Sep 17, 2014

mirror mirror

one look in their eyes and you know you look as tired, as old, as worn as you feel
and you feel so stupid the moment you notice,  that it is a surprise, even though you have seen the pictures, felt the loose skins, own a damn mirror
and you feel even worse for caring, because in the long line of things that matter to you, things you hold dear and love, you know this is not the most important thing, or even, probably an IMPORTANT THING, but it still stings, it still haunts
and part of you also knows there are, most likely, things you could do...take vitamins, moisturize, sleep more, eat better, exercise more, buy a damn bra
but you also know that is just not gonna happen because in your down time you will be sinking into the couch instead and possibly beating yourself up for not having enough time or making more nutritious food for the new love of your life, the teeny tiny creature with the enormous soul that swallows your heart whole every time you see her, for the betterment of your life, if not necessarily your ass

Sep 11, 2014

Happy

I've always felt a little guilty, but I shudder when posed with unendingly positive people.
The "don't worry, be happy" mindset makes me want to gag, or giggle, or both.

Don't get me wrong, I want to be happy. I am, at heart, positive, hopeful. My chosen profession, in fact, depends upon the optimistic and hopeful belief that everyone can be healthier and happier, with work and resources well distributed.

I also cherish the notion of less weighty, more euphoric experiences. A day on the beach, and night on the town? Sign me up! I'd love to giggle until dawn.

But no, I am not always happy, and no, I don't feel like I should expose myself only to driven positive ideas that push me to be all that I can be. I don't believe every day will be beautiful, I don't believe every door closed is an open window (well, umm, maybe, perhaps). Sometimes things are hard or the weather is shit or I am exhausted and I don't believe that I should ignore every nagging sad or confusing or frustrating thought as dead weight.

I used to feel weird about this. Wonder if it was rooted in some kind of fear driven cynicism, caused by the sarcastic hipster demeanor that was letting everyone know I was too smart to hope, too wise to believe.

I no longer believe that.
Because I am not cynical all the time and I DO want to today and any day that can be to be peaceful and happy and gorgeous and fun.

But I do not believe every day can be. And that is fine. And I am not always happy. And that is fine.

And here is why: because I believe all emotions, all honestly rendered and critically examined reactions have value?

Jealousy? That can be a sign of things missing in your life, elements you need and have not been focusing on. Or maybe it draws attention to something you did not realize you valued.

Anger? Maybe something or someone is not working in your life. Maybe you were truly, deeply wronged, and need to work on that not happening again? Maybe your intrinsic sense of self worth is asking you to look around and figure out how to be more at peace, and maybe that is a voice worth listening?

Sad? well, there are a million different reasons this might be the case, many legitimate. Perhaps you are mourning a loss, maybe you are experiencing a trauma, or simply finding things difficult.  Integrating and understanding the things that are making you less than happy allows you to acknowledge the value of things you might have lost or be missing.

And on and on.

But to put it another way: When I was young, life felt much more like a battle. Between good and bad, between happy and sad, negating one with another in a holy war that would end, I imagine, with my walking on sunshine with health, wealth and a beautiful family.
Now I recognize things are not black and white, not that this or that. These things take their texture from the full range of human emotions and reactions, and that peace and beauty has more to do with balance and integration, than rejection and negation.
And so I have come to find intense determined happiness, smiling when we are down, insistence of rejection of the less fair emotions as a negative experience, indeed, an ugly instinct. A head in the sand instinct, intrinsically false, and finally, one that guides one away from growth, discovery, and yes, true happiness.

Saved

I've listened time and again to their stories of the people they have saved...the sad, lost souls, drug addicts, what have you, who were lost, screwed, just totally fucked until they stepped in and showed them a better way of life and led them away from their imminent demised. Some of them truly are saved, they go on to live richer lives, grateful for their riches, grateful. Others, less so. They falter, they fall, they go back, or change, or move on. They are ungrateful, they are ingrates. They do not feel the sacrifices made to bring them out of their destitute lives, they do not understand the love and struggle their benefactor endured to change them.

No. I am not talking about a priest. I am not talking about a missionary. I am not talking about a deity.

Oh the ugly American. Oh the hidden superhero, driven to save instead of help, fancied, in their own mine, a hero and victor.

Understand, I think the desire to help people in beautiful. The desire to be part of a solution in world in which there are so many ways to be part of a problem is important, moving and I wish I saw it even more often than I do.
There are a great many ways people need help and a great many ways you can be there for people in need.

But that help needs to be rooted in respect, driven by less a selfless desire to give than a driving need to better your world and help everyone reach their potential. It needs to begin with the understanding that there is no saving, no trash grabbed before it reaches the incinerator, no soul pinched before it descends to hell in your holy little hands. Help begins with allowing people the tools they need to move themselves where they need and want to be. And that is it.

To save someone is an entirely different manner. To fancy oneself a savior, inherently ugly. It is a patriarchal step towards ruin, in which you see yourself as not just equipped with the tools to help, but somehow better, somehow inherently in the position to offer grace on your own terms, in scape of your own value system.

There is a Vonnegut quote that postulates that evil lives in mans desire to hate and believe that G-d hates along with him. It is that ego that allows man to make war gladly, to punish without reserve or limit.
I'd postulate that the need to believe that your works, your love, your desires are equally holy, equally without question and endowed with unending power is just as ugly. And that it is ego, unadulterated, to want a minion of those who are eternally gracious, who owe your their happiness, or who owe you at all.
And finally, that you should always question, you should always know: you might be strong, you might be lucky, but you are just that, a strong lucky human, and it is nice of you to help.

Or, to put it better.

We don't need another hero.

Do you work, and do it well. Then go home, relax, and find peace in the good you do and the gratitude you owe, as well.

Aug 25, 2014

Don't hate the player, hate the game

What I hated most about it was the game...the gimmicky bait and twist aspect of it all.
The make up and heels and maybe I am interested and it is my job to make you interested even if I am not to prove that I am worth something to myself and others game.

I am talking about dating of course.

And, ofcourse, I never played it like that. I was more a knee high boots and a grimace and I don't fucking care if you call me tomorrow sort of player, but I guess, in the end, I played it, if somewhat poorly, none the less.

The thing I could never get around were the subtextual rules. On the surface it should have been obvious that we were all just there to meet new people and hopefully someone we could love or like and make new friends and lovers.
But there was always something more than that, because where egos are fragile other agendas were bound to brew. And for every lovely (or not so lovely, lets be honest) person just looking to interview and select a new partner or friend, there were others looking for followers, looking for fans.

And so I find myself in the dating game once again.
Only it is different this time. It is the new mom dating game where we try to meet and greet and seduce new moms into being your new BFFs so you have someone to call in the middle of the night when your kid won't sleep or someone to meet at the park and drink beer out of coffee mugs while wave at your adorable littles (actually, I have never done, that, but now I am wonderying whhhyyyy)

And this is just as hard, because what I lack in charm I make up for in breastilage, and in the past that got me about as far as I can go.

But lets face it, in this new crowd cleavage only goes so far (hell, all new moms have cleavage, right, if even for a scant time) and figuring out what will bond and amuse is even farther as we discuss strollers and baby carries and books and naptimes.

But what gets me still are the collectors, the prancers, and the namecard carriers.
For every well exposed set of legs that stole the show back in the day there are now the high end diaper bags and DIY wraps and hand made snacks that show you are even more super mom than the rest.  And these people aren't looking for friends. They aren't looking for kindred spirits to soar and topple with, to gossip with and to show up, at the park, in yesterdays clothing and some whacked out hair and a gallon of coffee while they giggle as their kids toddle about the yard. They are looking for fans. Admirers of their parenting style and accomplishments.

But like a singles club it is hard to resist their lure as they collect your number and throw it on the pile and you wonder: was a genuine collection made or is this mom just looking for another name to know, another person to wave to in a group... and, worse, it is hard not, just a bit, to compete with creatures, dressing your baby just so, feeding them organic snackies and showing just how much you care.

So here is the thing. I am looking for love. And maybe a few one night stands. Metaphorically, of course.
I don't need any fans and I need, even less, someone to envy and emulate.
You'll find me at the play yard. Amazing beautiful ridiculous toddler climbing everything and anything as I try to stop her while not spilling my coffee and keeping most of her clothing on. That is me, and I'm not much to look at, but my intentions are pure.

Jun 19, 2014


If I were to ask you to drop one thing to day it would be the qualified apology.

 

That is the “I am sorry, but”

 

I mean, unless it is in the vein of “I am sorry, but I need to ask you to move so I can get my wheelchair around…”

Or something of the ilk.

 

But the next time you find yourself muttering an apology, followed by the word “but”…

Ask yourself, what is the purpose of the “but?”

 

Are you giving context for your transgression? If so, perhaps you might consider dropping the “but” and making it clear your apology is authentic by simply using “and” or nothing at all.

NOT: I am sorry I am late, but I  was caught in traffic (thereby absolving oneself of blame and clarifying a certain lack of personal concern) BUT: I am sorry I was late. I got caught in traffic and next time will allow more time to get here.

NOT: I am sorry I was rude, but I am having a bad day (thereby clarifying that your behavior is outside of your own jurisdiction and quite actually the fault of an outside party, not to mention that you are not willing to mitigate such behavior in order to prevent another person from having the same bad day) BUT: I am sorry I was rude, I am having a bad day and should not have taken that out on you”

 

See the distinction.


Or better yet, if context provides little comfort or clarity, just drop the details, after all.

“I am sorry I was late, I should have planned for traffic”

“I am sorry I was rude, I shouldn’t take my bad day out on other people”

 

AND, more saliently, if you are not sorry, best not to utter words that mean that. If sorry if being used as a disclaimer (I am sorry for violating this societal norm, but as you can see, even though I am aware of it, I actually just don’t give a fuck about it it!) then just drop it entirely. Wear your devil may care attitude proudly, because at that point by apologizing you are just clarifying that another’s possible discomfort is their own problem, one you are aware probably exists, but which comes secondarily to your own and you are being patronizing by letting them know you considered their feelings, then decided not to care.

Apr 17, 2014

track no 5

the record is less broken than scratched
you ask and ask and ask and you always have questions, why so many questions? why are you always complaining and why can't you just let it go
but to you it is the same question, over and over again
until you decide to answer the question yourself with a new question that you already know the answer to

you skip that part of the album and remind yourself that it wasn't your favorite song, but you still hear the opening chords every time that other tune ends

Someone commented, once, that nothing prepares you for the smile your child gives you when you walk into a room.  They were right.  Observing that huge beautiful smile, inspired simply by my presence, floors me every time.

But it is nothing compared to the tears.

And I know how negative that sounds, so I will phrase it another way: nothing  prepares you for the experience of having your child burst into tears when you leave the room.

Because, see, hopefully by the time you have a child you have had the experience of another person’s joy at your entering a room. If you are lucky, and have chosen wisely, you have created a life in which a great deal of people smile at your entrance. But unless you keep company among the enormously emotionally unstable, you probably have not experienced much panic or despair at your simple and temporary exit.

But babies..holy shit:  you walk away, you turn around, you enter the room and neglect to immediately pick them up: waterworks. At the moment my daughter is going through that developmental phase where she is more shy and more insecure, and as a result she bawls almost every time I leave. Seriously, unless we distract her completely:  wailing, and I assure you, it is crushing.

And this is what I was unprepared for.

And I find that the elements of what makes this so moving also encapsulate a lot of what has taken me by surprise about parenting:

 Babies are fragile and dependent: Physically, emotionally, they are new. Everything is confusing on some level and as much as their bodies are awkward and soft and open to injury, their feelings are raw. This alone gives me constant anxiety, and I wasn’t expecting this, I wasn’t expecting to walk around picturing the myriad of dangers that could constantly come her way, imagining the variety of ways I could fail to protect her from harm, or even, inadvertently hurt her.

Babies are open and expressive, with no filter:   I am so used to the composure and reserve of adults who hide their emotions or manage their expectations that by extension, I am not used to acknowledging the effect I have on others. I have been shocked by this, over and over again. I simply cannot believe how important I am to her. And there is a lesson in this as well, because there have, no doubt, been people who have been saddened by elements of my disappearance, or by my perceived rejection, but they have done me a solid by not making me that my problem too. Or have they? In the end as much as we love to tell people that they are responsible for their own emotions, we are undeniable interwoven and interdependent and is best to remember that your actions effect others.

Babies are resilient: Because while my child does, indeed, burst into tears every time I leave, she also can be cheered up, within seconds, by the most seemingly trivial thing. The world is ending until she sees the dog or her own image or a finger puppet. Knowing this comforts me and reminds me that wallowing, finding too much importance in her tears, and more to the point, not trusting her recover is just not fair. She is fragile, but she is also strong, and as important as I am to her, I am not her world. And she sees so many things that inspire her, inflate her spirit, allow her to move along, that it is, frankly, amazing.

Love is more simple, and more complicated, than we think: This is the big one. Of course, everyone is right. The love I feel for her was wholly expected and yet still has shocked me with its depth and encompassing nature. But the way she loves me back has what has truly shocked me.  The chasm between or physical bodies is a presence that cannot be explained and is sometimes confusing. So much of our adult lives is about commonality and practicality and we base the love and bonding we experience with others on things like common tastes, or intellectual achievement or shared goals. But in the end, while all of these things are important, they are not as tied to the essential core of love, which is more elusive, more ephemeral.  I have never had a conversation with my daughter, and I won’t for many more years. Her preference may prove to differ from mine on every little thing. And this is wholly irrelevant to me when I consider her love, and it is not something she is considering when she bursts into tears or when I turn around for one more kiss because she does. The innate and powerful love we feel for each other reminds me of the intangible aspects that makes me love others in my life.  It reminds me that I cannot gather information and credentials and facts and details and build love. I can, perhaps, use these things to engender trust and understand another’s aim, but love will be born of other things.

 

 

Oct 17, 2013

average

some people have a way of making you feel decidedly average.

and in the interest of avoiding a screamfest lets just put aside...here...the conversation of how nobody can make you feel a feeling that you don't give them permission to help you feel. lets just pin it down with all the other teethgritting psychology that focuses the entirety of the blame inward, okay?

so yes. average. not quite bad, just awe inspiringly uninspiring. comments are dropped, jokes are made, ongoing notations of the things you do that are pretty much expected, less than extraordinary, generally underwhelming.

I assume they think they are just stating the obvious: facts you have obviously accepted in the wake of their unbelievable obviousness, or maybe they are under the impression that there is shared intimacy in hashing over our mundane failings.

but I'll tell you a little secret: no one likes to reminded that they are not an amazing person.

and I don't know why the notion of being average is so demoralizing, but it is. maybe because most of us are trying, and some of us are trying pretty hard, and it is exhausting to imagine that with all of this hard work we are just bobbing up around the 50% line.

look, I know I am not a beauty queen, and I know there are people who are smarter and more successful than me. I am not special.

But the thing is: to me, I am. Me, my family, my friends, they matter to me and that makes them special. And to have someone you care about make it so very obvious that whatever significant intimacy you share have doesn't endow you a similarly special sheen is ...depressing. It makes it clear how glaring your averageness is.

I've said it before: love is your 15 minutes of fame. most people don't get to go on TV and wow the world but they can be the coolest, biggest, most awesome thing to those who care about them. they are important, and that can be so much more than average.

the human ego is a delicate thing and sometimes we owe it to eachother to tell the lie we mean; that we are glorious beautiful superstarts bringing our A game to the table. at least in our shared protected universe.

Sep 18, 2013

out of nothing at all

the strangest thing about having a child is that you create a whole new being to love, almost instantly

and although I like to joke that an infant is less like a child and more like a pet, the reality is that they spring into your life loaded with an emotional gravity unparalleled

but what mostly stands out is how rare it is to find new love, and how gradually it normally builds and how weird it is to almost instantly have strong attachment, a bond with gravitas, when it didn't exist before

to be honest it is both beautiful and terrifying. I have felt love before but it always developed gradually, steadily, in a manner that dulled the peripheral fear of loss, rejection, the knowledge of the kind of impending effort all things that matter eventually require

but bam, there she is, in the world, screaming and cooing and unable to tell you anything clearly and you love her and you are batshit crazy with fear and can see every danger from a mile away, every threat that could take this love because if it could grow so instantly, who says something couldn't take it just as quickly

or maybe I am just a dark dark creature that way

but also, well shit, it makes you want to grow love everywhere, because love is amazing, and well, that is the point