Thursday, December 1, 2016

Work Meditation

Today I had a job scheduled for 10 and a half hours. All together I was gone for 12. It's one of those ambiguous jobs that is both a blessing and a curse. Everything about this place evokes extremes. As a freelancer, and my self-imposed work quota, the job fulfills half of the week's necessary hours in one fell swoop, as opposed to filling a schedule with erratic 2 hours jobs that can start at 7am and end at 11pm anyhow, spread across several days. This kind of job appeals to the procrastinator in me, the work-hard-play-hard lady.

It's also awful. I'm paid to shadow a trainee, a new hire. And after the cursory explanations of safety and process, the trainee is off on their own. And I must simply be available if questions or adjustments come up. This ends up being hours upon hours of sitting in an uncomfortable stool with absolutely nothing to do.

That's the setup. Now here is the meditation:
My presence in this environment is disrupting to nearly everyone I encounter. And I encounter a lot of people there. This is a busy work environment, an ant farm, thousands of folks chipping away at a luxury block and shipping it away to other folk's door. The place perplexes me. The jobs are menial, but they are available. You sign up more than you apply, and get a slightly less than decent wage for easy work. They let you come and go without much ado. Not the best job, but it almost seems like the alternative for many people is no job. But. But... work policies, the management, the oversight. It's nothing less than fascist. Write up for minute late clock ins after break, loosing half a day of personal leave for arriving 15 minutes late, tracking whereabouts in the building, tracking time off work, tracking and holding you accountable for the speed in which you do that small process... repeated 1,000 times in one day. You want to go see HR about a question, well, you gota change your work code and get paid a lower wage for that 15 minutes. Seven levels of management all watching the one below for excessive talking or standing. No earphones allowed; they check your bag on the way home. I see eighteen different ways to dehumanize an individual in a day, make them understand they are not reliable or trustworthy. Then show a video reminding 'em to be grateful for the work.

Then I come in, a contractor, not an employee. And I sit where there is no place to sit, and I read my book. And when I get weary of that, I look at my phone. And when I get weary of that, I rest my head in my hand and my elbow on my knee and I stare into space and daydream and silently suffer, not knowing if I also should feel grateful or sick at my uselessness. And while I'm working hard to see our sameness, a lot of people see me in contrast. I get scolded often, for not working, being in the way. Asked to moved, questioned by a dozen people what I'm doing. I'm suspicious. I explain myself again and again. I interrupt the flow, or the fog? Then when people around me figure out what I'm there for, tell me they wish they had my job, tell me how lucky I am, how easy I got it. I get annoyed or defensive. Or just bored by the repeat. Sometimes I say, "It looks easy now, but it wasn't easy to get here, I swear." The path that started 12 years ago, school, my own menial meantime work,  self-doubt and frustration over slow progress, embarrassments, dozens of little disasters and successes, being held back, carving out a path over a decade with slow burning commitment just to be picked for this silly job. But it not worth explaining, defensiveness is weakness and I feel unworthy of the gifts I've been given: the chance to walk that arduous path. In the end this whole scenario comes down to Capitalism, which seems logical, but is not, only a close approximation, because the minimum is zero, the starting point... I don't believe we can apply that scale to human beings.

Isn't it funny how we don't feel worthy of our gifts and privileges, but that our challenges and oppressions we feel are undeserved?


Sunday, November 13, 2016

I love reading stories of relationships gone awry. Especially marriages. The slow exit from closeness. A drop of bitters added to a pool that doesn't circulate. Then another. These stories are so tender. Losing love like this is genuine and sweet and tragic. It seems so unavoidable. I thinking of Jonathan Franzen's "Freedom" and "Purity" and JSF's "Here I am" and "Anna Karenina."  Of course these writes are geniuses; that helps.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Sad People do Cruel Things

Sad people do cruel things. To themselves and to others. And the tricky thing about sadness is the shroud of justifiability. The broken heart thinks it's kind. The lonely soul is furious at almost everyone for dismissing her. I've untied the knot of my sadness for so long, and the root of the tangle is both complicated and unavoidable, but also, after that delicate age, simply self-sustaining. After a while sadness is a shortcut. Living on the emotional doll. So precious, but not enough to thrive. Leaving it behind is not worth doing something hard. I have been this sad-addict, and I know them.
I had a friend destroy me with her sadness, and she thinks it's my fault. There are many things about her that are still a mystery to me. I can't know the whole story because she never told me. But the last thing she said to me was that she knows me. Knows me completely. But I'm wrong about her. This kind of explanation, I now see, is insanity. It's the overcomplicating of a basic emotion. It's the ultimate stance for the sympathetic character...being misunderstood, relatable mostly to teenagers, or in other words relatable to narcissism. I loved her though. But she didn't want to see me change. I figure my grieving for her is going through half-lives. This cycle shorter than the last. I look forward to the day she is mostly dead in my heart. It will come. So much poison for so many years.

As for me. The nonsense comes up still. Taking every word personal, every action, every minute. Taking the weather personal, my mother personal, a look from a stranger. Old habits, seeds of cruelty. I see it coming now. I've got a 360 camera called experience. And I tell myself to stop. It's not glamorous. It's not musical or revelatory. But it works. Too much of my time here I've been a dick. I owe some restitution. To others, yes, so harshly judged, and to myself.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Moving to Tennessee

I wrote a long, meandering, brilliant, resonating post about moving to Tennessee, which I have done. Colorado to Tennessee. I am here. I had metaphors and creative sentence manipulations. It was great. Then my screen crashed and deleted it all. Just know, profundity has been spilled into cyberspace. The shame.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Quickie

Two long days in my head.
Arrived home from my trip and it was like California Valley fog immediately as I walked in the door.

My mind. My thoughts. The boulder, marble pillar in the center of my life, blocking me from everything, not necessarily talking me out of my life (in fact, most of the time I'm trying to talk myself into it), but keeping me too busy and confused to do a damn thing. I wonder if total exasperation is the only path to the wisdom of letting go. And I wonder how close I am to Total Exasperation.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Kiddy Pool

Yesterday I was talking through some personal drama, repeating myself, defending myself, explaining again why this person is ridiculous, and I am righteous, and then shaming myself for gossip, meddling, having absolutely no ability to let the unimportant things roll off my back. And I suddenly realized two things. Well, I had begun to realize the first thing a few days ago after a phone call with my mother... The girl fight behavior... that's a learned behavior. My whole life I watched my mother stockpile ammunition again this or that person that made her uncomfortable, threatened her position, or made her feel insecure about her own choices. Then it was a silent war. I'm reluctant to be hard core critical, but it's not exactly a useful behavior. Even if your observations are right. And here I am, on the phone with mom, gathering ammunition against her cause I'm gonna call my sister 3 minutes after we hang up. The greatest irony.
This is how I learned, and it fucking sucks. I am a master at perpetuating some mutual dislike between myself and another person. In my mind that equates to a caddy airheaded child. That's how I am seeing myself.
The second realization was that my life is very shallow right now, and so yeah, I'm easily drawn into group drama, and tv shows for that matter. Whats the difference?
When and how did it become shallow? Not sure, maybe my definition changed... when grad school ended? When that constant emotional pain left me? (This is an interesting one, my life is not shallow because I'm in pain? or I just don't notice it --or anything-- cause I'm in pain?) Lord knows I've had so much difficulty forcing myself to be creative, it that it? No art? I prioritize work and then its just free time, lazy time, sometimes workout time. It's a confusing question to myself, because I do read, I've been thinking about Alan Watts pretty regularly for months...
Hold up, I'm creating a defense for myself against the argument that my life is shallow. Maybe what I mean to say is, I have no pursuit now. Nothing to obsess about or dabble with, nothing that is carrying me away. It's all done with great echoy effort. I'm so easily distracted.
That hard part is I can't think my way out of this one. I can't decided to be carried away. I must unthink, do nothing, flip that magnet. A slippery task. I'm gonna pull my hair out.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Still Fighting

I've been reading Alan Watts, and of course it is blowing my mind. For the past few months I've been soaking it up. The world has become magic again, intelligent, more peaceful... in theory. The greatest gift he has given me is the confirmation, or just an iteration of the law I've known to be true my whole life: The Law of Opposites. The more I want something, the farther away I get. The harder I try, the more impossible it becomes. Try not to be self-conscious and see how that goes. Try to do everything in your power to make him love you, and you end up repulsing him. I have evidence of this in each year of my life. The beautiful times in my life have happened very accidentally. My husband: I did everything wrong--according to myself--but he still loved me. When I started riding my bike, quit smoking, it all came so easily. This knowledge is wonderful, and for a moment I feel released from the struggle. Until I try to let go. The Law says itself that trying is disingenuous. But I can't resolve the dilemma. It's not bad, I tell myself, to want a healthier life. Why should I automatically be doomed if I strive for it? But I am. Calorie counting, trying to quit, cut down on the drinks and get to the gym. There are small successes overshadowed by constant obsession and failures. I've never lost weight when I tried. I would just turn around one day and realize my pants didn't fit. Giving up feels resigned, lazy. Trying seems futile. I'm tied in so many knots. The result is paralysis. My life now doesn't want to let daily physical activity in. My person doesn't want to write or paint... but she thinks she does, and spends most of her time in regret. The only thing I can think to do now, at the end of my rope, I have been doing this for so many goddamn years, is to move away. Shake it up beyond recognition. Sounds desperate. But I guess I have to wait until I just let go. Forcing it is making me a nutcase. One thing though... I may be confused regularly, but I'm not sad.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Hot Bath

Something about today has sent my heart-a-sinking. Nothing about my situation has changed, but today I feel pain and anger and guilt and remorse. I feel like a fraud, and that my goodness is limited at best, and at worst, I'm the same finger-pointing nonsense machine that I rail so vociferously against. I want only to be wrapped up in the hottest bath I can stand and gently glide out of this mental mess. I want to realize again that nothing has ever been all good or bad, that the innocent are the guilty, and whenever I told myself that it was either/or I was gravely mistaken and missing the difficult-to-grasp-fact that I had a vantage point.

Friday, February 26, 2016

On Love

Love is a difficult thing to talk about. There is the limitations of our language, and the language that we have become so accustomed to is not untrue, but at this point has little impact. I am in love. I feel so lucky. How does that come close to capturing how transformed my life is? It falls terribly short.

I don't want to describe love because it then confines love in our minds and the expectation is set. Love between me and him is bendy, it's gotta stay loose."Mating in Captivity" is not an attraction I want to see or live.

This week has been busy again. Work and more work and then a little more work in the middle of the night. But things slowed down this morning and I just laid in bed and thought of him. I was in and out of sleep but the time was devoted to him. I was calm and warm and I was smiling. I can't wait to see him again tonight. And I really mean this. I'm saying it now to no-one. I'm not trying to prove or convince. I just am. My body is here, it means my spirit is too. I'm finally starting to get it.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Exercise

I'm working on an essay about my father. This is truly an impossible story to write. Here are the questions:
Is this story about me or him?
Where does it start? When Claire (his first born daughter) died? or  when he got sick or my childhood when he was retreating?
What's the climax? there have been so many, every year a new episode?
I'm not sure what my attitude about the whole thing is... am I self pitying? over dramatic? treating my family trauma as a commodity? ambivalent? or even still just disgusted with the man, sorry for him?
So that leads me to the question of whether its time to write this piece, because there is nothing redemptive here yet, and everyone want the redemptive quality. That he doesn't die, or that if he does die, it wasn't in vain. Maybe this essay is about death... as it approaches.

Anyway, I'm working the essay from the beginning and it's slow, the momentum isn't there yet. So I would like to do a quick exercise and jump to a "what I'm thinking" portion somewhere in the middle.

Every time something like this happens, and it happens a few times a year--a call from my sister saying that Dad was supposed to pick her up but never showed, my mother calls to tell me Dad is in the hospital again for a fall or an infection, I talk to him on the phone and he's fucked up and slurring again--I wonder if this is the time he will die. Is this it? And I hope it is. Now, to say that I want my father to die would exactly capture the complicity of the feeling. When I think about his funeral, when I compose the eulogy that I will give for him, I love him again. It's easy to love him when he's the accumulation of his life, genius eating itself, a winter that blew in at midlife and never lifted, a man who's self destruction was as generous an act as he could muster, moving away so that his family might not feel the same excruciating pain he did. But when I sit across the table from him and he's slipping in and out of consciousness because of all the meds he abuses, when I smell the faint smell of shit on him, when I see that nothing I say to him lands and he's looking right through me and tells me he needs more guns for personal protection, it is so easy to hate him. I find myself imagining his funeral in the mountains often. And I've nearly completed my speech.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Ready for a Rant

Welp, the denial phase is over and I can officially consider our friendship dead. A month ago I had many things to say to you. I wanted restitution, unjustly kicked from your kingdom. I also wanted to beg for you back, demand that we drop all this nonsense and get a cup of goddamn coffee. And now I realize all those gifts you gave had a heavy toll: that I love you and no one else. You were careful to keep me on the fringe; you were the middleman between me and friendships, art, community, anything beautiful. It all always belonged to you. I'm not sure you loved me (I hope so) but you sure as heck liked me depending on you.  But as that changed, you have always justified your cruelty with "My pain is bigger than yours, therefore my actions are just." This is important only as a kind of detox for me, a lifting of a curse, reprogramming after excommunication from a cult. You had me convinced this whole time that everything else in my life was fake, and you were the only genuine piece. I missed out on valuing so much. I can recover now.
So, my dear, I don't care anymore. Whatever your problem was and is, it's not me.

Monday, January 25, 2016

10 Minute Sitting Meditation

I meditated for the first time today since, oh, about spring of 2008. I had been involved in a study about meditation and depression at a university. You know those movies where the government gathers up a special task force of misfits, but especially talented misfits, each having a specialty? The sharpshooter, the computer expert, the taciturn leader, all eccentric and elite. I'm thinking about Armageddon, Ocean's 11, the upcoming Suicide Squad. That what this study group felt like, except the antithesis. Only the saddest were chosen, those with indelible sorrow, recurrences, residents and not visitors. A stay at home mom (loud, firery), a very reserved young woman recently married, a prostitute close to my age, a middle age man with the saddest way of sitting cross-legged (he was the only one I felt was the same as me). A myriad of mired souls. About half were bipolar. Young adult to middle age. I might have been one of the youngest at 23. We meditated for six weeks everyday and met once a week to talk about it. They wanted us to continue to meditate, and follow up with us a year later. I didn't continue the practice, and I never returned the follow up call when it came. I think because I wasn't quite as sad, distracted by something and its funny I can't remember exactly what. I think I still felt like a kid that didn't do her homework. I still felt like a kid, so very defensive, pretending like I let cynicism through the gates a bit before I actually had. Anyway, I meditated and I was anxious. My heart raced the whole 10 minutes (I'm starting modest). I wonder how that is, fear, obviously, of what? Of healing or of failing? And I had nostalgia for how I felt almost ten years ago, weary, fucking beat up, and fighting like hell for myself. Hopefully I still got it in me. That's there's a mind under this swirling muck. That I might one day soon cast my thoughts out instead of in.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

5 minute flash

Between time makes me feel empty. I've finished one job and am waiting to depart for the next, and I am bare. What is it about the unplanned for time that erases my mind, motivation, and really any possibility or opportunity. These times I have a lizard brain. Food might be the only thought, can a get a nap in. Perhaps this is a failure to live in the moment? Perhaps I'm not building anything, and have nothing to work on if I'm not working. Oh, wait, let me rephrase: The only opportunity is to be pissed at myself for being unproductive. *a sentence of severe sarcasm and cruel intent directed at myself was deleted. I'm trying.*

Friday, January 8, 2016

Not so much prose as exposition today

Upon returning, I of course went back to read older posts. I believed, truly, that there was a curse on me. Now I know that as I was writing those words, I was six weeks away from meeting my husband. I know that story isn't over, not a Disney movie, but it's an interesting plot point. And then I stopped writing. I stopped riding too. A lot of the things I clung to in my lonely life, I gave up pretty quickly, and unconsciously. And, as the words unfold here, I'm making a return. And in the spirit of compassion (and not excuses) it's inaccurate to say I gave up. Like a plant, I gave all my energy to the seed. I had to, or we would not be in this beautiful place we are now. It's been tough to burst out of the sand, to need more than I did when we were just in the pod together. And because I'm me, it came with a lot of self criticism. Some things didn't endure the change. One friend wouldn't.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Home Remedy

I’m afraid I will ruin you
with accidental piles of guilt
like mucus made
without my knowledge
or permission
that suddenly needs out.

And so,
I want to make you into tea.
And you might have
some holistic effect,
on my smallest parts,
that make protons look
like planets, heal me

in an utterly unprovable way.

My Wedding Vows, read for the first time aloud on 8/22/15

Jeremy,

Please prepare yourself, for what is about to follow, because it might sound a little far reaching and heady.. And I think, if I were to read this to you in private, you might look at me gently, and comment that, perhaps, I’m overthinking things a bit. BUT, that is good, and important, and I’ll get to that in a bit.

So of course, true to my post-modern self, I will begin my vows by talking about my experience trying to write them. When I first sat down, I decided to start with a poem, to get the ink flowing, you know, before I decided what life-long binding promises I was willing to make to you. I wrote about four poems, if you count the one that was one and a half lines long. And they were all bad, a special mix of boring, gag-inducing, and confusing. Part of this is my writing skills, and self consciousness, but most of the time I can get a poem out that’s at least half decent, especially if I care about the content. BUT, when I was trying to write about you, and what it’s like to love you, what it’s like to be loved by you, and how I know, without a doubt, that you and I will be together as long as these human bodies permit, I was drawing a complete blank. No image was coming to me. I couldn’t think of one metaphor. Our love is like… ?

It’s not sweet or savory, it’s not like the sun or like being suspended in water. It’s not a peaceful walk in the woods or is it like being born or like coming home or like falling or flying or anything like that. I was getting really frustrated. And it worried me. I couldn't see the face of our relationship. I couldn’t tell you exactly why we work so well. The same thing happened when Casey first sat us down to talk about our ceremony and figure out the content and the details. Both of us were at a loss. I think the only concrete thing we came up with was “We are always nice to each other.” I began to worry that we are dull, or inauthentic, or even that there was nothing there, if I couldn’t describe it or give it a name.

This is not true of course, and I know it somehow. The day after I met you, Jesse texted me, are you and Jeremy gonna get married? And I responded, Yes, and swear to God part of me already knew, and when I said yes, I meant it. But all that I know about the shape, taste, temperature and tensile strength of our bond, lies outside of my conscious mind. The curtain is drawn. And through my struggle to see it, and repeat it to you today, I realized what a gift it is that my judgmental mind is blind to what you and I created between us. Because self-consciousness wrecks that which it is focused on. The moment I begin to watch myself living, is a moment spoiled. But, magically, our love is protected from this glare that wants to evaluate and wants to draw conclusions. I can just have it, like a child has an open field to play. Happy without knowing what happy even is.

So I guess I'm still working on the poem, and I might be for some time. But I have some ideas now (some are mine, some are borrowed, I won't tell you which): Our love is like a sound amplified by silence, a flash of someone familiar around a corner, the boundary between a streetlight starburst and the night, and that feeling of knowing that you dreamed and you dreamed vivid but forgetting what about. It's like a long, gorgeous and overgrown path. I'll read you the poem some day when I'm done. We've got time.

On a more earthly level, I do love you, so many things about you all of which I cannot name now. But most of all that you are good and loyal and talented and are teaching me to let go and not get so lost in my own, inconsistently reliable, thoughts. You defy categorization. You're complex. You're not fearful or blaming. You're responsible for yourself. You are content. You are a chameleon, and somehow outspoken and steadfast at the same time. I just love you. How could I not?

And now finally, I've come to the part where I promise you things. My vows. Although, I'm not quite sure what to promise you. I suppose this is the appropriate time to speak about the work of a marriage, the right values, the importance of being vigilant and fastidious, how much attention a successful marriage requires. I should take a side in the debate about whether marriage is a compromise or not. And I suppose it is also the time I should acknowledge that there will be low points, such is life. Very well. Acknowledged. But, I can't just nod my head and hold my tongue... not without saying that being with you has never been work, despite what everyone says. I keep waiting for it. But it hasn't come. Loving and being with you is so damn easy. Again, it just is, and I don't know how. But if it ever does becomes work, I promise to show up on time and well rested.  

At the end of the day, I don't know what a successful marriage takes. I've never been married. And I don't even want a successful marriage, because to me that sounds evaluative and dependent on standards and perceptions. Those are things I strive to shed. I just want to be around you for...like...a lot of the time. I want you to be happy. I want to be happy.  And so, Jeremy, I promise to make myself happy; I'm good at that. And I promise to chose you again and again, every year, every day.

That's it. I know the rest will take care of itself.

I love you.

The Force Awakens

I'm returning to this blog without informing anyone, the very few who had visited before, more than two years ago. I suppose I have a compulsion to share publicly and exaggerate the value of my own thoughts. And then I quickly swing to regret. I take back everything I said aloud and worry about what a fool I am. So maybe this is a solution, something public in an obscure way, that no one will ever find, or return to, and therefore private.

Right now I'm walking the line of realizing my downfalls as friend, and wife, without launching into utter despair and self-loathing. It seems as though my mother's insecurities are genetic and beyond reprogramming sometimes. Her hostility toward other women, her near constant fear of being left out, the constant struggle to fake acceptance and kindness when in actuality she is miserable and pissed for all the injuries inflicted upon her. I inherited them all, with my own special flavor. These days, I have hostility toward women who behave irrationally. I damn women who let their emotions take over. Its even too obvious to say, but I will. I struggled so hard to gain stability, which I'm proud of, yes, but seem to have lost compassion for how I used to be (and sometimes still am!). It is intolerable to me... the thought that I might ruin my relationships with my own insecurity, and it's intolerable in other woman, and I hate them and it and irks me beyond reason.
And my other pattern of too close relationships with women that end in total (acrid) abandonment. Either she or I get to the point of no return. How? Each situation had their own details, but what is this pattern?
I'm in one of those exasperated moments, where I want to throw down my ... what? books, sword, plate? whatever I'm holding and just scream "Fuck it" I AM SO GODDAMN TIRED of being oversensitive, misunderstanding, ruining things from the inside out, flailing myself over and over again for all of it.
And I'm married now, and it all has so much more weight. Try not to fuck it up Gwen. I don't have a choice but to try and murder my mother's legacy one imaginary insult at a time. And I hate that the answer is so fucking trite.