Thursday, April 30, 2009
Our world is pregnant with danger, and it announces its possible advent multiple times through out each day. Trust, security, okayness, well, for me, these are my endangered species. They feel elusive and in hiding. The day is packed full with reminder of potential threats. Our access to more and more information inherently translates to more exposure of present malaise.
So I did an informal study today of the things I was told in my environment to DISTRUST…I excluded all the things I was told to fear (Sorry China, you didn’t make the cut due to this definition) or worry about (Sorry, Global Warming! You’re voted off the island as well)…so here was my list. These were pretty blatant messages, either on CNN, magazine covers, newspapers, conversations at the water fountain. Pretty normal sources.
1) the drinking water…it actually has some stuff in it that could cause your unborn children when you finally do get pregnant in 5 years to have problems with social communication
2) the cleanliness of anything in a school, including mouses, drinking foundations, pencil sharpeners…teachers have the germiest jobs.
3) Lab results, they are often done by untrained personnel that run the wrong tests on the wrong samples
4) Your mother’s advice on dating/fashion/food…all equally unsatisfying. Basically discount anything related to your mother. She’s not to be trusted (especially you ladies)
5) Your bank…yep, your retirement may be floating somewhere off in cyber space somewhere
6) Generic trash bags…they don’t work as well as the ones that cost 87 cents more
7) Your cravings for salt, sugar, carbohydrates, caffeine…your desires are the devil and will lead you to over-indulgence.
8) The person you are sleeping with, want to sleep with, aren’t sleeping with anymore…he/she most likely has a porn or gambling or shoe addiction
9) That you might secure a job that will allow you pay off your student loans
10) When someone gives you a compliment at work, because “she’s just trying to get on your good side so you’ll sign up to bring the soda on Friday” (ACTUAL OVERHEARD CONVERSATION!).
No WONDER I find myself constantly analyzing ALL decisions I make and my behavior!
The distrust and fear simple closes me off to truly experiencing life fully. And I am so longing to FEEL my WAY OPEN…But how?
How does trust evolve? Where can I find my way back to it in this world?
Friday, April 24, 2009
Which is the most pernicious lie of our culture and time. That we don’t need others. The unconscious philosophy that to really make it in this world, you need to achieve and your achievements are only worth their salt if traceable to ones sole efforts. Education experts will point out that often students negate good grades on group projects and elevate those in individual ones. Why? Because somewhere along the line the only things we get credit for are the ones we feel belong only to us.
Which is absurd, because all the things you’ve accomplished in this life, your success, has been dependent on others and many situations or experiences beyond your control I have more degrees than most people do, but that doesn’t necessarily reveal some independent quality in me such as intelligence, ambition, good planning skills, or endurance. People might assume that, but what they fail to recognize is that I was blessed with a 6th grade teacher who basically forced me to enter writing competitions. I happened to get a research fellowship when the previous peon went into rehab at Harvard and my Friday class was cancelled, thus aligning our schedules. I am successful because of many wonderful lucky breaks. Don’t get me wrong, those words do describe me well, but my success isn’t attributable to them.
Recent insight emerged that people are more lonely today than has been measured at any other time in human history. The article provided one explanation is that there are many more people living alone then ever before (we can afford to) and then points out that people are friend fishing on sites like Craigslist. They put up platonic ads like “come to the movies with me.” Why do you think that is?
I think in part we over-rely on ourselves to be “complete and fulfilled.” The single gal gags when hearing that line from Jerry McGuire…”You complete me!” Because that means I am not complete on my own. Shel Silverstein’s awesome book The Missing Piece conveys that message…that we don’t need others to be complete. To be perfect.
Well, pipe in all you married folks, but being partnered up doesn’t mean you feel complete or perfect at all. In fact, relationships only highlight your imperfections! Especially family relationships.
I think what I’ve come to realize is that others DO complete me. Which doesn’t mean that I am enough, I am sufficient, on my own. I like my me time…but I need you.
The current economic crisis, when people may be holding off on purchasing that new electronic gadget, or pursuing the library rather than buying a book at a mass bookstore, perhaps alleviates some of our dependency on being independent. Perhaps we’ll embrace our immediate community more and more. Perhaps Urban loneliness is a myth! What do you think?
But until then, some one’s got to eat these dips. Want to come over?
Monday, April 20, 2009
I played dress up for the for the first time this week while drinking pink champagne. There were no formal costumes, and the bubbly really hued a deep merlot…but after you’re thirty, colors start bleeding and you’re already avoiding the lighting and cumbersomeness of dressing rooms.
The combination, like Fun Dip and Road Trips as a child, sent my inhibitions into a tizzy. My senses perked awake, and the burden of perpetuating my normal practical approach to my appearance evaporated.
I wasn’t myself.
No, I was Bubbly…hyper…ready to get somewhere…excited about what energy I might bring to the destination. I wanted to be seen. It wasn’t as if my choice on the outfit involved deliberate selection. What I was out to do was to generating a feeling of upending my typical calculation White wig, a shirt long enough to function as a dress, but short enough for people to wander (is that a dress or a?) some black knee boats, and a mood that floated. That sparkled. That did not doubt or question or leave room for other’s opinions to stamp it with approval.
Here’s the thing, when I put on that wig, the spunky, confident, I don’t-give-a-fig-what-you-think-cause-I-know-I-am-hot K emerged. The kind that doesn’t rely on being noticed in order to sense her inherent worthiness.
More on this theme later: the trap of getting noticed.
For now, I remember that wig, that champagne, as a fond celebration of all the Ks that have been---that critter who always forgot to pee before beginning the road trip---and is, the professional who smirks imaging that the wig might come in handy to facilitate other tasks on my list: ask a guy out on a date, make a toast in a bar, go skinny dipping…
And while we’re at it, a little champagne doesn’t hurt either.
Check out other 101 Task Insights…
Thursday, April 16, 2009
The punch line: are women/married people/religious people more generous?
I had a goal in mind to celebrate my big 3-0.....getting 30 people in 30 days to toss in enough money to buy a cow, supporting Heifer International.The philosophy behind this organization is to bring sustenance and resources into a community, educate them and then require the recipient of the animal to give offspring to neighboors in need. While explaining my campaign to people, their faces lit up, conversations turned toward other acts of generosity, and all in all, people were surprisingly energetic in support.Many people I donot know well, and others I know intimately. Yet in each, positvitiy reigned. In this economy of restriction and a climate of depravity, 30 people contributed more than $650 for the effort...the price of a cow AND a goat. From $2 to more than $100, people pitched in. And honored me by praising the endeavor.It just goes to show how generous people can be, when placed in the right circumstance. Don't get me wrong, I don't think people spontaneously spout generosity. You don't often see many people seeking out opportunities to volunteer these days to...well in any area: organized clubs (like Habitat for Humanity) at work (to serve on a committee not attached to their job duties...like a recyling club) or in our nieghboorhoods (when is the last time you knocked on your neighboors door and volunteered to walk his dog?). Our lack of charitble giving has been griped about in other places, noting that we Americans only give a measly 2% away to charity and that our motivations are primarily for tax breaks..and that they tend to be organizations that benefit the giver directly.
This project underscores that our day to day interactions with one another can be infused with generosity. Sending a check to a charity is no longer the ultimate measure of generosity. Our generation is distrustful of big charities, and for good reasons. It is the word of mouth, one on one campaign, that inspires people to give. But you can't just expect people to knock on your door one day and ask if they can give you a hand. I think we need to cultivate giving in each other by discussing this issues more...and taking a risk by asking each other: can you support me?
Which doesn't mean you have to be 100% behind the cause. I am not 100% behind Thin Mints (not my cup of tea) but every year, I somehow end up with a few boxes of diabetic shockers from those badge-grabbing tweens.
Women are said to be more generous (donate twice as much, volunteer more) People of faith are more generous (Utah volunteers the most, and Americans who weekly attend a house of worship are 25 percentage points more likely to give than people who go to church rarely or never . ) Singles are said to donate and volunteer less. Those most likely to be in helping professions are married, Christian women.
But I think the way we measure generosity may be a bit out of date. If you dig deeper, however, the way single men may give is often unrecognized. I know a lot of guys willing to pick up the bill with friends, or drive me home from the airport.
But perhaps, as one colleague asserted, my interest in volunteering and charity is "an enigma for a single person...you are not normal."
How are you generous? What do you think?
Sunday, April 12, 2009
This past week, I turned “The BIG 3-0” (quotations added from multiple friends for added emphasis.”
“This is a significant birthday.”
I heard this over and over, and a few days leading up to the big event, I was placing a lot of pressure on how I wanted to memorialize such a crossing,
It begs the question…
From where am I leaving? And to where am I heading?
Looking back on it, the way I and everyone was acting, it was as if I was graduating from brownies, crossing that fake bridge into the land of tampax, where the main commodity involves transactions of Thin Mints and its crack badges.
Why do we put so much pressure on silly NUMBERS? Think about it...the scale, the jeans size, the shoe label, the grams of fiber, the MPG, the third date, the calorie counts. In the end, numbers are only significant when we give them meaning: healthy, slutty, fat, average.
And since then, I have been trying very hard to a) figure out what I desire and b) find a way to honor it (which doesn’t mean immediate gratification...just recognition).
I hope I am leaving the roaring 20s behind and entering into the depressed 30s…um, wait a second, that’s not quite what I have in mind. I didn’t want to head further into a recession of confidence, but that’s what happened. A few days following my 30 transformation, I tripped back over that bridge, as if the novelty of a new dye job wore off. Today, really wanting a luxurious meal, I opted out of it for something safer…more balanced and healthy and less licentious. I hate my hesitancy. This self-doubt. I ordered a gussied-up oatmeal instead of the steaks and eggs and regretted my cowardness for the full 40 minutes of the meal. Even my date, who was born in the roaring 20s, didn’t behave with such trepidation.
I was definitely treating my desires as if living in the 30s, the 1930s that is, and such smallness would not do.
So! The 30 year old K walked into the nearby gourmet market and bought herself a bottle of pink champagne (task! #37 will be completed this week) and gourmet pumpkin ravioli. While in the market, she ate a French baguette loaf baked with brie.
Now, if this is 30, it feels good…just recognizing that I can either give or steal meaning to my experiences in the moment
What should I leave behind? What should I walk toward?
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
What do I want?
So…this can go in a number of directions…what I want for my birthday (one of those indoor gardens) what I want for my home (neighbors to watch Lost with) what I want for breakfast (cereal! Duh!). But in this situation, she meant what I want in a relationship.
When it comes to that direction, well, my clarity gets a little blurred.
I have conflicting feelings about stipulating a list of qualities…And this apparent hesitation flows laughs in contrast with my PhD in list-making and objective defining and a masters of going after goals. Why is that?
I believe that when a woman spouts a list, it quickly alters into a list of qualifications. And when push comes to shove, I can’t accept applications for a position I don’t think any of us are ever truly qualified for (I hold a similar view of the presidency if that tells you something.).
The fear is that such a “envisioning” about a partner isn’t a fear of failing to find “the one” that somehow materializes during a book store hunt and magically matches all my visions. In my bones, I like to plan and control for most things, but when it comes to people, such planning blocks experiencing the totality of a person. I project some vision onto him or her…and then compare to preconceived standards. If I articulate—must be educated---what dilemma might fester when I meet a hardworking wine shop owner with a stable income and a strong work ethic? So the standard becomes more general---from education to “good work ethic” and eventually watered down. Why make a list of qualities as well: caring, generous, flexible, when with the hormones surging my attraction will quickly confirm their presence and rationalize their presence.
Not to mention that the validity of a relationship takes time to manifest itself.
So nope…lists don’t make sense to me.
“But you have to know what you want, k!” See it Believes it and it will come (Shout out to Field of Dreams and The Secret groupies out there).
But I think for me, it’s better to name my rule-breakers. What I don’t want. Features that if demonstrated as a pattern will lead me to bail. Not red flags…but parachutes, or even write offs. I won’t become involved with smokers (I’ll try to get you to quit)
I’d like to add those that are insecure, arrogant, competitive, abusive, emotionally or rationally bereft, but realize that I become all those things when standing in certain lighting. And when you are in a relationship where you are truly engaging with another human being, you’ll eventually drive your mate to display all these things to varying extents (if the relationship is healthy, on the less destructive end of the dimension).
What I don’t want is dramatic conflicts, a lack of shared interests, always feeling responsible for investing in emotional capital or to feel smothered.
Now that you know what I don’t want…do you know any available person that you can set me up with on a blind date (it’s on my list people!)…ummm? Ooops. Guess I just proved your point: I’ve got a list after all. A list that is not a list but is actually a list….
Sunday, April 5, 2009
I’ve since evolved. Perhaps my fear, experiences at the heigh of my dissertation writing years ago, reflects a bubbling sophomoric doubt. Perhaps it can be traced to 9/11 and the onslaught of that media image burrowed in my cells.
Whatever the case, the phase passed. I now happily unfurl my belongings under the seat in front of me, and breathe in sharply the moment I buckle in…the clasping announcing that AH! I AM NOT DRIVING THIS THING…and OH! THEY DON’T WANT/EXPECT/NEED ME TO.
On a plane, as I am flying, that intuition kicks into 4th gear, and amazingly, I’ve fine tuned the art of following its lead. If my stomach churns, I sip sugar-laden ginger ale. If I am bored, I’ll pursue the Sky Mall magazine, if under-stimulated, watch on air programming, if pensive, I’ll bring out some work, if all of these things don’t satisfy, a best-selling wouldn’t be caught outside of a airplane/port paperback emerges.
I allow myself to trust that my inclinations are valid. And somehow, I don’t have to be productive—the self-monitoring monster slumbers.
I now look forward to the ride. Not just because it is a relief to experience this version of myself from time to time, just to periodically re-familiarize myself that the world doesn’t end when I am off duty…but also because I used to just SUCK at flying. In light of my past preoccupying debilitating fear, I delight that I am capable of growing up in a big way still. I can cruise at a relaxing 36,000 feet and throw back peanuts like Omega-Three Vitamins.
Where can you just enjoy the ride?
Friday, April 3, 2009
No one will talk about my eventual death with me. Eyebrows furl and voices turn icy. Conversation dries up like Popsicle drippings on concrete during the summer…the comfort evaporating and sucking out easy being. When you speak about your upcoming demise to others, people move away from you. Don’t get me wrong…I haven’t been given a timeline by any outstanding authority or anything. It’s not like I’ve caught some outlandish plague from all my traveling. I don’t have cancer. But a very close friend of mine is scared right now, and her experience is a signpost for me to honor my mortality. In my line of business, I am bombarded daily with stories of woe. Lately, I have taken up the daily affirmation of naming something MISSING from my life for which I am grateful. It starts out like this… I am happy I DON’T have: a cheating husband a venereal disease a yellow sweater a job with the AGI I am happy right now that I don’t have a disease (THAT I KNOW OF). Yet. I am also very much aware that I am on borrowed time. Perhaps it is my past and recent relationships, exposure to cultures that don’t pretend that death is somehow an avoidable family gathering, or maybe I’ve inherited some death gene. What ever the reason, I know that I am going to die. Which doesn’t make me drink gallons of Jack Beam, shoot up powder into the fragile rivers of my nasal cavity, or pick up men with facial hair in bars for mediocre nightly romps. Instead, I tend to gush out heartfelt in-case-something speeches akin to diatribes acted out in lukewarm syncopation on Days of Our Lives. It makes sense that I wanted to create a letter to my loved ones if “something-should-ever-happen-to-me.” I am sending a hard copy to three people I trust just to hold onto when the event occurs…What went into this letter? A whole lot of gush. Click here if you’d like a teaser of the letter… In all honesty, writing this thing took months! Not because I tend to run from ambiguous situations (what can be less ambiguous than death?) but because my words never satiate the gathering mass of emotions continuously multiplying regarding living in this world, regarding loving you. Words insufficient. The things I don’t say as gracious as the ones I choose. Perhaps I’ll revisit this creation from time to time to pay homage, or edit in effort to accurately capture any recession or growth experiences along the way. Perhaps I’ll let it gather the wise barnacles of a time capsule wafting on an ocean floor.
- ▼ April (8)