Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What I think...

Yesterday, I heard my mom say something to the effect of: "What other people think of me is really none of my business."

I have to agree. It's pretty true. There may be things people are thinking of me that I really... don't want to know. There may be things people are thinking of me that I do want to know, but it's up to them to tell me about it, and if they choose not to, then there's not much I can do about it, or would know to do about. And then there are things that one may think of me I just would not know what to do with if I did know. In that case, does it matter? Well, to one side, I suppose it does, but that's not my side.

To me, there are times when certain information would be nice if favourable, and obviously not nice if not favourable. Although, honesty is a good thing, and being led on by someone in any aspect of life; be it friendship, business, love, etc., is not.

I have said it before, and I'll say it again: we have no control whatsoever over what others think of us. We can do everything in our power to try and either improve or degrade one's view of us, and depending on where they are in life, they will see and perceive things a certain way. When trying to influence others; you may, or may not see your desired result. Perception is funny, and our differing experiences will colour it. Sometimes the viewpoints of your audience may be similar to yours, and other times; not so much.

So why do we worry so much about this? Of course we want to be loved, and admired. We want people to think the best of us. We want to be happy, and that's hard when we are feeling all alone, and we assume everyone hates us. So yes, of course there is value in being well-liked. People need one-another, and there are people out there who will be compatible with us on just about any level. We are naturally wired for community. It's how we operate, and without it, life can get pretty boring, as well as difficult. It is important not to take these easily compatible people for granted in search of what we think we need, or want. Especially if what we need or want seems unattainable. Truth is, if you really do have to practically kill yourself to impress someone enough for them to want to share space with you, they aren't worth it, and probably have their heads so far up their asses, they will probably never even see you, anyway.

So you know what? I don't bother. I am, what I am, what I am. What you see is what you get with me. Take it or leave it. I won't say I won't be hurt by rejection, but I'm a big girl, and I have been through a lot. I'll survive. Believe me.

Of course, there are other times when I may feel intimidated by a person for whatever reason, and find later that this person I have idealized for so long, and am so humbled by, has turned out to be sweet as blueberry pie with a slice of cheese on top. That said, I have a tendency to get quiet around these people at first, and learn who they are before I share too much about my own life. This doesn't mean I won't be authentic and honest about my opinions, but I still don't find it necessary to show off. I am not competitive. That involves too much pressure. I hate pressure, especially when I am usually just looking to have fun. It's tricky, but remembering not to get too caught up in the details, and also remembering that in the end we are all just people, can go a long way. It is something I sometimes have to spend a great deal of time reminding myself.

And... at times, I let the intimidation win, until I don't anymore. Yeah, I'm human. Doesn't mean I can't work on this flaw of allowing myself to be intimidated; to make it less-so. After all, what is rejection? So what if one person decides you aren't worth their time? You know what? There are a lot of fucking people in the world. If one ends up shitting all over your life, move on. Speak up when necessary, but pick your battles, and if you have to be the rejector, you have to be the rejector. Someone else is out there who probably won't hurt you, and if they do? Someone else is out there who won't hurt you. Just keep going, and reflect on those lessons you've learned. It's all happening for a reason, and if you pay attention and decide for yourself that you are worthy of better, you'll find better.

As for now, it really is OK to be yourself, right where you are in life; in the moment; even if that means you are the only one being authentic. 'Cause you know what? You can laugh at all those phonies, honey. Self-improvement is something that is admirable, and something we should all aspire to... but let's do it for ourselves and not for others, OK? Is it really improvement if you simply change with the tides of what's popular, and fake it until you become what you weren't before, for the sole purpose of fitting in; without staying true to yourself?

What the hell kind of life do you end up with if you strive toward the ideals of another person? A fucking Svengali-assed, resentful one; even if it's really just you holding the strings. And damn. How pathetic is that? You know what that is? That's a show no one wants to see, albeit one I have certainly starred in, in the past. I did not have much fun, and am glad I dropped the strings, so I could be a real girl. I like her. A lot.

If you feel like you are doing this too, you have to ask yourself what you want. I'll wait. Whatever your answer is, is OK. You only get one life. Don't die full of regret. It'll be your fault.

For a long time, I used to wonder why some people found it so important to have others figured out. It is beginning to click for me lately, and I think that this has to do with knowing what to expect from a person. Sometimes I really do have to feel a situation out, especially if I want things to go well; even if I'm not necessarily intimidated by the other party... but I find the relationship to be an important one that I don't want to screw up. Sure, these relationships are give and take, and one of my favourite parts happens in the beginning stages, while I am learning as much as I can about the other person. And really, how are you supposed to be able to relate to another soul you know nothing about?

I like to let my friends just be who they are, and feel comfortable expressing themselves around me. For that reason, I have a tendency to go neutral on choosing things for a while, so I can get an idea of their likes and dislikes. Honestly, this usually works out well, because there are very few things I dislike. It takes a lot to piss me off, and even without being the one to choose the situation or setting of a social outing, I often find myself having a good time. I go into these situations calmly, and with an open mind. It's often an adventure, and sometimes I even learn something valuable.

And, believe me, if I didn't go into things with an open mind, there is no way this would be possible.

For instance? Last night, I changed into my pajamas because I was cold. I ended up changing back out of them, after I received a text from a new'ish friend with plans that went from going to the bar down the street from my house... to going for a little drive... up to a boat in a crazy marina where we smoked hookah, drank some pretty wacky libations, and told stories until the wee hours, listening to Bhangra. Now that, my friends, is my idea of a good time!


As for well-established friendships; I know what not to, as well as what to take personally. Some aspects of one's personality are just part of who they are, and while they may seem rude or unorthodox to an outsider, it's something I come to accept when other parts of the whole person overshadow these shortcomings. I won't put up with everything, but I will put up with some things if you are worth it.

After all, we all have shortcomings. Every last one of us. If you tell me you don't, I'll call you a liar!

But really, in the end, the most important relationship any of us can have... is with ourselves. In the end, it does matter what we think of... ourselves. Joe South said it best once: "God grant me the serenity to just remember who I am." Remember who you are; love, nurture, and enjoy who you are, and honey, you'll be A-OK.


Friday, May 13, 2011


The land of Port is a strange place. I simultaneously love and hate this little fact. And Truth is, all I have to do is walk a few blocks for some real entertainment in the realm of people-watching, shopping, dining, drinking, etc., etc., ad nauseum. That is nice. I like that I live far enough away from the shopping districts, and on a large enough lot that I can actually park my car in the same place every night, and can see it from my bedroom window. I like that there is enough space on this lot that several guests can do the same. I like that while this is true, the shopping districts are a modest walk from my front door. I also love the fact that we were able to find a house only six blocks from where we lived previously when we did live in this neighbourhood before.

During that time, I loved the area, but hated the place we were renting. We really only took that place because it was very cheap, and we were saving up to buy our first house. Well, that, and we were doing whatever we could to get the hell out of Beaverton. We lived there exactly one year, and that was 51 weeks too many.

Seriously though. Our first place over here was very run down, and the people who owned it were complete slum-lords. I was so happy to get out of that house, but wistful about the neighbourhood. For years after that move, I acted like a homing pigeon and still came back to this part of town any time I had any shopping or business to attend to. I knew eventually I would make it back over here.

The house that we ended up in was complete chance. It had shown up in searches that my realtor sent me for a while. I kept passing it up, because it is on a busy street. With small children, I really didn't want to do that. But the day I looked at this house, We had many showings on the schedule. All of the scheduled showings in the middle of the day fell through, so we had some time to kill. The realtor convinced me to come and have a look, by talking about the lot size. It is on a 1/4 acre, and most of that is behind the house. Very rare for this part of town. The house is also 3,434 square feet, not including an 1800 square foot basement, as well as a 1000 square foot unfinished attic space. It has dark wood detailing throughout, boxed beams, tall wainscotting with plate rail in the dining room, and... damn. I will say that as soon as I saw the dining room, I wanted the house. I told the realtor right then and there.

And of course she asked: "Well, don't you want to see the rest of it?"

"If I must..."

Because the previous owner let it go back to the bank, acquiring it was no small feat. We went into contract for the house on February 23rd, and we did not acquire it until May 13th. Our first lender even dropped out somewhat late in the process, and we had to scramble to find another. But we did, the sale went through, and here we are, working steadily on restoring the monster!

It was built in 1911, and retains much of its original charm. And the closets are HUGE! I can't figure this out, because in 1911, this wasn't at all typical. The home inspector thought the house may have been built for someone important for that reason. I am planning on visiting the office of the county recorder soon to get to the bottom of this.

Anyway, sorry to bore you with the story of how we got into the place. I will say that I really like being back in the land of the living again, after practically living in middle earth for so long. (OK, I guess you'd call it mid-county,) but unless you get your kicks from going to religious coffee shops, Asian markets, or true dive bars, it's a dead zone, for sure. Why, I had to drive for ten minutes just to get back over here!

One of the things in particular that I love about being here is seeing the many different kinds of people that it... takes to make a place truly interesting. It really does take all kinds. The sights and smells can be something to either behold or run screaming from.

Take today for instance: the girls and I were on our way home from being out and about. We drove up SE Hawthorne, as we usually do. Today was beautiful, and finally warm, and I had the windows open. As we approached SE 34th Avenue, the scent of patchouli wafted in from an obviously doused passerby. I made a comment to the girls about it, and they, too, were taken aback. It was... obnoxious, cloying, strong, and something that attempted to choke the life from me.

I had to get away, but alas, I was stuck behind a bus, and cars were passing me! What to do? What to do???

Oh... GOD! NO!!!

The answer? Apparently nothing. The scent had infiltrated my car, and stayed with us all the way home. It probably still smells like that, but I am afraid to go outside and check.

I suppose that is just part of the experience, and I have to take the good with the bad. But seriously... how much patchouli do you have to be wearing for the passengers of a car that you are WALKING PAST on the street to be infiltrated to the point of despair? Why is that necessary? Why do that to people? How can you stand it, man?! Think of the children! Think of the fucking stray cats! The dogs! Did you know dogs have a sense of smell about 1,000 stronger than that of humans? Think of what you are doing to them! It's like forcing them to look directly at the sun for an extended period of time.

Just... no! Be nice! Play nice! And with that, I bid you adieu. The weekend... it calls to me.


Monday, May 9, 2011

The sun rises. The clown dances. The lady gets hit in the head with a shoe.

It was recently pointed out to me that I am not the beautiful dancer I thought I was. This was on a particularly drunken night fairly recently in which I thought I was a fucking ballerina, and therefore very light on my feet. Mr. Hed told me that otherwise, I was doing mostly OK, and didn't embarrass him until I started dancing. Yeah. OK. I probably shouldn't do that around... people.

At all. Ever.

Or... at least not while drunk, when I think I am invincible, awesome, lovable, amazing, and gifted in ways I am not normally.

When I am on my game, I am competent, and will learn steps adequately. I do have rhythm because I did grow up in a pretty musical setting. But I did not grow up dancing. The muscle memory is something that I only acquire after many, many practices of a new dance move as a result. This is due to the fact that I really only had to do it for the stage when I was in musicals. I remember those specific dances very well, because they were drilled into my brain via laser beam that can only be produced when a choreographer loses patience and... resorts to this last ditch effort attempt of instruction. It is rare, but I... have seen it a lot.

Anyway, it is true that I had no dance instruction as a wee little child. By the time I decided to embarrass myself and everyone I knew personally who came to see me on stage in a musical, I wasn't a kid anymore. In fact, remembering the first musical I was in; the laser beam didn't take. The director did not want to re-cast the part, so this poor sod was stuck with me. He had to (then,) adapt the steps he had written for one of the numbers I did solo, because they were so complicated, it just wasn't going to happen. But, during that play, I began to understand the importance of using more than just the bottoms of my feet, or... just my feet. Yes. Even our wrists, fingertips, eyebrows, and uvulae should really be involved. That went a long way.

Obviously, I am still not a beautiful dancer, but it is my exercise of choice. I do it because it is a challenge, and is also fun. I do it because... as I said in the paragraph above, it really does involve every part of the body. I just do it when no one is watching, because... after all, doesn't that mean I can dance like no one is watching? Why yes! I believe it does! Although... when Mr. Hed walks in on me, I completely lose my concentration and have to wait for him to leave in order to get it back.

Seriously though, and in general; not just in my dance-life, I have some facts to face here. I can be pretty clumsy. I can be pretty awkward. I embarrass easily, and often. I have a bit of social anxiety that I am working to correct, but it's difficult, and the process hasn't been perfect; especially considering all I have had to overcome and the trauma I endured growing up. I will say though, that things are a whole lot worse when I am sleep-deprived, hungry, or feeling like a dork in a new setting. But once I have rested, eaten, and gotten to know my environment, it lessens, and I am actually a pretty fun person to be around, or so I'm told.

Thank GOD.

We all have good and bad days. I am learning that on my bad days, I should stay in my safe little world, and be glad I have one of those. I am having fewer bad days, but I still have them on occasion. They are usually triggered by something situational, and can be explained away. I don't always like to acknowledge the source of that, and I may choose not to... at least not outwardly. After all, some things are simply better left unshared with everyone else. Some things need time to process, and a chance for observation via more than one angle. And isn't it true that you should never make big decisions or try to evaluate your life when you feel like crap? It certainly has been for me. So... I do my best to not take things quite so seriously during those times, and my world gets a wee bit smaller for a day or two. I may or may not return your phone calls or texts. I can only hope the people around me understand this.

Eventually, I do come around. Really, I do.

And still... dancing, clumsiness, and even bad days aside, I have had a few incidents recently in which I have said things to people that didn't come out right. Sometimes I come off as downright insensitive, which is terrible, and not something I would ever intentionally convey to another human being. When it happens, I usually end up (metaphorically) slapping my forehead, and I experience what feels almost akin to electrocution go through my body, because I know this is not at all what I had wanted, or meant to say.

I especially hate it when whatever it is ends up misrepresenting me horribly and I go into fight-or-flight... and can't recover. I wish I could say that I am good at hiding my embarrassment. Sadly? No. No, I'm not. Not even a little bit. I blush, my temperature rises, and then I basically need a few minutes to regroup, and explain. There are times when I can pull myself out of it quickly though, and I do have a somewhat quasi-effective recovery method that I will put to use about half the time when something like this occurs. I resort to poking fun at myself, and turning the incident into a joke, because seriously, what else can you do at that point? And of course I do try to measure appropriateness here. I am obviously not going to make a joke if I just inadvertently insulted your mother, but I will do it if I just sent my shoe flying across the room... or a pair of chopsticks. (Sadly, both of these things have happened in the past week... and I have listed them in order of embarrassment.)


That said, these moments of awkward are not something that would ever make me stop liking myself, so why should I think that anyone else would necessarily? Don't we all have bonehead moments? I know we must. It should also be known that this does not mean every joke at my own expense has to do with one of these awkward incidents. Sometimes I just make jokes. It's OK to laugh at those jokes. Laughter is pretty welcome in either instance; especially if I am trying to diffuse a moment of epic dorkdom. I wouldn't have made them if I had any other intention. I can relate to Woody Allen. If he can base a career on that sort of demeanor, I should probably cut myself a little slack.

Yes. I'm trying. Trying to develop patience with myself. Trying to nurture that scared little dork inside of my soul so that she will someday be less scared and dorky. It's not easy, but at least I'm trying. If you were around me recently during one of moments of awkward, I apologize. It will be better soon. I can only hope you people don't think I'm a moron, but if you do, I suppose there isn't much I can do about it. There isn't much anyone can do about another person's opinion, so... I have to let it go, and laugh at myself.

As far as the dancing? I'll just keep doing it. Alone. I like it, and that's what matters. If you decide I can't be your friend because I'm not a beautiful dancer, then piss off!