An Experimental Foray Into My Musical Psyche





I have an astounding nine hundred ninety-four song on my iPod. I am aware that this may appear as something less than astonishing to those who boast at having thousands of tunes on their own portable music devices and I often wonder why I have not extended my collection or, at the very least, added six more tracks in order to make an even thousand out of my choices. As it stands, iTunes cleverly informs me that I have more than three days worth of music. Three days! Really? No wonder I seldom hear the same song repeated and how unfortunate it is that I am not driving cross country at this very moment or maybe flying over oceans and continents where I could better utilize such extended listening pleasure.

Still, there remains a lagging question in the recesses of my mind.

"Beth," it nags, "do you really need such a volume of songs at your fingertips twenty-four hours a day?"

"Yes. Yes, I do. Why?"

"Do you even know what it is to which you listen?"

"Huh?"

"These songs ... these thousand minus six performances ... why are they on your iPod to begin with? Are they important? Do they speak to you - each and every one of them?"

Excuse me while I pause for dramatic effect ... or simply to give myself more time to ponder. You see - while I often ask myself random questions and answer myself accordingly - I have yet to truly develop an answer to this inquiry. In fact, I have an irritating habit of answering my own questions (You got it!) with another question. Truly. Read the conversation I had with myself above. It illustrates this point nicely. And, so, I habitually answer in exactly this manner: "What if I delete a song and then find my mood driving me to that exact composition? Then what?" My inner voice is temporarily silenced.

Music is my outlet and I adore all the amazing disguises (genres) that it can take. It is an addiction. It moves me. It evokes from me true emotion like little else can ... much of which would remain veiled without a melodic and lyrical prompt. Movies have a similar affect though I have always counted those emotions to be false - induced by fantasy situations. There is truth in music and with it come true and tangible feelings.

Unfortunately, I am not blessed musically myself. I can not sing. Well, I can - but it is nothing short of unaccomplished. I also play the piano. Poorly. To quote one of my favorite literary heroines, Miss Elizabeth Bennet, "I have always supposed it to be my own fault -- because I would not take the trouble of practising." (Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen - And, shame on you if you actually needed this prompt.) Still, I love music.

I love ... okay, like the nine hundred ninety-four songs on my iPod but they probably could benefit from a wee bit of pruning. Therefore - I propose to myself a quick experiment. I shall put my iPod on shuffle. This is nothing new. It stays on this setting 99% of the time as I like the element of surprise involved with having the device select my songs at random and not knowing what could possibly come next. I will list here the first ten songs (no skipping) that I hear. I will then listen closely to each tune and take note (also here) of the lyric which most "speaks to me" from each. If there is no such lyric I will consider axing said track from my playlist. Yes, I did say "consider." Baby steps! I can not proceed to delete songs without purpose.

This is an opportune moment for me to enter some sort of artistic disclaimer regarding my music choices. I do not speak in jest when I say I listen to music in all its forms. So - I can not say what type of songs will be listed here. Rock to Rap. Country to Classical. Bluegrass to Broadway. Pop. Techno. Latin. African. Whatever. I even have some Christmas music on my iPod. That being said - I have no idea what I am going to get in these first ten songs. Remember - the iPod is selecting them for me. Yes, I am aware that I can rate my songs through iTunes and that higher rated songs will circulate more often. Know that I am too lazy to rate nine hundred ninety-four songs, so this will not be the case. They all stand an equal footing of jumping into my experiment.

Please hold all laughter and comments until the experiment is concluded. Thank you. Okay - that is a ridiculous request. Without further ado ...

1. Here With Me, REO Speedwagon (1988)
It would stand to figure that a sappy 80's ballad would spit out first. Ironically, this is a good song to prove the nagging doubts of why I have so many songs. I do not think I have ever listened to the lyrics. I most definitely can not sing them word for word. Hang on while I listen and try to pick a good lyric or two. "I think I've learned what love is, but I'm afraid I let it go." That's it. I know. Gag. This song is total crap - even the melody. I attribute its presence to my basic appreciation of the band. Hmmm? This just might prove easier than originally intended.
Song #1 is outta here!

2. Fat Bottomed Girls, Queen (1978)
I LOVE THIS SONG! It is a crude anthem, but it must be adored. I do not care if you, reader, like it or not. Favorite lines? Easy! "Ain't no beauty queens at this locality" and "Fat bottomed girls you make the rockin' world go round." Yeah we do!
Song #2 stays (as does everything else by Queen should it pop up further on)!

3. Romeo, Dolly Parton (w/ Mary Chapin Carpenter, Pam Tillis, Kathy Mattea, Tanya Tucker & Billy Ray Cyrus) (1993)
Okay. So, this one is mildly embarrassing ... not to mention slightly sacrilegious to the student of English Literature who is currently conducting this experiment. That would be me if you aren't paying attention. Sorry Shakespeare. I am sure you are, indeed, turning in your grave (as the song itself indicates). Does it have any deep meaning or relevance in my life? Nope. Guilty pleasure, maybe? Hell yes. "My temperature keeps rising every time we meet. I may not be in love but, let me tell you, I'm in heat." Yep. I've seen a few of those in my time. What does it say about me that I didn't find Billy Ray Cyrus attractive in his mullet wearing, one-hit-wonder, 'Achy Breaky Heart' days ... but I think he is hot now as dad (fictional and real) to 'Hannah Montana' on television? I'll tell you what it means. I am getting old. That's what it means.
Still, song #3 stays. Leave me alone.

4. (I Just) Died In Your Arms Tonight, Cutting Crew (1986)
"I keep looking for something I can't get. Broken hearts lie all around me and I don't see an easy way to get out of this." Yeah ... me either. It really "must've been some kind of kiss" to warrant all the fuss. Is this a song about a guy and a hooker? Why is he just "a name on a list?" I may have to listen to it again. I don't know.
Song #4 is stuck in limbo.

5. What's Love Got To Do With It, Tina Turner (1984)
I think my iPod is stuck in an 80's time warp. Still - this is .... TINA!! Hello! "Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?" still resonates within me even though I do find it false. I may not embrace my heart at every turn, but I know I need it. And, yet, there is truth to: "Opposites attract. It's physical. Only logical. You must try to ignore that it means more than that." Often we, as humans, confuse love and attraction. They are not always mutual.
Song #5 obviously stays.

[Deep breath ... we are only half way there. Go get a cup of tea or something ... settle in for the long haul.]

6. Easy To Love, Harry Connick Jr. (1999)
Mmmmmmm. Jazz. Smooth voice. Sigh. This song only has eight lines. Tell me, what girl doesn't want a man to sing these words to her, "You'd be so easy to love ... so easy to idolize all others above ... so worth the yearning for ...?" That's what I thought.
Song #6 smoothly stays.

7. Singin' In The Rain, Gene Kelly (1952)
I bet that one surprised you, huh? Yes, my melancholia regurgitates. But, I can not help but visualize the movie sequence that delightfully accompanies this tune each time I hear it. "What a glorious feeling. I'm happy again." Again. He said, "happy again," which indicates he has been unhappy. Cool. I can relate to that. Not to mention, it is a musical classic and Gene Kelly simply rocks! I had forgotten I had it.
Song #7 taps its way into staying.

8. Better Than Me, Hinder (2007)
I can get lost in this song even though it is sung from the male perspective. "I told myself I won't miss you. But I remember what it feels like beside you." Completely lost. "I can't pretend I won't think about you when I'm older. 'Cause we never really had our closure. This can't be the end." Utterly Lost.
Song #8 stays put.

9. Stairway To Heaven, Led Zeppelin (1971)
I think the word, "Duh!" applies well to this situation. Why wouldn't I have this on my iPod? Everyone should have this on their iPod. "And as we wind on down the road; Our shadows taller than our soul; There walks a lady we all know; Who shines white light and wants to show; How everything still turns to gold; And if you listen very hard; The tune will come to you at last; When all are one and one is all; To be a rock and not to roll; Woe oh oh oh oh oh; And she's buying a stairway to heaven." See? Duh! It's moments like these that I wish I could play the guitar.
Song #9 stays. Duh!

10. Chasing Cars, Snow Patrol (2006)
I am hard pressed to choose just one lyric from this song. I can not. It is between, "Would you lie with me and just forget the world?" or "Those three words are said too much. They're not enough." or "Let's waste time chasing cars around our heads." 'Nuff said. Honestly.
Song #10 .. yep, stays.

Thus ends my experiment. One out of ten eliminated. At this rate, I can lose ... what ... 90 songs? I hate math. Someone help me. Amazingly, there was no appearance from Bon Jovi (This would be my largest single artist collection by far.) or U2 (Scandalous!) or George Michael (Yes. You read that right.) in this random ten. Duran Duran and INXS were also noticeably absent. They must have been hiding somewhere in the digital memory. Odd. Then again, that is par for the course when it comes to my psyche ... even in my musical mind. Please, do not let this glimpse into my insanity disturb you too greatly. As for me - I am off to do another ten songs. I quite enjoyed this strangely round-a-bout analysis of self. Do not fret. I will keep the results of future experimental forays into my musical psyche to myself.

"I think I should have no other mortal wants, if I could always have plenty of music. It seems to infuse strength into my limbs, and ideas into my brain. Life seems to go on without effort, when I am filled with music." ~George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss

Through a Glass Darkly



Melancholy! I know it well. It has been my close friend these thirty three years and our relationship has often been that of a love/hate nature. I love what dark moodiness brings to my burning creativity. I hate how it can often affect those around me … most notably my children.

Is it possible that, after years of conflict, I have made peace with my melancholia?

As mentioned in my musings yesterday, I began penning some comments the other day concerning happiness and contentment … ideas that were cut short by a seemingly
coincidental fortune cookie. Silly? Yes. Coincidental? Perhaps not. It is possible that I needed additional time. It is likely that I needed to reach a major turning point.

You see, I had been writing yet another “woe is me” diatribe about how happiness … true happiness … is unattainable, but I have since changed my opinion. Now? Well, now I don’t care. I don’t. Happiness may or may not be reachable, but I no longer see reaching it as the pinnacle of human desire.

Turning point reached.

About a week ago a friend forwarded an article from
Newsweek to me. Happiness: Enough Already is written to open the eyes of society regarding the misconceptions that have been perpetuated by the mental healthcare industry about sadness and depression … the theory that we all need medication to pull us out of the dumps and make us happy, happy, happy. “What society once viewed as an appropriate reaction to failed hopes and dashed dreams, it now regards as a psychiatric illness. That may be the most damaging legacy of the happiness industry: the message that all sadness is a disease.”

I read the first paragraph of this article and found myself embarking on an internal conflict. I was upset and angry and refused to read the remainder of the article. Why? Simply put – I agreed … but that placed me in quite the conundrum because I suffer from mental illness. I AM
BIPOLAR. Yes, I have been clinically diagnosed. Yes, I am medicated … and I was prepared to be offended (in reading further) at being labeled as a statistic – one of those that went looking for a miracle happiness drug. I had a lot of thinking to do, which I did, and then I read the rest of the article.

The first thing I realized was that my diagnosis is, and always has been genuine. I was diagnosed by a psychiatrist and psychologist in a time before medication advertisements had everyone on the planet convinced they were all borderline suicidal and needed to do something about it. I am not clinically depressed because of some unfortunate event in my life. I am bipolar because of a severe chemical imbalance in my genetic make-up. I have experienced the worst extremes of depression and mania. Unfortunately, I am living the consequences of life changing decisions that were made while I was very, very sick and my illness was undiagnosed. I do not take an antidepressant every day. If I did – I would be thrown into a medicinally induced unhealthy manic state. I take a medication that is classified as a “mood stabilizer.” I joke that it makes me normal (horrible word … “normal”). In short, the medication stabilizes the chemical imbalance in my blood stream and allows me to feel human. Yes, human. As opposed to living in extremes, I can safely experience joy and sadness in a healthy manner like “normal” humans. Without my medication … well, manic euphoria and suicidal thought alternate rapidly from one to the other and bring with them a million other extreme emotions. Treated - I have moments of happiness and I still suffer from repeated bouts of melancholy. Yet, somehow I had still allowed myself to buy into the “happiness movement” and was almost convinced that my medication was not strong enough because I was not happy all the time.

(If you haven’t read
the article yet – now is the time to do so.)

How could I have been so stupid as to think that perpetual happiness was the ideal pinnacle to be reached when, by my own admission, my best written works (particularly
my attempts at poetry) evolve out of highly emotionally charged situations … usually very dark and potentially disturbing? I am not alone in this. As the article states, “Vincent Van Gogh, Emily Dickinson and other artistic geniuses saw the world through a glass darkly.” Good company to be in, I think … despite the fact that Van Gogh shot himself in the chest. Further on the author reveals that, “a classical Greek text, possibly written by Aristotle, asks, ‘Why is it that all those who have become eminent in philosophy or politics or poetry or the arts are clearly melancholic?’” The possible answer (as given by Eric Wilson in his new book Against Happiness, which I must now find): “the blues can be a catalyst for a special kind of genius for exploring dark boundaries between opposites.” He also “praises melancholia,” writes Newsweek, for generating “a turbulence of heart that results in an active questioning of the status quo, a perpetual longing to create new ways of being and seeing.”

I do not know if I buy in 100% with Wilson’s theory that “the happy man is a hollow man.” I have met individuals in my time who truly seem born to live life in a state of almost unending happiness. Lucky for me, I am now able to let go of that aspiration as it does not fit my personality.

Recently - Jim of
Restoration/Restoration, in response to my blog Only the Lonely, urged me to embrace my melancholic loneliness by letting my spirit loose and not confining her … trusting her. Look Jim – I am finally taking your advice.

For those of you who find yourselves on the dark side of the looking glass – join me. Sever the chains of false happiness and embrace your moments of melancholy. You are, after all, human.

“I put my heart and my soul into my work, and have lost my mind in the process.” ~Vincent Van Gogh

“There may be a great fire in our soul, yet no one ever comes to warm himself at it, and the passers-by see only a wisp of smoke.”
~Vincent Van Gogh

“I can very well do without God both in my life and in my painting, but I cannot, suffering as I am, do without something which is greater than I am, which is my life, the power to create.”
~Vincent Van Gogh


Please note: I do recognize that depression is a serious illness that requires treatment although I do believe it is being over diagnosed and treated incorrectly. Medication is just one step. It only solves part of the problem. The pharmacy must be paired with counseling to be fully effective in such cases. If you suspect you have a problem with depression (and self recognition is always the first step) … please, get help … but take control of your own treatment. Read. Study. Ask questions. Don’t just pop some random pill in your mouth and expect it to solve all your problems. Trust me. The “happiness” you seek may not be worth it. As mentioned in the article I have now referenced numerous times, “It would be foolish to underestimate the power and tenacity of the happiness cheerleaders.”

Score!



Here … at this moment … I shall expose myself for the sports geek that I am. This is a fact known to my regular readers (especially those who followed me from my prior writings on Yahoo 360 and myspace but it may come as a surprise to my new visitors. I know. Somehow, as I have aged, I do not seem to fit the typical profile of a sports junkie. What that profile may be ... I have no idea, but I have been told I do not fit it. Typical. Then again, what do people know?

You should know that I do discriminate regarding sporting events. Baseball bores the life out of me so it gets ignored … unless my youngest child (who is obsessed with the game) is up to bat or playing catcher (something he insanely volunteered to do) or chasing butterflies (no attention span) in the outfield. I would honestly rather watch a Cricket match before a Baseball game. I adore American Football (Dallas Cowboys) and Rugby (NZ All Blacks). I tolerate Basketball (San Antonio Spurs). However, I love Football (Soccer to my fellow Americans). To those of you in the United Kingdom who are reading this …. I do love Manchester United. Please, let us not argue.

So, I sit here on this crisp, cold winter day glowing with excitement as I have just purchased myself a pair of tickets to a MLS (Major League Soccer) match up between FC Dallas and LA Galaxy on May 18, 2008. I am so unbearably excited by this acquisition of mine … schoolgirl excited. Crazy! Of course, I am still single and I did buy two tickets. Optimism? I think not. I will have no trouble finding someone to accompany me from among my friends far and wide. Woo Hoo! Now … I just have to cross my fingers and pray that Becks stays healthy.

“If this can be termed the century of the common man, then soccer, of all sports, is surely his game.... In a world haunted by the hydrogen and napalm bomb, the football field is a place where sanity and hope are still left unmolested.” ~Stanley Rous, 1952

PS: My youngest child plays Soccer as well … so I forgive him for the Baseball.


Coincidence?



I set out yesterday afternoon to compose a few lines regarding contentment and happiness … recurring themes in my current disposition.

I took a break from my random scribbling to feed my children at a local restaurant. Hey! They had to eat and I desperately need a trip to the grocery. They were not complaining. Chinese food … their favorite … and following the meal came the customary pre-wrapped silly fortune cookies. I hate the things – can’t stand the taste – but always crack one open for the hell of it. My fortune?

“Stop searching forever. Happiness is just next to you.”
~Random Fortune Cookie, Panda Restaurant, 2008, Arkadelphia, AR


Crap! I had to scratch everything I had written. Stupid cookie.

“I’m thinking that sometimes you just have to make the decision to be happy. Jus realize that things aren’t ever what you hoped they’d be. Not ever. For anybody. The only thing that separates one kind of person from another is that there are some who stay angry about it and there are some who accept what comes their way.” ~Away From Her, Film (2006)

“I remember one morning getting up at dawn, there was such a sense of possibility. You know that feeling? And I remember thinking to myself, ‘This is the beginning of happiness. This is where it starts and of course there will always be more.’ It never occurred to me it wasn’t the beginning. It was happiness. It was the moment. Right then.” ~The Hours, Film (2002)

Longing


Is it really agonizing to suddenly realize that you want that which you can never have … forever banishing said longing to a world of illusion, fantasy and imagination?

Yes. Yes it is.



"The years that are gone seem like dreams--if one might go on sleeping and dreaming--but to wake up and find--oh! well! perhaps it is better to wake up after all, even to suffer, rather than to remain a dupe to illusions all one's life." ~Kate Chopin, The Awakening

"What wild imaginations one forms where dear self is concerned! How sure to be mistaken!" ~Jane Austen, Persuasion

Mind's Eye



“We all have our time machines. Some take us back, they're called memories. Some take us forward, they're called dreams.” ~Jeremy Irons, British Actor

I have been thinking about memory a lot lately … or maybe my lack thereof … or even my obsession with reminiscence. For whatever reason, it is on the forefront of my mind.

I find myself slightly amused at how fickle a thing the mind’s eye can be at times.

“It's surprising how much of memory is built around things unnoticed at the time” ~Barbara Kingsolver, American Writer

Why do I remember what I remember? Why do I tend to recall events I would rather bury in mental oblivion with incredible clarity? Why can I sing along to almost every song on the radio yet can not recall the names of the last ten individuals I met regardless of how many times I use their names in conversation with the express purpose of being able to actually call them by name the next time we come face to face? Why does a random memory regarding someone from high school pop suddenly into my mind when I have no idea what my children said to me five minutes ago? What happened to those years that are literally … blank … missing … a void in my life? Why is it I have no recollection of seeing some movies and others stick with me line by line? How is it possible that I recall the climbing of a challenging tree for the first time yet can not place my age at the time? Six, seven, eight … I know not. Why can I flip on the tape recorder in my head and replay conversations held years ago word for word? Literally. Why do I forget to pick up half of the things I need at the grocery store, yet can not forget inane details about a job I had three years ago? Why can I not memorize Biblical scripture when book quotes survive like a literary encyclopedia in the recesses of my brain? What good does remembering my fastest time in the 100-meter dash from high school do me? Does it make sense that I remember random birthdays from random individuals throughout my life and I can not tell you the birth dates of any of my nieces and nephews without this nifty online service that sends me reminders a week before the event?

Are you following me?

Then again, more important than what I do remember is the accuracy of said memories. There are those that are glaringly realistic. I am pretty damn sure that is how those events played out. Trust me, you would not forget the details either … or maybe you would. That is how strange the memory is. Still – I am also sure that some memories have been embellished by my own fantasies in childhood and adulthood both. Is that a bad thing or simply a coping mechanism?

"There's no disappointment in memory, and one's exaggerations are always on the good side." ~George Eliot, Daniel Deronda

There is also the question of the aforementioned memory gaps … months, even years, where I simply can not summon forth a clear cut decisive memory. Yes, I am pretty sure my (at the time) untreated bipolar disorder contributed quite a bit to these episodes. Are the memories there? Buried? Would it be harmful for me to try and bring them forward into the light of day? Could they simply be held back by the mask of depression – or mania? Are they safer locked away? My instinct is to leave them in peace. What do you think?

“Memory is man's greatest friend and worst enemy.” ~Gilbert Parker, Romany of the Snows

Memory. It is, indeed, a strange and mysterious thing. Now – what was I working on before all this mess popped into my mind?

“Time, sometimes the time just slips away
And you're left with yesterday
Left with the memories”

~Leanne Rimes, Please Remember


Random "Art"

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Yay for random art! Take out your frustrations and make your own at: this great site!!!! I know. I know. I'm easily amused. I could likely spend hours doing this.

Words Have Tempers



"When you make a move out of stress or anger, it always ends in catastrophe." ~Bobby, Film (2006)

I hate my temper.
I hate my temper.
I hate my temper.


“Yet if he upbraided her in his hurry, it was to repent bitterly his temper the next instant, and to feel its effects more than she, temper being a weapon that we hold by the blade.” ~James M. Barrie, The Little Minister

“The worst-tempered people I've ever met were the people who knew they were wrong.”
~Wilson Mizner, Playwright


“Words have tempers, you know, particularly verbs.” ~Phoebe in Wonderland (2008)

Oh wretched day of sappiness ...


valentines

Here is the blog. I wrote in 2007 regarding Valentine’s Day. If you commented on it then please refrain from doing so again! However, I have added a tidbit to the end that is incredibly pertinent to today and one more reason for me to be irritated by this silly day.

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Since about the age of 16 . . . I have abhorred the day we "celebrate" as St. Valentine's Day. At first, I guess, there was really no reason for it except that I've always disliked things that are over-commercialized. In fact, I had a boyfriend that year . . . and at 17 . . . and at 18 . . . and at 19 . . . and then I was married by 20 . . . so this will be the first year in 16 years that I've spent Valentine's day without someone I loved or who held my complete infatuation. The men at those various stages of my life were rather attentive too - so I couldn't complain there. Honestly, I simply hate the entire concept of the day as a whole.

This isn't the only "holiday" I dislike quite vehemently. See my blog for Thanksgiving 2006 if you have any questions about my feelings for THAT particular day.

Let me just go on the record . . .

IT IS STUPID TO CELEBRATE A DAY WHERE WE **HAVE** TO BE REMINDED TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER. HOLY CRAP PEOPLE!

I don't care if it is romantic love, or paternal love, or agape love, or sexual love, or puppy love, or platonic love, or passionate love, or committed love, etc. - we shouldn't have to be reminded to love one another. It's silly. The entire day is silly. Making our kids fill out Valentines at the age of 6 is silly.

Granted, I'm not a very mushy type woman anyway. Well, not to the general public. I have my moments of sappiness . . . but I don't saturate my life with it. It is now 2 days before the dreaded day of Cupid and I have to remind myself not to puke every time I go into a store and and get visually bombarded with floor to ceiling pink and red . . . cards . . . stuffed animals . . . cakes . . . cupcakes . . . balloons . . . chocolates . . . ugh! Commercialism!!

And could somebody please . . . PLEASE . . . explain the nationwide infatuation with the nasty, chalky, candy hearts with all the sappy sayings??

If you love Valentine's Day . . . good for you. Just don't try and force it on me because I'm not buyin'. I will, however, include a few quotes of love this week. That is as close to being "in the spirit" I am going to get. For the record . . . I would happily include love quotes in my blog ANY day of the year.

Love is like an hourglass, with the heart filling up as the brain empties. - Jules Renard

Love may not make the world go round, but I must admit that it makes the ride worthwhile. - Sean Connery

Never judge someone by who he's in love with; judge him by his friends. People fall in love with the most appalling people. Take a cool, appraising glance at his pals. - Cynthia Heimel

If music be the food of love, play on. - William Shakespeare

Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be. - Robert Browning

Love is the enchanted dawn of every heart. - Lamartine

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OK then, back to the present!

Now … one more reason for me to hate this day (or at least not look forward to it):

As if I have ever cared for Valentine’s Day (Close friends can vouch that I have never given it much notice or care as does the blog entry above. I had a friend in college who used to honor my dislike of the holiday by sending me candy with black balloons or black flowers. Brilliant! Wow – I miss those gifts) … I now have another reason to boycott the proceeding all together.


I am sure you are probably wondering, “What reason?” Do not fret, I am about to tell you: Parent Teacher Conferences.

Huh?

Yes, those semi-annual events that often creep up without warning and require the presence of the parents of school age children at the appropriate school for each child to discuss how the child is doing in school. This year, these conferences are scheduled on Valentine’s Day. Idiot school board planning committee or whoever is responsible. I am sure you are wondering why this would bother me if I do not have plans on said day to begin with (as I usually do not). Well, for parent-teacher conferences to be fully effective the presence of the parents … BOTH parents … are required. Get it yet? No?

Let me enlighten you:

This means that I will have to spend some portion of Valentine’s Day with my ex-husband!

Nice, huh?

Bloody awful holiday.


Paralyzed


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Yes, that's me in the front with the blonde hair. Circa 1992.

It may come as a surprise to some of you, but I was quite the athlete growing up. For those of you who have paid attention to my random tomboy tales this is probably not a huge shocker. Throughout junior high and high school my most valuable commodities, in my opinion, were my legs. I felt defined by my status as an athlete. Subsequently, my greatest fear for a number of years was the fear of having some sort of paralyzing accident. Such a thing never occurred – thankfully – but I did lose a lot of sleep over it when I was younger.

“Well I'm not paralyzed
But I seem to be struck by you
I wanna make you move
Because you’re standing still”

~Finger Eleven, Paralyzer


I find it ironic that I now find myself suffering a type of paralysis regarding the forward momentum of my life. There are days where I feel as though my legs are cemented in the quagmire of mediocrity. I am standing still … paralyzed by circumstances.

“Do not become paralyzed and enchained by the set patterns which have been woven of old. No, build from your own youthful feeling, your own groping thought and your own flowering perception.” ~Lotte Lehmann

The competitive athlete in me wants to fight my way out of the cement before it dries fully. I have to change my thinking. I must listen to my own strength and treat every situation in my life as though it is the next field hockey match or basketball game or 100-meter dash. I must set out, from the beginning, to win. At stake is not a trophy or a medal or an undefeated season …. but my soul – my psyche – my heart.

“A man can be as great as he wants to be. If you believe in yourself and have the courage, the determination, the dedication, the competitive drive and if you are willing to sacrifice the little things in life and pay the price for the things that are worthwhile, it can be done.” ~Vince Lombardi

Mortality



Death.

“Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.”

~William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar


I know. I know. Death is not exactly a preferred topic of discussion. Too bad. It is on my mind … so this is what you get.

I have been lucky, thus far, in my life – spared from having to deal with the death of someone close to me. Both of my parents are alive … as is my only brother. Blessedly, my closest friends are still alive and kicking as well. I guess it is about time that my luck cometh to an end. Oh – there have been acquaintances and extended family members that have passed away, but growing up an ocean and a continent away loosens the family ties and allows one the luxury of not really having to deal with loss on a deeply emotional level.

"Death smiles at us all. All a man can do is smile back." ~Gladiator, Film (2000)

So … here I am. I am inexperienced in dealing with death and one of my greatest friends is staring the inevitable in the face. Second Degree Lung Cancer: The initial diagnosis was handed down just over a year ago now, but he still should have had plenty of time. Now, a year later he is facing a biopsy so see how far the cancer has spread and if removal of a lung is warranted … or even worth the try. He is 35. I know how he is feeling and coping, but that is not for me to divulge in such a public forum.

My feelings? Those I can give you.

“There are places in the heart that do not yet exist; suffering has to enter in for them to come to be.” ~Leon Bloy

This friend has always been there for me. Always. No questions asked. Despite this, we have not seen one another since 1994. It would not have been appropriate considering our marriages … now since ended. He is part of me and I am part of him. I am afraid. I am selfish. I do not want to lose him. I know I will. It is tangible. I can feel it. I am not ready.

“When someone you love dies, you don't lose them all at once. You lose them in pieces over time, like how the mail stops coming.” Simon Birch, Film (1998)


Happiness is possible – even with a bottom the size of 2 bowling balls




I want that!

Want. Longing. Desire.

All of my life I have been taught to be happy with what I have; to be content with what I have been given; to be happy with the hand I've been dealt.

Lately I have felt quite guilty for wanting things that I do not have. However, I've come to realize that longing in general is not such a bad thing and it is part of human nature. There are times when the things we want are frivolous. There are times when that which we long for is necessary or even needed. Having grown up in a third world country guilt of wanting more comes easily to me. I have witnessed the struggles of those who will never have as much as I have now. And yet …

"It's just human. We all have the jungle inside of us. We all have wants and needs and desires, strange as they may seem. If you stop to think about it, we're all pretty creative, cooking up all these fantasies. It's like a kind of poetry." ~Northern Exposure, TV Show (1994)

I stumbled across a website recently: http://www.43things.com. Here, with complete anonymity one can list (I know Vincent ... I told you no more lists, but this was written prior to that declaration) the 43 things one wants the most out of life. There is even an option to have reminders emailed to you to help you keep track of your progress toward reaching the goal. The goal being getting what you want. It's an interesting site to visit and see the various things that people in our world really deem worthy of their desire.

Me? I'm an open book and I don't need the cloak of anonymity. 43 Things, huh? I bet I can come up with forty-three without much effort. Does that make me selfish? I don't think so. Not anymore. I'm just looking for a little happiness and some of these things I simply want while others are truly needed.

"I truly believe that happiness is possible, even when you are thirty-three and have a bottom the size of two bowling balls." ~Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, Film 2004

My 43 things …. In no particular order:

1) I want to raise my boys to be gentlemen. 2) I want to be able to update my wardrobe as quickly as I'm losing weight. 3) I want an actual vacation. 4) I want to have my teeth capped. 5) I want to finish my degree. 6) I want the money to hire a decent attorney. 7) I want to be loved. 8) I want a decent working vehicle. 9) I want to reach my goal weight. 10) I want to move out of Arkansas. 11) I want to stop living paycheck to paycheck. 12) I want to be able to truly smile again. 13) I want a kiss. 14) I want to own my own home. 15) I want my hair to grow out quicker. 16) I want to be able to pay college expenses for both my boys. 17) I want to actually be able to put money in a savings account each month. 18) I want to travel. 19) I want to teach. 20) I want to stop letting other people control my future. 21) I want to start drawing again. 22) I want to play field hockey. 23) I want to get my good camera repaired. 24) I want to write. 25) I want a fairy tale. 26) I want to see the northern lights. 27) I want a new computer. 28) I want my boys to see where I grew up. 29) I want to live in the present. 30) I want to protect my kids from being picked on at school. 31) I want to find a balance between what I want to do and what I need to do. 32) I want to be a better mother. 33) I want to pay off my one credit card. 34) I want to listen more and talk less. 35) I want to take more risks. 36) I want to be more organized. 37) I want to get married again … someday. 38) I want to believe in myself. 39) I want to earn my children's respect. 40) I want to kick regret in the butt. 41) I want to go on a road trip with no predetermined destination. 42) I want to pray more faithfully. 43) I want to stop worrying so much.

"A woman has got to be able to say, and not feel guilty, 'Who am I, and what do I want out of life?' She mustn't feel selfish and neurotic if she wants goals of her own, outside of husband and children." ~Betty Friedan



Originally written: July 25, 2007 - but still so applicable.

Purging



Purge
-verb (used with an object)
1. to rid of whatever is impure or undesirable; cleanse; purify
2. to rid, clear or free



Purging. I seem to be doing a lot of it lately.

Belongings: I moved from a house to an apartment just over a year ago. I’m still purging in an attempt to make more space. It’s amazing what you suddenly decide you don’t want anymore once you have no place to put it. Last week alone I removed an amazing amount of stuff from my apartment. It was fantastic. I don’t think it made me feel “cleansed” or “purified” but I felt pretty darn good!

Emotions: Yeah … I think it goes without saying, if you know me well, that I’ve been in continuous purge mode regarding this particular aspect of my life for quite some time now …. and yes, in this regard I do feel cleansed. Emotional cleansing is a wonderful thing.

Yet, every now and then I come across something (and I won’t reveal what because that is just way too personal for the www) that I just can’t purge from my life. I try. I really do. I am trying. I have been trying for months. God and me … we’re working on it. Still – it’s frustrating.

Do you have anything that you just can’t seem to purge from your life? A habit? A person? Emotions? Belongings? Desires?

It would be nice to know I’m not alone in this.

Motivation



I have come to the conclusion that my subjective account of my motivation is largely mythical on almost all occasions. I don't know why I do things. ~J.B.S. Haldane

What motivates you?

I find myself incredibly unmotivated lately. As the quote above states, “I don’t know why I do things.” I really don’t … with the exception of my work. I show up at my place of employment each day because I have to work. If I don’t work then I don’t get paid and that just is not acceptable to me. Oh – I like what I do well enough, but that isn’t what motivates me to be here.

I feel as though I am in limbo … stuck between what has been and what is to come. I should probably make some sort of checklist regarding my future and, based on my attitude over the last couple of days, number one on the list would have to be: “Motivate self to do something … anything … toward changing current course of life.” Nice thought. I wonder if I can motivate myself to make such a list.

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