Monday, September 27, 2010

GUITAR!

I played one, no two!, guitars tonight! Thanks to my friend, Ryan, who has supreme patience and the horrible judgment to work in exchange for my cooking. Artists do not dwell in the land of common sense, though, I'm learning . . .

Anyway, I am very excited. I can't even describe all the things running through my brain right now. Like how much fun it is to try something I've always wanted to do, but gave up on in high school (when I only learned the B and the A chords because they were the first letters of two boys I liked). Or like how cool it is to pay attention to the tiniest of distances between my finger pad and a string, or between a string and string. Or how when Ryan says that you only need four chords to make a song, but that it doesn't really matter because the only thing about song that does matter is how an individual puts it together and makes it her own.

And it's very awesome that I was in a FOUL mood yesterday and that I didn't give up (because it doesn't matter how many times you fall down . . . it only matters how many times you get up. (Y = X +1, where Y is the number of times getting up and X is the number of times falling down.) and look! today!:

Today I got new tires on my car, which apparently does not need a new wheel bearing (it just needed an alignment and some tires that did not reveal their inner threading) and I got to play the guitar! Suck my dick, yesterday! I love today better!

(Oh my! I can't end on that note because yesterday wasn't completely horrible! I'm getting to see my friend one step and one step and one step closer to getting her children's book published!! And I got to catch up with my old friends and dear former neighbors. Yesterday, you were pretty neat in your own right!)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Music Makes Everything Better

Beamy mentioned the movie Crazy Heart the other day which reminded me of how much I love the movie and its soundtrack. I've been listening to it nonstop.

And soon (as in many many years from now), I, too, will be able to play emotionally raw ballads--I begin guitar lessons next week! Which means a friend has agreed to teach me, and hopefully I won't scare him away (fingers crossed!).

Welcoming the Chaos

It occurs to me this morning that, as one of my most troublesome 7th graders said, "We aren't going to change overnight." So I realize that I would be better suited to just welcome all the challenges of each day and every situation. To realize that I don't actually know anything and to not just go through the motions of things, but to at least make it through whatever it is that is in store. I hate doing things when I don't know how they are going to turn out; I hate still doing things when I think I'm doing them badly. But, as the ol' Sister Ellie adage goes, "Anything worth doing is worth doing badly."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Vulvability

It's like this: it's so hard to be open and vulnerable in a relationship, especially when you have Ye Olde People-Pleasing Tendency. And when you have Ye Olde Control Freak Tendency. And when you have a history of kicking ass with no man ever even knowing how good he had it while he was with you. (That last one is a little harder to write out as a Ye Olde Tendency. Maybe it's Ye Olde Picking Loveable Yet Inadequate Partners Tendency.)

It's like this: what does it mean to have emotional needs and does that mean that one might then (horror of horrors) need a man? "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle," but what if the fish just really really really wanted a bicycle . . .? When does a want become a need? And when does needing someone become a bad thing? (And that's not really my question.) Is it possible to know yourself well enough to know that having a partner is one of the things you need?

I don't know any of this! I've been trying to put men through their paces, but I think I just end up sleeping with them . . . or getting really really close. And while I'm busy trying to control the way a relationship may go, I end up blocking myself and I become vapid. A blank slate. Totally uninteresting.

I keep myself in my sadness--I noticed this today! I also noticed, though, that I can't avoid my sadness and that I have every right to it and that it's ok to invite it in and it's ok to cry. It's hard, though, to let all of that be ok! I was upset because school was on the order of HORRIBLE today, and only for little reasons. But I was crying and after a while, my mind went back to the fire, and I realized I wasn't sad about the fire. But I still felt stupid for crying and I wanted a better reason to cry--I realized, eventually, that I didn't need a catastrophe to justify my sadness. I was just upset, and I needed to let it out.

I'm not used to letting it be ok like that. I'm not used to feeling so lucky and grateful while still feeling sad and sensitive.

I don't even know the point of this entry anymore! I don't even think I agree with anything that I've already written! I know that there is something going on and I think it has to do with getting out of my head. And it has to do with intimacy. And it has to do with ending the cycle of sadness. And it has to do with expressing my emotions . . . at the very least I have to feel comfortable in expressing them to myself.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Everything Disconnected!

For this post, I'm just practicing some writing. I haven't written much these past few days, and I feel really out of it. I'm trying to get back in the habit of writing my morning pages. I've been doing a good job with those, yet they take me forever to write--annoying.

I'm totally baffled as to what makes a good teacher, so I've decided that a good teacher is probably one who is in a good mood. That, then, has become my first rule of my teaching practice. Beamy told me about a book Teach for America has published; it is something about how teachers are leaders.

And I have learned, of late, that I am not a leader. My fifth grade teacher wanted me to be more of a leader, and I've tried, but something about being in charge of things makes me anxious. I hate that kind of responsibility; even though I can act like a leader and a teacher, it is just not my preferred state of being.

I am more relational, and I thrive in relationships. Yet I find myself at the start of a new relationship, and I feel all kinds of anxiety! Sister Ellie has a quote on Meditation Matters that has been in my mind:

Because we do not know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well and yet everything happens only a certain number of times - and a very small number really. How many times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, an afternoon that is so deeply a part of your life that you can't even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more? Perhaps not even that. How many times will you watch the full moon rise, perhaps twenty, and yet it all seems so limitless…
--Paul Bowles


I wonder how many more times I'll fall in love with a man; I wonder how many more times I even want to fall in love! I wonder if it's even a choice.

But those aren't even really the questions on my mind. There are many things I wonder about, yet I'm not sure how to articulate them.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Updates!

1. My friend raised $450 for her cause of suicide awareness--this was $200 more than her goal!! Hooray for friends doing the important work of raising awareness, and standing for something larger than themselves. Hooray for good causes!

2. My dad sent me a link to one of Colorado's former senators, Dorothy Rupert, who has been an advocate against female genital mutilation. I'm not familiar with her work or legislation, but when Dada sent this, I thought, "Hooray for women still kicking ass, even in their 80s." Thank goodness for both dads and older feminists!!

3. My dear friend, Vicki, gave an awesome talk last night at Ignite Tulsa, an event where many speakers give five-minute talks using twenty slides. Vicki was composed, her pacing remarkable, and her message valuable: don't overlook life's small adventures and be intentionally grateful. If you're doing so, then read her blog, Queen of Small Adventures!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Kids Are Fabulous, It Turns Out!

Today was the Eid party at school. We had last week off, and tomorrow classes begin again. I got to school today and was saying hi to my students when the sixth grade girls said, "Teacher Courtney is here!" and we hugged. MY HEART MELTED, I swear! For all the whining I've done about students, I did start to miss them last week. And yesterday I was excited to go back to school. And today was all inflatable obstacle courses and stuff, capture the flag, and hide-and-go-seek--it was so nice to be back at school. I feel so humbled to have this job.

Monday, September 13, 2010

"Wouldn't it Be Nice"

Here's a link to a YouTube video of The Beach Boys' "Wouldn't it Be Nice." I just heard the song on Pandora and I wanted to share!

(Also hidden in this post is my surprise at not liking Tom Waits' Bone Machine. I am so uncool to myself! I mean, how boring of me!)

Quote on Kindness

I stole this from Sister Ellie's blog, Meditation Matters. I think it's so important:

Kindness is not without its rocks ahead. People are apt to put it down to an easy temper and seldom recognize it as the secret striving of a generous nature; whilst, on the other hand, the ill-natured get credit for all the evil they refrain from.

- Honoré de Balzac

Lately I found myself inspired by one friend in particular, who I believe embodies this quote. For some reason, when I'm cranky, I believe that things are just harder for me than for others. Yet when I'm around my friend, I see how things have been difficult for her, and yet she remains kind and friendly. It's so hard to do that!

And here's a shout-out to the rest of my friends and family members who are also so kind and generous! Much love to everyone today (especially as Eid ul-Fitr begins!).

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Which First: Boys or Writing?

Ok, it'll be boys: here's the update. It turns out that I am completely sentimental and really just want to find my soulmate. And I really believe he's out there. (And if I'm dating him right now, then that will save a shit-ton of time.) (But if I'm not dating him right now, then I know I'm just closer to finding him. So it's no skin off my nose, so to speak.) Anyway, this is just my big declaration that I don't mind using terms like, "the one" and "soulmate" anymore.

Probably not 'fessing up to my sentimentality has been WHAT HAS BEEN KEEPING ME FAT. Good god, you know. I mean, who knows? I just know something isn't running on an even keel, and I'm pretty sure it has a lot to do with how unattractive I feel and how difficult it is for me to discern why men are interested in me. Sex? Intellect? Blazing wit? I can't reconcile that I am all of my things at once (body, mind, emotions, spirit, and whatever else). It's not really any of my business why someone would be interested in me because I can only judge by what I feel. The point here was that being with someone, physically, is just totally scary to me right now. And it's scary because, again, it's hard to know what someone's intentions are. And it's hard to know what someone's intentions are because, somehow, SOME BITCH LEAKED THE MANUAL AND MEN ARE NOW SAYING ALL THE RIGHT THINGS.

And they are doing the right things, too.*

This is not the world I know.

Anyway.

As far as writing goes, I realize how much I love it! My almost-two-week writing block ended yesterday, and I have continued a new work that I am loving. So two parts of me are going: the writer/producer of words and the critic. I have to let the critic come out just a little bit in order to guide where I'm going. And the producer is learning to understand the critic and keep writing anyway. And the critic is becoming more understanding, too, and isn't expecting something finished when it has barely even begun.

What is happening is that I'm learning my process and doing what works for me. All of the stuff that isn't working is simply going. Some fall cleaning, I suppose.

I realized yesterday that as a writer, I am totally boring, but that when I'm in my element, I want all sorts of attention. I usually try to make myself interesting in order to get attention; it usually involves some kind of art project and an adventure to some place to talk to strangers. Or it involves smoking a cigarette--whatever. There is nothing interesting about my writer life: camping out on the floor with the laptop, drinking coffee, and listening to the Rolling Stones over and over. Nothing interesting, that is, unless you are me and those are things you love to do! So I think I'm learning to stop doing things that may cause other people to worry about me and then to rescue me, and to really put my heart into being the boring person that I am, that I was meant to be. (See--boring people have awkward sentence structure! I LOVE THAT ABOUT THEM!)

*Caveat: Men are doing the right things except when they are doing the wrong things. Oh, does this sound too much like a false dualism? Well, I had an epiphany this weekend that I am actually so many shades of grey that when I put things in black and white, I'm right. And I'm right until I'm wrong. So I'm over trying not to be a dichotomizing thinker.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Taking Us Back to the Heyday of this Blog

Does anyone else remember a simpler era when this blog was just used as a way for me to rant about men? Oh, halycon days!

I'm not really sure how much more dating I can do; men have a bevy of issues and it's totally overwhelming.

From my perspective it's a lot of this: "I'm this kind of person. This has happened to me. And it is what it is." Until some time passes and "It is what it is" turns into "This is totally unresolved for me and I am deeply sad" where being sad also means being angry.

The scripts we each carry around for ourselves get so heavy! (And I'm tired of carrying the sad ones around.)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Mary Oliver's Birthday

I just read on the Monkey Mind blog that today is Mary Oliver's birthday--hooray! It turns out she has a new book, Evidence, coming out on September 14.

Here's a poem from Evidence that Amazon.com let me read (for free):

"Li Po and the Moon"

There is the story of the old Chinese poet:
at night in his boat he went drinking and dreaming and singing

then drowned as he reached for the moon's reflection.
Well, probably each of us, at some time, has been as desperate.

Not the moon, though.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Happiness

I've done a lot of thinking lately about anger and venting. I've had occasion this week, my week off, to do a lot of venting and processing. I've felt that this is the first time in a month where I've been able to come up for some air. And I've been disappointed in myself for how grumpy and negative I've been feeling. The other days I was in tears because I knew I was blocking myself and that I needed to forgive myself (for nothing in particular, but just for always expecting more from myself than I am able to be). I cried that one out, but still felt bitchy. So I vented to girlfriends and proceeded to immerse myself in some grand stories of self-pity. When I'm cranky, I'm just never sure what to do--share and risk bringing others down? Share and risk sounding even bitchier than I actually am?! Don't share . . . and watch the bitchiness passive-aggressively creep out?

Anyway. This morning, during the hour and half that I snoozed my alarm, a thought entered my head. Now my alarm-snoozing wakefulness is usually the time of day when I do my best thinking. In such a state, in college, I would solve physics problems using some creative math. . . only to wake up and realize that I had been adding. Yesterday morning I had an elaborate theory worked out between the names Elizabeth and Elspeth--something that they were both related to the tower of Babel and the number of kids women had during the Renaissance. I'm just trying to set the stage that my early morning thoughts are wonderful places of new ideas that make absolute sense only until I wake up.

This morning, though, I had a gem. I realized that kids didn't need to be around such grown-up issues as self-doubt and insecurity. And on the way back to bed (from walking across the dining room, where the alarm clock is), I said that I don't need to be around such adult issues, either.

I've been very worried lately that I am simply not living up to my potential and that, out of all the things that I know, that I could be changing the world, but am not.

I had to let that go today. A friend gave me a lecture series from Wayne Dyer, who talks about the power of potential. I started listening to his lectures today, and I found myself really thinking about the concept of surrender. What is the nature of surrender? What can we control? And what have I been attracting to my life lately--what stories about myself have I been believing?

I don't care, actually, I discovered! I just know that today I started feeling a lot less angry and cranky. I had a couple of things happen today that were really wonderful. And I kept thinking back to Dyer's lecture and the idea that we just align ourselves with what is already at work in our lives--that we surrender to what is.

I have been laughing all afternoon and night, and it feels so good! I was driving home tonight and I realized, I am happy! I have something other than anger to blab on about! And then the Michael Buble song came on that I like and then Smash Mouth's "All Star" came on, and damn if I didn't sing along. I am always afraid that happiness just sounds saccharine, but it feels so much better than anger, and it is a true victory when it does come around. All the anger and stuff is just a reminder of how off-course we can get. Feeling that is a nice reminder for me that something in my thinking and way of being is off, and that I can change my outlook and find my way back to happiness.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Not Kidding

My theme song since 2006 (and goin' strong today).

"One More Forbidden Phrase"

I just read the following:

by David Christiansen:
I’m talking about admitting that you are angry. It’s not cool in a professional setting to say something along the lines of “this is really starting to piss me off.” People don’t like that. And they will never admit they are mad, even if their shouts can be heard to buildings over. Try this sometimes, just to prove this point. Next time someone behaves in a way that the average rational person will associate with anger, say this: “I’m sorry that I’m making you angry.” What’s the first thing they’ll say?

“I’m not angry. It’s just that you…” insert blame statement here.

This is so flipping unhealthy. It’s much better to just tell the truth! If something makes you angry, admit it. You don’t have to be mean about it, and it won’t help if you associate feeling angry with being right, because, trust me, one doesn’t equal the other. Usually, anger is a response your body produces to a situation that feels dangerous to you. It doesn’t even mean the other person has done anything wrong, but for some reason whatever situation you’ve found yourself in is threatening to you. Probably not in a physically violent way though. Most often, anger means that your social status is being threatened. Maybe you think someone is making you look like an idiot, or maybe their decisions are making it harder for you to be successful or usurping your authority.

Here’s a speaking pattern I recommend you try when you’re angry. Don’t do it unless you can do it honestly though, because then instead of being just angry you’ll also be duplicitous AND mad, which is even worse. Mad liars are big trouble. Here’s what I recommend you try. Say it to yourself before you say it out loud, just to make sure it feels true.

“Something about this situation is making me feel angry. Maybe it’s not right for me to be angry about anything, but at the moment I can’t really help it.”

Then talk about the behavior that is making you feel angry. Or simply ask to drop the subject and come back to it later. Either way, it’s a lot healthier than ignoring the way you feel.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Jay-Z and I Have So Much In Common

I'm not sure where I've been since 2004, but I just finally heard this song today on the radio. I didn't realize it was Jay-Z when I was listening to it--I thought it was some new artist, and I was thinking, "Geez, I really need to get caught up on my rap."

About the last 1/3 of the song takes a weird musical turn, I think, but I'm pretty much in love with this song. And it's so optimistic: "I got 99 problems, but a bitch ain't one." Amen!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My Plan to Shame and Humiliate: Thwarted

The 7th grade had a meltdown today in my class. To rectify this, tomorrow I was going to review our class rules and then lay on some religious guilt. I was planning to quote from the Qu'ran: "Allah does not wish to lighten your difficulties: for man was created weak."

Only the quote is that Allah does wish to lighten your difficulties. Damn it!

I was going to be all, "Oh no you didn't, 7th graders! And don't even think I don't read the Qu'ran (in hopes of finding ways to shame you into behaving)! You are weak! Life is hard! And now find the simple subject and simple predicate in that verse! [Allah; does wish]"

But now all I have is nothin'!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

"Mind Over Matter"

Eee gads, I will admit (or have I already admitted?) that I am reading Twilight. At first I thought, "This ain't so bad." And now I'm thinking, "THIS BOOK IS HORRIBLE!" But I'm still reading it. Last night I discover that it's ok for Edward, the vampire, to be around Bella, the human, as long as he puts "mind over matter." The story is totally perverse: he could kill her at any moment, partly just because he has supernatural strength and agility, and she doesn't care. And he cares that she doesn't care, but he doesn't care enough to not endanger her.

Uh. Unsettling!

And the prose is unsettling, too. It hits way too close to home in the sense that I understand, sometimes, exactly what Bella is saying/thinking and then other times I think I'm reading absolute babble--as in words thrown together randomly. And I can't help but recognize that as my own style of writing/thinking . . . annoying!

But as far as mind over matter goes, I'm thinking that there are some important points to that. Namely, I'd like to put my mind to use in figuring out how to become an effective teacher. I just picked up the recommended text for first time teachers: Harry Wong and Rosalie T. Wong's The First Days of School. Basically, to be a good teacher, you have to be open to learning. And, ugh, who likes to learn? And who likes to listen? Not this girl.

I just like knowing and being bossy. But it's really making me anxious, which is how I know something needs to give.

The first period with the 7th graders went fairly horribly today, so in my planning period, I looked up some more classroom management strategies. I read from a couple of sources that it's best to be positive and call out people who are doing the right thing. So I employed this strategy during our second period together. The atmosphere in the classroom was louder, but I believed I had their attention (and they weren't as bitchy as they were during the first period). And I wasn't as bitchy, either.

I keep getting stuck, I think, because I'm reacting to bad behavior as opposed to keeping things in class moving forward.

Thankfully, this teaching thing does not lend itself easily to other aspects of my life. It's not like I need to keep moving forward in--instead of reacting to--aspects of, say, my dating life. Or my perception of my mental, physical, or spiritual health.

My Freewill Astrology by Rob Breznsy says that I need some "sexual healing," a la Marvin Gaye. I find this totally fascinating because just the other day I realized that there is no issue that a little crying and a little masturbating can't work out. Take that one to the bank! And let the healing commence!