Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Moments Like These...

...make me so excited to one day raise a child with this man.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Revamp, revitalize

Sometimes I catch myself, heart racing, fingernails chewed, eyes unable to pull away from a task at hand and that is why you see this new blog before you. Today I went into crazy OCD land and downloaded several photo apps and started "playing" with my blog. This is after I made business cards with my old logo, after I have registered for the big BlogHer12 Conference in New York this week and before I realized what I had done, I had deleted my last template. I started to go into complete panic, meltdown mode and instead decided to go with the change and embrace it a little. I'm not saying this is perfect and I feel a little stupid with a fancy romantic picture of myself on the blog, but in the spirit of letting go, I'm just going to run with this (even if it is totally off-centered at that is driving me insane!) Anyhow, I'm back and I'm ready to blog. Thanks for sticking with me or nice to meet you for the first time if you are just clicking away. This is a blog about me, as all blogs are. For years I have struggled to find what my "niche" is and for a long time I refused to be put into a category. If I get real honest, this is a blog about survival to recovery. Surviving the effects of alcoholism, surviving the effects of rape, and recovering to find the peace and love that exists within us all. Hippie-dippie, you bet. Do I also write about tramp stamps (Tramp Stamp Thursdays), politics, artists (Tuesday Treats) and the state of the union which is code for my impending bi-coastal wedding and do I instagram like a mo'fo? You got it.  Welcome to the funhouse.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

On Being "Good Enough"

So, I have this love affair with self-sabotage. Or, at least that's what I have always called it. I freeze up when an opportunity presents itself and then wait until the last minute before acting, squeezing myself into this tiny space I call "a whopping disadvantage" where there is no way I can present my best because I have already sabotaged the time it takes to really prepare for your best.

I have done it again, people. I have known about the BlogHer Conference happening in New York City in two weeks for months! I have waffled between definitely going to losing complete steam for not just this blog, but my movie blog, too. And then when I had a sudden stroke of inspiration this morning, it was sufficiently drowned by a wave of anxiety of what I would have to do to get ready for this conference: new business cards, back on twitter, a tagline, a better though out vision for this blog as well as the seeds for a new blog I will launch next summer (more on that later). I immediately became overwhelmed with disappointment in myself for doing it once again. Why do I always cut myself so damn short?

Almost ten years ago I graduated from one of the most elite writing programs in the country with the Senior Achievement Award from my Department. I had a film company tell me to rewrite the ending of my feature-length screenplay/thesis and resubmit it to them because it was "better than half the stuff they option" (as was said to me). I never rewrote that screenplay. Just like I have not registered for this conference. I feel like I have been sitting on the sidelines of my life even though I know that is not reality. In turns out that it's not as simple as that and that I can't just "work harder" at changing that or fixing it especially when so much of it is unconscious when it is happening. Some of the kindest words were spoken to me today when in the middle of my shaking voice and my  admitted self-sabotage realization once again, a friend said, "You are enough and my guess is you are more than enough." She told me that I was amazing and that all I had to do was show up. She told me to go to Staples, buy some cards and just show up. Could it all really be so simple? "Its you that is amazing, not the card," she said.

The concept of being "good enough" has always eluded me the same way the phrase "don't be so hard on yourself" has. Whenever my Dad would say that to me I would get so angry because I didn't understand. What do you mean don't be so hard on myself?! If anything, I'm not being hard enough. It is possible to be both an overachiever and be underwhelmed by what you have done with your "potential." It is possible to present yourself as one tough bitch while unknowingly struggling with self-esteem. It turns out there is a lot more to success than "working hard" just as there is a lot more to understand about the nature of fear when we talk about failure.

I still have not registered for the conference, but I did email a friend of a friend who is a graphic designer to inquire about new business cards and for today that is good enough.

Monday, July 16, 2012

I Heart Park Slope

I have been collecting images of my neighborhood which I though I would share here because it's a pretty great place to live.
On my corner
Favorite treat at favorite coffee shop
View from De Luxe, best damn coffee shop in Brooklyn
Other Best Coffee Shop in Brooklyn and family friendly, Coleur Cafe

Church / Homeless Shelter

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Meltdowns 101: Top Ten Things (for a Bride-to-Be) Not to Do

[Extra bonus tip: Post pictures of
yourself in a wedding dress you did not buy]
If you feel you are on the verge of a meltdown here is a list of things NOT to do:

1. Go to a spin class, a total body work out class, and boot camp back to back.  Don't worry, if you're impending meltdown won't stop you, your torn hamstrings will.

2. Diet. Inevitably you will find yourself starved and stressed with a glass of wine, hunks of cheese, and potato chips in front of you.

3.  Look at other wedding dresses after you have already bought yours of which you are sure you will not fit into, so much so that you have still not picked it up.

4. Eat dinner outside right at the lovely twilight hour when the sun sets and bloodsucking mosquitoes come out and chew up your legs and feet turning a romantic dinner into three days of hellish rashes and fiery feet.

5. Have an answer ready when people ask you if they are invited to your wedding, tell you that you have to invite so and so,  and another answer ready when people ask if they can bring a date.

6. Wear uncomfortable shoes. Nothing goes better together than an impending meltdown, a heat wave, and blisters.

7.  Drink. You want to lose it? Have a drink. Hoover's Dam has nothing on a glass of Pinot Grigio.

8. Shop. There is no amount of retail therapy that will take away the anxiety of an over-extended guest list and table assignments. Even if you think that sexy black dress will totally make you happy when you pull it out for that romantic dinner, your brain will forget about it sitting in your closet as will the mosquitoes forget about your sanity as they happily suck away.

9. Compulsively check facebook as a way to escape. You will find yourself emotional over trending articles on the rise and fall of famous Olympians from the 90s or opening yet another social media account. (Le sigh, Spotify)

10. Tell your fiance you are just "kinda freaking out." They know. But if you are interested in making a mountain out of a mole hill, this is a way to acquire a shovel.

Bonus Tip: Post a list like this on a blog. I kid, folks, I kid. All's well on the Eastern front...right?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

'Cause Baby, You're a Firework

It is my nature to want to fix things. If you needed a gal to roll up her sleeves and get something done,  I'd tear the sleeves off and use 'em for bandages when my elbows were rubbed raw. Okay, maybe not that dramatic. But I like to "find solutions" which is another way of saying I like to "force outcomes." (As if I have that much power. I can hear the gods laughing!) When I was in college I wrote a play where two characters named "Girl" and "Boy" acted as part Greek chorus, part omniscient gods. They tried to warn the characters of the pitfalls of their tragic flaws all the while knowing that as human beings we are imperfect, we are flawed, and time and time again we fall victim to are own near-sighted hubris.

The last little while here I have been trying to notice my hubris. Where in my life do I do things or say things out of a need to feel in control? To feel powerful? To feel safe? And unfortunately a lot of this soul searching did not come out of good behavior. It came out of perfectly bad behavior of which I am still feeling the effects of. It has been painful to let go of some of the relationships I was trying to fix and realize that maybe they didn't need fixing they just needed me to take my hands off of them. Furthermore, it took everything in me that when I felt the sadness of a loss of connection with anyone, not to jump back in there and tell them what they meant to me. And on the occasion when I did,  it only led to feeling unsure and confused days later. The breaking down of a well-oiled machine is a messy sight. When one day you wake up and realize the only way you know how to roll your sleeves up no longer keeps them up is a disconcerting day.

A week ago someone gave me the image of two hands cupped holding water. If they squeezed those hands into fists, the water would leak out through the cracks in their fingers, the pressure too great, the cruel injustice of grasping too hard to anything- an idea, a lover, a job, a relationship.  I have been trying to let go of the reigns. I have been trying to trust that anything that should not be in my life will inevitably find its exit if I ask it to. And that the things that are still in my life are nothing short of gifts even if they don't always look like how I want them to. It is in trusting that things fix themselves if you stop "working" at it and leave room for the divine, the mysteries of time and space and all that other inexplicable spiritual murkiness I don't like to believe in. Perhaps it is in letting go that a friendship can grow, or a heart  can heal or a firework can burst. Perhaps it is questioning when I am in "reaction" and when I am in an "action of love," that can help change a moment. But certainly every moment is different and imperfect and there are steps and missteps and all sorts of slips in between. But the more I ask, the clearer things get. The more I show up  for the present moment the more life surprises me with unexpected joys like a red-white-and-blue sparkly wreath for my hair under a firework-lit sky against the backdrop of a mountain's silhouette. Like being baptized by sailboat or humbled by someone else's courage to say, I am a loving being of light, please show me where I can burn, even if it may hurt to get there. Like taking road trips full of tears and laughter and singing and the smell of pizza on the tips of our tongues. Like watching fireworks over a lake in a state I never dreamed of visiting as a kid. Like reminding myself of my California roots when I jump off a dock plunging myself into temperatures unknown.

There is so much life to be had. Sometimes I just want to grab it by the wind just to know what beauty feels like in my palms. And to think that everyday I need to remind myself to be grateful for what is right at my feet.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Historics of Hysterics

The dirty secret about grief that no one talks about is how out of control it can make you feel. The subject of grief has been on my mind for a while now and I've had the opportunity to talk about it with a friend who is in deed grieving, although no one in her life has died. A couple months ago I had acupressure and the spots that were most sensitive were the ones that carry grief. The doctor had said to me, "This is unprocessed grief. Most brides don't recognize the 'jitters' as grief and so it comes out in unexpected ways." He told me to try to remember that there is grief in becoming a married woman and saying goodbye to your single life, grief that has nothing to do with doubt or fear, just the passing of a certain time in one's life. Since then I have been thinking about grief both in terms of actual loss and metaphorical loss, even the loss of an idea. But the thing about grief is that it comes however and whenever it pleases. Sometimes in big, snotty hysterics and sometimes in the sudden gut punch we get when a word is said in a certain tone. 

When my grandparents died, I was shocked by how hysterical I became when I heard the news but also how debilitating the grief was that followed for the next eight months. I was not very close with them and if anything had a very strained, often absent relationship with them. But that's the bitch about grief. I was not only grieving for the loss of their lives, but for the loss of what could have been and for everything that had happened in the past that I never grieved for. I beat myself up for never acting on an invitation to tea with my Grandmother. I grieved for the Christmas I sat in my mother's car refusing to go inside their home. I grieved for all of the hurt and misunderstandings and grievances we held for far too long and for all of the summer cookouts and pool parties we would never share. Where I once used to hold my breath at the thought of what it would be like inviting them to my wedding, if I would invite them, where would I seat them, I now feel a special sadness for the place card that will never get written. There's a special sadness for the middle name I never shared. There is no longer that person in the world that I can say, my middle name is this and she is why. 

When grief comes, it does not come in one hail storm of ice, sleet and snow. But rather more like rolling thunder storms, flash floods, or one drop of dew on a silk blouse. You are driving in your car along Coldwater Canyon and suddenly you are overcome with sadness- an aching in your stomach for the mornings when you watched the sunrise outside of your mother's Nissan while on your way to Grandma's house. You drive past a lake where there once was an invitation to come dip your toes in the water and instead it was declined, and suddenly you cannot breathe. You sit at a table where someone once told you look just like your mother and instead of feeling the pain of that moment, you cracked a joke. Eight years later you can't remember the joke, but you can remember the look on her face when you refused to go there once again. We cry not only for the people and relationships we lose, but the cups of tea we never had, the dips in the lake we never shared, the babies we never made, the words we wished we had said, the time we went for ice cream and on an impulse bought that silk blouse when we were both single and carefree and so damn young. I have come to believe that there is nothing so upsetting happening in the present moment that can make me hysterical. If I find myself hysterical over words it is almost always linked to something historical. If I find myself overcome with grief when asked if I will change my last name once I am married, it is not really about changing my name at all.

If only we could learn to grieve the small losses in between the big ones. But so much of this American life is about sucking it up and moving forward and by God, you better be making money. It's hard to sit still. It's hard to sit through the rain when our instinct is to run for cover. But maybe the more we let ourselves get wet, the more often we are reminded that it can't rain forever. The more we run around in the mud, the more uneven we make the ground before us. That eventually the sun will come out and the the ground beneath us will once again dry and become firm. Our hair will dry even if our clothes get ruined. But most importantly, we will experience the warmth of the sun again in moments when there is nothing else left to feel.