Sunday, June 30, 2013

Things I've apparently learned

The early bird doesn't get the worm. The early bird might SAY he got the worm, but no one else is around to confirm that because it's so freakin early. Plus, he never seems to be any less hungry than you, so he probably just scavenges for seeds and only actually gets worms after it rains, like everybody else.

Sometimes you have to ask for something you don't actually want or need to get a salesperson's attention and then throw in a request for your actual desired item at the last minute.

Social workers are not therapists. Don't expect them to act like one.

Everyone but your closest friends will forget your woes very quickly.

Just because someone's parents are in a certain profession doesn't make them good at it (furthermore, their parents might not even be good at it).

If you have to validate an event by putting it on Facebook, you probably need some perspective. (I used the word validate for a reason- sharing is fine, but if no one saw your post, it shouldn't detract from the value of the event itself.) Get over it.

For that matter, if you have to post overtly controversial/offensive opinions on Facebook, you're probably just looking for attention. Again, get over it!!

People who "can't wait" for college are usually the ones who get bored with it the fastest. News flash: you're the same person you were before; if you were boring then you're going to remain boring (ie if your life is boring, it's probably because you're boring).

If you don't take care of yourself first, you won't be able to care for others.

Pets make everything better.

Sometimes symptoms really need medication; other times you need to fight the cause of the problem to treat it. But if you can't find the problem, the next best thing is to just get rid of the symptoms. (Case in point: in high school I had occasional skin irritations, which developed into occasional hives, which escalated into a puffy swollen lip on Valentine's Day of my senior year. We never found out what i was allergic to, but I went on a stronger allergy medication and everything was ok. Furthermore, this allergy miraculously resolved itself in college!.... cough cough anxiety)

The three day rule is completely outdated; a text thirty minutes later is the modern equivalent (saves a lot of time spent wondering, doesn't it?).

Happiness takes work.

Fully engage

At mass this morning, the priest gave a homily about not being held back by obsessions and needs while remaining fully engaged and experiencing life. This is pretty tricky; it almost sees to be an oxymoron. To fully enjoy and appreciate what life has to offer, and yet not be restrained by our experience or by the fear of losing the things we prize, is a challenge. I finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for the second or third time yesterday (I beg the reader's pardon for mentioning a priest and Harry Potter in the same paragraph) and it occurs to me that this is the very lesson that Harry needs to learn in the end. (Obviously, stop reading now if you haven't read the book and don't want it to be spoiled.) Harry is only able to survive by letting go; only gets to live because he loves his friends and life in the wizarding world enough to die for them.

Of course, Harry is just a character reacting to an exceedingly unusual situation. How can we exercise this kind of wisdom of immersing oneself while still remaining free? As in many things, I think that part of the solution is in self-awareness. Is our desire for a thing equal to the reward or feeling we will be rewarded in attaining it? ...Or is the anxiety of not having the feeling/experience/object the real motivation for going after it? Is going after this concern restraining us from letting in other positive influences in our life? Are we merely settling for the mediocre- but familiar- norm (as *ahem* yours truly admits to doing by watching SVU on Netflix every single night), instead of taking the risk of letting in anything unfamiliar?

Personally, I've found this especially difficult in terms of relationships. You want to exercise the knowledge that you've gained with previous partners, some of which undoubtedly came from painful lessons. On the other hand, you don't want to be enslaved by these feelings or expectations, because (we hope) this is a new person, with a different personality and set of experiences themselves, so even when the same card is drawn a different outcome is possible (is that possible???.... never mind). As my therapist says, patterns of behavior can develop not only because of past experiences being repeated, but also due to you yourself reacting in a formulaic pattern to a set of stimuli. (Actually my therapist said it in a much more entertaining way, but whatever.) For example, people don't believe me but in two important relationships in my past, being unhealthy and gaining weight were behaviors my exes engaged in before we broke up. (Note to the world- for the second time this year, I'd like to formally note that 's should only be used to indicate possession, NOT plurality.) During the second go-round, I was already reacting to my then-boyfriend's weight gain as a sign that he was complacent and took me for granted and that my attraction to him wasn't something he valued, as the case had been in the previous relationship. So I became over sensitive to the issue and pushed for him to work out, which he took offense to. It became a point of contention which I took to signal that my boyfriend didn't care enough to do something relatively small for me, while he took it to mean that his attractiveness meant more to me than his personality. (In reality, this is only true if you are EXTREMELY attractive. So guys, keep working out those brains!) I was so afraid of losing this (second) guy that I was letting my past interfere in a pretty illogical way with my actions. If I had been able to look past the fear, I might have been able to realize that what I had so valued was deteriorating already, but instead I had become so fixed in my ways and thinking that I didn't realize that the positive experiences I associated with the relationship weren't even happening anymore.

Hmm. So where do we go with this now that I've analyzed why this is so hard to do? Part of my recent strategy has been to avoid over-thinking situations. I no longer try to derive secondary meanings from a few words. If I didn't understand what someone was thinking in the actual moment, then reflecting on that moment for hours at a time is probably not going to result in some kind of miraculous enlightenment. Along the same lines, I now try to trust my gut. If I feel something is offensive, then I respond to it that way, and I can move on, instead of holding back and carrying it around, only later to realize that I am hurt and have long passed the moment to do something about it. And lastly, I've tried very hard to avoid assigning my predictions to people's behaviors. If a guy doesn't respond to a text, that might not mean that he's being a jerk and is going to avoid me for two weeks and then break up with me (I am NOT bitter), it might just mean that he's busy. That's not to say that I play the fool; if the fellow continues his failure to respond, then he'll find he's left my good graces. But if it's a temporary thing, I can always assume he's just busy practicing magic. ;)

The New Beach Standard

Hear ye, hear ye. We doth declare that in order to be graded as a fabulous beach experience, the day must contain the following:

*One short best friend

*Two new bathing suits


*A forecast of rain, thunder, lightening, and possibly hail

*Ten seconds of rain + six hours of sun

*Collecting orange and yellow seashells

*At least one floppy beach hat

*A discussion of para-sailing vs kite-surfing (ie, what the heck they are)

*Kitty stories

*A coconut

*A submarine

*A cathartic encounter with a spider in an port-a-potty

*The body of a dead horseshoe crab named Earl

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Things I Did Today

Picked upy best short friend from the train

Ate ice cream... twice

Went swimming with giant spiders

Witnessed a drug deal

High-fived twenty awesome roller-derby players

Had one person admire my nails

Overall, it was a pretty awesome day.

posted from Bloggeroid

Friday, June 7, 2013

But for the grace of God

There but for the grace of God, go I.

I watch Hoarders. It's strangely fascinating. And somehow, strangely comforting. It's endlessly sad that people end up in such situations. Many people probably think that those featured on Hoarders are exceptions, extreme cases. Freaks. People who are more alien than anyone we know.

I think the truth is exactly the opposite. Fear, hurt, loneliness and loss are the  motivation behind almost every hoard on the show; emotions that are experienced by all of us. Hoarding is a mental illness. It's not a genetic defect or an injury. It's a pattern of thinking and habits, usually in response to a painful experience.

Hoarding is something we all look at and say, "That couldn't happen to me." Maybe so, but the unhealthy, stereotyped ways that these people think and act are all too common. It wouldn't take long for most of us to identify a member of our friends or family who is in denial. It's equally easy to think of someone who makes self-destructive choices. Guilt, greed, fear and other negative feelings motivate all of us at times, and some of us all of the time. Are we really doing what we want or are we just taking action to avoid something we fear? Are we distancing ourselves from others and from our goals to insulate ourselves from the possibility of rejection or failure?

Watching hoarders is definitely a guilty pleasure. It's gross, it's shocking, it's emotional. But on a deeper level, it reminds me of how important it is that I regularly self-evaluate my actions, thinking, and goals. The question therapists on the show ask hoarders to try to move them forward is, "What will happen if we throw this away?" I think it's a mindset that can be applied to many scary or difficult situations. "What will happen if we break up?" Answer: it will hurt for a while and be very difficult, and then I will move on. "What if I can't keep up with everyone in the fitness class?" Answer: then you will take a break and recover, and then get back into it when I'm ready.

Our choices make us who we are, and we have to recognize that we're not immune to irrational thinking. We're not inherently better than those people collecting dolls or cats or garbage, and we may not be healthy just because we're not living in a mountain of stuff. Any of us can dig a metaphorical hole for ourselves with habits of action and thinking. But the beauty of that is the same as the beauty of helping hoarders. They don't actually need the things, and when they heal, they also no longer need those ways of thinking. Our problems are often the same way. We find ourselves at what seems to be a dead end, but we have actually built the walls blocking the path. Once we can see this, then we can move past and be free.

Who thought this was a good idea?

Come on, really??

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

If I were Ironman

Jarvis, fix this sh**ty DNA alignment!

Jarvis, find me the hours for the gym today and if it's already closed, figure out a way to get me in and turn the main lights on, STAT!

Jarvis, do I have anything left in the fridge to eat for dinner? Key up my last order from the thai place and phone it in for 7pm.

Jarvis, empty the litter box.

Jarvis, figure out if we can sue Netflix for cruel and unusual punishment on account of not offering Footloose in streaming format.

Jarvis, write a letter to Taylor Swift detailing the ways in which she's poisoning my life.

Jarvis, find me some clean socks!

Jarvis, design a kitty Nettie pot to prevent Rosie from snoring.

Jarvis, compose a letter to NBC protesting the cancellation of Freaks and Geeks after one season and demand they design a time machine to reverse the decision.

Jarvis, finish analyzing my data and write my thesis. Dammit.