Saturday, May 19, 2007

Cone Heads

One of my friends adopted a dog a couple years ago from a rescue society. A little Shih Tzu, like my Katiebug, and her name is Lula. Poor Lula was scared and on guard. She'd be mistreated. And neglected. Because of that, she had some kind of surgery and needed to wear one of those embarrassing cones around her puppy head.

Those cones are funny because you can only see straight in front of you. There's no way to see what's on either side of you. So there's no way to get distracted by others. No comfortable way to look back or down so you're just forced to look straight ahead. Seems like it might be good if your mind and heart could have a cone thing.

I spend way too much time thinking about negative people and negative experiences. I spend too much time thinking about other people and not enough thinking about myself and all the positive things in my life and in my future. I think about what other people think of me and how they view me and how they judge me. That's unhealthy. I suppose everyone does it, though. And I think about bad memories too much. Bad memories should lose their power quicker. If that makes sense.

There's a Counting Crows song that says, "The price of a memory is the memory of the sorrow it brings." And I have too many expensive memories.

So the solution to all my problems is one of those cone things for my head and heart. Then I can focus only on what's ahead of me.

Hmm...but...sometimes it's good to be able to look back. And pay close attention to those around you. Even when you're thinking about what others think of you or how they view you, sometimes that can be a good thing. You just have to surround yourself with the right people so you're not listening to the wrong ones.

Back to Lula. She seemed to be frustrated with her cone thing. Understandably. But here's a pup who's already afraid and defensive, and now she can't keep an eye on what's happening around her which just makes her more confused. She has no direction or guidance. And starts to think the worst of what she can't see and doesn't know.

She ended up barking at my little Katiebug and scaring her out of her wits. She tried to bite Katie through that cone she was so hostile! And my friend had to take Lula home. The cone thing made all her fears and suspicions more powerful and more negative. She had to be all alone and away from everyone until it was taken off. I wouldn't want that to happen to me. Even with all my issues, I play well with others.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Art Imitating Life? Or Life Imitating Art?

Grey's Anatomy is really the greatest show. I know it's unrealistic. I know they've all slept with all the other castmates. I know it has its flaws. But I really do love it. As I've said before, it makes me feel. But it also makes me think.

Last night, as I sat with my girls watching the season finale, I struggled against what I knew was happening - Christina and Burke were not getting married and Meredith and Derek were breaking up...again. I identify with Meredith a lot. In a lot of ways, I identify with Izzie - she's so principled, compassionate and idealistic. I get that. But Meredith's murkiness and neuroses I really identify with most. I know she's fictional, I know they all are, but art does imitate life so humor me, please.

I wonder sometimes if I'm too murky to have that happily-ever-after. I've learned a lot in the past couple of years about what I want and need from a partner - more than in the whole of the rest of my life, I think. But I still worry that when the moment arises, I will fail or won't be up for the challenge. I have such issues with intimacy. Do people like me get happy endings?

So last night, as Meredith was telling Christina that she had to get married because Meredith needed to know that there were happy endings for people like them, I was telling the TV the same thing. Yes, I am way too emotionally invested in a fictional TV show. Of that, I am clear. But that is the purpose of art (you're dang right I'm calling Grey's Anatomy art). Art is supposed to teach us about life and about ourselves.

A couple years ago, I changed the way I talked about marriage. Instead of saying, "When I get married," I started saying, "If I get married." Sometimes people try to correct me, thinking I need encouragement and say, "Oh, you'll get married." But honestly, that's not fact. There's no guarantee.

Changing the way you think about marriage is okay. I don't want to think that it will definitely happen for me because if I did, I would spend a lot more time thinking about why it hasn't yet and when it will, etc. etc. ad nauseam. It's good, I think, to prepare myself for always being on my own because that may very well be the case and if it doesn't happen, the alternative will be a nice surprise. But I won't waste time putting anything off until...

I've been the happiest single-me ever lately. I love my life right now. My friends are the only relationship I need, and they satisfy all my emotional needs. I am very content, in fact, surprisingly so. But that doesn't mean that I don't want more. We always want more, don't we?

I think it's okay, if you're content with yourself and your life, to always be single. I think I'd rather be that way than always in and out of love. Breakups get harder as you get older, and I can't imagine how brutal they'd be in 10 or 20 years from now. No, I think I'd rather just find my way to contentedness with myself and my single life than struggling against that 'Will it happen for me?' question all the time. What a dull way to live life. Always stuck in the past or the future, never for a moment enjoying the present.

A guy friend of mine said something that got under my skin recently. He made some crack about how women spend more time thinking about getting married than men. Then he added something that made me think he was saying that men don't think about getting married at all, but women think about it often. That really bugged me. I have a lot of guy friends, and I've had very candid conversations with many of them about marriage. They all want it. They all think about it. And isn't it human nature to long for companionship? Really, all I want, all anyone wants I'd argue, is to be happy.

But, for now at least, that desire for companionship is still part of what I think total happiness would include for me. And I refuse to believe that there's something wrong with me for wanting to one day, some day, have a lasting and successful partnership. I also refuse to believe that men don't want that and don't spend time thinking about it. I certainly don't want to marry a man like that nor do I want any of my friends to.

And finally, I refuse to believe that because the fictional characters I adore so much can't get their shit together and find their happy ending (single or otherwise) doesn't mean that I won't be able to myself. Even if one day, my idea of what happiness involves changes.

After all, it's just TV.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Karma - A Bitch? Or a Hoax?

Last Friday night, I retold one of my favorite stories from high school. And I ended it by saying, "And that's when I started believing in karma. Because I thought that if someone didn't treat me right, karma was on my side and would get em for me!"

After telling that story, I started thinking about karma again. Do I still believe in karma? I like the idea of it. And the mysticism. But I've seen so many bad things happen to good people. That's not exactly how karma works, though, is it? Isn't it just that if you do good, good will come back to you and if you do bad, bad will come back to you? But it can't be perfect. Let's look it up -

Pronunciation Key - [kahr-muh]

1. Hinduism, Buddhism. action, seen as bringing upon oneself inevitable results, good or bad, either in this life or in a reincarnation: in Hinduism one of the means of reaching Brahman. Compare bhakti (def. 1), jnana.
2. Theosophy. the cosmic principle according to which each person is rewarded or punished in one incarnation according to that person's deeds in the previous incarnation.
3. fate; destiny.

There are still a couple people, if my original philosophy that karma was all about being good or bad to me holds true, who still haven't gotten their just desserts. Recently, in fact, that has begun to puzzle me...and irritate me. So my belief in karma started to fade, without my even realizing it. Until yesterday, that is.

A wonderful woman that I know, a mother of a close friend, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had surgery and went back to her doctor a couple days ago for a check-up. She was told that some of her tissue was dying and causing a serious infection so she needed emergency surgery. My friend called me at midnight, from another continent, asking if I would take off work yesterday to be with her mom. I said yes, of course.

Yesterday morning, I woke up earlier than usual because I wanted to be at the hospital early, and it was an hour away. Groggily, I ate breakfast and got ready. No time for coffee. But as I was driving, I realized I needed gas and stopped at a gas station in literally the worst part of DC. I got out of my car to pump the gas and thought I had better lock my cardoor...then locked my keys in my car.

I was stuck without my cell phone, without cash and without a clue what to do. I walked to a police station that was only a block away and asked the nice officers there for help. They called a sergeant on duty who had jimmies to see if he could get into my car. After waiting an hour for him to show up, he couldn't get into the car. My eyes teared up, feeling sad for my friend's mom who was scared and alone and also sad that I wanted so badly to make this easier for her and her family. My foolishness was preventing me from being there when she needed someone the most.

The sergeant had pity on me and told me he would call a locksmith. He did. And there was more waiting. I called my mom collect (no cash) from a pay phone and asked her to call the hospital for me. More waiting. And dodging a man clearly on drugs as well as a couple "hey baby!'s" from passersby. Finally,the sergeant came back and told me he would wait with me for the locksmith.

While the sergeant was giving someone directions, I saw a AAA truck pull up and thought they were who he called. They weren't, but the man was kind enough to help me. He told me he wasn't going to charge me. He said he still needed to earn his blessing for the day. Karma.

I thought maybe since I was doing a good deed by visiting with my friend's mom, I was being rewarded with kindness from a stranger. I started to feel good. That the universe was recognizing me. I was so relieved to be back on my way, thanked everyone profusely and smiled as I drove to the hospital.

Then I remembered why I was going. Breast cancer. A kind, genuine, good woman had breast cancer. A woman and a family who have already suffered more than most ever do. That can't be karma. And I'm back to being confused about the ways of the world. Why do bad things happen to good people? Maybe this whole karma thing is just a ploy to scare people into being good and nice.

All we can do is pray. And try to be the best people we can be.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Carpe Diem and All That Bullshit

I haven't written much in awhile. I was sick last week. And the past two weeks were really stressful. Do you ever feel like you need a break from your life? That's how I've been feeling lately. I want to stick my head in the sand like an ostrich and come out only when the coast is clear.

I try very hard to live in the moment. Each day, I think of good things that happened, I thank God for the people that helped me through the day. I truly believe in all that "Carpe Diem!" bullshit. I try to find joy in simple things. And I do. All of that works for me. Kind-of.

What is hard is not to rehash all the ickiness in the past. Why do I do that to myself? Instead of playing over and over in my head the happiest scenes in the past year or two, I replay the saddest, ugliest ones. It feels like for whatever reason, I keep punishing myself and keep making myself feel bad for things that I should have already dealt with.

I also spend too much time thinking about the future, which is hard because, of course, I have no idea what it actually will be like. The problem is that I know that in just a couple of months, my life will change dramatically. So even though that hasn't happened yet, it's hard to think about what my life is like right now, in this moment.

I don't feel it when I'm with my friends. I have so much fun, I just get lost. And part of me knows our days this summer are sadly numbered so maybe I'm enjoying my time with them a little more than usual. I feel it the rest of the time, though. I feel it walking through DC. I feel it when I'm at my apartment thinking about what a pain it will be to pack and move all my junk. I feel it BIG time when I'm at work. It's hard to find motivation to do my job when I know I'm turning in my notice in a few short weeks.

The worst, though, is the constant nagging in my stomach. Am I doing the right thing? Will I be happy? Will everything be ok? I try to imagine my life in Atlanta, and it's tough. All I can imagine is being lonely and feeling isolated. But just because that's how I felt when I lived there before, it doesn't mean that's how it will be this time around. I can't help but remember those feelings, though. For the past two years, I've associated those feelings with Atlanta. And now I have to disconnect that and realize that it was my life at the time and not the city I lived in that made me so unhappy. And hot damn, I love DC. I thought about putting school off for a year, deferring my acceptance, but my good friend told me that if the only reason I would do that was to have fun for another year, that didn't seem like a strong enough reason.

Ok ok. The moment. Today. I had a funny conversation with the girls I work with and had some good laughs. My friends are emailing right now about going to a baseball game this weekend. And tomorrow night is Tuesday night, my favorite night of the week. My boobs look hot in the cute top I'm wearing. I have an exciting work project that I'm leading right now that will hopefully be a huge success and will help make a difference. I have a sweet puppy to go home to tonight. And I just finished a delicious bottle of Vitamin Water.

Sigh. I can run through the right motions, but somehow, it still doesn't quite work. I'm still thinking about how in a few months, I won't have all the same happy things to be thankful for. But hopefully, some new ones. Chin up, sunshine.

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