Monday, July 10, 2017

Stopping at Manderley

Rebecca (1940)
It's always a good thing to realize you're growing as a person, but it's very strange indeed to realize almost no one you're close to has been growing in the same areas you have. Seth and I both have a lot of moments lately where we're going through our social media feeds reading posts from people we once considered ourselves close to and shaking our heads. "Was so-and-so always such a self-pitying crybaby?" "Have Person X and Person Y always been this mind-numbingly boring?"

Normally I simply assume that if I've fallen out of love with a particular friendship, it's because the person changed and isn't as cool as they used to be, but lately I've been realizing that's not the case at all. I am changing and world views that once made a lot of sense to me now seem very silly and unrealistic. I'm also realizing that I know so many people that suffer from victim mentality because I used to be the same way and like attracts like. I guess I need some new friends. People that also like to learn and grow. People that are determined to see themselves as winners, not losers.

........

I'm really very proud of myself for keeping up with my Hitchcock 50 class despite having as much to do for work as ever. At this point, we've successfully completed two weeks of lessons -- one on Hitchcock's early work in silent film and another on the British spy films he made in the 1930's. Seth and I have both taken and passed two tests. We've also made it a point to watch as many of the films as we can on Wednesdays and Friday when TCM shows them, as well as participate in class discussions. A lot of the other students have already fallen behind at this point in the course, so I'm really proud of both of us for sticking with things and making the most of the experience.

This week, we're moving on to the Selznick years, as well as some of the films that made me fall in love with Hitchcock as as young person. I'm saving the bulk of the lesson for after I get some of my Monday obligations out of the way, but I took a quick peek at today's module just to see what was on the agenda and saw it focuses on Rebecca, easily one of my favorite films of his. I can't believe how eager I am to dive in today for that reason. 

I'm also realizing how sad I'm going to be when the course is over. These lessons and all the fun live tweeting with classmates while watching movies a couple of evenings a week have easily been the high point of my summer so far. Makes me realize how starved I am for experiences that are productive, enriching, and semi-social while also being completely voluntary. No one is taking this course because they have to. They don't need it for college credit or anything. Everyone is doing this for the exact same reason I am -- they appreciate film and want a chance to learn more about it with other people that appreciate film. Period. 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Summer of Hitch

The Lodger (1927)
So I'm actually doing a thing this summer. I'd been seeing ads on Facebook and elsewhere about a free film study course TCM was giving on the work of Alfred Hitchcock, my absolute favorite director of all time. At first, I didn't know if it was a good idea, especially since I've been more stressed out than usual lately. Then I decided there was no harm in signing up and giving it a try, as I could always drop it if it turned out to be too much to handle on top of everything else I have going on right now.

Now I'm really glad I enrolled, because it turned out to be just what my summer needed. In fact, Seth and I are both taking it and the lessons have since become one of the highlights of our days. It's fun to have something to focus on that feels productive, but that isn't somehow about work or taking care of other responsibilities. I especially like that it's led to some really fun discussions, both with other people that are taking the class and with Seth. I've always thought we might enjoy the experience of taking a class of some sort together. We have fun together anyway and talk about all sorts of things, but it's been fun to have an actual activity to focus on.

I'm also realizing I need to go easier on myself sometimes and do more things just because they sound like a good time. Period. Generally speaking, I'm the sort of person that truly hates not being able to finish something I start, even if I have a really good reason for bailing on whatever it is. I also don't really like signing up for things and then half-assing them, so I find I often won't give anything new a try if there's the slightest chance I'll have to give it any less than 100% at any point. I don't even want to think about how many fun experiences I've probably missed out on over the years because that was always my thinking.

I probably need to find more things to do with some of my time that actually get me socializing with other people I have something in common with as well. Since I have Seth to talk to about whatever, I don't feel a lot of need to seek out interaction with others. When I do, it's always on general social media, which isn't without its share of annoyances. Even when they're actually older than I am, people seem to assign me this weird mentor/advice giver role that I really dislike instead of seeing me as a friend and equal. I like just shooting the breeze with other folks that are just into learning new things and sharing ideas. Makes me think other online courses might be just as good a fit for me. I guess we'll see.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Blood Carrots


Last night, I dreamed I was a carrot. I was planted in a field with a lot of other carrots and tended by farmers that apparently took farming super seriously. To make sure all the carrots grew nice and big, they kept taking animals and even people out to the fields and slaughtering them on the spot so they could fertilize the fields with all the blood. It also rained almost constantly wherever this was.

In the dream, I kept soaking up all the blood and all the rain through the outside of my carrot body and it was weirdly satisfying. Like eating a huge plate of exactly what you've been craving when you're so hungry you think you're going to faint. Also, I never got too warm because my whole body was made of vegetable, safe underneath the surface of the earth. And my carrot top really liked blowing in the breeze. I knew I'd get harvested and eaten one day, but for some reason I was really excited about it.

Very strange, very dark dream, but the feelings that came with it were incredibly joyful. My brain even wrote a little poem about being a carrot when I first woke up, but unfortunately I didn't immediately write it down the way I should have. Will I never learn?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

On Aging, Choices, and Other Monsters

When I hear people talk about whatever they think is wrong with their lives, it always seems to be about boredom to one degree or another. They want something to happen. They want to feel like their lives are exciting and full of action. They want to feel like they matter to other people -- that they're important.

I'm the opposite. I usually feel like too much is going on even though my "too much" often looks a whole lot like other people's "not much". I feel like I have too much to worry about and too many responsibilities. I also often feel like I matter too much to others and in all the wrong ways -- that too many people count on me for too many things I'm not really equipped to provide. Only those that know me well enough to know how resentful I become when I don't feel like the things I do are noticed or appreciated remember to thank me often enough. Most don't thank me at all, let alone return the favor ever. In other words, I get very little back out of life considering what I put into it at times and that feels almost unbearably unfair.

I'm also noticing that the older I get without any of that changing, the more important money seems to become to me. Not just any money either -- my money. Money I earn under my own power doing things I'm good at. As much as I don't like not having a choice about whether or not I work, I very much enjoy making money. I especially like that I'm in business for myself. I don't have a boss. I get to call all the shots 100% of the time. I don't have employees or business partners either, so I get to take 100% of the credit for everything I've accomplished from a business standpoint. It's a neat feeling -- indulgently selfish in a way I don't get to be when it comes to any other area of my life.

That said, I'm beginning to understand why so many people do throw themselves into work or money-making when life gets really shitty or feels super thankless. It feels like something you can control. It feels like you're doing something that will actually prove helpful if your life decides to shit the bed even worse than it already has. People may or may not let you down when you need them. Money never does. You can turn to it whenever you need food, or clothes, or a place to live. The more of it you have, the more choices you also have. Choices are important to me -- possibly more important than anything else.

Life is stressful for me right now and some of those ways are new. Suffice it to say that I'm definitely middle-aged and life is throwing things at me right now that it throws at everyone when they reach this period in their life. Some days I'm dealing with that fine. Others days, not so much. But knowing that I'm also actively building some kind of financial security for myself right now is helping a lot. I definitely feel like I'm being as productive as possible as far as where I'm putting my energy professionally. It's not enough to dissolve the resentment and disappointment I always feel on some level as to how my life turned out, but it's definitely something.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Hatching (and a Wee Story)


To me, the best time to turn over a new leaf isn't New Year's Day. It's still cold then, meaning the earth is still hibernating and so am I. I'm also just coming out of full holiday mode at the beginning of January -- probably not even back to work yet after whatever vacation I took to celebrate the season. I'm not ready to go from that state of being to making self-improvement plans and trying to be productive in any meaningful way. 

"Pre-spring" is a much more natural time for that. It's getting a little warmer, which makes it easier to get in the mood for positive change. Lent also starts, so I'm already primed and ready to put the brakes on the old self-indulgence engine for a while. I've been in kind of a low energy funk for a while, but I feel pretty prepared for Ash Wednesday day after tomorrow. This is a challenging time of year for me, but an exciting one as well.

........

That said, I felt like trying to snag myself a real bank account and maybe a line of credit a few days ago. To my very pleasant surprise, I was actually approved for both. My credit's been such shit for such a long time, I've grown completely used to living a cash only lifestyle over the years. Apparently by now though, it's been so long since any credit problems I might have once had that I'm seen more as someone with no credit at all than I am a potential risk with bad credit. (I confirmed this with an actual credit check.)

That's appropriate, as I feel like a completely different person from the one I was many years ago when my life was a lot more conventional. I went from being a married person that worked for the man and worried constantly about being "normal" to someone that is in a relationship on her own terms, works for herself, and couldn't give fewer fucks about whether or not she's enough like everyone else. Something about being approved for a whole new set of "real person" financial accounts somehow feels like having those choices validated in a tangible way. Finally.

I even opened a savings account for the first time in my life and that's something I've never had before. I've never had enough money to my name to necessitate one, nor have I ever had any reason to think that state of affairs might actually change one day. This is no longer the case. Despite never having wanted to work and never having been an ambitious person, I appear to have stumbled onto something society seems to need from me badly enough to pay me to do it. 

In all likelihood, I probably won't be a copywriter for the rest of my life, but I'm really sure I'll always be a writer. And I think there could be a future there that comes complete with money to live on and security of one kind or another. Or at least that's the way I'm feeling right now. A big, fat wave of depression and self-loathing might roll in next week and find me feeling completely differently, but hey. I haven't felt this hopeful about life in general in a while, so I'm just going to accept it for what it is.

........

I've also been writing little snippets of weird, creative prose like I used to here and there -- a good sign. This little narrative is from earlier in the month. I even posted it a couple of places it could be read by someone other than myself for a change and I can't recall the last time I did that. I figure it belongs here as well, as I like it and don't want to lose it. I'm not completely sure what it's about -- abuse recovery, mental illness, and some other random things. Admittedly my creative writing has never made tons of sense, but I rather like it that way.

Burnt and Buried
It began not with peace, but with a storm. A vortex of salt, and sea, and flying debris. Air heavy with moisture and meaning. An energetic pregnant earth far below, green with growing things and ripe with possibility. But the longer the vortex twisted and writhed, the higher it rose into the cosmos. The further it traveled toward another place where there quite possibly was no more green earth far below -- no lemon trees and no cinnamon foxes with black velvet paws. Only tall, lopsided mushrooms and drooping nightshade -- things that grew in the dark, anchored in place by strange roots. 
One day, she decided to build a golem just to see if she could. She took a handful of burnt rags from the center of her chest and tied them into a series of knots following a very specific sequence. The golem stank of kerosene and tobacco. His was the scent of frustration and imprisonment. And his name was Burnt. But Burnt could not be controlled as well as one would have hoped. He refused to rake leaves in the autumn and make chamomile tea in the spring, so his maker cast him out of the vortex onto the hypothetical green earth far below to find the cinnamon foxes instead.
Sooner rather than later, she decided to build a second golem for no discernible reason at all. She took a handful of iron from the center of her head and molded it into a series of peaks and valleys following a very specific sequence. The golem stank of mildew and musk. Hers was the scent of melancholy and panic. And her name was Buried. But like Burnt, Buried also could not be controlled as well as one would have hoped. She refused to gather seashells in the summer and stack bones in the winter, so out of the vortex onto the hypothetical earth below, Buried was cast to find the yellow lemons.
There were no more golems after that. Only the wind and the lightning cage spinning round and round as it hurtled through the void. Somewhere far below, the Lemons of Maybe continued to grow at a dizzying rate, perfuming the air where the Foxes of Perhaps lay sleeping.

Monday, December 12, 2016

On Holidays and the Malaise That Sometimes Comes with Them


Every time I randomly decide to blog after not having really blogged for a while, I wonder what my problem is as to why I'm no longer the consistent blogger I used to be years ago. I usually just blame the fact that I write professionally for a living because of the way it burns through so much of my creative energy for the week. And honestly, that probably is part of it.

Every so often though, I realize that it's probably more because I don't truly feel like my life is worth recording the way I used to. I don't do anything or go anywhere. I feel like I never have good news or exciting changes to report. I honestly feel like the only thing I really do with my time is work and lie around like a slug attempting to recover from work. While I definitely like being able to eat, I don't get any kind of personal fulfillment out of working for its own sake the way other people do, so it's a problem that that's the only thing I really have going on. 

I guess what I'm saying is I feel like my life kind of blows right now. When I feel like life blows, I feel very little urge to actually record anything about it. This is despite the fact that I've always found journaling to be therapeutic. I know I need to be taking back some of my creative energy for myself now and then, but it's not as easy as it probably should be.

........

Of course, the holiday season is here again. Gaudete Sunday was yesterday, so we're already halfway through Advent. I also have everything squared away for Christmas dinner already. Safeway apparently decided to stock only turkeys and Cornish game hens as far as birds go, so I went through ButcherBox and ordered us an awesome pasture-raised duck from a fancy farm somewhere instead. Over the past year, I feel like I've become a real hipster as far as some of what I eat, but I don't care. It's a place to put what's left of the fucks I actually give, as well as proof that maybe I'm not as tired of living as I feel sometimes.

I enjoy the holidays to a much greater extent than I used to, but they're still a really weird time for me. This time of year has a way of really forcing you to focus on whatever it is you don't have in life. I see all of my friends and acquaintances posting about their supportive families, the great relationships they have with their parents, their beautifully decorated homes, the time off they have from work, and all of the awesome things they have going on this time of year. Meanwhile, I'm still a cave troll with a never-ending pile of work to chew through and not a whole lot else as far as my actually agenda goes. No fun trips planned. No outings. No get-togethers with people I rarely see (and actually want to). And worst of all, no energy or actual motivation to do any of those things even if I had the opportunity.

And I fucking hate it. This is the only time of year, I really feel what I would call jealous of other people. They have so much that I don't have -- basic things that they probably don't even see as advantages. Some of those things -- like the family relationships -- I will never have. Most of the time I'm comfortably resigned to that state of affairs, but sometimes (especially over the holidays) it really gets to me. I know I'm lucky in other ways and God knows I'm grateful for that... but sometimes I feel like giving myself permission to be pissed off and upset about all the rest of it as well. Especially since collectively speaking there's way more that's wrong with my life than right with it. I'm only human after all.