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heigh-ho

Last week I was in California for work which sounds way more glamorous than it was even though, overall, it was a pretty okay week. I missed my cats and my gentleman friend and my pillow and ready access to an iron that I understand how to use but! I survived.

And today I go back to real-work-work and I’m sitting here in my bathrobe wondering if there is technically anything against dress code if I remain enclothed this way.

Except if I show up in my bathrobe, I’ll just want to bring a cat. And my pillow. Call it the If-You-Give-a-Mouse-a-cookie effect.

If I was still in California, it’d be too hot to wear a bathrobe to work.

And if it sounds like I’m typing this while half-asleep, you’d be 25% right.

From Friedrich to Kelly

They say that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but when you’re in the moment how do you know that whatever it is won’t eventually kill you?

You don’t. I think you just suck it up and hope it goes the other way.

 

 

Now I have that Kelly Clarkson song stuck in my head.

 

Buncha birds in a box

Do you have a Netflixer? Have you watched their newest popular release-movie Box of Birds? In case you have not heard about it, it’s a psychiatrical horrors film about a pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey gone wrong. I’ve seen enough clips and heard enough snippets through the wall as I was trying to fall asleep – thanks, Gentleman Friend – to have a firm grasp of the plot, which I’d like to summarize for you now.

Sandra Bullock is a lady-person with long hair and visceral intensity that is emitted through powerful, invisible rays projected out of her Intimidating Yet Feminine Chin. There are also two smaller people who I believe to be children. They may or may not be important. There is also another person who I think I recognize but can’t quite place her name. Pretty sure that person dies in one of the previews I saw. Sad.

Also. John Malkovich maybe?

The name of the film comes from the fact that something in the movie references it.

Woods. Outdoors. Down coats in muted retro colors. Blindfolds – hence the pin-the-tail thing.

Travel by water? The Scary Thing might not be able to swim, I guess? Do birds swim? Ah, probably not, when they’re trapped in a box. They probably get pretty angry too. I’m beginning to understand the film more, I think.

How does it end? I wouldn’t want to ruin it for you. Or myself, really. It’s anyone’s guess. I fell asleep pretty fast last night.

Practice makes perf – where was I?

Have you tried meditation? I have a vague memory of being led through a body scan during some kind of “Finals Week Stress Relief” event as an undergrad. We were laying on the floor in the basement of the student center, maybe? I’m not 100% sure my memory is accurate.

I’d tried it off-and-on since then, and decided to give it another try a month-ish ago. So many of my pals enjoy it and reap its benefits; why not me?

If anyone tells you that meditation is easy, you have my permission to slap them across their lying mouth hole. Because it ISN’T. It’s not normally a struggle for me to focus my attention in everyday life. But to intentionally focus on focusing on something throws my brain hilariously off-kilter. Focus on the breath, they say. If your mind wanders, no big deal! Just gently corral your focus back to the breath. But don’t, like, focus too hard on the breath. Don’t hyperventilate yourself. Not that I’ve felt like I was doing that before or anything, of course. Er.

Count your breaths, then they suggest. So I do, until eventually – OH MY GOSH I GOT IT! I’M MEDITATING! I’M REALLY DOING IT! I’M NOT FOCUSING ON ANYTHING!

On a related note, I now have a foolproof method for falling asleep.

In all seriousness, though, my point is this: I’m just-now realizing that meditation practice truly is just that: practice of training one’s mind. It’s no different (in theory) than training one’s body. It requires dedication and focus, and the results – I’m told, at least – are incredibly rewarding.

Maybe one day I’ll report back here that I meditate 3 hours a day now and my mind is one giant freaking Zen garden. Until then, my goal is to go 10   5  3 minutes while still being able to lead my mind out of its constant maze of song lyrics, to-do lists and Important Questions (namely: how long does it take a pummelo to rot and how long has it been sitting outside the window like that?).

 

 

 

 

 

A proposal for 2019.

I was making the bed yesterday – it’s nice, you should try it sometime – and an unexpectedly contemplative thought fluttered through my brain.

So you know how on television, in movies, in books – you know how when someone is struggling internally with something? Like a Big Decision or Big Secret or Big Problem? And us as the viewer/reader/observer – we know what’s up and we’re all captivated (sometimes) and thinking “Oh, how will this Big Decision / Secret / Problem be resolved? How will it unexpectedly burst forth from this protagonist in a fountain of mental garbage?

Depending on the intention of that character’s creator, we look forward to or dread this emotional volcano (side note: I’ve found my tastes lately lean more toward the “too real it makes me cringe” level of entertainment. Anyone else? I haven’t put forth the effort to explore why that is but I bet that’ll be a fun adventure).

But sometimes – a mitigating factor is introduced. Another character picks up on the cues given off by the one experiencing the Big Decision / Secret / Problem. Those cues can be Super Obvious: Hernando hasn’t bathed himself in a week and he appears to be sweating vodka, maybe something is wrong or Not So Obvious: Lillian didn’t remember to put the cap back on that pen. Something is definitely wrong.

And we, viewer/reader/observer, nod our head. Yes, how perceptive of that friend to notice the other’s struggle. I, too, would have arrived at similar conclusions after seeing that pen drying up on the table.

But, like, would you? These made-up personas possess sometimes superhuman powers of observation and empathy, and the Hernandos IRL aren’t necessarily openly Leaving Las Vegasing themselves.

This is a drawn-out way for me to say that we should all check in on our people, whether we think they “need” it or not. I know, I know. You’ve heard this a hundred times. I’d heard it too. But it wasn’t 115% clear to me until that analogy materialized in my brain because it’s drilled into us – and this is WHETHER YOU ACTUALLY BELIEVE IT OR NOT, the stereotype exists – that people who need help will eventually reach a point where they’ll ask for it or that there exist enough perceptive others to notice something is off and confront it head-on.

Happy New Year, y’all! And if you’re the type to resolute things on this arbitrary calendar day, here’s a quick and easy and rewarding one: Ask your people how they are, and mean it, and listen to their response, and probe if you have to, and make sure it’s ABSOLUTELY clear – both in your word and deed – that you care about and love and treasure the ever-living fuck out of them.

May 2019 be a year marked by compassion and a satisfying, yet moderate amount of cheese-flavored snacks.

How to navigate the KC metro area.

Gentleman Friend and I recently took a weekend trip to Kansas City so that we could stand in the rain to watch an outdoor concert. During our short stay, we relied heavily on Uncle Google’s Sassy Map Lady Friend to help us navigate around town. We learned quite a lot about the overall layout of the city during our short stay – so much so that by the time we left, we were “old pros” at getting around. So comfortable and un-irritated with the city were we that we never screeched at each other in frustration as we missed our turn for the twelfth time!

For those thinking about planning a trip to this land of barbecue and…other things, I’ve put together a Cheat Sheet for you to study so that you are fluent in the area byways and highways before your trip even begins!

  1. Take a look at a map of the region. You’ll see a town laid out in a straightforward grid pattern. Interspersed with your north-south and east-west thoroughfares are a few random swirly routes, created to maximize the flow of vehicles and make turning left across traffic so you can get to the Price Chopper nearly impossible.
  2. Take a closer look at a map of the region and zoom in to the downtown area. Like with any major metropolis, this is where the major interstates come together and branch off so that you can get to where you need to be. For guests arriving to KC via Interstate 70, the city has made your next step extraordinarily easy! Regardless of where you are coming from or where you are going, the exit number you are looking for is 2. Exit 2 is then subdivided 20 ways and labelled with a letter of the alphabet. Simply look for your exit letter in the correct order. For instance, exit 2T is after exit 2R, because in the English alphabet, R stands for Rocky, which is a superior movie franchise to Transformers, which begins with T.
    1. PRO TIP. It helps to have multiple passengers in the vehicle to help you find your exit. Is it a left hand exit? A right hand exit? No exit at all? Whatever you do, be sure to continue travelling at 85 miles per hour. Except in that one section east of downtown itself where the speed limit drops to 17 miles per hour.
  3. There are many parkways. If you are staying south of the downtown area, a few with which to acquaint yourself are: Swope Parkway. Ward Parkway. Blue Parkway. Brush Creek Parkway. Volker Boulevard. When trying to remember which is which, remember the following: They are all the same.
    1. PLOT TWIST. It becomes Shawnee Mission Parkway as soon as you cross into Kansas. How will you know you’ve made it to Kansas, an entirely different state? You passed through a stoplight.
  4. It is not uncommon for several major roadways to intersect at the same point, multiple points, or just slightly adjacent to each other approximately 50 yards apart so that the rookie traveller is not 100% sure he is making the correct turn. Please see the images below for examples.
  5. Do not be alarmed if you find yourself driving and gradually realize it appears you are now traveling on a one-way road because traffic in the opposite direction is now separated from you by a median approximately 3 football fields wide but then you see that traffic on the other side of you seems to be going in both directions because they are actually on a road with a completely different name, but it runs parallel to where you are driving and then you realize that’s the road you need to be on but how do you get over there?
  6. Roundabouts! Hooray!
  7. Lastly: for an overall mental picture of the area, imagine a beautiful Gaelic knot, intricately woven with care using rope that’s become slightly unraveled and also it’s been submerged underwater for a bit and possibly there is some glue in that water. That’s a good start.

 

 

 

 

 

Freewriting about toes and stuff.

It’s cute when a cat has extra toes, it’s weird when a human does.

It’s all about perspective!

I amaze myself each time I realize how much I (hell, all of us) have become set in my ways: ways of doing things, ways of thinking, ways of speaking or expressing myself. Humans are creatures of habit, and habits have an irritating way of dying an agonizingly   will-it-or-won’t-it, soap opera-style death: Just when you think it’s gone, it pops back up again.

Existing is hard work sometimes!

I knew someone who, at one time, stored her t-shirts in her kitchen cabinets. Her justification was a simple “why not?” I guess, within the way her particular life was laid out, this just made sense. Good for her, I say. Because why not?

In the course of my new-ish job, I talk a lot about how “perception is reality.” If I’m speaking to someone for whom my employer provides services, it’s pointless to argue when they say they are not satisfied with us. “How can we better satisfy this person?” is the million dollar question. And sometimes the answer is “We just can’t.” And that’s the end of the story.

For those who are wondering, I don’t have a point here. I’m actually just free writing. I kinda-sorta hoped that in the course of my keyboard-clacking I’d end up with a nifty way to tie these thoughts together and a perfect little bow would suddenly appear from my fingertips and I’d be able to tie everything together oh-so-neatly. But so far I haven’t, and it’d be in all of our best interests if I quit while I was semi-ahead.

Have a good day / night / morning / afternoon / whenever you end up reading this, y’all.

 

 

 

The title is at the end.

Once upon a time there was a girl a woman who lived to write. sometimes she wrote poems, sometimes she wrote stories, sometimes she wrote long descriptions of imaginary people doing imaginary things. Sometimes she just wrote – the physical act of writing. Words. Lists. Names of imaginary people. she wrote thank you notes and just-saying-hello notes and birthday cards and silly messages on dry erase boards and scraps of paper and Post-it notes. She was never far from pen and paper.

as she got older and technology evolved and her access to said technology increased, her formerly written words became typed words. She wrote emails, message board posts, long-winded AIM profiles; she type, type, typed to her heart’s content.

She also blogged. She started some and ended some, but one day she started one that she didn’t end. It became a treasure trove of her random musings, daily observations, stories and anecdotes – both real and fiction. while she certainly wasn’t well-followed, several of her close friends were kind enough to read it and offer comment. Adding a portion of her writing to this blog slowly became part of who she was and how she identified herself.

One day, she stopped. At first, she told herself it was because she wanted to take a break, figure out how she wanted to proceed, organize her thoughts just a little more to make the whole thing more palatable to others. She had ideas of how she could intentionally create a following. But none of this ever happened.

A year went by. Still: radio silence. Nothing new was posted. Hardly anything was even written during that time. Almost two years went by. Not writing became as strong a habit as writing had been.

Gradually though, she began to miss all of the writing. The ideas backed up in her brain and begged to be let loose. Some days she almost couldn’t concentrate – the ideas would flow past her regular, daily thoughts and sweep them away until all she could do was close her eyes and see a story though.

The writing began again. first, in spurts. then, in more organized chunks. She rediscovered how damn much she loved writing and blogging in the first place. She slowly let go of some of the insecurities that had caused her to stop blogging – did it matter that her content didn’t have a theme? did it matter that there was no organized schedule of posts? No.

What mattered is that it made her happy. It was something that she managed to forget how much she enjoyed. It even brought her peace, sometimes. And she was rediscovering all that she had been missing, for almost two years. With glee she cried out:

I’M BACK, BITCHES.

Finding the good brains among the bad brains (or, Finding the Hans Delbrucks among the Abby Normals).

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credit: Internet, somewhere

 

Brains – my brain, your brain, Chris Kattan’s brain – fascinate me. How, why and when they are able to do all that they do – it overwhelms my own brain just thinking about it.

I often joke that I have “bad brains,” using that term superficially and lightheartedly and in no way trying to make light of others’ mental health issues. I’m just poking fun at my own.

The picture above illustrates one of my personal manifestations of Bad Brains: the ability to block myself into incredible mental corners and behind tremendous imagined obstacles.

I bet you’ve got this too, maybe not constantly, maybe not even regularly – but I’d put money on the fact that your brain has bent itself out of shape in these sorts of ways from time to time.

But we of the Bad Brains forget the flip side of this – the Very Important First Part of the quote above: We have the ability to think ourselves out of these corners and around these obstacles. Is it usually harder to un-think our thinking? You bet your sweet shiny ass it is. But can it be done? Oh fuck yes.

Here’s a reminder, written as much for myself as it is for others, on how to find the exits in the unproductive mazes that our brains get lost in:

  1. Speak. Use your words. Out loud. Even if you don’t have words yet. Just keep spitting out words until you find some. Eventually, you’ll even find the right ones. Just talk. Even if no one is listening (the universe is listening, by the way. And it’s not as weird as it sounds). When thoughts sit inside your brain, they just rot inside of your head-holes. Let them flow out of your mouth.
  2. Go somewhere else. Physically remove yourself from the space you are in. Go in another room. Concentrate on your steps to the other place. When you get there, observe the new place. Ah, these ceiling tiles are a slightly less-depressing shade of beige! The carpet tiles have a perpendicular pattern! Ideally, though, go outside and get some fresh goddamned air. Just five minutes. Fuck, even less than that can work sometimes. Unless you’re adjacent to, I don’t know, a large coal-fed fire – breathe deeply. Open your eyes wide. Look at nature-things, not people-things.
  3. Make human contact. Oh no she didn’t! Listen, y’all. I’m a High-Grade, Super-Octane, Level 34, Double Platinum People Avoider. So I KNOW this ain’t for everybody. But – and you’re gonna have to take my word for it here, I know – make human contact. Like, when you’re standing outside and breathing fresh air, look at another human being (uh, maybe don’t stare). That’s the bare minimum that your innate social human nature requires. Depending on your emotional circumstances, feel free to step it up a notch or two: Maybe make eye contact, maybe smile, maybe nod, maybe say hello. If the out-loud talking and the fresh air have taken hold, maybe  – gasp! – call someone. But human contact guys. It’s hard sometimes but it’s worth it. that’swhatshesaidthat’swhatshesaid.
  4. Take care of yourself. I’m one of those people who cringe at the overuse of the term “self care.” To me, it’s not to be taken lightly. It’s not “hey girls! Let’s go shopping and get frappe manis!” I’m talking basic. human. needs. Are you cold? Put on warm socks. Are you warm? Roll up your sleeves. Have you showered yet today? How about a quick teeth brushing? Maybe run some floss between them pearly off-whites! I know, I know. These are some pretty basic-sounding things. I’m not even implying that you’ve reached the point where hygiene becomes an afterthought. I’m just saying – regardless of your circumstances, you can’t help but feel a bit better when your body temperature is regulated and you’ve run a comb through your hair or re-tied your ponytail.

Honestly? I think one of the most important things you can do it remember that it ain’t just you. You are not alone. Your brains really aren’t all bad. Hell, even if amoebas are chomping through your gray matter – there’s some good Swiss cheese left around the holes, right?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to spend some time thinking about just what the hell a frappe-mani would entail.

Sunshine Daydreams, or: I Do Not Thank the Lord For the Nighttime.

I am a light-craving person. I am happiest and most at ease in bright, well-lit rooms and on sunny days. When the sun goes down, so does my mood. I am the most anxious, emotional, depressed, etc; at dusk – and beyond.

This time of year is hard for me. And I cringe saying that, because I don’t like making myself sound like some Special Fucking Snowflake with outrageous Needs requiring Special Attention. Because I do feel that way, whenever I admit to myself that something is not quite right with me. I feel a pathological, desperate need to follow this up with a BUT OF COURSE SO MANY PEOPLE FEEL THIS WAY for fear that someone who feels worse than I will take offense to my statements.

I’ve been told by so many people for my entire life how lucky and blessed I am (and I heartily agree, don’t get me wrong). SOMEONE ELSE ALWAYS HAS IT WORSE is probably engraved into my dura mater at this point. And while that phrase has often brought me comfort, at times like this it makes me feel worse. To feel bad for feeling bad is just about the polar opposite of feeling comforted.

I feel like I owe everyone with whom I’ve interacted lately – work, home, in line at the grocery store – a big fat apology. I want to tell them that I am sorry, that I know that I could be so much better at being human. And that was the original intent of this post: I FEEL LIKE I’VE BEEN REALLY SHITTY LATELY AND I AM WRACKED WITH GUILT THINKING ABOUT IT I AM SO SORRY PLEASE DO NOT HATE ME, WORLD.

But in a flicker of normal brain activity, I decided to make this an explanation instead. Not an excuse, not some mea culpa, just a simple reason for why I’ve felt (and acted) off lately.

It’s dark outside a lot right now. And the chemistry that makes me a living, breathing person is calibrated in favor of light. So until it readjusts itself, I will not feel like myself 100% of the time. That is all. Thank you for putting up with me listening.