Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Like an Albatross

Last month, for Emily's birthday, I wrote her a song. She says she liked it, that it rivaled her girlfriend's gift to her (which was a very expensive long weekend in New York). Just now, I was thinking about it, and I wondered if she'd written an entry about it in her old LiveJournal that I always forget to check.

Turns out, about a year ago, she posted in her LiveJournal about how she's now posting in a wordpress: I think it was about six posts ago now that I pointed out how I feel inferior to wordpress users, but I'll say this: Emily has jumped around to, like...four different blogging/journal sites since high school? I've written a few others here and there, for different purposes, but I've stayed loyal to this site. I like that.

I like to think that me and this blog have a relationship the way I have relationships with so many of my friends: maybe those relationships don't always get tended to, but they've lasted, nevertheless. Through the good, the bad, the sometimes years of neglect. They're still strong and meaningful today.

It's a sticky wicket, though, to figure out if that's really true.

In some cases, it's demonstrably not. People who my communication has fallen totally off with, to the point that I've even deleted them from my Facebook wall, or vice-versa. (It's so weird how this totally modern invention, this website that I barely even visit anymore, has become, somehow, the bottom line of whether the bonds of friendship are still at all intact.) 

But then there are people like Jeremey and Elorza, both of whom with I have 15+ years of friendship, and both of whom I feel like there's been an understanding, in the past, that that's not really going anywhere, even if we don't talk for months.

Jeremey, right now, I feel pretty confident about. He will still occasionally text me, apropos of nothing on my end, with some incredulous rant about a Buffy the Vampire scene. Or he'll stick a song lyric on my wall. I told him that I was pregnant about 6 or 7 months in and invited him to come meet the baby, and he did, a few days after Ezra was born. All in all, I think it's solid. I'm sure whichever one of us dies first, the other will manage to be at their funeral. To make some kind of snarky eulogy.

Elorza, I don't feel so clear on. The last time we exchanged any back and forth at all was the day Ezra was born, I think. I texted asking if I had the right number, and he emphatically texted back that I did-- even without my identifying myself or specifying that I was looking for him-- and that he had seen pictures of the baby on Facebook and..."congratubabylations!!!!" was the exact word.

Oh, and apparently he wished me a happy mother's day. So THAT was the last time we talked.

Two days ago was his birthday. I knew it was his birthday because, you know, we've known each other for 15 years. I didn't have to wait for Facebook to remind me-- except I wasn't completely, 100% sure. So I puttered around for a while without texting him. Then later, I noticed on Facebook that he was thanking everyone for the birthday wishes. Somehow, that took the wind out of my sails.

I find the Facebook birthday thing kind of frustrating. By and large, I know my friend's birthdays. I don't need the reminder. But since I HAVE the reminder, I have no way of really being distinct from the pack of people who respond to every single birthday that comes up on their newsfeed with some generic wishes.

This year, I took my birthday off of Facebook about a month before it hit. To, you know. Give the real friends a fighting chance. I don't really have a lot of use for birthday wishes from someone I was in a play with in 9th grade, anyway.

The moral of the story, as meandering as it is, is that I don't really know where Elorza and I are. I know I still love him. I trust that, in some capacity, he feels the same way. But I don't know anything about his life anymore, and he knows very little about mine.

I think part of it is that he became a friend of both me and Zack, in a way that no one else really was. Elorza was like Zack in so many ways...they shared self-destructive habits and thought processes. I remember, once, when I was talking to him about the upcoming divorce, I said to him, "He's so much like you. You wouldn't want me married to you for the rest of my life, would you?"

He, of course, said "no." In this instance, I took at as a complement.

I feel guilty about this, but I probably shouldn't beat myself up. If I remember correctly, in the last few years, I've written him a few e-mails that went unanswered, despite him always indicating that he'd do his best. I remember asking him what was going on in his life, and getting little to no reply in return.

I feel like, suddenly, I'm very worried for him. I think, in my mind, lately, I've made him into a healthier, happier person than he ever really was. I think he's doing fine but...he IS just like Zack. And Zack is doing fine, I guess, most of the time.

I don't know. I should try again with Andrew. I should try harder with Jeremey. I should reconnect with dozens of people with whom I had long work relationships and budding school-based friendships. I should know where Emily is blogging in any given year. I should tell some of these people I'm writing this blog again-- that's really who it's for, in a way: the Elorzas and the Jeremeys. People who I really want to have know what's going on in my life, even if we can't talk as often as we used to so I can tell them.

Back in the day, I think both of them read almost every entry. Today, I really doubt that would be the case.

Emily had a reference to her "BFF" on an entry in her blog. I honestly don't know if that's me. I can't, for the life of me, think of who else it would be, but it's honestly just too embarrassing to ask.

I suppose that Emily is my best friend now, but it's been sort of a revolving cast. Obviously, the Jeremeys and the Elorzas don't really qualify now. But what about Jeff, who I still see fairly often (if not recently, due to a back injury of his and, you know, a baby of mine.) What about Zack, who is probably the most important person in the world to me, and can't be technically classified as anything but a friend anymore?

Emily, Zack, and Jeff...they're not BFFs. They're family. Plain and simple. And I guess Jeremey and Elorza are too, just...more cousins that you see once a year, rather than brothers or sisters.

Ugh. It's midnight. I don't know what my point is, but I've been writing too long. 

If you're out there, Jeremeys and Elorzas and Emilys and Jeffs...I love you. Obviously. Wherever you are or whatever your doing, I'll be at your funeral if you're not at mine.

I mean, unless I actually die first but you're, like, out of town or not a respirator or something. I don't know. This isn't the delicate ending I was hoping it would be. I'm feeling a little bit albatross-y, here.

Day 16. On with it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Things I Don't Have Time to Know...

I'm thinking about things I don't know. The Google Doodle today seems to be honoring the work of one Dr. Salk, and I know that this is something that somewhere in the recesses of my brain I used to know, at least vaguely.

The obvious answer is to click it and find out, spend some time learning more. But I don't have time. Not if I want to get my daily dose of writing in, in addition to everything else I did today. Namely: work, care for the baby, care for the dog, continue on a project to clean the smelly carpet, shop for a carpet-cleaning spray and some other basic grocery things while I was there, and finish fixing this problem in a video I made for work that I just couldn't do at work because of our crappy video software.

That video...I don't want to get into it, but it basically killed me. Tomorrow is the presentation it's needed for, so, whatever happens...I am done tomorrow. I lived through it. Suck on that, video-scum!

I'm not making a lot of sense. I'm a bit punch-drunk. It's been a busy day.

I'm watching through The Gilmore Girls again now that it's on Netflix (I even managed to get in part of an episode today, while I was waiting for Dan to come home with Pizza), and I continue to be hounded by the feeling that if I looked up every lightning fast reference they made, I could become quite erudite in a matter of months. Literary references, historical figures, pop culture gems-- the episodes are jam-packed. I would be nigh unstoppable.

I feel similarly about crossword puzzles. When I was getting into a little habit with crossword puzzles (back when I had an android phone and therefore access to Shortyz, an irreplaceably excellent app if you're into crosswords), I attempted to make a point out of reading the wikipedia page of at least one clue that I did not have the answer to every time. Of course, I was unemployed at the time, and not yet a mother. So I had time to entertain such noble dalliances.

It didn't make a ton of difference, though, I suppose. I doubt very much I remember anything I learned from those entries. Read once, and without context, they just didn't have an anchor in my mind.

That's the problem with looking up Salk or various Gilmore Girls references: I might have time to read a sentence or two, or a paragraph if I'm lucky. But I don't have time to learn the context that would allow me to understand the importance or give it any meaning for me. The other day, I attempted to trace on of Michel's insults to Kirk by looking up...I don't know. Friederich Something? I figured, from the context, that he was probably a somewhat notable Nazi.

Turns out...he was! Maybe something to do with scientific experiments? Brazil? I don't know. The point is, I didn't learn any more from the exercise than what I pretty much guessed from the context.

It's frustrating to me that I can't go back and look up who Friederich-something was and re-read at least a bit of his wikipedia page so he might become more to me than just an anonymous Nazi. It's frustrating that I only play dumb crosswords now so that I don't feel guilty about the world of knowledge that I don't have. It's frustrating that I don't have time to find out who Salk was, and why there is a kid in his Google Doodle holding up a sign expressing some sort of appreciation.

But the reality is that it's 11:21 PM, and I keep promising myself that I'm going to get to bed before 11. I keep promising myself that I'm going to get to work by 8:30. I keep promising myself that today is the day that I'll get enough sleep, wake up on time, have everything laid out. Go to work, be productive, come home. Be a good mother. Meditate. Exercise. Write.

And yes, I could cut out the Gilmore Girls and the dumb crosswords in favor of learning who Salk was. But THEY don't judge me.

I acknowledge that I'm totally losing it.

Remember yesterday when I said that I do most things for the "satisfaction" of relieving the guilt of not doing them? Well, then, fine.

Jonas Salk discovered the Polio vaccine, apparently. Dude, I totally did know that. Isn't he's the one who refused to patent it because he believed a discovery that important should not be used to get rich off of?

Come to think of it, I think I totally learned that from a crossword puzzle. Bonzai!

Now let me go to bed, already, you oppressive, imaginary force.

Day 15. On with it.

Monday, October 27, 2014

I Can't Get No...

I am disinterested in today's prompt, which seems more a prompt for a sci-fi/horror short story than it does a blog post. So I guess that's not my inspiration today.

I am sore. I exercised yesterday, but not today, not officially: today, I spent the bulk of my after-work energy de-stinking a room in my house where my dog has taken to peeing if we're not around. Our landlord is coming in for an inspection in a few days, so it's pretty critical that it not smell, but more than that, today, I simply could not get used to the smell. There's that whole febreeze (I think) commercial series about how people who go "nose blind", which is clever advertising. Normally it takes me a few minutes to overcome whatever smell is happening in the house-- with an old, fat dog who cannot clean himself properly after going to the bathroom, and a baby, complete with diapers, there are plenty of them. But today, I couldn't get over it.

Dan would say that the sizable amount of moving, bending and lifting I did in the room to clean both rug and the floor underneath it (necessitating that I move nearly everything out of the room first) would count as exercise, and the ache in my joints tells me he's not entirely wrong. My retort to him would be that I don't get any real satisfaction out of exercise unless I break a considerable sweat.

When I say satisfaction, I don't mean the rush of endorphins that cause you to feel great and powerful after a workout-- a "runner's high" or whatever the elliptical equivalent of that is. I rarely feel more than just the faintest effects of endorphins. Really, what I mean by satisfied longer feeling this persistent guilt that I didn't work out.

This is a running theme in my life; that, lacking any meaningful satisfaction, I instead assign the word "satisfaction" to something that is probably more closely related to "relief." Just...getting rid of whatever negative thing was associated with not doing something.

When I post something here that ends up being unexpectedly well-written or enlightening or both, I feel the actual satisfaction that I get, at this point in my life, only from accomplishing something creative. When I post this in a few minutes, I'll feel the other kind of satisfaction; the, "alright, now I can go to sleep" satisfaction. In other words, very nearly nothing.

However, the point of this post, as so many before it, is to continue my streak. At the end of the thirty days, if I've managed to post every day, it's very possible I'll feel that real satisfaction, that I set a goal and stuck to it. And, you know, that some of it was passably good.

So it's exercise enough to keep my writing muscles sore. Which, actually, I'm not sure why that's a good thing? Maybe the better word, though it doesn't fit the callback, is "limber." Or maybe my mind is getting old, much the way of my poor knees.

Day 14. On with it.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

True Colors

Today's writing prompt:

Local Color

Imagine we lived in a world that’s all of a sudden devoid of color, but where you’re given the option to have just one object keep its original hue. Which object (and which color) would that be?

What a strange question.

As far as I'm concerned, there are two ways to go here: either something personal from my life, that I've had for a long time and that has always been very important to me, or, alternatively, something of great public importance, like a work of art.

Sitting here, trying to think of something I've owned since childhood, I realize that there just aren't that many things. The blanket that my childhood dog died on is what I consider to be my most important material possession, but it's a fairly bland color scheme-- red, with a sort of plaid black and yellow. I could live without it being full color, and, in fairness, I don't know quite where it is.

There was a pillow when I was young that was, to me, a security blanket. It was called "Pilly", and the pillow case on it (which is what made it so special, though I'm told it went through many iterations as it got worn out) was a brilliant, satiny pink. The material, I'm told, was made from old curtains of my grandmother's, though even as I type that, I feel compelled to check my facts, as it's impossible to imagine curtains being that pink and shiny. I don't know where it-- "she", the way I thought of her then-- now, though she's gone in and out of my life a few times since childhood. Every now and then someone would find her in the attic and she would become part of my daily life again, for a while, though in a much more passive way. My mother put her under the Christmas tree, once: one of her classic re-gifts to take advantage of our nostalgia in order to a put a few extra packages under the tree in lean years.

I don't know how many more times in my life I'll think too hard about Pilly-- if I never see her again, I won't miss her particularly, I guess, though perhaps it would be a good idea to dig her up again and give her to Ezra, my son, for Christmas.

Either way, if I ever saw her again, and she were not that same, shining pink, I think it would be far too much to handle.

The option, of course, is to be magnanimous. I suppose great many people would choose a great work of art as their one object-- especially if they lived in the cities where those works of art are stored, as any photographs of them would not be in color any longer. But if I were the one person, or one of only a few, who were given this option, I would probably go with something famous and beloved. My personal favorite painting is Jack Vettriano's "The Singing Butler", but it's so modern and...I don't know, broadly appealing to the point of being almost commercial, I would't feel right.

I've never particularly liked Monet, but if I had to pick one famous painting, I guess I'd go with one of the large water lilies, with the canvasses that take up the whole wall. Again, they've never been particularly to my taste, but they mean so much to so many. And I honestly can't think of a single painting that would be less effective in grayscale.

Personally, I far prefer the Mona Lisa, all beguiling and understated on her small canvas in The Louvre. But, as is the way of a great woman, I think she'd be capable of holding her own, despite the change. Women have been getting by with less for generations, and she's been watching the whole time.

I wrote a song about Monet-- or inspired by his art, at least-- the other night. Dan and I had just gotten into a fight and I came upstairs to give him space, as I am learning to do.

The gist of the fight is that he is constantly making it clear to me, in one way or another, that, although he loves me, he'd love me better if I were happier. We first got together under such different circumstances-- I was a happier person, maybe. More productive, perhaps.

Probably neither, really. But when we were first falling for each other, none of that was his problem. He only saw the version of me that I became when I was with him, far away from my everyday life.

That angle of that person, who lived under those circumstances and felt, albeit intermittently, those things...that's who I fell in love with.

Dan and I have our problems, and I know that a lot of them start with me. But I can't help but believe that a lot of them come from this sense I have that I'm a constant disappointment to him. That I can't live up to what he thought of me back then. That he doesn't...really love me.

"To you, I'll always be a Monet:
So beautiful from far away.
But when you close in to undress,
I'm just a great big mess."

The rest of it is suitably high-minded and unrelatable to anyone with a below-average knowledge of art history, but I hope to get a piano part written within a few weeks, and get it recorded. Dan has mixed feelings about helping me with a song that's basic theme is that he doesn't love me for who I am ("But our love has a tainted core/I'm just a painted board.").

Still, he will do it. He will help me. He is my partner in song-writing, and, somehow, in everything else in life. Whatever kind of painting I am, whether I'm a messy impressionist piece or the Mona Lisa herself, he's the stalwart patron of mon petit musée. For now, he is living with my true colors, whether he wants to or not.

Maybe we can speed up this whole black-and-white thing, and give he and I a fighting chance.

Day 13. On with it.

Super Chicken

Today's Prompt:

Masks Off: We’re less than a week away from Halloween! If you had to design a costume that channeled your true, innermost self, what would that costume look like? Would you dare to wear it?

I know the clever answer here is some kind of metaphor:

"My mask would be a chicken because inside I'm so deeply afraid."
"My mask would be a mouse because I feel so small and insignificant."
"My mask would be Donald Draper because I'm such a Mad Man."

The reality is, when I imagine my true inner self, I only picture it with my face. Maybe it's because I like my face-- most of the time, and as opposed to the way I feel about the rest of the features of my body. Maybe it's I'm unimaginative.

I think it's because I live my life as a truly open person, when it comes to the people I care about. I don't hide much, I don't hold back anything, and when I'm manipulative or deceitful, I know I'm being manipulative or deceitful, I chock up to it: sometimes while still maintain the affect of the manipulation.

I lie pretty freely to people I don't care about, or people with whom the terms of my relationship is dictated by societal rules, in some way: family, in-laws, bosses. But I don't lie to the people I care about, whom I've chosen; not about anything significant. And in as much as I treat my imaginary audience here as if they were, collectively, an entity I care about, I don't lie here, either.

I might recite the lies that I tell myself, but you can't fault me for that, if I buy them. I don't know any better than you do.

When I'm with the people I love, I demand of myself absolute, vulnerable truth. The guiding tenet behind this policy is that I assume that any love based on a lie would falter if the truth were told: people who love me based on an act do not love me at all, and their affection becomes useless to me.

I need the love of the people in my life too dearly to risk fearing that it's based on false claims. So I tell the truth; sometimes, exhaustively. Often, to neither my benefit, nor theirs.

It's both brave-- to be completely, unfalteringly yourself despite all costs-- and cowardly-- to be so very afraid of losing love.

So I guess I'll take a superhero chicken mask? The bravest poultry of them all.

Ugh. I so didn't want to dignify that prompt with a real answer. Day 12. On with it.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Things I'd Like to Do...

I don't think I'm going to use today's prompt from the Daily Post. Firstly, I've realized that the whole website is built around Wordpress users. This makes me feel left out when I participate in the prompt but can't get a link back, and also furthers my growing insecurity that having chose blogger over Wordpress a billion years ago, I have missed out on some degree of streed cred...or, web cred, I guess? There's just something about a Wordpress site that makes you think, "Man. This blogger is the real thing."

Secondly, the prompt is called "Out of Breath," and it's all about describing "the busiest, most hectic day you've had in the past decade." Honestly, that just feels like a really stressful thought experiment. Maybe all this mediation is getting to me, but I don't feel compelled to take the time to attempt to remember which day out of the past ten years ranks as the most stressful, and then relive that stress.

Suffice it to say, I'm sure it fell somewhere in the timeframe when I was in my final quarter of my Associate's Degree, juggling a full course load which included a portfolio-building seminar that culminated, very time-consumingly, in an art show put on by my class (and a twelve-page paper), a 24-30ish hours-a-week part-time job, an internship that was supposed to be paid (and therefore replace the job) but turned out to pretty much not be, about 7 hours a week worth of commuting, and all of my responsibilities at home.

You can tell it was hectic because of how long that sentence was.

Still, I guess it really was more hectic than stressful...or at least, no matter what it was, I look back on that time fondly. I look back on all my time at SMCC fondly, as probably the best two years of my life. There were pitfalls, sure, but I was pursuing something I was passionate about, bettering my life, meeting new people, and really just feeling this sense of empowerment: I was learning how to do things that I previously would have hit a total block in attempting to do. Something like, "I better not attempt this, I have no idea how."

In a lot of the art classes at SMCC, you just did it, it wasn't any more complicated than that. I wish a little more of that had stayed with me.

That quarter in particular, though, I have a special fondness for, probably because I simply didn't have time to be overly broody. My time was divided up between all these different things, with all these different people in all these different place. I'm busy now, too, but I'm pretty much either at-work busy or at-home busy. God, I'd really love to take an art class right now. Even if it wouldn't pay off for a long time: just, start saving up nickels that might eventually buy me an airline ticket to somewhere great.

I genuinely don't think that's in the cards for me for quite a while, though. I am enrolled in school right now, though not in any classes this semester, but it's an online degree. Communications, or something broad and useful like that.

I like communications. Marketing. I like that it got me the job I have now. But I wonder where I would be if I had decided to go to the Maine College of Art or a USM art program right after SMCC. I wonder if I'd still be pursuing the dream I went to SMCC to get closer to: writing and illustrating my own children's books.

In my mind, I'm still going to do that. But I'm eminently aware of the fact that every day older I get without actively working towards it puts me one day closer to a future where I've accidentally just driven right past my chance. I tell myself, it's cool, it's something I will get to. But then I ask myself: Will I really?

I've had a thought poking around for a while that an interesting way to start breaking into illustrating wouuld be to take some of the best posts from the history of this blog and do an illustrated version. Again, something I sort of vaguely intend to do. know, maybe I should it.

It feels intimidating, like something I maybe don't know how to do anymore. It's been a long time since I spent any time on my art, and it's not like I was super good at it in the first place; I never claimed to be. But I do remember my instructor, Jeff, saying that I had a really refined since of narrative in my art. He thought I should go to Vermont to get my Bachelor's in this college that had just launched a Comic Arts major. Talk about Street Cred.

Jeff is the type of person who makes you want to be cool. He's this incredibly gregarious, multi-talented, funny and smart person who you just want to impress, even years after the last time you talked to them. One of the reasons I'm really interested in recording a Scrumgirl EP is so that I can, apropo of nothing, send it to him. I'd love to go down to First Friday in Portland some time in the future and have him say, "Hey! I listened to that CD you sent me! It was great."

Anyway...I'm getting meandering. There's this new RSS feed reader that seems to be distributing my posts to a small group of people. Maybe you're one of them, or maybe they're all bots. But if you are one of them, and you'd be interested in seeing some illustrated posts, shoot me an E-mail, or leave a comment maybe. Let's see where this goes.

Day 11. On with it.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Derogatory and Arbitrary - 10 Minute Free Write

As I've been struggling to come up with fresh, new material for my daily posts, I've decided to enlist the help of a writing prompt. I expect I won't do it every day, as there may be days where I actually have something I'd like to say. But for today, I am using the prompt on, which is, today, "Ready, Set, Done: A Ten Minute Free Write."

So, you know. That's helpful. Okay, with that introduction done, I'm starting my ten

Oh good. The first thing that comes to mind is blankness. It's a bit ironic that the day I go looking for inspiration is the day-- apparently they do the free-write weekly-- where there IS no real prompt. But, okay, fine. The time limit will help me.

Dan and I had this whole conversation the other night...okay, it was really just an exchange-- where we we talking about how long my posts take me. I was, yet again, complaining about how overwhelmed I am by the many things I have to get done. He made the point that it's not like I can just pump out one of these long-ass posts in 10-15 minutes. I told him, yeah, actually, I'm pretty sure that's how long it takes me. Somewhere between 15-30 minutes, anyway. He seemed a bit flabbergasted by that.

(I want to take a moment here to point out that I'm pretty sure part of the idea of a free write is "free association-style" writing. As in, I am going faster and less methodically than normal, and it's probably coming out sounding somewhat...god, what's the word? There's a word. And here's where I would normally take like a twenty minute break to look up the word.

Frenetic! That's what I'm looking for! Man, maybe this free write helps my brain work better. It would normally take me a really long time to find a word I was looking for. I should escape the parenthetical now.)

There are a couple (several?) words that I have that trouble with over and over again. I've thought about carrying them around on a little list, it happens to me so often. (I know I'm referencing something that was previously in the parenthetical, which is a no-no for a parenthetical, and totally defeats the purpose of the parenthetical. Just go with it.) One of them, I know, is....derogatory. Which, okay, the way that happened right now. I was thinking that I could only ever remember one of them when I go to remember it-- not just the word itself, but, like, what the word it is I tend to forget...I'm not making since. I want to slow this down and make it make sense.

I know there are two words, at least, that I can never remember. But as a general rule, when I go list them, I can only think of THE CONTEXT and DEFINITION of ONE OF THEM. (Those should have been italicized. I don't like this free write stuff. It's stressful.) Whether or not I can actually remember the word itself is a whole separate matter, but I can only remember the surrounding information of the words I struggle to remember one at a time. So I was pretty sure that the word I was going to remember this time was...the one in Good Will Hunting. The one where he says "Drinking coffee is as _____ as eating caramels." Arbitrary. It's arbitrary.

But, just now, I was certain I was going to be able to remember that arbitrary was the word I usually forget, but as I was trying to think of the actual word, the OTHER word came to mind. It didn't even come to mind, it came to fingers. It's almost like I've typed that sentence too many times before: I always forget the word derogatory.

So, there you have it. Derogatory and Arbitrary.

Hey! There's my timer!.


Goddamn. That was awful. I mean, I'm sure it got some cobwebs out or whatever, but I got really hung up on trying to explain that whole "remembering what words I forgot" thing. I have no idea if I did it well...I suspect not. I'm not going to go back and re-read now, I suspect the urge to edit would be overwhelming. And I was supposed to be "ready, set, done." The done thing being the important piece.

I will spellcheck it, though, as it became clear to me during that that I'm not at all sure what the correct way to spell "derogatory" is. Oh, look at that. I got it write every time. Not so lucky with "parenthetical" though.

Day...10? I think 10. On with it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Repetitiveness and Redundancy

More and more, I'm starting to get the sense that this is the thing that needs to be chopped out of my routine, with regards to my latest set of goals. I'm supposed to be exercising, mediating, and writing every day. Mediating is arguably the most important, since it's probably the most transformative of the three, and certainly the most helpful at helping me solve what's become the central problem of my life: stress. Exercising is important because I've let my weight get to a point where I'm unhealthy, and that is wreaking havoc on both my self-esteem and my joints.

And, let me get be straight about this, writing is important, too. It's all about starting to deal with a lot of things that have been festering for me for a long time, as well as focusing my goals and priorities, and helping to straighten out my head space. Plus, as I think I've mentioned in previous posts, it comes naturally to me, and puts me, at least occasional into a state of flow- a state of activity which is a perfect balance between challenge and ease-- which is probably as beneficial as mediation, in a lot of ways.

The thing of it is, this doing it once a day for thirty days thing? Fairly arbitrary. I do need to get back into the habit of using writing to work out my thoughts, concerns, and emotions. It's a very important part of the way I learned to cope, in the hardest parts of my life, and I feel like things have gotten so dark for me in the past few years because I abandoned it.

But, on a night like tonight, where I just want to go to sleep, and I end up staying up later than I mean to, either to write, or because I'm stressed about having to write and avoiding it? I just spent 30 minutes I could have been sleeping discussing with Dan how having to do these three things every day is overwhelming me. The reason I spent that time? Essentially because I'm an adult version of my teenage self, and I was avoiding my homework. Being this. This right here.

But I'm not quitting yet. Of the three goals, this is the only one that has an expiration date. 21 more daily posts after this one and I'm off the hook. I can take newly limbered-up linguistic skills out of boot camp mode and use them to write when I happen upon something worth writing about. I hope it's still, at least, two or three times a week. But it should be happening when I feel like it.

I'm proud of myself for the overall quality of these posts, despite being out of practice, but given how few people will read them, they're probably not as important, write now, as the quality of my sleep. When they help me to stumble upon some realization, well, so much the better, that's a big part of what I'm doing this for. But I need to stop writing long posts like this just to "do my homework" when I could be using that time better to get ready for the next day.

And so, with that, I'm off. This whole thing feels repetitive, anyway. I bet I was complaining about it yesterday, too.

Yep. Look at that. Not a carbon copy, exactly. But certainly not worth anyone else's time to read both of them. Since it wasn't worth my time to write both of them.

Sorry for cheating you out of the last several minutes.

Day 9. On with it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Time and Energy

I don't know if I've hit on this yet or not, but I'm finding that, for the first time in my life, I truly do not have time for the things that I want to accomplish.

I've certainly used the excuse of not having time for things in the past, but, as a general rule, it almost always actually meant that I didn't the energy. I had time up the wazoo, but if I was too overburdened with other stressors-- and, hint, I always was-- I didn't have the energy to do anything productive with that time.

I'm still a very low-energy person in general. That hasn't changed. I still need a great deal of downtime to just...attempt, in futility, to summon the strength the face the world at large.

But it's not clear to me that, at this point, it would matter if I didn't. In the past month or so, I have, quite ambitiously, added the following daily goals to my routine: exercising, writing, mediation. I also have this clear sense that, if I'm going to live without Zack, I need to be in more regular contact with him, albeit from 3,000 miles away. I care about the job I have now far more than jobs I've cared about in the past, in terms of making it into a career, so this tends to somehow monopolize a lot more of my time than I'd guess, given that it really is just a forty-hour thing: theoretically no more, theoretically no less.

And then there's, you know, a baby.

I don't know. Maybe it is still an energy thing. If I didn't need any down time at all, there would be enough time in the day to work, exercise, write, meditate, and spend at least an hour of quality time with him-- whatever that is. Of course, other things would continue to get totally cut out: cooking, cleaning, upkeep of the very old, very needy dog. I'm sure I wouldn't magically have time to make my relationship somehow work.

But I can't actually pretend that I have no need of down time at all. And I certainly can't continue to sacrifice sleep.

It literally pains me to leave this post in awkward state where it feels like it didn't accomplish anything, but I am so. Goddamn. Tired.

I keep staying up just a little bit later than I mean to to get these posts in. Then my sleep cycle is screwed, I spend the next day tired, and what gets sacrificed is everything else. I did manage to mediate earlier today-- as well grocery shopping, and I got in some actual social time with a real life human being that I don't live with for the first time in months-- but my exercise routines have really started to suffer. Three out of the past four days have been lacking a truly meaningful amount of exercise, and the day I did manage, it was a really long walk, counts, I guess, but I have trouble giving myself props when I don't break a sweat.

So for tonight, I'm going to have to put this on the chopping block: obviously not totally, not officially. But tonight, I'm going to have to settle for an average post that any old person could have written. No moving emotion, no epiphany, perhaps not even a callback to the beginning of the post. At this point in my life, I truly do not have the time.

Day...8, I think. On with it.

Best Interests

I really wanted to be attempting to sleep no later than 11:30. It seems like I'm always just 15-25 minutes away from my goal. Like, that actual increment, for things related to time, and that metaphorical increment, for life things.

Or something. I don't know. I'm being pretentious.

Let's make this a quick one. A brief observation.

I just made another attempt at bathtub-hair-untangling mediation. It didn't feel as successful this time, probably because of my awareness of time passing as I tried to get to my bed-by-right-NOW goal. The very non-figurative ticking of the bathroom clock did not help that matter, I assure you.

I think, back when I wrote more regularly and was less concerned with mediation as formal practice, what I substituted for actual mediation were these meandering thoughts that I would have when I was alone, which would become the outlines for blog posts I wrote later. Sometimes, it would be like free association, a journey of wherever my mind chose to go, at least until I honed in on something I found interesting. Other times, it would be a careful editing process. I'd stumble upon some phrasing I thought was perfect, than carefully add to that, starting over and over obsessively, to be sure I didn't lose the initial inspiration.

One way or another, when I took a bath, I would usually come out with this very clear sense in my mind of what I was going to write about.

It doesn't really work that way anymore, possibly because I'm out of practice as a writer, possibly because I'm trying to take the somewhat meditative practice that worked for me in the past, and stick into a mold that more closely resembles what everyone else thinks meditation should be. I don't know what I believe in all that-- was I getting enough benefit out of letting my mind instinctively figure out what it needed, or was I missing out on something key? Perhaps the enhanced ability to focus that's supposed to come out of the sustained practice of formal mediation.

It bothers me that I have to use the words "meditation" and "meditative" so many times.

Either way, I came out of the tub today with just the vaguest hint of the point I want to make in my "very brief" post tonight. And that is this:

On my lunch break, today, I was listening to an episode of This American Life where they described a condition called "Delusional Disorder." Delusional Disorder is like many mental impairments, such as schizophrenia, in that the victim tends to believe, deeply, in things that are not true. Unlike schizophrenia, however, there is a insidious problem with Delusional Disorder: the delusions are generally fairly plausible.

We're not talking about people who believe that the government planted slow-hatching alien eggs in their anus or that Oprah Winfrey is being controlled by a talking dog, people who are clearly crazy. We're talking about people who very vehemently believe that their wife is cheating on them, or that they are related to a celebrity, or that they invented the world's first egg dying kit.

While these kinds of delusions may seem easier to live with, they're often incredibly destructive to the victims' lives, and the lives of everyone else around them. The show focused on this woman whose marriage ended because, after five years, when under a great deal of stress from work, her husband became completely and utterly convinced that she was cheating on him to nymphomaniac degrees.

Eventually, after it became suitably problematic in their life, and she spent many long hours googling what might be wrong with him, she read about the diagnosis which was later confirmed by a therapist. But that didn't get them very far as a couple, it turns out.

The trouble is that Delusional Disorder is very hard to treat. As the story said, antipsychotic medications are helpful with schizophrenia because they help prevent hallucinations, but the lies that a person with Delusional Disorder are convinced is true are from a very different place. There hasn't been much success in the therapeutic practice of convincing them that their delusions are wrong, either.

Instead, the story explained, what's considered to be the best practice is to get the patient to admit that, even though he or she fully believes in his delusion, it's not in his or her best interest to act on that. Okay, sure: Chuck Norris is really your father. But since he has a restraining order against you, for whatever reason that may be, it's probably best if you stop trying to reconnect with him.

And yes, the reporter telling the story acknowledged how utterly unsatisfying that is, for all involved.

There was something about this idea that resonated with me, but I didn't get what until now. The thing is...I think, to an extent, I have Delusional Disorder. It honestly struck me, while I was listening, that I probably did, in some way, in some facet of my life, but I couldn't figure out what that facet may be. But now it seems pretty clear.

The post last night was about not having enough conviction to make my relationship with Dan work, and part of that is based on the leftover conviction that I have that Zack and I are meant to be. That idea was what I based my whole adult life on until recently, after all. The goal of keeping my marriage together was the driving force of my life, and it was inspired, on some, totally irrational level, by my faith in it's pure righteousness. It was tautological: He and I were going to make it because he and I were going to make it.

I built a whole life off of the questionable truth-- I can't even bring myself to call it a "delusion"-- that he and I were meant to be. It was my guiding tenant. And then, one day, it was gone.

Okay, there's a lot to be written, and I'm sure a lot I have written, about what that does to a person. But, for the sake of getting to bed before midnight, let's just fast forward to now.

Most of me may be a fairly reasonable person. But part of me is still completely stuck on what turns out to have been more delusional that I'd like to admit: that Zack and I were fated, somehow.  I know that, on some level, I still believe that. A very large part of me that I do not keep secret believes the Zack and I will get back together some day down the line, whether it be five or fifty years from now-- and fifty seems a lot more likely, to be frank.

But then, there is the rest of me, that has to continue living, as a normal, rational person. A normal, rational person who currently has a totally different life, with completely separate person, who is also the father of my child.

And I, most of the time, act as my own therapist in all of this. Except, I don't even try the things that have failed for sufferers of Delusional Disorder, not any more. I really have no interest, at this point, in the vain exercise of convincing my star-crossed lover self that I am wrong.

Instead, I ground myself in this life by merely convincing myself, one day at a time, that it's not in my best interest to act on my delusion.

And yes. I can tell you right now, it's an utterly unsatisfying way to live, for all involved.

Hopefully I'll get a chance to expand on all of these themes at a later date. For now, it's 11:59....oh shit. Midnight.

It's Day Seven. On with it.