Monday, 30 December 2013

Haunted by "That Person"

If you've walked on this earth for any amount of time, you probably have a person you think of as that person. This is the person you hope you don't see at the supermarket, or at the movies, or school.  A glimpse of someone who looks like that person might send you scrambling for the toilet paper aisle or purposefully digging through your purse, as if you just realized you have to find something there, not look around at the people around you because that person might try to engage.

Having relocated miles away from most people who are familiar to me, I don't have awkward run-ins at the store, or at a bar the night before Thanksgiving, like I used to.  I did write about one earlier this year (see post from May 4)- and actually there were a few that weekend, but I highly suspect that the other run-ins were with dopplegangers, not the actual people:
Sorry, All Your Turns Have Been Used Up...

You want to talk about awkward encounters? Yep, there are plenty to be had, with people like that person whom you don't want to see.

What brought this to mind today was someone in a store; she looked like my version of that person and for a second, I tensed up.  That person was very judgmental of me and happened to be about 8 years older than myself.  She didn't seem able to have a peer-to-peer relationship with me. Instead, she desperately wanted to mentor me, even though our work and our goals were different and (important point coming up here!) I didn't ask her to mentor me.  Imagine how that became awkward.  Mmm hmm. I introduced her to another friend of mine, younger than me by about 7 years, and that friend assessed that person by saying, "She likes to act like she's in charge, huh?" Talk about awkward!

The pinnacle of our awkward interactions took place when she informed me of the following:
1) I was wasting my life in my current situation (working, trying to save money, going on vacations, spending time with friends, enjoying hobbies, etc.)
2) What I needed was to have a baby
3) I needed to have a baby with my ex-boyfriend or possibly a sperm donor
4) And she swore she'd help with the baby! Once or twice a year she'd drop by to play with it!
5) She'd talked over her feelings about what I should do with my life with her therapist, and they decided she really couldn't hold back anymore.  She needed to speak her peace.

I offer this as Exhibit A for the awkward moments that ensue when you reach your late thirties without a husband or potential husband.  I would have started offering exhibits earlier, as there are many to choose from, but I just got inspired today, so here's the first one.

Friends, like every other person on earth, I've had to admit that certain opportunities haven't been open to me, and I've had to adjust my life.  My first goal was to be a Rockette, but I didn't grow to be 5 foot 6 inches.  Sure, I had a great high kick back in the day, but as a short person, it did me no good.

I suppose I could have gone after every girlfriend I had over 5 foot 6 inches to nag them about becoming Rockettes, (you should do this, I'd tell them, because I NEVER HAD THE CHANCE!) but this wasn't something any of them wanted.

Likewise, perhaps that person could have had a baby when she was late 30s/ early 40s with some transient person in her life. Perhaps she regrets not being a mother now that menopause is starting.  However, she neglected to realize that 1) adoption is possible at most ages; 2) I didn't want to have a baby with my ex-boyfriend; 3) it's not really fair to swoop in and tell other people how to live their lives.

So there you go, friends.  Awkward moments with people, brought to you by Jane Q. Phoenix.

On a different note, I hope you all have a safe and wonderful new year's celebration and a FABULOUS 2014!


Monday, 23 December 2013

Dream Journal 12/23/13: Making a Boy Cry

I finally got through to someone last night.  This person was crying and upset because he finally understood how his behavior has affected others.

It was a dream, naturally. This person is so hard-headed that to explain anything to him requires the patience of a saint, which I don't happen to possess. Our relationship over the years has been difficult because he likes to be outspoken and more times than not, I didn't ask for his opinion. So, to summarize, I identify more with an introvert personality type, while he is extroverted.  Even our choices of what we do for a living are very different, and of course that's by design.

Of course, when you have a longstanding friendship with someone, you let things slide. You let bygones be bygones.  You figure out what to avoid talking about so that you can get along.

I don't remember the details of the dream, but I do recall the ending because it is freshest in my mind. He was crying.  I've never seen him cry in real life.  He cried because I told him that he was insensitive to his single friends. Several people I know act like finding someone to spend the rest of your life with is super easy, like you can get it done before breakfast in most cases.

Friends, I am engaged for the first time and 40 years old.  At a time when most people are thinking about how to spend their midlife crises, I am blooming later than average.  I realize that for the rest of Generation X, this isn't so odd, but for the older people in my life, and for the Xers who found love in high school and college, engaged/married life is old hat, something they started 10 to 15 years ago.

I've noticed that these "smug marrieds" (as Bridget Jones named them) tend to forget the pain of rejection, the angst of meeting someone and doing all that work just to find out if that person is even available, the awkwardness of having to fly solo to weddings, class reunions, and so forth, and the judgment of people around you who wonder what's wrong with you, what prevents you from being paired off like the rest of the planet.

My subconscious hides most of the details from me, so I don't even know how I got through to him, but I did.  I woke up while the dream was still happening, and the poor boy was crying.  Crying!

Friends, be nice to single people. Don't be that smug and judgmental jerk who belittles them.  I spent many years being single and some of the closest people to me still are.

Merry Christmas too, darlings.


Jane Q. Phoenix

Monday, 16 December 2013

Work, and More Work

Friends, I am working on 2 things simultaneously:

1) finishing my book, which is co-authored by the Dancing Diva with her rapier wit and witty commentary. She's worked on the first few sections and I need to get it done so she can sprinkle her shennanigans on all of the sections. Along with that, there's researching a publisher, figuring out what deal is best, reading online reviews from other authors, finding an editor, and sheesh! There aren't enough hours in the day, even for this relatively unemployed person.
2) looking for a new job, preferably where I will be surrounded by fellow nerds. I hit the jackpot today with 2 postings that looked spot-on for me, not even 6 miles from the apartment- and since I'm in a Large Metropolitan Area now, this is a major consideration.  There are other companies that talk about "synergies" and such on their websites, that sound a bit flaky, and then there are the companies that cater to nerdlike interests like energy-efficient engineering, rocket science, and whatever.  I like the workplaces where the nerds congregate... I'm sure there are a lot of reasons for that but really it's a birds of a feather thing, and this phoenix is a bit of a nerd herself.

Oh and there's also the finding my way around a new area of the country, preparing for the holidays, and attempting to live in a relatively stress-free manner with my future husband.  Ha ha ha ha ha. That exhausts me, just reading it.

Anyway, back to the writing! My job posts are done for the day.

I hope this note finds all of you well. Happy holidays!


Friday, 29 November 2013

If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, then...

The road to a new life is paved with the bricks that you poop out in the process of reinventing your new life! (I've offered a relative some bricks to line her garden. I figure if I poop them all out, they should match and look lovely edging her garden, no?)

Hi everyone. Jane here.  I'm going through every bit of my stuff- all my books, clothing, stuff, even shoes! and figuring out what stays, what goes to my new home, and what goes to the thrift store or gets sold.

And yes, it would be easier to go to an office and work all day long than stay home and do this!

In situations like this, though, you have to keep your eyes on the prize. There's only been a few other times in my life when I was able to move somewhere and leave the old life behind, as I'm doing now. It's extremely exciting.  I'm over the moon to have this opportunity to move to a totally new place and have new adventures. It goes without saying that my old life of poverty, before I sold my house, is a faint memory and a lot of lessons learned. I couldn't have anything close to the prosperity I have now with something like that weighing me down- and when I mention prosperity I mean both material and non-material.

For all the times that I've found myself stuck in life- due in part to my own and others' good intentions no doubt- there has been the payout that comes with getting unstuck and moving forward.

Many people I've met this year and last year, or whom I've lived with or worked with, have each been both a blessing and a person I may not see much of in the future. I hope this doesn't sound too callous; it's not that I don't care about them.  It's just that I'm in a transitional phase and these friendly faces will not follow me to my next destination in life; however, they may make cameo appearances every now and again.

I'm pondering all these concepts, although what I'm really doing is prolonging this period of time before I cook breakfast and organize all of the clothing in my wardrobe. Sigh!

Love, and happy Thanksgiving!

Jane Q. Phoenix

Sunday, 3 November 2013

My friend got lost about a year ago

In all the flurry of getting engaged to Future Husband, sharing a really bad cold, and trying to keep up with all my daily demands- cooking, working, cleaning my clothes so that I have something to wear to work- I forgot to email a good friend of his whom I'm connected to on Face Book to warn her that I was going to drop the "FH and I are engaged!" bomb.

She didn't actually mind. She sent FH a pretty amusing text about it, actually. It started out with, "What the hell?" and ended with "Congratulations!"

I emailed her and apologized. She was cool about it, and didn't say much more about it, but she did ask me, "Have you heard from A?"

A is our friend from high school. I knew A in college and loved her. She was a bit like the cartoon Daria, full of acerbic wit and hilarious stories too. We hung out a few times in college but not much.

A moved up to the Northeast years ago. She's an extremely talented writer with, I think, a masters degree in something along that vein.

This recession has dragged on for years and affected her livelihood at least once (probably more than once). I know she had 90-day notice for losing her job last year, and that's when her blog posts ended. That's when she stopped logging in to Face Book, too. Her 40th birthday came and went without a comment from her, although many of her friends wished her well.

She is missing. In this age where everyone is online, I can understand the lure of avoiding it, but with her admitted problems with depression, it is worrisome.  Our friend has noticed, and asked me if I've heard from her, but I haven't. I did exchange emails with her for a while, and send her job search websites that I'd discovered in my recessionary journey that pertain to Florida only, where I've lived. I told her she could use my house and drive to wherever she needed to go to interview, back when I had a house.  She never took me up on my offer, which was fine because jobs were hard to come by in Florida and I wouldn't blame her for wanting to live somewhere with seasons and without oppressive heat.

Still, we worry.  And we hope that she is fine, wherever she is.  If we hear from her, I will let you know.


Saturday, 2 November 2013

Those people back in Shakespeare's time were right about bile

I had some blood work done a few months ago, and my doctor's office actually called me afterwards to warn me about my liver functioning. The levels were off.  The lady I spoke with on the phone said, "Ms. Phoenix, you really need to stop drinking!" Well, I haven't had a drink in a long time, and maybe two or three all this year. It wasn't alcohol that was the problem. It was headache meds.

My illness left some residual issues- namely, headaches.  And while I am deprived of salt, alcohol, and anything with caffeine in it, including chocolate, I told myself that there were 3 things I could have as much as I wanted:
1) online shopping
2) desserts
3) headache meds

Unfortunately, a lot of headache medicines have acetomenaphen, which is the active ingredient in Tylenol. Stuff like Nyquil, Dayquil, Tylenol 3, etc. Little did I know it was shredding my liver, which I need for like 50 more years, so that day when I got the "stop drinking" phone call, I quit all that stuff cold turkey (not so much the desserts, though). I was nauseous for about 3 days straight without all the stuff that kept my system going, but on the other side of that, I could tell things were improving.

Then came the procession of Chinese herbs, supplements from the health food store, and special tea made with nettle and milk thistle leaves.  For two months, that's all I've done, in addition to drinking vast quantities of water. When I got some sort of cold virus (from my future husband- apparently we share everything now!) I bought some medicine that is free of the stuff that upset my liver so much.

One hilarious observation I made was that when you take the bad stuff out of the liver (the "bile" according to the Shakespearian set), you really do feel anger.  I had a major case of PMS a few weeks ago.  My boss did some stuff that was annoying and I just felt myself get furious, then self-conscious and laughing at myself for being so nuts about it.

A woman at work told me that liver toxicity in animals is linked to aggressive behavior. This made me think about some people I know and wonder how they are inside. Maybe if they could go through a liver detox, they would feel more peaceful and less P-O'd all the time.

I don't know where you are at in life, or how you feel physically, but if this issue ever plagues you, trust me, a liver detox is totally worth it! Worth all the crankiness and strange smelling urine. Truly.

I had a follow-up blood test today. Fingers are crossed that I'm back in the normal range after this detox...


Saturday, 12 October 2013

Sad and Happy

I once knew a woman who had a lot of physical maladies and talked a lot about them. She was (is) my age and seemed very afraid of living life. I wonder if her physical problems weren't magnified by the fears she had about being out in the world.

I was friends with her on Facebook for a while.  Her statuses consisted of asking for prayers to help other sick people and complaining about her menstrual problems, which seemed to happen all the time. Goodness knows, I am a woman too, and I know sometimes an inordinate amount of things need to revolve around those times when you are in pain, can't concentrate, and wander around like a space cadet.

She was included on a girl's weekend once. She slept about 18 hours a day- at the beach. I eventually sent her home and told her she needed to see a doctor. She left and went to see other friends instead. I think she was avoiding social interaction.  It didn't make a lot of sense.

Another friend confronter her (gently) and made an observation that she seemed to be scared of life. This person agreed and said she was afraid.  She didn't seem to want to do the work, figure it out, and get on with her life. So, she faded into the background of my life. I couldn't read any more of her posts about menstruation and sickness, so I didn't.

I eventually deleted her off Facebook when she did something to get on my nerves. I figure, if you can't     find a way to like someone, you should get out of her life. I hope she didn't take it badly. In the virtual world, where you "see" people you don't actually run into in real life, it's better to enjoy the information you receive.

So you can imagine my surprise when I met her doppelganger a few weeks ago at the place I now work.  This woman is perpetually happy and always smiling, and is a dead ringer for the sad one I once knew. I can't help but smile every time I see her, first of all because she's smiling and second of all because she looks like someone I associated with so much sadness and ill health, so to see her happy is almost like coming full circle and seeing someone succeed where she once failed.  Sad has changed to happy.

I realize that these are two different people, but as my friend Lily Bailey says, there are no such things as coincidences.

Best wishes for a great weekend,

P.S. Months after I deleted the sad one from my Facebook feed, I found out she has a serious medical problem. I wish her well, for sure. More than that, though, I wish her happy.

Putting it away

Today I took a major step toward acknowledging my healthy future.  I put away all of the things that remind me of having been sick.  The anti-nausea medicine, the vapo-rub, the microwavable heatable pad, everything except for what I take every day to keep the bad symptoms away.

It felt good! I needed to organize things and this was one thing that I had hanging around. I don't need to look at that stuff anymore, since I hardly need it.

(Ironically, I needed some anti-vertigo meds this morning. But I took them and went back to sleep and all's well.)

I threw out some stuff, too.  Old vitamins. Amazing how that stuff gets gross and old. Pills go in the trash, bottles go in the recycling bin.

I wish I could be this organized all the time.

Hope this weekend is great for you,


Saturday, 5 October 2013

Be open to change...

I came across this today, after I read that I'd received that advice (I write everything down) from someone about a year ago.

It's fitting advice because things in my life have changed, are changing, and will change dramatically. Sometimes it is a bit overwhelming.

Today I was in the mood to organize, so I shredded what ended up being a giant garbage bag full of old statements and records and all that stuff. I don't know what my karma is but I seem to always be awash in a sea of paper. It follows me everywhere. It's probably because I'm a writer.

I was very ill last year. I spent a lot of time watching the world spin around me, literally.  There was one clear moment, though, when I pondered giving a budding relationship the chance to bloom. I could literally see the chaos ahead and asked myself, could I handle it? And I had to answer YES. I had to get better and feel more healthy and do everything I could to get back to life as something close to a regular person.  Even though I'm middle aged now, I still have half my life left.  It was time to start living again.

Right now, the changes I'm contemplating are huge, and the effort I will put into them will be enormous, but I am confident that I can do it. I can start my life over somewhere else, and I can start a real life (not a super-fun vacation-only life) with Future Husband.

Whew! Wish me luck.


WWJD? I mean, really.

I came across this blog a while ago and it really spoke to me.

Strange that this current pope seems a lot hipper than his predecessors.  Maybe things will change with Catholics and people formerly known as Catholics. There's certainly room for improvement.

On the subject of prayer, I will be sending out the best of vibes to everyone who works for the US government. It seems that the ones who are shutting stuff down are still on the payroll, no? That doesn't seem fair. In any case, calling people names and arguing about it isn't helping.  Maybe sending good vibes to them will. Something has to give.

What I'd really like is for Bill Clinton to call up the president and explain the art of negotiation. It's the least he can do after letting the Glass-Steagall Act be reversed during his presidency.

You are all in my thoughts. I'm having a day at home, organizing, cleaning, and running errands, which in lay terms means that I have PMS.  The good news is that 1) I'm tired after a busy day and 2) the house smells like a tropical paradise. The bad news is, there still aren't enough hours in a day to get everything done!

Yours truly,


Friday, 27 September 2013

Waiting to Deflate

There's a movie called Waiting to Exhale that has the theme of waiting... namely, "waiting on the man" to get his act together, to propose, whatever. I never saw the movie but some girlfriends of mine told me about it.

I am waiting to deflate, not exhale. For some reason, celebrating my birthday all summer long has caused expansion in several body regions.

Given up wheat (for health reasons) and now maintaining a low-sodium diet isn't enough to put me into my ideal weight, which for our practical purposes is defined as "the weight at which all of my pants and jeans fit."

I've been exercising and eating more protein/less carbs. After all the gluten-free banana bread and such was consumed, I have forsaken all others.  As much as I love bagels, I've stopped buying them. Grrr...
There's also this play called Waiting for Godot. It's 2 guys talking to each other and one's really frustrated because he keeps asking what they're doing and the other one says, "We're waiting for Godot!" And apparently they can't do anything else until Godot arrives, which he never does. I think Godot might be a code word for God, or possibly the Great Pumpkin.  The theme of the play is despair.
I hope I don't get to that point! People have filled millions of magazines with tips on losing weight, but I just need to get this under control.

Funny how you always crave the things you shouldn't have. I could go for a bagel right now!


Jane, Unplugged

I had the most fantastic acupuncture session this week. I was literally unplugged from my life and plugged into the great void.

She puts a lot of needles into pressure points on my head, generally speaking. Some are to treat a medical condition and help with my balance, while others are just to help me relax. I go to this acupuncturist for treatments every 2-4 weeks.

Well, did I ever relax! I relaxed so much that my mind went truly blank, to the point that when the little beep-beep-beep sound that comes at the end of each session started, I didn't know where I was. I had to remind myself that I was out and about and not lost in my own dreamland, snuggled in my bed. I had to get psyched for driving home (which is the last thing you want to do when your mind's been wiped clean).

Friends, it was incredible to have those moments when I wasn't planning some future event or recalling anything from my past and best of all, not even aware that the present moment is the present moment. Not working; not trying to learn something. Just being.

This has been a year of great changes (3 moves, one job change, lots of interesting stuff going on with family and friends, and a deepening commitment with Future Husband), and I was happy to visit the great void. I'd love to go back and take all of you with me, really.

I realize that a lot of people take drugs for that sort of experience. (Personally, I only became intoxicated in my younger years so I could giggle more and be ridiculous, but obviously not everyone takes that road.) These acupuncture events are so random that it's hard to predict when you'll get the mind-clearing effect; I'm sure certain that the mood and the body has to be prime for the experience. Still, I think it would be cool to see people trading street drugs and pharmaceuticals for acupuncture and getting the types of positive mental effects that I've witnessed firsthand.

I was inspired to direct you back to a blog written by someone I've met that dealt with her depression and anxiety and how she found help through acupuncture. Although I've kept an eye on the blog, and an eye on her via Facebook, it looks like she's gone into hiding. The blog, which I loved to read, is no longer available. So, I can't direct you to what she wrote.  I can tell you that she mentioned taking some very strong pharmaceutical anti-depressants, though, and that always worried me. Klonopin is one drug that comes to mind.  Very strong stuff.

Sometimes I feel guilty about blogging, friends. When I come across people who are very depressed, I feel like anything I say about my life that's good and positive is just going to get on their nerves or frustrate them. Rationally, I understand that I'm not being a jerk by blogging, but it concerns me that what I say, if it is positive about the future for example, may provide someone with a reason to feel despair.

In any case, no matter what your current state of mental or physical health may be, I wish I could buy you- the whole world, really- an acupuncture session and introduce you to the great void. I loved it there.

Yours truly,

Saturday, 21 September 2013

A soak in the ocean, a walk on the beach, some time in the sun

Friends, I ran away today. To the beach. I needed some time in the breeze under the hot sun.

I mentioned before that it's rained on me most of the time I've been at the beach this year. Attempts to walk on the beach were met with soaking rain... but today was different. I walked as long as I wanted in the sun. It was gorgeous.

I saw this interesting man where I sat. I called him Adam Clayton circa 1989. Check out the hair!

Of course, the rock theme continued as I found myself in the middle of, you guessed it, a Flock of Seagulls!

I don't know if you've figured out the connection, but I am a bird person. Always have been. It, along with my crush on River, was why I picked Phoenix as my last name. My goal is to be, you guessed it, a mythological bird.

Funny how the use of the word "bird" refers to women in certain circles. Usually older dudes use this type of language, and it's not always the most respectful. However, I think Diva and I qualify as crazy birds. After all, she is known for wearing a feathered boa!

Birds of a feather flock together.

Freaks of a feather rock together, according to the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The third picture shows what I call punk rock birds. I don't know what they are called officially, but goodness, don't they look cool?

On my own, in my black tankini, I noticed the behavior of people around me. A couple duos of young men walked close by to get a closer look. I was flattered as hell. Then there were the older dudes, with whom I didn't make eye contact.

I am glad to be spoken for in the boyfriend department.

The beach is a great equalizer. We are all judged on the basis of our belly fat, or lack thereof. Our bathing suits, even those that cover much, really don't leave much to the imagination.

Young people, 17-18 years old, were everywhere. It cracked me up to hear snippets of their conversations. Stuff about, "Thanks for letting me vent. I can't talk to anyone at school or this will get back to my mom." There's so much that my friends and I used to worry about that we don't anymore. Things have changed so much. In a way, I still feel like a kid that age.  But then I realize that a long time has passed since those glorious days in the sun with my friends.

It was a good day to just lounge. I'll be honest: I have a lot of work to do on my book, and I intend to do it tomorrow. However, today's beach time made me relaxed in a way that I've needed for a while. It was worth the drive to come home and sleep for 2 solid hours after my shower. I felt like my brain had been unplugged for the first time in a while.

Thank goodness. There's been so much to think about lately, and not all fun stuff either.

Friends, I hope you have a wonderful week. This is your postcard from paradise.
Yours truly,

Thursday, 19 September 2013

The Summer of Carbs is OVER!

Diva and I are both challenging ourselves to be good for a while. I know I got into a new bad habit this summer that started with a big box full of gluten-free breads (birthday gift- yay!) and continued with red potatoes covered in garlic powder, rosemary, olive oil and pepper that I kept on cooking with chicken, mmmm... it's resulted in a very obvious 5-pound gain, and since I am short, it is quite visible.

She informed me recently, "I'm deflating!" That is what happens when you stop eating so many carbs.  I haven't started deflating yet, but it is a goal.

Carbs turn to sugar and that leads to weight gain. Yeah, I get that...

It would be easier to get into better shape if I felt better.  Recent blood tests have shown I need to give up the medication I used to use to control an ongoing condition, so now it's a rocky road for my health. I don't have the energy I had when I took the medication and could breathe well and sleep better.

Still, I am trying to count my blessings and hang in there.

Come on, deflation!


Sunday, 8 September 2013

Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

Friends, I've been thinking a lot about this advice lately. The desire to simplify my life is high right now.

I've been blessed with time with friends both near and far this year. I moved from one job to another (and will again move to another job, due to outside circumstances). For now, though, there is a good rhythm to life. Time with family, time with friends I knew long ago that I've reconnected with now that I've moved "home," and the possibility of a new place and a new home in the future.

One of the most cleansing things I've done is take advantage of the ACRCF truck. ACRCF is American Cancer Research Center and Foundation. They took my "donation" that consisted of household and clothing odds and ends- not enough to exchange or use for a garage sale, but stuff that was taking up space, not doing me any good, reminding me of the old days.

Some of my old days were good, but since this recession started, there have been more bad than good, and I'm opening my eyes to remembering the good old times and concentrating on making better times in the future.

A good part of that is not having entanglements.  The real estate thing really tripped me up; being unable to move made my life hard. Now, that's no longer the case. And being portable, it's good to simplify, simplify, simplify, and not have so much stuff hanging around. I don't need it or want it either.

I'm feeling very blessed. This past year has transformed my life for the better.


Saturday, 17 August 2013

Phoenix boots in red? Now, wasn't that thoughtful of somebody!

Who are these people at Luchese and what inspired them to make these phoenix boots?

They are conveniently not too high-heeled, as my days of sexy boots are few and far between, given that I've suffered from vertigo and need to keep my center of gravity as low as possible, lest I fall and bruise up my legs again (never a fun thing).

They are also not of the pointy-toed variety, which looks cool but really annoys my toes.

All I needed was $336 and a place/event to actually wear these boots. Then I could have bought them.  However, the practical side of me won out (this time).

But still, I wonder, what magic inspired them? And will there be cause for me to go back to this wonderful place and perhaps buy them?

I saw a medium a few months ago, and she told me that we all draw ideas from the same source. I've heard it called the Collective Unconscious.  I'm struck by these boots in that at some point, they were on someone's drawing board. Ever detail (feather, if you will) was planned and then executed in leather in such an artful way.

And recently I've been inspired by Diva's pictures that she posts and her artistic eye as well.  She and I really need to finish our collaborative book so people can enjoy it, and so that we can have the experience of having more of our work out there in the world.

I hope this note finds you well and amused at my odd fashion sense.  Phoenix boots! Whoda thunk it???

Yours truly,

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

A revelation, and an epiphany, about dating

Now that I'm getting all mellowed out, I'm starting to realize why I was single so long.

Things weren't a match.  I wanted things they couldn't give, and vice versa.

It's so simple, but took me years to see this.

It's amazing how easy it is to be with someone whose needs and wants match up with your own. Otherwise, it's just frustration and anger.  Goodness knows we have enough anger in the world already, but to have me out there dating probably just made it worse.

One of my exes had some form of autism. I could have been a lot more compassionate about it if I'd known, but I didn't. I am not sure if he knew, in fact, but it all added up.  He lacked social skills and seemed completely bewildered by emotions.  He focused intently on video games and was more interested in them than his girlfriend. I wanted a boyfriend who'd hug me and hold my hand, but he was  not comfortable with that. In my view at that time, he was a jerk.  Cold, heartless jerk. Now I know that he followed a script to get someone to date him but then had no idea what to do, and felt lost.  I remember how confused he would seem sometimes.  I was so busy being hurt by his seemingly head-up-the-ass behavior that I didn't have perspective on his struggles. I'm not sorry that we're not together, but I wish I could have understood this better.

Another one was depressed. I'm not sure how he is these days. It could be his normal state of being.  Again, I became impatient, wanting an affectionate, fun boyfriend instead of old grumpy. I was a clump of frustration leaving that relationship, but I did extend the olive branch later on and we are on friendly terms now.

I am starting to see this better as time goes on. Amazing how life is :)


Wednesday, 7 August 2013

My girlfriends would kill me if they knew I was posting these pictures. Seriously.

It's been quite a summer, friends. Of course, it still is summer, and with that all the sweating and napping and taking day trips and all that jazz.

I've been to the beach a few times this summer. Once, it was sunny. I will explain.

Memorial Day brought my friend in S from out of town in the Big City.  She needed a few days of R&R. So we packed up some beach towels and headed to Howard Beach near Tarpon Springs.  I gave her my Elvis towel to use, which you can see in this picture. I love this picture because there is so much color in it, and it really captured the moment. She does not claim this picture and asked me not to post it on Facebook and tag her, which I have honored. However, since you, dear reader, probably don't know S, you get to see the picture.

A group of friends whom I've known since about age 16 also got together at the beach around the 4th of July- in the Outer Banks of North Carolina to be exact.  I drove up with two friends and met two more at our rented beach house.

Our rental house was lovely and had beautiful back porches on the second and third floors looking out upon a dune that, in turn, led to the Atlantic Ocean.  Say it with me- ahhhhh.   We were so psyched to be there.  But then, the weather did not cooperate. It rained the whole time we were there, until the last day when I had to catch a plane. Drat. But I did spend time with my friends before I left, while they enjoyed an afternoon in the sun, and this was the scene that I found on that one sunny day:

These girls absolutely refuse to be photographed on the beach, but I did it anyway. From far away, with their backs to me.

One is actually 7 months pregnant in the picture. She won't allow beach pictures when she's not pregnant! So of course this photo was taken in the greatest of secrecy, and never shared.

I do think, though, that it too has an idyllic look to it. Three friends sharing some good times at the beach, soaking up some rays, doing what they've done together for over 20 years.

It's unlikely that any of these friends will see these pictures, but if they do, I'm sure I'll hear about it!


Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Hello again, Darlings...

Upheaval and change are the themes of this year, amigos.  But instead of having a dark and foreboding tone, like it did back in 2007, 2008, 2009 and even a little of 2010, life and the changes it's taking seem lighter and happier these days.

Where on earth should I start? Well, I ended up in my hometown earlier this year for a new job, but it doesn't seem likely that I'll stay for several reasons. One, I am in love with someone far away. Two, my job's probably going to go extinct in the next few months.  Three... well, the psychic medium mentioned something about getting into a different kind of work.

Yep, I saw a psychic medium. Diva did too. We went for our "big birthday celebration" this summer. Turns out we are entering a new decade this year.  The good news is, the window for our mid-life crises has closed if we can expect to reach 80 years old. Phew! I figure that being trapped in bumpkinland for several years, surrounded by salivating married guys doling out bad pickup lines and facing financial ruin via real estate investment does qualify as a midlife crisis. I AM SO GLAD THAT'S OVER!

She made some interesting comments, such as, "You know you're not going to stay in that job too long, don't you?" (The company announced it would be sold a week later, and my department will shrink significantly as a result.) My grandparents came through for me; they "always show up for these things," according to another family member who also heard from them through the medium.  My beau's grandfather came through as well, which I thought was cool, although I didn't know who it was until after the reading, when I could ask my boyfriend about it.

I'll know more about the direction of my love life "when the sun is in Libra," friends.  That is when my beau and I celebrate our one-year dating anniversary and he comes to visit me.  Will he bring an engraved invitation to move, such as an engagement ring? Time will tell. All I know is, that's my dude. If he wanted to go on fun vacations indefinitely, I'd be up for it.  I've learned to surrender my expectations on the dating front, and in doing so have recovered the joy of dating someone worthwhile.

As far as work goes, well, I haven't really used that degree I got back in 2007, so maybe I'll be able to do that in the future!

Anyway, things are up in the air as always, but all is well.  As my beau says, everything is as it should be.


Sunday, 2 June 2013

Every Little Bit Helps

Yesterday was a day of tying up loose ends.  Honestly, the past year has been that in a lot of ways! But as I look around, I realize that I am making progress, slowly but surely.

This is how life is.

Case in point: I started exercising more a few weeks ago.  Lost two inches off my middle, and also lost zero pounds.  I want to fit into my summer shorts, so the number on the scale doesn't concern me.  But still- four to five workouts per week made a difference.

I awoke early and waxed the front portion of my car today. Seriously. I want a nap right now! But I am glad it's done.  Its surface is now slightly more repellent to dirt and bugs, and the windows are covered in Rain-X at the start of hurricane season.  I could have done more, but I needed breakfast and the shadow cast by the house was getting shorter and shorter as the sun came up.  I'm excited that what got done is done.

Some friends just moved into their first house. I am thrilled for them.  I noticed, when given the tour the other night, that they have stuff but not a lot of furniture. Since I am in flux and need to lighten the load, I have furniture stuffed into a room where I currently live, which is not likely to be where I will live in 6 months' time.  Soooo, I'm hoping that is a match. Maybe they can take what I don't anticipate I will need again.

We are whittling down my load, little by little.  Metaphorically and actually.  And goodness knows, every little bit helps!

I hope you have a great week ahead.


Wednesday, 22 May 2013

This is why it is good to have the same friend for a long time

Remember scouts? Goodness knows I loved being a girl scout. Learning new things, going camping, singing songs... That was the life when we were 7 and 8 years old. Good times.

One of the songs we sang went like this:

Make new friends, but keep the old,
One is silver and the other's gold.

Well. Recently I was reminded just how cool it is to have the same friend for a long period of time.

I've known M for 14 years.  I can't even believe it's been that long, but yes, we met when we were in our 20s.  It was a rambunctious time, and we attended many a happy hour in search of love and good times and revelry.

In recent years, we've both moved to different places (and then moved back), but with M, we can just as easily pick up where we left off, like when we're both "in town" at the same time.  This year, our "old" hometown is our "new" hometown again, and we get to socialize from time to time since we live within true driving distance.

These are the things we talk about: brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews, work, vacations, dating, other family members, what we should probably do with our lives, and so forth.  Having the familiarity of more than a decade makes most topics accessible, and sometimes we venture into the metaphysical, which is always fun.

Having a friend who you've known for a long time gives you clarity, too. They were there for different stages of your life, so who better to recall those times with? She said something to me recently that sticks out.  We were discussing my ex-boyfriend, and she said three words that validated my opinion, which were, "He was angry."

Strangely, I had just written something about him. My writing group (full of old friends, one of whom I've known since about 1994!) provided the motivation of writing about "the feeling of being stuck." And so, I thought about that relationship and wrote a story about it.

Part of me is always second-guessing myself, so when M said she always thought he was angry, I felt relieved. I have so many memories of feeling trapped in dealing with him, and I wonder if my view of him was altered by other things in my history. Hearing her succinct summary, though, made my day.

My writing buddy K happened to know the weirdo from my last post whom I completely ignored when I saw him (the weirdo) at the restaurant recently.  K told me, after I told him about the run-in, that, "He is a master manipulator." This reinforced my satisfaction with how I handled the incident, as with this weirdo in particular, if you give him an inch, he'll take a mile.

So, when I am in doubt, my longtime friends come to my aid with their observations and their humor too.  I know friends are great no matter how long you've known them, but sometimes the best sounding boards are the ones who know you and the other people in your life, who've witnessed the interactions and seen the effects.

Longtime friends, you are awesome!


Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Something Must Fall By the Way Side... You Heard Me!

My boyfriend recently asked me, from the Book of Questions:

Q: "If you could sleep for 2 hours every night and wake up feeling refreshed, and have the rest of the time to pursue whatever interests you wish to pursue, would you do it?"

A: Yes.  No, I mean: HELL YES.

Sometimes I have to sit back and wonder, Am I too motivated? This never happened to me in earlier years. I guess I was too busy then to stop and wonder if I was too motivated. These days, though, something always falls by the wayside. There is just not enough time for everything.

One time, when I was on vacation with a few of my longtime dear friends, we met up with a couple of older dudes on a river rafting tour. (They were impressed that we were there; their own wives were having a spa day.) They asked us what we did for a living, and I told them I was a writer, and then someone mentioned that I acted, and they asked what was my career? So I responded (and I hope that this doesn't or didn't sound too obnoxious) that I have lived many lives. I was busy all the time, doing all kinds of stuff. And, I still try, although I don't think I match the energy I used to have.

There is a quote attributed to Johnny Depp: "They told me I could be whatever I wanted to be so I did." And then there's picture montage of him as a groom, a dad, a brother, a tranny, chocolate maker, chocolate eater, psychotic writer #1, psychotic writer #2, psychotic writer #3, greaser, emo wolverine...

I suppose, in a way, that I wish I was more like Johnny Depp.  But we can be grateful that he functions as inspiration, both in the way that we are inspired with dreamy thoughts when we look at him and the fact that he is such a prolific and inspired actor.


Sunday, 12 May 2013

Finding the Motivation

I swear, there are not enough hours in the day.  Really.

Some people gauge their progress by doing this by age 25, something else by age 30, and this big laundry list of things by age 40, etc.

When I was 25, the excuse for not writing all the screenplays and being in all the theatre and film projects in the world at that point was that I was busy going to pubs and drinking, obtaining "real life" experience for what I wanted to write later on.  Really, I had tons of energy and had to run it off one way or another :)

By age 30, I was jettisoning a crappy boyfriend and learning the lesson of how one person can have a detrimental effect on your life.  My cholesterol and weight were up, my happiness levels were low, and my stress levels were off the charts.  I gave myself a pass for not having more done by that age because I had to deal with him- all the pressures of being with him, coupled with the pressure to stay with him from the collective chorus of people around me who judged me for not being able to keep a relationship going.  It was a rough time.  So on my 30th birthday, I was just happy to have a new haircut with bangs, friends to go see a Pirates of the Caribbean movie with, and rum to drink.

As I approach the big 4-0, I have 2 book projects in progress, a full-time job, a long-distance relationship, and the burning desire to get back into good physical shape.  Also, I have health issues now from surgery that I have to manage for the rest of my life; I have to cook for myself a lot, and that in itself is a part-time job for which I don't receive compensation.

Point being, something always falls by the wayside. I have to have relationships with people, too. I have to exercise.  I have to sleep.  I have to work.  So it is hard, sometimes, to keep all these balls in the air.

Ha ha, I just wrote balls in the air.  Anyway, friends, I wanted to write something today, and this is what it turned out to be.

Obviously I need to get going.  Happy week ahead, my friends!



Saturday, 4 May 2013

Sorry, all your turns have been used up. Our soul contract has expired. You can go and be a train wreck in peace now.

I ran into someone last night who brought out some pretty interesting feelings. Basically, the following:
- I was raised with these Christian ethics about turning the other cheek, being tolerant, and all that.  Soooo, because I was adverse to conflicts, I let a lot of bad behavior slide in my early days.  Some friends took advantage of this, and of course those "friendships" always ended and never ended well.
- I tend to save all my frustration up and then blow like a powder keg.  It's taken me almost 4 decades to be more direct in my communication with people. I know this is a weakness, and I am working on it. Still, I've tried to be polite, and people have taken advantage sometimes.

So anyway, last night I came almost face-to-face with someone I knew in my past. He had (maybe still has) a terrible drinking problem and is very angry. He's been very disrespectful to his girlfriends over the years, some of whom I've known, and has talked a lot of crap about people he's supposedly friends with behind their backs.

I used to tolerate it for 2 reasons: 1) because he would always talk about what great friends we were, and how we had this great friendship, and this subliminal manipulation worked for a long time; and 2) because he was never overtly disrespectful to me.

The proverbial straws that broke my back were: his escalating alcoholism, escalating a-holish behavior, and a report from a friend of mine that he was now talking $hit about me.  Unacceptable.

I moved apartments and shut off the phone, to get rid of him and someone else similar to him I had known in college whom I didn't want to know anymore (female, and drank quite a bit less, but still seething in negativity).  It seemed I didn't want to make any graceful excuses to these people about why hadn't I called and then end up dealing with their drama, probably based in insecurity.

I made a promise to myself after I dealt with the last alcohol-steeped a-holish encounter with this fool. I left and never went back.  He called me after I'd left his house wondering when I'd be back and I said, "You can be as big of a train wreck as you want, but I'm not watching it anymore, and I'm not even going to pretend that it's OK with me. It's not."

Some new age types say there are cords of energy that connect people. Well, I severed that cord. I promised myself that he would no longer be someone I'd acknowledge. Ever. For the rest of my life. It was one of the easiest promises I've ever made. If you are familiar with astrology, you know that someone like me can be a champion grudge-holder.  Maybe even take it as far as the Olympics (although really I would have preferred to be a gymnast there!)

So last night, of course, of all the restaurants in all the towns in all the world, who should be seated next to Diva and me but A-hole and his date.

Conveniently, my deaf ear was facing his table.  Diva looked at me and mouthed, "Is that A-hole?" (She knew him back in the old days of college.) I responded with a panicked widening of my eyes.  Then she mouthed, "He looks OLD!" and we laughed, mainly because that's what drinking way too much and smoking for 15-20 years will do to a person, and of course she and I are steeped in loveliness and youth even at this advanced age.

Then, we talked about our upcoming travel plans. I mean, it needed to be discussed and we had to do something to keep the focus off the people next to us, divided by some wooden slats and a low wall.

He knew I was there. He kept looking at me, driving the fight-or-flight response I was experiencing and using my acting skills not to show. I wonder if it was unnerving to him too.  Diva said he was being his charming self with his date, whom I didn't see.  I was too busy looking at Diva and all areas to the right of her so that his eyes would not meet mine. We were busy planning our road trip rendezvous anyway.

Some say souls have contracts, and that we know and plan our lives before we're even born (and then, naturally, forget everything and have to learn it again).  The idea of soul mates comes from the concept that perhaps we've known other souls in other lives when we occupied other bodies.  See the movie Cloud Atlas for some sort of representation of this. (It is a fantastic movie, by the way!)

Anyway, just as there are positive soul connections, there can be negative ones as well. Whenever someone is a part of my life for decades, the question will occur to me: what is the glue that keeps us in touch? Some connections, relationships, and experiences create a strong bond, and there isn't necessarily a rhyme or reason to it. I met my boyfriend as a teenager, didn't see him for 22 years, and somehow he seemed special to me when we "re-met" on Facebook.  There was something familiar about him and very lovable even though I had no rational basis for this judgment. So, perhaps our souls have an agreement as well. We had no trouble at all emailing and speaking with each other again.  It really had a quality of comfort and happiness to it, for us to be in touch.  So there's that.

And perhaps A-hole and I had a contract, but upon my last train-wrecky exchange with him, that was severed.  There was a new understanding that I developed from him and others who've pushed my buttons, that I don't have to be kind and welcoming to every train wreck who finds me and tries to use me as a floatation device in the ocean of life.  I was too nice before.  It occurs me that people I admire for their spiritual development don't hang around with addicts and people who point fingers at everything else in life, making excuses for their own lack of progress.  So, why can't I be more like those people?

Indeed.  Heavy thoughts for a Saturday morning friends. Wishing you all a wonderful and relaxing weekend.


Sunday, 21 April 2013

Lord, it's hard to be humble when you're perfect in every way

The title of this blog is actually song lyrics.  Yes, song lyrics.  We always thought it was funny, that song. I think it came out in the 1980s when, let's face it, the world was a different place. Tycoons and high-achievers were celebrated more than they are now.  It was just the culture of America then.

Having spent a little time in the Deep South, I've become aware of what a sin it is to think highly of yourself.  And by highly, I mean, having what I consider to be healthy self-esteem.

This trait really conflicts with the overall American idea of a healthy self-image.

I recall some people displaying a lot of frustration with me, yet being unable to explain why.  I got a cryptic message from one of them via email about how I needed to "change my ways."  I changed my ways, all right, and quit talking to her.  But I'm sure that my response ignited her fury.  I basically asked, "What ways of mine need changing and why? How are you qualified to judge me and my ways and tell me they are wrong?"  Which is a nice way of saying, Buzz off, a-hole.

Listen, I don't think I'm perfect, but I am trying to be a good person every day.  It's just that I was judged and scrutinized so much growing up that I choose not to carry on that pattern, while some think it's their duty to do this to others.  Aside from horrible crimes against others who do not consent to be involved with your schemes, believe me, if you are making choices for yourself that only affect yourself and the people who choose to associate with you, I don't need to weigh in with an opinion.  I don't think it's my business.

I think that's where the disconnect happens for me and some of the churchier folk I meet.  Some people love it when you accept them and their beliefs, but they don't want you to extend that acceptance toward anyone else who believes something that they don't believe.  And they sure as hell don't want you to believe whatever you want; they want you to believe what they believe, because it's "right" and everything else is "wrong."

The concept of pridefulness has always baffled me.  It's kind of like the myth of Icarus.  Fly too close to the ground, you crash. Fly too close to the sun, your wings fall apart and then you crash. Only the ones who fly in this one accepted zone can make it safely to their destination.

It encourages all these churchy types to blend in; nobody should stand out because that's prideful. You're not allowed to be proud of yourself and your accomplishments because that means you're bragging on yourself. This totally flies in the face of a few things: American culture, pride in a job well done, the concept of mentoring people along their paths, and overall self-expression.

I don't get it.  Part of me wants to try to understand, while a bigger part of me is glad to have escaped an environment where people were really concerned with stuff like this.

I wish you the best of weeks ahead, friends. This past week was a difficult one and I hope things will calm down, both on the news and in our lives.


Sunday, 17 March 2013

The struggle with ego

Sometimes I use judgmental language, I know. I am viewing people through the scope of my own experience. Really, I have to accept that this is a different person with a different view of life. And while I don't see eye to eye with this person, I know he or she is entitled to an opinion just like I am entitled to mine.

Which brings us to L. L is a woman I knew in Winterville who can't make it on her own. She lives in a mansion (not an exaggeration, a huuuuuge home in a beauuuutiful neighborhood) out of the charity of the home owner, who she convinced she could assist with the running of the home in exchange for free room and board. Now, I know there are a lot of tasks associated with running a home, and I don't belittle that, but as someone who tried to rent a room out of her brand-new Winterville home five years ago in an effort to make money and cover her bills, and who met a lot of people who presented L's suggestion about living there for free, I sure as heck didn't appreciate it. Well, I was poor, and the home lost half its value and I couldn't sell it, and for a while I was jobless and on unemployment, so I didn't have the capacity for charity... it's not like I had so much and could afford to have someone there not paying. And, it's not really in my background to have this type of arrangement. I don't come from some wealthy type of family that doesn't need income.

Anyway, L was recently arrested for shoplifting. Yes, shoplifting. Because living in a mansion for free apparently isn't enough. Living for free, and using her food stamps to subsidize her living and house parties, and who knows what other entitlements that she receives (that people like me pay for) apparently isn't enough. Now L needs new free clothes too?

I wouldn't have known about this if Diva wasn't still Facebook friends with S.  S is a woman who has deleted me off her friends list as both Jane and my "real" name. I am not sure of her reason and didn't ask. I know that when we met, we were both at the bottom of the barrel, couldn't find work, couldn't find good people, and stuck in Winterville, so I gave this a pass. I figured, if she wants to move out of that time in her life and not be reminded of the people she knew then, more power to her.  Although she and I won't be meeting up and discussing things, I think we can agree that we both deserved better than that.

S pasted a link to the Winterville mug shot website with a description of why L was arrested.  Apparently, they had a big fight months ago when S caught L shoplifting at TJMaxx.  S said L was stupid. L said, "No, they (meaning the people in the store) are stupid." (So it's OK to steal from stupid people? And it's OK to steal? Noted.) They stopped talking and being friends.

Again, I would have known about none of this unless L had made such a fuss about it. She'd call me up and go over this "fight" they had that probably never took place. "S was mean to me because I got lost on the way to her apartment and took too long getting there. S was mad at me because she wanted me to date some guy who lives in an RV. Can you imagine? I'm dating someone who has a plane!" (and a few other girlfriends, it turned out. Surprise, surprise.)

L spent a few weeks ringing my phone so she could malign S. She'd complain endlessly about being deleted from Facebook; it took me at least a month to realize S had deleted me too. She tried to bait me into saying bad things about S. There were some pauses in the conversation when I wouldn't take the bait. I don't want to be like that. I'd say, "Listen, I don't want to hear you talk badly about her. Sure, he has her issues, but so do the rest of us, and you need to let this go."

Of course, S has a criminal past as well. It was a long time ago, and doesn't reflect what she does now, but it does exist.  So her trotting out the information about L's arrest didn't seem fair, either. Pot, have you met Kettle?

I can't even take sides in this. S doesn't talk to me and I don't have any reason to call her. L is probably too embarrassed to get in touch, although she's started sprinkling comments on Facebook again since she got out of jail. I don't have anything nice to say, and I'm trying not to say anything.

I know using judgmental language is wrong, and judging people isn't the best thing, either. However, we all tend to choose people as friends and acquaintances who fit our values. Dr. Wayne Dyer talks about this- shifting to a higher frequency, that sort of thing.  He's a very spiritual dude, and I don't see him hanging out with addicts or thieves.

I do get disappointed sometimes.

Sigh!  Well, thanks for listening, friends.  I hope the upcoming week is a lot of fun for you. And have fun being Irish today!


Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Sentimentality is the Ally of Delusion

I have a friend I knew in the bad old days.  D had no job when I had a crappy one, and then when both of us were unemployed, and then when I worked full-time and could not make ends meet and she lived with her parents and managed a makeup counter, her true career having been grounded by the Great Recession.

D was the first to break free of Winterville and get back into her chosen profession, which she actually performs on the road all the time. I struggled at my prior position, had some times of relative sanity when the bills were under control but before my illness, which messed up my finances in a big way as you could imagine, and now I am free of both Winterville and the old circumstances. Thank goodness. It's been a long, hard row to hoe. I'm glad to be on the other side of that crisis.

We met because she volunteered at a theatre where I sometimes volunteered and sometimes performed. D was miserable then.  Well, we all were.  I met some pretty interesting people there.  One explained why natives ostracized me, being a sympathetic native herself. Another was a very angry person who would later, after my friend D's exit, start up some junior-high style campaign in which I would be excluded and made to feel like an outsider.  I stopped talking to her and the sympathetic native when all that $hit hit the fan, and I explained to D this situation; she could sympathize with me from the safety of being Far Away and employed in a capacity that allowed her proper distance.

D's status the other day on Facebook was something like: "Feeling nostalgic for my time at Winterville Theatre" with Angry Person, Sympathetic Native, and a bunch of other actors from those days. I was not included, although I was there then.

So now that D has a full bank account and a glittering successful career and a full life, she is nostalgic for the times when she had no money and lived with her parents and hung out with a bunch of underemployed miserable people in an economically depressed region? Whaaatt???

Dear Goddess, of all the things to be nostalgic about! Let me tell you about how it does NOT break my heart that those days are over. In fact, I am quite relieved. If you'd told me a few years ago that I'd end up living in a great place, surrounded by loved ones, with a long-distance boyfriend whom I've loved since I was 16, and real opportunities ahead in my career, I would have thought you were insane. I don't know if I would have known it was possible, given that I was surrounded by such difficulties, and, aside from people like D, difficult people too.

So maybe Facebook is just wrong for me. Maybe my boyfriend was right to give it up.  Because I didn't appreciate being reminded of those crappy times, and I didn't appreciate having been edited out of D's recollection of it, probably to appease Angry Person.

A book I have, Lovingkindness Meditation, talks a lot about sentimentality being an ally of delusion.  D could be sentimental about those days and just remember what she wanted to, editing out the rest. Were they so great? Nope. But hey, volunteering at the theatre got us all out of the house. At least there was that.

I think I had more fun in the past 2 months, when I was in transition between Winterville and the new city and I lived near work, than I had in the 5 years I lived in Winterville.


Here's my status update: Damn glad to be living in the here and now!

Yours truly,

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Masculine vs. Feminine Qualities: Which are Better?

My answer? Too much of either and you're out of whack!

I've lived in 2 places here that have been either hyper-masculine or hyper-feminine.  Both workplaces were chaos, for different reasons: one sought to dominate me into submission (as if!) and the other offered conflicting messages, lack of communication, and no incentive to learn new things and make more money(How is this masculine or feminine? I'd call it a genderless cluster****). Neither is going to apply to my future life since I will be moving on from this soon.  I also learned what it was like to have car mechanics try to bully me into getting work done that I didn't need,  who tried to overcharge me for work I needed, and on the other hand I've had to deal with incompetent people working on my car.

It occurred to me that the place I work now, with mostly women in charge, has a lot of issues. Everyone wants their stars to shine, at the expense of everyone else's, which is typically a masculine trait, but at the same time, they on some level believe in the spirit of cooperation- and cooperate in making chaos for support staff to constantly live with and try to unravel. It is exhausting. I miss the organization and structure I knew when I worked for a male-dominated industry, but I sure as heck don't miss the sexist attitudes and belittlement from those men.

So what is my point? Nothing's ever perfect! But I did come to a better understanding when I applied this to masculine and feminine traits.

Here is a list from a college Sociology text by Pearson Education, Inc. that includes my comments in special text:

(You will notice that more feminine traits have a negative connotation (and it was probably written by a man). This is a thing about our language that's evolving AND reflective of where we've been- and possibly things will change, and perhaps not. There's no telling.)

Feminine Traits:
Submissive (This has a bad meaning usually but I can see how it can help in social and work situations. Sometimes you don't need to fight over everything. I prefer this strategy: "OK, person I disagree with. Have it your way, and blame yourself when it doesn't work because I tried to warn you!")
Dependent (This is insulting to a modern woman, for whom dependence isn't usually even an option, but it also reflects other things: income that comes from government payments, pensions, family members, or any situation in which something or someone takes care of you or perhaps wields some sort of power over you.)
Unintelligent and Incapable (I've seen both sexes use this trick.  It's the "I'm so stupid and helpless that I need someone to take care of me," act.  I saw it in my last boyfriend. Do you know I am a selfish a-hole for not bankrolling a good lifestyle for him while he was a professional student (who often bombed finals) and went from entry-level job to similar job because he found work to be so dissatisfying? Whatever, dude. I also saw it in a former co-worker of mine, a woman. And I think it's funny for me to say that I'd rather see these qualities in a man than in a woman, but it's true. Women today have opportunities like never before. Playing the stupid and helpless card generally means that I'll want to kick you with my boots on if you keep it up!) Are you kidding me? Did the book actually list unintelligent and incapable as a feminine trait? Tell them to go have a baby, raise it and run a home in the meantime, which is traditionally what women have done, and then go tell me women are incapable?
Emotional (And you can't tell me that both sexes aren't emotional.  My boyfriends have been is more emotional than I am, probably because I have my guard up so much- see Masculine Traits below for additional information! But seriously, we are all emotional creatures. How much of the emotion we allow to be seen/heard/shared is our choice.) I think the difference is that men tend to compartmentalize in, "OK, I'm at work now," and they shut the door on that aspect and concentrate on work, while women tend to be more holistic, realizing that it all goes together. Too much of either isn't good.
Receptive (I find this to be ironic in a way, because women tend to give, give, give. Especially mothers. But the receptivity to our emotions, signals that light our paths, signs, the moods of people around us, the perception of danger, any type of "receiving," whether it be help, money, information, support. The way women are socialized makes us more apt to be receptive, and perceptive, in a lot of cases.)
Intuitive (Pretty much, what I just wrote. People with this trait are gifted in ways that apply directly to making one's way in the world.)
Weak (Now that word just pisses me off- see Masculine Traits below. You want to call me weak? OK, well, I don't have upper-body strength if that's how you measure my abilities. I wasn't built for that. However, if you mean weakness of character, that is a personal trait, not a gender-based trait.)
Timid (The first time I saw footage of the traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, I thought, Whoa. Those people are nuts.  Well, "those people" are generally men.  And they are doing what they've been socialized to do: compete, shout, bargain, look for a deal.  It's not right and it's not wrong. It's just rather unappealing to some types, including myself.)
Content (Now this cracks me up. Who is ever truly content? Why would contentedness be gender-specific? That's just crazy talk. Is this the opposite of achievement-oriented? Because if so, it definitely doesn't have a gender associated with it.)
Passive (Anyone who has a mother knows that this isn't really a female trait!) However, more women than men I know are passive-aggressive because again, traditionally, a woman was not allowed to be overtly aggressive. So, because she didn't come out guns blazing like a man, men thought of women as passive...
Cooperative (Now, this one I like. Politicians seem to channel these traits related to "doing it their way" and if you get a room full of those fools, nothing productive ever gets done; it's just posturing and fighting and all the stuff we generally see. BS, I say.  Learn to cooperate, and you can do great things.)
Sensitive (See Emotional.)
Sex object (Traditionally, yes. Women typically wield some power because of their appearance in some situations at least.  There's really no denying it. But in this equal-opportunity age of living in a youth and hotness-obsessed culture, men are not exempt from this. Do you think Ryan Reynolds gets acting jobs based on his talent alone? I don't think so. I've dreamed about him shirtless and I bet I'm not the only one :) Amen to that sister!
Attractive because of physical appearance (This is something I came across in trying to date for the last 5 years or so. Youth and attractiveness are currency in the dating world. No, I don't like it, but not liking it doesn't mean it isn't so. Old men really came after me in the online world. Old men! Yuck! But they wanted me to appreciate their masculine qualities (see below) and overlook the fact that I'd miss out on sharing my life with someone my age, with a similar past, musical and TV interests, general life experiences, etc. So that is some of the game, but like they say, don't hate the players, hate the game.) More on the players, below:

Masculine Traits
Dominant (Yeah, I'm just going to hit you over the head if you won't let me do things my way.  What can I say? Sometimes this works, and sometimes, it drives people away from you quickly.)
Independent (OK, so given world history I'll allow this to be considered a masculine trait, although it usually applies to most people who have their $hit together. My fictional idol Scarlett O'Hara put this spirit into practice when she said she wanted to have so much money and resources that she could tell anyone at all who said things against her to go to hell. I feel the same way. Independence isn't just financial, but being able to make your own decisions is such a good feeling to own.)
Intelligent and competent (Right, one might say, I've got this.)
Rational (If you follow politics at all, it's the ones who make the emotional connections who win.  The ones who make rational arguments about cutting waste and balancing budgets and dealing with shortfalls to Social Security get written off as too stodgy and not warm enough. I see rationality as a good thing, but a tough sell. Even if the underlying issues are compassionate, rationality doesn't appeal. So really, this is a "negative" masculine trait, even though I personally think it is a good one.) Want to see a guy become irrational? Just go to a bar and watch another guy hit on his girl! LMAO!! All reason goes out the window....
Assertive (I've been accused of this in my day. If you don't want to be trod upon, then be assertive. It's a good thing. I suppose you could take it too far and be overbearing, but for the most part, have a backbone.) Yes, in a woman it's called Being a Bitch.
Analytical (I test pretty high for this as well. Diva always says to me, "What you say makes sense, but that's not the way most people think, or the way most people behave." And that makes me laugh, since it's hard to empathize when you don't get why people don't think the way you think. Anyway, I think being analytical keeps you from being too stuck in your opinions over time. I am proud to say that I've changed my opinions over the years based on information that's come to me and made me reconsider my ideas.) Aren't analytical and rational pretty much the same? Anyhoo, yes, I have to keep reminding you that the majority of people are neither analytical nor rational? If you have any doubts of that in a male dominated field, just look at the stock market. 
Strong (Strength is emotional as well as physical. Strength is what you need to carry yourself through life. I think you have to learn to be strong, and if you refuse to be strong, your life is harder as a result.)
Brave (This is a universal trait, for sure.  You have to be brave to go to your first day of school. You have to be brave to stand up to others and assert yourself. You always have a choice, of course. But getting through life is one act of bravery after another, really!)
Ambitious (This can be good or bad. How high is your ambition? How do you go about getting what you want? Do you step on others? Is throwing people under the bus involved? Or do you show up and do a good job and look for opportunities? I used to debate this with an ex of mine who thought that when I said, "I let my work speak for itself," and "I only need to compete with myself" was Loser Talk.  He was programmed to think that his star had to shine, no matter what the cost to his personal life or his co-workers.  He wasn't a great boyfriend- a shocker, I know.)
Active (We can't all be the Zen types: you know- we do without doing and everything gets done. Sometimes, we've gotta be active and get things done for realsies.)
Competitive (What, you want incentives in life? You want challenges? You want to be compensated for your abilities? Well, then, you must be a tiny bit (or very much) competitive!)
Insensitive (Ha ha ha ha ha. Oh, if only this were specific to men! Often times I used the phrase, "And now I'm the A-hole!" to get across the point that sometimes people say you're insensitive when you're standing up for yourself. Hmmm, this is a tricky one.)
Sexually aggressive (My friend C said recently, "As women, we say no a lot more than we say yes," and I realized how much that is true. Guys have to keep on trying and trying just to get a woman's attention. I can't imagine what it's like but it must be something.)
Attractive because of achievement (It's the car, the house, the bank account that make you attractive, right? Hey, models marry rich guys. It isn't a coincidence! But that's not always the case.  And like I said before, there wouldn't be a concept of "sugar mamas" if this were truly gender-specific!) 

What do you think? Diva, do you have any thoughts you'd like to add in pink? If so, please chime in!
Really, this is a very complicated issue as both sexes have both "traditionally" masculine and feminine need to have both, yin and yang, or there is imbalance.  There is a definite difference in how boys and girls are taught socially, and really, it's a burden for both to have that kind of a thing heaped on them. I just read an article the other day that said toddlers of both sexes are equally violent, but girls are then taught "it's not nice to hit" so they learn to be violent in their social cues, gossiping, excluding etc. Makes me wonder what would happen if that sort of social conditioning changed altogether? And with that, if I ever have a boy, I'm going to name him Sue.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Call me crazy... or whatever

At what point do you bypass all societal guilt and simply act to protect yourself from crazies?

Here is what I mean.  In the last few years, I've been getting SCHOOLED in dealing with people with mental disorders. It must be a lesson I have to learn, something karmic that I need to understand.  Whatever the reason, it's happened over and over, and the only thing I really understand about it is that I can't handle crazy people.  Shunning them is an act of self-preservation. And yet, when I read the news and see the horrible things that crazy people do, I can't help but wonder: should I be trying to help them more? At the expense of my own mental health?

Here is the answer I keep coming back to: NO.

Years ago, I embarked on a meditation experiment based on Lovingkindness Meditation. There is a book by Sharon Salzberg if you'd like to check it out. Basically, it uses 4 phrases for you to wish yourself and others well:

May I be free from danger
May I have physical happiness
May I have mental happiness
May I have ease of well-being

Substitute "I" for "you" or "we" as time progresses.  First, focus on yourself, wishing yourself these things. Then, focus on a friend. Then, a stranger. Finally, a "challenging person." When you have covered all the bases, the question posed is, if you were in a situation where someone's life would be lost, who would you choose? Would you sacrifice yourself or choose another? The answer is that each life is equal after the exercise, and it's impossible to choose.

So... crazies.  I had one last year who wanted to relay to me all the adventures she'd had stalking a guy who was possibly mildly interested in her, at the expense of her estranged husband and confused young children, over a number of states. Somehow, a decade ago, she'd taken on the responsibility of being a wife and mother without really committing to it, and now she was feeling like she'd missed something big and envied my single, never-married life (Snort! Scoff! I told her from the start that she had a house full of people who loved her, and I didn't have anything like that. It pales in comparison to being able to finish a book in a timely manner, which she seemed to want a whole lot).

One day, I interrupted one of her soliloquies (So I saw him in traffic, and he wasn't where he said he was supposed to be, so I followed him, and it looked like he went to so-and-so's house, which I didn't like and why didn't he tell me? Then later, at 9:53, he posted a comment on Facebook to his OLD GIRLFRIEND some flirty thing about whatever, and I was like WHOA, man, what are you doing? What about our relationship?) I was starting to suspect that their "relationship" was mostly a figment of her imagination supplemented by stalking (did I mention she's quit her job and moved several states over to "date"this guy?)  So I said, "Stop, stop, stop, I can't listen to this anymore. I just can't do it. I don't have the energy to listen to this. I need to take care of myself."

Later on, she did something that I can only describe as "throw my sister under the bus." That was when I bowed out entirely, and said I needed a break from hearing from her.  (Honestly, when I get to that point, I am done with someone since I'm such a champion grudge-holder, but I didn't want to sound so final.)

Last night, my "sister" asked me if I am in touch at all with the person described above.  I told her no.

We hear all the time that people who walk into a room with a weapon like a knife or a gun and murder a bunch of school children are insane and socially isolated.  And I must admit that I am responsible for isolating some people who've come in to my life and tried to latch on to me.

I remember something Wayne Dyer wrote: that people at the same level of consciousness tend to migrate toward each other and befriend each other.  Sometimes you have to bid farewell to certain friends/people whose energy pulls you down to move forward in life.

I once looked at the tableau of people blowing up my cell phone, who were spouting things to me like: "Pay attention to me! I need your attention! Listen to my drama! Let me talk you out of having any goals in life so I won't feel inadequate! Let me bring you down with my crappy attitude!  Let me try to turn you against someone else we know by harping on all of his/her terrible qualities! And if you don't let me do any and all of these things, you are a bad person! Shame on you! My drama and I need attention and YOU are a bad friend if you don't want to pay attention!"

It occurred to me that Wayne Dyer doesn't hang out with people hooked on prescription drugs who wallow in their depression and make their friends feel bad about trying to improve their lives.  Wayne Dyer doesn't hang out with mentally unhealthy people who are in denial and refuse to have their illnesses treated. Wayne Dyer and most ex-Catholics understand what low-level weapons guilt and shame can be.

I've had to let several people go, with well wishes.  I wonder what they are doing now, although I don't want to check in on them! I suspect one is in a house full of junk and garbage, getting old before her time, suspicious of everyone around her, and afraid to get treatment for her mental illness. Another is taking medicine for her physical symptoms but may not ever get treatment for her mental problems.  Another one, a man, has a good government job now and probably can't get fired from it, so no matter how much he forgets to bathe, brush his teeth and comb his hair, he'll be able to put on airs that he's some sort of masters-level intellectual indefinitely. Another man, who's 36 years old now, will be a dependent for his sister or his mother for the rest of their lives, and who knows where he'll live or what he'll do or if he'll have any more violent outbursts. Since he's been arrested, the legal system is keeping track of him, so perhaps that will force his hand when it comes to diagnosis and treatment.

I don't know what the solution to all the crazies out there is, but I've gotta say: I know I can't fix them!

I hope this note finds you well.  Have a great week!