Expectations – Theme Fridays

The discontent of my expectations – I do it without realizing it. Expect things. From myself. From others. Usually they are unfair or unrealistic. It makes me wonder where it all starts – these troublemakers, the expectations.

Was I born with them? Are they are part of my genetic make-up? Part and parcel of being a woman? Or do they not discriminate based on gender? And really, what is their purpose? Reassurance, a mere desire to know the future, to keep me or others in line? No, none of that sounds right, rings true.

I’m sure a head doctor would have a field day with this whole concept – we are preconditioned by society, politicians, the ozone, blah, blah, to set up expectations so that we can prove to ourselves that life means nothing. Or some such. I don’t think that’s true either.

Perhaps it is just one of the many elements of life that works its way into our daily cinema. We can after all, expect that the sun will rise in the morning and set in the evening. That dogs will bark at mailmen. That babies will cry and coo. That if you plant a seed and water it, something will grow. That time passes whether we want it to or not. So then if we can expect these things, why not others?

I think we get into trouble when it comes to other people and ourselves. The human animal, ever a mystery will never respond in the way that you want it to or believe it should. Or more precisely it is the spirit housed in that bag of bones, skin, sinew, flesh and fluids. No matter what anyone thinks or says I do not believe you can own a spirit – of another or yourself. Like a magical mixed up chemistry project, the spirit is both benign and volatile and there is no way to predict which it will be and when it will be. Yet, crazy, unrealistic and ever hopeful spirit that I am, I persist. I think if I can only get the right view of it all, it will make sense and I will understand. I cannot help it, this is the permanent quest of my life – to understand. Myself and others.

And just when I think I may have a bead on it, a sense of something, those assinine expectations sneak in – laying a false foundation and I crash through the floors to the basement or find myself up the fucking chimney. Leaving me to vow never to expect anything ever again. If I could keep that promise, life might be simpler.

Go see what Jess is expecting and then what Christine is expecting – I’m sure it will be worth the trip.

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Not Good Enough

Not Good Enough. Ever feel that way? I know I do. Often. Too often. In fact, it is quite possibly the bane of my existence. Well, maybe not the bane of my existence but it is the thing that I have the hardest time shaking and always has been.

When that feeling hits me, I do a little internal search. Why? Why do I feel that way? Is there some deep, dark secret or a devastating buried memory that makes me feel that way? But then, logic never helps when it comes to things like that, does it? It seems the bad feelings, the feelings of inadequacy and non-deserving-ness (yes, I just made up a word) don’t come from a place of logic. They come from a place of feelings. Bad feelings.

But where do those come from? Other people? Did somebody give me a sour look when I was four and had just completed my master mud pie? And did that somehow crush a tiny piece of my soul, which I’ve been trying to get back ever since? Or has it just been a steady and continual erosion over the years. A look here, a word there?

Or worse, does it come from inside me? Just my own self-destructive alter ego, vying for time and attention? It seems I have lots of questions about this but very little in the way of answers.

I sometimes think that that is why I became a writer. To solve the feelings of ‘not good enough’ – as though I believed that if I could just write it out the feelings would evaporate. Never to be seen or heard from again. And in a way, I suppose it’s worked. When I was a kid and I got upset, the first thing I would do was write a poem or a story to work out the feelings or upset. Sometimes it would help and others it would drive me further into the sense of despair and hopelessness. No matter, I still write to some degree for that reason. Though mostly I write because I have something inside of me that needs to get out. It is constantly seeking new and silly ways to get out too. From stories to poems to haikus to jokes, to wise-ass remarks.

I sometimes marvel at this thing. What is it? Where did it come from? Does it belong inside of me or should we see if the zoo has a space for it? Then it ocurs to me that maybe it’s just me trying to get out. Just me, saying, ‘Pay attention to me. I am worthy. I matter.’

The truth is I will probably never know – no matter how much I try. No matter how much I want to know. I will never figure out why I sometimes feel I’m just not good enough. How about you?

WC

Is There Any Good News?

Is there anything good going on in the world, because I need to hear about it. Predictions of $100 a barrell oil (which means $8 a gallon for us?), people nervous about Iran, our leaders have zero percent approval and all of the candidates for the next big race stink. California almost burned to the ground, people get ruder every day, you can’t smoke in your car and several cities apparently, we’re all going to be paying for universal healthcare, Al Gore is a hero, Bin Laden is just misunderstood, taxes will go up, Hillary will win by default, stop signs mean nothing and McDonald’s is considered a restaurant?

I know I could stick my head in the sand and think of only puppy dogs and butterflies. Not read the news or listen to the radio and forget about politics. I could get my hands on some feel good meds and look at the nice sunset. I could write stories where life is fair and everybody lives happily ever after…But…

I’m too scared to look away. Too scared to pretend this too shall pass. Too scared that not enough of us are paying attention. Too scared that the chicken littles are winning the game and we won’t know it until we’re just part of the Matrix.

Things are just looking too much like a bad sci-fi movie to me, with all of us as the unwitting bit players, saying our lines, while thinking about what we’ll have for lunch.

Zelda would say, ‘hey it’s just something to do. It’ll change, it always does.” But does it? Will it? Does the bad never end?

WC

Accident Waiting to Happen?

 

Have you ever known someone who is an accident waiting to happen? My dad  used to say that about my younger sister – albeit affectionately and really joking. But seriously, what about the person, friend, family member, boss, co-worker or neighbor who is always surrounded by controversey, trouble, woes, betrayals and sadness? What’s their story?

I used to think that most people I encountered like this were just drama queens. You know, they craved attention and did much to generate all the noise and sputter themselves? Of course, I’d just dismiss them as a bother. And sometimes it’s true – some people really are drama queens.

Then there are the others. People who are good and kind – who care about others and perhaps even dedicate themselves to helping others – yet, they can’t catch a break. What about them? What karma, pay-back or ugly twist of fate is at play there?

Is it just the luck of the draw? Fate? Reincarnational going around and coming around? Or is it something more sinister and palpable?

Is it someone back there in the shadows pulling the strings like an evil puppet master? Some apparent, well-meaning friend or family member doing things ‘for their own good’ or to ‘help them’?

I think you have to wonder about these things.

For example, I have thought about the Columbine killers (recent events brought it to mind). They were just kids. Certainly it’s possible that they were just born evil – I believe some people are, but were they? Or were they just eaten at day in and day out by a ‘friend’ or relative who claimed to have their best interest at heart. I’m not talking about the bullying excuse. We all get bullied. We all get teased. We all had miserable existences through high school and adolescense. And at least in those cases, we have the potential to fight back. We can employ others to help us, we may not, but we have the potential.

I’m talking about the kind of person in our lives that we can’t fight back against. The one who holds some sway over our lives and maybe even our existence. The ones who make you feel trapped and about whom you can do little or nothing, save moving to the opposite end of the world to escape their reach. Did these boys have such a person in their lives? Why were such young children on chemical re-arranging drugs? I remember my teen years and though, like most of us, I was pretty miserable, there wasn’t anything for which I needed to take mood controlling drugs. (And please, I’m not talking about mental disease here, I’m not discussing clinical depression or situations of that nature). You have to wonder – why were these children drugged and why are so many children drugged today?

Is it really an emotional issue or are they being oppressed by the very people who claim to love and protect them? You have to wonder if these kids or any other person so distraught actually got away from their oppressors if they wouldn’t return to their normal selves. Don’t you?

I’ve had some people in my life who have driven me nuts. Some were just annoying but others weren’t so easy to shrug off or get rid of either. Some were a fixed part of my life and I turned into a different person around them. I became a whimpering, whiney, frightened victim in their presence. One friend in particular made my life miserable for years. I just couldn’t figure out what I’d done to offend her so much. Why I displeased her so much. And found myself in a constant state of trying to make up whatever damage I had done. Have you ever tried to make up for something you didn’t know you did? Ever tried to make right a wrong you never committed? It’s hell and I don’t recommend it.

During the time I was friends with this person, I had three car accidents, stopped writing, was in a perpetual state of tears and was convinced I was just bad to the bone.

I don’t’ remember what the final straw was, only that there was one. That one day I realized that this person  had her own agenda and I had nothing to do with whatever demons she was battling. I was simply an actor in her play. After that, it was easy to walk away. It was easy to let go of the baggage that wasn’t mine. It was easy to be me again. But it was years in the making. Years that were wasted on needless suffering and confusion.

So, if you’re feeling like me – and can’t figure out what’s so bad about you, maybe you too have a friend like her. Or a boss, or teacher or co-worker. My advice: walk away. As fast and as soon as  you can. You’ll find that you really are still there.

WC

Thinking…

Been doing a lot of thinking lately. Sometimes that’s good. Sometimes that’s annoying. Right now, it’s annoying. I’m not really in a thinking mood, you know?

I’d really rather just bum around, enjoy Spring, the sunshine, the birds, the flowers, my ever expanding garden – but….

My darn mind won’t turn off. Everything I see, seems to have some deeper meaning in it. Or maybe it’s all just too serious right now. I’d love to find that goofy, ain’t life a joke flow again. I could stand riding it all the way to the end.

Isn’t it funny how things come in waves? Maybe in life, but definitely as a writer. No matter how much I try to direct my mind and my attention onto a specific mind-set it simply won’t cooperate. It just wants to ponder and think and consider and all that really boring stuff.

What a bother. A mind that refuses to stop thinking. Damn my mind. Damn it all to hell.

I need to find an adventure.Something stupid and ridiculous. Something that I shouldn’t even consider doing. Something that is way beyond excusable for a woman of my age. Do you think they’ll do a spin-off called “Ancient Idol”?

Suggestions?

WC

Friend or Foe?

 

I have, as I’m sure all of you have, encountered some snaky people in my life. Unfortunately, it seems something no normal person can dodge. You are destined to meet and experience at least one. And if one is all you ever have to deal with, consider yourself lucky.

It seems I sort of have this sort of thing happening again. It’s very subtle, so much so that I wonder if I’m imagining it. I wonder if I am simply being paranoid, finding things where in fact nothing exists? It’s possible – I’m not brilliant or anything, nor am I without mistakes (a buttload of them) or flaws (an even bigger boatload of them) – yet I can’t quite shake this sense…of something.

Have you ever had someone in your life who seems to covet, maybe even crave what you have? Now it may be good, great or even not so great, but this person really seems to want it. Whether it’s a pink sweater or an easygoing friendliness with the mailman. You can almost see the craving in the eyes, hear it in their tone and words. Yet when you try to look at it directly, it seems to disappear out of view. (Anybody ever see that movie, Gaslight? I’m saying…)

Naturally, you chastise yourself, believing you are being overly sensitive, imagining motive that isnt there – giving that person the benefit of the doubt, while with yourself you will cut no slack.

Then you start to notice little things – they are suddenly using phrases that you use, making similar jokes, in subtle ways assuming your…I don’t know…is it style? personality? what? And it’s a sort of creepy Twilight Zone experience. First of all, who the hell would want to be me? you ask yourself. What the hell is there to covet? Who knows? Still, you can’t shake the feeling.

These folks also other funny little things. If they feel you’ve been ignoring them, they call or write complaining of it. Acting hurt or worried that you’re upset with them or don’t like them anymore. Honestly, after the age of 10, isn’t this a little strange? In my case, if one of my chums is upset with me I usually know and if I don’t I simply ask, ‘hey, did I piss you off or something?’ Isn’t that normal?

Anyway, I’m not even sure I know where I’m going with this post – maybe it’s a cautionary tale. Maybe it’s just ramble. But I’d say, beware of people who fawn a little too much at you. Beware of those who pursue you a little too often and enthusiastically. Be careful who you take into your confidence and introduce your friends to – because frankly, some people have more than one face and honestly, neither one is very pretty.

WC

Is Reflection a Bad Thing?

 

Lately it seems I’ve been stumbling upon various posts that complain about the introspective (selfish?) nature of bloggers. Too self involved, too much ME and not enough THEM or IT (I guess?).

It made me wonder because recently I’ve been writing some ‘think’ pieces. Have I been just thinking out loud, instead of writing? Thoughts that shouldn’t be spoken or written but kept to myself? Maybe I’ve just been bumming y’all out without realizing it. Cringe. And hey, maybe that’s something bloggers shouldn’t do. Or maybe it’s just something I shouldn’t do?

Is it arrogant to think that anyone out there is interested in my inner thoughts? Could be they’re ‘inner’ for a reason. Hmmm.

But if that’s the case, doesn’t that violate that old writer’s chestnut about writing what one knows? The goal of writing in part is to write it real and to be true and honest in what we write. If that’s the case, then how can we write without looking inward and reporting what we find there?

Is reflection part of that or is it just pure indulgence? I really don’t know – so please feel free to jump in and offer your opinions about it.

We all have our reasons for blogging – we all write for a reason, but isn’t it a universal truth that writers (or any artist for that matter) write because they feel they have a voice and want it to be heard. That they have something to say? I mean, somebody has to say something, don’t they? Even writers/bloggers who write as though they are above it all – aren’t they really just espousing their opinions too? Aren’t they writing from the core they call self?

 I don’t know – it could be there are those of you out there who can write from the ‘outside’ as observers. Maybe that’s the way it ought to be. But in my mind, if you’re writing from the ‘outside’ as an observer then aren’t you just recording what you see and hear? And if so, are you the origin or just the conduit through which the reporting of facts and events come?

Me? I write from the inside out. It’s my way and always will be. Call it indulgent, call it self-absorbed, call it egotistical – call it whatever you like. For me, it’s the only way to go.

What about you? From the outside or the inside? Is reflection actually a thing that is better left unsaid and in your head?

WC

An Answer For Everything…

 

When I was a kid, my mom used to say I always had an answer for everything, which was code for ‘you’re such a smart aleck’ but I enjoyed nonetheless.

Well, this isn’t really a post about that though.

Debi of Ms Crankypants has posed three questions for me to answer -an off-shoot of the whole Alabaster Crippens meme – and I decided to answer them here.

So here goes:

1) What event from your childhood or teen years still has a lasting effect on you to this day?

This is a tough one because it is quite personal. But what the heck… When I was about 12, I was very excited because I had managed to save a good deal of money for Christmas gifts. I really wanted to buy something special for my mother. So, I really budgeted the money for the other gifts on my list so I’d have enough left over to buy her a real gold cross on a chain. She had mentioned many times how she had wanted one and I was thrilled that I was going to be able to give her one. I bought the cross, tiny though it was and on a very delicate chain, it was still 14k gold and I couldn’t wait for Christmas day to arrive.

After weeks of agonizing waiting Christmas day arrived and I gave her the gift. Beside myself with anticipation. When she opened it, she cried and I was elated that she was so touched. But then she said, ‘It’s so small. Is that all you think of me, to give me something so small?’ (or words to that effect). I was crushed of course and disappointed. And I think I tried to explain to her but honestly, it’s a bit of a blur what was said after that point.

At the time, I thought she was being mean. Or maybe that she just didn’t love me very much or less than my brothers and sister. And I vowed I would never buy her anything that would ever enter the area of ‘special’ again because I couldn’t bear that kind of reaction from her again.

But in retrospect, I don’t think she was being mean. I think that she had many insecurities and self doubts. And that for some reason that necklace reinforced those insecurities and doubts. That in her mind, it validated her fear that she didn’t matter. And to me, that is even sadder that my mother wouldn’t know how much I was trying to please her and make her happy.

It has always affected my relationship with her and I’ve always felt tenuous with her and worry whenever I have to buy her a gift or send her a card. I try to pretend that it doesn’t matter but it does. She has a birthday coming up and I spent days trying to find something to send her that I thought she would like. I settled on something but I have little hope she’ll like it. I know she’ll say she does but…

Anyway, that’s the answer to that one.

2) What is the purpose of imagination and where does it come from?

I believe the purpose of imagination is to bring about the future. Without imagination, we would not have any of our modern technology, music, art, literature – artists are the dreamers of our society and they through their art dream and bring into reality products of their imaginations.

3) What book would YOU want to have written, and why?

Without question I would have wanted to write Atlas Shrugged. There are several reasons why. I strongly identified with Dagny Taggert, a true individual who did not care what others thought of her and was guided by her own conscience and values, despite incredible influences to act otherwise. She would not compromise her beliefs or ideals. Also, I believe it is one of the most important books ever written because it makes the case that we are each responsible and accountable for our actions or inactions and that no one is owed a living, wherewithall, possessions, or status that is not earned. To me, a definitive text of the 20th century and modern society. And probably most importantly, because it was an elegant and flawlessly written story that continued until it was truly over. Rather than ending on a specified page count.

Well Debi, there you have it. That was interesting… 😉
WC

It’s Official – They Hate Me

 

Okay, so you all know that the new job has been rough from the beginning. But today was the ultimate – one of my staff informed me that they all hate me. Just call me office road kill. Imagine my joy at the news.

Followed by the doctor getting in my face about something, followed by the consultant making fun of me for being upset. I don’t think I’m going to make it there.

 I think I am just the wrong person for the job. I have no one to talk to – and feel like such an outsider there it is just misery.

The worse part of it is – that my blogging has really sucked since I started the job too – which really pisses me off.

I don’t know what I’m going to do – I don’t even know what I can do. Tomorrow I have lunch with the doctor and the consultant – during which I expect them to get on me about whatever – so that will be a meal I won’t be eating.

I never knew I was so unlovable and in fact detestible. Gives one pause, you know? Sorry for the whining but it’s the only thing I can really think about right now.  Can you say, ‘head exploding’?

WC

Live for the Moment?

 

Remember when you were a little kid and you were so full of plans you could barely sit still? You could hardly gulp down your dinner you were so looking forward to running across the street to play with your pal Suzie or Joe? How you fell asleep dreaming of being a superhero, the Lone Ranger, Wonder Woman or maybe even Richard Simmons? 😉 You just couldn’t wait to get to tomorrow.

Then what happened? You grew up, right? Suddenly you were living for today. You couldn’t bear thinking past the here and now. Too many things could go wrong, the job sucks, you’re not doing what you want to do, you’re not living your dream…maybe you don’t even think about your dreams that much anymore. And maybe even your dreams have diminished – you no longer dream of making the world your oyster – you’d be happy if you were a couple of payments ahead on the mortgage and if you could go a whole month without car trouble. Sound familiar?

Living life takes so much time and trouble, there is little room for the dreams big or small. You’re stuck. You’re here and that’s pretty much all you can deal with. And maybe you don’t mind too much – you’ve grown up now – the dreams well…they were kidstuff – not realistic – a lot of trouble for too little return. You’ve found a comfortable spot in the present and now take that familiar ride day in and day out.

But you know…I think that’s what’s wrong with most of us. Why we’re so damned tired at the end of the day. Why life’s ups and downs drive us nuts. We’re stuck in the present. We’re neurotic. We obsess, we worry, we fret, we bitch, moan and complain. There isn’t enough time in the day, enough days in the week, enough weeks in the month, enough months in the year to really get to anything done that hasn’t posed itself as some sort of daily emergency.

Tune ups, parent-teacher meetings, grocery shopping, meal cooking, child care, laundry, dental appointments and more eat up the day and keep us stuck. In our heads, in our lists, in our never-ending tedious day to day lives. There’s just nothing left at the end of the day.

But I don’t think it’s supposed to be that way. Seriously, when you think about it, isn’t life really about the future? Isn’t it about the plans we make to conquer this or that? Own this or that? Master this or that? Be this or that? Even if you break it down – why are you working today if not to at least put food on the table tomorrow? Why are you getting up today if you aren’t planning to go from point A to point B as the day progresses? You eat so you’ll be alive tomorrow, you exercise so you can fit into that pair of jeans tomorrow or next week or next month, yes? I think you do. I think you have to. I think that if one doesn’t have the purpose of creating tomorrow there is no today or maybe there is only today.

 So I have to disagree with all those nifty greeting cards and posters and cardboard characters in movies that laud the philosophy of living for the moment – live for today – carpe diem and all that crap. If you live for the moment then what happens to you when the moment has passed? Ah…right you go on to the next moment – and that is the future, isn’t it?

By and large, I think that’s what’s been bugging me lately. I’ve been so stuck in the here and now that thinking about tomorrow hasn’t even been an option. So worried about this thing or that thing that even thinking got to be too painful. It’s just been all about getting through the day or the moment. Making it through with minimal damage, injury and disaster. And frankly, that ain’t no way to live – I think it’s a trap. I think that there are people out there who want to convince you and me that living for the moment is all we get. All we’re entitled to.

Now why would someone want that, you’d probably ask. Good question. Simple answer could be power. There are people in the world who want to control things, people, events. Some do it on a grand scale and some on a small scale but they do it. The boss that is hypercritical until you are so apathetic and co-dependent that thinking an original thought much less saying it out loud never happens anymore. The nagging spouse who thinks every creative thing you want to do is stupid or crazy. The friend who tells you to get a grip when you voice one of your whacky ideas. Yeah, they all want you to live in the moment – they want you to stay stuck in each and every moment – because if you don’t why hell you might actually create something – might actually cause some effect on the world. Which of course might give you some control of your own life.

I admit it’s not easy to live for the future. It’s hard work to battle all the resistance and inertia that abounds all around you. Just think back on last week during the ‘holiday’ did you try to get something done? Did it feel like you were dancing in peanut butter? There you go. It’s tough – people get grumpy – you get grumpy but you have to do it. If you don’t the future, just happens to you and when that happens it’s never a future of your making – it is the future that has been made for you.

Personally, I prefer to make my own. So, I’m going to give that a whirl. I’ll probably fall flat on my face because between you and me I’ve been at this a long time – but if I’m going to fall flat on my face I want to be the one who put me there. Wish me luck.

WC