Monday, December 28, 2009

Bad to Worse to Better Again

(Pre-Script: This post best digested as the song, "Superman," # 9 on the playlist, plays in the background. Go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)
If I have learned anything so far in this life, which is questionable, it's that sometimes things have to go from bad to worse before they start to get better. This, I believe, is a good thing. It's good to give yourself space to breathe. The other option is either perfectionism, or complete slovenliness. If you live your life always having to be perfect, you will be frustrated and never able to rest. If you live your life in complete slovenliness, you will be frustrated and never able to rest. Also there will be bugs in your bed and your hair that never allow you to rest. Also in your clothes. Also your own stench will keep you awake.
It's healthy to remember that there is a season, time, place for everything, but that not everything is for every season, time, and place. Sometimes it's time to make the mess. Sometimes it's time to clean up the mess. Sometimes it's time to add to the mess before you clean it up. Sometimes if you try to get to it right away, you will be too tired to do it well. Then you will be snappy and sharp with everyone around you. Sometimes, just sleep on it and get to it the next day when you are rested. Or sometimes, just add to the mess the next day, before getting to the clean up part THE NEXT day. It's healthy. It's breathing, and giving yourself space to be breathe and be what you are. You are not a perfect robot. You are not a lazy slob. You are human. Be gentle with yourself. Be graceful towards yourself. Be kind to yourself. Only then can you be gentle, graceful, and kind to others.
*Someone wants to stop me here and say, "NO, it's not true, Michelle; I am harsh with myself, but kind to others." To which I say, whoever you are, you are fooling yourself. Trust me.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

...And you thought I was from Detroit...

(Pre-Script: This post will remind you exactly where you came from when read as the song,"32 Flavors," #21 on the playlist, plays in the background. Go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)
You have heard it said before: "You can take the girl out of her clothes, but you can't take the clothes out of the girl." Or no, you probably have not heard that before, seeing as I just made that up.
I met a lady at church today. She told me that she and her family came here from Washington D.C.. Folks, when that woman told me she was from Washington D.C., I believed her. Granted, she's lived here for the past 9 years, but when she told me she was from Washington D.C., I believed her. She seemed, Oh how do I put this? She seemed Downright Political. I'm not sure if it was the conservative bob, or the confidence in her tone when she said, "We're all a part of the same country," and the gleam in her eye when she said it, too, but I believed her. Even her wedding ring looked Washington D.C. to me. Even her quilted brown jacket. Even her sensible shoes. And I won't even tell you about the man sitting next to her whom I assumed to be her husband. (Oh, okay, you twisted my arm hard enough, here's a teaser: He looked Completely Congressional. Don't ask me to describe his physical appearance, because I just did.)
Now folks, this bothered me because I realized something very important. I realized that I have a problem. I have lived in San Jose, California, my entire life. By "My entire life," I actually mean not my actual entire life, just the entire part of which I have a conscious memory. My parents tell me that I was born and spent the first two years of my life in Portland, Oregan, but as I have no working memory of anything Oregonian, they could have filled in the blank with any location, and it still would have remained just a blank space in the canvas of my memory, on which they could have colored any geographical landscape.*
The fact that I have basically lived in one city my entire life (except for the few college years I spent living in the cute town of Saratoga, which is attached to San Jose-: literally attached, as in, you can stand with one foot in San Jose and the other in Saratoga in certain spots-I forgot about that until just now) means that I am not as diverse and cultured as I would like to think that I am. I have been tricked into thinking that I am a vast, diverse, well rounded person because I live in a place where people who actually are vast, diverse, and from everywhere else in the world come to live, and to work, and to enjoy the crazy good weather conditions, overpriced standard of living, and close proximity to the Pacific Ocean and also to the mountains. Don't hate me because this area is beautiful. Hate my parents for that.
Can you imagine how it feels to realise that you are not diverse among all this diversity?? Oh the irony. At least if I had grown up in Nebraska, I would know that I was Midwestern, because everyone around me was also Midwestern, and positively landlocked. Not that you can't get out-just that I am guessing here, and by guessing I mean totally stereotyping but meaning no harm when I say it- that I doubt there is as much cultural diversity in Nebraska as there is in California, if only because California is connected to an Ocean, and Nebraska has no Oceans attached to it, and studies over thousands of years have shown that places attached to Oceans tend to draw people in, if only the people who are in boats looking for a place to land. This is true.
When I was 16, I spent 4 days in Ohio. When I got off of the airplane in Dayton or somesuch city which escapes me now, I instantly believed that I was in Ohio. Even without the signs on the wall reminding me. I think it was all the khaki pants and penny loafers in 1992. I'm not sure. There was definitely an air of "We are by and large a more conservative population than the culture from which the flying bullet from which you just emerged has brought you; we are behind the fashion about 2-5 years, but we are really okay with that. At least, for the next 2-5 years, we are okay with that."
I wonder if I were to move to another part of the country and live there for 9 years, if people would still be able to instantly tell that I came from here. Not the Northern Part of California; too Mountainous and Nature Loving; not the Southern part of California; too Carb-ophobic and Overpriced Vehicle-ish; but the middle part, the busy Silicon Valley part, just an exact mix of the Northern and Southern parts that combines to make it's own diverse combination. Or at least I sure like to believe that it does.
Hi, My name is Michelle, and I live in San Jose. Still.


*(I do have a memory of a visit to the Pediatrician's office when I was a child. When I recounted this memory to my mother, she said "you just described the Dr.'s office you went to in Portland." this could have been any Dr.'s office anywhere in the world, but that's not important here. What's important is that I was not yet 2 when this remembered event took place. I believe that individuals with this young of a memory are classified as either "Brilliant" or "Extremely Gifted;" the exact label alludes me just now; I digress.)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Snow in the background

(Pre-Script: This post pairs best with either the song, "Winter, by Joshua Radin, #29 on the playlist, or the song,"Winter, by Tori Amos, #32 on the playlist, or both. Go down to the playlist, click on one or both songs, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)
From my vantage point, There were low hanging clouds, and above them, snow on the mountain tops. But since both the clouds and the snow are white, it was hard to differentiate between the two. It looked like white mash with a smattering of green specks; mashed potatoes topped with chives.
For the past few weeks, I have been eating as if the government depended on it. As if the Queen declared, "let them eat cake," and I took it on as my personal mission. Freedom for the people. Freedom to eat cake, and have your cake, too, and if you run out of frosting, there is more in the bowl where that came from.
It's hard to sleep when your stomach aches from hunger, and from freedom to overindulge. It's hard to sleep when the same stomach aches for both things simultaneously. But on the hills in the distance, I see snow, and the clouds hang low, so that if you were there on that mountain, all you would see is fog all around, and not landscape, and certainly not the summit, though you may be very close to it. From this distance, it looks like aching beauty. It looks like a metaphor for everything I could never put into words.
But in two hours, the clouds will lift, the snow will begin to melt. Things will be clear that once seemed to blur together. I'm not sure which I like better.
Actually, that's not true. I like the white haze of everything better. I like the uncertain cold, the permission to freeze myself indefinitely, too; freeze away from movement, freeze away from feeling; Numb stillness is pretty. Movement creates sweat. Movement creates. What am I responsible for, and what
do I merely look at from a distance? From what do I walk away, or up towards?


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Safe Place

(Pre-Script: This post will chill you to the bone when read as the song, " A Thousand Winter's Melting," # 15 on the playlist, plays in the background. Go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

Sometime between when I entered Target to when I exited Target this evening, the sky began to pour. And pour. And pour it's little heart out. Imagine my surprise as I pushed my very full-of-heavy-things-including-but-not-limited-to-milk and-the-free-carton-of-orange-juice-I-got-for-buying-3-Quaker-brand-cereal-items out the exit door. Me, in my thin sweater, completely impractical but hopelessly cute peep toe high heels, jeans which everyone knows are the worst item of clothing to have to wear while wet, and no sort of jacket or umbrella, just getting mercilessly dumped on.
There was a man in my peripheral vision whom I was keeping peripheral track of, for he struck me as the stalker type. I thought it odd that he was in the same pharmaceutical aisle as I at the same time as I, then later as I backtracked for something else I had forgotten, he was also there at the same time, then at the checkout, he was the customer just behind me. Mmmhmm, you see? A girl can never be too careful of these things. He seemed to be answering his cell phone just before he walked out, which could only mean to me that he was signaling his other thug buddies who were hiding out in the parking lot that *I*, unsuspecting prospective victim of the evening, was about to exit the building. so I was leery of walking out the door of the Target, into the night.
Oh, how dark, how black a night can become. Mind you, night time is full of creeping things which do not creep about during the day, and the pouring rain does not stop them. At least I don't think it does. And one of those types of creeping things that comes out at night, besides owls and opossums, is stalker-ish men with ill intent, and their buddies. So I kept this man in peripheral awareness, and as I exited the Target to my well lit parking spot, I called out a quick but fervent, "Help me, Jesus!" up towards The Very Heavens which were pummeling me.
I made it to my car, where I still had to unload the cart full of heavy type grocery items and sundries, all the while being rained on, bitter cold, arctic rain, apparently the only kind that comes out after dark. Or maybe it's the only kind that comes out after dark when it is aiming itself at unprepared girls in thin sweaters, jeans, and hopelessly cute peep toed high heels. I kept thinking, "this is uncomfortable, and man, it would be even more uncomfortable to be knocked down by the dude or his thugs in this bitter cold rain."
However, and this is a huge however, Stalker type dude did not follow me. Or maybe he tried to and was stopped by a blinding angel which only he could see, which terrified him speechless and temporarily paralyzed, and instantly and forever cured of any desire to ever stalk, thug, or terrorize, or hang out with those who do. I hope so, because it makes for a better story. All I know is that the inside of my car was dry, the doors locked instantly, and I drove home through the rain as it poured down all around me.
It's a crazy world of unpredictable bouts of rain and pouring and bitter cold, often when you least expect it, and have done nothing to prepare for the inevitability that something might just maybe start dumping on you from who knows where at any given moment. It is also a world full of stalker-ish men, who sometimes turn out not to be stalker-ish at all, but just fellow Target shoppers with inconvenient, extremely annoying timing.
As I pulled up to the house, I saw that my world contained one safe dry spot, just one, and it was under Derek's truck in my driveway.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Chocolate is both a Vegetable and a Dessert.

(Pre-Script: This post will satisfy your appetite for that which you hunger if you read it as the song, "Going the Distance," by Cake, #53 on the playlist, plays in the background. Go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. * I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

Like so many of you, I live in a state of perpetual frustration. Don't everyone break out in gigantic sobs at once. It's just that I would love to be invited over to someone's house for dinner, arrive, and have them say, "Guess what, we're having peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner." But no one would ever does that. No one would ever do that. Instead, they decide it would be better to wear themselves out cooking some variation of a meat next to a vegetable medley on a plate. I married Derek, the King of Vegetable Medley Eaters, (0r, DtKVME) so at least he's got the whole "if someone invites us over for dinner" thing going for him. They neglected to take into account the fact that I hate the vegetable medley with a fierce passion, so I have to sit there and figure out creative ways to shift my vegetables around so no one notices my shunning of the dish... Or, better yet, a way to push my portion onto Derek's plate, and hope that he scarfed his down fast enough that the host will not notice, but will only think, by Derek's lack of knowing how to take bite sized bites, and my slight of hand and deft speediness at vegetable plate transfer, that I was in fact the one who scarfed down my vegetable medley with all the grace and agility of a speed skater on oiled ice with a slightly downward slope.
"Don't blink or you'll miss it."
"Wanna see it again?"
Then the host might look at me, famished as I am from only eating the smallish portion of meat that I was able to chew and gnaw to swallowable size and consistency, see my emaciated facial features and say,
"You must have really loved those vegetables. Would you like some more?"
To which I will swooningly say in an understated manner,
"No thank you; I am saving room for dessert."
At this point, Derek usually looks at me with an expression of,
"How can you be thinking about dessert at a time like this?!? I am still contemplating a third helping of the vegetable medley, but first I must tell a really long, drawn out, detailed story about the inner workings of a gizmo which you have heard in painful detail already every other 79 times someone invited us over for dinner."
When at last the gracious host brings out dessert, it will be served on a tiny dish. In tiny portions. Microscopic, even. It might even just be a sorbet with fresh berries on top. I don't know who decided to move the fruit from the main meal course to the dessert course, but let's be clear: I was never fooled.
It doesn't really matter if the host serves warm brownies, soft chocolate chip cookies out of the oven, fudge. Just give me chocolate. Give me ice cream. Give me cakedy cakness, and frosting, frosting, frosting! For I do a lot of exercising, and run a lot of miles, just to be able to indulge in dessert. But after the initial microscopic dessert plate, including the metal rim, (just in case a taste of sweetness got stuck there, and was missed by my teeny tiny spoon) has been licked clean, I find that 99.7% of hosts do not offer seconds.
Now stop right there, go back and recall with me, if you will, the reaction the host has to my hasty excavation of the vegetables, namely the part where he or she assumes I want more, and offers it to me, hardly taking my repeated "no's" without things turning to almost physical blows...Almost.
Yes, there is an inconsistency here, some plot to destroy me. Derek does nothing to further my cause, for two bites into his dessert, he pushes his dish away and says "Oh, man, I'm so full." Blink.
"MAN, that broccoli was PERFECT! Michelle, you should get that recipe."
*no comment on if I got that recipe or not.*
"Um, Excuse me, Michelle,"
my Dear Imaginary Reader is thinking,
"...but aren't you being a bit ungrateful? You sound like such a *045#$*%)!!!! right now!"
Dear Imaginary Reader, I can see why you would think this, but I'm afraid you have mistaken my one tone of voice for my OTHER tone of voice. I am not ungrateful, I am merely suggesting that the people inviting us over need not go to so much work.
"Oh, now I understand. Carry on."
Thank you.
So in short, Darlings, it's just what I told my Imaginary Reader just now. Don't wear yourselves out so much. Just break out the P.B and J's already.
In the meantime, Derek thinks he died and went to Vegetable Medley Heaven.
You see what I go through?


*All claims made in the Pre-Script are purely hypothetical, 64% of the time.