Friday, October 7, 2011

The Happiness Chronicles: Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

Just arrived in Rhode Island after a day bearing no resemblance to the Pan Am show, just happy there are no weigh ins anymore.  But enough with the shop talk....

I have been considering the tactics I’ve employed in the past to make improvements to my life and how effective they were.  One idea I really went for as a young adult was that of REINVENTION.  Looking up to Bowie and Madonna and anyone else who could create a new persona at the drop of a hat, I decided early that if I didn't like it, I should change it.  New hair, new dude, new job, new apartment, new city, all equaled new attitude.  I mean, I didn't  know if I'd like it unless I tried it, right?  Also a selling point of reinvention is running away from the old me.  With every new relationship/living situation, there was an opportunity to start completely clean, to distance myself from all the mistakes I had made, to recreate myself from what I learned from all the flubs.  I chalked this all up as part of being young and adventurous and carefree and all that.

As I grew older, the reinvention principle became exhausting.  I picked a guy and a job for the long haul.  And having both for over a decade showed me the amazing benefits of applying patience and time to your endeavors.   Long term commitment can provide trust and security and solace and predictability and ease.  I was no longer running away from my mistakes; I learned from them without divorcing myself from the person capable of screwing up.  I let my guard down knowing that I had a secure foundation and took comfort in not worrying about the perils of finding new employment and suitors and friends and housing and all the stress and mental negotiating that such situations can bring.

Fast forward to moving to Chicago recently.   My skills at going it alone were pretty rusty and were being managed by the brain of an anxious middle aged broad.   I once again became enthralled with the idea of reinvention and the high that it can provide.  The last few years have been a fantastic learning experience and I’ve really stretched my notions about what’s possible when you put your mind to it.  But I’ve also noticed a marked increase in some not so winning aspects of my personality that are seriously exacerbated by being a solo act... I am impatient, impulsive, irrational and make the snappiest of snap judgments. My iPhone isn't fast enough, I want to punch aimless people on the moving walkway in the head, I want everyone and everything  to react yesterday, I take every quiet moment as an opportunity to write my own version of what’s going on instead of just waiting for time to unfold the details... everything that's not to my liking is a waste of time and a SURE sign I should be on a different path.   It leads my BFF to make comments  ranging from, “There’s really no harm in waiting before you do anything" to “Jack McCoy would not approve of your conjecture” to “Holy crap, I’m glad you don’t have access to the nuclear codes”, depending on the situation. (no shit, she has made all these brillliant/hilarious observations, that’s why she remains on staff)  I fantasize about new relationships and jobs and apartments and cities to live…..all the while losing sight of what’s great about what’s currently going on.  I guess it’s same escapism employed by dudes ignoring their significant others to look at porn….the great unknown allows you to think that unchartered person/job/apartment/city won’t be rife with the current bullshit you’re dealing with….you could start over in a bigger, better production of your life, starring the new and improved you.  But I've taken to reminding myself that every aspect of life has inevitable ups and downs, just as if our porn loving friends REALLY got with Amber Lynn, she would have days she'd lose her come hither face and tell them to take out the trash already.

This bigger picture became clear to me while I was rewriting a story I wrote last year, lamenting to myself and anyone else who would listen, "But I'm not that person anymore!"...the person in question had projected all of her fears into her body image.  I was annoyed that evidence of "that person" existed, when I should have been celebrating who I've become instead....a slightly more confident, slightly less anxious
gal, ever clawing her way up Maslow's pyramid.

Is this is to say that I’m sticking on the horse I’m currently riding forever?  No.  I can’t really see growing old on the El train living by an airport.  But I guess the point of this reflection is to say that perhaps nothing is a waste of time….everything takes exactly as long as it should, even if it seems to end abruptly without my permission or drag on endlessly.  And it's completely fine to not have a plan, opting to let the universe and the test of time and careful consideration dictate what should be changed  instead of constantly acting on every whim and always trying to get the world to bend to my will.

Thanks for the blog support....let's all get incrementally happier together, shall we?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Call of Happiness....Is It Coming From Inside The House?

Things are decidely chilly today at Nonsense HQ.  Landlord still working on hooking up the heat.  But I’m certainly not here to discuss the weather inside or outside my office, as that would be officially boring.  I’m here to talk about the weather inside my head, which is partly cloudy with a chance of sunshine.  Enjoy!
My last blog post was a consideration of the fact that although I have all the elements of a fabulous life (love interest, quality friends, good job, creative outlets, decent living situation, today’s heat debacle not withstanding), I still feel cranky and dissatisfied sometimes.  As my most treasured pastime is overthinking, I’ve been ruminating on that quite a bit lately.  Although it’s not expected to feel great every day in every way, I have been analyzing what components bring joy to a life, mostly in terms of my own.
First let’s start with the necessary evil that is WORK.  My sweetie has a “normal” job in corporate America…while comparing days, he more often than not has had multiple meetings.  Meetings about past meetings, about future meetings, meetings about the efficiency of past and future meetings.  It all got to be so ridiculous sounding to me that I asked him, “In the twenty minutes a day you’re not in a meeting, what EXACTLY do you DO?  Do you have a job description?”  He thought it over and replied succinctly, “I opine in regards to credit potential”.  I was then bemused as I hadn’t heard anyone use the word “opine” as their job related action word….mostly I hear things like “serve”, or “supervise”, or “create content”, or “delegate”, or "look busy" or whatever.  Which got me thinking about the importance of one’s opinion.  We all have them, obviously, but how much of life’s satisfaction is derived from having our point of view validated and respected?  In the workplace and beyond?  Hmm.  Let’s start with my job.  As I do not have anyone who directly oversees my work in the sky, I don’t feel that my opinion is actively of interest to my employer.  Don’t get me wrong, I know there are Ideas and Suggestions websites and avenues to submit all of my fabulous work related ideas, should I ever have any.  And there is something to be said for being an anonymous cog in something turning.  I am replaceable when I’m sick, I don’t take work home with me, I am often pleased with my decision to be a number.  I have relied on getting job satisfaction from the living, breathing people I provide service for, the passengers and my co-workers.  Flying has become a more arduous chore for all of us, by the time the passengers get onboard they have been searched and poked and prodded and herded and are sometimes are at their breaking point for any number of reasons.  When you put a group of people in such an environment, inevitably there are a small number of people with big needs who get all the attention.  After putting out their fires, you then divide up the time and energy you have left to tend to the folks who just are getting from point A to point B without commotion and try to provide them with a pleasant experience.  The last few years I've sensed more strain in the attitude of the general public….as the Man puts the smack down on all of us, expecting more and more and offering less and less, the trickle down effect can be an overall sense of melancholy and defeat…..combined with personal burn out makes the whole experience not as fun as they made it sound in brochure.
But I know job related angst is more the norm than the exception and there are certainly worse fates than telling people to have a Coke and smile and ending up in San Diego.  Which leads to the happiness derived from the life outside the tube.  I recently read a story with the folks at 2nd Story at In Fine Spirits…it was, as always, an amazing experience.  In the car after the show, I mostly made comments about what others had said to me about the show.  This was countered with, “Maybe the important thing isn't what others thought about it, it’s what YOU thought about it”.   Cue overanalyzing machine.  I came up with the hypothesis that since I didn’t feel my work was providing me with positive feedback lately, that I was hungry for evidence that my ideas were important or meaningful or at the very least entertaining.  Perhaps I’ve grown addicted to the Facebook “like” button concept of life, that you’re only as good as the strokes you’re getting AT THIS MOMENT, who knows.  It was brought to my attention that I have a life filled with people who appreciate my opinions and that they make that clear to me all the time.  Yep, true.  So this satisfaction I’m endlessly seeking…perhaps it is indeed a Do It Yourself project.  I'm starting to come to grips with the idea that although I'm convinced to some degree that life’s highs are centered around our connections with others, I must admit that not giving a rip about what anyone else thinks about me is a pretty liberating concept and may be the key to getting to the next level in the video game I call E Life.
Next possible project…..NaNoWriMo.  Writing a novel in November…..50,000 words in 30 days.  For real?  Can it be done?  Stay tuned.