In This Place We Learn To Wait

September 25, 2012

ImageSometimes I get so mad, mired in the mundane. Lusting after adventure while I feel my knees, under my desk, degenerating long before their time. Wondering if, by the time I make it to Maccu Piccu, I will be able to even climb it any longer. Wondering if I will ever fucking make it to Maccu Piccu at all.

On the other hand, I’m not positive that I want progress, anyway. I seem to dig my heels in as everyone marches forward, and I’m just tied to this life. Maybe dragged behind it like a sleigh, or a dead body. Bumping along with minimal resistance.

I know it’s my choice, but I can’t slow anything down. All I really want to do is stop it for a while because these are the best years of my life. Or so I have been told. I wish I could enjoy them, each one of them; savoring slowly, lingering in seconds, reveling in the moments in between. Instead I am watching life out the window of this train– it’s happening to me, but not really. Some snapshots, an occasional stop at a station; eventually, I’ll just get to the end with everyone else and shuffle off. I know people who have toured Spain with the same passivity I am living my life.

Image

The train’s not moving that fast, but I can’t jump from it, either. Hop off into the brambles and hope my barrel roll is up to snuff.

Or can I? Maybe I am simply afraid of the future.

Okay, I am afraid of the future. But it doesn’t feel all that simple.

I am afraid of what comes next; while the people around me are getting married, making babies, settling in for a life of mortgage payments, and biweekly paychecks, and I don’t desire any of that. I wonder if it’s just me. Should I be so quick to judge their happiness in complacency? Should I want that? Am I broken?

Twenty Five years, and what do I have to show for it? Student loan debt, a few creature comforts. I’ll be the proud owner of a 2003 Subaru Legacy this coming winter. Where am I going? Not in the car, just generally.

It’s so comfortable to maintain the status quo. I imagine it similar to the feeling Himalayan climbers have as frostbite sets in during a major storm. You just go on ahead without me, I’ll be fine. I’m just going to sit here and warm up for a while.

Are We There Yet?

November 12, 2010

Recently, feeling down on myself (bummed about the change of seasons and creatively frustrated, among other things), I sat down with a notepad for a bit of self-analysis.  My blank page immediately became–

Things that suck about you:

Good Qualities:

In that order. Just like that. And I started to fill it out.

The last time I made a list like this was when I quit drinking, which was definitely a low point for me. My sobriety list inspired a complete reorganization of my personal agenda. As a language-oriented person, as well as a brutally honest Sagittarius, I find it advantageous to put thoughts into words. Throughout the years, I’ve composed a number of these self-evaluations, and like to consider myself a pretty actualized individual.

All that said, one persistent trend– more important, in some ways, than the actual traits on the lists themselves– is that my negatives list consistently dwarfs the positives. No matter what. In fact, I even ran out of room under my “Things that suck about you” and began annexing the “Good Qualities” space for such traits as “Insistent,” “Brash,” and “Impatient.” I had well over a dozen bad qualities written before I even so much as considered penning a nice thing about myself.

Then it took me a minute. Maybe even two. Before I put down “OK Writer.” Yes, just OK. And another minute, maybe two, before I came up with “Nice rack.”

Honest to Icculus, people, the second “Good” thing I could come up with about myself is my breasts. Shame on me. For real.

So, I made this list. And I cried. But, to be fair, I was pretty depressed when I started the damn thing, I wasn’t really doing it for the uplift. As I re-read my carefully selected adjectives, I added “Harsh Critic” to the end of my “sucks” list. Then wrote it again at the end of my positives.

And then I got stuck.

Suddenly my cleverly divided list wasn’t so black and white anymore.

It dawned on me that the “uncensored opinions” from the “Things that suck about you” analysis were the same opinions that made me “always truthful,” which had seemed a Good Quality. The “over-analytical” negative trait, in another light, becomes “socially observant,” an aspect of myself that I embrace.

Well, shit, I thought to myself. Now what? My intention in compiling an evaluation had been enacting positive change. A year ago, I was incredibly productive using this method. I recognized a number of undesirable qualities and was able to eliminate some degree of self-loathing via personal growth. I can actually pinpoint milestone moments and epiphanies. I consider the last year of my life, in that regard, a smashing success.

Why, then, was I sitting a year later at the same kitchen table crying over an equally lengthy bullet-point analysis? How successful is that? Where did these additional Things that Suck come from?

…Again, I am a “Harsh Critic.”

Of other people, yes, but most of all myself. I tried to remember the last time I felt really awesome about anything I had said, written, or done… and quickly I was left questioning how “awesome” anything I ever did really was…

I am my own worst enemy. I know I am not alone, either. Lots of people in the world are insecure. Lots of people think everything they do is garbage. And, most importantly, lots of people are absolutely sure that they will never be good enough. Good enough for what? It honestly doesn’t matter. It’s an insatiability. The feeling that there is room for improvement. It goes beyond “positive quality” or “detrimental trait.” It’s human. It’s a civil war of the ego, and it’s nothing unique to any of us.

If none of us ever felt like monumental failures, would we be motivated to progress? If we all walked around, confident in how we look, act, and present ourselves; confident that we were always in the right; confident that everything we did was top-notch– what encouragement would we have to improve?

At the end of the day, it became evident that although my “Things that suck about you” list was nearly double the length of the “Good Qualities,” many of these divergent characteristics were rooted in the same damn personality traits. It’s unfair to myself to count “conversationally dominant” and “doesn’t know when to shut up” as two separate negative qualities, while considering “easily social” as something I like. They represent the exact same characteristic displaying itself in different contexts.

Failure, success, perfection, hard work. All relatively defined terms. In our universe void of inertia, none of these words mean the same thing from one moment to the next. Weighing ourselves against these slippery terms is like attempting to measure love in yards.

Not to say there is no room for self-improvement, but, in the scheme of things, I have taken enormous strides toward becoming the person I want to be. The next evening, feeling a little less depressed, I sat down and, instead of creating contrast, I re-composed the exact same list of characteristics into one list titled “Things I Know about Kat”

[[Nice rack is still on there]]

Some Say Men, But I Say No

August 13, 2010

Lately I’ve been wondering what the long-term effects of the women’s rights movement have really been on America.

Now, before defending to me my rights to vote, and pointing out the many freedoms I enjoy as a modern female, hear me out. I actually consider myself to be a feminist. I’m not going to say it was a one step forward; two steps back situation. More like society took two steps forward; right off the map.

The past hundred years can be seen as a cold war between the sexes– an arms race where each side stockpiles with a smile. “Anything you can do, I can do better,” and that “Men are From Mars, Women are from Venus,” are now a given. From the inception of women’s suffrage,  the genders have been inherently pitted against each other in the public mind. Separate. But equal.

Does anyone really believe that to be the case?

In entering what we decidedly refer to as “a man’s world” during the 20th century, womankind came  to assume the responsibility of professional success– that is to say, she put on a mans suit, walked into a mans office, and demanded the respect of the men around her.

Woman was ready to prove that she was strong, intelligent, and prepared to be everything that man had been for so long. She wanted to drink their scotch, talk their sports, and smoke their cigars. Arguably, women didn’t want to be equal: they wanted to be men. In an attempt to earn man’s respect (which, in and of itself seems to undermine the concept of the movement) she toned down her sex appeal; she put her heels on the floor; and made it clear that she was nothing– NOTHING– like her toilet-scrubbing, pot scouring brethren.

The true tragedy of the “battle of the sexes,” in my observation, is that modern woman seems more in competition with her sisters than anything. Instead of standing together, women have unwittingly divided and conquered ourselves. My argument here, as someone who has studied other primates eagerly, will be that our gender has been unable to fully assume the archaic male conceptualization of solitude. We just aren’t wired for it.

I am, of course, still a proponent of conscious evolution. But the fact of the matter is that we are animals, and in nearly every species on the planet– our closest genetic cousins very much included– males mate, males protect, males compete for alpha. Males operate in self-preservation mode. Females, for their part, tend to form family-like nodes, take care of each other, and raise children. There is competition for female alpha, but it tends to be much less war-like, and based more in a group “respect” and seniority. Women do not compete in the physically obvious ways men do, it’s a much more socially interactive structure– what each female has to offer the group determines their status. This may help explain the way women, often without bad intent, seem to be constantly judging each other.

The crux in these organizations being that the females generally determine the alpha male of the group. Although males are physically dominant and seem to weld the power, the balance of the social dynamic rests in the willingness of the females to be dominated by a certain male. In a strange way, it’s nearly democracy. Check out Iroquois tribe structures for similar findings.

Humanity has attempted to thwart natural order, in the curious way we do. It seem to me, and I am speaking primarily in Western cultures, that from the time mankind had the revelation that women were, in fact, great bearers of power (if only for being bearers of future generations), they attempted to harness and control womankind.

Lust became sin. Woman came to represent temptation, weakness, and the harbinger of evil to the garden of Eden. In shifting the psychology of our biology, men did their best to subjugate femininity.

This attitude has prevailed for thousands of years, replicated in politics and religion alike. A woman who uses her natural-born sexuality– her biological gift of power– is considered a hussy, an opportunist, and is somehow rationalized to be less successful for “self-exploitation.” On the flip side, a woman who chooses to stay at home, raise a family, and has her husband generating income is, however silently, still judged.

In contemporary culture, men seem confused about what women want. And I am starting to realize that’s due in large part to women’s confusion about our roles in this new era. What is the measure of success for a woman? What is the measure of success for a man? Are they the same? What does a man provide a woman? What does a woman provide a man? Are they the same?

I don’t have the answers. What I do have is something that my mother (a perfect product of her generation’s gender identity crisis, having grown up in one of the only single-parent homes on her block at the time) told me during my formative years. Something her mother told her, and something that I consider the best advice for maintaining a relationship in a cultural period where even defining the word “is” has proven difficult.

Mama bear never ever told me “don’t trust a man.”

She advised I don’t depend on one.

I recently posed the question– after a long overdue ah-hah! moment of my own– Do all good ideas sound silly until they make someone rich?

Like much of my public speculation, this question was partially redundant. The more I think about it, the more I am actually positive that is the case. At least in the modern era of Snuggies, Slinkys, and Social Media Experts.

It takes a lot to come up with something truly revolutionary, and I’m not sure I will be reinventing the wheel in my lifetime, but we live in an era where doing anything on a large scale has become extremely difficult and time consuming (that’s surely not to imply its impossible). Niche markets are on the rise, our economy is on a slight upswing, and I’m thinking that none of us are getting any younger. So I made a list of things I have to offer the world. And the ball started rolling there. Gears clicking. Pieces falling into place.

Of course, I’m not quitting my day job any time soon. And I don’t actually have any solid plans… But Rome wasn’t built in a day.

…And I think I have a good idea…

If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it. [[AlbertEinstein]]

Stash

June 24, 2010

There is something to be said for compartmentalizing: the ability to separate emotions from logic and put things away for later. I, for one, almost completely lack this ability.

I think with my heart; I act on impulse; I demand instant answers and immediate resolutions. My emotional organization skills closely mirror those exhibited in the rest of my life– hardly short of a clusterfuck.

For the most part, bumbling through life with ones’ heart on ones’ sleeve (hat brim, front pocket, or wherever I put it) can be as much a saving grace as it is a downfall. Where it provides a welcome mat, it also provides a fault in the foundation.

It is as much an open door as it is an open wound.

Giving away the softest, most red raw part of ones’ self is risky business. Most people are careless with other’s belongings. This includes our naked thoughts, vulnerable ventricles, and uncensored souls.

The Crabby Archer

June 16, 2010

Usually, I try to remain somewhat esoteric and removed here. It’s not so much a privacy concern as it is just the way I write. My college degrees are in Journalism and Anthropology– I embody the third person on a practically subconscious level. I remove myself, and the faces and places around me, from reality when I write, and sometimes when I think. Everything becomes conceptual; the old “makes sense on paper” trick.

That said, I am going to talk about me. On my blog. Right now. Because I need to think.

I believe in the stars. I believe in the universe as something much, much larger than myself. I believe I am a tiny part of a massive machine– a speck on the face of all that is. My faith lies in the heavenly bodies: the push and pull of forces well beyond human control. As the moon moves the ocean tides, so too do I believe the alignment of the mammoth planetary and gaseous bodies in our universe, and perhaps the entirety of the cosmos, affect my measly life on earth.

Of course, I do not gobble Astrology as fact, any more than I gobble the Bible stories as fact.  I take a lot of faith with a grain of salt: people want more than anything to believe. In something. Often so much that logic and reason take back seat to miracle and hope. This is an endearingly human trait.

Anyhow, in an attempt to make sense of my world, I look to the sky.

Sagittarius is known as the nomad of the zodiac. Always seeking something more, something bigger, something else. Perpetually on the hunt for connections and greater wisdom, Sagittarius looks incessantly for some truth between the most well-composed lines. The archer is a mutable fire sign; burning with a near-desperate philosophical passion; feeding the flames with an ever evolving setting and cast of characters. There is never a dull moment because dull moments simply don’t exist.

In many ways, I am a Sagittarius through and through.

In my life, I am forever walking the world in someone else’s shoes, while simultaneously trying to remember that others aren’t always doing the same. I find myself often compromising large parts of myself in hopes of “getting” someone else’s process. Never believing there are only two sides to a story, I find myself at a nearly pathetic loss for words when attempting to describe the big picture as I see it. As the communicator of the zodiac, I desire, more than anything, understanding. Universal cohesion.

These traits are what makes me both weak and strong. Wise and naive. Simple, yet novelly complicated. My inability to deal with events outside the context of the bigger picture often leads to wildly dramatic confrontations, passionate outbursts, and some seriously stretched, but seemingly (to me anyways) logical conclusions.

My ascending sign is in Cancer. An ascending sign is the zodiac sign which was rising on the horizon at the time of our birth. This sign influences the “face” we put on– it’s more the way people perceive us than the way we feel or act. Cancers are notoriously among the most emotional of the zodiac, as a cardinal water sign. Cardinal signs are of the take-action sort, while water signs are heavily entrenched in feelings and nurturing.

Where this leaves Cancer is fiercely emotional and illogically indifferent to that fact. Cancer is, to some degree, emotionally insatiable. With Cancer as my rising sign, I see a lot of these traits surface in relationships and general human interaction.

I tend to live with my heads in the clouds, helplessly optimistic, and, more often than not, fall flat on my face in the end. And it is always to extreme disappointment, which I do not handle well. At all. Enter emotional disaster.

I could go on analyzing and over analyzing my star chart, but so what?

What does this all mean, why does it matter?

I suppose it doesn’t. Ultimately, this is probably just my Sagittarian desire to further complete the jigsaw puzzle of life. I just need it all to make sense. Understand that, no matter how much I know, how much I rationalize, how much I attempt to use logic brain all the time, there is something bigger at work.

That who I am is much more than a mass of rapidly replicating DNA cells transporting water from one large body of it to another on this blue ball floating in a space full of other balls and burning gasses. That something of it all was predetermined, out of my hands.

I need to know that Kat was created, in many ways, before she was capable of conscious self-realization. That Kat is controlled by forces so massive, yet so subtle, people deny their existence at all. That the good days, and the bad days, and the sporadic doses of insanity are, in fact, very real, and out of our mortal earthly control. Something in me needs to know that the full moon, the alignment of our solar system, and the death of supernovas millions of lightyears away all touch me somehow. The vastness of it all is dwarfing, and comprehension of such intangible concepts brings me to tears.

I’m not really sure where this is going.

And usually, this gets deleted. I hate it. It was a waste of time.

But this time, here it is. Because it doesn’t make any sense.

Here it is because this is– in so many ways, and on so many levels– me.

Welcome to my brain. This train doesn’t make stops.

12, 23, 42

April 2, 2010

Our homogenous contemporary culture lacks a notable transition into adulthood. We are eased into this reality like a prisoner in the colosseum; its all dark hallways till, before you know it, you’re center ring fighting for your life.

A civil war with yourself.

Some time between learning to operate a 2-ton piece of machinery, becoming the socially acceptable age to invest in pornography, and the bouncers no longer checking my ID at the bar, I think it happened. I’m pretty sure it happened. No, I’m certain it did…

Although, I must admit, being given the ability to purchase tobacco products had nothing to do with it– this peculiar transition. I think, for me, it was somewhere between the high school and college diplomas. Between the first love, the long distance relationship, and the  live-in-boyfriend. It was somewhere between Tyrone the beta fish, and my incredibly high-maintenence dog. Between going on tour with a band, and paying the gas company. It was somewhere in between skipping class for the beach, and going into work on a 78 degree day in April.

Somewhere along the way I either got my priorities very straight. Or very crooked. And perhaps maturity wraps itself up like a gift, presenting itself on the day I figure out which.

But I’m not holding my breath.

Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature.    [[StillLifeWithWoodpecker.TomRobbins]]