Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Art of Writing, Aging, & Laziness

I tell myself all the time how utterly lazy I am, and how I don't write enough. Mostly, when I finally come home from work (usually after working unpaid overtime-usually my own decision), I just sit down in front of Netflix and binge-watch either an action-packed anime or a down-to-earth, touching romance/drama like When Calls the Heart or Call the Midwife.

I decided today (Easter) that I am going to use today as a more-realistic New Years Eve. I am not Catholic or Christian, so maybe the best way to celebrate today is to use it to review my New Years Resolutions, discuss how I let them drop, and write new ones I will actually follow. One is to write as much as I did as a kid. For inspiration, I decided to read some of my old diaries for guidelines from my young self.

And I found these three, consecutive gems:

Dear Journal (2/10/06),

I have no clue what to write. Nothing important has happened today. Bye.

Dear Journal (3/1/06),

I love David. I love David. I love David. I love David. I love David. I love David. I love David. I love David. I love David. I love David. I love David. I love David. I love David. I love David. I love David. I love David. I love David. I love David. I love David. I love David. I love David. I love David. I love David. I love David. I love David. I love David. I love David. I love David. I love David. 

(Yes, I wrote that 29 times in my middle-school diary that day. Why 29? No idea. That's just when I stopped.)

Dear Journal (3/20/06),

There is no way I'll EVER finish this journal! 

Okay, so they weren't all gems. And maybe I do write better entries in my journal now.

Happy Easter.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Things I Do Instead of Being Productive

When I was an undergraduate, one of my writing professors had us all read a short story about a woman who would do careless things just to amuse her. One thing was buying a house and then wandering around in it, turning on lights, and going Hm, I have a house. It has stairs that go up and down to blank, bare rooms. I have a kitchen primarily not used for cooking. (I only imagine this was the exact dialogue in the woman's head because that's what I would think.)

Everyone in class thought that was ridiculous and unrelatable. Who would buy a house just because it amused them? Completely reckless!

So, here's what my life has become:

  1. I got a promotion and instead of taking the time to consider how my life is progressing, where I wanted to go, and what I should start doing now to get there, I bought the most expensive apartment and new furniture that I could afford.
  2. I made a late New Years' Resolution to start posting more regularly on my blog (we all see how that has gone, right?), and promptly ignored it.
  3. I made a late New Years' Resolution to start spending an hour a day working on my literary journal, and promptly ignored it (as I am doing right now.)
  4. I adopted a cat named Teddy one day while volunteering at the animal shelter because they ran out of things for me to do and said Hey, you can play with the cats in the cat room until your ride gets here. Then they learned not to let me do that anymore.
  5. I bought Teddy Lupin (yes, Harry Potter) a scratching post that he promptly ignored (he takes after me.)
  6. I did not do anymore wedding planning for two months and instead would go to work, walk the 10 minutes back to the apartment, and binge watch any anime on Netflix (in my defense, I'm having a half Great Gatsby / half anime wedding. This is called research. And spending all night in the same position on the couch, staring at the TV, forgetting about every single thing else I was supposed to do.)
  7. I started seeing a new therapist because my first therapist, who diagnosed me with having trust issues, could never show up for our therapy appointments on time. Last time, she didn't show up at all. I wasn't even upset, I laughed. I'm still laughing (and a little bit of crying.)
  8. I don't get paid overtime but sometimes I work 11 hour days (approximately 6:30am to 5:30pm with no lunch break), then reward myself by buying nice things I forget about. Like tickets to Mamma Mia's farewell tour, which was this past Wednesday, and I just did not remember to go.
  9. Rented Good Morning, Vietnam finally and was actually "nice fiance" and helped my fiance with his paper for one of his history courses by watching the movie with him, telling him everything I thought was important about the plot and characters, and making him write it down word-for-word because I am, in my own words from that night, "A complete genius." This, of course, ended up being what we did instead of remembering to finally see my favorite musical live. 
  10. Tried to start volunteering for our local LGBT and interreligious organizations to help out, and was completely blown off. I guess someone isn't "free labor material" anymore.
  11. Walk around my apartment daily, turning on and off the lights, and going Hm, I have an apartment. It has stairs that go up and down to blank, bare rooms. I have a kitchen primarily not used for cooking. I use it to store more action figures and books.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A List of Things that Have Happened This Week, & It's Only Tuesday

  1. I played cards with my fiance's parents. I view this as a win because, even though I hate cards and anything that makes me feel competitive outside work, I did this for his parents.
  2. Then I told his parents that I didn't like playing cards, as a way to not-so-gently gently-hint that I will not play cards as a family again. I'm not sure if I was rude or not, so I don't know how to view this.
  3. I found The Angry Heart and made a plan to resume reading it. I viewed this as a win since I no longer go to a therapist (she's always late), so I should get help by reading the book.
  4. I put the book back on my childhood bedroom floor and picked up a Doctor Who novel. I viewed this as a loss because I was already in the middle of at least 15 books (honestly.)
  5. I put the Doctor Who novel down after about 6 pages. I viewed this as a win, because I should finish a book before starting a new one. At the same time, I viewed this as a loss, because the book couldn't have been more than 200 pages and, in my mind, I should be able to read that many pages in just a view hours and check it off as read on Goodreads to show up all my Goodreads friends who read less books than me this year.
  6. I resumed Bridget Jones's Diary. I viewed this as a win, if I could finish it.
  7. I woke up Monday for work, ready to be optimistic about my career. I viewed this as a huge win. Very different from usual when I wake up wanting to cry (honestly.)
  8. When I entered the office at 6:35am, I realized how much I forgot needed to get done over the weekend and had about three different min-panic attacks before 8:30am. I viewed this as a loss.
  9. I reviewed a client's file because his website just went from the design phase to the development phase and realized that I forgot he was paying for SEO work. This entire time. And I hadn't been managing any SEO work, so I knew it wasn't going on. I viewed this a death sentence for any possible promotion.
  10. I panicked, tried to find my boss to pathetically apologize, and realized he had just started a meeting. I viewed this as a loss because I wanted to get my scolding over with.
  11. I waited an hour and a half, pretending to his wife that I wasn't fearing for my job while working with her on a focus study, and then, finally came to terms with the fact that I screwed up a few months ago by dropping the ball and that all I could do was start his SEO work now. I viewed this as growth.
  12. When my boss got out of his meeting, I asked if we could talk, sat down nervously, showed him the file, and asked when he had intended SEO work to start. He said after the site was launched. I viewed this as a miraculous surprise.
  13. Practically screamed inside my head because there was a chance I didn't do anything wrong (but did I accidentally have our bookkeeper charge the client prematurely? Should I check?) I viewed this as a possible win.
  14. Decided not to check with the bookkeeper yet. There is always Wednesday. I viewed this as a win because the main problem I had feared had been determined (by my boss) nonexistent.
  15. Came home, wrote some web pages for extra pay, and listened to my mom get upset about work. I viewed this as usual.
  16. Let my mom's anger about work make me angry about my work and life and living arrangement and began throwing soft things in my room, to not make a sound. I viewed this as a loss and a serious problem, because I always let her mood become my mood (when angry.)
  17. Hid in my room at 7pm instead of watching regular Monday family show with my parents out of fear of my mother's anger about her job (which wouldn't be directed at me, but I didn't want to deal with it.) I viewed this as a loss, because what if my parents where upset I didn't watch Kevin Can Wait with them?
  18. Came out of hiding for 7:30pm family show and realized everything was magically okay again. I viewed this as an obvious win.
  19. Went back to my room at 8pm and realized that I had accomplished absolutely nothing with my day (besides finishing optimizing one page of content and writing another page.) I viewed this as another great loss of valuable time where I could've been doing something with my pathetic life.
  20. Went to bed hideously upset with self. Loss.
  21. Woke up at least 5 times over the night in a panic that I hadn't been reading my daily automated project reports enough and probably missed a new task assigned by my boss and was going to get yelled at. BIG loss.
  22. Still couldn't sleep at 2:30am, so I checked my daily project report from the day before and realized that I missed nothing. Win!
  23. Went to the bathroom then lied in bed for at least another hour. Loss of valuable sleep time.
  24. Woke up, repeat. Had the exact same day as before, only with different client issues arising and I actually had time to take my hour lunch break and read more of Bridget Jones's Diary. I viewed this day as neither a loss or a win, overall.
  25. Felt guilty about taking my lunch instead of working. I viewed this as a loss of valuable time I could have been making myself indispensable to the company and ensuring a promotion.
  26. Decided to reward self by letting me watch TV and read Bridget Jones's Diary instead of "doing something productive." I viewed this as a win I deserved for a day of hard work. Surely I would work even harder tomorrow.
  27. Heard from my fiance that he missed a call from the voluntourism company that I had talked to about going to China for a week to volunteer at a Panda Breeding Center. I viewed this as a loss of a great opportunity to make myself, my life, and my possible career life more like something I actually wanted.
  28. Made my fiance call them and tell them that he wanted to help out (which he doesn't) and ask more about the program he was interested in (which he wasn't.) I viewed this as a loss because I was not considering him.
  29. Felt a little guilty about trying to make my fiance go to China to help feed pandas with me, where there probably would be no other volunteers and workers who spoke almost no English, but not really because it's important to help others, especially pandas. I viewed this as something I hoped would work itself out.
  30. Was reading Bridget Jones's Diary and suddenly felt immensely worthless for not reading this sooner. Every other book-loving woman in the world has read this, right? What's wrong with me then? Then I felt immensely worthless for not finishing a book last month. Then for reading so slowly. Then for not reading enough. Then for not working on The Basil O' Flaherty, my online literary journal. I felt incredibly, horribly bad about being worthless and a waste of space for about 30 minutes for about 10 different reasons (and this worthlessness-guilt-I am a waste of space-should die-am abandoning my journal and readers and contributors-feeling is my constant state.) I viewed this as a loss of my life and reputation and future since I obviously don't know how to be productive.
  31. Started talking in my head like Helen Fielding in Bridget Jones's Diary. I viewed this as a humorous win.
  32. Realized I actually had nothing in common with Bridget Jones because I am 23 and already engaged and not living in perfect, perfect London or working in book publishing. I viewed this as a loss for three reasons.
  33. Became tired and wrote this blog post. I viewed this as a win, actually (only if someone reads and comments.)
  34. Decided to buy the $61 Build-A-Bear Charmander stuffed toy my fiance had been pressuring me to treat myself to all afternoon.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Reasons I Can Never Be Jane Goodall

This is going to be an ongoing list to remind myself of all the reasons why, despite really wanting to, I can't do what Jane Goodall does.

I have always wanted to study animals, even before I enjoyed research and nonfiction. When I was in middle school, I was immediately struck by the idea what I, with no experience or training, should write the great book on manatees. I'm sure my reasoning for being interested in manatees had something to do with their connection to mermaids. I didn't even like, or tolerate, nonfiction at the time, but I wanted to research manatees and collect all that research in one book, but I never did.

In the end, I became a business major.

Here is my list of reasons why I can't be similar to Jane Goodall (yes, I know she studied chimpanzees not manatees, but after manatees I became very interested in Jane Goodall after becoming very interested in Tarzan):

  1. Reading does not make you an expert or give you the skills you need (for the most part.)
  2. I hate bugs. I scream when I see a tiny ant on my bed.
  3. I become too attached to the smallest bugs. When I kill one and flush it down the toilet, I am immediately coated in grief, regret, and fear for the fate of my soul. It usually ends with me whispering a prayer for the bug's soul and it's family (and I'm not religious.)
  4. I become very irritable in heat.
  5. I become very irritable walking long distances.
  6. I become very irritable without proper feminine products or toilet paper or hand soap.
  7. Sometimes, I'm afraid of dogs. On leashes. And also my own pet dogs that I've had since childhood. How would I handle a chimp or whale?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Being Borderline: Recovery Exercise 1

A few months ago I started seeing a therapist who said I have Borderline Personality Disorder, which, frankly, I have been thinking since middle school.

To recover, she recommended I buy The Angry Heart and follow the exercises in it. I bought it, read part of the first chapter, and then lost it in my hoarder-esque bedroom.

Then I found it, and lost it again. I think my therapist, I will call her Camilla, is disappointed in me. I would be too, but hoarding can be a part of Borderline Personality Disorder, right?

Anyway, she gave me a copy of the first chapter so I could finish it, do the Recovery Exercises, and maybe even start a Recovery Journal.

Dealing with all of this is why I haven't been writing blog posts lately, but I think I would like to transition the blog from just a place to post silly things about my life to my Recovery Journal as well. So, to help myself and maybe even help someone else, and because I don't like keeping too many secrets locked in myself, but at the same time I don't like telling people I actually know, I am going to use some blog posts for my Recovery Exercises and Journal entries.

From The Angry Heart, here is Recovery Exercise 1.1:  Beginnings

To focus on other times in your life when you started something new, and what it means to start a self-help program.

I am supposed to talk about some of the significant beginnings in my past, and what I hope to achieve by reading this book.

1. I hope to find the damn book again, but reading it made me angry, because apparently I have a naturally Angry Heart.

2. I don't think I have ever cared about a beginning, ever. High school, community college, four-year college, job:  all of this was just what I was supposed to do, and they were a natural progression of life. I think if I had liked my location better, I would have cared. But I never did. I think if I had done something other than this natural progression, I would have cared, but I didn't.

My parents wouldn't let me move out when I started ICC, so I didn't care because I wasn't allowed to be my own person. I was still getting yelled out for staying out too late, which I almost never did, except once during community college for my best friend's birthday, or slamming the door too loudly.

The only good thing about college, besides classes, which I always liked, would have been moving out, living on my own, getting a boyfriend and keeping him away from my family, and having sex. I wasn't allowed any of these things, except I did get a boyfriend. I wasn't very fair to him, though, because I was still mad at my parents for letting my sister take away my first boyfriend. I can explain more about how my sister took away my boyfriend later.

The only important beginnings I can think of was when I got out of the hospital the first time, when I was four, and began physical therapy. But I don't remember it. I had to learn how to walk all-over again. It was the beginning of a lifetime of me learning something, then forgetting it, and stumbling around the floor like a baby. (This is figurative, I know how to walk now. I just forget other things I should remember, like riding a bike.)

Recently I started yoga. If that helps me, I suppose it will be an important beginning. Even though it's free, I think I care more about doing yoga poses than therapy.

But I didn't have time to do yoga yesterday. My sister kicked me out of the basement.

3. I just wanted to be less angry. That and I was worried I would kill myself.

Recover Exercise 1.2:  My Genes and Me

To help understand the role of genetic inheritance in who you are.

In this book, the piecing together of one's genetic code is described as a "microcosmic dance."

I imagine the dance would look like a seizure, because my uncle used to fake seizures. Don't ask me how that's possible, but we know it is.

It would look like a seizure because I had seizures and that's why I can't drive away.

It would look like someone sleeping on the floor or slumping on the wall, because no one in my immediate family is very active. My mother comes home and lies on the couch, watching TV. I do the same. My sister locks herself in her room, but is active when she's not home. My brother goes on the computer. My dad is constantly disappointed that no one ever wants to do anything.

It would look like someone going to one side of the room, stopping, staring at something curiously, and then going to the other side of the room and doing the same thing. No one really knows what our genetics are made of. Here's a short list:

  • German
  • Irish
  • Swedish
  • Scottish
  • Polish
  • English
  • French (maybe)
  • Native American (supposedly)
When I was at community college, my mother told me that my cousin Alex had her father's (Mom's brother's) Native American nose. I told her, Mom, that's not a thing, we aren't Native American. She said, Yes, we are. And I was flabbergasted. Native American! That explains why learning about Native Americans was one of the only things that ever fascinated me about history! It was Native Americans, Salem Witch Trials, and the Holocaust that I cared about.

Before I knew this, when I was in high school, I wanted the freedom to not celebrate Thanksgiving. I didn't refuse to go to my great aunt's house (I actually think this ended up being the last Thanksgiving before her Alzheimer's took over), but I didn't want to eat. I thought continuing to celebrate Thanksgiving was cruel.

When I was really little, I had a large tunic I thought made me look Native American. I would braid my hair, put on the tunic, and celebrate Thanksgiving the way I thought it was meant to be celebrated. Then I realized, when I got older, that was racist. Oops.

I was not allowed to not celebrate Thanksgiving. My mom wouldn't even listen to my reasons. She just told me to stop. My parents didn't care how I felt because they, apparently, never cared about anything as teenagers.

The dance would look like someone being slammed against a wall and staying there.

It would look like someone having a ball, and then stopping, mid-dance. They forgot their dance, they forgot their life.

Recovery Exercise 1.3:  Defending Your Life

To understand the role of denial and other defenses in daily living.

The book says: Painful feelings and memories may be replaced by fantasies.

That is definitely true. I don't even live in the real world. My head makes up scenes of everything that is going to happen to me, everything that has happened, and everything that won't happen. I see it acted out in my head like a script, and if one of these fantasies particularly interests me, I will replay the same one, maybe expand on it, for hours. Weeks. Months.

I also actively dared myself to become an alcoholic. My uncle was, so I thought it was in the family, right? I'm not supposed to drink—I could have a seizure. Well, I don't care. When I was 23, I finally tried some margaritas and other mixed drinks and ... I hated them. 

Who would combine fruit with alcohol? It tastes like the cold medicine I drank so, so, SO regularly as a child.

So I tried beer. I like it better, but still, it doesn't taste like much. I could never be an alcoholic.

Another thing I could never become. (This is bittersweet.)

Recovery Exercise 1.4:  Needs

To understand something about what you needed in the past and how your needs have changed over time.

  • I needed someone to give a damn about my opinions, but I got over that. There were people who cared, but my sister, with the help of my parents, took those people away from me and said I couldn't see them ever again.
 How are you trying to satisfy your unmet needs today? How has this changed over the last few months? How do you think it will change over the next few years?

  • I don't know. That's why I see a therapist. Isn't Camilla supposed to tell me this?
  • Right now I just need to focus on my need to write a book or publish my work. It's almost impossible to get noticed today if you don't write action or suspense, it seems.
  • Maybe I'll write something like Girl, Interrupted. I'll call it On the Border, or Growing Up Mad.
  •  I don't think I'm good at this exercise. I think I need to move on.
Recovery Exercise 1.5:  Changes

To get in touch with how you have tried to change in the past.

Two steps forward and one step back, that's corny, but here I am!

Write down as many positive steps as you can that you have taken to change your life.

  1. Yoga (This is new, and inconsistent, but I'm most proud of it. Even though my sister mocks it. Not real exercise, let me know when you want to do real exercise.)
  2. Writing more
  3. Helping others publish their writing
  4. Reading more
Things I can do in the future:
  1. Eat better
  2. Spend less money (I spend so much, my addictive behavior)
  3. Take more vacations (Counterproductive to spending less money, but a good use of money)
  4. Dress better again
  5. Watch more Saturday Night Live when the new season starts (Yay—but it doesn't help with my habit of escaping into fantasy life)
Recovery Exercise 1.6:  Breathing to Relax

I'm going to be honest, I think breathing exercises are stupid. I believe in yoga, I read Chopra, but I hate being told by others to do breathing exercises. I hate the one-on-one. If I read it in a book only, maybe I will do it. Maybe I will feel a sense of achievement when doing it, but when someone like a therapist, doctor, or my mother tells me to breathe, I don't want to breathe.

The book tells me to use their Nose Breath if I feel stressed about writing this. I don't feel stressed, I am a writer. I'm just stressed my mother will read this and cry. Even if she treated me differently than my sister and brother, and still does, it doesn't mean I'm angry at her about it. My parents clearly aren't abusive people, they just had trouble raising three kids when the youngest has Asperger's and the middle (me) always had one health crisis or another.


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Short Post on My Mom Picking Up My Birth Control

I live in a city that doesn't have the mass transportation New York has, which is problematic when you have no peripheral vision, anxiety issues, and you're just not tall enough to see over the dashboard.

So, my mom has to pick some stuff up for me, like birth control. No big deal, or so I thought until my mom told me that she felt weird picking it up the other day.

Me:  Why?

Mom: Well, the guy was younger, like 21, and he asked me if I knew that insurance didn't cover your prescription.

Me: Yeah?

Mom:  And I told him that I know. I was about to leave, but then I added that my daughter doesn't do anything that isn't expensive. Then I went home and thought about what I said. . . .

Me:  Thanks, Mom.

For making me sound a little like a whore.

My Thoughts On "Free the Nipple"

I'm not trying to do everything that a guy can do. Physically, can I stand at a urinal while peeing? Yes, technically I, and all women, can. We can lift our legs up like a dog and make it work. Do I actually want to do this? No. Honestly, I'm far too lazy and like sitting. Sometimes I even cross my legs on the toilet. My prerogative.

But I don't like my body being treated like it's dirtier than a guy's. Why should my body hide? Why can't men just control themselves if they see a topless girl? I have no problem controlling myself when I see a hot, bare-chested man jogging.

"Free the Nipple" is still more complicated than just freeing the nipple to me. Why is it my job to keep men at bay? 

I'm not just referring to covering up so men aren't tempted, but I'm talking about it all:

  • Purity balls
  • Holding out till the third date, or third month
  • Holding out till he "respects" me (this is a little vague, and implies that men should not respect women who actually can't wait to sleep with them)
  • Not sleeping with too many guys so it's special for the one I'm with now
  • The term "virginity" in general (it leaves women with a sense of loss once they "lose it," and, traditionally defined, it does not apply to same-sex couples)
Some conservatives believe that not only should woman live under different sexual standards, but that it's our job to "civilize" men. That by holding out, we are keeping men from just having sex all day.
I don't really want to sleep around with hundreds of men, but I also don't want women to be the keepers of men. 

Also, most men can't just sleep with women all day! First they have to find someone who is also sexually attracted to them, find a location, and fit it into their busy schedules of work, friends, and whatever hobbies they have (not applicable if hooking up is their hobby.)

And I'm surprised that conservatives are the ones who think we should be. Conservatives tend to have Christian values, which they get from the Bible. In the very beginning of said Bible, Eve leads Adam to temptation after she takes the first bite from the Tree of Knowledge.

Conservatives, clearly, by your own standards, women have not done a very hot job of being men's keepers from the get-go.