community · flexibility · frustration

De-funkify

12.13.18Yesterday morning, I was silly enough to check my work email before I completed my journaling, or meditating, or blogging.

I discovered a series of last-minute emails that detailed a change in plans that would affect my morning class plans and, indeed, my morning practice, as it meant I took time to email my students, the faculty, update my calendar, and put on fancier clothing than I would have if I’d not read the emails.

Within all this activity, I was feeling FUNKY.  Not good, James Brown funk.  Like, “in a funk” — or perhaps more accurately, “in a smoldering.”

The smoldering wasn’t exactly warranted, but I do hate last minute changes and can sometimes find it quite difficult to be flexible.  While teaching a class is in itself a gargantuan exercise in flexibility, I can tend to hold some rigidly inflexible habits around the structures and landscape of my teaching day that allow me to have that openness in the class in the moment (i.e. creating a lesson plan = important; letting the class take it where it may = also important).

But, the impingement on the structural changes to my day meant that I felt thrown off my morning track, and I was stewing in negativity around it.  I crafted an email THREE TIMES to the person who delivered these messages laying out that, “Hey, maybe we don’t send emails after work hours for imminent changes in the morning.”  I also deleted this email three times(!!!), and came back to what in the world I could change.  This moment, clearly, was something that was done, set, past.  What did I really need then?  I needed to give myself the notice in advance.

So, I opened my school calendar, copied all the germane events to my own, and set up an email alert for the day prior.  This is what I need.  While, yes, it’s important to speak up for what I need in general, my ire at this woman was unwarranted.

So, I scaled it back, did what I could in the moment to prevent it next time… and then made three phone calls!

I left two cranky as f*ck voicemails, and then I reached a live person.

However, instead of going into what I was all “panties in a twist” about, I asked her how she was.  And, in fact, she was at the airport about to travel for work with her new boss, and needed that phone call herself!

We got to talk about her trip, her thoughts that arise about how she’s perceived at her job, and how she also feels different–better–in this new job.

Then, we got to talk about fashion.

She was going to be attending an apparently very fancy Hollywood Hills party, and she detailed what she’d wear, the swag bags she’d receive, and how to pack that up on the far side of the trip!

In other words, we got to talk about LIGHT things.  We got to laugh, to giggle, to get excited, to feel inspired and joyful.

And by the time I arrived at work after that maybe 10-minute call, I felt lighter, too.

I felt relieved of my irksomeness and my bile.  I remembered again the wholeness of myself and my experience and my interests.  And I got to let my bad mood go.

And that’s good, because yesterday at school ended up being a truly fantastic day.

 

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acceptance · adulthood · anger · art · faith · frustration · gratitude · progress · recovery

Cancer.

About a month ago, I was diagnosed with Leukemia. And my
whole life changed.
I don’t know what this change is, was, will be, but I know
that I am in several ways entirely different than I was. The way, at least
right now, that I see things are entirely new. And profoundly grateful. I
almost died. And yet, I didn’t.
We each get this each day – I got this each day, prior to this happening. I got the chance to
understand that life was precious, but I didn’t, really. I
understood it,
but to really
feel it? Well, it’s
different now,
and it brings up a host of other questions. Am I allowed to still watch Ben Stiller movies? Am I allowed to spend a day on the couch? Will
I now stop stopping myself short on all my varied art projects, and allow
myself to follow through on anything
that I’ve started? I have no idea.
I’d like to think that part of this “change” – for lack of a
better term for “life altering sudden tragic happening” – will indeed move me
toward being more in my art, more in my life. I’d like to believe that part of
this whole thing is a very nasty kick-upside-the-head lesson in not living for
tomorrow. That I’m being given the chance to very acutely see that life is
short and tenuous, and so I ought to embrace the talents that I have, and finally
let myself explore them fully so that I might share them with you.
I’d like to believe that there are lessons here. Otherwise,
what the fuck.
I’d like to believe that the Universe or my Higher Power
couldn’t — for some reason completely unknown to me – send me a postcard, or a
dream, or a message on Facebook. That
for some reason this lesson had to be learned hard, and fast, and
therefore more gentle methods of smoothing a rock down to its shiny parts were
not available to this massive Power.
I’ve been out of the hospital for a week now, and I will go
back in next Monday for another round of chemo. This will be the 2nd
in a series of, likely, 5 treatments. The words that I’ve had to learn over
this month scare the crap out of me. I don’t want to use words like chemo,
nausea, pain meds, pneumonia. I don’t want to hear “How bad is the pain on a
scale of 1 to 10,” or, “It’s time for your shot,” or “Well, we expect this.”
I’ve oscillated since I’ve been out of the hospital between
those few stages of grief – anger, grief, acceptance. Often within the same
minute. When I was in the hospital, there wasn’t time for anything except acceptance. This is happening. Period. Go with it. And, despite
what you may think, it’s really f’ing busy in the hospital with people coming
in and out at all hours of the day and night, throwing information or
medication at you. There’s not really time to process, space to absorb and
consolidate what has been happening to me.
And so, being home now, I’m getting the chance to experience
what I couldn’t while basically holding my breath for 3 weeks. I’m getting to
realize the enormity of what happened. The slow, marinating, seeping
reality – I almost died. The nurse told me that I had 49% leukemic cells in my
blood when I came into the hospital – WITH STREP THROAT – and that if I hadn’t
come in, I would have died within two weeks. I would have gotten a bleed,
likely in my brain, and I would have just died. No one would have known – no one would have known why. Relapse?
Suicide? Understanding this fact has begun to lead me to know that I need help
in holding the space for all this – and yesterday I contacted a cancer support
group.
AND, I have to tell you, I don’t want to be someone who needs a cancer support group – I shouldn’t have
motherfucking cancer in order to
need such a group. A month ago, this was unfathomable.
This morning, I read my last Morning Pages entry from the week
before I went into the hospital. I haven’t written morning pages since then, I
was too sick, and then too hospitalized. And so I read them, and I see myself
talking about how my throat really is starting to hurt. About how I went to the
art store Flax and got new pens and a notebook and talked to the woman in the
back about different types of pressed paper – hot press versus cold, what would
be good for the art I want to do. About the café I’d emailed with the month
before about putting up a show in their space, and how he wanted to do
November, but I simply wasn’t ready, as it was the end of September at the
time.
I’d written about the clothing I’d bought for cheap at good
thrift shops, and the flying lesson I was scheduled for, which ended up being
the day I went into the ER. I wrote about being excited, about art that I would
make. About missing my family, and wanting to go home for Thanksgiving to see
them.
In some ways, it feels like reading a journal from junior
high, it feels so long ago. And yet, it’s all still me. And that’s something
that I want to take away from this too. This process is going to be HARD, challenging, painful, difficult, and yet, I’m still
me. As I was writing my first Morning Pages this morning since that last entry,
I was inwardly elated to see my handwriting hadn’t changed. That major facts of
who I am have not changed. That things that were important to me then, “before
cancer,” are still things that are important to me now. – art, family,
adventure.
I’ve been blasted with some of the nastiest chemicals, shorn down
to the barest slices of my body … but my handwriting is still the same.
I could go into the ways in which gratitude has become this
sort of well of tears behind my eyes at all times. I could talk about how just
waking up this morning feels like a gift. But I don’t want to today, really. I could
list the thanks and the inundation of love and support and care, but that’s not
what this blog is about this morning, at least. It’s not a love fest, it’s just
a truth fest. About where I am this very day, at this very time, arguing and
stamping and shaking a fist at the sky with WHY in the m’f’in hell couldn’t you
have made this a little bit of a gentler lesson? About how I feel like I’m some
sort of icon now, with people telling me all the time what an inspiration
you are
, when I’ve had diarrhea for 3 out
of the last 4 weeks. I’ve asked people what on earth that even
means, an inspiration to what? What have I inspired in
you? What am I inspiring you to do?
I haven’t done anything except lived.
I get to be bitter about it. And I get to be amazingly
thankful to get to be bitter about it –
to be alive enough to have emotions enough to get to scorn about it.
It is surely true, the love and support I’ve gotten. And
yet, there’s a part of me that feels angry that I even have a situation in
which to receive such love and support.
I know people love me. Couldn’t I have had my 31st birthday at a
restaurant with them, instead of in a hospital bed? Couldn’t I have learned to
get out of the way of my own creativity and drive and lust for life in a
different, gentler way? Couldn’t I have gotten to see my family by flying East
for Thanksgiving, instead of them flying West to hold my hand while my hair
falls out?
I’m grateful for this blog – this tempestuous blog that
gives me the chance to be honest in every way. Which I want to use to
springboard to something else, to write in another venue, maybe one that’s
paid. I’m glad that I get to write here, as someone told me, as I speak – that if I
write the way I talk, they said, I’m surely a great writer. I don’t know how much that is
true, but somehow the cancer lets me see it a little more clearly. And perhaps begin to accept it. I want to explore my talent more – because there simply is
more there. I want to push into it, and I want to share it.
I swear I would have gotten there without this whole cancer
thing, but I guess I really didn’t have a choice in this one. 

authenticity · dating · finances · frustration · grief · relationships · romance · work

Bus Stop Boy

Well now.
So, I guess I should tell you about Bus Stop Boy, now that
I’ve finally broken down and updated one of the people I have in my life whose
main relationship with me is about helping me work on relationships.
Over the summer, I began to see Bus Stop Boy, as you might
imagine… at the bus stop. I was temping in the city, and was sometimes taking
this bus, sometimes that. I’d just begun to pay attention to how I interact with
men, trying to focus less on if they’re noticing me or not, how I’m interpreting
or internalizing that information. And Bus Stop Boy was one of these people. I
was aware of him, and he was aware of me. There was nothing more or less than
that, but a definite vibe. Not even flirty, just aware.
One morning, a few months ago, I had come from meeting with
the aforementioned woman the previous day, highly aware now of how I was walking in the world, and I saw him at the bus
stop. Suddenly, I had no idea how to behave. I didn’t want to be all coy, I
didn’t know how to just stand there. I felt a wave of panic wash over me, and
as some of you may remember, I had to leave work as soon as I got there and come home and crawl into a fetal position. Everyone
on BART was standing too close. Whatever it was that my being aware of who and
how you were reacting to me – it had acted as a buffer somehow between us. And
suddenly, seeing Bus Stop Boy, … it was like seeing the Matrix. Suddenly I
could see that everywhere I looked and every move that I made, I was hyper
aware of it, and I was aware if you were aware of it. I felt stripped of some
defense mechanism – I felt utterly exposed, and completely unsure of how to
act.
A rather large reaction to simply seeing a dude at the bus
stop. But, that’s what happened. It took me days to get back to feeling right.
And, in fact, I stopped taking the bus, and opted to take carpool with a friend
of mine during the rest of my temp gig.
I’m still aware of how others react to me, and, duh, that’s
going to continue to happen. People interact. However, I am trying to pay less attention to if “he,” whoever “he”
is, saw me. Noticed. If you’re noticing how I’m holding myself or not. I’m
trying to keep myself to myself when I’m out and about. Not closing myself off,
but simply focusing more on me, and what I’m doing, not on you.
This said, things have progressed.
I ran into Bus Stop Boy when I was on the bus going into the
city for an interview about a month or more ago. I was aware, he was aware. We
both went for the one seat that was open, and he let me have it. When getting
off the bus, I got off in front of him, and turned around and thanked him for
the seat, held out my hand, and said I’m Molly, by the way. He took my hand, said his name, said he hadn’t
seen me on the bus for a while. I replied I hadn’t been on the bus for a while, we both smiled, said see you around.
In reporting this later to my friend, I talked about
“getting a hit” off it. I was nervous about this job interview, and I knew I
could get a little hit from talking to this guy. Sure, there’s the normality of
introducing yourself to someone you see nearly daily just for the sake of that,
and I could file this under that, but I know my underlying reasoning – I wanted
to feel better, and talking to an attractive guy who seems to think I’m
attractive too is a reliable way to do that. (I was about to write it’s a “good
way” to do that, but, this is where I run into trouble.) I felt more spring in my step on my way to my interview, now that I had gotten that burst of acknowledgment from this stranger.
A little while later, I am on my way to another interview,
and I see him on the street in plain clothes with a girl, walking a small dog. Girlfriend, I think, and keep walking. Well, I say to myself,
there’s that taken off the table. He’s got a girlfriend.
A little while later, about 3 weeks ago, I’m on my way home
finally for the evening, having had an awful day at work – feeling my feelings
of despair around administrative work, around having worked so hard for months
to get something so menial, I’d come home from work bawling on the phone with a friend, before I went back out to meet up with some folks for an hour. Suffice it to say that I was drained of
all emotional guile. Of all resistance. Of all pretense.
Funny, then, that I should walk into Peet’s coffee, and
there he is. Bus Stop Boy at 8pm on a Wednesday evening. My eye make-up long
cried off. My incognito hat. Glasses. This is not the look of a temptress. He’s on line
ahead of me, and so I say hello. We chat a bit; we’ve both started new jobs. We small talk, laugh a bit. I
say see you around.
And now, suddenly, we are seeing each other around a lot. I
next run into him unexpectedly on the shuttle from BART – again on a day when I’d sat at the bus stop from work in near-tears. Waiting – FORTY FIVE MINUTES – for a
bus from Berkeley. Taking me nearly two hours to get home from ONE TOWN AWAY.
And there he is. The second time in a row when I’d felt
depleted, and, perhaps, open. 
It hasn’t eluded me that these unusual times that I’ve seen him are at times when I could most use a nod from the universe, some semblance of, Molly – you’re not a worthless, aimless, trundling-along broke spinster. It has not escaped me that during my new days of data entry, receptionist calls, arguments with xerox machines, I’d begun to think of that morning’s conversation with Bus Stop Boy, and it takes me out of my vile existence. It reminds me that I am more than my job. It reminds me that I am something more than that. Simply by recalling the smile of a near stranger, my chest feels less constricted – I feel less trapped. Is this “meaningful”? Is a nudge from “THE UNIVERSE”? Is it just a coincidence? Is it simply pointing out to me the pleasure I take in fantasy rather than reality?
I moved my bags, and he sat down next to me.
After some chit chat, I said, I think I saw you with your girlfriend walking
your dog a few weeks ago (she says leadingly). He got a sudden look, and said, “Ex…” That was their goodbye. She
came to visit for two weeks. She’s been living in D.C. for the past year,
looking for work there and here, and she got a job there, and, as he told to
me, he wasn’t ready to move back East.
He seemed pretty bummed. Secretly, I thought two things.
One: emotionally unavailable. Two: Single. …
So, finally, friends, here’s the kicker. What I admitted to my girl friend earlier today: I have invited him to
come with me to a party my friend is having this Saturday. “As friends,” I
said. But as I spoke to my friend earlier today, … I have no interest,
really, in being this guy’s friend. Nor do I know that I want to be in a
relationship with him. I barely know anything about him. Do I want to get to
know him better? Yes. Am I dating right now? No. Is he? I should hope not! Long-term relationship break-up does not really equal available for a new one any
time soon.
So, what to do? Well, my friend and I spoke earlier about
some “bottom lines” I could set around this. The only thing I could come up
with, which she suggested, was not hanging out one-on-one.
She asked me at the end of our meeting how I felt. I said Stubborn. (She laughed.) I said, Disappointed. The addict part of me wants those hits. Those doses of feeling
something other than overwhelmed with money or lack thereof. With feeling lost
as to my life’s direction or purpose. With feeling lonely, mainly.
As I begin to get some “recovery” or sense of what is
healthy behavior around relationships, I realize that the majority of my recent women
friends are actively engaged in behavior that I just don’t
identify with anymore. I just don’t have anything to say to my friend who’s
texting an unavailable dude daily. Or who just bought sex toys for a threesome. Or who is in and out
of her relationship with the phases of the moon. Which means, and has meant
for me, that several close friendships I’ve had are being let go of — are fading.
Further to the “lonely” part, as I said to my friend this morning, I haven’t been
dating for a year. I haven’t had sex in a year. I am only human. And there’s only so much I can take.
She said she gets it. She felt the same when she was going
through this work. The truth is that I’m doing inventory on my relationship
past, and I don’t want to be involved with anyone while I’m going through this
emotionally raw stuff. I don’t (really) want to use someone else to band-aid the work that I’m doing. The truth is also that I’ve finally gotten paid, and much of my financial crisis is averted, so I finally have the chance to feel a
little less stressed out.
Yes, there is only so much I can take. Luckily, I feel a
modicum more freedom right now, yes, due to money, what-the-fuck-ever to people
who say it won’t make you happy – sorry, food in my fridge makes me fucking
happy, assholes. But that release from imminent worry creates a little more
ease. That little more ease means I won’t have to reach out to false idols for
solace, false idols like the green-fade-to-brown eyes of the Bus Stop Boy.
I can do things to help me bolster and support myself, now
that I’m not as “man the battleships!” Things which will provide more
sustainable relief and support – I can reconnect with friends who aren’t stuck
in unhealthy patterns. I can finally feel the room to write and paint again. 
Do I still absolutely want to just rest my head on his
shoulder and relax to the marrow of every organ in my body? YES.

coffee · frustration · gratitude · Jewish · poetry · progress · work

Normal Functioning Levels

In an effort to “put my needs first,” I’ve decided to change
this to a weekly, instead of a daily, blog. So, Sunday will be our day
together, folks. Two buses and an 8:30am clock-in time will make weekday
blogging a little bit like killing a wildebeest before breakfast – highly
unnecessary.
So, I have a job. ! This past week, starting on Wednesday, I
began working in the front office of a synagogue in Berkeley. This, will be an
adjustment. Honestly, my commute was easier when I was crossing the bridge!
But, I have a job. I needed one, and now, finally, I have one. I’m still not
clear on wtf it took so long to find one. It certainly does fall into the “underearning” category of a job “below my education and skill level,” but, then again,
the first bit of advice in the How to get out of debt… book is **Get A Job, ANY Job** So, I have a job.
It’s not going to be that bad either. There are a lot of systems in
place that are way wonky, i.e. ten-step processes, when they could be 3, but
that’s sort of why I’m there. In the rest of life, usually when I want to help
others streamline things in their lives or make them better, it’s usually none
of my damn business and I get to practice holding my tongue and trusting they’re on their own path. But, luckily, here, it very literally is my business, and so, I’m going to get to organize
and streamline, and “correct” what’s really silly.
That’s part of the advantage of coming in to a new place,
you see things that other people haven’t noticed, really, in years. Why do you
click these three things instead of this one? Oh, I don’t know, it’s just how I
was trained, so that’s how I do it. Why is there an old, dusty dead Foreman
grill in the kitchen – does anyone use it? I don’t know, it’s just always been
there. WHY do you print off paper
calendars of the entire year for the weekly staff meeting that barely get
glanced at, and then thrown away?… So, I do get to come in, with fresh eyes,
and be like, whoa, uh, this is stupid.
That said, there are going to be a lot of advantages to this
job that are not monetary. There’s a pre-school, and this week, the little kids
were getting their intro week, so I got to see all these two and three year
olds come in the front door, all nervous or excited. I got to encourage them.
There’s a very sweet, wise-ass kid studying for his Bar Mitzvah who comes to
hang out almost daily with the youth group advisor, so we get to wise-ass at
each other. There’s a piano in the chapel off the main sanctuary that once I
get keys, I was told absolutely, I could come in there and play during lunch.
It’s not a bank. That’s an advantage. It’s a synagogue. This
means people coming in looking to volunteer; retirees looking at the gift shop
for cards or mezuzahs. Kids coming for Hebrew school; adults coming for Torah
study. It’s a community that I’m getting to become a part of. And that’s not
something every job has at all.
Even though, I’ll tell you, I was highly disappointed that I
didn’t get the Marketing job I wanted, (and I got a letter from the IRS this
week saying that I owe them money from 2010, likely because I didn’t report my
student loan money properly), this isn’t going to be that bad. Am I still going
to be living a bit meagerly? Likely. It’s not a high paying position in the
slightest. Is it more than minimum wage? Yes. Am I waiting tables? No. Am I
making sales calls all day, like one of the jobs I interviewed for? No.
It could be worse. And, it can only get better, I suppose.
Mostly, I am glad that my stress hormones are in retreat.
Returning to normal, without the barely contained underground river of how
am I going to pay my bills???
I slept
almost the whole day yesterday. It’s like, with the stress in retreat, the
whole system floods with a great big PAUSE, system shutting down now, crisis
averted. Yesterday I woke up, ate breakfast, thought about going to the farmer’s market,
and climbed back into bed, waking up 4 hours later. Took another mini nap
after trips to the library and grocery store, cooked dinner, watched a dvd, and went to bed at a decent time.
I needed it. Obviously. I’ve been stressed, man.
In that/this period, though, I’ve also started to do some
other things. I’ve begun to soak my own chickpeas to make hummus from scratch.
I’ve begun to marinate tofu so that I can bake it. I bought quinoa from the
bulk section at a way cheaper price than anything packaged. All of these
organic, all of them cheaper than buying ready packed or ready made.
I’ve really enjoyed doing this. Experimenting with different
flavors in the hummus, roasted red pepper (jarred, but one day, maybe my own),
garlic, pine nuts, lemon. Using the tofu marinade to pour onto veggies I’ve
steamed to go with them. I’m getting healthier in my eating habits. More
interested, and more creative. Part of that creativity was borne of necessity, the need to buy things cheaper
as money has run out during these months of unemployment.
Coffee is no longer in my cabinets. This makes me awfully
sad. But, it’s not good for me, so I’ve been reading, so it’s going the way of
the dodo. That, I will miss. But it’s not like coffee’s moved to England, and
I’ll never see it again. I did, indeed, get some decaf with some caf this week.
There’s just nothing quite like the texture of coffee.
One place I had coffee was at the poetry reading on
Thursday, at which I read my rather explicit new poems. I didn’t preface them
by saying the experiences described were mostly not current, which I sort of
wish I’d said, as what will people THINK of me??, but it all went well. I got good feedback on my work. The words
“bold,” “brave,” and “funny” were thrown around. I’m glad I read the work, even
though I was nervous about it. Every time I perform, it makes me want to do it
more, and again.
I wasn’t able to “get it together” to make broadsides of the
poem I wanted to, but there will be time for that. I had a few other things on
my mind this week!
All in all, it was a highly emotional week. The anticipation
of whether I was going to get the job I wanted. Interviewing for it at 9:30pm Sunday night via Skype and finding out at 11pm that I hadn’t gotten it (the other girl had more “proven experience”). Waking up
Monday morning, knowing I was about to accept a job that has the same title and
pay rate as a job I accepted 5 years ago. Calling a friend to ask if I could ask them for more money. Crying, mourning the loss of where I think I ought to be, and
what I ought to be doing. The loss of my ability to save on any significant
level so that I might move back East some time this century.
And then calling to ask for more money, not getting what I
asked, but a token amount more than what they offered. The new chaos of
commuting to a new job. The first few days of a job when everyone is still
evaluating you. The knowledge dump into my brain from the girl whose job I’m
taking and training with. The highly anticipated poetry reading where I was
bold and brave and scared as fuck. And the crash, like air let out of a
balloon, a deflating of all the energy, worry, and stress as I crashed out
yesterday.
There are still going to be challenges, of course. This is a new job. There’s a lot to continue to learn, and
the girl I’m replacing leaves on Thursday. I still
do have some financial issues to contend with like the
IRS letter, and the fact that I don’t get paid till the 15th. But,
by the way, I did sell my electric guitar and the amp for the price I never
thought I would get (thank g-d for asking for help). So, it will be ok. But, I
still feel deflated. I’m going to need time to bulk back up and refuel to normal
functioning levels.
Til then, and in order to get there, I will TRY
to be kind to myself. Get out of my head, and my own problems. And be grateful, if even for a moment, that I am finally employed at a job that is far from atrocious. 

authenticity · community · creativity · friendship · frustration · kindness · maturity · recovery · relationships · San Francisco · writing

Literati

Yesterday was a day off from work, as they needed the room
I’ve been stationed in, the library, so I got to experience a lot of loll and
gag. Less gag, more loll.
I still did spend
time in a library, peeling myself from my couch to go sit in the local library
and email and submit applications for higher education jobs. Here, Southern
California, New York City … Northern Florida. Throwing out the seeds and seeing
what sprouts.
I also got another book out of the library, and began to
notice a trend of mine over the last few months. The latest books I’ve read
have been:
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson
I’ll Never Be French (No Matter What I Do) by Mark Greenside
Man Seeks God: My Flirtations with the Divine by Eric Weiner
Seriously, I’m Kidding…
by Ellen Degeneres
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
and now
Bossypants by Tina
Fey
As I was checking Tina Fey’s book out, I was able to connect
a few dots through the above list. Firstly, there are the books that are
about redemption – about people searching, seeking, going insane, going sane.
Mark Greenside’s book is more of a bridge to the other category, not being a
redemption, but certainly a “coming of age” (at 40) kind of an adventure. The other
category, of course, being the comedienne’s books.
Something about this strikes the right balance with me.
That, yes, I want to read about your harrowing walks through dark nights of the
soul and wilderness and Vegas (see : Man Seeks God), but I also want to read the levity, candor, and
strength of women in showbiz who are being pioneers in a
different way.
I’d never been one for non-fiction, and all the above are.
They’re all “memoirs.” I was raised picking up the library copies of my mom’s
Stephen King novels, and for most of my junior high and high school years, I’d
sit on the couch in the downstairs living room, engrossed in the psychological
and physical mystery of King’s characters and plot. Everyone would eventually
go up to bed, but I was too page-turned, and soon, it was late. And I was by
myself, reading Stephen King in the middle of the night.
This, was not an altogether pleasant experience, so I’d read
further, because if I closed the book, I’d have to turn off all the downstairs
lights, and walk upstairs in the dark with visions of deranged clowns lurking
in my peripheries. So, I read on, and then it’d be 2 or 3 or 4 in the morning,
and my eyes scratchy from being open so long, and I’d finally give up, too
exhausted to care if there were a rabid dog perched somewhere in the stairwell.
I’d climb up to bed, and fall in, too tired to be awake enough to contemplate
the darkness.
There were the years when I didn’t read anything at all,
really. I call these college.
No, (!) just kidding. But after college, I read nothing much
at all, or nothing that stands out. And I don’t really remember what I picked
up next, but it wasn’t that many years ago.
I remember when I first got sober, within the first year, I
went to see a movie at an indie theater in San Francisco. I had befriended a
group of people who were wonderful and hilarious and lovely, but none of whom wanted to see anything like what I was seeing that day. I enjoyed
the movie immensely, and when I walked out, I began to panic.
I’ll never have the kind of friends who’ll want to see
anything like this with me. No one has the kind of taste I have. I’ll be
destined to watch things and do things that interest me alone forever
.
Fatalism is not just a river in Egypt. Melodrama, the same.
I began to cry. Honestly.
I called the one woman I trusted, and sobbed to her on the
phone how alone I was, and that no one “got” me, and that I was too weird to
have friends.
She told me to come over to her house right then. I sobbed even
more that I didn’t know the San Francisco bus system, and I’d be stuck in Polk
Gulch forever.
So, she told me how to catch the Geary or the California
bus, and picked me up at a mutual spot, and fed me tea and calmed me down.
A few months later, I was outside my car with a group of
people. One of them I’d just met, and she looked into my backseat and saw a
book I had there (I honestly can’t remember what it was). She exclaimed with delight – she had been meaning to read
that book! How did I like it, what did I think? And I told her she could borrow
it when I was done.
It felt like a revelation, even though it was such a “small”
thing. I leant her the book. She leant me one. I began to form friendships with
people who had similar tastes and interests, and who would undoubtedly today
come with me to an indie movie theater.
It took time. It took
a lot of time. I have a friend now who is going through similar transitions and
longing for those kinds of connections, having been immersed in a relationship
involvement so that it’s been hard to make the kind of friends she wants. So, I
told her that story of the movie theater breakdown and the book-in-the-car new
friend.
At some point, I turned from the sci-fi, novel genre (though
The Illustrated Man sits on my shelf – moment of silence for Ray Bradbury, and his children’s room/lion story
that has never left my consciousness). Today, the books I read are not paths
into the mystery of the mind and the world, but out of them. (Though, someone once gave
me a copy of
The Power of Now,
and each time I tried to read it, I a) threw up a little in my mouth, and b) twice —
TWICE– simply threw the damn thing sputtering across the room – this
last time, just a few months ago. I’ve since given it away. Self-righteousness
in a “spiritual” teacher is an ugly characteristic.)
It’s just interesting to me to notice what I’ve been
attracted to lately. That it points to a change in course. I yoked a friend
of mine to driving up to Jeanette’s reading when she was in town a few months ago, and that
friend now has my copy – a friend of mine, wants to read something I’m
interested in too. A friend of mine is interested in the things I am too. And she’s not the only one. I’m
no longer bereft and alone on a street corner drowning in the electric whine of
MUNI wires and the stench of human misery.
Thank you, Brandie, for asking me about that book in my
car. 
abundance · action · anger · change · faith · freedom · frustration · growth · progress · relationships · romance · self-care · spirituality · work

The Masculine Mystique

Firstly, I would like to quote an acquaintance of mine as
they responded once to my tirade on SF’s chilly weather – “Then Move.” Touche,
quite right. And I will, just not today.
Secondly, my morning pages were like something out of a
schizo’s notebook this morning, and I’m rather heartened than alarmed by it.
As I began to, again, write that I could paint, a sentence which was followed immediately in my head by the thought, “Yeah, right,” … my morning pages turned
on me, and began a near-two page rejoinder along the lines of Stop Fucking
Saying Yeah Right, and GO DO IT! I channeled the very pissed off and frustrated
voice/part inside me that is exceedingly
tired of the self-defeating, Eeyore-like part of me that crosses all my
interests with a “Yeah, but,” or a “How will I make any money?”
I was happy to see that this activated part was so adamant,
and demanded that I Just Fucking Do It, rather than what I’ve been doing for a
very long time, question, debate, lolly-gag, despair. This voice is the fuck despair
voice. It is the voice, one might say, of my inner masculine.
I’m a little hesitant to draw the dividing line between
feminine and masculine in this way; feminine as pondering and questioning;
masculine as action and fortitude. But, it sort of feels like that to me, and
it’s only my interpretation. There are
plenty of other ways to categorize, or not, these disparate voices and parts of
ourselves. But, for the sake of the argument, I’ll call it my masculine side.
And the truth is, it’s right. Whatever it is, or I call it.
Because this is the point in the job search where I get frustrated and think,
well, nothing will come of it anyway, so phooey, here’s another admin job. My
internal beings of all sorts are having a coup. Nuh, Uh. Time’s up. Off the
pity pot, lady. Get on it.
And further more, Yes, You Can. Furthermore,
to segue,
you/I have very recent experience in NOT behaving as you
would have in the past. You very
recently responded to a situation MUCH differently than factual evidence
had it before. This means … you’re different. You’ve changed. You can do things
now that you couldn’t before, and your mental register aligns with a much
healthier set of behavior and thinking now.
The case in point, is that I was asked to go to the theater
by a boy…man. There is nothing wrong with this person, except that a) I
accepted the extra ticket thinking he has a girlfriend, so I thought it was a friend thing (I found out later he does not), and b) he is new to
the not-drinking world.
Over the last 3 days, I have felt icky – like the princess
and the pea. I know from my own experience that the first few months of not
drinking and trying a whole new way of life – no, not first few months, first
few years (or year, AT LEAST), are so incredibly
formative, that I would be damned to throw a wrench into the wheel works of
someone else’s critical development. I know people who have gotten involved, and it’s
worked out marvelously, but I, surprisingly, was feeling way too uncomfortable
about it.
Sobriety, mine or someone else’s, was way more important to
me than a fucking non-date date. No matter how long it’s been, how intriguing
it is, how fun it could be. Not doing it.
So, through a series of phone calls to friends, and a
confirmation that it’s the respectful thing for us both, yesterday, I texted
the dude and said I’d rather stick to seeing him “around,” than go for coffee.
That I felt “murky” around it.
You know what he said?
“Okay. No worries!”
???!!!
All my f’ing belly aching, and heming and hawing, and “Okay,
No Worries”?? Wow, this honesty thing really f’ing works.
Through a series of circumstances, the timing was different
than he thought, so I get to go see the play by myself and also get to have a
clean, peer-like relationship with this dude. I don’t have to feel weird, or
avoid, or future-trip about it. The play is the bonus prize – the actual prize
is the relief of doing the right and honest thing for myself, and sticking to a
new way of being.
I know from direct experience that I haven’t always
responded that way to someone who was new to not drinking, and I experienced
the fallout of that, however brief it was. I, apparently, have learned from my
experience. And my internal alarm system is calibrated to this new way of
being.
I say all this to say, that my masculine side has a point.
All that writing this morning about Just Do It has a point. The point is that I’m not the person I used to be. I don’t have the same
reactions I used to, and so I don’t have to follow the same actions I used to.
This whole “new way of living” has made itself quite apparent in my life, and I
can allow the boon of that to propel me forward.
I don’t have to be afraid anymore. Afraid there isn’t
enough, or I’m not good enough, or I’ll never make it anyway, or that a
creative life is a stupid one.
In fact, I don’t have these fears anymore, really. They’re
just echoes. There’s nothing real to scare me. There’s no one stopping me, or
chiding me, or making fun of me.
And if there ever is, I apparently have a massive bully to
yell affirmations at them. 
frustration · progress · school · self-pity · writing

Veysmere.

I called a friend yesterday to go over the content of the May workshop newsletter, and told her that I’d turned in my final copy of my thesis, and she
asked how I felt – if I was excited. Decidedly not, I replied. There’s all the
administrative rigamarole to go through before I can call this chapter of my
life closed. Turns out one of the professors won’t be on campus to sign off on my
thesis – literally, sign it – so I now have to see what my options are without
that signature as the thing is due tomorrow. But I’ve seen some chatter about
Monday being “okay,” but I have to find out.
I’m SO over it. Over it all. I don’t really give a crap. I’m
tired, and broke, and exhausted, and unhappy.
Like today’s blog? 
Sorry for the Debby Downer moment, but
really, I’m tired of this crap. I get
that I graduate with a Master’s degree, but it doesn’t feel that cool anymore.
It feels like a lot of hoops at the moment, and I have no clue what any of it
will “get” me. I began lamenting in my morning pages the same, and then started
to write all the awesome shit that I’ve done and learned in the last year and a
half. How two years ago, I was in a job in a dysfunctional organization where
my position was going to be cut, and I made the decision, finally, to go back
to school.
I know that I’ve done a lot. But it doesn’t feel “worth it”
at the moment. I feel tired and lonely and despairing of what the fuck I’m
doing with my life. I feel … self-pitying, I suppose.
And I know some practical cures for it, and I know it’ll
pass. But right now, I feel like there are too many demands on me, and my
health is fucked up, and phooey.
You may know this isn’t typical for me. I do have some minor
tantrums now and then, but this moroseness and lethargy is not typical. I get
that it’s time limited, and “once xyz is done” then I’ll be better. But I’m
fucking tired of having to do xyz and THEN being better. 
Once the thesis is handed
in. 
Once the thesis is signed off. 
Once the thesis is uploaded. 
Once the school
workshop is done. 
Once the May workshop is advertised. 
Once the flyers are up. 
Once graduation happens. 
Once … what? 
And then What?
It’s not delayed gratification. I’m not sure where the
fucking gratification is. It’s like some carrot on a stick. One more stupid
thing, and then I’ll be happy? Then I’ll know what the fuck to do with my life? One more stupid flight of fancy, and I’ll be stable and secure and loved?
What the fuck? I KNOW it’s all ridiculous, and I thank any
of you who have read this far into my pity party. But, … I am tired. I don’t want any more hoops. I want to be
done. I don’t want to feel so damn lost. I don’t have a fucking clue where I’m
going – what I’m doing – what I want to be doing – where I want to be doing it.
I feel like a toddler and a teenager, without the freedom of their
understandable childishness.
No, I’m not relieved that the stupid thing is done. I don’t
care a fuck about it. It’ll go on a shelf somewhere. Yes, I did it. But so the
fuck what? How many fucking people have Master’s degrees and PhDs and work for
f’ing starbucks. Literally. I went out yesterday, one of my two ventures off
this stupid couch, to get food for my cat, and the woman who works there and I
chat usually, and she said that THREE PhDs applied for her counter job the last
time they were hiring. A PhD. Selling cat toys. Wtf.
Yes, today will give me plenty of opportunities to move out
of or through this funk. Yes, even yesterday, I reached out to a few folks to
make happy plans, get out of myself and this poopiness. I know it’ll pass. I know
other people see it’ll pass, but in the moment, it’s just ass.
Thank you for coming to my pity party. I wish I’d gotten you
a hat.
(*Veysmere = Vey is mir = “woe is me” in yiddish. “Oy vey” is a shorthand.)