patterns of messes.

Walk your talk, or you're useless.
When I was a little girl, I was terrified of men. I don't know why I was afraid of them. I just remember being very nervous around men. I remember having to try on shoes and not wanting to, because the shoe salesman was, well, a man. And I remember walking by the bus driver on my first day of Kindergarten, shaking, because the driver was a man. And feeling oh so proud of myself for riding the bus every day after that, in spite of the male presence.

Why was I afraid of men? Where did I learn to be that way? Was it because of my dad's big, booming voice? I don't remember being afraid of my dad. Maybe skittish when he was angry or seemed angry. I don't know. I just remember always being afraid of them.

Yet, as I grew up, I preferred to play with boys than with girls. Maybe this was because there were more boys than girls in our neighborhood. Maybe it was because I just found boys more interesting than girls; not necessarily more fun, just more interesting. Girls are dramatic and emotional creatures; I could never really understand them, though I'm dramatic and emotional myself. But I never took my dramatic emotions out on other people, like girls tend to do, so maybe that was why. And boys seem to be straight shooters; most boys will just tell it to you like it is. If they have a problem, they say so or they punch you; problem solved, let's go play Star Wars guys.

I appreciate that. I used to not to - my insecure ego would get its panties in a wad. But as I've grown older, I really appreciate honest feedback; I just wrote a note on a recent evaluation thanking a boss for it...I never mind honest feedback that's trying to be helpful, and help me grow in whatever I'm doing. And I'm fairly adept at recognizing feedback that's there to help, and feedback that's just put out there to check off that feedback was given.

I think I've written here before about how dads of daughters should hug them, tell them they're beautiful, and say I love you. It's because I think that when girls grow up, they go looking for their dads to fall in love with. Even if they grow up lesbian. I think all girls go looking for their daddies, in one form or another. And if your dad didn't hug you or tell you you're perfect as is or say I love you, then maybe you grow up a little terrified of men. Maybe you grow up looking for a man you can MAKE say I love you, hug you, and tell you you're beautiful. 

That's been my pattern, at least.

When it comes to Y chromosomes, I prefer big and strong like my dad, but also someone who seems damaged in some way. Someone I can make say I love you, hug me, and tell me I'm beautiful. The problem is, my dad did love me (just never said it), did hug me (in his heart), and did tell me I'm beautiful (in his actions). But in my grown up life, what that did to me was to cause me to go diving for men who aren't available in one way or another, men who will either make me feel beautiful and then go completely wonky and cold on me...or men who will say they love me and then try to cage me. So I end up with men who won't say I love you...or they'll say it but try to control me. 

It's depressing, Internet. I'll just be honest: it's very very depressing. These men end up leaving me in an emotional wreck of a tailspin, where I either hate myself (once again) for giving them too much too soon and end up compromising my integrity...or they end up making me incredibly angry and resentful, and end up losing my sense of self.

And the thought of going out there again, into the fray, as a 43 year old woman who's, quite frankly, growing more and more exhausted of humans and their exhausting issues, is really exhausting. 

So. Question. When do you know you're ready to deal with that crap again? Wading through the lost, the tired, the damaged, the con artists? People tell me I need a good year or two to recuperate and heal from a broken marriage, that that's what a separation period is for - to make the divorce part more focused, to make the looking for new love part more rewarding. But what if the marriage was always broken, from the start? And what if the last 3 years in the broken marriage WERE the separation? And what if the healing and recuperation and self-discovery took place in those 3 years? When I left, it wasn't in anger; there wasn't any kind of I've HAD it!! moment, where I packed bags furiously and slammed my way out of there. This was a slow burn, a gradual process.

And other people tell me not to go looking for it; it'll find me. But doesn't that seem lazy? And what if what shows up is more of the same? Am I doomed to living alone forever? (I will not get a cat, I will NOT get a cat!)  

Also, now that I am out on my own, I kinda like it. I miss so many things about being with someone else, but I also really like being on my own. I like the quiet (when Miss M's asleep). I like not having to ask permission. I like not having to be on a team and follow the team rules, even when I disagree with them. I like not feeling judged and criticized. I like not having to hear how I'm a diamond...in the rough. I like not having to be anyone else's mirror but my own. 

But I will also be honest and tell you I would like to be physical with another human being before menopause or whatever. I'm still relatively young, with a healthy libido, and I would like that. But here's the problem: I'm picky. I don't want it to be with just anyone. I want someone I genuinely like, but I also have to be able to trust them not to use me; someone who's not got nefarious intentions...but has a sense of the nefarious about him. (How's THAT for fucked up, Internet? Wonder how many smooth criminals I'd get responses from at an internet dating site that announced: Be kind of nefarious and dangerous but not. Internet dating seems like a depressing meat market; so I'm sure telling someone to bring me danger but be safe about it isn't playing into that psycho mess at all.)

The thing is, I don't like romance. Quite frankly, I think romance is contrived and stupid. I'm sorry but I do. Men complain that women complain that chivalry is dead and then they say: Well, you ladies made it that way! Bullshit. What women SAID, men, was to stop infantilizing us. So I don't mind men holding open doors and letting me go first and walking on the side of the road that'll make him get hit by a car and not me...but pulling out chairs is a bit much and placing a napkin in my lap will make me give him a WTF look and ordering FOR me will get a glass of beer thrown in his face. 

But romance? That's...meh. Chocolate? I eat all of it in one sitting and hate myself...thanks for making me hate myself. I once had a man bring me a teddy bear...I. No. Just no. NO STUFFED ANIMALS. Why not just bring me a Barbie doll and her Dream Playhouse while you're at it. (Who decided stuffed animals were romantic? I want to hit them over the head with one.) Flowers are nice and all, but they die and why not just go for a walk in a botanical garden and enjoy them instead. People who think flowers are romantic are the same kinds of people who'd drag down stars from the constellations if they could, and not even think about the fact they were missing the whole point of their beauty, not to mention the fact destroying, literally, light years' of history. 

Candy or fruit bouquets? Gag. Sappy cards? Eh. I'm not into rhyming poetry, non-sappy/funny cards are cool but they better have a handwritten note inside of them that's not sappy. And I'm not into jewelry, I'm not into....okay, fine. Yes. Yes, I am into jewelry. But only from men I've grown very close to, so I won't be forced to take it to a pawn shop to get its energy out of my space when they betray me and I can't have that piece of jewelry on my person anymore.

And that's my biggest issue: I have a terrible, horrible skittishness about being betrayed. It's happened so many times. Where you let someone in, and then they show you that you let the wrong person in. They go cold or weird or wonky or say they'll call and then they don't. That's when I realize: Ah, yes. There you are, Dad. Still can't fix you and me, can I?

So my problem is that I end up with versions of my dad: men who aren't available either emotionally or physically or both...men who like to tell me who I am or what to do and try to cage me or control me...or men who use me and toy with me and then leave me in an emotional tailspin. For the life of me, I can't figure out the last kind because my dad was the utmost honest and most loyal human being I've ever known. He once accidentally broke a neighbor's mailbox in my presence and I watched him struggle with his moral obligations, and then do the right thing. He knew I was watching. 

What I don't want - in any human being I bring into my space, my life, right now but specifically a man - is someone who'll betray me. Whether it's tossing me aside, or trying to isolate and cage me, or just using me. I don't want that; I have so many things to deal with right now, I simply cannot handle someone else's fragility or chaos on that level. And people who use other people are the most fragile of all, by the way; the using of others is to make themselves feel far more in control than they actually are. 

What I mostly want right now is someone who's kind, smart, irreverently and ironically funny, confident, secure, and availableIf he's tall and a Creative on top of it, most excellent. If there are blue eyes and a UK accent involved, I'll know there's a God (or maybe a small Martian with a really kick ass remote control). 

But that's all with a caveat, because I'm not even sure I should be looking for somebody right now. I mean, I'm having a hard time managing to keep my living room straight; would managing a relationship be any better?

I'm pretty simple. I don't ask for much out of life - I just want to raise a strong, happy girl and do work that brings me peace and purpose. ....have I told you I write letters to the Universe regularly? Because I think once you write it down, once you put it out there, that which you seek will seek you. The Universe will conspire to bring you exactly what you asked for (so be careful what you ask for...which is why I've decided to keep my requests very very simple). So that's all I'm asking for (are you there, Universe? It's me, Amy): help me raise a strong, happy girl, do work that brings me peace and happiness, and maybe send me a kind man who won't cage or use me. Please stop sending me people with Y chromosomes who try to cage or use me. And I suppose if I had to pick between people who try to cage or use me, I'd pick the people with a cage....because I can at least escape from that. The worst thing in the world is to feel tricked by someone who said they weren't going to trick you. Bad form, tricksters. Bad form.

At any rate, that's where I'm at on the man front. Probably better to be alone for awhile. But eventually, I just want someone kind who's smart and makes me laugh. Oh, and! He should be good at swearing. I think people who know how to use the word "fuck" creatively are the most honest kinds of humans. 

On a related side note, I just finished Season 1 of Breaking Bad. I totally get Walter White. And I love this show because of its complicated, messy human nature issues. And because of Bryan Cranston who, in interviews, makes me smile hard. I'd be okay with a Walter White (maybe without the meth lab)...he's a mess, but he's an honest mess. Be a mess, but have a damn good reason. Is my motto. And walk your talk. That's my other motto. (I actually have about 10 million mottos. These are just today's.)


weird and paranoid sick chick.

I'm home sick today, Internet. Last night was a long night of achy body, headache, fever/chills. Thank god for ibuprofen, thank god for it. About 3 AM I finally felt more human. Quite frankly, I don't know how I got through yesterday afternoon managing a large group of children plus my own later on. 

(Newly single mom confessional side note: I did not manage my own. I bought her a Happy Meal dinner, stuck her in front of Netflix, and went to bed. At 8 PM I woke up and made her run her own bath, brush her own teeth, and put her own self to bed. Independence Boot Camp Training, is what I call this.)

(As a New Age-y, hippie side note I'd like to say: I think, sometimes, when things like this happen, it's the Universe telling us: ooookayyyy...you're done. Time to stop running around so cray cray and go to bed. Get off the Internet, close that email, stop worrying about that data, forget that softball practice, that person will just have to figure him/herself out themselves, etc etc etc...you go to bed. Time to reset.)

Today, I'm slightly better but still off. Tomorrow, I have another day off because of doctor appointments (irony). So this morning, at 6:30 AM, I drove to work, dragged myself inside, and high fived myself for making all those copies at the end of the day yesterday. Pulled everything together for a substitute teacher today and tomorrow, and now the pieces get to fall where they may. 

The substitute teacher for today was already in my room. I look like I feel - sick crap. He recoiled from me in horror, and I'll be honest: it made me want to laugh and laugh. I can only imagine. On the plus side, I got to correct some misconceptions he has about 7 year olds. And now I'm pretty certain he'll take them to the cafeteria for lunch AND pick them up. I'm going to assume he knows he also has to take them to Art today, too, that helpers don't just show up at the door to take everybody everywhere. This is PUBLIC school, yo.

I had a really rough weekend, mentally and emotionally. It's hard to know who to trust sometimes. I am loved, and I am grateful for it, but sometimes it's just hard to know who to trust. And because I don't always trust my gut instincts, I can be easily swayed from one side to another...back and forth, back and forth. I'm telling you about this because what it does to me is make me weird and paranoid. And I don't like feeling weird and paranoid. Because then I get weird and paranoid about feeling weird and paranoid. It's a problem. 

Basically, for my life right now, I have a very simple agenda, a very uncomplicated, six-point Life Road Map:

1. Stop being weird and paranoid.

2. Figure out who's trustworthy, and who's not. 

3. Stop being up and down. One or two times of up and down per year is plenty. Not every week.

4. Give happiness, be happy.

5. Give love, be loved.

6. Achieve ultimate Enlightenment. (Or at least the ability to stay calm and focused amongst all the dysfunctional, needy, crazy people around me.)

That's not too much to ask. I don't think.

You know what's most ironic to me right now? Work. Work is actually going really, really well this year. I am in deep love with my class. I'm just besotted with them, really. If I had more disposable income, I'd take them all on a fabulous learning trip somewhere. And I like my bosses. I think my bosses ask me to do crazy things, but I've become absolutely convinced it's because their bosses ask them to do crazy things, and that's because THEIR bosses ask THEM to do crazy things. Bosses!!! STOP!! Stop it. Stop asking for crazy things.

So I'm still overwhelmed at work, but a routine has been established, and there is a lot of love there, so we're plowing through. 

It's my personal life that's bizarre and out of control right now. Here's what'll happen: something will happen, I'll feel weird and wonder about it. So I'll phone a friend. And that person will tell me Thing A, which kind of freaks me out. So I'll phone another friend. And that person will tell me Thing B, which freaks me out more. And before I know it, now I'm existing entirely inside my own head, overthinking, overanalyzing, trying to mind read and...weird and paranoid. It's exhausting, and makes me want to crawl into a cave and tell the world to go fuck itself.

At some point, the real Dark Night of the Soul will come, I know, and I'll have to make one of the hardest changes to myself I've ever made. It's around the bend, I can just feel it. Hope I'm up for it. (Dear Universe, please don't send it today. I need to sleep most of this afternoon and re-balance my body.)


fragile china rabbit in a bull shop.

"You disappoint me."
-Pellegrina, from The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

I've written here before about Kate DiCamillo's The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. If you haven't read it, your heart is missing out. So is your soul. 

I just finished reading this to my class. I cried two times in front of them, reading it. Two little girls and a little boy cried with me and two other kind-hearted children brought us tissues. I'd stop in different places and ask them what they were wondering - what's going on? Why did he or she say or do that? What will happen now? They made connections, they laughed at all the right parts (mostly when Edward the china rabbit is naked), they gasped at the horrible moments. At the end of the book, they clapped. We all agreed: this book is an amazing book. None of them increased their reading levels. None of their writing improved. They certainly didn't get better at number sense. But their connections and hearts exploded, just a little. And I fell in love with them all even harder.

You guys, I've probably been given a classroom of the most generous and good-hearted children in the history of this school. I just met with most of their parents, and I understand why that is now, because their parents are sweethearts. I don't know if I can move their data the way the new system is demanding I move it. Right now, I don't care. I would just like to sit and read them stories all day, and listen to theirs, and teach them how to write them down. We can pull in Math and Language Arts and Science and Social Studies wherever. But can we do it via Story? Please, new public education system?

Edward Tulane is a story that'll speak to you. If it doesn't, something's very wrong with you. It's a story that I'm just going to re-read on my own over the coming days. Because as I was reading to them, it hit me: bits and pieces of Edward's story are bits and pieces of mine. I am on a miraculous journey, of sorts. And along the way, I'm learning how important it is to stay open. To remember that not everyone I meet on my journey is going to disappoint me. To do this, I think I'm going to have to be more discerning and teach myself to figure out who's a friend disguised as an enemy, and who's an enemy disguised as a friend. Because this is where I always tend to get lost and fucked up.

A friend told me last night that I'm too trusting. I let people in too far, too quickly. I give them too much information, before I know if they're even the kind of person who will handle what I've given them with care. Other friends, in the past, have echoed this about me. C once told me my naivete is my best and worst quality. 

Yet on an ironically bizarre flip side, I have so many trust issues because I've had so many people in the past teach me that being very direct and confrontational is a Bad Thing. And because I've had my heart broken in the past so many times or I've been taught over and over that I'm not enough, it's left me in a situation where I usually don't trust ME. So I end up bonding with people who are very bossy. Or the highly manipulative. Or dishonest game players. Or just dishonest people period. Or maybe they're all just very very nice, but are too much of a fucked up mess to really be a true friend to anyone. 

So here's what happens: I meet someone along my journey. They seem kind and good-hearted. They're smart and funny and I really just thoroughly enjoy them as a human being. I don't ask much from anyone except that they be real with me, and don't play games or manipulate me. All I ever ask of people is to mean what they say and say what they mean. And that's because when I tell YOU something, I mean it. If I can't mean it, I don't say it. What I say to you comes from my heart. I don't know any other way to do it.

So what happens is this: they say kind, friendly, good-hearted, and funny things to me, and I heart them real hard. They promise me they're my friend, and I believe them. Because when I say those types of things I always mean them, and so I just assume when others say those types of things, they mean them too. And then I tell them too much. I let them in too quickly. I assume, too swiftly, that other people don't have hidden agendas. I suck at games, and it never ceases to shock me when it dawns on me other people actually enjoy games, the thrill of game strategy. This is what disappoints me most about other human beings, I think: when they treat other human beings as games. People are not games. We are not.

So when something happens that really underscores that this is not the case, that someone has said they are my friend and then does something a real friend wouldn't do, my heart is always broken. People disappoint me. If you've read Edward Tulane, and you are as fascinated by the character of Pellegrina as I am, you'll completely understand me when I say that. 

Here's another thing about me: I'm naive but not stupid. When your heart has been broken by others enough, you learn. When someone's behavior starts to change, you know to start reading between the lines. Because all your past experiences have taught you this is where the disappointment, the heart break part starts. You wake up to what's really going on, because even when the other person insists they're telling the truth you know they aren't. Your gut knows something isn't jiving. But you've also learned it's not something you can confront them with, the conversation will be exhausting or upsetting. Because maybe they really believe it's the truth. Or maybe they're very desperate not to be seen as a bad person, or whatever their motivation is. 

I promise, Internet: I'm naive but not stupid. Please, please don't ever treat me like I'm stupid. That's the absolute worst thing someone can do with me, or anyone else for that matter. Just be honest. I hate it when people aren't honest about what they really want. Once I figure out you've begun treating me as a game and aren't being honest with me, I lose all respect for you. And then I get really really angry. And then I get really really sad. You disappoint me.

And I'm too trusting, but once you teach me that you're not really trustworthy, once you really show me how you weren't worthy of however close I let you get to my protective bubble, we are done. You're going to have to come through in a really big way to prove to me that I'm wrong about you. In my experience, game players aren't really interested in doing that. Once they figure out they've been figured out, game over. They go find a new person to start up a new game with. But who really won your game? Who lost? Seriously, I could write blog entries on that for days. (Answer: there are no winners when you do this. Everybody loses.)

I'm trying not to build as many walls. I'm trying to learn to live outside a protective bubble. But other people keep disappointing me, and so I find myself continuing to lay bricks, gluing pieces of reinforced steel to my bubble's walls. This has made me really angry. But also very, very sad. Just like Edward Tulane, the fragile china rabbit.

The good news is that The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is also about hope and redemption. Really, it's a perfect example of American mythologist Joseph Campbell's the Hero's Journey tale - someone is called to action, to take a journey. Along the way s/he meets friends who are enemies and enemies who are friends. S/he fights many battles, both winning and losing along the way. Finally, towards the end, the hero is losing everything; s/he has a Dark Night of the Soul moment in which the decision must be made: go on or give up? If the hero gives up, all will be lost. If the hero chooses to go on, then s/he must make a change. The change will be the hardest thing s/he has ever done, but the transformation after it's over will be magnificent and all will be won. 

I really want to put the Coda (the wrap up at the end of the book) to Edward Tulane here for you to read, because it's probably the most moving and lovely summary of a story I've ever read. But I'm worried there are people who've come here and haven't yet read this book, and I don't want to ruin it for them. If you're in a Dark Night of the Soul, this story will break your heart wide open. If you're not, it'll get you through a Dark Night once you're there. And if you're really living Life, you will be. 

So I'll just leave you with my Coda:

Once, there was a girl who loved the world. She loved its mountains, its oceans, its prairies, its forests. She loved its animals and its people. She trusted someone completely, who broke her heart. But she still loved the world. So she trusted again. And someone else broke her heart. But she still believed in love and the goodness of the world, and so she trusted again. And someone else disappointed her. And on and on this went, until one day she decided to live in a very hard bubble so no one would ever disappoint her or break her heart again. 

But her heart wasn't really happy in the bubble. So once in awhile, she'd let it out. And it would get punched, and then she'd get angry. She'd go back into her bubble where she'd punch and kick at the world outside, hoping some of the punches or kicks would hurt the world even though she knew: if you're in a protective bubble of steel how could it? 

What she really wanted was someone to love her, understand her, and accept her as is. All she ever wanted was a good friend. What she really hoped for was someone who would be a friend who didn't also want to play games with her at the same time. The girl sucked at games. Because what she really wanted most of all was for someone to mean what they say, and say what they mean.

.......that's it. That's as far as I've gotten writing my Coda, since my journey hasn't ended yet. And this morning I'm also thinking about C, whose heart I have smashed into tiny pieces. I wonder how his heart is going to recover, and where that karma will be written, ultimately, as part of my story's Coda. I think because I'm painfully aware that, once you break someone's heart, once you disappoint them, they'll become part of your story and you theirs. Forever and ever. Whether you want that or not. Tread lightly when you invite someone into your game, sweet Reader(s). The stakes are always so high.

At any rate, Edward's Coda is a ton better, because he kinda sorta gets his heart's desire at the end but in a way he didn't expect. And isn't that just how Life is? The Universe will always give you what your heart has always wanted, but maybe not in ways you'd have ever expected. So be careful what you wish for, and what you decide to invite in.


detached ghost sightings.

That could be a portal, and they could be passing through.
(I'm joking. I borrowed this from an online magazine
called uncube magazine.)
I have a half-day off, Internet, and it feels fabulous. I've met with almost all of my kids' parents, and they are fabulous. Fabulous kids = fabulous parents and vice versa. You do know the saying "apples don't fall far from trees" is true, yes? It is. I don't know who put this class together or why I was given them, but I would like to find that person and hug them. Maybe buy them dinner. Something. They are going to carry me through the rest of this year. 

So I was thinking about what I wrote about last time. Apparently, it worried some people? I mean, my mom texted and emailed me to let me know she was thinking about me and loved me. And I got sent a ton of messages about how loved and awesome I am. So I feel like I need to clarify what I wrote:

1. I am not depressed. Have I been depressed recently? Yes. Because of burn out. There have been some really dark, bad days. But when I wrote THAT blog, I was actually pretty fine. 

2. What I feel is detached. I don't think this is a bad thing. I mean, Buddha said it's the goal to Enlightenment - don't cling to anyone or anything, that's the key to a perfect state of being. None of this is permanent; none of this is real. People aren't possessions; love is fluid. Let go. Detach.

I guess some people hear that word and go: oh, Amy doesn't want to participate in life anymore. No, no. I'm pretty cool participating in life and socializing and all that. When I say "detached," what I mean is: you do you, I'll do me. I don't have the energy right now to worry about why someone said this or didn't say that, or why someone did this or didn't do that. I don't care WHAT you do, quite frankly. You want to read this blog and blow me kisses? Have at it. You want me to clean your kitchen and take your trash out and operate on your time schedule and blow you kisses and follow your rules? Hell freaking NO. 

As long as you aren't hurting me or my kid, as long as you aren't being a complete and total douchebag, as long as you aren't trying to load me down with expectations and demands that meet YOUR needs, do it. Rock on, motherrocker. Meanwhile, I'll be over here wallowing or dancing or reading or writing or whatever...don't worry about me. I'm doing exactly the things I need to do to meet MY needs; I don't need or want anything from anybody else. I've learned if I can't get it or find it or give it to myself, then it's probably not something I really need to be pursuing in the first place. 

So I'll be just fine. You do you, I'll do me. That's what "detached" means. To me, at least.

3. That's it. That's all I was saying in that last post.

In THIS post, what I want to say is:

I got to hang out in a real haunted house the other night. I tweeted about it, and meant to include Jason Hawes in the tweet so he could come find me and keep me safe but I totally forgot about Jason in all my excitement. My friend R - she lives in a house with haints, you guys! The house is beautiful. (R, your gigantic house is gorgeous and also I'm so glad I don't have to clean it!) But it's also right next to Dawson Forest, which is well-known for being a dark and creepy woods. Several years ago, a serial killer (or at the very least a terrifying psycho drifter who went off the deep end) named Gary Michael Hilton bludgeoned a hiker named Meredith Emerson to death and then decapitated her, dumping her body in Dawson Forest. Three other murdered people have been dumped there over the last 12 or so years. People regularly commit suicides in Dawson Forest. Also in the vicinity of R and family lives a family of crazy people who keep fake heads on spikes in their yard and shoot at them. This is totally like Deliverance meets The Exorcist meets The Blair Witch Project. It's the BESTEST.

Years ago, I had a friend who lived in some apartments near a graveyard. The apartment complex was fairly new, but sometimes she'd wake up to see shadow figures standing in her bathroom. Finally, a boyfriend let her know: those are the people from the graveyard. They're passing through, and your bathroom is a portal. 

Holy crap, Internet! I hope none of you live in a portal! I can't imagine anything more freaky and terrifying than constantly waking up to dead strangers standing around, looking very confused in your bathroom. At 3 AM. Watching you pee.

So I think R's house is a portal of some sort. A creepy Dawson Forest portal. It has a little girl in it; she's often seen standing outside the laundry room. R's son's bedroom door opens and closes all by itself, sometimes right in front of you. R was asleep one night with one of her feet hanging off the side of the bed and something tugged on her big toe three times. Once, she heard a southern woman say to her very loud and clear: "Hello!" And their basement just has a general, overall creep factor to it that made it absolutely impossible for me to be there alone on my visit. R says she's perfectly fine being down there by herself, but I sense she's a ghost whisperer of some sort. 

The children played down there the other night just fine because there's a movie theater with a stage and a karaoke machine that they didn't use to sing into but to make very loud sounds and tell Yo Mama jokes. I, however, had to use the bathroom upstairs at one point and to get to THAT, I was forced to walk down a hallway and go by a pitch black bedroom with door wide open. Any thing could have leapt out of the black maw and chewed my face off! I almost screamed my head off, running to make it to the bathroom to turn the light on as fast as I could. I don't want any creepy, cold, bony fingers of death touching me and stuff. 

When I was growing up in Kentucky, I think our house was haunted. The first house we lived in was. That was the Streamland Drive house, and I swear the downstairs basement had SOMEthing in it. There was a laundry room down there, an office/den, and a big, finished multi-use room we used as a TV and playroom. I was fine in the TV/playroom, fine in the laundry room...never ever wanted to go into the office/den. It just felt creepy.

Once, when I was asleep, I remember waking up because I felt like I was levitating above my bed. When I opened my eyes, I could see two ladies dressed in early 1900s garb standing at the foot of it, just watching me, one dressed in purple. To this day, I don't know if they were ghosts or angels because when I was in college I visited a psychic who told me I have two guardian angels, and one is an older lady who always dresses in purple. (The other is young man who wears yellow, and he's ridiculously protective of me; he's not going to let anything really bad happen to me...and so far he's done a fairly decent job, I must commend him.)

So. Still want to go on a ghost hunt. But now it's been confirmed for me: I CANNOT EVER BE ALONE. Seriously. I'd totally be the one the poltergeist would eat first.


protective nfg bubble.

I didn't come up with this idea. A brilliant girl named Sarah did.
I had a fairly decent day, World Wide Web. I'm hitting most of my teaching targets now, starting to pull it together in terms of focus and organization. I mean, we're doing small groups/Math and Reading centers so I can teach small groups of children for 15-20 minutes every day and that's HUGE. I'm actually not convinced that children learn much of anything in 15 minute increments; god knows I don't feel like I teach them much of anything. But it's what Modern Day Education Administrators like to see because some researchers and/or some teachers who did it got famous for writing some books about it and they all swore it works. And it looks like everybody's doing something. And now they can check it off on their clipboards and feel like they're finally hitting their stride and so I am doing it. We are all hitting our strides, checking stuff off our clipboards, and children are in contained areas of safety all day so their parents can...do whatever their parents do from 8 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday. All is right with the world.

I've started parent-teacher conferences, and so far so good. Because of this, I'm not even going to bitch about parents who insist on having THEIR time needs met, because they are obviously oblivious to the fact there are children besides their own in the class and I'm a degreed and trained professional just like a doctor or a lawyer and I bet none of these people would ever, ever demand an exact appointment time and day from a doctor or a lawyer. Or maybe they would, because some of them actually do come across as the kind of people who'd do that. But it doesn't work with the other degreed professions like doctors and lawyers, because doctors and lawyers (a) have secretaries who make their appointments who will laugh in a really bitchy way over the phone if they try to do that and (b) doctors and lawyers make 100,000 dollars more a year than me and so clients don't set the days and times, THEY get to because that's how money and perceived power happen to work. (In other words: hey parents, have a time FRAME, not DEMAND. And I'll bend over backwards for you if you're sweet about it; but when you take a bitchy tone with me? Guess what? Suddenly my appointments are all full up. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.) 

And yet. And yet. I'm still such a mess. I can't go into all the details, but it's been a combination of the high expectations of others, a general bizarre and unusual insecurity/neediness/double guessing on my own part, topped off by too many fucking hypercritical people coming at me all at once. And money. I find I'm always worried about money now. I pay down my credit card...and then have to use it...so I can have money left over at the end of the month and fool my brain into thinking we've done fantastic at saving money. (Christmas is looming, is what I'm saying.) (And some girlfriends and I are planning a November trip to Charleston.) (Which may end up being my Christmas present to myself.)

Sunday was bad. So, so bad. I wish I could describe for you the depths to which Sunday was bad. Sunday was one of those days that I really considered getting in my car and driving to the Gulf of Mexico and swimming around in it at dusk, daring all the sharks. That kind of bad. A couple of things happened, and normally when crazy things happen I just roll my eyes and quietly whisper Fuck you to whoever it is, and then go on with my life. Sunday I just had a meltdown of a day about pretty much anything. I mean I lost my collective shit with Miss M over how long it was taking her to put on a pair of goddamn shoes. (I mean, for real: TEN MINUTES. In my defense, that would give the Dalai Lama high blood pressure.) Maybe it's hormones. Maybe the stars were misaligned. I don't know. I don't know.

Sunday night I literally cried myself to sleep. The last time I literally cried myself to sleep like that, two angels of God paid me a visit and told me to seriously stop worrying so much. (True story, for another time.) 

This time, my dad came to visit me. I dreamt I was living in my mom's house but now it was my house, and it was a MESS. (Coincidence? I think not.) Drawers were open, clothes spilling out everywhere, in every room. And all the rooms were decorated in gaudy gild and glitter, like the zombie of Liberace threw up everywhere. And she had dolls. Oh my god, you guys! The DOLLS. They covered every available tabletop and shelf and WTF dream version mom, with the dolls? 

But more than that, 3 people followed me home in the dream. Two men and a woman. I don't remember what they looked like now, but I remember I didn't really want them in my messy house and basically said that to them, but they ignored me and came home with me anyway. And I didn't really stop them. When we got to the house, the front door was unlocked and slightly ajar. I kind of freaked out, sure that someone had robbed me. But then when we went inside everything was a mess, but nothing was missing. Yet it was still so overwhelming - who were those 3 people? Why was everything such a mess? What the hell was my mom doing with all these freaking dolls?? 

I just sat down on the floor, the one spot in the house that a doll hoarder hadn't gotten to, and started sobbing. Completely overwhelmed.

And then my dad showed up. He came up behind me, wearing a white shirt, and wrapped both arms around me. He didn't speak to me, but he had a huge smile on his face. I don't remember feeling really relieved or much of anything at all to realize he was there, hugging me. Just sort of gently surprised that he was there, wondering where he'd come from, and happy he was hugging me but also surprised by that too, because hugging wasn't really something he ever did when he was alive. And so I just sat and let him sit with his arms around me...and then I woke up.

I realized, as soon as I woke up, that my dad had come to visit me. And so I sobbed some more. I told him thank you for coming to check on me. But it just made me sadder. You guys, I really, really miss my dad. My dad would've taken me out for a margarita and listened to me. And then lectured me and gone off on ten side tangents. And paid my electric bill.

Next time I come here to write/spew/whine/mourn, maybe I'll share some man experiences that I connect with my dad, who was the sun, the moon, and the stars for me; who never really understood how important it was that he was those things for me. And I want to tell you, Internet, about Steven B. who broke my heart in a million pieces and it took me a long time to glue them back together. And about Steve J. who broke my heart in a billion little pieces some of which I still can't find. And maybe a little about C, though I try to be careful about writing about him because he's going to be in my life for....forever...because of Miss M, and he didn't break my heart. He tried to fix it for a long while, but it was too hard for him. And maybe that happened because I never really wanted it fixed and so I never really let him. (And there were personality traits he has that may have kept me from wanting him to.)

At any rate. I had a dream about my dad, and now he's been on my mind since then. And at first, I was just all kinds of undone by the dream. Because I think that's when they come visit us, in our dreams, when our paranormal defenses are down. And so I've been aware, since late Sunday night, that my dad is...hovering? Or near me, somehow. And this is both comforting and melancholy. 

And yet. And yet. I'm back to being rational again. Strangely detached from things; feeling slightly impervious to the needs and expectations of others. Don't really care if someone doesn't like me or want me or think I'm awesome. It's not that I don't care about other people; it's that I don't care about other people's opinions, I don't care what anybody else thinks or does (for now, because I know me and the me I know only goes through these strange no-fucks-given phases in slow spurts). 

Remember how Glinda the Good Witch gives Dorothy a protective kiss on the forehead in The Wizard of Oz? Maybe that's what my dad did for me Sunday night. Waited for his in, and then wrapped me in white protective light. I'm in a bubble. A protective, no-fucks-given kind of bubble for now. I'm a nice person; I genuinely care about other people, sometimes more than is good for me. But ultimately, at the end of the day, I really need to go to sleep without sobbing. And so this actually feels kind of cocoon-y. Calm. And I like it. So I'm going to stay here for awhile.

I'd really like to title this blog entry No Fucks Given. But I'm worried about search engines picking it up and sending weird people to me. And so I'm going to call it my Protective NFG Bubble entry. And NO, you can't use that! I might trademark it.


storytelling+kindness=positivity at ridiculous levels.

This person's name is John Emmet Tracy.
He is one of my favorite human beings right now.
You should watch every single TV show
and movie he's in from now on.
So Internet, I want to write about something really, really kind I saw the other day. You know how I've been saying here for, well, at least since I started this blog 2 or 3 years ago, that kindness is incredibly important to me right now. This rock we all fly around on is full of dark and crazy. It has people who'll make you want to grab those most precious to you and find a nice, deserted island to live on (which could lead to interbreeding issues and turn your descendants' skin blue so it only works in theory because stupid biology...but I digress). 

I can't mention her by name (unless she reads this and officially gives me permission and promises not to sue me and if that happens I'll come back and edit), but I have made a friend on Twitter who's suffering all kinds of sad health problems. I've been very blessed not to have these, but I have other friends and family who've not been so fortunate. And so I can see, from watching their struggles, that when you are very very sick Life is...you know. Crap. And yet here is this lovely person who is finding ways to find joy where she can and not only that, she spreads it out to the rest of us. That's hard - if it were me, I think there's a fair amount of evidence on this blog that I'd be typing out pieces of melancholia and woe-is-me. Spreading good when you feel bad is hard, yet it's heady stuff. God love her.

I write here all the time about the power of Story. Stories are how we connect to each other - they're how we evaluate our past, our present, and our future; they're how we share our dreams; they're how we build on what others before us have built. Really, storytelling is what makes us different. I don't think any other creatures on this planet do it...maybe dolphins. And gorillas. But that's it! I'm pretty sure zebras aren't making each other cry with stories about those bad years all the lions from Nigeria killed and ate all the lions from Zimbabwe that worshipped trees because Nigerian lions believed in worshipping clouds and so all tree worshipping lions must die. And I know hippos aren't making each other laugh insanely at the crazy antics of those wild and crazy crocodiles. (Correction: animals actually do tell these stories, but they all work at Disney.)

And so when we are sick, I think it's just human nature to turn to stories and storytellers. The virus or the genetic problem or the cancer or the heart disease are destroying your physical matter, but they can't reach your soul. And therein lies the power of Story - a cancer can eat you a live, but your Story makes you You...Story keeps you thinking and dreaming and just generally going, even when Science tells you that you ought to stop. 

But we have our stories and our storytellers, in books and movies and campfire tales and emails and dinner parties and television. And for many, many people, be they perfectly fine and healthy or very very sick or struggling, if you can find a story or stories to connect to, in whichever medium that works best for you, it keeps you going, it shows you why any of this even matters. And this sweet lady has found her story connections on TV shows. And one of the TV shows was a show called Olympus, which aired on the SyFy Channel and was a fabulous show and I can say that because, when I was able to stop focusing on my owned effed up life problems for two seconds, I watched several episodes of it and said out loud at least three times, "Wow! What a good show!" 

To have a story, you need a storyteller. Or a team of storytellers, in the case of TV and movie stories. And sometimes, you find storytellers who are willing, because they are really kind and get why what they do matters, to go beyond just telling their story or stories and decide to reach out to the people who are connecting to the stories they tell, who are finding comfort and joy in them. 

This is what I saw happen the other day - someone who is struggling with crappy crap was reached out to by other human beings who just happen to tell stories for a living. They didn't have to reach out. Telling stories for a living is a hard road to walk in a world that values material things and financial power, that doesn't recognize the value in human connection via Story unless there's bank to be made off it. And yet they all got together in spite of whatever was going on in their lives, their worlds - meeting up in offices or coffee shops or on street corners or wherever - just to sign a show poster for a sick woman. And then send it to her. 

Oh my god! Internet! Do you have any idea how amazing that was?! Do you even understand how shit like this makes me want to hug every single person I meet on the street, even the scary bad ones, and go: I know you have it in you! I know at heart you are good! I know you can do good! Because sometimes other people show you that it's possible.

If you ask the person who took charge of this how they managed this, he will tell you: Eh, not a big deal...I just met them at coffee shops and we just, you know, signed it. And I know he will say that, because a friend told him what a rock star he was for doing this and that was his response. 

But it wasn't about the poster, and it wasn't about the autographs. It was about the THING. The supremely endearing, kind thing a group of human beings did for another. And it completely made her day, her week, her month, her year. Because of a story. And so: heart. melted. 

Why these people don't all have Emmys and/or Oscars is a travesty. A travesty, Reader(s)! 

At any rate. I'm promoting them. They are all very very talented storytellers even when not spreading love and goodness throughout the planet, and so I think you should watch them in action, friend them on Facebook and/or Twitter, and when they are nominated for Emmys and/or Oscars write copious amounts of letters to the judges in charge of deciding who wins those demanding that they be given special consideration. Here they are:

Graham Shiels
Sonita Henry
Sonya Cassidy 
Tom York
Natasha Burnett
Levi Meaden
Sophia Lauchlin Hirt

there were other storytellers from the show who've been incredibly sweet to her on social media, but weren't able to meet and sign the poster. They also need Emmys and Oscars, and millions of Facebook/Twitter fans (and a blue Twitter check! Twitter! WHY do some of these amazeball people not have the special person blue check yet?!), and letters demanding recognition by The Academy:

Cas Anvar
Wayne Burns
Alan C. Peterson

and last, but NOT least, John Emmet Tracy, who was the ring leader in getting the poster, meeting up with the storytellers who were available to meet him at offices and coffee shops and on street corners or whatever, and sign the poster AND then mail it to my sweet friend. What a lovely, kind, sweet human being he is. Why is he not starring in every single movie and television show right now, Hollywood? Why?

Because what ought to happen is all the kind, good people in the world like these storytellers should be in charge of the planet. I'm fairly certain if that happened the troublesome areas of the Middle East would be fixed, war and hunger and poverty would end, and joyful Utopia would ensue. I mean, one group of storytellers have made a difference in just one person's life. When was the last time a government did that? (Never. A government has never done that, that's when.)


my many colored days (+1 crazy monkey tale).

My emotions are like a stinkin' roller coaster, y'all. Like Dr. Seuss' My Many Colored Days, only more effed up. I swear - one day totally awesome, the next day kinda bummed, then just sort of greyish, then fine and dandy, then easily annoyed, then worried I'm going to end up eating out of trash cans/sleeping on sidewalks, then complete and utter despair, followed by goddamnitsonofabitchareyoufuckingkiddingme??!!!??!!! and then full-on guilt complex, finishing up with a good dose of self-hatred and doubt, circling back to awesome.

What. The. Crap.

You know what else is pissing me off lately? Leadership. Listen: I am no leader. I am not a born leader, I have never had a wish to lead, I am not a control freak (unless it comes to the grey in my hair). Yet I read Colin Powell's book on leadership, and while Colin and I don't see eye to eye on much of anything politically, I do admire his stance on What Makes a Good Leader. (Which is why, I'm 110% certain, he resigned from the Bush Administration...some people simply aren't trainable.) (And I think you know who I'm referring to...not mentioning any names, but his rhymes with Forj Sub-o-you Tush and he had an untrainable sidekick that rhymed with Sick Pain-y.)

Here's what I think good leaders should do: 

1. Trust in your people. 
2. Trust in the process.
3a. Be a good listener.
3b. Don't have an ego.
4a. Don't micromanage.
4b. Treat your employees like the grown ups they are.
5. Encourage fun.

The end. It's as simple as that. Are you going to have lazy dickheads in your employ? Of course you are. Everybody has bad hires, every profession has dead weights. But the vast, VAST majority of your people are going to be doing their very very best for you. And you know how you know they want to do their very very best? They come through for you. Because they know you trust them. When they know you have their back. When they know you believe in them. Right now, I do what's required of me via my contract. The end. They've exhausted me, and I don't sense they trust me; and when I sense you don't trust me? Guess what? I don't trust you. Vicious. Circle.

I see it in my students. I get MUCH more work out of them when I just let them do it the way they want to. The work doesn't turn out necessarily the way I'd envisioned it, but my students actually have some pretty good ideas sometimes. I instituted a Caboose job because one of them noticed kids were fighting over who was going to get to close the door/turn off the lights when we left. Line Caboose job started, in-house fighting problem solved. Onward, little soldiers.

I don't understand this new way of thinking, this new way of seeing people as things to be micromanaged, pieces of data to be honed and pounded upon, molded and manipulated. I don't like how it feels, and it's making me angry and stressed out. The only thing I can think of for why it's happening is there appears to be a Noxious Culture of Pervasive Fear everywhere these days, and people think if they just make more rules and dictate more things, everything will be okay. If we just give teachers a script and tell them exactly what to say, how to say it, when to say it, and we make everything and everyone THE SAME (except then turn around and tell them to differentiate to meet everyone at their various different levels...except make sure it's THE SAME), then the data will be achieved. The children will magically overcome their home lives and genetic issues etc and so forth, and Nirvana will ensue. If we just combine 10 jobs into 1 then people will be more productive and we'll save money and make money and Nirvana will ensue.

Meanwhile, teachers and Corporate America friends I know are popping Xanax to get through a year. That doesn't sound like any kind of Nirvana I want to live in. And here I am dreading Mondays and hitting up monster.com now and then to see what else is out there for a 43 year old woman overly skilled in teaching verbs and nouns and adjectives. Preferably something that doesn't involved data, dickheads, or drudgery. Three Damned D's.

The irony being, of course, that usually the very thing you're trying to control and contain ends up controlling and containing YOU. You try to fix it, and you break it more in the process (here, I should put up a picture of the holes I drilled in my bedroom wall when the wall wouldn't cooperate with the curtain rod. I "fixed" it...i.e., put a band-aid on it. And now the whole frickin' thing is collapsing...meanwhile, I get to stare at all the big, gaping holes I gouged in a wall, every time going: jesus god, THAT'S gonna cost me when I move out). 

I'm not advocating mass anarchy; we need rules to keep the sociopaths in check. What I'm saying is: loosen up, trust your people, and watch some magic happen. Will there be dickwads who take advantage? Yes, of course. But those dickwads will eventually move on or you figure out who they are and make their lives a living hell until they're encouraged to move on. Everybody else? Ice Cream Mondays! Nap Time Tuesdays! Wear What You Want Wednesdays! so on and so forth. I have tons of these. I think Congress needs to start a Ministry of Fun Day Events Planning. I won't even need a staff. Just a comfy work chair and peace and quiet. And let people do what they're best at: their jobs. You do your job, I'll do mine, and let's call all this weirdness off. 

Just some thoughts I'm having on this exhausting but insomniac night.

But I want to end on a happy note, or at the very least an amusing story. Sort of as a reward to you for getting through all the crap I spewed above. There are happy things going on in the world, and so I'm going to end on a happy note plus one fun story:

Once, a long while ago, I was at a South African friend's apartment (sadly we were in Buckhead/Atlanta, NOT South Africa). She was from Johannesburg, and while she was dressing, I watched a news story about the baboons of Johannesburg. Apparently, they're all thugs. People have built up Johannesburg so much over the years, it's encroached upon Baboon Territory, and so they've all come down from the hills to walk the streets and mug the humans. Baboons are bullies. Bullies and gangsters and thugs. They'll walk right up to you, in broad daylight, and snatch your purse. Or open your car door and start rifling through your things, not even caring. Cops schmops! Go ahead and make a baboon's day. Very Planet of the Apes.

So I'm watching the baboon news story, laughing my ridiculous butt off, and I call to her, "Hey! This is hysterical! Baboons are robbing people in your hometown!" And she comes out of the bathroom, very very somber, and goes, "Oh no no, Amy. No. It's not funny. It's a very serious problem. I was once mugged by a baboon. He stole my sunglasses, some gum, and a very expensive pen from my purse. I was just thankful they're usually not interested in money. They can be very frightening. One time, my cousin had one open up her car door and go through all of the things in her glove compartment. Every time she moved, he growled at her. She was terrified. And they can't even arrest them. They bite."

Whenever I need a pick-me-up, sometimes I just close my eyes and try to envision what this looks like. I'm sure it is very frightening as you're experiencing it. I'm sure. And yet, honestly. HOW many people can go around and God's truth tell people: Once upon a time, I was mugged by a baboon. I mean, seriously. 

And in Japan? Maquaque monkeys use coins to buy snacks. I don't know where they get the coins from, but if they're mugging people in Tokyo to pay for the snacks, that is just going to make my whole damn year I'm not even kidding.

Go HERE for more Happy Facts.


ghost hunter rules.

Totally stole this from Wikipedia.
...would totally scream and run into the nearest
person's arms if I saw this.
Can I just apologize for that last entry? The one about eros/longing? I've re-read the thing like 200 times and I'm not sure what the hell I was trying to actually say. I'm pretty sure I had a point when I started typing, but by the end I was just all over the place. Like a possessed ping pong ball. If I had to re-title that piece, I'd call it: Longing - Needle in a Haystack

It's almost October! The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting colder. I'm okay with the cold nights; not okay with the short daylight hours. (Quick side story: one Christmas, my mom gave everyone checks for like $50 to buy whatever they wanted. When it was my turn to open my package, I did not get a $50 check. I got a Happy Light. Do you know about those? You sit in front of them all winter and they're supposed to trick your body into thinking there's longer sunlight which is supposed to boost  your mood and make you happier. The Happy Light did not make me happy, though, and I returned it to Costco where I exchanged it for $50 worth of wine, which DID make me happy. And got me through a real rough winter.)

I want to go on a ghost hunt. Some dear friends and I like to take ghost tours, but these are different than ghost hunts. First off, you have to take all kinds of people on the ghost tours - some serious, some not, some really old and more interested in the history of the place than its haints. And they take a lot of flash photography, which I bet annoys the crap out of haints, and so they stay away.

No. I want to go on a ghost HUNT. With serious professionals. And use serious professional equipment like EVP (Electronic Voice something that starts with a P) recorders, fancy pants infrared cameras and stuff. And I want there to be serious people who know their paranormal stuff like nobody's business. For example: Jason Hawes of Ghosthunters. (Fine. Fine! Really, it's that I just want to hang out with Jason Hawes of Ghosthunters.)

But I have demands for my ghost hunting experience, and here they are:

1. I cannot ever EVER be alone.
2. I need to have a flashlight and night vision goggles on me at all times so I can see in pitch black darkness. 
3. I need to know EXACTLY where the escape, I mean exit, doors are in case something weird touches me.
4. I cannot ever EVER be alone.
5. Jason Hawes needs to be my partner.
6. I get to joke around with the ghosts if I get nervous.
7. I cannot ever EVER be alone.
8. There needs to be a good amount of beer to get me through the night.
9. If something weird touches me and I can't quickly locate an exit door, Jason Hawes must hold me for as long as I need him to.
10. I get to use all the cool equipment.
11. I cannot ever EVER be alone.

And that's it. 

I would also like the ghost hunt to be in a cool Victorian or earlier era home, but I'll take ancient distillery in a pinch. Or a hotel.

Once, I was on a ghost tour with some friends in Chattanooga, Tennessee. There's a hotel there (a Marriott, I think) that supposedly has a room that is terribly haunted. It's haunted by the spirit of a woman who was raped and murdered and she despises (with good reason) men now. Don't go in there if you have a Y chromosome! She'll get you. They tried to renovate the room, apparently, but she kept coming in at night and ripping it all up. Now, they'll claim they don't have a room number 233 (or whatever the number is), but if you demand to rent it, they'll sigh and give in to you. But then you have to sign a release saying (a) you won't demand your money back if you leave before dawn and (b) you won't sue anybody. 

When the tour ended, my friends and I went back to the hotel to stand outside Room 233 (or whatever number it is) and freak ourselves the hell out. Then a man came around the corner and asked us if we needed help, and we screamed and ran away. Then the elevator got jammed (or, you know, we forgot to press the buttons to make it go) and we screamed and laughed our ridiculous heads off a lot when we realized it was because we forgot to press some buttons. 

I'm pretty sure Jason Hawes and serious ghost hunters would be okay hanging out all night with that kind of attitude, right? I mean, once my terror dies down, I laugh and laugh. Ghosts are fun!


the question of longing.

Rob Bell! Another prolific, thoughtful
person about desires and human
 Years ago, I was obsessed with a show called The L Word. L, for lesbian. Lesbian love. All about the lesbians. But more than that! It was about human relationships and how complex they can be. And also, I completely and utterly identified with one of the main characters, Jenny Schecter. I still do, actually. There was one scene in which Jenny goes to an Aquarium and sits, all dreamy and thinking, in front of the white belugas. I really, really want to recreate this scene for myself. And every time I go to the Georgia Aquarium, I try to. But the Georgia Aquarium is typically an overcrowded place of chaos and crowd rage for me, and so all the other human beings always muck up my scene recreation. Stupid human beings. Same thing at the penguin part, and the dolphins. It's quietest near the jellyfish, though. Maybe I should start there.

Anyway. On the show, the character of Jenny Schecter was a writer who moved out to Los Angeles to (a) become a famous writer and (b) marry her love. Except her love was a man when she first moved to LA. He owned a little bungalow next door to lesbians. And there were a lot of lesbians running around all over this little area of LA; it was like Little Lesbian Town. And they all hung out at this coffee shop. And then Jenny met the coffee shop owner Marina (a lesbian), who rocked her world, and so Jenny became a lesbian. Or she was bisexual, but later by the time the show ended, Jenny was just a lesbian. I don't know. Plus, I personally believe love is fluid, and so is sexuality. Plus also, the first season of any TV show is always so, so strong. By the final season, sometimes it's gone completely confusing or you forget what some of the characters' original goals were because now their goals are totally off the wall so the show writers can keep a dying vehicle going so the network can keep making money. And thus, the problem with American television. Sometimes a story needs a strong beginning, a really interesting middle, and at some point everybody at the network just needs to recognize: we've milked the middle for all it's worth, time to come up with a real strong end. Go out with a bang. Story arc. It's how stories (are supposed to) work.

But The L Word is actually not the point of this blog entry. This blog entry is actually about the concept of Eros, which is not erotic necessarily but really just longing, which is also an L word. And if you have Netflix, you can watch all the seasons of The L Word, which I highly recommend you do...at least amazing Season 1. (And here, sadly, I am compelled to add...Dear gentlemen: yes, there are boobies in the show, and yes there is a lot of girl-on-girl in the show, and yes many of the girls are very very attractive and nice to look at. But please. Please! This show was not designed for YOU, or for you to get your happy endings off of. It really is about the complexities of relationships, and finding your place in the world. Just really feel the need to put that out there, because I remember having to talk about this with male heterosexual people and really rolling my eyes really hard back then.)

So at one point in the show, Marina is kind of sort of hitting on one of Jenny's new love interests (like I said: it's a show about human relationship complexities) and she gives Jenny's new love a book that I think maybe actually inspired the show to begin with. It was a book by Anne Cameron called Eros, The Bittersweet. Eros, in Greek mythology, was the god of falling in love. Cameron wrote about the concept of love, basing her philosophy about it on Sappho's (Sappho was the person to first write that love was a bittersweet kind of feeling). Sappho thought that to love another person involved a mixture of pleasure and pain, which well...yes. Or why do it? I mean, Life (and Love) can really suck sometimes and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Nobody wants to read a book or see a movie about The Village of the Happy People (credit to Jason Isaacs for that thought), and so to really appreciate the good things, you have to have a little bad every now and then. To truly understand the gorgeously brilliant sunny day you have to endure about a full week of shitty rainy ones. I'd think the same concept applies to loving another human being - whether they're a lover, a friend, a parent, or a child. People are complex, and they fuck up a lot and they have weird quirks that'll drive you batshit crazy. Sometimes you figure out you can't live with them anymore; you work better away from each other. Sometimes they won't follow directions and get into your make up and make a huge mess and it makes you scream a lot of crazy things at them...and then later you kiss their sweet, sleeping cheek most tenderly and wonder what the hell you did to deserve them. That's love, right?

But the Greeks, when talking about eros, weren't necessarily always referring to desire between people; they also thought eros was a longing to learn, to know, to understand. In ancient Greece, gods weren't just men and women who existed somewhere far off, controlling all that happened to human beings and nature, gods and goddesses were human states of mind. For example: Eros was the god of falling in love. BEING in love was a completely different matter, and therefore controlled by other, hopefully wiser, gods. 

I'm writing about this because whenever I think about longing, I always think about the exchange between Marina and Jenny's new love interest (I forget who this was and I'm too lazy to look it up right now, sorry). Marina quotes from Cameron's book, and the quote goes like this (I did look this up, because it was worth it):

The Greek word eros denotes want, lack. The desire for that which is missing. The lover wants what he does not have; it is by definition impossible for him to have what he wants if, as soon as it is had, it is no longer wanted.

Aren't those three beautiful sentences, one beautiful thought? I mean, she's talking about love (or is she? "The desire for that which is missing..." maybe he's missing chocolate), and the show used her thought about love because the L word...L, for love, lesbian, longing. But I'm more interested in these sentences because of the concept of Eros as longing. Desiring that which you think you want most in the world but knowing that, once it's yours, you won't want it anymore. Or as much. Or you'll move on to something else. 

I'm not talking about falling in love or sleeping with someone. I'm going full Greek here and talking about things like: thinking you must, absolutely MUST, take a trip Edinburgh, Scotland and then getting there and it's not as awesome as you built up in your brain (or maybe it is! I hear you really are amazing, Edinburgh). Or thinking you must, absolutely MUST, have those new Prada shoes and then getting them and now you think you like Louboutin better. Or meeting one of your life's greatest heroes and they turn out to be an asshole. That kind of thing.

So once you get the thing you desire most, DO you? Do you grow disillusioned with it? Or bored? I'm just wondering because I'm spending an awful lot of time in tears at night talking to the air, begging it (which I personally think is listening to me, in the form of Ohm, the Universe) to help me be where I'm not dying inside just so I can pay rent. You know what I mean? 

And are these the right things to long for? Why am I not longing for my daughter to grow up healthy and strong and happy? Why is THAT not my longing. Or why am I not in tears begging the great Ohm, the air, for religions to stop killing each other and terrorists to stop terrorizing everyone. Why are THOSE not my longings? 

Probably because I'm weird. And self-absorbed. Although, wait! Maybe...maybe! Maybe if Sappho and Plato and all the other Greeks were right about eros, the mindset of longing, and we DID get our peace on earth, we'd get bored. Maybe constant battling each other is for a purpose. Maybe the point of longing is to keep us going. The point of possibility is the proverbial carrot, to keep us all growing and getting better. We are so much more advanced than back in the Dark Ages, when most people believed in changelings and spectral hounds and a flat earth and that the sky was actually a sea and real Science wasn't yet a Thing. 

At any rate. That's a lot for a Sunday night, and I have to enter some grades in a gradebook because now I'm not just officially behind I'm WTF behind. 

But before I go! Can I give you a list of my innermost longings? I'm trusting you with this, please don't share it with a lot of other people:

*To tell stories for a living (or, alternately, if I can't do storytelling, I'd at least like a job I can't wait to do every day, not one that makes me want to go back in time and kick the shit out of my college girl self's ass)
*To live by the sea
*To always be surrounded by art and music and literature and nature
*A consistent, constant sense that I'm okay, Miss M is okay, everything is okay
*To travel, a lot

There's a quote by Rumi that I've burned into my soul, that a sweet friend sent to me in the form of a ring I wear on my thumb most days of the week: What you seek is seeking you. I think this essentially defines longing for me: to be seeking something, hoping it's seeking you. 

And I hope the Greeks were wrong about eros, because I'm not kidding - if I had a house by the sea filled with music, art, literature, and things of nature; that if Miss M was strong and happy and healthy; that I got to take a lot of trips and loved my job in ways I can only dream about right now...I'm quite certain I'd never get bored with any of that. I don't think I'd start to wish for other things instead. I do think I'd find other things to wish for, but I wouldn't wish for more or instead of what I'd gotten. I think I'd be pretty fucking happy and I think if I had any further longings beyond what I had, it would be to find a way to help other people have their longings come true. 

.......and maybe someone out there is reading all of this, going: be grateful for what you do have; someone else out there wishes they had what you do. And they'd be absolutely right. Unless they'd seen me last Thursday or Friday. And then I think they'd probably want to get themselves a different set of desires. Quandries of being human.

But I think longings, desires, are a lot different from dreams. Dreams are wishes. Longings are possibilities. I'm all about possibilities right now, not dreams. 

Christopher Poindexter! I have no idea who he is, but he's all over Pinterest.
And sometimes he's got quotes that encapsulate how I feel.