Notes from a LiteraryVixen

Snarks and Randoms for Your Enlightenment.

This is Your Life (Don’t Play Hard to Get). December 28, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — theliteraryvixen @ 10:02 am

I never thought I would live past 30.

Not morbidly or anything. I was neither planning nor imagining my demise. But, with the shortsightedness of youth, I could never imagine life beyond that point. And yet, here I am: nine months past 30, without a sign of stopping.

This leaves me a bit confused, to be honest. What am I going to DO with myself now?

I made it through my goals from the first 30 years (mostly – I did not become discovered as a remarkable talent and become a ballerina, a fashion designer, or a famous singer). I graduated college, and actually hold several undergraduate degrees. I own my own home (condo, actually, as yard work was NEVER in the master plan). I am fairly well-adjusted (. . . actually, exceptionally well-adjusted, compared to my early teens, which is when I figure all these “plans” appeared as the accepted road map for my adult life).

So, now I’ve reached the edges of that map, and now stand on a big old precipice. Nothing but white space and blank canvas as far as the eye can see.

 I’ve decided to think of this as my bonus life. Just like a video game. At some point along the line, I acquired a little “1-Up” Mushroom, and I now get to start over. But this time, I don’t have to start from scratch. I’ve already conquered some challenges, and learned how to avoid/overcome some obstacles.

My challenge to myself is to take full advantage of this bonus life and avoid falling into the same habits and pitfalls of the “first life”. After all, what’s the point of getting to start over if you’re going to take the same actions over and over again. (Did someone just say “definition of insanity”?)

Between now and January 1 (as only seems appropriate), I want to chart a loose course for the next 30 years. Provided I get to enjoy them all, it’s time to have another set of goals to work toward instead of just floating along out here.

 Hell, maybe I’ll continue the game analogy, and plot it as levels and obstacles, just for fun. Because I’m pretty sure that FUN should still be in the game plan for this next life.

 

Truth and Consequences November 17, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — theliteraryvixen @ 1:26 pm

I have some issues with politeness. I have had these issues for years and years.

Part of my problem is just that I am a bit socially-retarded. I’m behind on learning all of those niceties of the involved social circle, having chosen to stay protected behind an invisible wall. The ladies of Edith Wharton novels – those vicious, scheming society matrons – would have eaten me for breakfast.

Because of this, I am clumsy with the social intricacies. I lack follow-up. I wait to be invited. I don’t call just to chat. I’m kind of a crappy friend, really. (I’m a slightly better “best friend”, as my concern for the people who I let fully into the circle of trust keeps me more engaged. But that’s another topic.)

My main problem with politeness, however, is in its untruth.

For years, I have struggled with giving the polite response AS OPPOSED TO the honest answer. When you think about it, often, the two are not in sync. Polite fictions. White lies. Whatever you want to call it, when the words ring false, I feel hollow and terrible.

I can’t lie anymore. I used to be really good at it, but I am actually pretty proud to say that I am no longer. In fact, I often feel that I physically can’t lie. The words die in my throat before my mouth even considers opening to say them. And so I don’t. I tell my truth, or I don’t speak.

This is not to say that I am cruel. I don’t speak a negative opinion on things that cannot be changed, and I don’t say things that are deliberately hurtful. Doesn’t mean I don’t step on some feelings, though. I hope people realize that it’s never with malicious intent, but it’s not their job to excuse me. I’m responsible for the consequences of what comes out of my mouth, and if something went wrong, I have to make that right.

What strikes me now is that politeness is not just a façade. It’s not just the couching of hard truths in pretty guises, or the complete fabrication of an opinion or an image. While I still do feel that it’s often used that way, that’s a matter of intent. Of people pretending to be what they’re not.

When used by someone with a purer heart, good manners are simply a manner of showing kindness to others.

 This raises questions about my natural goodness, since I’d rather give a difficult truth than a benevolent fiction.

But, again, that’s another topic.

 

Head-On: Apply Directly to Forehead. September 24, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — theliteraryvixen @ 11:55 am

I really don’t know why this is so hard for me.

Here I am, stuck in the chasm between understanding and knowing. I understand, for example, that there is no magic to losing weight. That there is only eating well, in moderation, and exercising. All of that makes sense. I understand all of the principles behind it – behind complex carbohydrates and blood sugars, behind excess caloric intake and fat storage, behind roughage and hydration and volumetrics. I understand that most people make this all work, in tandem, all the time.

 But I don’t KNOW it. I don’t KNOW that I can do it, because I never have. I don’t KNOW the right choices day in and day out – not because I can’t come up with the right answer, but because I willfully avoid making the choice at all. The question of “should” is pushed to the back of the brain almost before it arises. I don’t KNOW any of this because I refuse to think about it. “It’s too hard,” says my willful and wanton brain. “It won’t make a difference,” says my instant gratification-driven self, “you’re already too far gone.”

My level of ridiculousness knows no ceiling.

Every now and then, I am confronted with the truth about these deep-seated illusions I have. The ones that say “I’m okay. I’m healthy-ish.” Like in today’s Health Risk Assessment, where I was given 12 out of 100 points – 100 being prime physical health. TWELVE! That’s so much worse than just plain failing! If 69 points and under are “F” levels, I am pretty much dead already. Heck, my constant presence on this planet may be corrupting those around me, just by my continued breathing.

 Ordinarily, I like truth. I seek it out. I would rather have a hard truth than a pleasantry. Truth you can work with.

But when it comes to the truth about something so sensitive, so part of who I am . . . I have to admit that I squirm away from it. And that’s not a characteristic I could ever be proud of. I think of myself as a strong person – cringing away from something this basic, cowering away from it in the corner of my mind . . . that’s just not something I can make gel with who I think I am, much less who I want to be.

I have never been one to pussyfoot around external issues. I KNOW that the best way to deal with a problem is head-on. And, once I have resolved to deal with something, my natural determination and problem-solving skills kick in, and I’m committed. But I’ve never been committed to getting healthy. Perhaps because of fear, perhaps because of laziness. I don’t really know. But I think I need to find out. And then I’ve got to knock down that barrier. Because I just can’t keep running away from this truth. Running away from it will kill me quicker than the weight (and resulting health issues) ever could.

 

SuperNerd Alert July 6, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — theliteraryvixen @ 11:40 am

I’ve been reading a lot lately. And when *I* say “reading a lot”, take your personal assumptions about what constitutes an inordinate amount of books and multiply it. By at least a few. Maybe more.

Luckily, I’m an incredibly fast reader, so I’m able to maintain my full-time job and a respectable social calendar while in this obsessive reading jag. Of course, the social calendar is a pale shadow of my previous, rather insanely packed one, and my sleep schedule is feeling a pinch . . . but that’s neither here nor there.

What is concerning about this recent obsessive need to read is the subject matter: I’ve been heavily into Vampirism lately. And this is weird.

I’ve never been much into fantasy/sci-fi before. I still wouldn’t consider myself to be, actually. I have a healthy fear of the world of Dungeons & Dragons and/or the Renaissance Faire – of the tendency for those who feel unaccepted by the mainstream to create an alter-ego or dream of a parallel universe or a rip in the time/space continuum. That’s not my particular brand of escapism.

I prefer to stay swimming along in the mainstream, creating my own eddies when I just can’t go with the flow. I am who I am. I don’t need to imagine myself as something “other”.

So why is it that these freaking vampire books have me so obsessed lately? I don’t wish to be a blood-donor (just ask the myriad mosquitoes I’m currently at war with. I think they’re terming it a massacre). I don’t find animated corpses “sexy”. I don’t believe in vampires or werewolves, or the other mythical beings that populate these novels (and if they do exist, I’m perfectly fine with never encountering one). I CERTAINLY don’t want to live forever – I’ve had a fear of that concept since I read Tuck Everlasting in fifth grade. Ick.

So, why? Why the latent OCD tendency?

I finally came up with it. And now it feels a bit obvious.

You know the rather common “getting to know you” question about Superpowers? “Which Superpower would you choose?” Most people pick flying or time travel, though I’ve heard super-strength and super-speed as well. But mine has always been the same: omniscience. As I grew older and more neurotic, I added the caveat of “SELECTIVE omniscience, with the ability to turn it off.” One thing I’ve learned from Superheroes: you just never get to sleep well again. I’m just selfish enough to want peace and quiet for eight hours (or more) a day. I figure I could “catch up” on what I wanted to in the morning.

[And this selfishness, boys and girls, is why I don’t DESERVE omniscience. Anyone who has it should be the type of person who will work tirelessly for the greater good, rather than just satisfying their curiosity.]

Anyhow, the two series that I’ve been sucked into are Twilight and the Southern Vampire Mysteries (a.k.a. the Sookie Stackhouse books). Both write from the first-person perspective (not generally my favorite, of course), but prominently feature telepathic main characters. (And a rather overdeveloped, if skewed, sense of morality. That’s fitting, too, but not the point of my epiphany.)

Aaaah, telepathy. Not as good as omniscience, because it’s subject to your own short-sightedness as well as the short-sightedness and fleeting interests of the people around you, but it’s certainly intriguing to someone like me. I very rarely “get” people, and even the people who I know very well leave me questioning their logic and motives frequently. Human nature is exceedingly complicated.

I certainly know that telepathy is not all wine and roses, if it in fact exists at all – eavesdroppers rarely hear pleasant things about themselves, after all. And I’m sure it’s noisy and disconcerting and would make one pretty darn jaded about people in general.

That being said: how COOL?! I would love to know who to trust and the true repercussions of my actions. To understand how my rather dysfunctional self is regarded by the people around me. I could handle the rest, I’m pretty confident.

[But, of course, this could just be the most acceptable answer my mind can glom onto, for not wanting to be a total teenage girl! ]

 [sigh]

 

For a Rainy Day. May 11, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — theliteraryvixen @ 3:35 pm

When my nephew was very small, perhaps 3 or 4, he already had life all figured out.

To verify this, all you had to do was give him a really pretty cupcake. Preferably one mounded with swirls of frosting so sweet that it would faintly sparkle in the sun, and decorated in his favorite color (blue).

What would he do with this cupcake that makes him so wise? He’d carry it around with him. He would love that cupcake for both the pleasures it had not yet imparted, and for the joy of simply admiring it.

And, if he refused to eat it long enough, someone would eventually give him a cupcake for the OTHER hand. And then he’d have two: one to consume, the other to carry proudly as an edible accessory.

What he had already learned, and what I have yet to, was the magic of delayed gratification. The faith in “later”. The ability to truly enjoy anticipation, rather than just consuming and moving on.

No matter the medium, this is where I fail. I, without exception, choose to play today and pay the piper at a vague, to-be-determined date. And now, at age 30, the powers that be are starting to call in the chips. There are debts to be paid, habits to break, messes to clean up, pounds to lose . . . the list goes on.

Despite the disparate causes and areas of my life, the common thread is always instant pleasure. From immersing myself in a narrative (book or movie form), to “retail therapy” to, yes, the consolation cupcake: deferring today’s troubles has always been my misbegotten way.

So now I have 30 years of coping mechanism to reprogram. I have structure to build. I have elbow grease to apply.

And I fear I may have left it all too long.

If anyone has any tips on shoving an amorphous mess into tiny little boxes, please: do tell!

 

I Should be Committed. (To Blogging, That Is.) May 4, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — theliteraryvixen @ 6:10 pm

This weekend, I got a small dose of “Physician, Heal Thyself”, which has led my back to this sad, abandoned blog.

I ended up having a conversation with a lovely songstress after a show this weekend. Since her last album came out, she has become a mother of two, and is having problems translating her happy, busy life into songs, lamenting: “I just need somebody to break up with me!”

Ever the “fixer”, I suggested that she take inspiration from her new perspective on life, and write about the things she wants to teach her kids*.

At that point, my own charming little Peanut Gallery (a.k.a. Miss Sara) chimed in, reminding me to take a page from my own book. And she was right. As usual.

I tell myself that I’m just too busy to write sometimes, or that I just have nothing to write about. While both of those may SEEM true when I’m excusing myself from creating a new essay, the truth is, I’m just plain uninspired. So I take the lazy way out and don’t write. And I fill that time with completely non-productive activities (like watching The Hills, a particularly guilty pleasure).

There are always hundreds of topics hurtling around in my brain. And when I don’t let any of these random thoughts gel into lessons or even fully-formed ideas, I tend to get a little withdrawn and irritable. . . because uninspired doesn’t stay in just one area of your life; it leeches into others without you even noticing it. I stop reading or seeking out movies – too scattered and listless (mentally) to lock into any one narrative for any deliberate period of time.

Now, odds are that my reticence to write is not the cause of my feeling uninspired – it’s a symptom. And I don’t know for sure that forcing myself to spend a half hour a few times a week to philosophize or just relate an experience will help resolve the root issue. But it can’t hurt.

There is a well-established, cyclical pattern of isolation in my life. Most people don’t see it, as I keep my social calendar well-stacked and am, therefore, nearly constantly surrounded by people. But I pretty regularly stop sharing anything personal. I listen, I comment, I blather about random trivia, but I stop giving away any clues as to what lies beneath.

I’m not generally a fount of personal information beyond what needs to be revealed in a good anecdote anyhow, so it’s not easy to spot – even to me! And it doesn’t mean that I’m unhappy or depressed, at least at the outset. But, because the longer I stay locked inside my own head the unhappier I get, it can be a fairly good warning sign.

I think it’s the vulnerability of sharing these random opinions that is what keeps me open and actively engaged. So, here I go again, with the hope that these little personal diatribes and philosophies will act as a release valve to keep me tied to my invisible audience.

As a side note: While it is the act of reaching out, rather than the gain of external support that I seek by posting – I sincerely appreciate the people who read this, and some of the comments I’ve received over the past few years of writing. While I don’t dispute my own special brand of crazy, it IS lovely to know that there are those out there who share in (at least part of) it!

 

* From “learn from my mistakes” narratives, to “this is what’s important” perspectives, I still think it’s a great idea. Sharing your ideals through song can be more transformative than hearing it in a parental lecture, and can avoid any semblance of preaching. And it can lock you into a topic, which is always the most important step to starting any new writing project!

 

A Heart-Healthy Breakfast, and Why it Sucks. February 9, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — theliteraryvixen @ 10:02 pm

“Healthy” is supposed to feel GOOD, isn’t it?

 

Healthy bodies glow with increased ability and energy, and are teeming with endorphins, which induce a temporary euphoric state. Making healthy choices, even if not yet in an overall state of health, provides a certain smug satisfaction. That also feels good.

 

But I’m beginning to think emotional health isn’t QUITE as rewarding to one’s own state of mind. This is a bit ironic, of course.

 

I’ve always struggled a bit with my logic and emotional balance. For me, that means having kept emotion out of things entirely – ruling with my head and not my heart whenever possible. But you can’t live like that. Occasionally, the lid on the Emotion “Bucket” can’t repress everything any longer, and there’s just a jumble of emotion to deal with – no longer associated with any one particular situation or issue, but needing to be addressed nonetheless.

 

Over the past year, I’ve been doing a lot of work on this. I’ve been working to engage my emotional centers along with the logical centers of my brain. It has been going well – I haven’t had any major depressive spells and feel generally happy. Which is great.

 

But recently, further “progress” on this development has been decidedly uncomfortable. I’ve let down my barriers and let someone new fully into my life, my head and my heart. This is progress. My therapist is thrilled. And so was I . . . at first.

 

Euphoria and vulnerability in combination is a very effective brand of torture. The euphoria leads you to fixation and the vulnerability leads you to fear, so the combination of the two leaves you living in a constant state of heightened emotion. It’s hard to focus on anything else. You find yourself thinking of the other person all the time, and wondering if you’re good enough or clever enough or nice enough or pretty enough . . . or just ENOUGH, period, to make them happy.

 

Because that’s what you want, ultimately – more than your own happiness, you’re concerned for theirs.

 

I think I’m having the first flush of puppy love alongside a wisdom that I’d like to think at LEAST matches my ever-advancing years. And let me just tell you – there’s a reason that most people get that out of the way with puberty! The two were never meant to be together.  We are supposed to get our young hearts broken before the wisdom kicks in, so the scarring helps shield the very raw, tender pieces of a fresh heart from the jaded realities of adulthood and experience.

 

The very well-built (and reinforced!) wall that I built around myself when I was younger may have helped me back then, but I think I may be paying for that now. And it’s both lovely and terrible at the same time.

 

But, whatever the outcome of the whole process, it was worth it!