something creative to do. All my energy seems so serious and business-like, all of a sudden.

I propose we try to do something really badly. Try to write the worst poem, eat the worst lunch, behave with your most awful behavior, wear the ugliest clothes ever, etc.

I'm going to try to do this one in conjunction with a partner. It's roadtrip day (a quick weekend to *finally* see le niece), and Scott, Argo, and I are going to be seeing a lot of each other. I predict doing something awful will actually end up fun; but I'm really going to try to be awful. Maybe we can rewrite words to a song?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Evolution, Intelligence, and God

Oo--something I've never thought of in this way before:
Why is there anything at all? Why a universe? Why does anything “happen?”

I don't see an unintelligent evolution producing a universe, let alone intelligence.

I see evolution manifesting a universe and intelligence through the long evolutionary journey.

The two approaches are worlds apart.


-- from The Compassionate Eye, "Dawkins on Evolution"

Creative Exercise #1: Say Something Nice to a Stranger

[Oh look at me and my newfound sense of purpose!]

All too often I think we ignore people who are actually around us. Mostly because we are really busy people and because most everyone is really really really goddamn strange and who even knows what kind of shit you'll find just rootin' around someone's business.

That's a well-founded and also absurd fear. Actually talking to a stranger can really make your day because it boosts your own ego ("Oh look at me! I'm so nice and noticing!") and it also can bring someone else a smile (or lead to an entire conversation!); I've seen it happen.

Sometimes I only feel safe enough to talk to strangers when I'm with someone else, but sometimes I talk to them when I'm alone, too. Always, though, it produces something fabulous. I can't even begin to tell you how fabulous strangers are. But perhaps you know this already. I think just saying one thing to a stranger can be so profound (profound in its ordinariness, that is).

My Fortes

Thanks to a lot of help from my friends/family/teachers over the past twenty nine years, I am finally starting to understand what my strengths and weaknesses are. In list form (because I am neverendingly fascinating to myself): [You can play this one, too! It's fun!]

My fortes include . . . but not quite . . . because . . . so I can:
*thinking broadly, fleshing out details, I think what I'm saying is obvious, barf out my ideas and have a detail-oriented person tell me what I need to pay attention to
*buying shoes, paying attention to money, I have student loan debt that overwhelms me and makes me feel like a drain on the economic system while leading to a sense of guilt if I don't eventually produce marketable results to justify the money CitiBank has loaned me, order shoes online and hope for the best
*finding smart women, always listening to these women, I think I know everything, just shut up and remember that my thoughts are not going to go anywhere anytime soon
*coloring, cleaning up after myself, there is always more to create somewhere else, praise myself when I make a really big mess AND when I clean up
*CHECKING AND ASSESSING MY TRANSMISSION FLUID, checking any other fluid, it doesn't seem relevant right now, decide to learn more about cars slowly over the course of my life or just employ people to care about this stuff for me
*praising intention, stating my opinion on form, I think people too often link up their intention to their form, be more detailed in my feedback and try to listen better

Ok. I guess I needed that writing exercise.

I am almost totally not sure what this blog is even about anymore. I have no idea who my audience is because "someone likeminded" pretty much just wants me to shut up right now and do some creative work. To that end, I might for the next upcoming time, just post creative writing/living exercises just because.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

In Case You Were Wondering

In case you were wondering, I have the most amazing boyfriend in the entire universe. So please, rest easy. Don't worry about this girl; I'm sailin' along, and I'm doin' just fine.

[See, where we are, we don't even need to use our "g"s--that's how great things are! (I mean reat; they aren't great because we don't have "g"s; thin's are reat.)]

The Best Boyfriend on the Face of Boyfriend Planet sent me flowers today. For no reason. With the sweetest love-y statement in the card.

Do you see why this is so important? I didn't even tell him what to write or what to do, and he did the most perfect thing ever. No boy has ever done that for me before!

Out of all the good intentions and miscommunications within the history of all romantic connections, here comes Scott and Courtney making their damn cheesy way into cheese history. With extra cheese. Because that's how fabulous things are.

He is beating me at my own game of Let's See Who Can Pretend to be an Alien the Longest. He plays Let's Talk About Feelings with me. He is the straight man to my over-the-top-ness. We watch "The Thing" and "Omega Man" and we both get our own thing out of it. Our things don't match up and we know that, and we don't need the other person to have our same thing; the other person just needs to have a thing.

There is a respect for what is unspoken. In that moment when I can articulate and he can listen, which happens after I listen and he articulates, in that moment the wall falls away. The defenses come down; tumbling, but gentle. Violent, yet with the whispers of angels. Yes, that's exactly it: the walls come down like cliches--over-worked, over-used, uninventive, so usual and everyday, and oh-so-meaningful when said in the exact right way at the exact right time.

When someone speaks in shorthand not as a way to minimize, but as a way to simply cut through to the heart of the matter. (See what I mean?!)

When someone is so economical, they are wise. They didn't even know because their economy had always been so utilitarian. But now it is exactly what is needed. The way you are, the way I am--it is exactly what is needed.

(So, Scott, I love you.)


Adam Lambert

I might have to get my hands on this new album, Adam Lambert's cd.

I love everything about this right now: camp, capitalism, audience, intention, profit-motivation, sarcasm, the-is-it-art debate, American pop culture, television, production, gender, sexuality, misogyny, outer space.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Talk to Me Tuesday: Will Return . . . Again

I have a couple Talk to Me Tuesday submissions, and I'm going to postpone posting them for a bit. Whenever Tuesday rolls around it seems a little surreal to me; it's become a strange day of the week.

I just wanted to give an update.

I am meeting with students for conferences today, and I'm looking forward to that. I hope you have nice plans for your Tuesday!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

My Inner Child is a Lot Like LZ

I have had wonderful adventures this morning paying attention to my inner child. I want to share them here just in case you can relate to how difficult and joyous this process is.

These past couple weeks have felt very busy to me, and I can't even believe that October is nearly over. I have been keeping up, to some extent, a routine and have been productive. This feels so new to me--to be engaged in work that I want to be engaged with (precisely because I've given up hope in finding *the one* profession that is my calling).

So today I am busy, busy, busy, and I wake up in a big CRANKY-ASS mood. I don't want to be awake. I don't want to meditate for five minutes, write my morning pages, feed someone else's cats, make breakfast, take care of my own cats (which involves feeding them snacks because, of course, I'm all out of freaking cat food). I can't face the day, which will include (soon!) a conference on writing, free food (yes!), meeting new people, hanging around with good friends, and then, just perhaps studying, grading, writing. In the midst of this, I wanted to jog.

I feel overwhelmed and annoyed even by writing that out! You can skip that paragraph; it's probably totally irrelevant right now. ("Oh now you tell me!" you say.) As I was writing my morning pages, I realize that my inner child is showing her face, and I just write out to this child everything I want her to know.

I want her to know that it's ok to not want to be awake. It's ok. I realize this child gets overwhelmed easily and has trouble dealing with things one-at-a-time; it often feels like the day's events happen at once and that the events of a lifetime happen at once. This inner child wants to do so much, but she quickly feels inadequate. She's always comparing herself. She takes on the worries of adults. She worries about money and doesn't see enough happiness. She sees myriad reasons to be pessimistic.

I told this girl, myself, my deepest child, that it's ok. I didn't tell her she was wrong about anything she sees, thinks, or feels. I asked her to consider that she might be limiting her perspective, though, to only those negative things. I told her that I have space in me (deep in my chest, around my heart) where I can carry her.

Just come with me, today, my dearest child, and see what it's like. Just come with me. I will hold you. I will listen to you. Just come with me.

So I've taken this child with me today. We've gone through our morning routine, fed the neighbors' cats, and even attempted jogging. Before this jog, I was getting really upset. Who has time for a jog?! WHO EVEN LIKES TO JOG? I have a conference I want/need to be at! And, p.s.: IT IS ASS-COLD OUTSIDE!

I said, I hear you! And we're going to go anyway. I'll take it slow. I'll check in with myself every five minutes and see if I need to change my mantra or whatever.

I walked the warm-up walk and then started jogging. And I was miserable! And I stopped. And I thought, "No. Keep going, otherwise you will give up on everything today. You already didn't grade one paper you said you would grade last night, and sheesh. Do you do anything at all?"

That girl showed up. The good-intentioned judger. I don't really know what to call her, actually.

Anyway, I started jogging again. Then I stopped. Then I said I could just start all over. So I tried. Then I stopped. Then I thought, oh, just keep going. And then I thought, no! Decide to stop!

So I walked back home and after a couple of blocks I heard my inner child say, "Are you disappointed in me? See? I prevented you from doing what you wanted." She was so sad and remorseful. It was my instinct to want to tell her that no, I was disappointed in her and don't worry and it's ok.

Instead, though, I said, "I'm learning from you! Thank you for your perspective!"

This made my inner child joyous; she felt playful! She believed she had my attention! And I was truly joyous to be able to pay attention.

Friday, October 23, 2009

SHUT UP!

Look what I just found: The Emergence of Buddhist American Literature, edited by John Whalen-Bridge and Gary Storhoff.

I'm all over this. Later.

New Grammar

I think it should be acceptable to start a sentence with a semicolon. It would mean that you know something else should be said before your thought, but you're not sure how to connect the ideas.

This would really help writers like me who cannot explain any of their ideas in their own words.

; see what I mean?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Love Is Like This

Tonight I had the great privilege of hearing poet James Ragan give a reading. He was fabulous, and here is my favorite poem that he read:

"Hitchhiking to the Arctic"

Any floe will do, but give it a name,
the Pater Noster, for a start, or the Isle of Latitudes
drifting North of Iceland out of Hudson Bay
in seas as mixed as the Bering Strait.

Choose the ice that’s narrowed at each end,
the melting equal in duration, your little nation’s future
dependent on the center clearing
any final reef the change of wind might make.

And deny all possibility that you’re drifting
sunless and alone, that you’re deranged, confused
by the solo berne on the map you yourself have sewn.
And deny, above all else, the albatross


whose wings you’ve sheared as windshields to the eyes.
You have a great distance of trust to cross,
so little of it bearing on a compass or a star.
You have only the dream of being lost a certainty,

that in the silence of the miles there will come
a conversation only you will hear. In that vast indifference
of the ice that drops its continents an inch each year,
you will survive on solitude each day or night

when even the moon your eyes betray
grows darker as you grow, and all around you
dance the petals of a sun burning in the cold blue of snow.
The light that draws you nearer is further than you know.

New Profile Picture: The End of An Era

I think I'm going to lay to rest my compulsive desire to take pictures of myself on my computer. It's starting to scare even the cat.


Let Them Eat Cake

In her chapter "Overcoming Resistance," Pema Chodron, in Start Where You Are, writes about the practice of "feeding the ghosts": "This involves relating to your unreasonableness. The way you relate to it is by making a relationship with it. Traditionally, you make a little torma--a little cake--and you offer it."

She writes, "This sudden unreasonableness that comes out of nowhere is called a don. It wakes you up, and you should regard that as best, rather than try to get rid of the problem." In regards to dons (which has an umlaut over the "o"), Chodron says, "there's some sense of 'let it be.' There is even an incantation that says, 'Not only do I not want you to go away, you can come back any time you like. And here, have some cake,' Personally, when I read that, I got sort of scared. The commentary said that you invite them back because they show you when you have lost your mindfulness. You invite them back because they remind you that you've spaced out. The dons wake you up" (75-76).

I have been struggling with the ugly parts of my personality, but I've also had Sister's Ellie's sage advice of "put your heart back in your chest," and so I haven't been knowing what to do. I really like the image, and I hope to make a physical offering soon (just to try it!), of all these parts of myself eating cake together.

I imagine a table with Ms. Know-It-All, Ms. Attention-Seeker, Ms. Gloom-and-Doom, and so forth all sharing a table and eating dessert. And I am saying thank you, dons, for showing up! You just showed up! I'd been trying to figure out why you're here, but that's just wasting time; pull up a chair--let's sit together!

To love even these parts of myself feels amazing. I feel my own love for myself and I wholeheartedly believe Marion Woodman when she writes that finding this love, this feminine power, is the great challenge of our age.

I want to encourage you to set your own cake-eating table and just be with whoever shows up. What a great gift; these dons thought they could keep us in hiding or keep us analyzing. They weren't expecting our loving attention!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Cure for the Blues

Step 1: Recognize the role of the mind poison of delusion.

Step 2: Take your cranky ass outdoors.

Step 3: Be awesome and run around.

Step 4: Come home drenched, because it's raining out.

Step 5: Strip down and put your robe on.

Step 6: Record yourself dancing your cat to John Lennon.

Rewards for Being Awake?

Almost very literally, I have spent the past day and a half either asleep or movie-watching. (I watched Margot at the Wedding and Charlie Wilson's War, both of which I liked.)

I had big plans to get closer to finishing my conference paper this morning. But after going through about half of my morning routine, I collapsed on the futon and slept for about two and a half hours.

It sounds funny to write it out; I had been berating myself, even though I know that's not a very helpful strategy! I was trying to think of little tricks I could play to help me get through my office hours. It can feel so difficult to go to work! I have used sleep therapy and shopping therapy (I bought John Lennon's greatest hits, which I have been constantly listening to and I am awaiting three new pairs of shoes to arrive in the mail). So, excess marks the way I treat myself. Excess and over-indulgence.

I think I will plan little walks during this afternoon. The leaves are beautiful, so I could collect a few of those and just spend five minutes or so writing about them.

Other things you do to reward yourself for doing things you don't want to do?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Complainy with a Chance of Pissy

Right now, this very second, I feel totally inadequate and incapable of making an academic, linear argument.

I kind of believe that as soon as things are said or thought, then they are dead.

That's not the full truth of what I believe. I'm just supremely tired right now. My enthusiasm for each day can last, at max, about three hours on campus. At home my enthusiasm for each day can last upwards of twelve hours. That's why I like home a lot better than campus.

OK. I just needed to whine!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Time

OK. I've just sent out a request for help on Facebook and the grad student listserv for help in thinking about time and its relationship to academia.

So I want to send this request out to my imagined blog audience. I think I'm on to something so cool here, but I also can't decide if maybe I'm just a little depressed and neurotic.

But the time is through to be splitting hairs with genius and neuroses. My smile is in tact and I just want to know how I can academically make an argument that our reliance on a linear understanding of time (a linearity that is partially, but not completely descriptive of the way time really works) is what is keeping the field of English down. And I want to create this argument without relying on a binary understanding of time as linear and/or looping/coexistive.

If anyone is already here or can help me get there, then please let me know!

Thanks so much,
Your past, present, and future friend,
Courtney

Friday, October 16, 2009

Some Analogies, Cont. (Not Gross.)

Living emotionally means being a sponge. Or more like memory foam, perhaps. You absorb everything that comes your way. And it takes time, but you bounce back. Your very nature is to absorb, but it is not your nature to retain every emotion that comes your way. You make things cleaner, softer for others; you make them more comfortable.

And when the sponge is overfilled and the memory foam is flattened, nothing seems there to help with the excess. But that state doesn't last forever; it simply can't. And you can't always avoid the excess liquid or pressure--if you couldn't take it, then you wouldn't! So you realize you are more handy than you thought; what seems so awful is actually just an awareness of your limitations.

You realize you are not an infinite sponge or memory foam. And you realize that no one is asking you to be infinite. But in their not asking you to be infinite, they are not asking you to not be a sponge or memory foam.

You are needed for your range, and not just your extremes. You are needed for all of it.

Some Analogies. Kind of Gross Analogies, Actually.

Here's something I've been playing with in my brain:

I've been thinking quite a bit about the role of emotional and rational intelligence in our society and within each individual. I have been realizing just how emotional I am, and I am starting to view that as a strength (both my emotionality and the fact that I am learning about my tendencies).

I was thinking how difficult it can feel (emotionally, physically, and, yes, spiritually) to be a more emotional thinker/feeler in our society. I've been piecing this together with Sara; and certainly years of studying/living feminism has helped with my understanding of emotionality. I think I've dealt with my emotional nature by trying to protect myself. It hasn't felt safe to be myself, so I shield myself. I hold my tongue or I act out with sarcasm or I cry to myself--whatever I do, I search for a way out. There's always someone else to blame: the man, men, capitalism, technology, overpopulation, parents, christianity, etc.

And then, for a while I blamed myself. I am too: sensitive, defensive, worrisome, stubborn, etc.

Well, there's really no blame. This is just the way things are. It's like this: a scab. Living life emotionally feels like you're getting rid of a scab. At first it feels good to let that ugly chunk of dried blood go--who needs that?! Who needs to be bottled up in her scabs? But then you keep going and the scab sticks to the last eighth of your wound and tears it so that you bleed all over again. And you think, why did I pick that scab?! This hurts! Your only consolation is that maybe you itch a little less and you seem less ugly, but really you've just made yourself more red and visible.

So you say, "Next time I am not going to pick at my scabs! When this scabs again, I will just let it fall away!" And this is the strategy your mom recommends, and your friends recommend it, too, and it's probably supported by the most well-intentioned authorities.

But you pick at the scab again next time.

And you keep picking until you just seem to outgrow getting so many scabs. You don't even notice that you don't really have them anymore.

Until your lover is feeling your arm as you kiss each other in bed. And he pauses and says, "Dry skin?" And you say, "Who knows?" Because who does know? It could be anything; who can even explain the body and its myriad textures?

You off-handedly mention that you ran into the same spot on your arm three times in one afternoon--three times! It's not until later, after your partner has left and you are alone, that you see you don't have dry skin, but a series of dot-like scabs.

Running into those hooks must have scraped and caused a scab as well as a bruise. It must have hurt running into those things. It must have hurt, but life is like that. You go on.

You go on and you realize that living emotionally doesn't have to feel like pulling scabs. And it doesn't have to be anxiety-induced by refraining from pulling scabs, either.

It's more like: how did I get that scab? How did I get the bruise under that scab? I got it by not being mindful, but doesn't mean I could have done any better.

And to those of you who I interpret as my personal scab-pickers, I thank you. I see you didn't mean to be annoying and that you're just doing what you do; you do a lot of things, but one thing you do is pick my scabs. I used to be so mad at you, but now I just see where these scabs and bruises are. I wonder how they got there, I let time pass and take care of myself as they heal, and I don't blame you for noticing them or me for feeling them.

Thank you, is what I'm saying.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Purpose (Connected to the Previous Post)

See, I am so greedy that I even want to start another post! These thoughts are connected to my previous post.

I have been wondering about the purpose of this blog. I guess I've been craving/wanting more structure! I like when things are regimented, but then I also like when things are swirling in chaos and unknowing. I want both extremes and at all times!

I'm grasping for answers, meaning, and stability. It's hard to turn this off sometimes. But, I do think I'm getting better at letting things go; it's just when I start to believe that I have things under control that I freak out again. Which is why I guess you need to be careful what you wish for.

Greedy Girl

I cannot really focus on anything right now! I've been struggling with greed all day; I've wanted more sleep, knowledge, insight, food, coffee, hobbies. I've wanted to go out and buy stuff: music, margaritas, shoes. I've wanted more communication. More of everything, really!

In conjunction with this greed, I've also been experiencing some anger--mostly I'm just angry because I'm feeling a little trapped by school. I think I find escape through excess. Overeating, overanalyzing. Breaking budgets. Staying up too long. Taking too many pictures of myself (I want to change my profile picture)! I feel inadequate is what it all boils down to! There are so many things I want to be good at, and I am not measuring up to my expectations. It is difficult to distinguish what is actually important to me from what I think others think is important for me. I'm imagining a lot of external judgment!

I know all of this is it's own thing and not reality. This is how I really feel and perceive things, but I know other things are happening as well. I have the desire to run from myself! I'm not sure how to support myself through this; my inadequacy is marked by indecision!

"Paper Pills"

I found a link to this e-comic yesterday, "Paper Pills," and I think it's pretty funny.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Time and Particles

I do not have access to a lot of the knowledge behind the Large Hadron Collider, but I thought this was a fascinating article. (It inspires me to brush up my skills!) Time--just try to figure it out!

"The Collider, the Particle, and a Theory About Fate," Dennis Overbye

Talk to Me Tuesday: Will Return Next Week

I overslept today, and so Talk to Me Tuesday is just going to go on the ol' back burner for a week.

Here's wishing you a restful, peaceful, and productive Tuesday!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Oh, I Will NOT Let Happiness Get In the Way of My Discontent!

I noticed this morning that I am not nearly as whiny, despondent, depressed, morose, sensitive, angry, or nostalgic as I was last night. All I can say is that meditation has been helping me, as has reading Pema Chodron. As has writing and talking and not talking. As has LZ. As has jogging (I've been going for 25 minutes straight consistently. Now is time to increase my time!). As has everything and everyone.

"Oh fine, sadness, just go away--SEE IF I CARE!" This is what I say to myself. See, I can feel abandoned by everything--even (maybe especially?) by things I don't even want around.

It is so perverse being human and having emotions; emotions have their own sort of logic, I suppose. A contradictory logic that is both deathly serious and hilarious.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

"The Heat Is On"

It is cold outside! I turned the gas fireplace on and pulled out a space heater. Down will come the comforter for tonight's sleep. I am endlessly whinyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy about this weather! And endlessly whiny about everything else, so I guess I get a 100% today!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Just My Two Cents

It's just my two cents, but I would have preferred to see the Nobel Peace Prize go to someone who believes in ending war between nations. I do not like the increased presence US troops have in Afghanistan. I do not believe that is peace.

I see so much similarity between my anger towards George W. Bush and his presidency and the anger conservatives have towards Obama right now. It's scary espousing differing political and world-views but sharing the same rhetoric to support these views.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Garage Sale to Benefit St. John's Center for Spiritual Formation!

For anyone in the Tulsa area, the annual garage sale for St. John's Center for Spiritual Formation is tomorrow, 8am-4pm.

All the money raised will go to the Center, which helps keep things like sanity, compassion, loving-kindness, and open-mindedness in and around the Tulsa area.

Please stop by and buy something! 4808 S. 87th East Ave.

Dear Oklahoma: WTF?

I'm frustrated that this is happening.

Oklahoma has a new abortion law, to take effect Nov. 1, requiring women to reveal personal information (age, education, marital status. etc.) which will then be posted online. (Some information. I haven't read the full bill yet--I got caught up in the jargon.)

I was trying to take solace in Oklahoma's high illiteracy rate--1 in 6 Oklahomans are illiterate--as way to console myself that not many people are going to read this information. (Here's a link to some statistics.)

All of this is so many levels of fucked-up. I think this state could use a lot of compassion right now.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Baby Break!

Vic writes that this is Mary Jean doing her David Byrne impression:


Two weeks old and this kid is already cooler than most everyone I know!

Just to further prove her coolness:

Break from Writing (To Do More Writing)

You know, I've been productive for almost 24 hours; amazing! Last night I graded and this morning I am keeping my writing date with myself! I've been writing my conference paper, and damn if I'm not solving all the world's problems!

I realize that very very few people will ever care about what I'm up to. But for once I feel such peace in knowing that what I'm doing is important to me. I know that I'm changing my own world--and that's good enough!

Sending much love and peace to you (on this dreary/drizzly-but-productive Tulsa morning).

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Armchairin' It

I'm taking a little break after a Writing Program meeting on how freshman portfolios should/could be evaluated. This is my fourth year of reading portfolios and I'm finding the process increasingly fascinating as time goes by. I have always been so focused on finding the right answer and deciding whether or not my evaluation of student work is right or not.

Now I perceive that the very criteria we use are unsolvable. Everything leads back to us. For example, we are asked to judge whether students use "[a]ppropriate rhetorical choices considering audience, purpose, tone, and point of view"; it's the purpose part that trips me up. Purpose is so large and layered! Is the purpose to address the instructor's prompt; if so, then we don't know exactly because we don't have the instructor's prompt in front of us. Even if we did, no matter! Is the purpose to pass portfolio? Pass the class? Move on to a lucrative career? Become a deeper thinker? Play with language? Connect with yourself? Say something interesting to a stranger?

Purpose. I think in the large scheme of things it doesn't matter a whole lot because we can't control how we are going to be read (literally and figuratively). And we can't control how we are going to read things.

This profession is driving me to madness--it's so silly how seriously it takes itself! It presents its own impossible situations as if they are possible. And to some degree they are possible, but when you extend out a bit they are impossible.

I think I had been trying so hard to show everyone how this is a big, huge mind-fuck. That's not my job anymore. I don't really know what my job is, but I don't really see how I can't be doing it and how anything anyone does won't be helpful for something at some point.

Man.

It's not really about whether other get me; it's about if I get me. And it's about how I can help others along the way. For example, I don't think it's really important if I am generally a good teacher; I am more interested in whether I am a good teacher to the set of students I have this semester. And I guess I care less whether I am a good scholar or not. I only know what I know.

I think it's just that I am learning that I am much better at thinking globally and broadly, and it's more difficult for me to be specific, small, and detailed. I always want a larger solution to the smaller problems. I want systems to change! I want institutions to address our true problems!

I forget about the power of people on a really small level. I often believe that no one wants to listen to me because I don't seem very practical. Well, I'm starting to believe in myself, and speak out just a little more. To people, in person. Whoa.

This helps me learn and to remind myself that I am a student of what is around me. I keep trying to solve problems, but nothing is truly wrong; instead, they just are and I can choose how to respond to them.

OK--I have not written this linearly at all. I kept paragraphs open and went back to them. So none of this may make any sense, but I believe this is so of my best reflecting to date! I am critical, yet I have my sense of humor in tact--oh, edge of despair, how I move ever so slowly away from your seductive calling!

Also, I wanted to share this article. I don't have a sense of how authoritative it is, but I thought it made some good points:
The disease of codependency is a dysfunctional emotional defense system adapted by our egos to help us survive. The polarized perspective of life we were programmed with in early childhood, causes us to be afraid of making a mistake, of doing life "wrong." At the core of our being,we feel unlovable and unworthy - because our parents felt unlovable and unworthy - and we spend great amounts of energy trying to keep our shameful defectiveness a secret. We feel that, if we were perfect like we "should" be, we would not feel fear and confusion, and would have reached "happily ever after" by now. So, we shame ourselves for feeling fear, which adds gasoline to the inferno of fear that is driving us. The shame and fear that drive obsession becomes so painful and 'crazy making' that at some point we have to find some way to shut down our minds for a little while - drugs or alcohol or food or sleep or television, etc.

It is a very dysfunctional, and sad, way to relate to life. The fear we are empowering is about the future - the shame is about the past. We are not capable of being in the now and enjoying life because we are caught up in trauma melodramas about things which have not yet happened - or wallowing in orgies of self recrimination about the past, which can not be changed. Codependents do not really live life - we endure, we survive, we persevere.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Talk to Me Tuesday: Queen Bee Nina Marie Edition!

Ok, I believe I am actually all out of Talk to Me Tuesday submissions. So it would be fabulous to get some more responses. Please, please, please!

I love hearing people's responses to these questions--they mean a lot to me. I think it is kind of impersonal to not ask for submissions directly, but I'm not trying to be impersonal here! So please send me responses. I even created a new email address for this blog, just in case we haven't met in person (tosomeonelikeminded@hotmail.com).

So, since LZ had a turn on Talk to Me Tuesday, Queenie is getting her moment to shine. She has currently taken her place on my lap, and has prevented me from wallowing in some depressing thoughts about the past. As if it's not great enough that kitties are so cute and loveable--but to have them save you from yourself?! That is pure love right there.

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 a feminist because I love women.

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

In front of my dinner bowl. And in Scott's lap. And underneath the foot stool--that place is my palace.

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

I love listening to the pigeons cackling next door. I also always keep an ear out for who's coming in the apartment building. I'm a guard cat like that.

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

Who wants to know?

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

I am still an observer. I don't get freaked out by dogs like I used to. LZ still beats me up, but now I've learned to fight back (and even sneak attack him).

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

Declawing. I don't have my front claws, and I don't really think that's fair. I still yearn to stretch my claws and sharpen them even though they aren't there!

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

Everything--I'm a year old!

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

Eat, poop, and do some grooms.

9. And: what are the top five things you most enjoy doing right now?
Cuddling in laps, eating, watching other creatures go by, jumping after my feather boa, and snuggling in dresser drawers.


Queenie in my lap right now.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Feeling the Edges

Today I have been feeling unsettled and I've had an anxious stomach ache. I've been doing little activities all day, trying to move through these bad feelings. One thing that has helped a lot is reading Pema Chodron's The Wisdom of No Escape. I keep starring and underlining key passages--my copy is pretty marked up because she says so many wise things!

One thing she talks about is how everyone will find one's edge. She tells a story of a group of mountain climbers that begin climbing and go higher and higher. At one point a group of them look down, get frightened, and stop climbing. Those people have reached their edge. Still others continue climbing and soon some stop, look down, get frightened, and stop climbing. Those people have reached their edge. Others may continue to the top, others may stop along the way. The point, Chodron writes, is not to make it to the top of the mountain, but rather to find your edge. The people who make it to the top of the mountain have not found their edge yet, but they will. Everyone will find their edge.

I believe this story resonated with me so deeply because my substitute yoga teacher has been telling us to "find your edge" in the different postures we do. So we don't stretch beyond our limit, but rather find our edge and hang out there. I was going to write "simply find our edge," but there is nothing simple about it!

Sometimes in yoga it seems like if I overstretch that I'm actually doing the posture better. But I'm not working the proper muscles when I overstretch. Instead I'm creating a block somewhere--like maybe my shoulders are glued to my ears or I'm not breathing or whatever.

Last week our instructor, who, again, has not been my beloved Louise, was leading us in the pigeon posture. There is pretty much nothing I like about the pigeon. My fatty legs prevent me from sinking down comfortably and the position can put a lot of pressure on my knees.

While we're in pigeon, I hear the instructor get up and start shuffling through the cds to find something new to play. While doing this, she is telling us that it is very common for people to feel a lot of sensation while in this pose and to just find our edge and stay there. I wanted to shout at her! She wasn't even doing the posture with us, so she had no room to talk about how to just stay in the pose! Easy to encourage us to stick with it when she wasn't going through it herself!

I felt angry and I felt a ton of pressure in my throat. I was ready to give up on the position, and I was almost ready to make my discomfort known to everyone. Then I realized that this feeling felt familiar--I've felt it in just about everything I do. I briefly had the thought that if I stuck through with this posture, then maybe somehow that might help me improve in other areas of my life (like jogging or studying).

I thought everything that happens on the small scale happens on the large scale as well.

And then I promptly gave up trying to be in the pigeon pose. I just gave up. Like I often do. When we switched sides, I thought, "No way am I even doing this again. I am so mad and sore. And she is being so dumb to do this to us!" So I half-assed a pigeon, but then I felt guilty for my half-assery and tried it for real. It sucked, I felt even more cranky, and felt entitled to move on to the next position. Which we did, but not soon enough.

The main point that I want to share, I can't even express in words. I guess it's like I've been feeling my edges and still want to get to the top of the mountain. It's hard to let go of grasping. It can be hard to just keep going!

I was looking up more on Pema Chodron and came across her article, "Looking into Laziness"; I highly recommend it!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pema Chodron Quote

From her chapter "No Such Thing as a True Story," in her book, The Wisdom of No Escape, Pema Chodron writes:
Seeing when you justify yourself and when you blame others is not a reason to criticize yourself, but actually an opportunity to recognize what all people do and how it imprisons us in a very limited perspective of this world. It's a chance to see that you're holding on to your interpretation of reality; it allows to you reflect that that's all it is--nothing more, nothing less; just your interpretation of reality. (37)


Pretty good!

"30 Rock" Quote

This weekend I've been watching a lot of episodes of "30 Rock" on Netflix. I think the show is really funny. During one episode Liz and Jack are deciding whether they should go through with one of their schemes:

Liz: "We may not be the best people."
Jack: "But we aren't the worst."
Liz: [Knowing nod.] "Grad students."

Uh, pretty much!!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Compassionate Joy

Last Tuesday, Sister Ellie was (re)teaching us The Four Divine Abodes: loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity. She asked us to consider which of these was the most difficult for us and why.

This question has stuck with me this week. I realized on Tuesday that sympathetic joy was the most difficult state for me to be in. It can be hard for me to be happy with someone in her/his happiness, especially if I question why s/he is happy.

Sometimes it's rather easy to be happy for someone. Although, as I write that, maybe it only seems like it's easy to be happy for someone when his/her situation doesn't have a direct bearing on how you feel about yourself. In which case, that may not actually be sympathetic joy--I don't know!

What occurs to me now is that somehow I have tended to question happiness and take sadness as truth. (I know I've had this thought before, but it's a hard one for me to remember!) I have a tendency towards cynicism; when someone says they are happy about something I find particularly annoying, then I definitely withhold my happiness and instead believe that that person is delusional. Because if that person isn't delusional, then what am I?!

Lately the classic example of this is when someone shares their happiness about school. "Really?? School? That does it for you?" That's what runs through my head. And then I launch into how education is just one huge conspiracy, and why I hate it so. Or maybe someone talks about how great it is to be married or how much fun they are having doing whatever activity I personally find stupid or unfulfilling.

No matter to this judgmental girl--I'll find a way to rain on the parade!

I had to laugh about this tendency the other day as I was walking to a talk on what it's like teaching at a prep school. I was thinking about questions I had and wanted answered; in particular, I was wondering about the relationships the teachers formed with each other. Were they contentious? Catty? Bitter?

Then I said to myself, oh, I am discontent now, so I will remain discontent! I fall into the idea that something external will fix my disposition, as if a) something external could ever do that and b) I am in need of fixing.

Noticing these fallacies helps me laugh at myself. I want to expand my capacity for compassionate joy, and I believe there's room to start with myself first. And then spread outwards.

I'm starting to see no reason why I can't be happy for others and still have my own preferences; maybe I can start to release my death-grip on others' affirmation?!

Because it's so weird like that--what I withhold, detest, resist are the very things I want! I do not think I would be risking any part of myself to experience sympathetic joy for others. And if I were risking anything, I think it would only be my stake in my own malaise. I feel more comfortable letting such things go, especially now that I see they are there.

Indecision!

So many things to do tonight--I can't decide how I want to spend my time! Today I have slept most of the day; I feel pretty wonderful right now. I get in moods where my mind spins and spins and I start to wonder, "Am I crazy or actually really sane?" The answer: "Girl, you're tired. Turn that off."

So I did. I slept until about 1pm today and then took a couple hour nap this afternoon. Hooray!

Last night Scott and I had a musical adventure. We went to QT and bought some 3.2 beer and then went back to his place and listened to Queens of the Stone Age, Lullabies to Paralyze. I loved it. Scott broke down and bought a pack of cigarettes. So the evening was marked with everything I wanted: unfancy beer, guitars, second-hand smoke, and a man who may or may not want to sleep with me. Paradise!

I think I liked this song the best from last night, "'You've Got a Killer Scene There, Man . . .'":

Friday, October 2, 2009

Today I Feel . . .

more confident. I believe I can stay connected to people even while remaining by myself. I had thought the other day that I'm very much like a basset hound sniffing out other people's issues. And then, when I find them, I stay there and point until something else catches my nose.

I don't mind, anymore, if that's what I am. I am very needy, like a dog. I like to run in packs. But sometimes I'm more like the house dog who checks to see where you are and then goes off to sleep in another room. "Just wondering. OK, catch you later." I think that is me. Pretty loyal, but can get persnickety. Pretty loyal, but then seeming like I love everyone the same and have no favorites. It's all about my needs, but I also want you to feel good, too!

I could go on with this dog metaphor. I really identify with it.

Anyway, last night I drafted a manifesto. It turns out, upon reading it this morning, that it's not that good; but . . . I won't let quality get in my way!

I have renewed my commitment (or reminded myself of my commitment) to myself and to beauty. Sometimes I get stuck in a rut and I forget to see the beauty in things, or I forget to seek out things that I think will be beautiful.

I am not really sure how this will play out, but I am really hoping to have a musical adventure this weekend. Last night, in the midst of my manifesto, I was listening to music with a group of friends. The Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses" was playing, and I waxed nostalgic for the music of the past. Nostalgia is very romantic, but it's not the full truth. I know there is beautiful music right now, and I want to put out feelers and see if I can find it.

I may not look too far either, because my neighbor crafts guitars. I believe he was playing last night; the sound of the electric guitar filled up the block and made me fall in love. Yet I did not have the nerve to seek him out and talk to him about this sound! Instead, I remained to myself. That's just like me, sometimes!

Anyway, musical adventures; they are on my radar and I want to see what will happen!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sensitivity

I realized, with help from Beamish, that I have been sensitive lately; I had no idea! I knew I was feeling weird, but I wasn't sure what it was. Now that I can name it, I realize that I do not need to apologize or indulge in what I'm feeling.

I'm reminded of why the Buddhist tradition use the lotus flower as a symbol; the lotus has a murky, gross underwater component to the beautiful, blooming above water component. Both sides in the same plant.

So this sensitivity prompts me to curl up into myself and to want to shut others out; it makes me susceptible to anger. Yet, it also brings me such insight, too. It's all a part of myself, and I can't fight it, you know!

So here's to wishing you peace with your own lotus flowers--may you be able to see both what lies underneath, as well as the beauty!


Photo by Marathi Mulgaa from Wikimedia Commons

Friendship, Honesty, Judgement, and Support

Well I have been in a mood lately. I've spent the past two days feeling pretty cranky, but then able to poke a little fun at my crankiness. For example, I was taking the trash out the other day and I was just pissed off. Pissed that I had to take trash out and just that things didn't seem to be going my way--I don't even remember what I was so upset with! And I said to myself, "Oh beautiful day, don't even try to take me out of my crankiness--it won't work!" Well, that made me laugh and that helped me see that it's ok to have my crankiness and to still enjoy the life that is around me. It also made me realize that when I am enjoying life, it is difficult to be cranky. But first I need to make it ok for me to even feel what I'm feeling.

Last night I was hanging out with friends and I was feeling really confused about what was going on. There seemed so many layers to our interactions; entanglements with our romantic relationships, our individual confused-yet-confident feelings towards own selves, and fuzzy lines (at least in my head) on what was funny and what was uncomfortable.

I got it in my brain that I could see things as they really are (which, you know, is never an option for us anyway), and so when discussing other people's situations, I jumped right in and said my opinion. And when others were giving their opinions on my situations--opinions which I shared, although to a lesser extent--I believed they simply didn't have all the information.

My friends asked me and I was able to ask them for the type of support I wanted. And when I got it, it felt fake to me. And that can only be a projection on my part.

So I realize now a few things. I often believe that there are right and wrong answers and right and wrong things to do in certain situations. I seek to only do right things; I always want to be right!

When I'm clinging to my sense of right and wrong it becomes really difficult for me to extend myself in support of people who I perceive as making wrong (or wrong-ish) choices.

And then this pattern quickly spirals into a sense of isolation and individuality. I easily pit myself against the world; my thinking goes like this, "if I'm the only one who sees the right thing, and people are going to do what they want to do anyway, well, then there's nothing I can do about that."

This isn't getting to the full truth of the situation; in fact, it's cutting things off before they unfold.

I think it's ok in any situation to be aware of what could go right and what could go wrong. But we still have to act and make a decision, and we're never going to have all the information before we make a decision. I used to believe otherwise, and that's when I would shut myself off to the little nuances of life. I'd make a decision and be done with things.

Right now I think it's harder to make a decision and still be open to it's consequences. To trace things through a little longer, but without dwelling on them either!

There's the rub, too, I think! How to be aware without dwelling and to make decisions without clinging to certainty and being right. How to support ourselves when we have so much judgement about what we do. And how to support other people in the midst of all the judging we do on their situations.

I think we all perceive this; we all know what it feels like to do something that you don't think others understand. And to do it anyway, but to want their support while you do it.

This is such a weird thing for me to try to articulate. I guess I want to know ways in which people can communicate what they see/perceive and still be open to seeing things different ways without having to believe in a right or wrong way to see things. How can I be a friend who is genuinely supportive of others, even when we both know that I think they could be handling a situation a different way? Just like how can I allow myself to feel my friends' support when we all know that they think I could be handling a situation a different way?

Isn't that funny? I think it's common to process life decisions with each other and it's common for one person to have multiple views on a situation. And I think people are even pretty good at listening to themselves and to others, but then they feel isolated when they go and make an actual decision because there is a lingering doubt as to whether they are doing the right thing.

I guess it's like when we are caught in the binary of right/wrong, then we are judging (and maybe we are judging with the best of intentions) and when we are judging we (to some extent) are only seeing ourselves and not other people for who they are.

And judging can go on forever and it will, that's our nature, but there are ways to interrupt it and notice when we are doing it.

I really needed to get that off my chest; I was caught up in it for a while now. I would love thoughts on this!