Sunday, November 29, 2009

Courtney Explains It All

Today I honored myself with the Best Tenant of the Century Award. I was very happy to receive this honor given my impressive ability to clean my somewhat crappy apartment in a neglected building owned by a less-than-attentive landlord. The cats, their food and litter box, and the vacuum cleaner are all that remain in the old place. Yesterday, Scott graciously helped me move my stuff out of that apartment and into his garage. Tuesday I can move into the new place. As Vic says, that's a lot of moving, but it's actually been a really easy move.

So I've been living with Scott the past few days. Yesterday he says it's good that we won't be living with each other permanently because we'd probably kill each other. I thought that was a bit of an exaggeration; I believed I would actually enjoy living with him, even though I could sense that I'd probably get on his nerves.

That was yesterday. Today I could easily see myself killing him if we had to live together.

Which is to say, today I was talking with a friend who is going through a difficult break-up. She was describing their relationship dynamic and it sounded similar to that between me and my ex-husband. We were talking about the hardships of a big break-up, as well as it's exhilarations. She was asking me what I've done differently since my divorce to avoid being in similar unfulfilling relationships. Enter my broad (unhelpful) answer ("But what specifically did you do?" my friend asks again.); and enter my more detailed answer.

What I didn't realize until coming back to Scott's house today was that JESUS CHRIST IT IS SO NICE TO LIVE BY MYSELF. During my separation, I told my friend, I acted more girly--I lit candles and drank a lot of tea. I found some hobbies outside of schoolwork. Blah blah blah. But maybe part of the reason I'm more at peace is because I learned that I like being alone and doing things my way.

I would tentatively like to propose that the idea of compromise in a relationship is bullshit. I think the concept of compromise enforces the idea that you and your partner are on separate sides--it becomes a fight. I do kind of sympathize with the belief that compromise means no one is happy.

To that end, I would like to (again, tentatively) state that my ex-husband and I were fabulous at compromising and, thus, keeping each other in near-misery nearly all of the time!

Instead of compromising, sometimes it's just fun to jump in and do what the other person wants to do, even when you have no desire to that thing. I think this makes the other person more open--more open with who s/he is and more open to try things you want to do. Compromise can start to seem like you never get your way and that you are always fighting with the other person. Repeated compromise tends to make me feel ignored, deprived, and angry. And the other person can't understand why I'm angry because he feels like he's giving a lot, too.

Anyway. That's a rant. Relationships have been on my mind a lot lately. And, also, I just reconnected with more old friends on Facebook--friends from elementary school. It reminds me what a goddamn bitch I was from about age 8-14 (and then from say 22-27; maybe I'm on a seven-year bitch cycle?).

Who am I to say, though? I came to the realization the other day that people might actually totally know who I am and not like me at all. I had been thinking about this because of one of Tara's recent posts on gossip. She remarks that she hopes she has done something in her life that would spark gossip about her.

I admired that kind of audacious comment, and I wanted to adopt it as my own. But my people-pleaser didn't really want others to gossip about me, and so I found myself in a difficult place. Oh how badly I want to live a life others would gossip about, but how strongly I want everyone to like me and think only good things about me.

I think teaching has helped me realize that not everyone will like me. I used to think that was because I was doing it badly. And if anyone didn't like me, then I was not playing that role correctly.

It's a lot of pressure, in that regard, to be a people-pleaser with a perfectionist bend.

My mom has a dvd of a Cher concert from a few years ago. When I was home recently she was playing it and Cher sang, "We All Sleep Alone." I was reminded of this yesterday, when the day was beautiful and the move seemed like the perfect idea and Scott seemed like my ideal companion; despite all of this happiness, I thought, I cannot abandon myself and give another person power over how I live my life.

I cannot try to please anyone, even Scott. I think this is because people change, and they can change so easily and without warning. And drastically and subtly. I mean, I've been reading Eat, Pray, Love (it's the Third Annual Reading, remember?) and in my mind I've played out quite a few scenarios on how the future with Scott and I could go. I bounce from emphatically embracing a partnership to defiantly wanting to badass my way out of it. I snoop through people's information on Facebook and I see a million different lives I could be leading, and a trillion ways people are living their lives. And I use this information to tell my people-pleaser to chill out, please.

I always think I know who I am, and I always think I want to know who I am, but now I really don't see how that's possible. Well, I forget that it's okay to not know what I'm going to be like in the future. Perhaps part of people-pleasing is wanting to know that in the future you will still be great and people will still like you.

Since we have this flexible ability to sustain friendships across our bitchy and non-bitchy years, I think that's all the more reason why it's ok to tell our people-pleasers that they aren't helping us out anymore. It's not quite a simple case of I'll just be me and whoever is ok with that will understand; rather, I think it's more a matter of allowing ourselves to experience the scope of our emotions. And to learn that there is no single, perfect way to act in any situation. In this regard we give ourselves room to act and we let our own opinion of our action matter the most to us.

Like this blog, for example. What the hell do I even talk about and why? I don't care, but I know it matters very much to me.

It's like this: at the Nimrod conference, Marvin Bell said the smartest thing I have ever heard. He said that you read and write to discover your own voice. And that the more you read and the more you write, you begin to prefer your voice over others'.

Isn't that the best? Shouldn't we all be preferring our own voices?! I mean genuinely preferring our own voices. I think if this were actually happening, then other people's voices wouldn't feel threatening and we wouldn't, as a culture, be so defensive.

Friday, November 27, 2009

It's the Day After Thanksgiving!

Some commentary, in list form:

*I had a great time with Scott and his family last night. They were gracious to have me over. It was lovely listening to their stories and trying to further understand their family dynamic.

*While I had a nice time with everyone, it was also torturous to get myself to go over there. I have so much baggage from other family get-togethers and non-get-togethers.

*Sometimes I frustrate myself by how neurotic I am.

*At other times, though, I can take refuge in myself. My craziness can feel comforting instead of totally alien and absurd.

*I missed hanging out with my own family yesterday, especially after talking to everyone on the phone. Scott reminded me of Courtopolis, and I realized Super G and I invented that place a year ago! Talking to Super G made my day; he was looking for new ways to torture Uncle Billy, so I had to tell him about making silly faces ("Silly face, check!"), mooning, and wet willies.

*Super G can do wrong in my book. He's too funny, and I hope he uses his power for good--not evil.

*This was the first Thanksgiving I didn't scarf down everything in sight. One, I was trying to be on my best behavior. And two, I felt no pressure to eat everything all at once. I knew that I would be hungry again later and that I could probably have more of the same food later.

*Sure enough, that happened. Scott and I ate leftovers for breakfast/lunch. Pie and coffee in the morning is such a fabulous combination!

*Do I say "fascinating" too much? Like Spock does?

*It's a beautiful day out today! I'm continuing the packing and moving process. So far I haven't wanted to ask for help, but I also kind of want help. I don't know--it's a weird thing. I feel overwhelmed and then calm and then overwhelmed and then calm. Mostly, though, I think I'm proud of myself for taking action--and before the last minute, too! I actually think this move will be done with minimal stress and a little early, too.

*But I also notice how I like to count my chickens before they are hatched (so to speak). There's still a lot of work left, so I should probably just shut up and get back in it!

*Much love to you today!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

It's Thanksgiving!

Well, it's Thanksgiving! Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

On Facebook, a friend started/forwarded a meme (I think that's what they're called; I'm not up with the language) the beginning of this month that asked people to share, every day, what they are thankful for. I started this because I thought it was a good idea; and I got annoyed with myself pretty early on. Never one to quit sounding annoying, though, I carried on. I got frustrated because I began to be confused about the term "I"--who am "I" that "I" could be thankful for something outside or inside myself? Just who did I think I was?

I also got confused and wondered about being thankful "for" something or being thankful "that" something exists. Oh semantics! It lead me to consider any differences between being thankful and being grateful.

I don't have any conclusive thoughts about this--I've just been thinking about these things this month.

These past few days have really thrown me for a loop (so to speak), and I haven't been sure about myself at all. Thanks to Julia Cameron's idea of doing morning pages, I think I figured some of this out this morning. I realized how afraid I am of myself. There's so much unknown and I, like most everyone, just want to know everything! I start to approach the unknown with fear, and that fear easily breeds anger. I start feeling angry at myself and then angry towards people in my proximity, but whom I don't talk to (like some neighbors). I start picking at the past and wondering what old friends and acquaintances are doing, feeling, thinking.

All of this because I don't know who I am! Last night reading Pema Chodron's When Things Fall Apart was so helpful to me. I want to share a long passage:
Underneath our ordinary lives, underneath all the talking we do, all the moving we do, all the thoughts in our minds, there's a fundamental groundlessness. It's there bubbling along all the time. We experience it as restlessness and edginess. We experience it as fear. It motivates passion, aggression, ignorance, jealousy, and pride, but we never get down to the essence of it.

Refraining is the method for getting to know the nature of this restlessness and fear. It's a method for settling into groundlessness. If we immediately entertain ourselves by talking, by acting, by thinking--if there's never any pause--we will never be able to relax. We will always be speeding through our lives. We'll always be stuck with what my grandfather called a good case of the jitters. Refraining is a way of making friends with ourselves at the most profound level possible. We can begin to relate with what's underneath all the bubbles and burps and farts, all the stuff that comes out and expresses itself as uptight, controlling, manipulative behavior, or whatever it is. Underneath all that, there's something very soft, very tender, that we experience as fear or edginess. (34)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Brief Glimpse of a Headline

I saw in the NYT headlines that Obama is considering sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan; what?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

While I'm At It

While I'm at it, here are the three pictures I took in Canada. Well, the two pictures and a video looking out our hotel window. The video is sideways--I don't know how to undo that!



video

Adventures in Body Land

I don't even know what has happened to me, but yesterday I spent the ENTIRE day in bed. Around 4 pm, I got up to make some breakfast, and after two bites of oatmeal, I felt so ill. I began a cycle of sweating, barfing, chilling that lasted for about six hours.

I very rarely throw up, and so this all kind of took me by surprise. I asked Scott for some help, and that man turned into nurse extraordinaire showing up to my place with flu medicine, chicken noodle soup (four big microwavable containers), and orange juice.

I told him, "I've never felt this bad before." And he said, "Are you being a little dramatic?" And I said, "No. I never get sick like this."

He was going to take me home with him, but he ended up leaving me and coming back with Argo, some clothes for tomorrow, and some entertainment. He then proceeded to clean up my barfy towels and then just let me sleep.

I felt so loved and cared for. And I really needed the support because I was so scared! I tried doing tonglen meditation for a bit; that helped a lot because there's something really immediate about physical pain that helps teach you what it's like to breathe in pain and breathe out good stuff for others. It helped show me that part of what I was panicking about was the fact that I didn't know what to expect while I was sick; I felt out of control. Then I tried to view it as an adventure, and that helped calm me down a bit.

So anyway. Being sick--it's so weird!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pictures from the Gun Range

These are not for the faint of heart.




Open Letter to My Best Friend, Sara

Dear Best Friend Sara,

I had the pervasive, annoying/funny thought that our academic girl band is breaking up and I'm going to go on to bigger things and that you're always going to be resentful. I feel like I'm sellin' out, man, by moving to South Tulsa to be closer to Scott. I would do that? For a boy? WHAT HAPPENED TO ME?

I'm totally acting like John Lennon to your Paul McCartney. Don't forget, though, about George. He's underrated, but a true genius. Everyone was caught up in Lennon/McCartney while George was busting shit up. (I know you don't need the reminder and I know you know the following already. But I'm writing this in the future, only it looks like the past right now. Because both exist: vision and revision, and re-vision.)

I mean to say, he called Eric Clapton his husband-in-law because they both married the same woman, Patti Boyd. Patti Boyd, the inspiration behind both George's "Something" and Clapton's "Layla." Were three people happy in one relationship once they all three realized they were crazy together?

I triangulate, sometimes. My best girlfriends become my best boyfriends, and vice versa. It's these moments when I'm not sure if I'm in a boyfriend relationship so that I have something to talk to my girlfriend about and escape to and seek refuge from. Or am I in a girlfriend relationship because I am awkward sexually and do not approach that which I want most. Or is it because boys really are foreign and opposite and I think I can know everything, so I go broad instead of deep. Nobody has to answer this--just like I don't have to say that being with a boy gives me pure pleasure. See--a girl can't say that! Not because she's a girl, but because it is a little gross and society still isn't ready, and society doesn't ever have to be ready.

Who's to say? Who's to say I almost didn't enact a rape fantasy today? Who's to say? All of these things I was taught to be afraid of and then to embrace and then to not care about--who's to say what the truth is?

Who am I to say that there are gender differences between you and Scott? Who am I to say what's different? Who am I to say what is the same? What if it's true that my worst nightmares come true and that I don't mean anything to either one of you? Well, then that will be that and I will know a little better who I am.

So, see, I'm not saying anything. I'm not telling all our secrets; I promise! In all the triangulations I've been a part of: my sisterhood, my partner and my crush-love, my best friend and her best friend, me and crazy me and sane me, I've kept secrets. Is nothing sacred with me? More like: is anything you've told me not sacred?

If you've doubted my love, then I am sorry. I am always here! If you doubted me, then it's only because I doubted myself. And sometimes that came out as anger and criticism towards you. I'm always treating at least two people badly and one of them is always myself.

That's no excuse--that's just a starting point. I know we can each talk about ourselves forever, and I tend to think that would be a fun thing. I think you think it would be pointless or too much or that I, in the end, would end up doing all the talking.

I promise I won't! I promise one person can only blog for so long. I promise to anyone that the longer we talk about ourselves, then the better we'll be.

I'll just start by repressing my anger, ok?

Haha; I got you going! If you're laughing, then you know I love you and I'm not just saying it to hear myself talk, this time, I swear,

Love,

Courtney

PS: It's like this, Sara: what if patriarchy created the myth of one close female relationship to keep us from really opening up to each other? What if Oprah-Gail was just a fancy was of saying mean girls? Do we hold our enemies the closest?

It's unfortunate how separate we see each other sometimes! I think Oprah magazine is O and Gail and Walt Whitman. And if it can easily be Walt Whitman, then it can easily be you and it can easily be me. And if it's easy, then it can happen.

Because don't even forget, you have a douchier dissertation topic than I do. It's douchier because it came first. I see it as you beat me to this dissertation thing and now I'm saying I don't want to play, only to play hard again!

See--competition! Don't ever think I'm not competitive and that it's solely you! Why would your competitive side come out around me, if I wasn't provoking it! So I provoked it, so it was there, and I had it, too.

We are not alone, you know. Only if we think so, sometimes.

This is why I write this blog, and this is why I write it for everyone I know. (You know that, though, already! Thank you!)

PS: Universe, How About Discovering Me?

Not-for-nothing, dear Universe, but I have been the most understanding, giving, cool, mature, creative, annoyingly-authentically sweet, best person who has ever lived.

I'm so open-minded that I'm wondering if the patriarchy is behind objections to linear thinking. Maybe feminism is so phallic because it's actually right. [See--see how horrible/wonderful that sentence was?!]

It's the Third Annual reading of Eat, Pray, Love. I can see why people find popular writing bad and so entertaining/true. It's not anybody's business to criticize her life choices and say she exchanged one set of problems for another (critic: unnamed) just like it's not anybody's business to say she uses the same sentence construction for every sentence in one paragraph (critic: me).

It's nobody's business to say that someone else's art is bad (even though it may actually kinda be bad) without understanding the sheer heart and vulnerability to even get up and breathe every day, let alone create part of yourself to put in the world.

We are all such creators, and we act like it's ok to ignore our own hearts.

I got sidetracked on that aside there. What I really wanted to say was: Dear Universe, I'm so sorry to equate popularity to success, but I'm gonna succomb to the binary and just say: It's time to discover me.

I've got everything going for me--you will adore me! I have tales! I am a white, straight, educated woman, so I'm feisty without being a true threat. I will never be president, but I will bitch the loudest about that fact. I, um, I'm so emotional, but I can laugh about it!

And on top of it all, I'm rather plump, so I'm no threat to pretty, dumb girls--and don't even try to convince me otherwise with those new plus-size model ads! I know we all know girls with curves are ugly and I don't need to pretend like that's even my problem.

I'm older now. And I would just be whining if I were complaining about the same thing over and over again.

And you wouldn't like that. And I wouldn't know that it's because you know I'm right and you just don't know what to do about it. You aren't the idea person; you are the muscle. Only sometimes, sometimes your best idea was to make me think that my ideas were the best.

Do you see: you have so much power just in letting me express myself.

I keep dreaming that I'm lost in big buildings. That I'm getting in trouble with, or running from, or looking for and always trying to protect my sisters, my friends, and/or lost, little children. These buildings are abandoned or thriving malls, high schools, and colleges. This happens to me!

Tomorrow, perhaps, I begin phase one of the best piece of performance art I have ever thought of in my entire life.

Or maybe I'll get up in the morning and do dishes. Either way, it will be a great day; I just know it!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

"War is peace."

I was going to wait until I could figure out how to get some pictures off my phone, but I absolute must share that yesterday I went and shot guns with Scott.

The night before I bought a pack of cigarettes on my own.

Oh, who am I?!

Scott was showing me his guns (haha!) Friday night and I actually said, "That's a pretty gun."

Out of all the things I have views on guns and smoking are them. Also, I have issues with capitalism, but Friday night we were listening to a John Stossel book on cd and I can actually understand why some libertarian principles might be really smart.

When he was teaching me to hold and then shoot a gun, Scott explained that breathing was really important. He was telling me to shoot on the exhale. And he was telling me how to use the sights and how to be surprised by each shot. He was telling me that if I anticipated the shot, then I would over-correct and not hit where I was aiming.

This sounds everything like ass-on-the-cushion meditation. Pay attention to your outbreath and stay in the moment. Practice when the stakes are small.

It's all so weird to me, that I would shoot a gun. I was wanting to try it because it seemed like a kitschy thing to do, but I also genuinely liked it and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Scott.

It might sound really dumb, but it took a lot of courage for me to go to the range with him. Especially once we got there because it was so loud, full of pick-up trucks, and lots of big, white, flannel-wearing men. These things tend to scare me! I wanted to bolt!

But I trusted Scott and just followed him and asked him questions. I wanted him to show me more, but I also wanted to block everything out, too (show me! No, do it for me!). After two shots, I put the gun down and almost started crying.

I didn't know where I was shooting and if I was hitting someone by me. I couldn't believe that I could shoot a gun.

Scott had patience with me and gave me a lot of my own time and space. This made me comfortable to ask him questions. I could see, too, where I was scared and how I was responding to the situation.

Just like in meditation.

And just like in meditation, I kept going. Trying to practice what someone was teaching me because a) I like this person and think s/he is smart, b) this person frustrates me and I want to know if s/he is full of shit, c) accessories are involved (camo hat; meditation rock), and d) what else do I really have to do (besides everything else)?

Meditation teachers say over and over how each breath is like a birth and a death. It's amazing how scary things can make you feel alive and how being alive can be really scary. It's amazing how what you run from can be fun and what is fun can also be bad for you. It's just all amazing!

Being Big and Small at the Same Time

In Start Where You Are, Pema Chodron writes how she was invited to speak and participate during some fancy retreat. Her teacher invited her and during the retreat she was being asked to perform some of the high-level rituals. At other times during the retreat, her teacher would have her sit in the audience and not be a part of the rituals at all.

This confused her, she says, because she didn't know whether she was an important person at the retreat or not. She said she didn't care which one she was (important or part of the crowd), but that she wanted to know what to expect.

Her teacher told her that she needed that lesson; she needed to learn how to be big and small at the same time.

This story has figured largely in my thinking over the past few weeks, especially when I was reflecting upon my role in the conference last week. Going into the conference I felt confident, thanks in a VERY LARGE part to my friends in writing group. I asked my group for some last-minute "emergency" help (I want to explain the humor in this in a bit) and right away my friends said they could meet me.

Who volunteers to read someone's academic paper? Geez, these women are great.

So they help and help and help me and I notice how my sense of self gets totally inflated by their suggestions, praise, and questions. I start to think: I AM THE NEXT SAVIOR! THE ENTIRE FIELD OF LITERARY ANALYSIS CAN LICK MY ASS FOR SAVING IT FROM THE SHITTER! I AM GOD! I AM A GENIUS! I CAN WRITE! I CAN REALLY REALLY WRITE!

I mean, this state continues for a long time. Like way over twenty-four hours.

I am challenged by these women and I am also feeling very validated by them, too. So I felt so big going into the conference.

After I delivered my paper, though, I felt so little. No one asked me a question directly about my work nor did I get a standing ovation after my talk.

Clearly, I knew then how little I was. My little paper coming from my little brain about my little concern and my little career. Tiny; it's all so tiny! So I felt so small during the conference.

And later I realized that it was good to try to be both big and small.

And even later I realized that I also needed to view each situation oppositely/similarly: I had made the conference a big production and the meeting with my writing a group the small production. What does it even mean to present a paper at a conference where others think they are big shots, too? And how much does it mean to present a paper to a friend-filled table where they think they are small beans, too?

I realized that everyone must feel like a big shot/small bean mostly all of the time. The ego that it takes to keep our various storylines in place, and the ease that it takes to slip in and out of these very same storylines--it's mind-boggling, really, how life even exists.

Here's the funny thing that I was going to explain earlier: the conference I went to was titled "States of Emergency" and in my email to my writing group, I called for an "emergency" session! In my paper I was arguing (in part) that Naomi Wolf and Thomas Paine were so uptight about the future that it caused them to panic in the present moment. Well, it caused Naomi Wolf to Panic and Thomas Paine to blame the idiots around him. Part of the point being I was so anxious about the future conference that I saw my present moment as one in conflict, in need of urgent attention.

I believe it's a fine line between seeing the present moment as one in crisis and seeing the present moment as all there really is in life. Did it take a huge fear of the future for me to reach out and connect with my friends? I know it ultimately doesn't matter, but isn't it so cool to ask "Which came first questions"? Which came first, a fear of the future or a desire to reach out to who is actually around you? Which came first, a sense of panic or a trust in the absolute absurdity of life?

Right now I really wish I was sitting with the woman who ran the Odyssey of the Mind program on eggs (when I was in the fourth grade) and the reverend who confirmed me. To that I would add my mom, Sister Ellie, my first grade teacher, and my college professors, and my sixth grade teacher, and my kindergarten teacher, and fifth grade teacher (who said she would like to see me as more of a leader). I would also add my college mentor, the director of the Women's Center as well as the women of the Longmont and Boulder County rape crisis prevention/women's shelters.

I would say: are we really really really up in arms? Or did we forget, because patriarchy/religion sucked out our creativity? Are we activists or neglected artists? Are we mad at society or are we mad at ourselves? Do we want others to listen to us or do we just want to listen to each other? How much support do we need or how well do we know that our strength comes through nurturing others?

I would just ask these questions because now I understand them a little more. I understand the things I took personally and the way I was so limited. I understand that a little better now. I understand your utter wisdom and you utter full-of-shit-ness! For that, dear teachers, I see how I can be both big and small. Oh, dear teachers; I adore you!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

"Who am I? I bet you can't even tell me that much."

I know I can't say who I am, and for once that feels so liberating and funny instead of depressing and insecure!

Today Scott is taking me out to shoot guns. And we're going to Wal-Mart first, to buy ammo (see, I call it ammo now; I'm an insider) and I also want to purchase some camo.

As an update, I take back my implied argument in the last post that I am a cat and Scott is a dog. He's artistic, too; I was just acting like a child these past few days.

That's not to beat myself up; I'm great at acting like a child!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Poem!

This was one of my favorite poems in high school. I just saw it and snatched it from Mavina's Marvels.

This is what I was trying to explain to Scott tonight, but it only sounded like, "Waah waah waah I have emotional needs [immaturity, whine, bleh]." Sometimes I speak solitary cat to packs of dogs. It's hard to communicate sometimes!

I'm just saying: I printed my artist's statement at Kinko's and tried going downtown to find a bar and to talk to people. But then I wondered if that was a bad idea, so I called Scott for confirmation and support. He agreed that was a bad idea. But I wasn't buying, completely, his argument. Was I not listening? Was I not being heard?

As we talk, a stranger comes up to the car and waves. I roll down the window. He asks for change. I say I don't have any, but that I do have an artist's statement. He asks what that is. I say it's just a paper that I've written on. He walks away. No words.

I want to know: who are the criminals and who is naive? Who is out at night and might they be more trustworthy than those out during the day? Who is crazy: the one asking for change or the one offering poetry? Neither and both: probably the most boring of all answers!

Sometimes I can't help but really think that I am seeing double to everything that happens: my view and others' views. And they don't seem to match up completely. Sometimes I think I am really strong and sometimes I think I am really weak. Sometimes I think everyone is invested in me as a way to hate themselves.

That is, I think I took some advice this semester and did grow thicker skin. I think my thicker skin is a mirror.

"Curiosity"

may have killed the cat; more likely
the cat was just unlucky, or else curious
to see what death was like, having no cause
to go on licking paws, or fathering
litter on litter of kittens, predictably.

Nevertheless, to be curious
is dangerous enough. To distrust
what is always said, what seems
to ask odd questions, interfere in dreams,
leave home, smell rats, have hunches
do not endear cats to those doggy circles
where well-smelt baskets, suitable wives, good lunches
are the order of things, and where prevails
much wagging of incurious heads and tails.

Face it. Curiosity
will not cause us to die--
only lack of it will.
Never to want to see
the other side of the hill
or that improbable country
where living is an idyll
(although a probable hell)
would kill us all.

Only the curious have, if they live, a tale
worth telling at all.

Dogs say cats love too much, are irresponsible,
are changeable, marry too many wives,
desert their children, chill all dinner tables
with tales of their nine lives.
Well, they are lucky. Let them be
nine-lived and contradictory,
curious enough to change, prepared to pay
the cat price, which is to die
and die again and again,
each time with no less pain.
A cat minority of one
is all that can be counted on
to tell the truth. And what cats have to tell
on each return from hell
is this: that dying is what the living do,
that dying is what the loving do,
and that dead dogs are those who do not know
that dying is what, to live, each has to do.

--By Alastair Reid

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Artist's Statement and the Night of No Point

OK. I have just experienced a great time with artist friends. We set out to see if we could create something pointless and then we were going to Kinko's to copy it.

One way to look at things is to see ME WORKING ALONE AND EVERYONE ACTING LIKE A PUSSY (YEAH, I SAID IT) AND DITCHING OUT AND NOT COPYING HER ART.

Or another way to look at it is that Sara's boyfriend is coming to town, Mel had to buy pumpkin pies for her dad, and Krist. wanted to go home. And so I carried on my solo project of reworking my self-portrait with pieces of old memoir and bits of shit that used to be hanging up on my walls.

And now I'm going to Kinko's, by myself, and am going to see about copying this thing. Or I am going to try and steal free copies somewhere. Either way.

Either way I'm going rogue tonight.

And if someone wants to join me, I think I will be somewhere drinking a margarita and talking to strangers tonight.

I love you!

Gather 'Round, Kids: It's Story Time!

I have so much to share and talk about! Little discontents have built up, yet most importantly, I want to talk about my trip to Canada!

Scott and I left last week, and I realized early on that I was so thankful that he was able to come with me. I try to pride myself on being independent and good-natured, but I get insecure and flustered pretty easily. It was nice to have someone to talk to and to believe that someone was watching out for me. And, you know, it was really nice to admit to myself how nice all of this was, instead of beating myself up for having emotional needs.

All of our flights went smoothly. Scott brought ear plugs for us, and sure enough, those really helped prevent tiredness. When we got to London, Ontario, I had some last-minute writing to do on my paper. I finished it up while Scott napped and we walked to Kinko's got it printed, and then went out for dinner.

We had such great food there! Well, some of it was bad, but we ate and ate and ate. The first night we had Mexican; Scott's enchiladas had a blend of spices on it that rendered them more Italian than Mexican (and, thus, were pretty gross). But my food was delicious!

The next day the conference began and by some luck I woke up without my alarm going off! There were three concurrent panels throughout the whole conference. I was first up on the first day, and the room was packed! I was nervous, but also really confident because (horrors of all horrors) I ACTUALLY LIKED WHAT I HAD BEEN WORKING ON.

As my presentation continues, I'm reading my ten-page paper, I notice that quite a few members of my audience look like they are in pain. Faces are scrunched, backs are leaning forward, and some hands are rapidly writing away. "Oh," I think, "they are interested! I am so witty and smart!" And my paper goes fine and the next two papers go fine and then it's time for questions and no one has a question for me until the very end. That question asked my opinion about the current state of conservative dissent, which was only indirectly related to my paper. I ended up talking about my unexpected connection (that of anger against the state) to teabaggers; I said, in front of an academic audience, that "I have more in common with teabaggers than I expected." And then I and everyone busted out laughing because I basically just told everyone that I like to whip my balls around.

Scott and I stayed around for other panels in the morning and then ditched out for the afternoon. We had a fabulous nap, and, in fact, we got a lot of good sleep in on the trip. Maybe that sounds lame, but I find it ideal. I hate rushing around in new places trying to see as much as possible--that just feels unfulfilling to me. So in addition to sleeping we also walked around the downtown area, which I really enjoyed. There were so many little shops and such a diverse crowd of people.

One evening we went to an antique bookstore and looked through a ton of rare books and pamphlets. It was so much fun! I got some Christmas presents for people, so I can't reveal what we saw! That night we went to the enclosed market and ate some Thai food. I didn't really care for it, but Scott liked it. We also got coffee and I made Scott go into the baby clothes store/booth with me. (Ha ha, sucker!) We went to one produce stand because Scott had the ingenious idea that adding fresh fruit to our diet could actually be beneficial.

We bought a few different items from different stands (local honey, bread, and apples; and South African oranges) and one woman, who had been working over twelve hours, asked if we were with the circus. No, we reply. Scott later asks a couple of strangers if the circus was in town and we were told that Cirque du Soleil was in town. It's right across the street, actually, so we go over to check it out. We think we'll buy tickets to see the Sunday matinee and then the next thing we know a stranger is offering us two tickets for half price because her friends couldn't make the show. So we ended up having great, cheap tickets to Cirque du Soleil completely unexpectedly!

It was a great show, and the people who sold us the tickets were really nice.

That was probably the most random thing that happened to us on the trip! We spent the rest of our time eating (pizza and wings, potato latkes, vegetarian curries) and sleeping. I saw some great panels and some not so great panels. I didn't do a lot of socializing, but I did meet a couple of really nice people. I learned a lot academically as well as relationship-wise. Overall it was pretty much a perfect trip!

Sara was so generous as to watch the cats and take care of things around my apartment for me. She even did my dishes! Coming back home made being away even better.

I just can't even believe that I have friends like Scott and Sara in my life--they are too much wonderful for me to even comprehend!

And now that I'm back home, guess what horrible thing has happened?! Yesterday my landlord came in my apartment to take pictures/show it people (since I am moving out at the end of this month) and she left my front door unlocked when she left. I was so pissed about this! And then this very morning everyone got a notice on our door saying that the water is going to be cut off at the end of the month because the landlord hasn't paid the water bill. I'm frustrated with these people because they seem so irresponsible and careless!

To continue ranting, I'm PMS-y and this week is portfolio reading (reading freshman essays). I actually love portfolio reading (this is a new development that has occurred this past semester), and yet I understand why it infuriates so many people. But I am getting infuriated with others' infuriations. It seems to me like we are all saying similar things; we all have ideas on what makes for good writing and we want to talk about it and we want to be heard and we even don't mind changing out minds. Yet somehow in the talking about it, it seems more like shouting and it seems more like closing off than opening up.

That might just be me, though. I just wish the people I worked with were happier; there's a lot of sadness and frustration in this one English department (as I'm sure there is in many places, similar to and different from this English department). There's so much to learn from each other, but I see/hear more anger than that excitement to learn.

Well, it's been nice writing for so long! I hope you're having a good day!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Talk to Me Tuesday: Sara Edition, Part II!

Sara is such a wonderful friend. She helped me immensely while I was out of town, and look--she filled out this survey again!

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. i'm a third-waver who knows and understands the first and second waves.

2. What place(s) make you feel truly alive?
eating good food with about six friends.

3. What books, music, blogs, movies, etc. would you/have you been recommending to friends?
julie and julia. zen mind, beginner's mind. rejuvenile.
theresa andersson. panda bear. joan baez. ghost of monkshood.
meditation matters. progress on the prairie. child of illusion.
whip it. frida. half-baked.

4. When was the last time you laughed really hard?
it has really been too long. and by too long, i mean like over 24 hours. although i did laugh in my head a lot earlier this evening when i was texting with my old friend christopher!

5. How are you different from who you were as a child? How are you the same?
i think i'm very similar to who i was. perhaps i'm more aware of myself now.

6. What issue(s) are you passionate about?
motherfucking equal rights. i'm a militant agnostic--i don't know and you don't either. ethical food. ethical business. sharing.

7. What have you learned about yourself within the past year?
that i can write a dissertation, kind of. that i like practicing awareness. that i still have a lot of anger. that i make a lot of decisions out of guilt, and it's okay for me to not do that.

8. What are three things you want to do in your lifetime?
be an artist, a writer, and a parent. and a teacher and a poet and an activist for civil rights and an idealist and a good friend and a seamstress. and a bus driver.

9. And: what are the top five things you most enjoy doing right now?
sleeping in. reading for pleasure. listening to albums. visiting people and animals.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

To Pack: Nerd Glasses!

It's Canada/conference time today, m'dears!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Big Buts: Venting and Encouraging

I recently had a friend who met with an advisor that told him, "You are good at abstract thinking, but I want to see you deal with the details."

This friend seemed kind of frustrated by this advice because on one hand the advisor had affirmed what he already knew about himself (that he wasn't good with the details) and minimized the very praise that he wanted to hear (that he was good at abstract thinking).

It seems to me that this minimizing came through that one word, "but." If the advisor had simply said, "You are good at abstract thinking, AND I want to see you deal with the details," then that could have both affirmed my friend and communicated the advisor's concern.

When I was first learning to grade papers, we were taught to avoid the use of the Big But because it minimizes the very thing that came before. So I've tried to be careful about using it in my written comments. It helps me notice when I'm giving more false praise so that I can soften the blow before my real critique.

When I can be genuine, though, with my advice, then it becomes easier to praise someone's real strengths (even if s/he appears to have none) and to gently offer advice on how to improve.

I say "gently" because anything harsh could turn someone off to their project. Any motivation someone might receive through harsh advice, I suspect, would just fuel their self-loathing and (fruitless) quest for perfection.

More gentle, genuine advice can happen through a simple conjunction change! More "and"s please!

Creative Exercise: A Conversation Between Hands

I read this one in O, The Oprah Magazine, tried it myself, and then gave it to my students to do.

Give yourself at least five minutes, and grab paper and something to write with. Using your dominant hand first, have your hand write a question to your other hand. Then switch to writing with that other hand (your non-dominant hand) and answer that question. Then pose that first hand another question.

You can talk about anything; just try to get the left and right sides talking to each other.

This exercise surprised me in terms of discovering how I really felt. It helped calm me down, too. It seemed to perk up my students, who were running on depleted energy stores yesterday.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Talk to Me Tuesday: Mister and Magoo Edition!

This week's Talk to Me Tuesday comes from my parents' dogs! (Thanks, Mom and Dad, for indulging me!)

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?

Mister: I am not a feminist. Males rule, me expecially, and don't you forget it!

Magoo: I'm not a feminist. I try not to take sides on any issue. I just want everyone to love me.

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

Mister: I am truly alive in the backyard guarding the neighborhood. I don't allow the neighbors to even talk in their backyards without my letting them know that I know they are there. Sometimes I have to "yell" at their pets in order to make sure everyone knows who's in charge!

Magoo: It's not a place, but I love to be out in the rain! And sleeping on Mom & Dad's bed.

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

Mister: Books, Music, Blogs, Movies? Friends? All I know is when the TV goes off I move from sleeping under Mom's rocker to sleeping under the settee downstairs.

Magoo: Can't say I've ever read anything and I'm not allowed out to go to movies or concerts.

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

Mister: This was a couple of weeks ago. Mom wanted me to take a bath, so I would walk into the bathroom and she'd try to pick me up and I'd wiggle out of her arms. Then I'd crouch in the hallway to see which direction she went. Mom doesn't move like she used to!

Magoo: I love to scare Mister! You just walk like normal towards him and then at about 3-4 feet away you do a stiff legged hop a couple of times--scares him every time!

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

Mister: When I was a child I had more patience, or maybe people moved faster. Now I find myself having to stick my head through the dog door when Mom & Dad come home to see if they are coming into the house yet. As for the same I still love to snuggle between Mom & Dad in bed. I'm not sure how I've survived so many winters as I love to be warm & toasty.

Magoo: I'm starting to get more self-confidence. When I want attention I ask for it! When I want to play I ask everyone if they want to play--I even bring my own toy! I don't let Mister rule so much, although I still have to act submissive so as not to upset him, as he's old. That's how I am the same; I am still
submissive and very loveable!

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

Mister: I am passionate about ruling and making sure everyone is doing what I want.

Magoo: I am passionate about squirrels! They have to stay out of my yard and I am ready to make sure they do.

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

Mister: Nothing! I already know everything and have for many years now. In fact, I can't remember not knowing.

Magoo: I have learned how to embrace my being submissive. Mister does all of the work with the treat jar and I just show up for the snack!

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

Mister: I'd like to whip Brandy's butt for tearing a chunk out of my ear, but on second thought maybe not because my ear
makes me look tougher. I want to lick Baby Mary's face! I want to rid the world (or at least my section of it) of squirrels and bothersome (any) neighbors.

Magoo: I pretty much have done all that I can think of. I would like to find out how to control my tail, sometimes I hit stuff with it and scare myself. I would like Mom & Dad to go back to cloth couches so I can sleep on them--I slide on leather. My other accomplishment is that whomever I meet takes part of me away with them; I shed 12 months out of the year--nice, long, visible hair!

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

Mister: I love sleeping on Mom & Dad's bed.
I love sharing peanuts with Dad.
I love the hair dryer--instant warmth who'd have thunk it!
I love standing in the middle of the backyard and announcing to the world, "Here I am!! Come and get me!" So far no one's been brave enough to jump the fence.
I love "smacking" down Magoo.

Magoo: I love chasing squirrels.
I love scaring Mister.
I love convincing Grandpa it's "Time for Goodies".
I love sitting on laps.
I love "talking" with Mom & Dad when they get home.


Mister and Magoo


Magoo and Mister

Monday, November 9, 2009

Anger and Noticing

I think I'm getting some more insight into anger, as I explore it in my own life and circumstances. This morning I am working on my conference paper (to be presented this Friday!) and thinking about political activism. The bumper sticker, "If you aren't outraged, then you aren't paying attention" has come to my mind and has been floating around there.

I used to love this bumper sticker--it said exactly what I believed. I had all kinds of anger regarding injustices of all sorts.

I had an experience of feeling angry on a personal scale yesterday and this morning. When I was writing my morning pages, Miss Anger came out and demanded to know how on earth I expected things to change if I didn't listen to her and let her voice her opinion!

I think a lot of our anger seems justified because we can rationalize it and point to evidence. But I'm noticing that when you do pay attention, then there is a lot of pain going on behind anger, too. Anger comes up and it seems so real, immediate, and rational (to some extent)--it seems justified. Yet it also works as a mask that covers up our sense of isolation and our desire to belong to a community.

In many ways, I think, political activism creates that sense of community, yet I would question the bonds of a community that rely heavily upon shared pain and anger. I think these bonds would prevent any individual from getting to know him/herself, which I do think is the ultimate goal of our lives. (Perhaps there's room there for me to investigate that belief.)

I think that's why groups can have a difficult time accepting when members change. If a bond has been formed over shared anger and outrage, then what does it mean to the group when that anger and outrage begins to wane?

I do not believe that there is a simple relationship between outrage and false consciousness. (I cannot really articulate that belief further, though; that's just where it is for today!)

Anne Sexton's Birthday

I admire Anne Sexton for her audacity and courage--her pursuit of finding meaning in a confusing, depressed, world. She was born on this day in 1928. I have posted positive poems from Sexton, and today I want to post "The Abortion."


The Abortion
Somebody who should have been born
is gone.

Just as the earth puckered its mouth,
each bud puffing out from its knot,
I changed my shoes, and then drove south.

Up past the Blue Mountains, where
Pennsylvania humps on endlessly,
wearing, like a crayoned cat, its green hair,

its roads sunken in like a gray washboard;
where, in truth, the ground cracks evilly,
a dark socket from which the coal has poured,


Somebody who should have been born
is gone.

the grass as bristly and stout as chives,
and me wondering when the ground would break,
and me wondering how anything fragile survives;

up in Pennsylvania, I met a little man,
not Rumpelstiltskin, at all, at all...
he took the fullness that love began.

Returning north, even the sky grew thin
like a high window looking nowhere.
The road was as flat as a sheet of tin.

Somebody who should have been born
is gone.

Yes, woman, such logic will lead
to loss without death. Or say what you meant,
you coward...this baby that I bleed.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

"What Will I Think of Next?"

I've been listening to Ani DiFranco's "Untouchable Face" this weekend. I used to listen to it with a suffocating air of longing, and now I think it has a sense of humor to it, especially when she sings, "I see you and I'm so perplexed. What was I thinking? What will I think of next? Where can I hide?"

I am really interested in cultivating a sense of curiosity. And I am especially interested in the relationship between curiosity and greed. Maybe curiosity is greed with a sense of humor?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Impostor Syndrome, Change, Running Away

Many different threads of thinking have been coming together for me primarily because I've been caught up in thoughts of the past and haven't been able to accept what I have been thinking and feeling.

Last night I asked myself, "Why can't I feel peace about the fact that I'm missing so-and-so?" And then I felt peace. And then I did some writing, and I realized that one of my deep fears is that if I change, then I will be unloveable.

I share this because I think it is connected to the way a lot of people act, and I'm interested in gently exploring this fear; perhaps if we can break it down, we can see that it doesn't need to have so much power over us?!

I am one who can deal with a fairly large amount of conflict before I just want to run away and start over again. I get sucked into different ideas and groups and systems pretty easily. When I think I've figured something out, then I want to go and figure something else out. I've lived in different states (all the time zones in the US, except for that one way out in Maine), I have degrees in physics and English, I have been a feminist activist, I have been active in church, I have been an atheist, I have meditated, I have been married and divorced, I have hated things that I once loved and loved things that I once hated.

In all of this I have tried to find a common thread, and that common thread was always so negative. Last night I wrote that I had been defining myself by the things that I had dropped, my droppings, my shit. Instead of valuing the things I have tried, I have cast them in the worst light possible.

It becomes no wonder, then, that I feel like an impostor. In any given situation I can believe, "This is not the full me. The full me also enjoys the exact opposite activity of what I'm doing now." I won't let myself get completely comfortable because I am afraid of being found out. I am afraid that I can't show all my sides. I am afraid that if I change, then someone will get mad at me.

So I don't get too close and I keep my distances; I can go far in understanding and listening, but there is always something I hold back. I used to think I was holding back to others, but now I know I have been holding back myself from myself.

It's a combination of things--mostly involving people-pleasing and learning to be the greatest actress. I've been keeping a mask over different parts of myself in order to try to make myself understandable to everyone else.

I am easing up on my sense of responsibility for other people's ability to understand. It's weird to be a teacher in that sense; I want to teach, but I simply can't communicate what others aren't ready for, and vice versa.

This is very, very strange to me! I wonder what will happen next (in my thinking, in my actions, in my teaching, in my loving)!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Lighten Up

That's the advice I'm getting from reading Pema Chodron right now; lighten up.

I rather like it.

To that end, I've decided to not be hard on myself when I do not go to yoga class tonight. Lighten up!

Arcing Towards Positivity

A few strands of thinking are converging in my brain, and I can either get them out as a list (boring) or as stream of consciousness writing (fun, but usually unintelligible (like unintelligible is a bad thing)). Stream of consciousness-ish writing:

I watched Pollyanna last week because Mom told me a couple months earlier that the thing that's wrong with me is I believe everyone can and should get along. The thing that's wrong with me is that I am Pollyanna. Naive and annoyingly optimistic. Grating. Blind to pain. Always wanting people to act the way I would want them to act. Insistent on my own way. Wound up too tightly.

So I rewatched Pollyanna and I didn't realize how much of it I had internalized. I didn't realize how I had certain parts memorized. I didn't realize what an impact that movie really had on me.

As much as I want to be a hard-assed realist, I just don't believe that it's the way to go. For me. Right now. And I still believe that there's room to increase our positivity in everyday life. Like Pollyanna. She thought she was so smart and sneaky, but everyone could see through her. Which is to say, she's hiding in the plant in the parlor listening to the town squabble because she wants to know what the tension is about even though she shouldn't be around. She is noticed by the doctor, the lone, rational, handsome man.

Is this sexism at work? Sure.

But isn't there also some truth?

Isn't it true that there is truth in stereotypes just as much as there is harm? Isn't it true that we ask too much of each other? Of ourselves?

Pollyanna brings people together who had been separate. And she gets genuinely angry at those who continually minimize her and try to shut her up. When she has her accident, she no longer wants to play The Glad Game. She says she never believed in it. But the town won't let her not play.

This is a similar situation to the role of sentimentalism in abolitionist work. Recent debate is over whether sentimentalism is good or bad, whether it perform real social change or not. Marion Woodman argues that we need to reclaim our feminine principle. English students are taught to deconstruct binaries. What is performed and what is biological? What is change and what is resistance?

Where does the bad go once it is acknowledged? Will it continually come back? It does take the same amount of energy to see the negative as it does to the see the positive. Seeing the positive has been associated, for too long, as being naive or false or fake or forced.

Psychology Today writes that strong relationships are ones where you idealize your partner and emphasize the positive, rather than avoiding the negative, interactions.

I've cultivated so much resistance, so much ill will, towards institutions. I go into avoidance mode. My heart hardens and I become defined by the things I do not like. In the midst of this I have been blind to what I do like. I minimize or am completely blind to my strengths. I become seriousface when I freak out, and freaking out happens all the time. Is there anything that is off-limits once I start to worry? No, nothing is off-limits: people and abilities filter in and I think I am no good. I gravitate toward the negative--that's been a habit.

And now I think this: I think it is no coincidence that John Lennon's "Instant Karma" is playing right now on Pandora. I think it is no coincidence. But how could it be a coincidence? I turned on Pandora. I created the station.

I think this is perfection, and I think I needed to be reminded of this perfection. Because sometimes it gets hard. Sometimes you are the Talking Head's song and you are saying "this is not my beautiful wife" and the gears slip and you don't know where you're at. Your sitting at the blinking red light that's gone out at Harvard and 51st and it's making crossing town approximately four times longer than usual. The blinking the stopping the lurching the watching others' every moves. Trying to smile because wouldn't you rather see someone smile while things are so frustrating and there's nothing you can do about it? In this moment you are forcing a smile because it's the least you can do and it feels so minimal and fake. In this moment you know no one is even looking at you. In this moment, though, you see how needed the stop light is and how one thing can halt people in myriad directions. When things fall apart when your beautiful wife is not your beautiful wife when your stop light will simply not go to green like you want it to when you trip in your new shoes when you realize you have probably been talking to an empty auditorium when you thought you had a rapt audience when this happens, then you see the system. You see how institutions help. You see how they work. You see the order. The very things you hate you can see how they help. When you remember to have a laugh with your girlfriends, this is what helps. When you realize you need to arc towards positivity to reinforce any damn little thing that's good, this is what helps.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Creationists

All of a sudden I feel worried about creationists; how can they really believe the Earth is 6000 years old? I know they are serious, but sometimes I wonder if they are actually a type of postmodern joke--like they are getting the world to think absurdly and question what we take to be fact.

Sometimes the religious right seems like a great work of performance art, you know? I'd be interested in trying to talk to someone who really believes in the new earth concept.

Update: Bad Art

Just as a little update, I tried the bad art exercise on Saturday. I wore a horrible outfit and traveled in it. I combined colors that didn't match and jewelry that didn't match. I felt absolutely horrible in this outfit! I did not think I was funny, and it was a blow to my self-esteem! It made me not want to talk to strangers, but to just go about my business solitarily and without drawing attention to myself.

I'm glad I tried it, but it was pretty awful!

Update: My Fake Acceptance Speech

So last night I gave myself some intricate, invented award and stood in front of all my admiring fans (a living room full of books, paper, and afghans) to give an acceptance speech. I actually got a little embarrassed and felt like a supreme dork, despite the fact that I usually act like a supreme dork and seem to be ok with that fact.

Surprisingly, though, I really liked my speech, and I want to share it. I began with something about how I was so flattered and then I talked about hero worship in our society and how detrimental it is. "So," I said, "whatever good you see in me, let it just be a reflection of your own good. And whatever bad you see in me, let that be my own thing to work on. I will work on it. Thank you."

Then I started to walk off stage only to return to the mike to say, "So eat shit."

I laughed at myself because that pretty much epitomizes me when I am all approval-seeking. I want recognition, yet I also believe that's just a product of living in such a competitive society. So I battle with myself; I want praise and attention, yet when I get it, I defer to others who are just as and even more-so deserving, only to end by praising myself for such deflection.

All of this comes to the surface in a completely fabricated situation! I guess my response is a product of binary thinking and competition. I used to believe that when it came to games it was either win or lose. Then I became more cynical and thought that either you were playing the game or your weren't; and I simply didn't want to play anymore. So now it's like I want to win at not playing--which means I'm still playing! (So I lose!)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Time for a Fake Acceptance Speech?

I have been so down on myself today; all the negative self-talk is in full volume! I have been saying, "No, I don't think that's the problem" to everything that comes up. This strategy helps. And I'm inviting all these nasty voices to sit at my (metaphorical) table with me. This strategy helps, too.

But, I do want it all to go away! I want to feel completely confident and fabulous and smart and pretty and . . .

To that end, I think I'm going to try giving an acceptance speech. I heard this idea from Michael once, and it sounds like a lot of fun.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Creative Exercise #3: Take the Long Way Home

Ok, darlin's, I hate a change in routine as much as anyone. I like to plan deviations from routine. And then not follow through with those plans, but to stick with the routine.

For this exercise, we're going to see how to get home a different way. Doesn't that sound horrifying and delightful?!

(The scale for this one is pretty large today, but I am also going to try it on a small scale later in the week.)