Notes from a LiteraryVixen

Snarks and Randoms for Your Enlightenment.

Derailed. October 23, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — theliteraryvixen @ 5:16 pm

I had always assumed that I was the one sibling who had avoided inheriting the “one-track mind”. Both my brothers are remarkably skilled at it – one refuses to segue at all, and the other can leave one thread of conversation for hours and jump right back into it as if the other topics had never even happened.

I, on the other hand, can flow from topic to topic, going back to topics past or leaving them there to die if the new stuff trumps it on the scale of interesting.

However, I’m beginning to think that my one-track tendencies have merely been lying in wait, hidden in my actions, rather than my conversational skills.

I’m now at a very uncomfortable place in my therapy, you see. Prior to this, it’s been all theoretic and pattern-drawing and new things to think about. Helpful, but not Earth-shattering. But I’m now at the place where, as my great-grandmother would have charmingly phrased it, I need to “shit or get off the pot.”

More esoterically, Camus tells us that “Insight without action is worthless”. That makes a lot of sense to me. Unfortunately, I’m good at the insight, but not so much in the action department.

Worse than that, I seem to live in a place where my logic and my emotions are completely separate. I’ll feel something and not be able to really pinpoint why – like crying when discussing something personal, even if I don’t really find the subject painful. Or worse, discussing something that I should be sensitive about and feeling nothing.

Since emotions are always a stronger driver than logic (“I want” vs. “I should”), what I know I should do and what I actually do . . . well, they don’t always coincide.

Long story short, I have to figure out how to get these two trains of thought to share a track. Because, for some reason, I can’t marry them. I can think one way, then I can think the other – I can’t apply one to the next.

I’ve been learning about mindfulness lately, the act of being in the moment, rather than stepping back and evaluating it, or getting lost on another train – firing off synapses and going with them. Which is good. It makes sense. What DOESN’T make sense to me is the fact that analysis never seems to play into this theory. I don’t get it.

While I believe Camus’ words, I also believe the Socratic thinking of “an unexamined life is not worth living”. If you’re always living in the moment, how do you keep tabs on where you are . . . where you’re going? Do you just drift through life? Can I possibly live like that?

I don’t know the answer to that, and there are many questions to come. Like I said – it’s uncomfortable.

I know there’s a lot that I can improve upon. I feel that I’m already pretty damn good as I am. Maybe that’s the first step – understanding that these two are not mutually exclusive.

To be continued .  . .

 

Ten Minutes to Wapner. September 25, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — theliteraryvixen @ 10:31 pm

Though you wouldn’t know it by looking at my car, the fact is: I’m a very good driver.

I know, I know – everyone thinks that. Just like everyone thinks they have a great sense of humor and a good sense of style. And that can’t POSSIBLY be true for everyone (though, in my case, they totally are!).

You may dispute that, given the scrapes on either side of my front bumper. You see,  I have a teeny problem with parking ramps. They’re notoriously poorly lit, and have massive concrete columns so very, very close to the yellow lines. And, worst of all, WHY do they never paint the columns? Obstacles in the very same color as the foreground and background are just asking for trouble.

But, really, the statistics back me up on this one. I haven’t had a speeding ticket in at least ten years (did I just say ten years? God, I’m old). I can parallel park. I have never caused an accident. . . well, at least not until today.

I was pulling out of a gas station, and watching for an opening. I noticed a runner approaching on the sidewalk to my right, and I decided to back up so she didn’t have to run into the busy street to pass my car. I moved back about a foot and a half, when . . . [thud]. A pick-up truck had magically appeared in my rearview. I swear it hadn’t been there when I shifted into reverse, but whatever.

Luckily, I only dented the woman’s license plate, and she was very kind about it. No insurance exchange or anything. the only scar is on the back of my bumper – just paint, really – and I deserve it. The only thing truly injured was my pride. And I have a store of that to fall back on.

However, my favorite justification of my skillz, the “I’ve never hit another car” thing – that’s out the window now.

Craptastic.

 

Shrinky-Dinks. September 17, 2008

Filed under: Philosophy — theliteraryvixen @ 10:17 pm

Further proof that the “now” is a bit behind here on the no-coast:

  1. Ugg boots proliferating six months after the jet-set declared them passé.
  2. Tanning beds abound, but spray tans are nowhere to be seen.
  3. People in therapy? A shocking whisper ’round the water cooler.

The first two I couldn’t care less about. I embrace my natural aversion to the sun and don’t like feeling like I’m stepping into sheep. But the third one kind of sucks.

Though it could be a false perception spurred on by Hollywood, I kind of thought that being in therapy was, if not mandatory, at least pretty normal. But when I mention the fact that I see a shrink, I inevitably get what I like to call “The Look”.  The Look consists of a small double-take, while people visibly adjust to the new information and quietly search the proceding conversation for anything that may indicate what’s “wrong” with you.

But I’m neither broken nor self-centered. I do admit to my imperfection, and like getting a fresh perspective on what I’m doing. And, being someone with trust issues and a Scandinavian heritage, it’s quite useful to have the whole Doctor-Patient Privelage thing to help me to open up. Is that so wrong?

To further the social-acceptance of therapy, I would like to clear a couple of things up:

  1. I do not lie down.
  2. No hypnotism or regression therapy is involved.
  3. I don’t talk about dreams, and still firmly believe that a cigar can be just a cigar.

There’s no magic to this. You go and sit in a room with someone and chat for an hour about your concerns and your life in general. I talk to my shrinkjust as I do everyone else – I argue with him, share philosophies and opinions and listen to his perspective. And I think about it; I do not swallow it whole. In effect, he’s another friend . . . but one whom I don’t have to fear offending, or getting too personal, or mentioning things I’d rather not tell other people. It’s nice.

A line from a Toad the Wet Sprocket song I first heard in 1993 might sum up how I feel about therapy best: “You know how when you get so close to something that big, you can’t see anything at all?”

Well, that’s life.

Being so wrapped up in our own perceptions and our own lives sometimes require a step back and a fresh perspective to help you see the whole thing clearly. Identify patterns, get to the bottom of attitudes and behaviors which may have served you once but are now hindering you, sort through complicated emotions. . . it’s all good.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

 

Freaking Family. August 21, 2008

Filed under: Philosophy — theliteraryvixen @ 8:48 pm

I have always been something of an oddity, and for reasons beyond my control: my family.

You see, for almost as long as I can remember, I have been the only one in my group of friends whose parents are still married – to each other, at least. Which is strange when you think about it. Given that the national divorce rate is hovering somewhere around 50%, statistically, there should be more people in my boat.

But, of course, statistically, only about 10% of my friends should be gay.

Statistics LIE.

Even within my extended family, my nuclear family is an anomaly. Out of eight siblings (between them), my parents are the only ones that have survived a marriage of more than a decade.

Thankfully, this is one area in which it’s rather nice to be a “freak”. I love my family. My parents have always supported me while still allowing me to be myself, and my brothers (vastly different in temprement and interests) are both good people.

Sure, when we all get together, I get a little stir-crazy, but that has much more to do with my avoidance of groups larger than five than with them. I just find groups a little overwhelming . . . and the fact that we’re all a bit [ahem] loud and with distinct and large personalities gets to be a bit much. I need to get some quiet time, regroup and rejoin the crowd.

But I digress.

My parents are now getting to the age where they need to “parent” their parents. My grandparents are getting older and having health issues and just basically need more help than they ever have. It’s really hard on both of them, as we live hours away from either couple. I definitely don’t envy the day when I need to broach the topic of assisted living or power of attorney with my own parents. How disconcerting.

But I know that I’ll do it, whole-heartedly and with love, because that’s the way I was raised. With family treated as a virtue, not just a group.

 

Back in Black. August 19, 2008

Filed under: Randoms — theliteraryvixen @ 7:47 pm

All right. This has been too long an absence. If anyone was actually holding their breath for my next post . . . well, you’re dead by now, so no use apologizing there. But for those who went on with their lives, but occasionally wondered: “Where’s Amy? Has she lost her fondness for writing usually meaningless blather and posting it to my interwebs?”

Well, never fear, my friends. I am alive and well.

Just a couple of small snags have prevented my cheap therapy (read: blogging) as of late. Number one: work. I have been working my butt off (shut up – yes, it’s still there) herding cats. ‘Cause that’s what getting seven people to make one, subjective decision is, you know. It’s a tough job sometimes, made tougher by the fact that I am not of one world – I straddle the worlds of the developers (right-brained) and the marketers (left-brained). I like to think of myself as a translator – from clouds into boxes and back again.

But sometimes, even MY Esperanto fails me.

The other thing that I’ve been struggling with as of late is my Internet connection. I’ve been pirating for months, and my patsy either moved or blocked his network.

Don’t get me wrong – I totally pay for DSL, and I have had a wireless router for as long as I’ve had a laptop. I just didn’t set it up.

Yes, I’m rather lazy. But mostly, I just hate hardware.

That may be a weird statement, given that my job title is Marketing Technology Specialist. Shouldn’t I, therefore, enjoy and be good with technology?

No, not really.

See, I enjoy software. It’s oddly pliable, and I can make it bend to my will with a little creative problem solving. It’s very Matrix-esque: you learn what rules you can bend and what rules you can break.

Hardware is cables and plugs and acronyms. Very little wiggle room, and completely incomprehensible to people who just. don’t. CARE.

Ick.

I finally set up what I think is a very secure, encrypted network that I can utilize from the comfort of my bedroom. I kind of stumbled into it at the end. I think my desperate voicemail to my IT-savvy brother was what gave me the last boost into connection. You know, Murphy, and all.

But whatever got me here, I’m thrilled to be back.

 

I AM a Grown-Up; Honest! July 10, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — theliteraryvixen @ 8:34 pm

For about the last ten years or so, I’ve been trying to follow two mantras when making any and all decisions:

  1. Be a grown-up.
  2. Honesty is the best policy.

You see, I wasn’t always the most honest person (with myself or others) as a teenager. I’d lie to cover things up and make life easier for myself, or act in other (similarly immature) ways of dealing with problems. And I wasn’t happy.

I wasn’t happy because I didn’t LIKE myself.

How could I like myself when I was ashamed? When I had to rely on a cover story? When I couldn’t stand by my actions in the cold light of day?

I like myself a lot more now. But, I now have a new problem.

For some reason, I often find that my two guiding principles are at odds with each other. That doesn’t seem right, does it?

Maybe it’s just me, but being an adult often means things like: telling polite lies; glossing over disruptive thoughts or subjects; hiding one’s emotions for the greater good; ignoring slights, etc.

All of these things seem to call for a selective honesty that I struggle with.

It’s not that I can’t do it. After all, I’m from a long line of stoic Scandinavians. We can NOT talk about things forever. And burying our true emotions? Please. We invented it!

The thing is . . . as much as I love my family and celebrate the wonderful things that have brought and keep bringing to my life, the one thing that has always bothered me is the secrecy. What is so WRONG about talking about subjects that evoke emotions? What is so WRONG about showing your tender pink undersides to the people you trust the most?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I struggle with them. I still keep far too much to myself and, in doing so, keep others out.

Contrarily, I lay a lot of my cards (true, they’re generally the unimportant ones) right out on the table. . . even if they’re those that don’t cast me in the best light (i.e. a funny story of my own stupidity or those habits of which I am not proud). But, honestly, I think that’s part of my charm – the lack of pretense. The knowing that you’ll get a straight answer if you ask for one. And sometimes even if you don’t.

I’ve come a long way from my teenage years, but there’s still a long way to go. And it will feel like even longer until I can strike the my own perfect balance between social appropriateness and pure, brave truth.

 

Lipstick v. Caffeine Fix. July 1, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — theliteraryvixen @ 7:24 pm

I admit it. I hit the drive-thru more often than I should.

Hey – I’m a busy gal with a caffeine addiction, okay? Ease up.

Anyhow, because of my dependency on things like Large Sugar-Free Vanilla Iced Coffees (just a hypothetical, of course), I have noticed a disturbing trend.

If you haven’t been to a drive-thru in a while, here’s the routine:

  1. Talk into the box and check the screen. It’s usually not quite right.
  2. Pull ahead to window one. Exchange a modicum of pleasantries and pay the girl.
  3. Pull ahead to window two. Accept beverage.
  4. Stare sullenly at beverage lid as you await a straw.
  5. Look into fold-out window to see where worker is with said straw.
  6. Accept bag with Egg McMuffin (or similar) and pull away, reaching blindly into bag to locate white-on-white straw while driving.
  7. Maneuver car out of parking lot while tapping found straw against steering wheel to extricate it from paper.
  8. Pull straw OUT of sheath with teeth while holding it with single free hand.
  9. Jam straw into lid and finally get your first hit of caffeine for the day.
  10. (OPTIONAL) Miss hole in top, due to lack of caffeine and frustration, and dump entire large sugar-free vanilla iced coffee [for example] on the floor of your Ford Escort. Curse while trying to maintain driving composure. Place Hex on fast food workers for not just GIVING YOU YOUR FREAKING STRAW WHEN YOU GOT YOUR BEVERAGE, THEREBY ALLOWING YOU TO MULTI-TASK SAFELY!!!

Seriously? Can I just get my straw when I get my beverage, please? I can’t imagine it saves anybody any time, and seeing my icy beverage throw condensation on the side of my plastic glass is just making my mouth water.

Besides, it’s not a good idea to deliberately withhold anything from me before I’ve had my caffeine.