If I Knew You From Adam

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The state of affairs is interesting.  Nothing has changed today from yesterday, nor from tomorrow, and there is no revelatory experience to peel apart, I’m just saying…I’m aware of the gap between what I am now and what I want.  I am aware instead of putting my head in the sand and sighing.

I’ve just now come across a Elizabeth Gilbert quote that rings true, even if it also hangs heavy on my shoulders, which I’ll paraphrase here “If you find yourself stuck in life, you can be sure it’s because of a fear you haven’t faced yet.”

This is true in many areas, deflating, but true.  So the depressive part, the tired part, the worn down, underemployed, insecure, freaked out, hypochondriac part can get better, but it has to wobble upright, and as slow or as quick as it can, do something in the face of the belief that it absolutely cannot produce or act at all.  It just has to do something.  Anything.  Use gravity to fall from dead center.   Despite the impossible physics, the bumblebee has to go ahead and fly.

These are the battles you can retreat from every day of your life.  Nobody will mind if you do.  Nobody will cheer you if you don’t.  It’s your life.  Your end result.

You can go on OKCupid.  You can flip through page after page of earnest men’s faces.  Read their best opinion on how best to sell themselves to the pool of available women, even if you are certain that just as you have this idea in your head of who you want to cull you from the herd, they have this idea of the woman who is meant to rise out of the ocean on the clam shell and anoint them with their love.  You can look around at the mess that you drag with you, the veritable flotsam and jetsam and streaky, slimy seaweed that tinsels your hull, and say, fuck, I wouldn’t choose this, why would they? You can look at these men who say they don’t care about reading, they’re real big on weed and exploring moon caves on their jet-powered mountain bikes, men who want to put a slug of coffee in you while they size you up and hurry back to the primordial ooze in case Botticelli picks them out a good one.  You can look at them and feel deeply disconnected.  Angry, even. That life has its rhythm and you want to play along, but all you have is this broken kazoo.  That what you want does not want you and what wants you, what tells you it wants you in its bed, provokes revulsion, never desire.

You can look and realize how far the roots of suspicion grow.  That you may have to lose limbs to save the body when it comes to false beliefs held tightly round the throat.

A true belief: there is a place of alignment between who you want to spend time with and who wants to spend time with you.  But you have to take your slugs and smile because you care.  You want to have someone to talk to.  You want a warm hand in the darkness.  You want to travel to that set of coordinates.  You want to figure this one out.

Not This Mind, Not This Heart

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Tonight I had one promise I had made to myself.  Be in a fit state to have a bit of a tea party with a dear friend.  This tea party entailed having a cupcake, and watching Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and just buoying each other up as we go through some challenging and whack times in our lives.

I am glad that after a blah, but pleasant day putting $90 sweaters on old ladies and talking myself down from a few mild panics, I was able to do that.   And so we watched an exquisitely competent woman solve crime, escape by the skin of her teeth, and make out with every man she wanted to make out with.  It was gloriously elevating and, though it sounds as though I am being glib, I feel quite glad for it.  I’m ALWAYS glad for her friendship, but just a moment of not feeling crushed by truths and facts and panics is worth so much.

In the midst of this, I learned that a friend I’d made as a Mumford and Sons fan, a kind-hearted woman who was part of a group that traveled to see them in Bristol, VA/TN, has passed away from a long, hard-fought, and tragic fight with brain cancer.  She was one of the people who stepped up and when I asked about my charitable project and asked how I could help.

When I first met her and shared a room with her on that trip, she had yet to be diagnosed and watching from afar as she came to deal with all that her cancer would come to mean, I remember thinking of her shyness and how much it reminded me of me. How much I wished for both of us. I feel a great sense of honor for having known a woman who could endure all of it and still smile and exude love.  I am so sorry for those close to her, for the grief and loss that they are beginning to know, but I also feel the grace of her life, the war and the surrender, what is important when time is short and our desires are so infinite.  I am grateful for that in light of everything that’s going on around me, everything bashing around in my head, all of my own fears.  Surreal to think of her as someone you could say something like RIP about.  Surreal to think of her as not just waiting with us for the next album.

I slept on the couch last night, hoping to ease my neck.  As I sit here now, I think it must have worked because I’ve forgotten about it for the last five hours.  I woke up, covered in cats and with a message on my phone to get up as my mother was coming over to see the kitten.

There was this moment sitting next to my mother and sister, watching little Eleanor gambol in the sunlight and play and I didn’t think about what should be or would be or politics or money or anything.  And in that instant, I was happy.

Tomorrow, zoo.  Tomorrow, life.

Thank you, Beth.

 

The Dance: Exercise 1

fire-dance-1189315-1280x1920So after some conversations with friends last night, and feeling good for some reason about today, I thought I might share this with them if they see this and anyone else who might find power in it.  If you are feeling overwhelmed by low or absent self-worth, perhaps use this.

The voice, the idea, the feeling of negativity has a body.  It has a look.  It has a language it uses that is familiar and tailored to be its most effective for each of us.  Mine is not yours and yours is not mine.  This negativity, this fear masquerading as wisdom, steals opportunity, it puts you on pause, it turns you away from what might be because of assumptions you make about your ability to proceed not to an acceptable result, but to the perfect landing pad that has the power to fix not just the issue at hand, but EVERYTHING.

I have such a negativity in my head.  And I’m just now starting to deal with her.  If she thinks she’s got an evolutionary purpose to fulfill, then I have decided she’s got to start paying rent.

When I imagine or experience this negative voice now, I have a visualization…thing I do.

I try and visualize the two of us in what looks like an interrogation room.  I’m seated at the chair, looking confident, as she, the so-called detective, grills me about my intentions – it could be about anything. In her eyes, I am constantly fucking up.  “You really think you’re actually losing weight?  You really think so.  Well, I know you ate ice cream.   And it was probably more than one serving.  You are doomed to a life of diabetes and disease.  I just need you to acknowledge that for me.”

And first of all, if it is this petty, and sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn’t, I am lucky when I am able to laugh and say, “holy shit, I’ve been arrested by the fucking Ice Cream PD?”  Occasionally, she’ll simper and sort of mentally evaporate just at the clarity of how useless she is. Other times she’ll dig in with more cruelty than I’ll be able to approximate here.  “Well, maybe if we caught you sooner, you could get a fucking date.”  And on weak days, or days when I’ve had this sort of mental interaction countless times already, that will be enough to shut me down.  And probably eat more ice cream while she folds her arms in front of her and sneers, throwing all the invectives and belittling comments we both can invent at me, accusing me and shaming me for everything I’ve ever failed at since the beginning of time until the power of the sugar takes over and I don’t think anything whatsoever until the cycle begins anew.

But on REALLY good days, days when I’ve been taking care of myself and accomplishing tasks and balancing ego and id, there’s a second sequence.  It helps if you have good music for this.

She leans back, thinking her potshot has landed, that’s she’s really got me.  She’s put me down and in my place. I close my eyes for a moment until we both hear a laugh. As the interrogation light rises up, the dark room spreads out until we are in an enormous, Mines of Moria-sized gallery ringed with darkness.  The negative force and I turn and see who is laughing.

It’s a warrior woman.  I don’t know her, but I recognize her as personal, mine, a part of me as inextricable as the Negative Detective.  Her eyes are dark but gleam in the single beam of light spilling into the room as though the moon was centered over the opening in the ceiling of the Pantheon. She is painted, a circlet of metal holds back her hair, she is the definition of fierce.  There’s a knife in her hand so sharp that it makes a Ginsu look like a rolling pin.  She scares me in just the right way.

The negativity might respond, might shudder, might try and grow, to fill the room, to throttle me, to in some way insinuate her power.

And then, another, different laugh from another dark corner of this space.  We turn and it’s some romantic hero or interest that matters to me, brooding and comely, maybe smoking a cigarette because there’s no lung disease in imaginary cigarettes.  “Leave her alone, you pointless bitch.”   Maybe at this point he pulls a gun out, just to underline the point that he’s willing to go that far for me, that he’s just that over her bullshit.  I will admit to being a little bit thrilled by this.

We stand up from our seats, the table is gone.  It becomes obvious that we are not a few souls in a giant room, we are surrounded by hundreds if not thousands.  There are warriors, there are friends, there are moments of joy embodied by people I admire, video game characters, heroines of books, Anne Shirley’s there, Mumford, it doesn’t matter.  They are people I find beautiful and powerful.  It is the beauty of my mind, mentally personified. They are all at their most beautiful, most ferocious, most epic and cinematic.   They’ve all got weapons, serious and hilarious, but all of them clearly deadly and drawn.

Everything emanates a single emotion.  A single thought drives them: This girl is ours, she has made us and given us life and force, she has drawn us here and we will defend her against anything.  She had poured her heart into us and we will destroy any threat to her peaceful, joyful existence.

The negativity tries to get meta on me. “They’re just imaginary.  I’m real, I see you, I have been here since the beginning watching you slob and wretch your way through life.”

I can literally hear more laughter.  Voices call out things I typically don’t let myself believe are important – “We have preceded you.  We have seen her in her greatest glories. This is the girl who flew herself to Italy.  This is the girl who gets up every day and strives for the light. This is the girl who is so clever she’s thought to bring us here.  She can do what she needs to do.  We adore her.  We want nothing other than to be near her.  We believe in her.  You are in the house of our spirit and we cannot be destroyed.”

Then, because of who they are and who I am, and if the music’s going…they dance.  This big tribal, happy, stomping dance as they close in on us.  They shriek and holler and spin one another around.

The negativity doesn’t like any of this, but there’s nothing she can do, really.  The power of the beat, of this army of lovers I deserve because I deserve them, because I am strong enough to create them, starts to explode her little pea brain.  Then they whack her with pots and pans and sometimes stab her with knives.  It can get gory like Judge Doom in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? – at the end when his head cartoonifies and acidulates into goop.

But what always happens if we get this far is I feel their strength become mine and I will grab somebody’s weapon, maybe Hotness McLately’s gun and say, with every fiber of myself, all, Gandalf to Wormtongue-infested Theoden, “You have no power here!”   I use the weapon if I have to, joyfully emboldened to wipe her the hell out. I feel the absence of the negativity in my whole body.  It’s been driven back. It doesn’t matter if she returns, we will dance again.

And then, I go about my day.

Give it a go sometime.

Fumbling Towards Adequacy

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Green grass is not that far away.  I hope we pay attention to the turn towards spring when it comes.  You only get so many Johnny Jump-Ups in your life.  So much verbena and stargazer lillies and clematis vines.  You only get so many January 12ths, as a matter of fact.  And I can’t piss and moan too much because I can wear tights and wander the streets and it’s still the dead of Winter.

I am distracted, as I have to write something romantical for the novel, or something at all for writing group which I am finally returning to.   That feels a little eerie, having left it to manage on its own and now turning up again. Mostly the displeasurable thoughts linger around driving, which is stupid, but they linger so we acknowledge them and go the fuck on anyway.  I need to write or read, and so I find myself here, fumbling towards ecstasy.  Or just adequacy.

Watching more David Bowie interviews, including one about the Internet where he seemed particularly prescient and engaging.   It’s just sad.  A lonely sadness that has to be held and batted about, encouraged, before it can fly away.

On much more physical terms, there’s something oddly pleasing about having the period-tracking app Clue notify you that “You appear to be late” (I am paraphrasing. I don’t think they accuse you, the period-haver, of any particular failing) as it has decided it thinks I need to bleed (like a modern day witch-doctor appraises you for a good leeching) and a few hours later, be able to spit in its metaphorical eye.  Yes, I press into the screen, my endometrial fluid is punctual as fuck, so don’t go around second-guessing it.

The State of the Union.  In another heavy lump on the pile of things that will no longer be, I thought it was really a nice speech.  We still have the year left, but it’s sad and exhilarating to realize that we were given eight years of a President of such intelligence and good intent.  Who knows what the future will bring – aside from

Exercise.  It’s going well, in that it is going.  It’s strange to be able to do the same ten situps and feel like it is simpler to do them.  Less fight, both in the doing and in the willingness to do them.  It has the ease of muscle memorization, a motion down by rote.  Not so well-known and practiced that it isn’t a challenge, I just find my body able to assume the position, ahem, without fussing and mewling and rationalizing skipping a day.  I have taken away the question of whether or not I will do it and that seems to make all the difference.  I don’t think this means I have lost weight, or even if I will, but I am alert now to why it could never possibly work before.  That pizza I love, that fills my stomach so well, that I could eat day in and out – 800 calories.  Meant for two people.  After 12 days of trying to pay attention, it’s harder to eat as much, and it’s easier to stop myself.

I have this whole other thing to say, but I am tired and done and those both mean I should stop.

Punky Brewster

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Feelin’ kind of punky tonight.   I have lost 0 weight this first week.  In so doing, I have failed nothing.  I want to lose it as a concept a few percentage points more now, just organically, by keeping up these habits and knowing I have more effort left in store to give this.

Went to the Texas Roadhouse and did mostly as was intended, mostly.   That fucking bottomless bread that has some sort of hidden sweetness in it that I don’t even like.  It was really nice, though, that we were all able to talk like a human family together.  A bit irritable about something work-related (on a Saturday, too!) that is not immediately resolvable (is this a word?), and feeling just funny and punky and lonely and weird.   Writing things other than this really poorly, but enjoying the fact that I can do it even when the Crone and all her nodding retinue swears that I can’t.  That I’m blocked and locked up and don’t know my characters, when I do.  Bitches, I know them so terribly well they’ve been tattooed on me for aeons.

I am caught up on A Chef’s Life.  Tomorrow: soup.   I continue to read my third book of the year (happens to be Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert – feel a bit like someone distilled my most optimistic, empathetic, romantic regards for writing and I’m not sure if I taste the saccharine in it or if I’m just being a punk.   Have had some positive self-thoughts today, tried to be sarcastic, but this time the disingenuity was wholly on the part of the jerkface parts of me.  I kept thinking nice things.  I should stop before I end up believing them.

Figuring out that as soon as I want something to happen and I stop with my bullshit and get after it, I can have it.  It is basically tantamount to just needing to turn my head to the left.  Not even figuring that out, I know that much, just realizing the whole fucking psychological ping pong game my life is. Yearning being slapped back by vulnerability being slapped back by over-defensiveness being slapped back by desire being backhanded by shame.  Can we just sit still a moment, please?  One person, under her own power, indivisible.

Tonight’s soundtrack:

1.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PinTAGbIsV4
2.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYvmhpIRmoM
3.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-SyBR-M2YvU

+300 story words.

Manifestations

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We are looking ahead.  We are liking our new fonts.  We are building mysteries and unpeeling others.  We are going to go.

Step One.

Convince yourself that even if you are a Lovecraftian horror, you’re not the single worst Lovecraftian horror on the block. You don’t need to name names, but there’s somebody out there, face-wise, who you would not trade places with. Recognize that no matter how long you stare into the mirror and gingerly, physically alter your own self-perception, tomorrow morning you’re two steps backwards. Different body chemistry, different demand on your brain, a weird-ass dream when you’re pregnant and decapitating villains from a rope invisibility affixed to the sky is in your mind. You wake up and feel fucking awful. This is okay. You are building a muscle. It’s going to be weak for a good long while and it will shake when you use it unexpectedly for a more than a few moments. It will shake when it shouldn’t and you’ll think it will fail, and sometimes it will, because that sense of yourself in a positive light will fail. You’ve got all these terrible habits that tell it to be quiet, still, to not scare you with the failure that feels such a part of it, such a part of you.  

 But once you start to stretch it and work it, it wants to stretch and work. It activates and suddenly, self-esteem isn’t this joke you tell yourself about beauty queens and models, it’s this being that involves his or herself in how you experience the world. The time spent worrying about the negative impression you might be making on others – the self-esteem leans in and reminds you, gently, sometimes with a soupcon of snark, that you’re never going to see that jerk in the grocery store again. Or, you might, and if they have an opinion on your mismatched socks and want to share that with you, you can survive the encounter. You hear that and you straighten your spine and you let your shoulders fall free and you just got fifteen minutes back that you didn’t have to spend skulking and simpering and calculating a stranger’s untold disdain for you.

It’s sort of like having an administrative assistant for your inner bullshit. And so often, I think, when you have someone other than yourself involved in a problem, you take better care of it.  It keeps falling to front of mind. You force yourself to step up. You want to avoid disappointing them so you fight back.  If you can separate threads of personality inside, you can listen to some of these voices and take up some of their causes when you pretend they’re not my own. Maybe that’s not the best impetus for internal change.  Maybe you should be able to enact change because you deserve it.  

Ideally, yeah, you can synthesize the self-esteem AA and the motivation coach and the creative muse and the squishy stuffed animal of friendship and the Crone Who Knows and the WASP Who Won’t and all the parts and pieces of your psyche into a single, consolidated you. But first, I think, you need to know who is up there rattling in your attic and invite them for some imaginary tea. Or imaginary coffee or even just an imaginary census-taking. Try it.

 

Genocide Blonde

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This is strange, and surely connected, but last night the Faithful Light visited.  I had made a space for her by turning off the computer and reading for a while – I bought a couple books and aim to buy a couple more.  I saw her.  Which is to say I saw myself if I could see myself with a perfect kindness, a gentleness, a warmth I have reserved only for people I have never met before.  She was blonde.  I have seen her before, I think, in sunbeams, in places where she was deployed to bring joy to brokenness, though she never really had a name.  There was no role carved out in the pantheon save simply that: a creature of joy.

And she had my face.  Only, she was blonde.  And we spoke.  And she told me what I wanted and I knew it was right.  Three simple things.  A love, a book, a child.  Everything else could go and if I had those three things I would consider my life well-lived.  She said yes.  I said yes.  She said, you need to get up early, you need to go to bed early, you need to work harder than you’ve ever worked before if you want these things to come to pass.  I said yes, so let me sleep.  She said okay, all the while knowing what I meant was, I feel weak in the face of things which are not equivocal.  But we heard each other for the first time in a while because there was room for her between my grinding teeth.

Is this crazy talk?  It surely must be, but I hardly mind.

But I was so sure that I was going to be a brunette at the time of this writing.  That it was simple to just douse the weirdly tri-shaded copper and ashy and blonde ombre-fail with brown and call it good.  It was not what my mother wanted and nobody dyes their hair to please their mother after sixteen.  It was studious, which I need to be. It was good for my complexion, I thought.  But the conversation with the stylist was quick and I found myself saying, blonde.  And then from the blonde, it is an easy step to pink again.  Okay, I said, as she told me that what she put on my head might itch and might burn.  Oh, bleach.   Bleach blonde.  Like, blonde, like…my head as a girl, like it used to be, like framed the face of the Faithful Light, the part of myself that did not waver.  That did not blink.

I drove home and she was fully there in the car with me. She said some sort of amazing things.  I said them.  We said them, to each other, to the one self that carries us both around, the worry and the will.  About trust and love and the things I want and where she’ll be for all of it.  She says change begins now.  Do you feel it? And I do.