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.