Thursday, November 30, 2006

love, regret, and why do we?

What is it about the toxic 'love' relationship that makes it so hard to let go?

The movie What the Bleep Do We Know? addresses the physical, chemical alterations our brains go through when we continue to reinforce beliefs. Beliefs about ourselves and our relationships with others and the world in general. It makes a lot of sense, and (this is my shorthand, simplistic explanation) says we can in fact change ourselves and our reality through positive thought processes. Of course it's not so simple, nor so easy. But I believe it works. Of course if I were really adept at it you'd be reading this in a best-seller that was *cha-chinging* cash into my bank account while I was laying in a hammock on the porch of my Mexican beach house while my 'friend' Fernando, wearing only a gold lame loincloth, was peeling mangoes and humming Niagaras tunes for me.... but I digress.

I was talking to a friend, not the imaginary Fernando, about this today. He went through a very toxic long-term relationship with someone who really played with his head and even though he's out of that relationship, sometimes he falls back into the thought processes he developed during it. And it is tough to break those thought habits.

And when I say "I was talking to a friend" I really was - though the truth is the same thing happened to me. It's helpful to know that you're not the only one who has been in one of these psycho-relationships.

The trap is that it does seem to actually alter your brain chemistry. Okay, okay I'm not a doctor, I'm not even a Ph.d., but you don't need a degree to get this stuff. It's something in your head that keys into the addiction, whether that addiction is a drug, coffee, cigarettes, food, or a person. Habits become ingrained and then you forget what it was like not to have them. What was life like BEFORE I met 'psycho' (or had my first cigarette, or whatever)... you FORGET! You forget that you didn't need the object of your addiction BEFORE... you simply forgot what it was like not to have it. And that you were just fine, if not healthier, before you 'met'.

I have TONS of addictions... it's part of the brain chemistry I inherited from generations of addictive personalities... but I got rid of the worst of them. And that one was the one I 'thought' was the love of my life. If he was, I am soooo screwed. :) But it seems the only way to realign your head to the BEFORE is to completely erase the object of addiction from your life. Not to say you should forget the lessons learned from the experience, but you can remember the lessons without keeping the textbook open on your lap for the rest of your life. It's the old pulling off the band-aid conundrum... do you rip it off or pull slowly? I say RIP THAT SUCKER OFF! It takes a bit of balls... but it's so worth it.

Now I'm going back to Fernando, fresh mangos and the Niagaras.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving...

It's so nice we have a holiday dedicated to giving thanks for everything we have. Personally I have been in a perpetual 'thanksgiving' state for a little over 2 years... so this is just another day in a series. But it's still nice.

In the past Thanksgivings for me have been either:

family gatherings
having to travel, worrying about how drunk everyone was going to get and when the fights would begin.

being the hostess
worrying that the food would suck, worrying about how drunk everyone was going to get and when the fights would begin, or even better.

visits to nursing homes
well, at least no one was drunk or fighting... they were just mentally altered and food was no issue as feeding tubes were in place... but it was still a real party.

But this year is different. And I'm loving it.

The past couple of years, prompted by my newly found joy in living, I signed up to do Thanksgiving meal deliveries to the homebound ill and elderly. It was fun, and beyond gratifying, but it was a job of work. Most of the folks we delivered to lived in walk-ups, on the highest floors (hence the reason they were homebound) so carrying those bags of food was a trek. But the smiles we got in return... that is the SHIT, baby! And it made every flight of stairs a breeze.

I wanted to do it again this year, but got so caught up in my 'quit the job' decision-making, etc. that I didn't get to sign up in time. So this year I'm doing something different: nothing!

I feel bad about not doing the volunteer thing, but I'm also really delighted to have had NO obligations today. Oh a friend and I are going to the theater tonight, but that's easy-breezy. Otherwise I have just spent the day chilling, and yes, thinking about the hundreds of things I have to be thankful for.

All the things I am thankful for are things that would not be, had I killed myself. So we're talking about an excessively long list that goes from breathing to being on stage, from being healthy to having the world's most lovely friends. My lists are too long - and for that, I am profoundly thankful.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Guilty?

Late the other night on West 4th Street I was at the light waiting to cross 6th Avenue. There was a homeless man yelling at some people behind me:

"Do you want to see me die? You would, wouldn't you? You want to see me jump off a bridge, step in front of a car?"

The guys he was yelling at crossed West 4th and I stood there waiting for the traffic...

"What about you Ma'am? You want to watch me die?"

The entire previous exchange left me feeling horrible, when it was focused at me I froze. These are the issues for me.

It's the middle of the night and I'm alone.
Ignore and move on.
Aggressive, ranting people on the street are rarely a safe bet.
Ignore and move on.
He called me "Ma'am". I hate that.
Ignore and move on.
What if he meant it?
Freeze.

I feel like I failed a test. Like I blew it. I know that's a little nutty (hellllo, I'm a little nutty), but I can't help feeling like a hypocrite. If the subject matter had been anything else I'd have no qualms. I don't give money to people on the street: I used to, and found every time I did it would turn bad. Leave it at that. But here's a guy... maybe he's really suicidal and somehow I could have helped (though the vibe was more aggressive than suicidal... how do I really know?).

I don't want to feel guilty about this... and I'm not sure that I actually do... but I do feel conflicted. I don't like feeling like a coward, or a hypocrite.... but maybe I was a bit of both. Or maybe I did the right thing.

I don't know.
I just don't know.

This is where my stomach knots up.

Part of me wants to stop and say "No. I do not want to watch you die. Suicide is not an answer. How can I help you?"

But the self-preservation instinct is stronger than the 'help a stranger' instinct. So I ignored and crossed the street.

In part I know I did the right thing. But part of me... coward.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Cake

Yes, my friend was correct. If you quit, you get a cake. I didn't really believe it, but here it is. That's my cake. Ain't it GORGEOUS?!

And it was delicious as well. And I was touched beyond the telling of it. Not only was it a lovely way to end two weeks of wonderful 'farewell' lunches, with wonderful people, one of which was actually home-made spagetti and meatballs (not to mention antipasto and wine all of which were made and than lugged into the office by a very sweet woman who is a little too good for her own good... and she makes a helluva meatball!) but the cake was ordered specially for me (oh my GOD!) and then picked up in Brooklyn and trekked back into Manhattan, by another woman who is a little too sweet for her own good (she brought the Tiramisu to the Meatball party too -- Nice!!!)

And I got presents too! Holy hell, who knew?! A girly bathset from BLISS, hello! And a vintage leopard hatbox and a beautiful vase with my name on it -- and it doesn't even look like a Christmas vase. Hey, with a name like "joy" you get very used to having misteltoe or a reindeer on anything with your name on it; it's always a rare treat when it's not a holiday thing!

So many people stopped by to say good-bye I couldn't take it! I felt very ... popular. And I was a little astounded. And it was.... really, really nice.

And even though I was dancing in the halls most of the day... I tried not to be too obnoxious about leaving but ... you know... HAPPY! I was also feeling a little misty about saying good-bye to some very nice people... who actually seem to like me. Talk about a shock! Hey, I'm healthier but it doesn't mean I'm the Queen of Confidence or anything! My head inflates rather easily, but it deflates even easier, hence my need for constant praise or reassurance... empty flattery sometimes works as well. I'm not too fussy that way. I'll take it!!

But all this outpouring of good wishes and kindnesses has now foisted on me another reason to do the things I intend, the things I've dreamed of doing. Now I feel I will be letting down these great people who truly wish me success and good fortune as I leave them. Sure it's a little pressure. But it's a good pressure. And you know, nothing is impossible: as long as we're alive. So I think I'm going to be okay. Not just okay, but fantastic.

And I hope all these great people who were so kind to me and laughed at my jokes for 3 years know: I wish them all the same good things they wish for me.

Thank you.

A CAKE!!!! Don't you love it?!!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Trepidatious?

NOT.

Today is my last day at 'the job'. I could say my last day of work, but that would be erroneous. I may have more work lined up for myself than I can handle, but that's just fine with me. The difference being 'the job' has been sucking my soul. The 'work' does nothing but feed it.

I couldn't be more excited.

The persistent question I get from everyone is "but what will you do?!"

My answer: Plenty!

I understand that people are concerned. They hear you are leaving a steady income, they hear you are making a drastic change, and they worry for you. And I appreciate that, I really do. But I think perhaps the deeper truth is that they wonder: "what would I do?"

Here is where some soul searching comes into play.

Are you happy with what you are doing for a living?
I'd estimate 90% would answer "no".

What else can you do, what would make you happy?
I'd estimate 99% could not answer that question.

There's a popular phrase that's been bandied about for the past several years: thinking outside the box. The thing is, not many people dare to do this. It's hard to go against the grain. It's hard to imagine our full potential. It's WORK.

I understand that. It's so much easier to do what you've been doing, to do what has been set up and decided. To just keep going on the same path. And for many that's a great path! It works for them, and that's wonderful. But so MANY people are unhappy. So why persist in something that makes you unhappy? Simple: fear.

Change is hard. It is SCARY! Hell, it's terrifying. But the alternative is stagnation. And a lifelong inner questioning of oneself: 'what if'.

I suggest that if you have identified your 'what if' that you give it a shot. Figure out how to make it happen, find out what you can do to make your 'what if' a reality. If you don't know what your 'what if' is... try this: what did you want to be when you grew up? Let's face it, most of us have our dreams squelched pretty damned early in life. But that doesn't mean we can't get them back. They stay with us, they linger in our memories, they fill our fantasies in ways we may not even realize. The soul cries out for what it wants - we are the ones who stop ourselves. We listen to the inner voices of doubt and 'you can't do THAT!' and 'you're not good enough' and we settle. And we persist. And sometimes we can find a way to be content. But is contentment bliss? No.

Try getting into your head for a while. Try to remember the thing you dreamed of being before society, or your parents or teachers or your own insecurities told you 'no'. When you find that 'thing'... pursue it. Immerse in it. DO IT. You can, you know. You really can. There are a million ways to follow your own bliss. You may not need to quit your job to do it. I did, but that's me. You are you, and YOU can do it. You can have the 'what if' of your dreams be your reality.

It takes a little work.

But isn't finding your bliss worth a little scary work?

I think it is.

So today is my last day of 'the job', and tomorrow is my first day of 'work'. I can't wait. Can you?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Bad Girl!

I've spent the day doing, doing, doing. Working out at the gym, brunching with the friends, running the errands (thank God the dog can eat now!)... the library is CLOSED today-GRRRR!... chucking more stuff... seriously, does anyone else have this much USELESS STUFF???... cleaning... fixing broken things.... reworking my blogs... backing up the computer... and yet, I feel like I have been remiss. Why? Because I only wrote a thousand words on my Nano novel so far today instead of FIVE thousand. I'm woefully behind in word count and instead of hunkering down and doing it I'm doing THIS!

And you know what I say?

SO WHAT!

I have spent the better part of my life hating myself, blaming myself for EVERYTHING that goes wrong with EVERYONE and generally working the guilt on myself for every move I make. Though, true to form, I have to say the one thing I never have and never will feel any guilt about is sex. Why I escaped that particular Catholic idiosyncrasy is beyond me. But I'm glad of it! Guilt for eating too much, I get. Guilt for having sex? Nah, that makes no sense. But I digress.

After years and years of listening to the nay-saying voices in my head telling me I'm a loser and talentless and ugly and [insert all bad qualities here] I have finally reached a place where I can stop it. Sure, there are times when insecurities hit, when I'm angry at myself for not doing something I should have (like writing 1,667 words a day), blaming myself for everything that DIDN'T get accomplished and negating everything that DID, and I feel myself taking a stroll down "I Hate Myself" Lane. But I don't walk there long. Couple of feet, maybe a yard or two and then I turn back. And I remember that the only one telling me I cannot do something, or am 'bad' for not having accomplished something is ME. And I will not hate myself any more.

Okay, so my parents didn't love me. So what?
So I'm not a best-selling author. So what?
So I'm not on Broaday.. or Off-Broadway... or in a dinner theater. So what?

It does NOT make me a bad person.
It does not mean I am a loser.
It may mean I need to get my ass in gear and make some priority changes, but that's ALL it means.

I used to internalize every little thing and turn it around on myself. I was brought up with so much negativity, so little encouragement that I didn't have much choice but to be the way I was... I didn't know how else TO be... until I saw someone LIKE me, someone from the same shitty background, someone maybe 'too sensitive' who took things too much to heart, who was a little too proud, and a little too insecure but who looked at life from a different angle and kept going instead of giving up. Who chose happy over sad, and chose to see the good instead of the bad.

All the intellectualizing in the world can't beat a good old-fashioned example in the flesh. I met that example and it changed my life.

So my apartment is still a mess, and
My novel is further from being done than it could be, and
I haven't practiced my Spanish in months.

I have done a lot today. Hell, I've done a lot in the last two years. I'm not lazy (reading's lazy.. yeah, right Dad), I'm not stupid (why is it only an A, where's the A+?... yeah Mom) and I am NOT bad. In fact, I'm pretty damned great.

And so are YOU!

So there!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A break from the regularly scheduled blog for a Niagaras PSA

Mark your calendars, people!!

Friday, November 10th The Niagaras at Rodeo Bar, 10pm. It's FREE! Absurd, I know. It seems impossible that you can actually see this incredible band for FREE, but it's true! Best bargain in New York City? Oh yes! Fun music, fun performers, and if you're lucky (and you will be lucky) - a fun man in his underwear.

If you haven't seen them, I guarantee you will love them. It might even be a life-changing event. How can you resist?

If you have seen them, you know you need to see them again!

Come on down - it's good and good for you! (Come early, grab a table!) 3 min preview

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Let's take a moment to procrastinate, shall we?

I have SO much to do, my fingers are in about a million pies at the moment. Metaphorically any way. The last thing I need to do now is start baking!

But I'm taking a break so that those of you who do read this blog will not be bored that there hasn't been a new posting in 3 days! And of course, it gives me a chance to blather on and leave my other projects to gel for a bit.

Yes, I did quit my office job. Thursday. Handed in the ol' resignation. I felt like I'd lost 5 lbs just by handing around that piece of paper. Honestly. I don't think I feel the full effect of it yet. I am not yelling "Yippee!" in the streets... but I will on my last day! I do feel relieved to have finally done it. It was the right decision. I was second guessing myself so much that I couldn't take it any more. I like to think, I like pondering, but sometimes you really just have to take a leap of faith and DO IT. Whatever "IT" may be for you. Whether it's signing some sort of contract or painting your kitchen or quitting a job. You can think it to death but nothing changes if you don't take a chance.

Sometimes you just have to trust that everything will be okay. That you are making the right decision. And just do it.

I want to stop right here for a moment and make myself exceedingly clear: by just "Do It" I am talking about positive changes. I'm talking about good things, or scary-to-do things, or things you don't particularly want to do because it might change your comfort level. I am NOT talking about suicide. Let's be VERY VERY CLEAR here. That is the ONE choice that is NOT acceptable. Not at all. Because if you chooose that, well then everything will NOT be okay. Not for you, not for anyone you've left behind. It's NOT AN OPTION. Don't make me come there and smack you upside the head!

Okay, now that we're clear, let's get back to the things you CAN do that are GOOD and good for you!

I've been 'apartment therapy-ing' my place for what seems like a decade. Actually more like a year and a half. I redid the bedroom first and loved it. But then it became all about "what colors do I paint the kitchen and livingroom" and I got flummoxed. So many choices! So many beautiful colors to choose from -- and I want them ALL! But of course if you use them all you end up living in what looks like a circus tent. Not that I have anything against circus tents... I just don't imagine they are very comfy to live in.

I finally found a paint color I ADORE - just KNEW it was the one for me. So I bought a gallon yesterday and I've been painting since last night. It's called "sundried tomato" and it is yummy! I'm not done yet but what is done looks pretty great. It's rich and warm and enveloping.




Of course it's also quite dark... but I've solved that with strip lights and plan to put more lights in under the cabinets. Do you care? See I'm blathering! I knew that would happen.

It's just that I'm so excited that I finally chose a color and slapped it on the walls. When you wait and wait and wait to do something and then finally do it... well, it's a relief. And exciting!

Oh my... I think I'm about to start running in the street yelling "yippee!"

Now go do something you've been putting off. Just do it! I'll be listening for a yippee!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Pretty November~

It's November 1st. The beginning of a new year, look, it's a pagan thing and it makes more sense than January really. Any way....

It's November and that means National Novel Writing Month! Woo-hoo!

Whoo-What? You say.

It's a ... well... it's a thing. It's an exercise, it's an excuse to write freely and without boundaries (except that you have to finish 50,000 words by 11:59pm on November 30). It's fun! Well... not so much fun sometimes as a struggle, but actually still fun. You can see excerpts from my first attempt at this NaNoWriMo thing (2004) on my other blog (click the profile it will take you there). It was something I did as a vent, a purge, a step towards feeling better - November 1st comes just 4 days after my "Happy Day" anniversary so it was a good thing to do that year.

What I'm doing now is known as procrastination. That's PRO-CRAS-TI-NATION. I've actually gotten 871 words in so far, which is not so bad I'm happy with it. But I decided to write this instead... because.... I'm procrastinatin'!

And because I have news I feel like spilling.

I'm quitting my job.

I was trying soooo hard to stick it out until January, but the truth is: life is short. Too short to do a job you hate, or that leaves you feeling empty, dissatisfied or so unhappy that you eat enough Entenmann's Chocolate Chip loaf to gain 20 lbs in 2 months. Yeah. I wish I was exaggerating. (well... actually I'm also going through a little thyroid glitch which is helping the cake settle in, but still: I'm eating the cake, and it's because I'm BORED! And I'm angry at myself too. Angry that I allowed this to happen. I should have left a year (or more) ago and I knew it, but I felt like it wasn't the 'smart' thing to do.

Fuck that.

I'd rather be happy than safe and 'smart'. Life is so short. Security is an illusion. Happiness is not. Plus I'm making my friends unhappy because I'M SO unhappy 8 hours a day. THAT is unacceptable. So I'm quitting tomorrow morning and relief really doesn't cover it.

I'll still have to do 2 more weeks after I quit... because I'm a dope that way... it's rude not to give 'notice'... I guess. I don't like to be rude... though it's going to be a hard two weeks with the finish line staring me in the face. Still, as a very charming friend of mine told me recently, "don't get fired: quit. Or you'll miss out on the cake".

Who am I to turn down cake?

And now the procrastination ends and I'm going back to the novel-ing. Which is work, but at least it's satisfying. ...kind of like cake.