Thursday, October 10, 2013

My little commentary on social media, and why I will be cutting back.

Why is it so important to be happy every day of the world?  I have been examining my life lately, and while most of it is great, I am one of the pathetic masses that seems to have gotten sucked into social media, to a fault.  I have such a love/hate dichotomy with it, really.  I love feeling connected to my peers, but I hate the comparison and envy play that goes with it.

I know this is definitely more the rule than the exception, and hear plenty of supporting evidence when I talk to other people who seem to be experiencing the same bizarre phenomenon.  I get so bitter when I hear about people getting together without me, or spending money on outings, shows, and date nights constantly, or buying the latest, greatest things money can buy.  I find all of it very irritating, and yet, I can't stop reading about it!

I will admit it is an addiction.  It is one of those addictive behaviours that many think serves them, but in reality just sort of erodes their well-being.  A friend pointed out yesterday that she read an article about how the happiest cities also seem to have the highest rates of suicide.

Why?  Comparison.

It is evil.  It truly is.  Seeing what the "haves" are able to do, when you are stuck at home, and can barely afford the gas to go about your daily life; let alone that extra trip across town just to hang out with people?  It's really fucking depressing; in and of itself.  We all have different circumstances.  It's true.  I should be grateful for what I have. I have plenty, really.  But when comparison is in play?  That goes right out the window.

I think, for me, it is time to figure out how to make a life involving less social media, and more actual socialization.

Maybe I need to focus on only using social media as a means of promoting art and let the rest of it go. It is going to be tricky, because I have allowed it to be my main source of connection for way too long, but it is a false prophet, for sure.  It is not an accurate depiction of anyone's life.  Most don't even see their lives for what they really are, when they are that glued to a screen, and tuned into everyone else; an "everyone else" that they may not even know that well, or may have never even met in person.

And good fucking Christ!   Some of the people you meet in that way are TERRIBLE real life communicators!  They don't do face-to-face well, and prefer facebook as a means of communicating and connection.  They even post there constantly while hanging out together, about things only the people sitting right there understand; barely looking up from their phones at times, and joking away on their walls with one another. 

WHY???  No.  Really.  WHY???

 Do they understand how annoying that is to anyone else who might be tuned in at that time?  It does not make them look more attractive, or intelligent, sought after, or anything.  It just makes them look like people who can't seem to function any other way, or that they have to prove that they do actually get off of their asses and see people face to face... sort of.  Or, they are just showing off.  Whatever it is, it's obnoxious.

I am not referring to photos of events, or fun little happenings, per-se.  I am, however, referring to the little inside jokes that only the people sitting across from one another, understand.  I, along with quite a few people I know, see it as sort of a neener-neener approach to alienation, and honestly?  Yeah, it works.

And online communication can be frustrating, as well.  People are often terse, short, rude, and sometimes even openly hostile, because there is no immediate consequence.  There is no one sitting there with them, ready to slap them in the face.  It's safer.  You can take on any affect that you think might suit you, because you see it working for someone else.  Yeah... no.  Honestly?  It probably isn't working as well as you think it is for that person.  And if you are doing it, bear in mind that sadly, the person you are writing to, is still a human being, regardless of what you might be looking at.  You see words and a screen.  You think you are being brilliant, witty, and smart, but there is no way to actually read the tone, or mood of the person you are supposedly communicating with.  You aren't actually connecting at all, and you may very well be hurting someone pretty deeply with your careless communication style.

Furthering that, I have noticed people who will say that they are straight shooters, and tell it like it is.  That's fine.  Do that, but for fuck's sake, figure out a way to do it so you don't sound like an asshole.  Find words that tell the truth without digging in and causing pain.  Not everyone is in a place where they can receive that sort of thing well.  You can certainly do that without being terse.  If you disagree, you should probably examine your intentions, because chances are?  You won't be heard if you choose to be a terse asshole.  In that case?  You are busy serving yourself, rather than your audience.  What I am referring to, is called non-violent communication.  Look into it.  Know your audience.  Stop alienating people.

As for actual effects on my own well-being, besides all of this;  I have noticed is that my own brain gets so foggy, and distracted, distractable, and then irritable when I spend too much time reading social media.  I can't really imagine it being that different for others, and yet, I know some people who are online... all the live long day!  Scrolling through the feeds, I often skip something if it looks like it's too long.  Sometimes my eyes stop focusing altogether.  What am I even doing then?  I almost find it to be the antithesis of stimulating.  I really do feel stupider, and also find it harder to cope with every day situations because I feel like I know too much about people I honestly barely know.  And dear reader:  some of those things?  They frighten me!

Yes.  False intimacy.  It works both ways.  We find out all sorts of interesting tidbits about people we probably wouldn't even know well enough to name and say hello to on the street, and vice-versa.  When we share things in this way, we are sharing with everyone, and no one... because how can we remember everyone on our friend list?

I suppose we all want connection and this is a way to feel closer without actually getting closer, because closer is scary.  Because when we actually speak face to face, topics change.  It feels less safe, because truthfully, there was never a proper foundation built for this level of intimacy.  It is why I don't share a great amount about my life on my Facebook wall.

Want to actually get to know me?  Let's go do something.  Let's actually talk.

Otherwise, it just feels weird.  Also, with people you don't have this foundation with?  You need to be prepared for their reactions to what you have to say.  It isn't something you will ever be able to predict.  We all come from different spaces and backgrounds.  We have all had different influences.  Our perceptions are coloured by our unique experiences.  So often, when someone I barely know says they are an open book, and are keeping things real; sharing VERY intimate things with everyone they have accepted a friend request from and vice versa, I feel a little scared, and worried about that person.  I also often step back and wonder why they felt the need to tell me something so deeply intimate without actually knowing me, or anyone else that well.  There is such a thing as too much, too soon, at times.  I already know too much about my immediates!

But I suppose there are some good things about it.  I know a lot of funny people.  I get access to some cool things I may not have known about, otherwise.  I get to share funny things I see and hear, as well as my art.

Not everyone I have gotten to know from a distance has been annoying to me.  In fact, there have been cases in which I have enjoyed getting to know quite a few people in this way, and really would love to some day, be able to hang out in person, but distance keeps us apart, so it has to wait.  That's all fine.

It does act as a tool for communication at times... I have gained business, I have planned fun little outings and events, I have really enjoyed a lot of it, hence the dichotomy.  But... I sure can't spend my whole life on it.

And with that, I'm going to go buy some booze and hang out with a friend.


Modern Life -- a poetic tale of disconnection.

- Modern Life -

In this day and age- 
People have access to what they need;
Sort of.
People connect; 
Sort of.
People fall in love; 
Sort of.

If you live in a city, 
you really need no one.
Because you have everyone;
Sort of.

You are never stranded;
there is a bus.
You are never hungry;
there are shops and restaurants.

 You have community; 
Sort of.
It may be conditional, but if you do as as they say;
play their games; 
don't challenge them too much;
don't question their actions, motives, or sanity;
You may have friends for life.

Be normal-
Hope that what you are following actually serves you.
If it doesn't?
Keep following anyway,
because it's better than being alone;
because doing anything else is too scary.

Doing anything else will piss people off
Don't rock that boat.
Don't cause drama
Curl up into your shell, where it is safe.

Die there, unnoticed.

Much safer, that way.



Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Room dividers from hell.

When I was a kid, going to school in LA, we had a lot of bizarre building arrangements in schools.  Especially suburban LA, where things basically popped up in less than five minutes to serve a brand new community.  Because after all, if you build it, they will come.  And they did.  And we did. 

One of the schools I went to, had old fashioned bungalows for the younger set.  We weren't in the main building, but in something that sort of resembled a slightly more substantial food truck.  The bungalows were in rows, and located across the playground from the rest of the school.  My memory of these little buildings is skewed, of course, because I was small.  They seemed enormous to me at the time, but if I were to go back as a 36 year old 5'7" woman, I would probably think they were right puny.

Anyway, later on, as I went to a different school, on the other side of the Santa Susana Pass, things got even more bizarre.  The school consisted of three buildings; one was the office/nurse/counselor's area/cafeteria with patio.  One was lower school.  The other was upper school.  The school buildings; beige, stucco, and flat-roofed; had enormous, thick eaves that I hated walking under.  Earthquakes can kind of do things to your brain, and make you question why the hell someone would design a building that could potentially kill people, just so there was a little extra shelter on the outside. 

And, let's face it.  This was LA.  It rained... maybe 3 days out of the year, there.    Thankfully, I was only around for the Whittier Earthquake in 1987, and the eaves stayed put.

Earthquake drills unnerved me, because they were so unexpectedly rude.  The principal would come onto the intercom and say: "DROP!"  Not "Drop, please!"  Or... "If you don't mind, we need to get under our desks now."

But, I suppose that's sort of how earthquakes roll, too.  They don't give a shit, and neither did that guy.

The rule involved crawling under our desks.  Because a desk is what will save you from a fallen roof.  It will.  They said so.

School lunch at these places, was a trip.  Everything came pre-packaged in cardboard, with plastic over the top.  This included salads. Sometimes, there would be a tiny apple sitting on top of the salad.  I have no idea where they got those little apples, but they tasted like crunchy, mealy desiccant, meant to kill us, or at least make us not want to eat them.  I only ever ate one of those apples, because I was sure they were evil .  The salad was usually wilted, and the other half of the lunch was usually some gross entree that the lunch lady would heat up.

Later, when I moved to Oregon, I was taken aback by food that was actually prepared in the school cafeteria.  It wasn't necessarily better, but eating from a plate with actual metal utensils, was pretty foreign, and almost novel enough to compel me to buy lunch there, rather than make myself a delicious sandwich, made of some odd Jewish delicacy that other kids would revolt at the sight of. (My dad was really into chopped liver, and the like.)

More for me!

Between the three buildings, there was a courtyard that was all lawn, and beyond that, a sidewalk, followed by hill that led to a ball field.  Rolling down that hill with my friends, was always great fun.  None of us cared that we would end up with burrs in our clothing from the weeds that they simply mowed with the rest of the grass.

But, back to the buildings.  This is where it gets interesting.  I am sure you are probably riveted by this point, right?  Anyway, in these buildings; with the exception of the first, everything was separated by enormous, heavy, metal partitions, covered in a rose-tan, fabric that had a really heavy, heathered weave to it.  It reminded me of chocolate milk, poured over Mini-Wheats.  I don't think there were actual walls separating the rooms from the main area, and the partitions could actually be rolled, and folded together, to create one giant room, inside the confines of each building.  They even had doors, and those doors were made of the same materials.  When they closed, they were closed tightly with levers.  It was all very space-age.  The levers had black knobs on the ends of them, that made you feel like you were doing something very official when you were permitted to close them.

Well, one day, some friends and I were playing, during indoor recess.  It was one of the rare days when it rained there.  When it did rain?  You took that shit seriously.  It may not have actually rained cats and dogs, but I had seen garbage that resembled cats and dogs floating down the road when the streets would flood.  Our car would always stall out, because for some reason, water would splash under the distributor cap, and then... yeah.  For some reason, it had no undercarriage cover. We... didn't go out much when it rained.

Anyway, as we ran through the common area of the building, my friends entered our classroom before I did.  I grabbed hold of the door jamb, as if to fling myself into the room, for added drama.  Only... This did not work!  Oh no! 

See, they closed the door, not realizing it closed... on my hand!

And then, I saw the lever rotate.  I am pretty sure my eyes rotated in every direction they would go before  I screamed at the top of my lungs.  I am not a master of  much.  Delayed reactions?  Yes.  Even when reacting is probably THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO DO! 

Upon receipt of my eventual vocalization, the lever went back up again, and my hand; purple, and quasi-flattened, was released.

I could not write or do much with my right hand for many weeks after this happened.  My friend who made the offending maneuver felt so ashamed and awful, that she carried all of my books, and dictated for me until I could write again. 

And to this day?  The finger nail beds on my right hand are flatter and wider than the ones on my left.

School can be a dangerous place.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

The hardest work of all.

I have been pondering a certain, common thought that many people seem to be expressing, lately.  Not sure why, but I have heard it said that: people who pursue their passion, and get lucky; perhaps even famous doing what they love, have it really easy.  Well?  I am here to tell you... that's pretty mythical.  Belief in oneself must come from somewhere.  Maybe it is easier for those who had formative encouragement, and support.  Hard to say.  I am unfamiliar.

I had a brief encounter with this particular belief in oneself phenomenon, once upon a time.  It made me want to see more of it.

But you know?  Believing in yourself?  It's really hard.  Especially when you are the one who must keep it up.  You can't really expect everyone to be there for you one hundred, or even twenty percent of the time.  The mind can be very powerful, for sure.  It really can make, or break you, and your attitude really does make all the difference.  And you know?  This applies to everyone, except the very lucky few who don't have to think about what it is to make a life for themselves.  Although, I have to wonder if they actually are lucky.  That seems terribly boring to me.

At any rate, life isn't fair.  It never has been, never will be. 

It is.  That is all.  

So, you see someone dancing, singing, acting, writing, or selling their art successfully?  Believe me.  Whatever led to where they are now, was not an easy road.  They probably sunk their entire spirit into what they are now doing, and it came at great cost.  They may have had to give up toxic family members, or friends who did not support them, and made them doubt themselves.  But!  They did not give up on their dream, even when people told them it wouldn't work.  They didn't confine themselves to a cubicle after resigning themselves to the fact that... for them, desk work was the only way to make a living.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.  Unless, there is.

That said, successful artists may have taken really shitty jobs to make ends meet, while pursuing what it was that they were passionate about, and they either hated it, or later, realized that this was not just putting food on their table, but part of the work they would need to do, to appreciate the rest of it, and support their higher goals.

Often, when I think of what I am trying to do in my own life, that line from "Climb Every Mountain", comes to mind:  "A dream that will need all the love you can give; every day of your life, for as long as you live!"

Yeah, try some of that.  It's not easy.  It isn't. 

Sometimes, we need to take breaks, especially when we are faced with challenges that require our attention, and won't let us move forward, until we do.  When that happens, it is important to recognize the necessary detours, act accordingly, and learn from them.  Eventually, those little lessons may very well enrich our experience when we go back to what we are passionate about; that much more!

Conversely, sometimes we get nice little boosts, or coincidental things that just happen to be in the right place at the right time, and we use them, because we recognize that they are opportunities, and not something to waste.  Life will help out once in a while.  Just start noticing when it does, because there really are times when it does.

I am currently implementing a detour in my own life to deal with some important life transitions.  It may be difficult to focus on my original dream, yes, but for now, it is a necessary step for me, and I am learning that this is OK.

Success is never a straight line, people.  It just isn't.  I may be working in a position that I consider to not really be that stimulating, but guess what?  It's not a forever thing, and I know this.  I have not resigned myself to thinking that I have no other skills.  I recognize that while perhaps they are not easily accessed presently because of this other work I need to do in my life, surrounding these transitions; I have plenty of skills, and they are fucking glorious, and awesome.  I may not always be able to generate income using those particular skills.  I may need to fall back on something else from time to time, but I still believe that some day, I'll arrive, and when I do?  It will be worth everything else I have had to work hard at, along the way.

But believing this 100% of the time?  It may be the hardest work, of all.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

On self care...

There are cobwebs on this here blog.  That's OK I guess.  I haven't felt inspired to do much of anything for quite some time.  I even hung up my primary business, and decided to do mindless work that required very little creativity, for a while.  I'm still doing that now, but may go back to the other thing soon.  I want to be ready, because there is nothing worse than trying to create magic when you can barely see what's in front of you in the moment.  That's no good, and frankly, it's not fair to my clients, who I believe deserve the absolute best I can possibly give.

In order to get there, I am learning, for the first time in my life; to take care of myself, rather than abuse myself, and try to squeeze molten gold out of the soles of my shoes.  This is tough.  Apparently, (and this is really hard to admit,) emotional abuse was something that was part of my normal, for most of my life.  So now, I need to figure out how to make that abnormal, and not allow it to be something I do to myself even after I find people who don't treat me badly. 

I will say that I have found the people.  I have lots of good friends who tell me to knock it off when I am hard on myself, and it's nice to feel validated, and not judged, or yelled at for things I have no control over.

Some say that they don't know what normal looks like, or what healthy looks like. This is true for me, even though I see it with other people.  Sure, I have seen family relationships that have been really healthy.  In the past, I have resented those people who have had good relationships with their families.  It made me bitter, and turn even further inward onto myself, saying things like: "It's not something you deserve, because you are you, and she is she."

Not true, I'm finding.

But for 36 years, I sure believed it, and probably still do, somewhere in the back of my head.  But today, I'm having a good day, so I'm choosing to believe, otherwise.

I still don't feel like I am in a place in which I can share (with the world,) what happened, but I do feel like I can share this with a few close friends, and that has been very helpful for me.  In the past, even as recently as yesterday, I have allowed these negative thoughts to percolate inside of me, without letting them out.  After some talk about this, I'm realizing that these thoughts?  They aren't something I can do that with, because they do this thing, where they cycle around.  It seems that with each new thought cycle, they pick up more internal vitriol, and just get worse, until I am in a very low, dark place.  It can be very hard to come out of that.

So, why am I choosing to share this now?

Because.  I am discovering that I am really not alone in this.  Many of us seem to have internal struggles that are ridiculously awful to endure, and work through.  I am also discovering that there are many of us who are sometimes triggered by something that can just knock us out of control.  It sucks, and it can be extremely difficult to regain that control.  And sometimes?  I feel like I am just flat-out, bat shit crazy.

Of course, now I think I know who I can call upon when it gets really bad.  I will refer to these people as my own personal Insane Clown Posse.  I am so glad I have them, and I am so glad that they usually throw me a rope to help me out of the mental chaos pit of despair.

Also?  Self care.  Sometimes, that means taking a day off to just be, or to talk with a good friend.  Sometimes, it means doing something slightly extravagant.  It can look like a lot of different things, and it's nice to brainstorm even that with friends, to figure out what might actually help me the most.  Self-validation is also a good thing.  Realizing that you have been through hell, and that you really should cut yourself some slack, can be pretty powerful. 

So, while this may not be something that is set up for me just yet, because it all takes time,  it's something that I'm working toward.  Hopefully, soon, I will be a much happier person, who can go back to doing what she loves.