Monday, February 01, 2016
I expected to like Carrie Fisher’s book, Postcards from the Edge, because I enjoyed the movie. Though I haven’t seen it in a while scenes from the movie, lines, the tone in which those lines were delivered often pop into my head. (“It twirled up!”)
To my surprise I didn’t care for the book. So much so that I felt guilty and out of touch. I’m supposed to like this, I thought. Where or when this was message was picked up by me I do not know. With trepidation I opened a Gchat window and sent a message to Miss Bliss, “is it wrong,” I asked, “that I don’t like postcards from the edge?” After explaining why - seems too self indulgent, too pithy, I didn’t care for any of the main characters etc - I decided to absolve myself from the senseless guilt and just let it be. Though this is where I perhaps express some delight in not having a library card. Ha! There’s no card to strip me off, library mafia! That is a thing, yes? Oh, why am I asking? As if anyone would admit it.
After the chat, I thought I was done thinking about the book but I was wrong. As I finished my dinner from a fast food place it hit me. The main reason why this book troubles me. In my chat with Bliss I mentioned that the description of Suzanne’s therapy sessions was the reason I chose to not become a therapist. The idea of sitting day after day listening to people analyze their lives and yet make no progress- I wasn’t built for that! How dreadful, I thought then and I still think that now.
But with the smell of the burger and fries still lingering in the air, the grease sitting heavy in my stomach, I thought, “That’s me. I’m Suzanne.” Mind you, this is no grand epiphany. I’ve had probably every thought one can have about food and dieting, fat and exercise in the oh 40-some years of living in this world as a fat person.
No, the epiphany was that I didn’t dislike the book for the writing, the unlikable characters, the overly pithy dialogue. I disliked it for something Ms. Fisher can’t control. Her book was a mirror and the reflection I saw is of something I say I want to change and yet I haven’t found the strength to do so. Much like Suzanne keeps gravitating to men who don’t fill the void she’s feeling, I keep choosing food that does nothing but leave me feeling weak, out of control and undisciplined. I’m the person on the couch, year after year, boring the therapist with my overly indulgent thoughts as to why I make these choices, rationalizing them, and still not capable of just stopping.
As a psychology major I believe we work our good and bad habits for a reason. What I can’t or won’t admit to myself is exactly what I get from staying fat. It isn’t a love of food. Oh, do I wish it were that. At least if that were the case I would have enjoyed getting this fat.
So, these are things I’m pondering. I also wonder if I should go back to Goodreads to revise the three star rating I gave the book. I’m not sure yet.
The only thing I’m sure about is that I’m feeling good that I went to the gym and did 40 minutes on the treadmill. I didn’t make great food choices today and the one gym session won’t undo all the calories I took in but it was one good decision. And for now one good decision will have to do.
Wednesday, February 03, 2016
Someone was telling me recently that he felt an obligation to attend a social function.
“Why?” I asked.
“Are you friends? Do you care above the normal ‘I wish everyone well’ level of caring about this person’s future? Because if you don’t, then I don’t see the need to go. And by going you’re actually giving the person the impression that there is a friendship here and you shouldn’t do that.”
There was a little bit of back and forth which ended with, “Patricia, you’re mean!”
This is not the first time I’ve heard this. It likely won’t be the last. I know how I am perceived, I know I’m not perceived as the nicest apple in the playground. I am okay with that because I am not actively mean. I do not actively seek to hurt people. I take pride in not being a “mean girl”.* However, because - like any good introvert - superficial connections are something I dislike and avoid, I don’t see the need to push myself to do something when there isn’t a true established connection.
But, Patricia, you’re saying, what about social niceties? You’re right. We can’t ignore them, they’re important in a civilized society, if you don’t want people acting like narcissistic heathens. I encourage people to behave in mannerly ways. I hold the door open for someone if they’re immediately behind me. I put my hand in harms way to stop the elevator doors closing if I see someone rushing to get in the elevator. I give up my seat for someone who seems to need it more. These things I do because they should be done but I don’t for one second imagine that this has established a connection, the person I just gave my seat to are not suddenly BFFs. Why do we feel this need to label everyone as a friend? Does this mean we can only be nice to friends? What’s the harm in doing something nice for a complete stranger knowing that you’ll probably never see them again?
Having and using good manners does not mean you have to try and be friends with every single person you’ve ever met. Who has the time and energy for that? Plus, there’s an authenticity to simply doing something for the sake of doing it and not because it may win us popularity points. Which is why I balk at pretending to be friends with someone who I’m not friends with. If I do that, in my mind, I’m diluting my true friendships. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just trying to rationalize being selfish with my time. Maybe deep down I mind that people label me as mean or bitchy.
I’ll ponder that some more later when I’m home enjoying my time and not out forcing myself to have superficial interactions that don’t add positive energy into my life.
*Though, of course, anytime I write that I take pride in being something or not being something, I immediately think of several examples of moments when I was or wasn’t the thing I’m saying I take pride in. But, hey, I’m human, I am flawed. I am a work in progress. I can aspire to be something while at the same time acknowledging that there are areas of improvement. Moving on, or, since this is a footnote, moving back.
Thursday, February 11, 2016
How is it that it’s been fifteen years since I discovered blogs and decided to start one and I’ve not quite figured out what should go here exactly? I distinctly remember pondering this question fifteen years ago; especially on the days when I was posting multiple times a day. What matters? What is interesting? What will I want to remember? Asking those questions curbed the many many posts about the day to day that is my life. But it also sometimes stalled me.
There’s also the added fact that we don’t always know what’s going to matter, do we? A random phone call or message easily forgotten in the moment can, after a time, take on more meaning. “Oh, if I’d known that was the last conversation I was going to have, I would have done it better-” Or, hell, sometimes angrier is the way to go. In this case I’m thinking specifically about a conversation I had on April 11 of last year. That call deserved some angry words. Not mean words, mind you, but a better, stronger articulation of my disappointment and emotions. But that’s a story for another day.
Enough rambling. (Why, hello, 2001! Didn’t think I’d see you again.) This really was just a poor way of saying, I know this space is here and I know I want to use it better. I’m just trying to figure out what better means. I’m open to suggestions.
Friday, February 12, 2016
Years ago I had to park my car on the street for a good stretch of time. You’d think that that would have made me an even better parallel parker but it did not. Unless I could easily steer my car into the spot I would bypass it and go in search of something that wouldn’t cause me to have visions of bumping into all the cars ever made. Sometimes I ended up far away from home but that was preferable to struggling to park the car.
I saw nothing wrong with this habit. My father, however, did. On the way back home from lunch one day we drove past a spot he deemed perfectly acceptable. “No way I can get my car in there,” I said and drove on. We circled back around a few minutes later and the spot was still there. “Park there,” he said. “I can’t,” I replied and drove past it.
You’re smart cookies so I know you know I ended up circling back around and of course the spot was still there. Are you getting the picture of how tight this spot was? With obviously very limited parking in the neighborhood this spot had been left empty for a good while. “Park there,” he said. “I-”
He interrupted with, “You’re parking here.” The tone of his voice made it quite clear that despite my 30-some years he was pulling the dad card.
It took a lot of inching back and forth and a lot of careful watching as he guided me into the spot but I managed to wedge it in there.
“See,” he said, “it wasn’t that hard and now you know you can do it.”
Now that I have a car again and am back to having to parallel park the car in the city, boy, am I ever so grateful that my dad took the time to force me to improve my driving. That lesson comes in handy often.
Sunday, February 14, 2016
Part of the joy of blogging for me was always about being able to tinker with the site, the behind the scenes stuff that makes things run smoothly. When I said I would start blogging again I determined that I would put up a bare bones site so that I could focus on the writing. That decision was based on my need to not use the technical aspects to procrastinate further. The fact that I haven’t had a personal computer since March of 2015 helped with that decision. It’s hard to try and be geeky when I no longer have all the applications that I used to use to play around and experiment.
Thankfully I discovered that I had installed a more up to date version of Expression Engine (which I use to power the site) on the server at some point before the Macbook died. I could have used the old version, of course, but it’s buggy and I decided I’d start with a clean slate. At some point I’ll see about importing some old entries but I doubt I’ll bring back every single entry. That’s a decision for another day, however.
By mid-January I’d coded the templates for the home page and individual entry pages but left the archives template for another day. Mostly because I couldn’t quite remember how to get it done. In the last week not having that set up has been bugging me. So, last night, around 9:30 p.m. I opened up the dashboard, opened up the help documents and started tinkering. Five hours later, I’m finally finished (for now). I’ve been aware of the late hour for several hours now but I was enjoying myself - despite the frustrations I encountered. I am geeky enough to install a content management system, figure out how futz around with the code, but I’m not geeky enough for all of that to not be work.
Still, this has me thinking that I really need to figure out when I’ll be able to afford a new computer so that I can really spend time getting this place looking and working like I want. For now, it’s way past my bedtime.
This will be a running list of tips, tricks I might use to tinker with the site.
Wednesday, February 24, 2016
I saw the above a day or so after I wrote a lengthy post that I ultimately set to Draft status because it felt scattered but also slightly too personal. This is something I’ve always struggled with - trying to find the balance between writing what I’m feeling, what’s going on in my life and wanting to make it somewhat interesting for the few people who stop by to read my blatherings.
The quote is a good reminder that if I’m going to do this well (well being subjective, clearly) then I have to work through those feelings of discomfort and just accept that writing about some things is just going to feel scary.
Friday, February 26, 2016
I have memories of being an avid reader so despite the fact that my reading levels have gone down steadily for several years now, I still think of myself as being an avid reader. I still love books. I still collect them despite putting myself on a book buying ban back in 2007. It was necessary, really. It wasn’t uncommon for me to buy a dozen books a month and simply put them on the shelf, to be read later. As a consequence, I’ve built a nice diverse personal library. This I consider an accomplishment and it pains me that the bulk of my books have been in storage for three years. I yearn for the day when I am once again surrounded by my books.
When I moved in with friends and was once again living in limited space I carefully chose 30-40 books that I swore would tide me over until I would be on my own again and reunited with my library. Of course, the bulk of those 30-40 books have gone unread as I’ve purchased more books. Due to the limited living quarters, however, I have delved deeper into the e-book market (though I don’t much like it. I do it simply for the convenience. A convenience that I actually dislike and resent so go figure.)
I lost the point of the post immediately after the first two sentences, I believe so let’s get back to it. Despite believing myself to be an avid reader, my reading levels have gone down. So, to do something about it, I convinced a friend to read A Tale of Two Cities with me. Believing that if I had a deadline and a promise of a book discussion I would be more dedicated to the reading.
This would have been, I still contend, a solid plan had I not decided to work on a cross stitching project for Mother’s Day.
As quick background, during the last two trips to El Salvador, I have completed a small, quick cross stitching project for a favored aunt. My mother, while appreciating that I am doing something nice for someone she cares for, has also expressed mild jealousy over the fact that I’ve never done something similar for her.
Still riding the nice mellow high of completing a project, making something pretty that someone really enjoyed, when we came back from our vacation this January, I had the brilliant though of starting a new project and why not kill two birds with one stone and make something for my mother in time for the May observance. But what to stitch for her, I wondered.
I quickly considered and rejected various themes and then I realized something religious would do the trick. Thankfully, Amazon came to the rescue with a cross stitch kit of Our Lady of Guadalupe who she has tremendous appreciation of. Perfect! I though, she’s going to love this. Or so the theory goes and I certainly hope I’m right or I’m going to be ridiculously disappointed.
So what does one have to do with the other you ask? Or maybe you’re not asking and you know exactly where I’m going with this.
The 8.5x11 cross stitch work has been taking up the bulk of my time and, honestly, also my interest. While I have started the book, I’m no where near close to being finished with it and the book discussion is this coming Monday. Trouble! I’m going to have to focus on the book over the weekend, a fact that leaves me wishing I didn’t have to because I want to really only focus on the cross stitch. Leading me to the title of the post, at first I found myself thinking, I wish I had more hours in the day so I could focus on different things, the reality of it is that I would probably still only focus those hours on the cross stitch project. I’m that obsessed with it right now. This is a good thing however. Because I’ve made great progress on it and I have no doubt that I’ll finish it way before the May deadline.
Because I’ve enjoyed working on this so much I’ve been thinking I should get back into the habit of doing one or two projects a year but if I do that, I’m going to need to figure out how to balance out the work because I can’t continue to ignore other things (such as focusing on exercise, reading, photography) simply to churn out cross stitching projects.