Thursday, January 5, 2012

The year so far ....

Day four of the new year. Just another mid-western winter day. Drake lived here for two-and-a-half weeks over the holidays, Montana for a week. I told Drake before he left Monday I expected to crash this week, and maybe to crash hard. I've been riding a high activity level for weeks now--Scrooge!, Christmas, lots of parties and impromptu outings, several enticing flirtations. But this week my house is quiet, school started, I gained five pounds of cookies on my ass, and it's fucking winter out there. The next auditions are almost a month away, my van still needs a new transmission, and there aren't as many parties on the calendar .... yet. Who wouldn't expect a crash after a long vacation from real life, right? I earned it.

It didn't happen. I don't think it's going to. Sometimes just allowing a crash to happen short circuits the thing. It's like the crash is only happy if it can surprise you and then fuck up your good mood. If it can't surprise you, it goes and pouts in the corner. This time though, I think I just found a little perspective, the kryptonite of the post-holiday crash.

It started when I wrote the looking-back post on New Year's Day. First, I looked at all the amazing things I did in the past year and I wanted to be me. I know that sounds incredibly proud and self-centered, but fuck it. I know I could have done more and better; I'm my worst critic. However, I really dig some of the things I did last year, and I love some of the people I met. I wish I could give them all cookies--and yes I mean that kind. And the people who didn't want to play with me--their loss. I didn't write about a lot of other things that made me happy throughout the year, so that list is even longer for me than what I posted here. Hard to believe, I know!

It wasn't all happy shit in that post though. Some of it was hard to put out there. I wrote some things that I felt uncomfortable about, vulnerable, mockable. I know at least one person reads here who would take joy in some of that shit. Maybe more than one. But I had an epiphany when I wrote that post--an epiphany about what is my shit and what belongs to someone else. I blamed myself for a long time for  outcomes that I couldn't possibly have controlled, and now .... now, I just don't. I still feel sad. I still wish some things could be resolved over a game of pool in a smoky bar. But I no longer believe anything that happened was a result of my being crazy or of my misunderstanding the situation or even that it has anything to do with me. Not now. Regrets, yeah. Responsibility, nope. It's not my shit. Praise Jesus.

Other things have happened in the first four short days of 2012. My students could tell you I love lists, so here's a list just to move things along.
  • I learned a secret. A delicious, dirty secret that will just sit here with my smile until I have a reason to tell it. And I know I will one day tell it when it will have the biggest impact. Some secrets are like fine wine: they need to sit in a dark, dusty cellar until just the right time to pop the cork.
  • A sweet, yummy friend reminded me of my worth. No, he didn't give me worth; I already have that. He just reminded me that nobody can take it, and lots of people value what I have to offer the world. No there weren't cookies, but I anticipate more delicious, naughty flirtation in the future. Stay tuned.
  • Elvira, her beloved boyfriend Rock Dad, and my sweet granddaughter moved from the suburbs to the city, and they're much closer to me now. Only about ten minutes away. I'm so happy to have them closer, and she loves her new apartment. It's full of sunshine and hope and it overlooks a cemetery. It's perfect for her.
  • School started yesterday. Every section of English composition the department offered is full, including my classes. They always are. And yet, in my first class yesterday, 16 out of 25 students showed up. And in the another section, 17 of 25 showed up; of those, one left 40 minutes early and another showed up an hour late. I felt discouraged for a few minutes. And then I realized it's perfect really. I'll have more time for the students who really want to be there, and I won't have as many papers to grade. Win/win.
  • I bought Drake new tires for Christmas. I intended to pay a certain price and ended up paying much more. I was a little freaked out over how much they cost, in spite of how desperately he needed them. And then I wrote my new-year post and realized that young man saved me from buying a new washer and dryer. The cost of his tires was far less than that. Perspective. Always welcome here.
  • And I won a prize! No shit, I won a $250 Visa gift card on a Blogher giveaway. The day I entered several weeks ago, I posted on my FB that I had no idea why I wasted my time entering these things because I never win. And that's the one I won. Oh, Miss Serendipity, you're such a vixen.
  • I have some serious shit to deal with this month that I thought was over. Shit my $9/minute lawyer hasn't been able to fix in the past two years. I'm pissed and scared. But I will go back and find another angle. It's too important not to.
And finally, to bring this back full circle, I have to admit sometimes it's easy to feel like the sociopaths (and cannibals and dendrophiliacs) are winning the game of life. Sometimes it's easy to wish I could cut out my own tender heart and join them, become just as self-centered and cruel, and care just as little about other people. I could have felt that way after I exposed my silly curb=stomped heart in public posted my new-year post,  but a FB friend posted a video on my wall while I was writing that post, and she added this comment: "I'm listening to this fabulous video and keep thinking of you. You're one of the whole-hearted."

I wrote until almost 4:00 am Monday night. (Yes, I back-dated that post so it would publish on January 1 instead of when I finished early the morning of January 2.) So I didn't listen to the video that night, but I had finished writing the post in bed on my laptop, so before I got up Monday morning, I listened to the video in the comfort of my big bed. And it was just what I needed to hear. I cried to think I might be whole-hearted instead of just broken. What a concept. It locked in what I hope will be my perspective for 2012.

I know I'll listen to this video several more times. For the past few months--OK, all my life--I've been terrified to be vulnerable. But I am compelled as a writer to dig into that terrible, iron-tasting vulnerability and push nuggets of it into the light of day. I'm telling you it's terrifying. I'd rather write about difficult issues like sex. Or .... OK, I really like writing about sex. But sharing recipes or mommy stories or even dildo stories is so much safer than some of the more personal posts I write here. And one of those personal posts may have--although I'll never know for sure--but it may have caused the trouble I wrote about with that guy.

But back to the video. It's 20 minutes long. You can listen to it if you want. It's compelling enough one of my FB friends picked it up and posted it twice so his friends wouldn't miss it. I relate to this woman, Brene Brown, in so many ways. She's a researcher/storyteller. I'm a storyteller/listener/researcher. She's self-deprecating. I'm self-deprecating. She talks about her journey toward the worth of vulnerability and empathy, the uncomfortableness of loving freely and openly and I am constantly on that journey myself. And we both have degrees in social work, and we both believe in connection, and we both understand how deeply shame can mold human behavior and feeling. She describes the struggle I face every day as a writer. This woman fucking spoke to me. 

And she reminded me that no matter how much the sociopaths (and cannibals and dendrophiliacs) take from me, I don't want to be like those fuckers. They can't feel shame or guilt or sadness--oh, how blessed that would be some days. But they also can't feel the ecstasy of connecting with another person through intimacy--emotional, physical, sexual--they can't feel it. They can't fucking feel that. They are to be pitied.

So in 2012, I intend to be grateful for my shame, my vulnerability, my empathy, my capacity to love, no matter how much it hurts. And it will hurt. It will hurt immensely sometimes, but there will be moments of blinding joy and perfect connection, of flying and singing and dancing, and I will be there with an open heart to receive the gift.

Here's the video*. I hope you watch it.

* The link was from Ted. You can watch the original here.


  1. Of the photo at the top of this post... the geek in me can only keep thinking, "Yay! Han Solos are getting out of the carbonite!"

  2. Well,if sundays performance is any indication of the year ahead atleast you are looking good and sounding good! Luck favors the prepared.

  3. Thanks, Vapor. It's the first time I've played through the new sound system. I enjoyed playing yesterday. (To be fair, I always do.)