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Writing as Self-care

April 6, 2014

After writing my last blog post, I took a nap. I dreamed a bunch of annoying things were happening. But then, my mother showed me a card she gotten from someone she knew (whom I had spoken to once) — that person had enclosed a check for me to spend on a writing trip. The amount of $1011 seems strangely significant, partly because it’s weird that it’s not rounded off, but also because it’s a multiple of 3.

I haven’t spoken to my mother since 2007. No one I know from anywhere is going to mail me a check for $1000 for any reason whatsoever.

+++

I’ve written one poem each, on two consecutive days. They’re both about issues I’ve written about here, but distilled down to the questions that burn through me.

Peter Matthiessen just died, so I’ve been reading tributes to his writing and his life. If you think like a public intellectual, about the sorts of issues that a person of letters thinks about, but you haven’t written any books, who are you?

I don’t want to write books in a usual way. I feel deeply conflicted about writing books at all — great way to get your ideas out into the human world, but what if the readers that would most deeply connect with your work still don’t find it? After all, millions of books are published every year.

I think some of my ideas would work better in fiction than nonfiction, except that (so far) I haven’t been able to write fiction.

I think that’s because… < deep breath > I don’t understand other human beings, and, on the whole, I don’t find them very interesting. My whole life revolves around my curiosity, and my openness to being surprised, and most people are broadly predictable in ways I don’t find inherently enjoyable. Most people are also xenophobes, while I’m a xenophile.

If I could be an earthworm for a day, or an Indiana bat, or a slime mold colony, or the Mississippi River, . . . maybe I’d hate it. But I don’t think I would, if only because . . . I’d have experiences I literally cannot imagine. For that reason alone, I wish I could do it.

Of course, afterwards, I’d have the same problem I have now: who could I talk to about any of it? Because nobody else cares about my numinous experiences.

At least writing about them, well, in theory, allows me to relive them. It definitely works with writing poetry about them, and whenever I reread one of those poems, I (at least dimly) recall those events. And how I felt.

What if you are Mary Oliver, before Mary Oliver was published? What if you can’t get your poems published? What if you can, but nobody likes them?

+++

Because of my neurodiverse brain, because of my history, because of a million reasons (most of which I’m probably wrong about), I can only write really well about stuff I really care about. And stuff that I really care about . . . tends to have me in it.

On this blog, even though I write about my inner life probably 80% of the time, I’m actually trying to . . . parse out . . . (not the best term but I don’t know what else to call it) how I fit into the larger world, which is 99% nonhuman. (Or whatever the actual numbers are.)

I feel like I’m being called to be . . . a person of letters? but to nonhumans. Except, they don’t read books, or blogs; they don’t listen to podcasts. They don’t compile mailing lists.

They can’t nominate me for book awards.

They can’t follow me on Twitter.

Maybe they are just as disinterested in what I have to say/write as most humans are. I don’t know.

I don’t really care either. I write because I must. Writing reflects the world back to me, almost as if I had a friend (who wasn’t entirely me) but thought similarly, a friend who had similar values. A friend who wanted me to be my best self.

+++

Partnering with my writing is helping me think through the implications of my actions on a much larger scale than was ever possible before I was writing.

Before I started writing, I’d already been curbing my water usage (20 years), had given up cosmetics (6 years), and have been trying to eat less (but in a healthy-ish way). But with writing — with a blog, where I can easily look up earlier thoughts — I can consider things from almost any angle I can think of.

I’ve thought about actually being an earthworm. I wrote a poem from an earthworm’s point of view (or is that point of touch?).

I overcame my terror at huge spiders when one moved into our garden two years ago. By the time she died three months later, I loved spiders of all sizes, not just teeny-tiny ones.

I think about my watershed all the time. Not just 02060003 [Gunpowder-Patapsco Rivers], but the streams of my neighborhood, as well as Chesapeake Bay, and all water bodies everywhere. Now, when I meet people from elsewhere, I mentally sort them by the largest water body near where they live.

Before I wrote, it never occurred to me to think about how I could tell you about every plant I’d had some kind of significant relationship with. And that that would turn out to be . . . hundreds of individuals. Far more than the number of human friends I’ve had.

+++

When I spent most of my time around other human beings (even though there were usually plants around as well), I was pretty well attuned to the standards of human behavior I would be held to. I wasn’t happy, I played it safe a lot, I still screwed up all the time, but I thought the problem was me. That there was some magic formula for “fitting in” just enough that I could have human beings who cared about me, but not so much that I compromised my essential nature.

Now that I’m hanging out with plants way more than people, when there aren’t plants around, I feel jumpier and pricklier than usual. I find myself, unconsciously, being less friendly. In short, I feel like I’m in hostile territory.

People who don’t like plants (?!?) are people I don’t want to be anywhere near. Ditto with people who don’t like animals. Or who only like their own pets.

+++

Someone I follow on Twitter was lamenting that “Americans don’t worry enough about global warming”. I responded that worrying was a waste of energy; we need more people doing something. She said none of her relatives are worried, and therefore they don’t feel anything needs doing. I’ve learned the hard way that talking to such people — my mother is one — is utterly pointless. They’ve got their heads in the sand about a thousand things, they’re not going to change anything 1 millisecond before they have to.

I can’t do anything about that. But what I can do, is behave differently myself. Writing has given me ways to teach myself (by doing) how to become a different kind of human being.

No one is going to “follow in my footsteps”, and I don’t wish they would. I just wish I could have a conversation about issues like this with people I actually knew, instead of just with books. Which circles back around to, maybe I should write my own book. Except that’s not the right answer.

There’s another answer out there, a better fit of an answer. I just have to keep looking, and trying things.

And writing, always writing.

thinking proportionally

April 5, 2014

On days when I have a splitting headache (like today), I often find my thoughts go to strange places. Places I can only visit, apparently, when normal brain functioning is disrupted.

I could take an aspirin, but I hate the taste, and it probably wouldn’t work anyway.

Beyond that, though, so much of my life is interleaved with proportions, that I think they must be . . . somehow, part of my synesthesia. And as such, “normal” brain functioning disrupted by a headache (or any other reason really) seems analogous to . . . flavor notes.

(I’ve been using a lot of taste and smell metaphors in my thought processes lately. It’s comforting to think that all flavor notes . . . occupy an important place in my overall flavor profile. I’m a mosaic, I’m a tapestry — but this particular metaphor has the advantage of being more relevant to most people — almost everyone can smell or taste flavor notes and flavor profiles, while fewer people have created mosaics or tapestries.)

+++

I can feel all the bones in my head, and none of them are happy. Ugh.

+++

Okay, I started out by thinking about evaluating opportunities. I really want to go away for two days to write. I want a quiet comfy place, near a large body of water (preferably an estuary). But at least a town nearby, so I have other places to walk to (as well as places to go eat). I just want to ramble around, thinking, feeling, and hopefully, writing.

I want to be minimally social with human beings, but possibly significantly social with nonhumans.

I don’t want to have to drive for hours and hours. I’d prefer not to drive at all — I’ve been looking at Amtrak a lot — but whether I drive, take a bus, or a train, it would be best if I was not sitting for hours and hours on end.

I’d like to spend $500 or less.

===

I found this wonderful place in Portland, Maine.

And then I started looking at how I might get there. Amtrak does go to Portland, Maine. But it’s complicated: I would ride a train from Baltimore to Boston’s Back Bay Station [7 hours]; I would have to find my own transportation from Back Bay Station to Boston’s North Station; then I would take either a bus, or a different train, from Boston to Portland [2–2.5 hours].

If I could just get on a train and take it for 10 hours . . . it’s a lot more sitting than I’d prefer, but I would just do it. And I have always wanted to take a really long train ride.

But the logistics here… And then once I arrived in Portland, I’d still have to find my own way to and from the B&B.

I could make this work.

Logistics (especially convoluted ones that require coordinating multiple efforts) . . . strain my brain something horrible. They require working against what my brain is good at.

Still, I could pull something together.

I can practically taste how delicious this trip to Portland, Maine, could be.

===

When I’m thinking with proportions, I often use numbers or percentages — not meant to be literal, but just a quick guesstimate, to help me figure out if my model makes any sense.

In this Portland, Maine, example, I estimate I have 1/3 of what I want; 2/3 of what I don’t want.

Those proportions . . . suck.

I have worked with less. And made them work, sort of. Usually to someone else’s standards, standards that I myself did not actually care about.

Since I don’t have a boss, and this isn’t a shitty job assignment, I can please myself.

I could make this work, but too much of the wrong kind of effort is involved.

I’m taking a pass on Portland.

===

I wonder if being genetically and behaviorally? inclined towards hoarding makes it harder for me to walk away from things that could work, if only I first drive myself into the ground kludging crap together?

Or is it just 40+ years of making the best of shit sandwiches, sure that those were the only options open to the likes of me. [Mrs. Nocerino: After all, your own family doesn’t love you! You’re a monster! You’re a waste of oxygen! Why would you “deserve” any better!??!]

I hate the whole concept of “deserving”.

% = +

I just now realized that, by getting blacklisted at one of the last jobs I had, for speaking truth to power, . . . I followed in the footsteps of my father, in the particular way I was sure I would never do. I am my father’s child after all. How unnerving.

Anyway.

I’m finding it very hard to think straight. But these ideas are . . . at least as intriguing as they are disturbing, so I’m going to continue muddling through.

+++

Just like with how I need more Amelia in my life {proportions ftw!}, I need more opportunities that can get me to Flow. I need fewer opportunities that feel like me banging my head against the wall and sobbing with self-loathing.

===

When I was a teenager, looking ahead to college, I took a bunch of tests that were supposed to tell me what I was good at, and therefore, what majors I might enjoy, and/or what professions I might do well in.

Those tests told me (paraphrased) . . . “you’re so smart, you can do anything!” Even at the time, I knew that was bullshit. I most definitely was not good at everything, and I was well aware of that. I was really looking forward to finding out what to rule out. But supposedly, anything in the whole wide world that I tried, I would be a blazing success at!

I would laugh hysterically if I could summon the energy.

My work history is . . . all over the place. In the 24 years I worked, I had 24 or 25 jobs. I absolutely hated all but a handful of them.

The very best one that I had? I recently estimated that it offered me . . . approximately 1/3 of what I wanted; 2/3 of what I didn’t want.

I stayed there the longest, by far. Even though the last 12 months I was there were desperately miserable. But I couldn’t figure out . . . how to get to There from Here. That is, I didn’t know what I did want, but I was real sure on what I didn’t want. How do you move forward with that? What I did was . . . I quit. I didn’t have a job to go to. I had no idea what I wanted to do next, or what options were even available.

I got a part-time job. In the year I was there, I made 1/10 as much money as I’d made in the previous job. But I was actually happier. I still probably only had about 40% of what I wanted, but the proportions were moving in the right direction.

===

In all the time I was working, I almost never ran across . . . stuff that I was really good at and enjoyed doing that also turned out to be valued by . . . well, anybody else. There were lots of things I was really good at that I didn’t enjoy much. And they rarely paid well. (I’m excellent at alphabetizing; I’m excellent at finding errors in columns of numbers or other data. These sorts of things have become automated.)

But the stuff I really sucked at was legion. For instance, I cannot be a Team Player. That’s just . . . not how my brain works. I have nothing against gossip — in fact, I quite enjoy hearing about stuff other people are doing that I think is interesting — but if we’re just going to sit around and discuss other people’s behavior so that we can police it for not being conformist enough . . . I’m not going to say much. Because I know it’s only a matter of time before the pitchforks come out for me.

And when my ADD/neurodiverse brain isn’t being used, it shuts down. When I doodled in meetings, or derived square roots by hand, or did crossword puzzles, it was to prevent myself from falling asleep.

===

Those days are supposedly behind me, now that I’m essentially retired. I’m free to do . . . whatever I want! Whatever I’m good at!

As far as I can tell, no one I know (besides Spouse, and sometimes not even him) is remotely interested in anything that I want to do, or am good at. So if I want to talk to other people, ever, we talk about what they want to talk about . . . which still shuts my brain off. Guess what? That still doesn’t help me make friends! Who knew?

If it wasn’t for this blog? I would go out of my mind.

Which is why I’m writing this blog post, even though I still have a migraine.

I think I’ve completely lost track of my starting point, but also where I thought I was going. Seems a good place to stop.

gender dysphoria: Amelia, Hibby, & Hannah

April 4, 2014

I’m finally doing the tangible work of reorganizing my priorities. That means lots of my old possessions . . . have to find new homes. I’ve gotten rid of most of the easy stuff; the harder things are, well, murkier. How do I know when to stop getting rid of things? What guidelines am I using for what I’m keeping? When it’s time to add new things, how do I know which ones are good (for now-me, not old-me)?

Some years ago, when I first learned I had emotion color synesthesia, I thought it might be interesting to create “mood boards” for my moods. I didn’t actually do it because it felt like too much work. That feels ironic now because if I’d fleshed out the colorways and patterns for moods and wyxzi then, I’d already have a much clearer idea about how to do what I need to now.

Basically, I don’t think I can proceed until I create mood boards. Part of my problem all along has been that the proportions of time I spend in various wyxzi are all out of whack. For instance, I need to be in Amelia a lot more often than I am. But because I’m surrounded by colorways and patterns that preclude Amelia, I essentially have to fight my environment to achieve Amelia. Which means it doesn’t happen that often.

I have no idea when I last experienced Hibby. It’s been months and months. Probably for similar reasons.

Hannah is . . . slightly different. She likes plaid, and now that I’m allowing myself to like plaid, there’s plaid stuff everywhere.

Yesterday, for the first time, I visualized a colorway for Hannah: cobalt blue, red, and a splash of lime green. I want to be Hannah, but . . . I can’t (so far). I’ve bought fabric Hannah likes. I’ve saved pictures from magazines that she likes. I . . . sort of . . . have a sense of her, but . . .

+++

Hannah doesn’t like Amelia. And as far as I can tell, Hannah . . . feels contempt for Hibby.

So I haven’t been able to allow myself to be Hannah, because Amelia and Hibby are necessary for my life to be worth living.

+++

As I’ve mentioned here before, my mother has gender dysphoria, even though that’s a term she’s probably never heard, and I seriously doubt she would claim it.

My mother was raised to believe that girls are worthless and stupid. But, since for the first 7 years of her life her father treated her as “the son he never had”, she apparently grew up thinking she was essentially . . . a boy. Not just a tomboy, but an actual boy. Her best friend was a boy. She did boy things. She thought like a boy. She was somehow socialized like a boy.

And then my uncle was born.

And my mother found out . . . she wasn’t a boy anymore.

But if she took up being a girl, that would mean admitting she was worthless and stupid. And, she wasn’t even 8 years old yet. These are problems that adults don’t know how to deal with!

I don’t know what my mother actually did, and since we’re estranged, I can’t ask. But from the outside, it seems like . . . Cognitive Dissonance became her new best friend: She has a whole bunch of attitudes about gender that are completely antithetical to each other, but somehow they coexist in her mind.

+++

{This entire subject is so painful and so prickly that I am currently clutching a skein of the prettiest pinkest fibers I own, and I’m still having trouble not sobbing. So I’m going to take a little detour.}

For the last week or so, I’ve been thinking about the kid’s show with the performing rabbit that I heard about last fall, which I never did see, because I got sick the day before from the stress.

Even now, when I think about going to see the show, I still feel like I would have to talk to the man who runs it ahead of time, and then I start crying. This is a fun thing that my inner 5 year old wants to do, and I’m so scared of telling anybody that I just want to be excited! About a performing bunny! . . . that I haven’t been able to go. I’m crying right now.

+++

Just like how, in my family of origin, you could either be an SJ, NTJ, or worthless . . . and I was actually NFP, but I “chose” NT as my identity because at least it sort of made sense to me, unlike SJ. . .

In my family of origin, if you were a girl, you could be a tomboy, or you could be a vamp.

(My mother’s sister seems to fit into a third category, because she wasn’t tomboy or vamp, but I’m not sure my mother thinks of her sister as a girl.)

My mother seemed to see the options as a progression: first you are a tomboy, and then (at puberty) you become a vamp. And after that, somehow you are both? I’m not quite sure of the particulars.

That does seem to be the route my mother took. And my sister took it. Somewhat luckily for my sister, my father was able to dote on a tomboy–vamp, as the “apple of his eye”.

I was . . . sort of a tomboy, I guess. Because that was allowed. I did like climbing trees. I liked bugs and snakes. I liked rocks. I loved getting dirty. I wasn’t squeamish. My best friend was a boy; I didn’t understand girls at all. I was very independent.

But my family of origin was very . . . binary. I’m the oldest so it always seemed to me that whatever I was should set the standard (if we had to have standards, which I didn’t think we should), but somehow . . . I wasn’t the right kind of tomboy. My (younger) sister was, therefore, she set the standard. And then I somehow became “a paler, less interesting” version of my sister. Even though . . . we’re not actually similar . . . at all.

She was allowed to be the pretty one — and there can only be one of everything — so I had to be the smart one, as the sucky consolation prize. No one in my family actually valued intelligence, or thoughtfulness. (Not kindness either.)

We were supposed to be . . . BOLD and expressive and adventurous . . . but only in socially-approved ways.

+++

One of my deepest darkest secrets? I really love pink. I really love bunnies. And baby animals. I want to wear ribbons or flowers in my hair. I love wearing skirts that twirl!

I yearn to be . . . sweet and tender and . . . lovable. I want to be . . . a GIRL.

Amelia and Hibby are girls.

Hannah . . . doesn’t think of herself as a girl. Girls are stupid and worthless.

late night musing

April 2, 2014

Got interrupted while writing (a different) blog post Saturday; not sure when/if I’ll get back to it. Spouse has been home sick for 2 days. Our upstairs neighbors continue to be annoyingly noisy.

Odd how the Internet allows me to drop in on blogs I haven’t read regularly for (I think) at least 3 years, and see what commenters are talking about now. It’s sort of like somehow overhearing the conversations of people you used to know from across the street, and then deciding, yeah, not worth it to go over and say Hi.

Except for time with Spouse, I’m alone ~90% of the time, and … I’m adjusting to it. I’m getting a lot pickier about who I do want to spend time with.

For the month of March, I was mostly fasting from reading books. I did begin 2 books, but put both down before finishing as they did not retain my interest.

I’ve been experimenting with spending loads less time on Twitter.

Now that 7.5 months have elapsed since I returned from New Mexico, I have the emotional distance (and have done the work necessary) to realize that … I didn’t make friends after all. And I’m not devastated. In fact, it’s … kind of liberating.

Am working on some new-ish metaphors for how I’m behaving socially these days. “Connecting” to human beings no longer seems worth the bother, for the most part: so much stress, for so little (comprehensible or enjoyable) return.

I really prefer my own company.

Poetry in motion

March 27, 2014

When I’m awake late at night, I often “doodle” proto-poem-lines as tweets, but I’ve been off Twitter for 99 hours.

I ended up avoiding poetry for the past 3 weeks, giving me a breather before the poetry festival I’ll be attending this weekend, but now I feel like I haven’t written any poetry in . . . . . . a long, long time. (Even though before my more-recent-spates, I usually went weeks or months in between working on poems.)

Is churning through all these narcissistic musings (in prose) clearing the way for poetry? Or diverting my energy away from it? Or . . . well, the usual artist’s fears that the creative wellspring might have dried up for good this time, and I’ll never write anything meaningful again.

Hasn’t helped that the weather was getting warmer there for a while, and now it’s back to 30s F (which is 20 degrees colder than usual). When I can’t /don’t take my usual neighborhood rambles, because it’s too cold / wet / slippery, I feel out-of-sorts right away. Maybe the walks are sort of like vitamin supplements? That sounds drearily prosaic, but I’ve lately been working with a bunch of interconnecting metaphors, trying to come up with ways to conceptualize the needs I have that aren’t getting met (so I can figure out ways to improve that). So, in that spirit, maybe 2-3 daily walks/week (during winter; more in summer) is like magnesium, or potassium, or some other kind of mineral that you need in at least trace amounts, or else you get very apathetic and/or depressed. Obviously I don’t know very much about nutrition (or I’d know which mineral or vitamin would work for this).

I’ve been wondering lately if my synesthesia has a . . . proportional? . . . component to it. Lots of things work, or don’t work, for me based on their proportions/volume, or their configurations. Kind of like . . . those nearest neighbors collages I did a few years ago, I just realized. Huh. Anyway, for instance, my wyxzi Amelia needs certain volumes of colors before the endorphin rush activates. Pretty much any amount of yellow-green, or certain shades of pink, even on their own, will do it. But if it’s orange, yellow, or blue-green, they have to be smaller amounts, there has to be yellow-green too, and the yellow-green has to predominate.

Without Amelia activating, I can still feel good in an outfit, or surrounded by colors, but seeing an Amelia combination in the right proportions (even if I don’t consciously recognize it) sets off a cascade of happy-feel-good brain chemicals. And I’ll probably have a loopy grin on my face too.

Daily walks aren’t quite equivalent to Amelia, but they’re . . . something similar? Hmmm. I didn’t realize that.

When the weather’s nicer, and I have my camera (or even when I’ve left my camera at home), there’s always somebody interesting to look at, and possibly examine in greater detail. There’s questions to ask, stories to ponder. There’s happy rambling, looking for signs of whatever season we’re in. Do I smell anybody? Who? (I don’t always know.) Who’s blooming? Who’s got leaves? Baby leaves? (Baby leaves are . . . yellow-green, so Spring is excellent for Amelia.)

The photo on my phone’s locked screen is of orange flowers from last summer’s garden, against a backdrop of green leaves. The colors, and their proportions in the photo, make my (unconscious) brain happier than a photograph of any person would, because people are mostly, well, pinkish (but not the right shades), beige, or brown. I like true pinks, I like browns; I dislike beige. But I really like greens, especially yellow-greens, and blue-greens. If human beings were green, I’d probably like them 100% better, even if they were still difficult to talk to.

Spouse has beautiful green eyes, a dark, mossy shade I’d never seen as an eye color before. They’re especially interesting because no one else in his immediate family has green eyes. Green eyes run in my mother’s family, but they’re “cat green” (a light shade, similar to sea green). Both of my parents, and all of my siblings, have blue eyes, and I was born with them too. As a kid, I was sorry I hadn’t inherited those green eyes, but around puberty my blue eyes somehow turned blue-green, and I’m well-satisfied with them.

Winter is hard on me, not just because it’s cold and snowy/icy (and I probably have Seasonal Affective Disorder), but also because . . . everything’s dull and brownish. I do like shades of brown, but always in moderation, and preferably, mixed with other, brighter colors.

I really wish I’d understood, oh, any of this stuff much earlier in my life.

(I don’t have any idea why my unconscious mind insisted I title this post “poetry in motion”, but every time I contemplate changing it, somebody gets upset. So here we are.)

indulging myself

March 26, 2014

Even though nothing was resolved in my previous post, writing it was cathartic, and today, I felt, yes, amazing.

I decided to run with the concept of “ridiculously self-indulgent” (since the phrase keeps appearing in my self-talk). I challenged myself to come up with 20 “ridiculously self-indulgent” things I wanted to do . . . and then do them!

That actually felt doable — too easy — so I made it 27, and that felt suitably hard, so I began.

(I’m sure there’s an exercise for something similar in The Artist’s Way, even though I didn’t look for it in the book, hence the tag.)

This exercise was so energizing, and thought-provoking and deeply informative, that I kept going after 27.

1. Kona coffee, once in a while.
2. Crème brulee, just because.
3. Cake (or something cake-like) for my birthday.
4. Taking myself to Sunday brunch at [local posh restaurant].
5. Petting zoo.
6. Go to a Wonderbunny show.
7. Return to [Place L in Europe], and spend time alone there.
8. Take Amtrak across country.
9. Make a quilt/coverlet for my bed … in my studio (?).
10. Find an artist/writer residency that’s a +/- “perfect fit” for me, and apply for it. Tout my amazingness.
11. Commission a dress or other dressy outfit from an exuberant, funky designer who is open to nonbinary presentation. Go for something experimental & truly innovative, but also. . . joyful and fun and in pretty colors.
12. Wear this garment/outfit in public.
13. Write to Mary Oliver.
14. Write a book. Illustrate it. Design it. Create it.
15. PLAY with my ideas of written-visual-sculptural poems.
16. Create a garment of my own design “from scratch”.
17. Wear it, in public and in private.
18. Create jewelry for myself out of fibers. Wear it.
19. Immerse myself in a Spanish-speaking environment. [Get over my embarrassment at my dorky accent, and inability to roll my r’s.]
20. Go swimming.
21. Find a bathing suit that “fits” my nonbinary sensibilities and aesthetic.
22. Spend at least 3 days, if not a week, at 10 major waterbodies in the U.S. Get to know them. Write.
23. Visit Iran.
24. Visit Turkey.
25. Visit North Africa.
26. Learn to speak Swahili.
27. Figure out a way to design patterned fabric that doesn’t have predictable repeats.
28. Build a bird’s nest.
29. Make friends with a hive of bees.
30. Hike in the Sandias.
31. Visit Rattlesnake Museum in Albuquerque.
32. Go back to the Coromandel Peninsula.
33. Find someplace that makes delicious French toast, and go there for breakfast sometimes.
34. Take a class (?) in smells. Write.
35. Really delve into my synesthesia; then write about it.
36. Get paid for something I wrote.
37. Apply to the AE writing fellowship.
38. Apply to the YW writing fellowship.
39. Celebrate my 50th birthday in Andalucía.
40. Write magical realism fiction.
41. Be a tree. Write about it.
42. Flirt with somebody cute.
43. Crochet/knit something sculptural.
44. Felt something I knitted/crocheted; make a garment out of it.
45. Cinnamon. Orange. Lime. Plaid.
46. Rent a ridiculously fast car and DRIVE IT!
47. YELLOW
48. Wear flowers in my hair.
49. Visit Madagascar.
50. Is there some way to un-knit my old socks, and re-knit them, so they actually fit my feet better and last longer?
51. Write to Favorite Catalog 1 about Crazy Idea 1.
52. Write to Other Catalog 2 about Crazy Idea 2.
53. Contact [Person] about getting together in NYC.
54. Track down and watch movie “Auntie Mame”.
55. Track down and watch documentary about that woman Holocaust survivor, who died recently.

I do not understand what some of these items are referring to.

I’m not sure how I might accomplish others.

That’s okay!

amazing tales from the abyss

March 26, 2014

I have been off Twitter for 70 hours, and I thought I was home free, but now I’m feeling so twitchy that I’ve eaten three sugary things in a row. Since I’ve essentially gone cold turkey on all of my (behavioral) addictions at once, self-soothing . . . is going to be kind of tricky. Maybe writing will help.

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Despite changing my names, twice; despite a penchant for burning bridges; despite a history in which “reconnecting with old friends” has tended to be an unmitigated disaster . . . some small part of me has managed to cling to an illusion that . . . someday . . . someone I used to like / love /crush on / admire from afar will “come looking for me”. So I will need to leave a trail of breadcrumbs, so they can find me.

This has never once happened.

This is not ever going to happen.

But if it did happen? I have to guess I would be . . . disappointed in how the other person(s) turned out.

See, the whole point of the dream is that the other person is as amazing as I am, and therefore we “deserve” each other.
This dream . . . isn’t really about other people. It’s about me. (I guess I’m a narcissist. But at least I’m aware of it. Maybe this is my normal developmental phase, just delayed by 40 years or so. Maybe I’ll outgrow it eventually.)

+++

Earlier today, I was reading about the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, when I remembered someone I went to school with a guy who became a college basketball coach. I Googled him, read about him, then Googled one of his brothers. If I found the correct person with his brother’s name, the brother is a lawyer. They were both pretty good looking as kids, but as 40-something men, they’re conventionally-ordinary-looking. If I somehow ran into them somewhere, I can’t imagine what we’d talk about.

To be fair, if I ran into anybody I went to school with, ever, I can’t imagine what we’d talk about.

Since I’m being honest about being a narcissist, I’m gonna go whole hog and admit . . . I just don’t find a lot of other people very interesting to talk to. When I tried to get to know better the one woman I really liked at my volunteering place last spring, I first complimented her on her rain boots, which were brightly-colored, with a pretty pattern. In turn, I heard all about her daughter’s horse farm (which she bought the boots to walk around in). Much later, I asked her about a recent vacation she’d taken; I heard all about her sister’s recent heart attack, and how her sister wasn’t doing very well.

I’ve asked other people how they’re doing, and have heard about their jobs, their annoying coworkers, their kids’ accomplishments, their parents’ health concerns.

Does anybody in this world know what their own feelings are? What experiences of their own make for interesting sharing with others?

Apparently these are questions that are of no interest to anyone but me.

I don’t actually care about every single problem experienced by every single human being on this planet. I don’t have the emotional bandwidth to do that. Even if I could find the bandwidth, that’s not how I would use it. (I refuse to say, That probably makes me a Bad Person, but oh, the compulsion is strong! Mrs. Nocerino is in fighting form tonight.)

I care about the people I care about . . . because they are distinct individuals. Not because they are interchangeable with their coworkers (whom I’m never going to meet), their spouses (whom I usually have no relationship with, and may not have even met), their kids (whom I wouldn’t recognize), their parents, etc., etc.

Where are the people that recognize their own amazingness, and own it? I don’t know.

Who am I to think that I belong in “amazing” company? I haven’t written any books. (Yet.) My proudest accomplishments are projects no one else probably remembers, never mind cares about. I’m a conceptual artist who . . . hasn’t done much of anything that’s tangible, that I could show people. Well, outside of paintings, various ceramic pieces and tiles, mixed-media collages, drawings, tapestries, a few quilt experiments, beaded jewelry, an art exhibit catalog that I designed, garments I made, photo sessions I styled, 30,000 or so photographs, 50+ poems, the 9-foot scarf I’m still knitting, the 310,000 words I’ve written on this blog… But, maybe I’m not good at any of those things. Possibly. (Still shows a range, having tried all those things, doesn’t it?)

I would agree I’m not good at making music on guitar or recorder, singing for an audience, ballet, giving speeches, ice skating, tennis, bowling, yoga. I don’t know if I can act, or not, as I never got any feedback on my performances.

Once upon a time, I performed decently well at high jumping, swimming competitively, archery, roller skating, and downhill skiing. I’ve dreamed in both Spanish (took it in high school) and Latin (college). I used to be an excellent baker, and cake decorator. I have a dab hand at flower arranging. I competed in my K–8 school spelling bee three consecutive years, and won it in 8th grade. In my 30s, I graduated from college magna cum laude, and was named my department’s Outstanding Graduate of that year. (I paid my own way through 15 part-time years of college. No loans.)

Before I started my book fast, I know I’ve read at least 1,212 books since sometime in 2010.

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It’s easier to admit that I’m a narcissist than it is to publicly assert that, just perhaps, I might “deserve” a label of “amazing”. Despite not being famous, having no friends, being no one’s parent or grandparent, not being a role model and apparently never having been anyone’s “secret crush”, not being beautiful, never holding a prestigious job, never earning more than $39,000 a year (and the last 2 years I worked, I earned < $15,000 combined).

I don’t really know where to go with this. Yay, go me?!?

Okay, this started out because I feel . . . cheated? . . . since no one “amazing” ever comes looking for me. But, in fact, the issue isn’t what other people do or don’t do, it’s somehow my issue. The obvious answer is I’m looking for my selves to come looking for me? But they’re right here, aren’t they? Why would I need to go looking for them, or have them come looking for me? (How could they “come looking for me” when, presumably, they exist inside of me already?)

+++

Just when I think I must surely have reached the end of layers of self-loathing, I stumble across another one. If I can recognize “amazing” in other people, which likely means the “amazing” I’m responding to in other people corresponds to my own “amazing”, I should be able to “own” the amazingness. Except that I actually feel like I can’t do that . . . because then people won’t like me! Um, people don’t like me now? Being self-effacing (out of self-loathing, not genuine humility) has not made me broadly likable. I don’t think anything, short of perhaps a lobotomy / personality transplant, could possibly make me broadly likable. I don’t think I even want to be broadly likable.

Why is this a sticking point?

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If my narcissism is in fact the developmental phase that naturally occurs in human beings around age 6 or so, but mine either got hung up, regressed, or just didn’t proceed normally, could that mean that my current inability to care about stuff that doesn’t have anything to do with me . . . is also a phase that I might grow out of? I thought it was more a function of ADD brain / neurodiversity. It’s also . . . rather useful (albeit socially awkward) since, after all, emotional energy is a limited resource. If I could be converted into someone who could care about everything, how would I know what was important, to me personally?

===

Some part of me wants me to point out that trying to walk my way through these threads of thought is “ridiculously self-indulgent”, and no one is going to want to read this! A different part of me wants me to answer that with “I/we are writing this for our own benefit. If someone else starts reading it, and doesn’t like it, they can stop reading it. So where’s the problem?”

A third part of me says, why are we writing this as a blog post, rather than as a private journal entry? Well, main-me answers, writing my blog is my ongoing series of conversations with the universe. In which I pull no punches: I don’t lie to myself, no matter how difficult revelations turn out to be. And this is a way of honoring both my process, and the me(s) who are doing the process. I’m learning to listen to my selves, and to treat them like people, which seems to require not hiding them away where no one else even knows they exist.

===

I keep blanking out, forgetting what I’m writing about. Which only happens when the parts of me that don’t want us to write about something are in charge.

This is really scary and hard. I’ve been writing this blog post for three hours.

+++

Say CS, KBH, TK, OO, KH, KJ, etc., etc., did, somehow, come looking for me, and found me. Then what? 5 of these 6 people are men. I bet that’s not coincidental. Because when I’ve dreamed about “amazing” people, they are either clearly men, or they’re no gender. Around the time I turned 40, I dreamed about certain ones so often that I gave them names. And I still remember their names, which were (deliberately) ungendered, but clearly had (what I call) “Ariesian” / “teenage boy” energy. The one I named Chrysalis (who went by something that sounded like Chris in the dream) was a polymath genius well beyond the level of anyone I’ve met in waking life. My dream self was enraptured by his charisma and marvel-ness. Micantis was exuberant, playful, and brilliant; Dainius, a gifted poet.

Of the real people designated by initials above, I was at least nominally friends with four of them; close friends with three — I had crushes on all of them at least part of the time we knew each other. So, if any of my three old friends came back into my life, I might feel . . . unworthy of their regard because of the reversals in my fortune since 2008 . . . but we loved each other once, and in most cases, I was a lot worse off (in some ways) when they knew me. So we could probably enjoy each other’s company.

But when I think of the dream-“amazing” people… what could people like that see in me? I’m nobody.

And now my brain has stuttered to a stop.

(But I’ve been off Twitter for > 74 hours.)

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