Monday, February 28, 2011

The Mother Of All Top Tens

Last week while in Mexico, I treated myself to a water shiatsu massage.  It appealed to me as it was something I hadn't done before and I was shopping for an interesting experience...I can get a back rub anywhere.  The guy who did the massage had a handful of unusual questions before we got started, the first was if I had ever experienced any sort of accident or trauma in the water.  Nope.  The second was "What do you know or remember about your birthing experience?  About when you came from your mother?"  Okay, so much for small talk, dude.  My answer was that I had absolutely no information about that at all.  But it got me to thinking about mamas and related dramas.
I will start by saying that my mother is a kind, wonderful, generous person who has survived seemingly unsurmountable obstacles and remained stylish all the while.  She drives me bananas sometimes, but this is true of most mothers, from what I gather.  She, above all others, is responsible for how I turned out, and I think I turned out pretty well.  Here are the things she taught me without saying a word....the top of the list are charactistics I cherish and adore, the bottom of the list I have written off as pure horse shit.
1) Your intellect is very important and you should always be cultivating your brain power.
2) Helping people is a key source of self worth.
3) A winning personality can open a lot of doors.
4) Arts, culture, music, literature, movies bring great joy and empowerment.
5) You should always present the best image you can to others, even if it's all a facade.
6) Growing older is terrible and should be avoided.
7) Money and material possessions should be your utmost priority.
8) Other women are potentially your competition, not your allies, so act accordingly.
9) Men cannot be counted on for anything.
10) You should never be without a man...... making #9 very, very confusing.
The lessons you learn from your parents teachings, both through words and actions, make up who you are.  I've grown a great deal by accepting and  rejecting these lessons.....what you choose not to be is as important as what you choose as your identity.   Our mothers teach us how to be women, which is something we should strive to do well.  Not sure how it is for guys, but I've learned the hard way that guys who don't love and respect their mothers are bad news.  
Thanks to all who take the time to read this's proven to be a great outlet for ideas that are bigger than Facebook, which most ideas are, but not enough for other projects.  The days I don't write are in black and white, the days I do are in color.  I used to feel that way about booze, so this is a big lifestyle improvement for me.  Thanks for being part of the colorization of my world.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Mazlow Goes To Mexico Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Give Myself A Big Fat Break

Screw Disneyland.  Rancho La Puerta is officially the happiest place on Earth.  Greetings from Tecate, Baja California, Mexico.  I am currently enjoying a week of hiking, yoga, meditation, clean air, great conversation, sun (finally! highs in the 60s), organic food, and technology rehab (once a day!)  Before you start screaming "Bitch, please!  I am working/freezing my ass off in FILL IN YOUR WONDERFUL CITY HERE and I can't hear this bullshit from you right now", stay with me.  Many people at the ranch are here tackling body related insecurities, to which I'm not a stranger.  But the more fascinating work is restructuring one's thought processes.  The main thing I've been concentrating on is making peace with the top ten things I beat myself up over.  Drum roll, please....

1) Wasting time on the internet/Facebook
2) Drinking alcohol
3) Eating too much/eating unhealthy food
4) Using humor, particularly sarcasm, to convey my feelings
5) Using profanity all the fucking time
6) Boy craziness
7) Talking when I really should STFU and listen
8) Being quiet/tuning out when I really should say something
9) Seeing the world through poop colored glasses (negativity)
10) Worrying obsessively about 1-9.

Ironically, I think a good bunch of the items on the list above would make other people's lists of what they like about me.  Make your own list, it may surprise you.

I think of how I treat my nearest and dearest....unconditional support and understanding, respect and admiration, forgiveness and mercy, belief and loyalty.  It feels so great to feel that way about our friends....what if you extended those same feelings to yourself?  How fucking amazing would that be?  (already making peace with #5)

I'll shut up now (making peace with #8).  I'm off to see about getting a water shiatsu massage from a hunky guy with tribal tattoos (making peace with #6).

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Identity theft.....Defer. Detect. Defend.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are just opinions; your mileage may vary.  I invite you to tell me to your point of view…in fact it’s the goal. 
While trying to claw my way to the top of Maslow’s triangle of needs (see photo), I have done a lot of pondering about identity.

i·den·ti·ty: the distinct personality of an individual regarded as a persisting entity.
What defines you, if anything?  Here are the answers I most commonly witness:
YOUR JOB.  Hey, it’s the American way.  Work really hard, buy lots of stuff.  If you are lucky enough to get paid to do something you truly enjoy, you should feel very fortunate.  If not, you are in good company.  No job is great every day, in every way, but are you miserable?  Can you change jobs?  Or change your attitude?  If you work all the time on a regular basis with no end in sight (busting ass for a finite period to pay off credit cards, buy specific big ticket items, save for a vacation, etc, understandable), why is this the set up?  Taking pride in how you make a living can be very fulfilling, even if you have a job you don’t particularly like, there is satisfaction to be derived by doing it as well as you can, regardless.  But I’d venture to guess that no one goes to their deathbed saying they wished they would have worked more, at least no one I want to hang out with.
YOUR SPOUSE/SIGNIFICANT OTHER.  If you’ve made your better half responsible for your happiness, you’ve relinquished something that is your responsibility and given them a shitty job, one where they’re destined to let you down.  In my perfect world, your partner is your best friend that you get to sleep with (score!) that also props you up when you’re down, believes in your potential and does everything they can do to help you realize your dreams.  Perhaps you have a different definition…but if you’re in a committed relationship, ask yourself how far off is your current situation from your ultimate ideal?  Is your ideal fair and reasonable?  What can YOU do to make it as good as it can be?
From Alain de Botton: "Every fall into love involves the triumph of hope over self-knowledge. We fall in love hoping we won't find in another what we know is in ourselves, all the cowardice, weakness, laziness, dishonesty, compromise, and stupidity. We throw a cordon of love around the chosen one and decide that everything within it will somehow be free of our faults. We locate inside another a perfection that eludes us within ourselves, and through our union with the beloved hope to maintain (against the evidence of all self-knowledge) a precarious faith in our species."
I guess the upshot of that is to be clear about what you need, but go easy with your expectations.
YOUR CHILDREN:  Territory where I’m going to tread VERY lightly, as I don’t have children and never will.  I do feel it’s the most important and the hardest job that a person can have.  I’ve met a lot of your children….they, like you, are smart and funny and delightful and completely worthy of your adoration.  But you can ask my mother, one day you will not be able to get them to go to a real college, you’ll come up with some half assed tech school compromise and after graduation they’ll run away and start bartending on top of Mount Bumfuck, JUST TO PISS YOU OFF.  Not really, but to a certain extent it’s their job to NOT listen to you and make their own (stupid) decisions.  Rest assured, things will still turn out fine. 
YOUR HOBBIES: Having pastimes that you enjoy is a kick ass way to express yourself.  But are they compromising your relationship with your job, your partner, your children?  It’s your time, if you want to spend a million hours playing Farmville, have at it.  I’m not judging, I enjoy a lot of guilty pleasures.  But take a moment to consider what you’re choosing to do as well as what you’re choosing not to do and why.
At this point you’re probably thinking “Where on Earth does Miss Thing have all this time and energy to be telling me what to do with my life?”  It really all comes from not having a partner or children, on top of having a job that I do just enough to get by, a job where I am delightfully replaceable.  Am I envious of your relationships, your children, your super careers?  Sometimes.  But I’ve chosen to be excited about the cards I was dealt most of the time.  I have opted to surround myself with wonderful, supportive people who have time and enthusiasm for me, which I am honored to reciprocate.  I’ve found it to be the key to a happy life.  Not every day in every way, but enough to keep me working my way up the triangle, having the time of my life doing it.  I have far more questions than I have answers, but that's what keeps life interesting.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Story Time

The following is a story I resurrected from my email garbage can.  It was the first of many stories I shared with a guy I corresponded with most of last year and probably the only story you will get from me about the airplane. I gave up writing the man in question as I decided the whole thing was a waste of time and energy....I beat myself up over it as time is currently my most valued resource.

Night flight from Seattle to Chicago, last one of my trip.  The plane was a little over half full, with everyone crowded up front.  I'm working in the back, better known as B position, better known as the Bitch in the Back with the Book.  I come out to take drink orders, there's an Army soldier in my section.  I know this as he is wearing his uniform.  He appears to be in his mid twenties and he's one of those people you can tell by looking has had a hard life.   He orders a Jack and Coke.  I bring it and tell him it's on the house and thank him for what he does.  It's our policy to buy drinks for military types at Southwest and it would be my policy even if it wasn't.  The young soldier is blown away by this small act of kindness, thanks me over and over and tries to give me money.  No, I say and get as drunk as you want to, on me, within reason.  He asks if he can come back and talk to me during the flight.  Sure, why not.  It's a four hour flight and it'll make it go by quicker.  I really did get back into customer service as I love to talk to people...sometimes I lose sight of that when it's talking to people about the bathroom, but it's true.  He comes back and drinks some Jack and talks some smack.  He tells me he's been discharged from the Army as he's been hurt and I can read between the lines that it's not a physical injury.  He tells me about the terrible things he's seen and how all the psychotropic meds in the world won't make it go away.  So, what's the plan now, I ask.  He says he has no idea.  He grew up in Bolingbrook just outside of Chicago and took the Army gig just to get the hell away from his family.  He takes out his challenge coin.  I know not of the coins....he tells me all about the coin that proudly announces that Tony is a Private First Class.  He is insistent that I trade him my wings for the coin.  Sorry, Tony, gotta keep the wings.  I tell him to give me his address, I'll send him an old pair when I get home.  He makes me PROMISE that I will.  Of course, Tony, I took the coin.  A deal's a deal.  He asks if I will sit with him before we land.  Sure.  He looks out the window, staring at vast expanse that is Chicago from the air.  He tells me he's going to place that he doesn't know anymore, back to a family that only cares about him now that he's hurt.  I hold his hand while he cries.  He tells me he has never, ever cried in his adult life and that men should never cry...a sure sign of weakness.  I tell him that's not the case, that crying takes courage and it should make him feel better.  I tell him that he should let his family take care of him right now, that is deserving of their love regardless of what happened in the past, that he should take care of himself and find a new path that will bring him joy.  At this point, we're about a minute from landing....I have to go sit in my jumpseat.  Hang in there, Tony.  We land and Tony's gotten it together.  Everyone's leaving and Tony runs back to the galley and lifts me in the air and kisses me square on the mouth.  Such a thing could get me in hot water at work if someone were to report it, but at that moment it didn't matter.  He had touched my heart and I think I did the same.  He then turned to a mom travelling alone and grabbed her car seat and her carry on bags and told her just to carry her sleeping kid...he could carry the stuff until they found her husband.  She could not believe his kindness.  I went home and mailed him the wings.

I realized in hindsight that I didn't write the stories for my unworthy pen pal, I wrote them for me.  Our stories are love letters we write about ourselves, for ourselves.  And when we share them with others, we can change our little piece of the world. 

Things to be learned from this blog post:

1) Things considered to be a waste of time can surprise you.
2) There is treasure in the trash.
3) Kissing drunk people half your age is awesome.
4) It's never too late to find your bliss.

Ripped from the book of Xanadu.....we have to believe we are magic and NOTHING can stand in our way.  Has Olivia Newton John ever steered you wrong?  I didn't think so.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Communication Breakdown

After some serious discussions with my starting players on Team Vagina, I've come up with my personal hierarchy of communication.  It goes a little something like this:

1) In person, preferably over food and vino
2) Telephone
3) Text Message
4) Email
5) Facebook

I don't Skype, so I'm not sure where that might fit it....the thought of having people see me on the telephone is my nightmare.  You wouldn't believe the shit I'm doing when I'm talking to you; it's best left unsaid. 

In analysing the list, I've had the following realizations.  My job combined with my penchant to be an reclusive weirdo can make option 1 a challenge.  And I as I deplore option 2, I am constantly jamming as much of options 3-5 into my life as I can stand.  This has left me feeling unsatisfied, like when you eat a Clif bar when you really need a steak dinner.  Even when carefully chosen, the intention of the written word can often be lost or misconstrued....this fact combined with the lack of real time feedback from your audience, options 3 -5 tend to just barely fill the void in the quest for human connection.  Of course if you just have tons of options 3-5 going on, then you don't really have time for options 1 or 2, or time to think about what you're missing. I witness a lot of this phenomenon.  Over the last year I've had a good string of  relationships that barely took place in reality.  My phone has processed declarations of love, naked photos, requests for naked photos, tearful confessions, mind blowing poetry, expletive filled frustrations, all mixed in with regular every day information from a million directions.  The technology which claims to bring us all together instantly seems to be creating a lack of real intimacy....I often catch myself  living in text/email/FB land when in the presence of living, breathing people with feelings, which really is disrespectful to everyone involved.  I'm convinced my "smart" phone has made me a lot dumber in a lot of ways.  As someone who conducts a ton of long distance relationships, I'm on a mission to make them better by changing the way I communicate....preferably having most of my dealings in person, then the phone, and on down the list.

Will I post this on Facebook, my least loved method of communicating?  Probably.  Rome wasn't built in a day.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Love. Available only in Journey songs?

Doing much thinking about relationships lately…still slightly disillusioned after having a long term plan go up in smoke.  Don’t get me wrong, being on my own is the best thing that’s ever happened to me and I’ve seriously discovered a shit ton of previously unknown super powers.   Also really hell bent on pumping up the ladies of my life, making them realize their worth as individuals.  Which brings us to the men folk.   You know I love you.  I love the way you think, the way you value your intelligence, your fearlessness, your strength, your dirty minds, your big hugs, and the way you smell.  I can’t live without you and the way you make me feel, not to mention your ability to read a map and fix shit.  However, after a little dabble in the dating scene, I must say….WOW.   I’m coming to grips with the fact that my age combined with my profession is making it far more likely that I’ll be killed in a terrorist attack than get married, a statistic that I’m growing more and more okay with by the minute.  Every day that I do my own thing  I think how magical it is to make all of my own decisions about my time, my money, what’s for dinner, what’s on television, where to go on vacation….and if I never hear another person’s snooze alarm again, it will be too soon.  I feel like everyone else who is unattached probably feels the same way, hence the great divide.  How does one renegotiate the rules of personal engagement?  I feel fortunate having been in relationship that was rock solid, even if it proved that the concept of “forever” has some serious flaws.  Perhaps I should just be happy on the couch with my white wine, my remote control, and my lack of real world responsibilities.  But I can’t help but think that a life without romantic love is not a life fully lived.  Dating, however, has not been as glamorous as the brochure made it seem….it feels like auditioning for a show I'd rather not be involved with, either as a cast member or even in the audience.  But I know love is a contest that you must be present to win, so I refuse to give up.
I'm not looking for a pep talk.  I want to know why it's all so difficult, when presumably we all want the same thing, to love and be loved in return.  Or do we? 


Thanks for tuning in.  I'm a blog virgin, so go easy on me.  Decided to experimentally start this up based on feedback from nice, normal, supportive people in my life.....why should some sociopath born the year I graduated high school own the rights to all my blather?  So I'm opting to transfer a good deal of my social network related narcissism to this format.  We'll see.

Where to begin?  The quest for connection.  That's how I got sucked down the FB rabbit one wants to discuss the endorphin rush you get when someone "likes" your status or your videos that seem oh so meaningful after that 3rd glass of wine.  But if there's something people don't want to talk about regarding interpersonal dynamics, rest assured, I want to talk about it.  A LOT.  FB brought a lot of great people back into my life....but are they really back in my life? What does a Facebook "friendship" represent, if anything? My job brings me in contact with hundreds of people a day but it is a lonely lifestyle, really.  It's a great job that I'm lucky to have, but it makes it difficult to connect with people on a regular basis....enough to really satisfy one's soul.  Attempts to establish bonds with people not in my industry here in Chicago have been filled with highs and lows, the highs coming from Team Vagina.  Team Dick has really been living up to their moniker.  Not going all man hater on you but I'm been overwhelmed by some recent acts of extreme douchebaggery from Dudeland.

Not sure sitting around writing this is going to solve a damn thing, but I'm snowbound and sick to death of watching news coverage of weather related hysteria. 

Blog cherry popped.  Watch this space for future nonsense.  Comments/questions/concerns welcomed.