Wednesday, October 31, 2012

El Fin.

Look, Here's The Thing:


Not quite the million I'd be skipping town with, but it DID give me exact change with which to purchase this delicious soup I am currently noshing on. Life just has that funny way of giving you exactly what you need -- though I'd prefer to find a deluxe yacht cruise vacation voucher for the next oh, never-coming-back amount of time, waiting on my doorstep.

Also what I need right now is like ten solid hours in a movie theatre with which to expel all feelings of sorrow I have built up over the last few weeks (I told you I'd get back to it -- and you thought I'd forget). That's right guys, we've reached El Fin. I never thought it would take an entire month to end a relationship, but here I am spilling all my dirty laundry as if you were asking for it. As they say: you win some, you lose some. And sometimes you kick "some" in the balls.

But I'm not here to ruminate. Wait, no...that's exactly what I'm here to do. What I'm really not here to do is wallow. That's what the movies are for.

Every time I get the hankering to go see a movie by myself, I know I'm in for a great big sob session. I usually don't even have anything in particular to cry about, I just know I need some time alone in a dark theatre, surrounded by strangers and a bunch of really powerful emotions slapping me in the face. It always does the trick. And don't even talk to me about previews -- those things are so saturated with feeling (obviously, they are intended to suck you in so fast you never saw it coming. Which is why my life's dream is to become a professional trailer-watcher. Also massage-receiver.) that I usually don't even get to the feature presentation without soaking my sleeve.

A few weeks ago I spent an evening across the row from a happy couple enjoying "The Master." NOT ONLY were they obnoxiously oblivious to the black hole of despair seated mere paces from them, but they proceeded to mock the very serious and dramatically brilliant film throughout. Though I did learn the usefulness of giant scarves in muffling choking sobs and/or pathetically wet faces.  

This is why I stress the importance of feeling your feelings, though. Sometimes we store them up for so long that it takes longer to let them go -- the only way of which is to move through. I was surprised by a work acquaintance on the phone this morning who told me, after I confessed what I was going through (seriously, I have no filter) and that I'd probably be spending the weekend knitting by saying, "ah, well, we all have different ways of grieving."

Amen, brother. Grief is a constant in life, because we are always changing. It can come up for any reason -- the loss of a friend, relationship, living situation, favorite past time. To let go of that change in life takes a certain amount of courage and wherewithal, as well as the strength to admit it and let go. Crying is actually one of the most healing properties the human body experiences (trust the research -- though you'll have to find it on your own). My therapist told me yesterday that to adequately grieve an experience sometimes takes moving through each individual memory and J.H.C. is she right. So give yourself some time and a box of tissues for the ride.

So that's why I go to the movies. That's why I knit through hours of Law & Order. That's why I call my friends and drink too much wine (er, don't do that last part). It's why I think about the future after the clouds part a bit. And thats why I cry.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

In It To Win It: NaBloPoMo

Look, Here's The Thing:

I've always considered any kind of art form to be the first question in a never-ending conversation. So that's why I am signed up for November's National Blog Posting Month. That's NoBloPoMo for like, not-so-short. Cuz I still can't figure out how to say it without saying the whole title first and then tripping over the acronym in my head.

So as I step closer to Thursday and a month of CONTINUOUS POSTS -- that's every day, folks -- I want to invite everyone anxiously awaiting my inevitable verbal faceplant to speak their peace. Er, I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! Because I like hearing your beautiful digital voices, and I'm pretty sure you're not going to be interested in how I go to movies to cry alone for 30 days straight (though I will probably delving into that tragically pathetic topic later today).

So please, drop me a line. Tell me about your favorite color. Ask me a question. An opinion. A favor. Inquire on how to better take care of your turtle (though I will have to consult my favorite turtle expert on this one). Tell me I'm not allowed for dinner anymore (I'll probably still show up after to pick scraps). IT'S ALL WELCOME!

As I like to say...we are all made up of the same thing. Keep the conversation rolling. Email me at -- OR comment anywhere on this blog throughout the month -- and watch me attempt to not smash my computer after 30 straight days of head-scratching!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Boundaries Part 3 or; Are We Fucking There Yet?

I'm thinking it's time to put on pants today. I've spent the last 36-odd hours wearing the same grubby leggings and old t-shirt and I think my self respect deserves a hot shower, some makeup and a nice dress. And maybe a bra, for old time's sake.


As I'm sitting here absentmindedly rifling through old posts and random computer-y things that need checking up on, I decide to check Pinterest; an exercise in time-wasting I haven't done in weeks. And of course, what is the bulk of my feed made up of? Engagement rings.


Pinterest: can you not see that I'm in the process of a probable break-up, here? WHY MUST YOU TAUNT ME, MOCKING DEVIL OF PRETTY THINGS?


But let's not get into dramatics. Let's take this nice little opening to segue into what I had been trying to dive right into at the beginning, before getting lost in the vast depths of the interwebs.


You know you've been dying to go over it again, right? You know you've waited for the clincher, for the final act of a never-ending story. You know what I'm talking about. BOUNDARIES, guys. Or as I'd like to scream to the rooftops right now, ARE WE FUCKING THERE YET?!


Here's the thing about boundaries: once you've admitted to yourself what they are, it's damn near impossible to comfortably proceed in any direction without their adherence. Hence the connection to the above, and the ever-present level of drama in my life over relationships and the difficulties thereof.


The easy part is deciding what makes you feel good and would like to keep; or what makes you uncomfortable and would prefer to change. The hard part is sticking to your guns. Once you've established what you want out of any interaction and have experienced the resistance (aka: change-back signals) that accompanies the change, the natural inclination is to run screaming from your boundary in search of the ease that once was a boundary-less existence. It may have felt shitty, but it was better than all this yelling and screaming, right?


But here's the truth: your boundaries are about no one but you. How you choose your life to look has nothing to do with anyone else. So the pot of gold at the end of the shit-rainbow is that no matter what happens with those putting up the big fight, when you stick and hold to your boundaries, you always win. Always. You may lose some people in the process, but that just means they didn't want to play your game. And that's ok. Better to live a life based in your personal truth then bend it for the sake of harmony. Denying yourself never did anyone any good -- that's why we have that handy thing called "mid-life crisis."


Don't wait until that moment to be true to yourself. Those that want to come with you, will. And those that don't will move on a different path. No one is any better than the other for that. It's just a difference of opinion.


So now as I exercise my puny boundary-setting muscles, I can feel them growing. I can feel my understanding of self getting clearer. I may not end up with the one I wanted to end up with. I may have to shift my life a little. But I may end up moving closer to who I am, too. And that is beautiful.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Failure Is For Winners.

Look, Here's The Thing:

I've had a lot of people coming forward to tell me what they think of this little word-vomit collect-orium lately. Fortunately they are kind words and more than I ever would have expected going into this. I had the great pleasure of spending a night with a few of them yesterday.


Today, in attempts to take a rare Saturday off work to put some thoughts on paper (er, keyboard) amidst continuing life dramas, I find myself stuck replaying words of encouragement from people I wasn't even expecting were paying attention. Seriously, you are all amazing.


But now, as I sit in the cold and dark, chain smoking on my parent's deck, all I'm thinking is; "jesus christ, don't fuck up."


It's like I'm balancing on the hind legs of a chair, marveling in my own poise but terrified that if I add some juggling balls to the act I'll end up toppling backwards and laughed at in history class (true side story: I was the recipient of an unfortunate classmate's very same balancing act in high school, whereupon the toppling ended up right on my foot. That bruise took a long time to heal and at a stretch could be contributed to my fear of "pushing the limits").


Isn't that far too often what keeps us from moving forward, though? When we hit that place where we know we've done something right, how often do we settle in the contentment instead of pushing beyond it; because the possibility of throwing it all away when the going gets good feels like throwing yourself off a cliff? Better hope Coyote's got some Acme tricks up his sleeve to catch you when you fall.


My favorite sarcastic letter-keeper likes to cryptically comment on what I'm doing here (yeah you, I know what you're talking about). The other day he snidely said to me: "it was ok, but not as good as the last one." My first thought: "fuck you, motherfucker! You don't know me!" And then, "oh fuck yeah I know, you're right."


So after those two drastically different instances and further internal expletives -- both positive, in their own ways -- I've had a hard time getting back to it. It's like one side of me is saying, "you can do better" while the other kicks back and pops a beer to watch the accolades pile up. Ta-da! That's all, folks!


Truth is we're all going to fuck up sometimes. And we're all going to be praised for our efforts. The trick is finding the right balance of both -- the right combination of people that are going to give you all the good along with all the bad and ugly. The right amount of internal strength matched with honest criticism. It's the only way we grow.


And I know by now that the only way I grow is to get outside of this bat-shit-crazy head of mine to listen in on the other bat-shit-crazies around me. The bounce-back of what you are allows you to see it from the outside in, in all of its wonder and disappointment. We're all in it together, right? Here's to the potential to fail!


The King Of Dogs or: What I was doing while procrastinating.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Mile Marker

Look, Here's The Thing:

I just happened to overhear a group of older gentlemen seated next to me refer to Mitt Romney as a "whore." I'm not here to delve into politics or my opinions considering, but I'd just like to note that that was...well...EPIC.


In other news, this little blog thing I'm barfing all my thoughts on hit a record of 1,000 page views yesterday. To clarify: that means total page views. Not daily, like the hundreds of other fashion bloggers that get like, 15,000 hits every two hours. Do I need to start showing you my failed attempts at doing my hair without burning several fingers in the process? Or how I hang all my clothes in the shower and leave it running all morning (I'm not even in the shower usually at this point -- because who needs to go through all that wet-hair-blow-drying shit at 7 AM anyways) in leu of the tedious process that is ironing?


BUT HEY, it's a milestone for me. I've been tenuously waiting for that moment so I could look at it and say, "YES, someone IS reading. I'm NOT just a crazy person living in her parent's basement talking to herself!" And in honor of it, I'd like to share something I wrote before the shit hit the fan and my life got turned upside down -- before I began hibernating in the bowels of my adolescent home:


Here's what we all know but no one wants to admit:

We're all searching. We're all grasping at straws, trying to find the one whose length matches that of our soul.

But what happens when they all seem to come back short? When we keep wading through the mud, looking for that platform to rescue us from the muck that keeps us stuck? When is the moment that we find that Oasis? How do we get out of our own way to stumble upon the thing that brings us peace, that pulls us along its path into the great plane where all things are possible?

It's that feeling, that feeling like flies circling, pinching at your skin, the feeling that with all the peace and joy and wonder at your fingertips, there is something entirely else clawing you from beneath to be set free.

I feel it, so much more often than not. This need to tear off layers of my skin because the subsequent material is so much more than what is at the fore.

Isn't that what art is supposed to do? Does this mean I am not an artist, that I can't tap into all that shit to bring it into the world? I guess I wouldn't be a very good mother.

But I'm drowning, choking on these things I use to keep myself busy, to appear useful. To appear together. To appear human and sane and worth it. There is so much more here, but I don't yet have the vocabulary for it. I don't have the tools-

The skills-

The courage-

To let out whatever animal is scratching at this cage of ribs.

When is it all released?

I could run for days.


...A little melodramatic, I admit. But I think this was the moment that I became totally honest with myself about how I was feeling at that time. There was just so much stuff I could feel within and around me, and I didn't know my ass from a hole in the ground in how to deal with it.


So then I lost my apartment, my studio, and a portion of my drive to paint. Those pieces I was clinging to were systematically removed from my life. But like I've said before, that emptiness is where you find what has substance. In the vacuum I found writing. And for now, that's what I'll keep doing. Because the clawing from inside has subsided a bit. Because I'm moving in a different direction. Because we are always changing, always evolving, and always finding different paths to move along. And isn't that supposed to be the fun part?


Quickie: Respect Your (Box) Elders

The box elders are driving me crazy this year. I have waged war against the dying ones littering the floor at work -- every morning I find them scattered in dead pieces awaiting me to carry on out their funeral procession led by broom. This morning as I was slaving against their selfish passing, I swept up a pile containing one seemingly still alive. In my head I literally said; "Well, he's just going to die anyways so I might as well sweep him up with the others." And then, "Oh my god, did I really just think that? What if someone said that about me? PLEASE LET GIANTS NOT EXIST WHEN I'M WRITHING ON THE FLOOR AFTER STUBBING MY TOE AT A MORGUE."

The culprit. He shall live to see another day.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The WTF Moment

There are moments in life where everything around you seems to be pointing towards what is going on inside of you. Like, the stories of midlife crisis seem to exactly mirror your own internal struggle -- as you sit watching reruns of Jersey Shore wondering what the fuck you're doing with your life. Trust me, I've already been through one Quarter Life Crisis, so I know how it feels. Maybe it's because Buddy Holly and I are really at this pivotal moment in our relationship, where both of us are being forced to look at what's really going on inside of ourselves that gets brought to the relationship. Maybe it's because this is the state of the world right now. It's like, "pay attention, motherfucker. Take hold of what you are -- you won't get the chance again."


So that's how I'm feeling this morning when I stumble upon this video. Seriously, take a break from Snooki-land to watch -- you won't regret it.

What if You Stopped Waiting for Permission? « Positively Positive


Here's the thing: I had my own WTF moment a couple years ago. I was in my first year of college, one that I began at community and ended in the shady part of West Indianapolis. And by West Indianapolis I mean the world's shittiest apartment with a mattress on the floor, a door that could have been kicked in by Stephen Hawking and a back lot that flooded every weekend. Oh yeah, and a car that I persistently locked my keys in and accumulated endless parking tickets -- that's what happens when you work downtown in a commuter city.


I moved to hell for two reasons: 1) based on the actions of my peers, I thought I was supposed to be there; away from home at a 4-year school working on a solid degree so I could get a solid job and pay off the solid student loans; having The College Experience and getting drunk every other night; and 2) My then-boyfriend lived not too far away. Not much explanation needed there.


Too bad I never made any friends to get drunk with, didn't know what my "solid degree" should be (that didn't stop those loans from piling up, though) and spent a majority of that summer of the apartment crying in stairwells to The Mother over the phone. I vividly remember walking out of a critique during life drawing, cowering in a corner in the most isolated staircase I could find and letting myself sob over the complete and total bullshit I had gotten myself into. I was stuck in a hole and had no idea how to crawl my way out.


The summer ended and I went home to recuperate for two weeks before the semester began again. Um, let's not even talk about those two weeks. I don't think I left the couch at all -- nor did anyone stop finding me hidden in corners weeping. Finally, The Mother sat me down and was like, "look. WTF are you doing. You're miserable. You don't want to be there. So don't go back. Do something else. Like the dishes." (I guess you can tell by now that she really likes to say that last part).


And I never did. I quit my mall job over the phone, packed the apartment up in an afternoon and hauled it all away with my father and brother and enrolled in a couple classes back at the community college. I spent the rest of that fall and winter intermittently joyous and miserable; I watched a lot of SVU and knitted way too many scarves. I beat myself up and I allowed myself to heal. And then when I couldn't take any of it anymore, I quit my part time job and any concept of school, broke up with the boyfriend and threw myself into my therapist's chair. And that's when I began to see.


A lot of things happened after that. I was fucking terrified, first of all -- but I also felt completely, totally, alive. I felt like whatever I wanted, I could have. And I do have it, for the most part. I found the job that I have now, the one that has carried me through four years worth of trial and error. I reclaimed my identity as an artist; one that had completely transformed in the period of time I was hiding it. I spent time in Europe. I played townie for two years in my apartment and realized the value of community and independence. I created a lot for myself but also learned how to lean on others for support. I experienced my own college education.


I credit a lot of where I am and what I believe now with my life falling completely apart for that period of time. That's not to say I'd like to do it again. But I can feel the shift again, that "letting go" of shit that doesn't work anymore telling me: PAY ATTENTION. Like that next step is right in front of me, but there's a wall that needs to be torn down in order for me to take it. But does it ever stop being that way? I don't think so.


Fucking life.


Monday, October 22, 2012



Zombie Promcalypse?

This incredibly flattering photo of a friend and I was taken this past weekend at was has been dubbed "First Possibly-Annual Zombie Prom 2012." Catchy title, no? Although I haven't done it much in the last few years, I actually do love dressing up for Halloween. Until I get to wherever I'm going and I'm like, somebody-take-my-face-for-a-second-so-I-don't-pick-it-off-trying-to-itch-my-nose-without-ruining-my-two-hour-makeup-job-thanks.


The last time I dressed up for Halloween, I thought it would be really cheeky to go as the cover character from Invisible Monsters. Too bad it just looked more like I got into some dirty business with Kirby. That same night, one of my friends arrived with eight tails pinned to her outfit and wearing cat ears. It took me about ten minutes to guess "octo-pus," and then another 30 seconds to internally shame myself for my lack of ingenuity with wordplay.


When I think back on the Halloweens of my childhood, I am reminded of my father. Dad hand-sewed Pocahontas for me when I was wee, as well as Belle the following year. What can I say, the dude is good with a pattern. Let's not even talk about the fact that he used to cross stitch, too. Who else can say they are that in touch with their feminine side (excluding you, Trent -- we all know you make a better woman than me any day. Can you teach me how to walk in heels without looking drunk yet?)?


Years after I stopped hunting for the perfect Jasmine costume (I spent an entire season hounding The Mother to find me the "red" Jasmine costume. Remember that? When Jaffar has her imprisoned and she must wear the clothes he chooses? Yeah, I wanted SLUTTY Jasmine. Psychoanalyze that, Freud.) and I began trick-or-treating without my parents, I remember my father's graduation to True Teen Embarrass-er. That year -- way before the Zombie Apocalypse became not just cool but totally plausible -- he painted his own face in the walking dead fashion, donned a ratty old sweatshirt with the hood drawn and ripped jeans, pulled a metal garden shovel out of the shed and proceeded to follow me and other young people around; dragging both one foot and the shovel behind him. I can still remember hearing the noise of the grinding metal from blocks away and his stories of scaring the shit out of teenage girls all night long.


Seriously, who does that? Until I remember that one time my friend and I got kicked out of the mall for walking around with a "free hugs" sign and accompanying, informative flyers. Yes, we were even followed by security. Leading me to question, what kind of world allows a grown man to follow young people around on Halloween while a pair of sweet, innocent teenagers get unceremoniously thrown out of the food court for wanting to spread some joy? I guess you could call it the difference between and pre- and post- 911 one. Let's not even go there.


But what I can really conclude through these musings is just how much clings to us that shapes who we are. I know that The Mother and I are like two branches on the same tree. I've come to terms with that (just kidding, mom). It's taken me a while to grip what I've gotten from the other half, just because I haven't been paying as much attention. I thought that was my brother's job. And at the same time, it takes that recognition to distinguish ourselves, too. To take and to give back. To see ourselves as the same but also vastly different.


So I guess I should just say, thanks for the lack of shame, Dad. I owe you.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Ice Burg Effect

Like most of us that came of age in the 90's, I love the movie Titanic. Not just because Leonardo became our first sex symbol (still is) or that Kate showed us what it means to be a woman (still saving up for those implants). It's the metaphor. Yes, lots of people died and it was an awful tragedy. But for the sake of this post let's pretend it was just a movie -- and one that does a damn good job showing us what it's like to be human, if you know where to look. And I'm not just talking about that scene in the car, with the handprint -- get your mind out of the gutter.


The point where this incredible (if maybe not totally plausible -- since when does Hollywood validate our own love lives, anyway?) story of two people meets the path of that giant chunk of chemical composition is what I'm really interested in. Two people, with lives and dreams and well, baggage; floating along unbeknownst of the fatal ice cube waiting for them in the ocean's giant cocktail glass. They laugh, they dance. Leo shakes some hair out of his eyes. We all see Kate's boobs (unfortunately I was 12 and seeing this movie with my father -- one of my most vivid traumas). They fall in love. Then all of a sudden their lives are ripped wide open from underneath.


This becomes so fascinating when we acknowledge what human beings are really made of. We are a surface, which is not so hard to see. We are the chunk that sticks out of the water, visible to the world with maybe a little more that we understand ourselves. And then we are the dark, murky subsurface. Everything that keeps an ice burg rooted in the ocean is also within us. Every memory we keep and instance we've forgotten -- it is all stored in our flesh and our bones; our brains and our cells and the atoms they all float upon. Everything a human being experiences in his lifetime does not float away on the air he breathes, but remains in pieces hidden within the puzzle.


So that which we are made of is a culmination of all that we have experienced. Got it. But what does that have to do with anything? Did Leo care that Kate was a prima donna princess, probably ingrained with the notion that she should get everything she wanted? Did Kate give a shit that Leo lived a life of lying and cheating, because that's all he ever knew of survival? No? Well they probably should have. Because it would have come up sooner or later.


This is the poignant moment here. The intersection where these two people decide to dedicate their lives to each other and the collision with the ice burg is where all of one person's shit meets all of another's. Because human beings are ice burgs, and all of what I am on the surface and underneath is all that I bring to any relationship I will ever have. And it will always be the same in reverse.


The only way to find your car keys is to retrace your steps, right? Well the only way to understand these things we know of our surface-selves is to retrace them back to their beginnings; which is to investigate our individual ice burgs. And sometimes it takes the collision of someone else that denies all of what you are or understand to really crack you open.


So to be in relationship with someone -- friend, family, coworker, lover -- is to say, "I am this, and you are that. We are different but by being together I see myself in the interaction." To see your patterns when they are magnified by someone else calls them to attention. To fix a destructive pattern is to see it and then retrace it from whence it came; which is to dive into water.


Human beings may all be ice burgs but that is not a bad thing. Buddy Holly and I both remember this as being one of the most poignant conversations we first had: we drew a picture together of this concept and really discussed what it meant. It means that for anyone to authentically interact with another takes a willingness to understand the ice burg. That to love someone takes little effort, but to be in relationship with them takes understanding ourselves enough to bring it all to the table. With humility and grace and acceptance. The learning never ends, but to acknowledge its existence in a relationship is something worth holding on to.


So yeah, it didn't end so well for Jack and Rose. But the beauty in it is what they found in their brief time together. They saw the pickaxe to their ice burgs in each other, and they moved towards them in anticipation. I hope you find your pickaxe -- or several, -- too.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

That Time Judy Bloom Killed My Confidence

Chicagoans: is there anything more humiliating and degrading than waiting at the Clyborn station for a train? On the Clyborn platform there is no such thing as good weather. Which if I were self-deprecating enough I'd show you by the state of my hair and general she-looks-like-my-feral-cat-after-a-bath appearance right now. It is never too sunny for wind, nor too frigid for rain. The Clyborn platform is where all weather elements come to play American Gladiator for the title of Most Likely To Ruin Someone's First Date. I know the Clyborn platform all too well, and we are sworn enemies.

I know because this is what us Suburbanites (Suburban Power!) endure every time we trudge out of the cornfields for some "culture." And today, I embarked upon the walk-train-walk-bus-WALK IN THE DOWNPOUR WITH A SHITTY UMBRELLA trek to take part in my very first ever writing workshop.

(Right here is where what I assume is called a "transition" should be, but because we didn't get to that particular skill and I don't really have the give-a-shit to conjure one, I'm just going to skip ahead to the good stuff.)

The scene: after a lengthy orientation on the particulars of the course, we are asked to go around and introduce ourselves. Can I mention the guy that talked too much about the vast circle of friends he has urging him to "tell his stories," and the sheer magnitude of words he feels struggling to break free of his corporate mask if only he could hone his voice? We get it, dude, you think you're a closet genius. Though how you claim to be in the closet when you talk so damn much, I have no idea.

Skip to my personal intro. We all know I have no problem talking (I guess me and Chatty McChatterson aren't all that dissimilar) but whenever I have to speak to a bunch of people I don't know I tend to get a little red in the face and start conversing with my shoes. So after rehearsing what I was going to say the whole time I was pretending to listen to everyone else, I got my chance at eloquently yet humbly stating my purpose as a member of the human race.

I'd like everyone to access their inner art critic for this next part. Please, spare me no expense when I say you should be reading it in the most pompous, arrogant, that-skinny-food-critic-from-Ratattouille-before-he-got-nice-esque voice you can muster.

My Big Intro: "Well, I've spent the majority of my adult life as a painter. But every time I experienced a lull in that process, I found myself drawn to writing. I find a kinship in your wife (haughty nod to instructor) because like her profession as a therapist, I have often been sought after for advice, which has culminated in this little blog experiment I'm working on. So I'm here to expand upon that need I find within me."

Sweet baby jesus, it was like somebody shoved Roger Ebert right up my ass before I started talking. Did I really just say all that? Only to get hit on by the guy next to me in line for the bathroom later? Are people really asking me about how "I'm a painter" successively, though I can clearly hear the mockery in their voice as I play my own words back in my head? Let's not even mention how when said "guy" commented on my scarf and I told him I made it myself he said, "a painter, a writer and a craftsman? What an artist!"

Fuck. I'm that girl.

Skip again to the end of the class, in which we are to write for 30 minutes based on a prompt of our choosing. I know before I've even started that what I'm writing is complete and utter horseshit. I don't even stick it out for the full 30 minutes because a) I'm afraid I'll miss my train and b) I'm so unimpressed by my own lack of ingenuity as I scramble to get through it that I can't bear to watch myself dribble out one more word of my Judy Bloom-wannabe essay any longer.

So I took the free book and the cd, the handouts and the info on the payment plan. I said goodbye to the girl I halfheartedly befriended, peed for the like the hundredth time and hurried the tail between my legs out of there. I weathered the -- er -- weather and somehow made it onto this bullet of steel rocketing me home on time. And you know what's sitting next to me on the seat? BEER. Hello, shame-induced alcoholism, have we met yet?

But you all know how this is going to end. Of course I'll be going back. Because I'm a masochist? Because every tortured artist needs their place of suffering and pain so as to fuel their work? Because I think me and Chatty Guy had a moment there, and I'd love the chance for him to wine and dine me over the manic drone of his incessant stories? NO. Because I'm a pusher, goddammit. And because I'm so done with giving up on things just because they scare me or make me feel foolish. Because I finally realize that yeah, someone that's been around this particular block might know better than me sometimes. Because I want to improve and I know it takes making an ass of yourself a few dozen times to do so. Watch out, Judy Bloom: this drowned cat's in it to win it.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Enforcer

A while ago I gave a brief intro on the concept of boundaries. Alas, it's time to elaborate on that sticky, mucky, unfortunate topic again.


Got your fences up? Are they armed with poisonous dart-shooting frogs? Do you have your war cry ready? Yeah? LIAR!


Well, here's the thing. Just like twister, boundaries are a lot easier to set up than they are to hold in position when someone's tickling your foot in a downward dog. It's quite easy to decide what pisses you off and what you really just don't like invading your personal bubble than to figure out how to get people from poking that bubble with a skewer in the first place. Not to mention how to blow it back up when it's splattered all over your face.


But let's pretend that you've really done some soul-searching and you know what your boundaries are. You know that the time you use in the bathroom to investigate the contents of your nose is not to be interrupted. There's a gold mine waiting to be discovered. Personally, I DO LIKE being be disturbed when writing in a coffee shop. That's what headphones are for. But you know, there's always someone strolling around who's very interested in the type of mascara I use, or the incredibly awkward proportions of my hands and just cannot take a hint that I don't care about their theories on progressive hand-enlargement surgery. All I want is to be left alone to figure out how to navigate a keyboard with these tiny paws in peace.


Alright, so you've got it down. And maybe you've tested the waters, letting a few of your closest chums in on the fact that when you're mining for gold, you're really just contemplating what would happen if you really did get that job promotion, and you just need this time to swim in your own head. Good for you! But then, inevitably comes the day that your roommate/husband/dog doesn't CARE that you're solving the world's problems in the bathroom, they REALLY WANT TO TALK about that awesome scene on Dexter yesterday. Or maybe the slipper they're chewing on.


This testing of your personal boundaries is what I've been taught in my psychoanalytic life as change back messages. Every time someone does something that toes the line of your personal boundary, what they're really trying to get you to do is change back to the jellyfish you used to be. Get in a fight with your boyfriend because you decide you want to start going to bed earlier? Change back. Silent treatment when you tell your friends you're not interested in that third margarita though you've been drinking partners for years? Change back. Howling fits after you take your Chanel sweater away from the dog after it's become his favorite slobber receptacle? Change back. You get the picture.


Trust me friends, this part is not fun. It becomes more like the game of twister than you ever thought possible. All those pretty little lines you've drawn in your head suddenly become a scribbled mess fit for the door of a suburban fridge. This is why it's so great to write things down, so that when everything does become a scrambled mess in your own head, you can refer to the handy map you've drawn for yourself and follow it straight back to the truth.


The change back is the hardest part. But stick with it. Once everyone gets their undies untwisted, trust me when I say it will be the greatest reward of your life. Suddenly, you can go to bed in peace without having to fight for it. Suddenly, you're not hung over for every meeting because the girls got rambunctious last night. Suddenly, none of your clothes have suspiciously crusty drool stains in the morning.


And do not forget the power of consequences. Think of it like training that slobbery dog (but don't tell anyone that -- 'cuz nobody wants to feel like they're being treated like a bad canine). That's what those dagger-shooting frogs are for: they're your security. If you give the silent treatment right back it's likely your drunk friends will start getting the message pretty quick. You have become The Enforcer.


Boundaries are one of those things I've had the hardest time getting used to. I have always wanted to be liked and I've always wanted to make people happy. But you know what? The happiness that I get from a peaceful latte is better than any joy I could bestow someone else for listening to their 10-minute rant on jello. I'm sure there are other jello-lovers around.


Friday, October 12, 2012

My Shit-Throwing Monkey

Look, Here's The Thing:

It's a rare moment that another person's words get so far up my craw that they're literally stuck there for hours. Mostly because I'm usually more adept with the english language than the common neanderthal, and not afraid of the 'ol back-sass. But when the occasion arrises that the individual choosing to poke the shit-throwing monkey in my brain is a customer, all I can do is watch as the excrement gets splattered all over the inside of my skull. And it's pretty gross.

Today was one of those days. I was about to leave. I had 10 minutes left on the clock. And then this chick walks in, all UP IN ARMS about a minor traffic incident she just encountered. This is what she said:

"Yeah well I almost just got hit by a car. I live in the city, and it's not even that crazy there. People know how to drive in the city. Out here in the suburbs, everybody's all pissed off at how lame their lives are that they take it out on everyone else. All they do is go get coffee."

Oh yes, THAT'S why that person almost hit you! Because they could smell your superiority and they hated you for it! It is true, we all secretly dream of weeding your species out in order to claim our rightful place in this world. Suburbanite power! You fantastic being from foreign lands; you who knows the ways of the world and is far beyond going to get coffee. You, who I must rid from the face of the planet because I fear your vast intellect. I am not worthy, thou cultured, multi-tone haired, Urban Outfitters goddess! Please leave me and my Pabst Blue Ribbon in peace!

SERIOUSLY. I about shit my pants. Seething on the drive home, all I could do was wonder at what gives some people the cajones to say something with such flippant disregard to their surroundings. Not to mention the fact that the receiving party of her bile was a bunch of hillbilly midwesterner's ourselves.

So then later as I'm thinking about how the universe works in such mysterious ways that nothing shouldn't be counted for something, my own monkey landed a big one right square in my face.

I have worked really hard to get where I am today. It's true that it's taken a lot of triumphs and equally as many falls to come to the place of understanding I have now. I've spent many hours in therapy, let go of several friendships and gained twice as many in the process; smacked my own head in revelation and beaten myself up the whole way through. I'm pretty proud of who I am and the understanding I've gained through lots of paying attention. But sometimes, I get a little self-righteous, too.

It's easy to think that once you've figured a few things out about yourself that you have the right to let everyone else know how it's done. I have always been the type to lend a word in advice, and most of the time it's taken in graciously. But I have also shoved those words right down people's throats when it's really not wanted.

Too much has happened in the last few weeks for me to ignore this small bit of wisdom staring me in the face. That for as much as I know, I don't know what it takes for someone else to understand the same of themselves. I can point out things that make me uncomfortable or share what I think with those who are open, but it is not my job nor anyone else's to tell someone how their lives should be lived. And to be honest, no matter how much you uncover there will always be another rock waiting to be unturned. And sometimes there's nasty pile of worms under there.

So I'm following that circle back to my own beginnings. I am learning again to respect the process: that everyone's is different. I can choose to be a part of someone else's or not, but it's not my prerogative to dictate how it should go. Yeah, it's fucking hard -- patience has never been my strong suit. But then that's my own lesson, and a circuit I have only just begun.

How does that saying go? Live and let live?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I'm Out Of The Shower, Let's Get Crackin'

Look, Here's The Thing:


As the days get progressively shorter and thus more frigid in temperature (yes -- FRIGID) I have a tendency to take an average of 2-3 hot showers throughout the day (not because I'm a germophobe -- say hello to the girl that rarely washes her hands after peeing. Have I mentioned that antibacterials may be the end of our race and that vaccines are the antichrist? No? WELL JUST BE PATIENT) simply to maintain my mean internal temperature.


So when I reach the point of being cold due to Midwestern living and unmanagable anxiety, you may as well throw a microwave and some ramen in the bathroom because I'm not coming out any time soon. It's like as soon as I step out I'm woozy from the heat so I need a nap, but all that laying down brings me straight back down to freezing, so off to the shower I go. Vicious cycles be damned.


Right now I'm beginning a marathon bathroom tour for several reasons. Unfinished business with Buddy Holly (I guess it ain't over 'til the fat lady sings -- and if I have to play the fat lady I haven't done much singing, just a lot of crying in the shower), where my life is headed, how to block out The Mother vacuuming over my head as I attempt to sleep the day through. I'm also doing everything in my power to avoid working on this commission painting I've had on my plate for oh, a little over a year.


This painting I'm working on is for someone that I love dearly. She recently had her first child, a daughter that is the tiniest, cutest little thing I've ever seen. I like to remind her that someday, this tiny bundle of bodily fluids will have a mind of her own and blame all her problems on her mother. That she will go to prom with a pimply boy that's all hands and no manners. That she will talk back and probably put posters of effeminate boy-men up on her bedroom wall. But I digress.


No matter how much I love this person that I'm doing the work for and want to make her happy with it, it's always been a struggle for me to get myself motivated to actually finish. Painting is the way I get what's inside of me to the surface, so to attempt it in reverse is difficult.


But the fact remains that until I get this painting done I will never move forward. Each day I will be eyeing the new works while struggling with the old, or feeling guilty for not tying up lose ends while working ahead.


So here's the Eureka! moment. Just like this process I'm struggling with, no two people will ever be able to move forward with each other until their own lose ends have been dealt with. I will never be able to change the way I behave until I acknowledge how those behaviors came about. And moving forward is tough when you're forever looking back for the answer. Similarly, I will never be able to deal wholly with what happened in my past while the relationship moves forward without me. It's a balancing act, and a fucking tough one at that.


All I can hope for is that the two really do work hand in hand. That the love we have for each other brings all of us to the table. That the push and pull of self within relationship really does create the best of both.


I can't make myself want to work on this painting. I can't flip it on its head and make it come from the inside out. But I can remember how I feel about her, and hope that that takes me that much closer to the next step within me.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Ode To Alanis

Look, Here's The Thing:

There is nothing so beautifully sad or uniquely human as heartbreak. We've all seen the movies. We've all felt the sting. We all know the tagline, "we love each other but it just isn't going to work out." We've all felt the pain so deep it feels as though nothing could fill it.


So it should come as no surprise from my week spent intuiting it that this is the week my relationship ended (mostly because those reading this are already my friends...are you sharing this with anyone new yet or what?). To be more specific, this is the week my romantic relationship ended -- for I am fortunate enough to have amazing relationships with a great number of people, myself not withstanding.


It's a struggle to find in times of great sadness and grief the light that shines on the other side of the bridge. I'd like to yell and scream and point the finger. I'd like to expound upon all the reasons why this isn't my fault. I'd love to shake the person responsible into waking up, into seeing what I understood fifty paces ago. But that's not what it's about.


When this ordeal first came about, The Mother -- in her infinite battle to help others walk across the bridge -- came to me with some Words of Wisdom:


TM: "You know, Mol, there's this Canadian singer named Alanis. She broke up with this guy and wrote a whole album about it and became really successful."


ME: "Alanis Morissette. I know, Mom. It was that guy from Full House."


TM: "Yeah, and Gwen Stefani, too. Same thing."


ME: "Ok, Mom. Why don't you just start calling me Frida."


But she's right. The only thing that we can hold onto when the illusion is broken is that which remains true: the anger that you feel, the memories that you keep, the life that is still yours after the dust settles and all of it that carries you into the future. Like I've said, there is no right or wrong, there is only learning. And sometimes the lessons are more painful than others, but they serve no less purpose.


What I find most cosmically significant in all of the muck that I'm wading through is that I've walked through it before, but with the shoe on another foot. I ended a previous relationship because I had gotten so wrapped up in it I didn't know where it ended and where I began. And find myself I did. Looking back now I can see that it's possible to do both at the same time; to find yourself both within and on the outskirts of someone else. But I honor that it's a process one needs to experience alone sometimes. I really, really hope you do.


I'm not going to pretend to not be angry. I'm not going to pretend to not have all my shit together immediately in the aftermath of the explosion. I'm not going to say that I should have known this was coming, that I wasn't increasingly angry about all that wasn't progressing despite the work I put forth. I can't ignore the beautiful things that I saw and wish could continue, if only one understood the bigger picture. I can't even pretend that I know in my head this is not all one person's fault because that is never the case. But I'll get there.


What I can do is take from this experience the vision of both sides of the coin -- of what it takes to remove myself in order to find myself, and the side that allows for the same in someone else. I can understand that no two people are ever the same, but it takes a conviction that meets in the middle in order to move on the same path. I am still angry and I am still bitter. But I am still me and I will forever keep walking.


Thursday, October 4, 2012


Look, Here's The Thing:

If given the chance, I will spend a great amount of time expounding upon my beliefs on tribal culture and living. Read: I will talk your face into the floor. But please, if you are a philosopher or anthropology major, warn me ahead of time. Because you and I both know I don't know what the fuck I'm talking about, I just have a lady boner for Daniel Quinn.


I may not get the terminology or maybe the historical particulars, but I do believe that tribe life is the Way To Go. It all just makes too much sense: you find what you're good at and you do it; social security is built in because as an elder you're needed to just keep those young brats in line; fuck medical expenses because hey, that's what witch doctors are for. You have a war every hundred years or so with the neighbors just to prove that I AM NOT TO BE MESSED WITH, and then you go on with your life. You give to the tribe so the tribe will give to you. It's practical.


But the sticking point here (and also the reason a lot of my friends think I'm BS crazy) is not that I believe we should go back to wearing leaves over our junk, but that tribal living can very much be a practical thing.


You find what you're good at. You do it to contribute to the whole so that the whole keeps you safe. You travel sometimes, you trade with other tribes sometimes. When you're on their turf, you abide by their rules. They know that you don't mess with tribe BossyPants. You eat and you breathe. You live and you die. And you live on through the next generation, who keeps the memory of you in its tradition.


THIS COULD SO TOTALLY BE A PRACTICAL THING. But I'm not going to get into all of that -- why I think we could absolutely live in a big world made up of little parts. Why I think no two groups should ever have to live in the same way. Why big government has totally fucked us over in this regard. Why the five or so corporations that own us have really, really screwed us over. Not that I'm bitter or anything.


That's not the point here. The point is the Eureka! moment I had today. Whilst feverishly avoiding being late to work in the Death Mobile this morning, I stopped at one of the many passive-aggressive stop signs en route and it came to me. Like the two roads crossing before me, the tribe is neither the structure nor the people. It's the intersection of them both.


What do I mean? I mean that it's been a rough week. I mean that I've had to draw on every resource I have at my disposal just to stay sane, or at least to keep me away from a case of wine. I've been on the phone more times than probably the last few years combined. I've had more screaming-crying-kicking-laughing-sobbing conversations than any of my friends should ever be proud to have endured. I've written, I've knitted, I've taken baths. I've taken a huge loan out of my tribal social security.


But here's the amazing part. The reason I have so many amazing people in my life and the balls to ask them to be around me in times of crisis is because I've worked for it. I've put my time in. I've used my gift with words as my payment to the tribe, or all the wonderful people I am blessed to call a part of my life. I love them and they love me, because no one -- NO ONE -- is an island. I give to the tribe and the tribe gives back. It's emotional social security.


Oh dear god, I'm just making allegory for The Hangover, aren't I? Like, wanna be part of my Wolf Pack?

P.S...As an added bonus, please go listen to this song. Because it keeps showing up on my Pandora and simultaneously makes me want to dance in the rain singing and jump off a building. Just do it.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Question Game

I've been thinking a lot about fears lately. About how trivial they can seems yet how debilitating they really are. Personally I'm afraid that I'll live in my parents basement forever. I'm afraid that there are things in my life I can't control and won't know how to deal with when they get in my face. I know with my head that no matter where I live and what I'm doing I'm still me, and who I am is still precious. I know that my idea of failure is something so big I will probably never live up to my own expectations. But I'm trying to face it, to ask myself "so what" in the name of getting over it. But it's hard not to let those fears consume you sometimes, because the head can't always reach the heart. So my question is: what is the thing you are most afraid of and if confronted with it, what would you do?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Epic Beard Sightings

I decided to take a mini-vacation from my life today so I drove out to Dekalb to check up on my favorite vintage. Of course I didn't buy anything because I'm feeling ultra Nazi-control-like with my money lately, but I do enjoy being reminded of a past where women's only responsibilities were to dote on their husbands while wearing well-made clothing. Gives me hope for the future.


(Do I have to say JK here? Seriously).


There's nothing like a good drive and shitty radio to put things into perspective. Except when the car that's carrying you stalls every time you stop serving as a reminder that the only thing between you and metal-crunching death is a tin box on wheels. Really, what were we thinking when we invented cars? Wouldn't all that time and money have been better spent inventing teleportation?


Still, a good kick of adrenaline from something other than my current anxieties isn't half bad. The thrill! The excitement! What it feels to be alive!


After my stomach resurfaced from its hibernation during survival mode I stopped to get some lunch. I also then remembered all of the things I had been too preoccupied with staying alive to think about. It's like when you wake up and begin to slowly remember what happened the day before. Everything that you'd forgotten in dream-land shoves its way to the surface like the Loch Ness Monster when he's feeling friendly. Except not all the memories are quite so endearing.


I know I talk about taking things lightly and going with flow, but it's just as hard for me as the next person not to get swallowed whole by the things I can't control that are getting me down. I wallow and I obsess; I imagine a place where I Am In Charge -- or better yet, one where I do nothing -- ; I get depressed and I feel like the world is just a cruel stage where I'm playing the hobo.


And this is exactly what I was doing when I noticed The Beard.


It's hard not to laugh at a good beard. One that envelopes the face, distorts the features and can only bring to mind ZZ Top. This guy's was that. Complete with sunglasses, a computer covered in Grateful Dead stickers and a hippy's attitude (not to say that all bearded folk are hippies, but just to paint a picture). All I could do was smile.


Suddenly, things didn't seem quite so bad (can you SAY cliche??). I even stopped writing my wrist-cutting poetry to make a quick list of things I'm grateful for (one that starts with thong underwear and ends with hot showers).


I saw another bearded guy a little bit ago too. Just as epic. -- OH MY GOD SERIOUSLY THERE'S ONE COMING AT ME RIGHT NOW THAT IS THE BEST OF THEM ALL -- Honestly, I'm done. My work here is done. They come in three's, right? Am I being given a sign that my life's problems will be solved by men in cowboy hats and no chins?


Ok back to the present here. After Epic Beard #3, I called a friend. During our conversation, she said something that brought the whole day back into a point:


"I know it all seems really big and impossible right now but that's because it's both difficult and different. But hopefully at some point it will become mundane in the good sense -- that this is just a part of life. Everything that's new becomes ordinary at some point, and even the bad parts can become that if you just take it as it comes."


So what does that amazingly wiser than me comment and my beard encounters have in common? That all things are both ordinary and completely extraordinary. You just have to find the place where they meet. So when things get rough I say, happy beard hunting!


Monday, October 1, 2012

On Poop And Perspective

A few years ago, the business at which I am employed had somewhat of an "encounter" with one of our delivery personnel.


On this particular day, said individual arrived smelling a little less fragrant than roses. And not the good kind, but more like the Outkast song. If you know what I mean.


Not only did he decide to stay and chat with us far longer than on any normal day -- I think we were talking about fish, appropriately enough -- but also requested a visit to the little boy's room. Being people of copious liquid consumption whose bladders are also top priority on long car rides we conceded amicably. After he left we could do nothing but wonder at the presence of this person and his odd odor. So strong was it that when he left I had to light a candle to clear the room.


And then I had to pee.


Boys and girls let me tell you, such horror I have not experienced in all my life. Being a person unreasonably afraid of bodily functions I could not contain myself and immediately fled to tell my coworkers. Let's just say there was more than pee on the seat. And the floor. And the wall.


The mess did get cleaned up, in the appropriate new-age way with essential oils and Ecover cleaners and all the like. And I did face my fear to participate. We did gossip and say mean things. We did judge and act catty. We did feel totally grossed out.


Flash forward a week or so, to my coworker deciding to exercise her powers of Authority in calling the offending party's employer to file an official complaint. As it turns out, this man's wife was the one she spoke to and responded in the most agreeable of ways, with assurance that it would never happen again and much apologizing.


Flash forward a few more weeks. The incident is all but forgotten, and the complaining party (my coworkers and I) still reminiscent upon the wrong that was done to us and our great strength in confronting it. All is well.


Until the day we receive a call from the company in question informing us that our previous driver had recently died of a bowel obstruction and would not be delivering to us any longer. He had also been dealing with severe joint issues and copious other health problems, but needed to work to keep the company moving. And so he did, until the very end.


Now I'm not saying it's possible to ignore when you feel wronged. Nor do I think you should. But I do think that with every coin there is two sides, as with any interaction involving more than one person. To forget yourself and your beliefs does not work. But to displace blame doesn't either. The only way to move forward is to move outside of yourself sometimes, to work with one another by really hearing one another. To seek to listen as much as to talk. Because no one is an island.