Dear 23 Readers:
Oh my gosh, it’s been a long time since I sat down to write an update. I’ve been thinking of you, though and decided today is the day to reach out. There’s been a lot of change lately – nothing negative – just different. My mom is selling her house and that’s very emotional for all of us. It’s definitely time. She and Dad bought it 27 years ago and it is the “stable” home my nomadic children have known. We’ve moved so much and 1141 N. Nielson has been the port in many storms. We had Easter dinner at Mom’s and realized it will probably be our last holiday in the house. Matthew (#4) and I sat by the pool and started to talk about it but tears threatened and I am way too macho for that crap. Mark and I found out, recently that our good friends are moving back to Boston due to a job offer. Then, at work, we promoted my assistant manger to store manager at a different location. Which means a promotion for my key holder and hiring someone new for her position. Which means I have to talk to and play well with others I just met….. See? All good stuff, but change in the people in my peripheral and that always freaks me out. <sigh>
In other news, we camped Easter weekend with the fam. Part of it anyway. Loran (#3), Matthew, Kache (grandbaby) and Mark and I headed out for the last desert camp of the season. Lots of fun. A little too much tequila Saturday night after Kache fell asleep. Matt played guitar and I may or may not have sung “How Great Thou Art” acapella, at the top of my lungs, around midnight.
Kimmy(#2) and her husband, Matti (note the i at the end of the name as I also refer to #4 as Matty and we try not to mix up the two. It’s worth noting we also have two Brandons – #1 as well as my nephew Casey’s husband, Brandon – differentiated by the spelling of their middle names Jeffrey for #1 and Geoffrey for nephew Brandon or by referring #1as Bubba or to Nephew as Nephew or Uncle Mooney, referencing somewhat dated family redneck jokes. Don’t ask.)
What the hell was I talking about?
Oh! #2 and Bodington went to England on a vacation I am openly envious of. They’ve been all over the place – South Africa, Ecuador, Japan – and that’s lovely, but England is on my bucket list and they got to go to Hogwarts and have high tea and see the Queen and Prince William. I am jealous.
It’s later now.
Pops left for New York (more change). Mom flew with him and will hang with family and friends that still reside in the frozen north. Her house sold, things are moving along nicely at work and my assistant moved on to his own store. <sigh>
Due to all the above mentioned change – not to mention the state of the world – I’ve been somewhat grumpy and have been making an effort to take myself out of a negative state of mind. I tend to be, by turns, cynical, annoyed, snarky and bitchy simply out of habit that is exacerbated by watching the news or Saturday Night Live and getting the latest Trump update. The negativity is like a cassette tape that’s on repeat in my head, when basically, I’m a very nice person.
What got me thinking about my own state of mind was Brandon’s. Admittedly, his is a bit of a challenge to me as he is Mr. Spock and I am a cross between my Aunt Gertrude, Karen on Will and Grace and the old bat Shirley McClain played in Steel Magnolias.
Anyway, one of Brandon’s favorite comedians is George Carlin. I get it. He was a funny guy. Sardonic, ironic, brilliant, fast and – largely negative. While I understand it is a comic’s job to point out the irony, etc., in daily life, depending on who they are and what their style is, things can get really dark. Carlin’s style fell into that category. I mean really, really bleak. So if Mr. Spock is listening to this guy who speaks the “truth” and does it loudly and in a somewhat angry voice, how exactly is that going to affect Mr. Spock?
Well, I don’t know. But it’s not good for Brandon.
For instance, Brandon is Agnostic. Fine. It’s his choice and frankly I don’t think God cares either. I mean, really, if God is all powerful and good and whatever, he knows Bran’s mind and heart and could really not give a shit less if #1 goes to church, a baseball game or the living room couch on a Sunday morning. However, Bran has been getting adamant about it. Even a little belligerent. And I’m like, “Dude, what? Okay. You don’t believe in the religious God. I’m good, and seriously, Supernatural is about to start. Please don’t get in the way of my Sam and Dean time.”
Yesterday we were on our way to an appointment in BFE and Bran brought his George Carlin CD. I listened for about 15 minutes, turned it off and looked at my son.
“Jesus, no wonder you’re half crazy over this crap,” I said. “You’re living your life based on the gospel according to George freaking Carlin.”
Thank God I know how to be subtle.
“You may not believe in the stuff written by whomever claims to be the scribe of God in any given part of the Bible, but please please give the same discriminatory once over to Carlin’s material. This is his schtick. You get that right? He was apparently one angry fu—.”
“Sorry, but jeez! All this time I’ve been worried that you’re gonna end up punching pro-life marchers in the forehead or telling little old Mother Theresa look alikes that they’re full of sh-uh-baloney because you don’t believe so much and it was just a stupid recording of George Carlin warping your good sense!”
“Well,” said my completely unimpressed by my rant son. “If you look at things logically, he’s right about almost everything he says.”
“Perhaps if everything was black or white, but the gray areas count, Bran.”
There was more, but it got me thinking about what I listen to and what floats around in the space between my ears. In Awakening To Your Life’s Purpose, book I read and re-read endlessly, Eckhart Tolle talks about the ego and the recording it plays in our heads. A constant diatribe of discontent and negativity. We’re always something whether it’s annoyed, irritated, entitled, deprived, anxious, resentful, victimized – made up stuff that keeps us enslaved to negative feelings. Some of it, of course, can very well be rooted in real events or needs and wants, but most is habit. Think about when you’re driving and someone zooms in front of you. It startles you and you immediately decide that person did it on purpose or without any thought for you so they are suddenly the enemy and you can call them a worthless ass hat or perhaps a douche lord. Or a freaking jerk or a f&^$ing a$$hole…….. I digress.
I read something in the Buddhist Bootcamp blog that said (paraphrasing) You are not stuck in traffic. You are traffic.
Sing it with me : e – PIPH – any.
Of all the things that annoy me, it annoys me most that I am them. (That one is mine)
My point is not to demean anyone’s space. We are where we are. And I would never suggest that anxiety and/or depression are a figment of imagination. I’ve been there with both of them and for whatever reason they might exist for someone, they’re real as hell.
So are the voices.
For the daily, though. The recording that plays over and over – maybe we could change it up. It’s surprisingly easy to do. The first step is to realize your ego is a separate entity from who you truly are. Your ego believes the guy cut in front of you in traffic ON PURPOSE to RUIN YOUR DAY. Sanity tells you he, like you, is just trying to get where he is going in one piece and he did a bone-headed thing. Maybe today you can refrain from telling him how many ways you’re going to eff him up when you get a hold of him the next time you see him on the freeway. Perhaps when someone walks into your store to ask directions or for something you clearly don’t sell you can summon a smile, even though they’re the 73rd person to do so, and give them the information they need instead of the finger.
Do you get where I’m going? Away from the edge and today I’ll take you with me if you want. Tomorrow I may be calling you for a lift.
Next up: Depression and Naked Disco Dancing.
……………My second cousin, once removed asked for advice, via her Facebook page, regarding something she could do to channel some extremely negative energy and (as I read it) sort of clear her space. I didn’t answer at first because, though I’ve come to think a lot of her and I adored her grandmother (my first cousin, once removed), I don’t know her well and it felt presumptuous to offer said advice.
I know. She asked. But my answer was a very personal one and it felt strange putting it out there.
Like I was naked.
Then she posted again, expressing surprise at the number of constructive suggestions she’d received when she sort of expected irreverence. SC chose a couple of the suggestions and shared her plans to follow through on them, but there was no irreverence. No silliness. No outrageous behavior to upend the blues. I responded thusly:
You wanted something irreverent? I’ve got it, I think. During times when life overwhelmed me, when sadness curled me into a fetal ball of fear under the blankets in my bed, behind closed and locked bedroom doors, my husband – whether reacting from concern or just not knowing what the hell else to do – marched in, turned on Donna Summer or Gloria Gaynor or The Bee Gees and told me to dance. I said “I’m naked under here.” He said, “Perfect! It’s pretty hard to take anything seriously when you’re dancing naked to ‘I Will Survive!'” I protested. I bitched. I cried. But he wouldn’t take no for an answer. So just to get rid of him I danced. Naked. To disco. There was some serious stuff bringing me down. Those dances became my fuck you to losing my mind to them. Irreverence matters. Do the constructive things you’ve mentioned but grab some irreverence as well. That’s just for you.
Just for you.
And, so you see, I was naked. And it was frightening. Not that anybody saw – except me. And nobody cared – even me – which was weird because we all know exactly how vain I used to be.
When I danced I discovered a kind of freedom that I hadn’t known since I was a child. It was a letting go of energy that children know instinctively how to release. As we grow into adults and buy into the trade offs that life inevitably brings – you know – make the deals to get the stuff, I think we tie up the instinct piece by piece and sell it, accidentally, for shit we never needed in the first place. It takes a level of consciousness of which most 12 to 30 year-olds are unaware to say no more often than not. And, frankly, I thought I’d said no. A lot. I thought I was pretty Zen. However, I forgot – or more likely – ignored the fact that pretending the deals I was making weren’t, in fact, deals and stuffing fear and anger in my “I’ll deal with that tomorrow” file like I was Scarlett O’Hara isn’t the same thing as being fully centered.
As if “fully centered” actually exists on this plane……
Adulting is hard. There’s no way around it. I knew it and I believed it. I just didn’t make room for it. And so, in that first summer and fall we spent in New York, when I was away from my two oldest daughters and my mother and Mom had cancer and I was still reeling from the loss of my father and I hated my job and Matthew hated me because I’d gone back on my word never to move one of my children from their home during high school and all of that didn’t even scratch the surface of the guilt and grief I was carrying from years of deals, I curled up in my bed one day and thought – well I stopped thinking. I was afraid to think. Or feel or move. I was afraid.
Which is where Mark and Donna Summer came into play.
It wasn’t the last time he found me that way. The first time wasn’t the last time I danced. And I still make deals. But I make them more fully aware of what I’m doing. There’s less idealism involved but there’s also less fear. I traded the need to have everything in its place for learning to live in the moment and be thankful for it. I traded wanting everyone to like me for liking myself. I traded religion for faith and I traded feeling like a victim to living like a badass.
I know what you’re thinking. Doesn’t she sell sunglasses? Yes. I do. But what one “does” isn’t what makes one a badass.
I dated a guy in college who was, in every sense of the word, unavailable to me. It’s okay. It was my pattern as a commitment-phobe to choose those whom I could not have – which is a story for another time. With the advent of social media, this person and I crossed paths again five or six years ago. It was hey, how are you? Tell me about yourself…… We caught up a little and that was it. Except for one thing. He said to me, I’m happy to know you’ve lived a joyful life.
I hadn’t told him that. I mean, we’re basically strangers and I certainly didn’t reveal anything deep. I had a moment of what does he mean by that? Was I not joyful back then? Is he judging me? Which sounds like pure egocentric paranoia.
You’ve met me, right?
But once I dismissed Blanche – which is what I call my egocentric personality in honor of the character immortalized by Vivien Leigh in the movie Streetcar Named Desire – I was able to take the compliment for what it was. An impression given. My aura. It’s basically who I am. Really am. When I look at the things I’ve been through in my life – the good, the not so good, the horrifying – and know that who I am now, at the heart of it is the same happy, loud, curious, open, joyful being I was as a child and that all of my personalities get out of bed every single morning – THAT makes me a badass.
I’ll bet you just figured out you’re one as well.
It’s been lovely catching up! I’ll try not to wait so long before sitting down to write next time because I have been known to go on and on………..