Friday, 17 January 2014

Does Listening to Music You Discovered in 1996 Transport You Back to the Age You Were in 1996?

Friends, I have re-discovered the Wallflowers.  With every second of the grungy/Austin-inspired/wall-of-noise tunes, I am transported back to myself in 1996, the broke but happy college student/graduate/traveler/creative person.

I read somewhere in a feng shui book that someone did an experiment at an old folks' home and piped in music from the old people's youth.  In response to this, perhaps, the old people's bodies started producing cells that were as potent as the ones they'd produced when they were young.

Sometimes I hope for that.  Sometimes, when I'm not as keen on what the future holds as I probably should be.

"And I know you believe that you and me don't belong here,
And the worst we could do is keep trying to pretend we care.
But I hear voices, and I see colors, and I wish I felt nothing...
Then it might be easy for me, like it is for you.

Like it is for you,
Like it is for you."

Man, I love that song.  I used to drive around in my 2-door black hatchback and crank that song!  I was such an emotional emoter back in 1996- that's right, the same kind of person who really gets on my nerves now.  Funny how the tables turn.

If I need to feel positive about the future, I probably shouldn't listen to all my old CDs, but since I lost all the ITunes I'd input into my computer, I am listening to all my CDs again to re-enter them into ITunes.  Between being broke from the Recession and just getting older, my CD consumption has slowed to a trickle in recent years. So, much of the music that reminds me of recent days is not included in my CD collection.

But hopefully when I get up from working at my computer and listening to the Wallflowers later on today, I'll have that flat stomach I had back in 1996.  One can only hope.

Yours truly,


Wednesday, 15 January 2014

I did the best I could. Honest.

Friends, I have the flu this week. I don't think I'm going to die from it, but it's certainly thrown a wrench into my plans.  I had to postpone fun outings, although I may be making progress on the job front.  However, any face-to-face meetings or fast-paced conversations will have to wait a few more days; I simply don't look or sound the part of a competent worker now.

It's also given me the gift of introspection.  Yesterday, I gave myself the job of pulling weeds (because I simply had to be outside and feel the breeze) and while I sat there, performing that repetitive task, my mind started to wander in that wonderful way it does. I thought back to different tasks I've been assigned and asked to do over the years, and once in a while I haven't knocked one out of the park.

(Astrological insight: my Capricorn ascendent is something that's followed me like an addiction throughout life, whether it was scoring high in the "Takes pride in work" category on a grade-school report card or fashioning my own checklists to ensure that work tasks were done thoroughly at prior jobs, I'm one of those people who pay attention to detail. Typos drive me up a wall! But once in a while, my own brain won't let me recognize my own.) 

I thought back to jobs I've held, places I've lived, the book I'm writing (which chronicles some very challenging conditions during this recession, which I still think is going on), my past creative projects, and everything I've tried where I've rated average or less.  The thought popped into my head:

I did the best I could. 

I came up with a few concepts, a few rhymes, and wrote them down on a Word file.  Then, apparently I neglected to save them, because when I opened the document today to review it, only the first 2 stanzas remained. The first 2 stanzas contained the words from my weed-pulling inspiration, so they were probably the best part of it anyway.

Ah well.  I told you I was sick and halfway checked out of my own brain.  I tried to write a whole poem or song, but all that remained after my absent-minded fumbling was the first part.  It's OK. I did the best I could.

Future Husband and I have discussed this concept a lot.  Every day that dawns brings new challenges and opportunities, and sometimes your personal best for one day is far better than your personal best the next day. It's like carrying around a tool belt; what you can get done is completely dependent on what tools you have with you.

Are you familiar with singing in harmony? This requires that some of the singers don't follow the main melody of the music.  Back when I sang and danced in musicals, guess who could never sing harmony no matter how well it was taught? Sorry, former directors.  I tried.  In fact, I did the best I could. After getting into costume and character, bounding out onstage to find my mark and start to dance, though, something had to give.  You will never see me perform at Carnegie Hall, but trust me.  For all those times, I did the best I could.

This carried over to me with different projects I've worked on, namely those that are inadequately communicated and difficult to decipher.  Twice now I've worked with lawyers who expected a great deal of mind-reading when handing me assignments.  One was appeased by being assigned to a new writer who also happened to be a law school graduate.  The other may have been appeased when I stopped working for her firm. The jury's out on the second one (ha ha).

Fast-forwarded to today, I now have 2/3 of a book manuscript done and I'm going to go out in search of an agent and all that stuff.  I am of two minds on this: will the mistakes of the past serve me well because they taught me things about the process, or will I just try new things and find new mistakes to make?

The concept of "I did the best I could" fits well into the story; in fact, whatever it turns into will be the epilogue, which is the thing you read at the end of the book that wraps up the themes contained within it. It also can literally be appreciated as something the author communicates to the audience after she's written a book.  Hey readers, this is my book. I hope you liked it. I did the best I could.

Back in the fictional setting of Winterville, where I was tortured for about 5 years, I did the best I could.  I was trapped in a bad real estate investment in an area of the country that, according to the Wall Street Journal, is still in recession and may be for years to come. I tried, and mostly failed, to make friends there, but I succeeded in meeting a lot of crazy people whom I wanted to hide from.  I tried to make enough money and couldn't bring myself to play the good-old-boy game or subvert my personality enough to pass myself off as passable to the people who judged me harshly. I tried to have roommates, and ended up dealing with theft and other trashy issues. I even tried to date in that wasteland, and came away from that feeling much like someone who drinks Drain-o and lives to tell about it.

I did the best I could.  It was miserable, though.  I wasn't the picture of positivity or health by the end of it, though.  I was preoccupied with escape.  Can you blame me? I did the best I could.  It was difficult.

So this brings us to the present.  There were some things I wanted to get done today that will have to wait.  But also, I'm sweating out a fever.  And, I did get some things done today.  I did the best I could.

All my best to you, today and ever day.

Yours truly,

Jane Q. Phoenix

Thursday, 2 January 2014

What Does New Year's Mean to You?

Hi everyone! Jane here.  I just wanted to drop in and see how your 2014s are going so far.

I've personally had so much change in the past several months that I haven't made any resolutions.  Just keeping up with life is all that I can do.  However, I know that many of you are established in a line of work and/or consistently live at the same address and/or maybe even have a consistent relationship with someone in your lives, so I have to ask the question: What do you feel needs to change about life? And what are you happy with just the way it is?

Some of my single friends do battle with these questions.  I know the single life well myself, actually.  Years of experience with that. It seems like you have to walk the line between, "I like my life the way it is, thank you very much," and "Of course I'd like to welcome a new special someone in my life, provided that person is wonderful."  I just had someone tell me in the same conversation that 1) she was absolutely NOT going online to date (which I totally understand, but it makes me wonder how she will meet people which brings me to the next point) and 2) she is considering changing careers so that her path will cross with people who fit the bill of the types of people she would like to meet. So it seems that some (and I include myself in this number... Prince Charming had to literally sweep me off my feet to get me to change my life) are waiting for that big neon sign from the Universe to proceed, or doing a bit of passive looking for love.

There is the flip side to this of course, with the miserable married people and the angry people still in relationships with people they don't actually even like, and so forth.  Which ones will make a change in 2014? Who will seek counseling and other help? Who will get to the core of the issues that need to be seen, felt, and understood?

There are others who avoid dating and marriage at all costs, too.  I respect that but I don't understand it. (I hope I don't come across as pushy when I ask these people if they're dipping their toes in the dating pools...)

But aside from single/married/divorced status, there are a lot of things that could change.  Your health, your income, your stress level, how you make your living, where you live, how you live, what you drive (if you drive), whom you spend your time with, what you do, and so forth.

I've joined a few new groups in to see if I can expand my horizons.  My future husband has also introduced some interesting pastimes and possible new hobbies into my life.  I feel blessed and fortunate to have so many new things on my radar, but at the same time I'm keeping all those things that worked about my life before.  Just like the girl scout saying, Make new friends but keep the old; One is silver and the other's gold.  Such can be said for all the "stuff" of life.

Here's wishing you a 2014 full of all the "stuff" you like,

Yours truly,

Jane Q. Phoenix