Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Choke To Death On Inspiration

What I have right now is almost too much.

I am in a weird transitional place this year and things are moving slowly in some directions and quickly in the others. The effect is much like that of a good hard won drunk, where you really poured them down, ate too little and talked too fast. You are now standing in one place, unable to get your feet to follow the directions you are giving them but you experience a very real sensation that you are moving. The spins hit you like an out of control bar fighter, and you hit the ground in a black streak. When you come to, there is evidence of what happened, fragments of memory and a freight train running through the upper right side of your skull. Unsure of your next move, you scramble to get to a seated position.

There are so many thoughts that run through my head now. They compete for the front row, where I acknowledge them and pat them gently on the head, letting them know I see them. Each wants that space, wants to feel the warmth of recognition on their face, to know that they are important. I want to give that to all of them. There are just so many.

I have not written in too long, they are cooped up and have become monsters of my own making. Denying them the sunshine, the chance to spread and grow, they are angry and vengeful and no longer taking 'maybe later' for an answer. They don't want to go for a walk now. Now they want to rule the streets.

I will write to let them out. I will write a Chicken Soup for your undernourished, angry, vengeful, ungrateful little soul. The dark, hollow, black one with not enough love in it. You try to fill it up and hope it will glow with the light of a thousand fireflies if you just put more puppies and firefighters and dying children's wishes and the tears of a repenting teenager into it. You accept the promise that if you take it on, it will work. You will feel grateful, fulfilled in your own life, spared the tragedies of chance that happen to others.

I will write soup for your soul, all right. But there are no puppies. I have the truth. I have it burning inside of me like a white hot light fueled by all the missed hopes and squashed dreams of every person you have never met. There is no end to the fuel, but the story is not theirs.

These stories belong to the survivors. The real survivors. The ones you don't hear about on television. The ones that have traveled through life, maybe passed you on the street, with their wisdom and choices, their damage and their pain. They move forward, sometimes slowly, sometimes stopping. All of them have a story. They are all begging to get out. I'm going to open the gate.

Be ready.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

I Am A Terrible Person

There are some things I simply will not do. Out of a sense of connection to everyone else and how we all share in the joys and failures of each other whether we realize it or not, out of a mutual respect, a sense of responsibility, a sense of community. Whatever the reason. I have an internal list of things I WILL NOT DO.

I violated one such thing. The shame of it lingers. I am a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad person. This is my confessional and I beg you for your forgiveness. I have sinned.

Here is the situation: our air conditioning went out. We live in the desert. It was 107 outside. So while we waited for someone to figure out how to close the gate to hell that had opened in our house, we shipped the child off to the grandparents to stay and we managed to cool the house down a little and stayed the first night of this apocalypse. Big mistake. So hot we tossed and turned inside a channel of our own sweat and frustration, we did not sleep at all. We went to work only to start a three day long stretch of impossibly little sleep. What's that? Air won't be fixed until the next day? Maybe? Ok. Well, it is too hot to stay there and too hot to have animals stay there.

So we get our heads out of our asses and pack up, get the pets, and head to a local pet friendly hotel. Ahhhhh. Better. Everyone is cooling off. Now we can sleep. This is good.

The dogs are freaked out, there are people going in and out all the time. They decide they have to go out to go potty a thousand times. We oblige. Fuck it, they have had a rough few days. We understand.

My 90 pound dog takes a shit on the hotel room carpet at 5 am? Ugh. No biggie. We'll just clean that up. We don't need sleep. The cat is insecure and nocturnal. It's ok. She is just trying to get through this whole thing too. The pets don't know what is happening. They aren't sure why we now live in this room with two beds and no kid. Why we suddenly don't have a refrigerator or backyard.

It is ok. So far so good. It will be over soon. They are installing the new unit now. It is going to be ok. Just a little longer now. Hubby has to go in to work. I'll wait at the hotel with the dogs and their incessant bitching until it is time to check out and hopefully they have that thing ready. Maybe I can get a nap in. Let's make one more trip out to potty, just to be safe.

I take the dogs one at a time because they are crazy. On a hunch, I take the big boy first. Even though he is behaving better, I think- nah, let's get him out there. This was my lucky break. It was to be the only one I would get. And I am forever grateful.

He gets out there and proceeds to dispense a gigantic pile of chocolate fro yo to rival a world record. Sleep deprived, I watch this happen in a mixture of disbelief, while also quite impressed and feeling a fracturing sense of helplessness. I know, in that instant, I cannot fix this. I cannot remove this. I have to leave this mess. I am dying here. What can I possibly do now? I'm not this person. They have dog poo bags. I need a hazmat crew.

So I go get my other dog and take her out. She goes potty, not realizing I am in a trance of fear and self loathing about the mondo dog patty hanging out over there, mocking me with its unclean status. I re-enter my hotel room a different person. THAT person. The one that would leave their dog's over sized poo puddle sitting in the manicured lawn like an asshole. I wash my hands, my arms, but its not enough. You can't clean yourself enough to remove the stench of who you are now. They don't make that kind of soap. Don't even try.

I think through my options, trying to come up with something that will work. In my sleep deprived state, I decide, you know what? It could be hosed off. I'm sure it has happened before. I'm not the worst person who has ever stayed here. At least he didn't do that to a bed. I salvage what is left of my dignity and try to forget this ever happened.

My husband gets out of work, we get word that the house is ready, we pack up and check out of the hotel. I notice on the bill that they don't have a charge listed for cleanup of an enormous dung beetle colony. Its only a matter of time before they realize my transgression and charge that to the credit card. I live in fear of that moment. That is my payment for what I've done. I got home to a house with air conditioning. This should have been bliss. Instead, I slept the fitful sleep of the fugitive. Its my punishment.

I'm not sure what kind of community service someone does to repay for this kind of thing, but karma decided to move quickly and help me feel someone else's pain on this one. We had a little time while the house was cooling down and my husband says that he hasn't picked up the backyard poo since we've been in and out so much over the last several days. He asks me to help him clean up. I say sure, go get some bags and head out there.

People, our backyard grass really loved the recent rain. It is jungle height. Then I find out that by 'a few days' he actually means two weeks. I assist in the clean up of a metric ton of dog shit. Systematically, we scoured the yard to clean up every last bit of nastiness these animals are capable of. I don't know if I'll ever even the score, but I feel like I got pretty close. Tonight I will sleep soundly, and dream of redemption.

There Are Two Kinds Of People

You know what I'm talking about. Not the "you either like Niel Diamond or you don't" diametric opposition. No Red State/Blue State comparisons. No combination of people who like The Beatles or The Stones. This is the one you experience all the time. You know which one you are. I desperately hope that you are all the same type, but my chances on that are only 50/50 at best. Anecdotally, it plays out more like 80/20, and for the wrong side. I beg of you, if you are on the 'other side', switch teams now.

Still struggling to see where you fall on the line of humanity? I understand. Let me paint the picture for you...Imagine if you will, you are walking through a department store. You are perusing the rack of clearance priced tops, skimming through the hangers quickly, scanning for a color or print that catches your fancy. A cut that you love, the right size....skimming...boom. There she is. The other team. She stands there, unmoving, coming your direction. Instead of going around to the other side, instead of abdicating her position as you were clearly there first, she will do one of two things. She will stare you down, probably with an expression that says you are in her way, OR she will not make eye contact, and continue to touch the rack, making sure you have to go around her.

Depending on what kind of person you are, the scenario finishes only one of two ways. You either demure, move out of her path and onto another rack or around her to finish skimming, OR you look straight at her briefly, continue skimming and then she moves. It is a bit like two dogs, strangers to each other, meeting for the first time on neutral territory. You are meeting an alpha. This time, alpha = B.

This plays out every day in every department store, marketplace, workplace, parking lot, hallway, escalator, elevator, and freeway. Any time you have to interact with a lot of other people, you will be able to quickly make a distinction about which side that person plays for. This is important. You need to know who you are, who they are, and sometimes...just have to switch teams. Briefly. More importantly, you need to know when.

I live in a city with blessedly wide, flat roads for the most part. Lack of winter maintains these roads to a nice clean palate with nary a broken painted line in sight. But come across a Team B player, and you will find yourself getting pushed out of the way, nudged by someone for whom the world always splits their rivers, for whom their individual personal problems, issues and insecurity are the basis for which they believe you will live your life as well, if only when they are around. Nothing matters to Team B but Team B. Knowing that, as our wise friend G.I.Joe was known to say, is half the battle.

When you find yourself deciding between a car accident caused by a bluetooth headset wearing douche knuckle and driving up onto the curb to make yourself as small and out of his way as possible, you have a short period of time and an instinct to survive that is going to get in the middle of you leaving the comfort of Team A. Totally understandable.

But the next time you are shopping and someone is making that hard faced, dull eyed, gestapo march into your personal space, (with the unspoken but very loudly understood expectation that you will move out of the way so that they can continue doing what they want to do), just stop moving. Don't get out of the way and don't rush forward. Stand in place, look up at your natural eye level and scrunch your face into the expression for "Yes? Can I help you?" The results will change your life. No longer will you be moving out of the way, shifting your shopping cart for a yoga pants clad bitch too busy on her phone to realize she just raped you with her purse. No longer will you scuttle across the hall out of the way of the five people walking shoulder to shoulder like they are posing for the front of their album cover while heading to class.

And when you come across the Team B player who thinks they fucking invented Team B? Subtlety is not your friend. Stop in your tracks and start heading straight towards them. Right into their way. Human nature will take over and they will bolt out of their own declared path to avoid the collision. Look right at them and smile. They just witnessed the miracle of the switch and they are too hollow and entitled to know that they saw something amazing. They saw you not taking their shit. Go ahead, take a selfie now and Instagram that shit. You're the boss now.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Only Way To Do Great Work....

is to do what you love...... Steve Jobs

What wise words. You can do GOOD work. You can do GOOD deeds. You cannot do GREAT work unless the work is where your heart is, what you feel connected to, what you would spend hours doing and learning to do better. That work, that specific thing that you do well and / or are passionate about and want to do well...that is the only thing you will ever do that will be GREAT. Hear me out.

I had this all wrong. I thought that I could make any work great by association. By being a generous person, by giving of my time and talents, I could affect the change I wanted.  I could make the work great simply through the virtue of doing it, especially if I did it better than anyone else.

They say you affect far more people than you will ever know, in ways you could not begin to understand. I believe this is true. I carry an iphone, I work on a Mac at home and I use an ipad to watch and read as the world burns, but this is not really the way that Steve Jobs impacted my life. They are the windows through which I watched, sure. But the change in my life is something you would have thought I could have realized all on my own. I could not. I couldn't see that nothing had 'happened', I had merely taken a road that didn't lead to greatness. I never allowed the thought that there was such a thing. I believed it belonged to the fortunate, the lucky, those hit by the lightning strike of greatness. Not me.

I started out thinking that you worked up from the bottom.Nope.
I believed that hard work + any job = success. Nope.
People told me I had to pay my dues, then I could do what I wanted. Not true either.
That hard slap in the face came at an enormous cost; my time. I cannot get that back.

Now I know all the ways in which I was wrong. And I know the one that I could be right. That I was right about all along. I knew that I knew, and yet I listened to the voices of other people instead of the one that rang loudest and truest in my mind. I paid attention to the imaginary voices that cast shadows of doubt onto my abilities and desires. I thought they knew more than I did. I thought wrong.

You know, right here and now, what you are. What you really are. Where your heart lives and your imagination runs and the place and situation that would create the wide open space you need to run wild with success. You are thinking of it right now. You can see it. Your passionate dream. You keep your hand around it, sheltering it from the wind, lest it blow out your tiny little candle of hope. I am here to tell you that you can move your hand away, the wind is only created by your depressive sighing, and if you let it see the light, it will glow bright and strong and true.

You already know where your great work lives.

The question is... are you going to go live there with it?

I have tried the other way. I have tried to make jobs into great work, then settled for a job well done. Nothing great ever comes from settling. Like everything important and wonderful, it will be hard and risky and treacherous. There will be difficulties and bad days. Nothing I am doing right now justifies the risks I will take for the one true place where I can do great work. If it is not worth risking anything for, it is not worth wasting your time on either.

Go do the great work your heart desires. Follow the one passionate dream you have. There will be costs and there will be greatness. You already know what this path holds. Imagine the world you could live in if everyone was their greatest self. If we did the work that made our hearts sing.

Don't wait for something to change. You have to change. Don't wait for someone to tell you its time. They are stuck figuring out their own time. Go be who you really are. And I'll go be who I really am. And when we meet again, we'll have so much to discover.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

I'll Take The Overdose, Please.

My most recent weekend was spent with the stinking drunk hooker we call stomach flu. You can call her Gastroenteritis if you are trying to get lucky.  No one ever wants to take responsibility for letting this transient into your house, but you know that you probably just picked her up and brought her home, not even paying attention. This whore wrecks your whole life but she brings some good drugs to the party.

Somewhere in one of your hallucinations you will decide that you are finally done getting sick for a while. Nice change to be sure. During this time, you will still be confined to your bed, sore, bored, but not strong enough to do anything else. Then you realize that you have an ipad, a wireless internet connection and a Netflix account.

Here is where you make decisions that change the course of things.

What do you want to watch? it sheepishly asks, dangling all sorts of crazy wares from its house of horror shop windows.... Want a cartoon? Want some drama? How about the portal into your own personal hell of freebasing all of the craziest shit you've never even thought about and normally wouldn't occur to you? Yeah, we thought so too, so we put it in your suggestions list. Go for it. What else are you doing, right?

You pick a documentary that, while basically terrible, and low budget, manages to insert yet another virus into your life. The virus of what if. What if there is any truth to this? What if these people arent' all totally crazy? What if the people responsible for the greatest attack on US soil were not actually brought to justice, and we don't totally know if we got the right people?

I am not normally this person. I claim temporary insanity.

After this foray into madness, I take a nap. I need to rest. That was some crazy shit, bro. Let's have some ginger ale and call that a day.

Except no.

I wake up, immediately searching my brain for ways to make what happened next not an attractive choice. Too late. I spend the next 24 hours immersing myself in all of the information and reports and articles and ways and reasons why I have been duped. In and out of a feverish sleep, I wake to find myself diving into yet more photographs, questions, interviews, chemical information, charts, graphs, everything telling me that I am looking at the greatest puzzle and simplest trick ever performed live for a one curtain only event.

My fever broke. I ate solid food. I got real sleep. I went back to being a normal person, got out of bed, and went to work.

I am not the kind of person that watches back to back episodes of shows, snorting them up in succession instead of in the weekly version they were meant to be viewed in. I need time to settle thoughts on things, check them out, before I can react.

Recently I have found myself very interested in research. Following a clue along its logical path until I find what I am looking for, often finding what I had no reason to suspect. I seek to know more, to hear it all, to listen and learn. I feel almost powerless, like no amount of information will ever truly be enough. I finally understand the plight of the addict. I am addicted to the truth, and when I think I've heard a lie, I will bleed myself dry trying to find what is real.

But this is no fever. There is no cure. You can't drown the kind of crazy I have in chicken soup and pedialyte. This is deep in my DNA. I am both victim and carrier monkey. I hope to infect everyone with the kind of curiosity to seek for the truth where someone is hiding it from you. So help you, whatever deity you pray to for salvation if I catch you lying to me. My actions are born of a type of sickness, the kind of mental disease that keeps people kissing meth pipes and loading heroin in syringes. You are not equipped to stop me. Neither am I.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Prostitution, Justin Bieber, the List Goes On

Lady Gaga, lax gun laws, drugs moving over the border faster than ever, or whomever or whatever else you don't like - all have something in common. There is a supply and demand curve, much as with any consumable or commercial good or service out there. This is an inevitable part of life. Whenever I hear someone going on about some shitty food or shitty music or whatever terrible fly has fallen in their ointment, I want to remind them of this.

You see, there will be nothing on the shelves in a store no one shops in. If you don't like tomatoes, that doesn't mean they won't be sold. But if everyone were disgusted by the sight of a tomato, you'd be hard pressed to get your hands on one. Notice how many novelty mustache-on-a-sticks you've seen in Facebook photos lately? Yeah, that's supply and demand at work. Ever see those ten years ago? Exactly.

Don't get all up in arms because you hate Taylor Swift's cloying voice belting out some insane lyric- change the channel! Pass by a store selling kinky sex items and get worried for the fate of children who might have looked up from their electronic game in the backseat for two seconds and caught site of a mannequin wearing a teddy? Don't sweat it, just drive up to your church and pray for them.

There is a force at work greater than all your worry and greater than any of us. It is vital that we understand the fundamental basics of this so that we can free ourselves. I know, you think its God. Its not. It is money. If it makes you feel any better, we mention him on the money. He is there as it changes hands to pay for sex.

Prostitutes would not be selling their ass if no one was buying. We sell what people will buy. The force of money is great enough to burn a hole in your pocket and convince fugitive swindlers to commit suicide. We are pushed and pulled to the brink and back by the number of bills with which we can buy the comforts of life.

The worst part is that we just don't seem to get it. Until you make something monetarily worthwhile, no one will do it. Want a greener earth? Make plastic unbelievably expensive and start packaging in sustainable, recyclable, compostable packaging. It will cost less, so everyone will seamlessly move over to that. You don't have to ruin the economy to save the environment. And you don't have to get rid of the 2nd amendment in order to stop senseless mass murder. Who needs an AR-15 in their house? You can't load, aim and shoot it in time. A 9mm will do wonders, a .45 is even better. Make assault style weapons ridiculously expensive and make key components cost even more. Yes, there will always be a black market. But just think about all the ways you can use supply and demand to create the world you want AND make more money. Which creates more jobs! Republicans, I'm looking at you!

You really want to change the world? Make a list. Include everything you wish wasn't part of your existence. Figure out NOT who sells it, but who buys it. Change the supply and demand curve, keeping in mind that you cannot change demand. We sell what people buy. Ever wonder why companies spend billions figuring out what people want? Yeah. Good luck competing with that.


Discrimination is the worst. A conscious action to treat someone differently, to exclude them, to make them less of a part of the whole, to remove them from their rights or dignity. Simply due to the difference there is between you and them. Maybe because they are a different gender and you don't like the change. Maybe they are a different skin color, and you have ideas about how that means they will act, work, behave. Maybe they speak differently, come from somewhere other than where you are and you are just so uncomfortable you cannot deal.

Maybe, though, because even though they look just like you, speak just like you, but they don't have the same exact circumstance, you feel threatened. You feel that you need your voice to be heard loudly. That they are a threat to your needs. So you ostracize them.

As someone discriminated against, you think that you are unique, that you are special, protected. You think that by belonging to a group of any kind, that you at least face this discrimination together. It is no longer you against the world- it is all of us versus all of them. But there is infighting in all groups. If you have a group, you have a clique within. There is no escape from this simple truth. Ask any middle schooler.

This is especially true for the gay community.

You see, the world as a whole is moving towards embracing the idea that not all people are born the exact same. Thousands of years of human history and we are finally coming to the conclusion that it is not a fad or a trend, people are really attracted to other people, just not always other genders. Sometimes they are attracted to both genders. We don't know everything and that scares some people. Their worldview depends on the knowledge that "right" and "wrong" can be applied to anything and therefore they can decide how to feel about it. Usually based on an ancient text. Because thinking logically for themselves is just too much.

But even within the gay community, there is a divide.

The world is coming to a new dawn. The acceptance is coming, albeit slowly, like any big change. The world is trying to say "it's ok to be gay".  The unspoken second half of that is "As long as you are male."

Lesbians are still a sore point. People of all orientations feel threatened by lesbians. They are somehow not ok. They represent something fearful and dangerous to us. Here are the people that have the power of reproduction in their hands and yet they are choosing not to be with a man? Or GOD FORBID! raising a child with another woman?!?! What will the children think? Oh the humanity! Gay men often feel that they have their own fight to win, that things are 'worse' for them, so they don't have time to fight for lesbians.

History has not let go of the woman. Its tight talons are deep into the female flesh, telling women what is right and wrong for them. Got raped? Probably because you had more than one sexual partner and you are a slut! Men treating you poorly at work? Dress more conservatively. Dress sexier. Work harder. Don't show the men up. Don't try too hard. Less makeup. More makeup. Jewelry. Anything other than- wow, that is total and utter bullshit. Or- How dare that man force himself on you- what can I do to help? Let's prosecute him. Let's make men responsible for their own actions and not women for 'not tempting them'....

Refreshing, huh? It IS nice when you can feel the breeze without your burqa on...

Gays have fought hard and are still fighting. There are anti-sodomy laws still on the books in 13 states, even though it was ruled constitutionally illegal by the Supreme Court over ten years ago to enforce any of those laws. The states are enforcing laws just to prove the point that they don't agree. I can see how gay men are specifically targeted for these 'crimes' and how the AIDS crisis really brought home the enormity of the fears surrounding gays-specifically men and the effects on gay men's health.

But lesbians are just brushed to the side. If a gay man is stereotyped as being effeminate, lesbians are stereotyped as being 'butch'. Television and media have brought the plight of the gay male to the forefront with a number of television shows, movies, and role models who show the 'great, shining gay'.

Lesbians, on the other hand are often an inside joke. Treated as nothing more than a male fantasy, two women who want to be together, but who secretly really just want a dude to come have sex with them to 'straighten them out'. When was the last time you heard someone say of a man who was gay "He just needs a good woman, that would fix that!" Of course not, no one would say that. That would be rude, discriminatory. Lesbians hear it all the time. Their discrimination is suffered more quietly, their heartaches over raising children done in solitude. If we don't protect lesbians, we are not serious about protecting women at all.

I believe this is in large part due to the nature of sexism. As we feel comfortable putting women in second place, I can see how lesbians have been relegated to punch lines. This is the place where we are saying we are comfortable with women. Especially women who dare to tread a different path. Hidden. Forgotten. Representative of a threat. Gay men are often seen as subservient. Lesbians are a problem. A rogue woman who doesn't need a man? Not hard to see how the fragile egos of insecure men are rankled by this.

As a feminist, I think people associate women who will not sit there and listen to this garbage (and who raise their girls to think for themselves) with lesbians. We are not agreeing with the man so we must be interested in having sex with women, right? Otherwise we would subvert ourselves to the male worldview and admit that they know best. The only acceptable reason is that we are into chicks. Which is, of course, because we are 'confused'.(see above)

To combat this, some women try to align themselves with other strong women. And sometimes in doing so, we discriminate against other women. In the fight for who can be the most feminine and strong, we waged 'The Mommy Wars' and I watch as lesbians fight this same battle, who is doing the most for the cause, who is eschewing makeup, who is being their 'truest self'...infighting that hurts the group that needs solidarity the most.

I am not a lesbian, but I feel for them. Not only are they women, but women who (some of the white/cis/male haters believe) have :chosen" not to have sex with men.  As if hetero men or anyone for that matter, could CHOOSE to love differently if they just tried hard enough....The most focused laser beam of hate is pointed at them, by those too insecure to have anyone else in the conversation. This is too bad. We are missing an opportunity here to do more for feminism by protecting the weakest of the group. To rise above by lifting another. Isn't that in your special book somewhere?

Down By The River

I cannot go a whole day without thinking about it.

Like any good addiction, it claws at the edges of my thoughts, chewing, cutting, brittle snapping sounds emanating from the places where conscious thoughts were once laid out like clothes on the bed the night before a big day.

I ignore it and go back to what I was doing. It takes a flying leap into the center of my thoughts, like a cat you have not paid attention to and now it is sitting on your keyboard. No longer demurely purring and looking for my attention, it has now slammed itself into the whole of my worldview so that it is all I can see.

It is done waiting for me to acknowledge it. It is here. The time is now. What are you going to do about me? it asks.

I know what I will do....I will think about it. Until it is my every thought. Then I will sulk, after I've given it the attention it needs and I will resign myself to the thought that it cannot be. However desperately it wants to exist, it cannot. Or can it?

The dream of just chucking it all, selling off everything I own, buying a used (because they aren't made anymore) VW bus and living in that, travelling to wherever the weather is best for the time. This dream is the most reality there is. The ability to shed convention and go where your heart takes you. Spending the summertime in sweltering heat in Phoenix? Not in your dreams! I'll be in Northern California, Oregon, really anywhere in the Pacific Northwest coast or somewhere moderate and dry. Wintertime blizzards in North Dakota? NOPE! I'll be down here in the desert, hanging around San Diego, Texas, Florida and Louisiana with the rest of the snowbirds. Hawaii, South America. Any place where I won't freeze to death in my bus.

This could be wanderlust, it could be that I know I can do good things for people without the constraints of my modern computer based life, and it could just be my flighty nature. No matter what, it is a dream I harbor seriously. I have looked at a LOT of travel trailers. I am a gypsy at heart. I don't think I need a lot of  square feet in my 'home' to make me happy. I want to be in the world.

I used to think the best job would be to travel the country and then the world and getting paid. I always wanted to meet people with stories to tell. I saw travel photography and journalism as possibilities. In the end, I realized how much time they spent back at a desk too. The urge to wander was etched into my earliest dreams, and I've settled onto this island of desks. I know I can do better than this.

When I was ten years old, I told my mother that I wanted to be a stand up comedian. I was dead serious (and I kind of still am). She said "No, you don't want to do that. They have to live in a bus!" That was a mistake. I perked up..."BUS? You get to live in a bus?" I was already hooked.

Fear of instability and homelessness and not having warm showers has kept me from doing the most important, soul searching work of my life. I should have done this when I was younger, when it wouldn't have been as noticeable. Now if I wait too long, someone will catch me washing my clothes in a stream and call the authorities, thinking I've escaped 'the home'.

No worries, though. I will reel them in with tales of my life on the road, make them an amazing cup of tea, treat them to the best seat and we'll watch the water together. I'll tell them jokes. Maybe they'll go get their own van. Then I'll know I've done my best.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

For The Longest Time

I have been wanting to send this out into the interwebs and I could not. I could not say these things for fear that they would affect the person who is most important to me. I bit my tongue and waited.

Today, I wait no longer.

My husband's boss is the most insecure, incompetent, ridiculous excuse for management I have ever seen. If you've read this blog and know about the ass hat I work for, you know this is really saying something. This woman has made up HR policies, gotten caught, come up with excuses, undermined her staff, covered her tracks and used other people to corroborate a lie. Then she did something I didn't think she had in her.

This person is my husband's EX boss.

You see, today she unceremoniously skipped details like coaching, leading by example, mentoring and talking like an adult human being, never mind  acting like a professional in her field and went ahead and terminated his employment.

No. No, we are not upset. No, it is not a big deal. No, this is not a bad thing.

You see- sometimes you need someone to pat you on the back when you are on the edge of greatness. She gave all she could and put her foot right in his ass.  I can only repeat what he said: Thank you.


He wouldn't leave until he had a new job. He was miserable. We were miserable. A weight has been lifted. A 5 foot 4, tan skinned, dark haired, sad assed weight. Her name is Patsy Flores. That's right. And she is an IT manager for Dish Network. Yep, that just happened. It's called the First Amendment. And this is called a blog. And what she did is called bullshit. You don't like what I have to say? Shove it up your half-brained ass. This is all shit you could find on LinkedIN, just with some lowdown for you.

But all of that is secondary to this:

Thank you.

Thank you for finally cutting the tie that our family had to the worst company to work for in America (two years running! Congrats Dish!)  Go look it up. I'm not even kidding.

I am so glad to no longer have any connection to an organization that would continue the employment of this person. The one they called a manager, yet she was so worried about her own appearance that she neglected key management functions like: supervising her employees, monitoring progress, working with those that need encouragement, listening to feedback and working on constructive management to get people the tools they need to do their best work. But then again, she has been with Dish a LONG time. So its not hard to see where she learned these tactics.

We sat there for three years while she slowly tore apart everything that worked, drove people out and ignored warnings about the outcomes. Then she assigned a task that could not be done, and used that to justify termination. Wow.

Go ahead, hire someone else to replace him. They will take one whiff of your crazy and start backing away slowly....

Wonder why the guy you moved out to Phoenix found a job 8 months later? With an organization that takes 6 months to get hired? After 2 months, he had applied elsewhere. Probably after 2 days. After you paid relocation costs. What does that tell you about how you manage?

Haven't been able to keep your local IT staff at full level in 3 years? Hmmm? No worries, must be those good for nothing employees. The same ones that are serving their clients everyday. The same ones that care about making sure things are done right and everyone has what they need. The ones you were entrusted to 'lead'.

You, ma'am are an ass. Good riddance and good luck being you. Because as far as we are concerned, every day we wake up and we are not you, we win!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Note About Managing People

There are a few things I have learned about managing other people throughout the course of my working career. I have learned a few of these lessons more than once, sometimes because I watched multiple managers stumble into the traps they set for themselves and sometimes because I made the mistake while managing and learned, then watched someone else do it poorly as well. 

There are good and bad ways to get what you want in any endeavor. Managing people is no different. The exception is the damage you face when you refuse to acknowledge how awful you are at it and that the common problem is you.

This is a quick super huge, long list of how to handle the manager/subordinate position, should you find yourself in the manager role:

1. Manage people. They are your most valuable asset and if treated with respect, they can do amazing things while making you look good.

2. Don't micro-manage people. Give tasks, answer questions, trust that they are adults and know what they are doing. They have a job to do and so do you. If you find you are too busy, look to see if you do this.

3. Do not expect that anyone is going to do anything exactly like you do it. If it's getting done and getting done in the right time frame with the right results, accept that maybe your way is just that. YOUR way. Not the only way.

4. Stop talking about people behind their back. No one respects a gossip. It looks terrible on you and on the organization. You are a professional. Act like one.

5. Tell the truth. Don't ever get caught in a lie with someone who reports to you. The relationship will suffer for the remainder of the time you work together.

6. Treat everyone equally. Do not let someone waltz in late every day without comment only to dress down someone who had to be a few minutes late one day. Don't decide that some people have to go to lunch at a certain time and buddy up with someone else. Yes, you are the boss and you make the rules. You also create the culture. If it is a culture of back stabbing and resentment, look carefully at what you are doing to create that.

7. Keep people informed, telling them what is going on and what they need to know, rather than issuing edicts declaring your 'new rule'. The rule will not stick, you will keep re-making rules that no one follows and the process will repeat in an endless cycle.

8. Enforce policies with your own actions. If lunch is a half hour or an hour, then be sure to not abuse it yourself. It only sets up resentment and acting out by others.

9. Know what you are talking about. Know the jobs and responsibilities of those you hire and manage. Educate yourself on what they do. Educate yourself on leadership and management. If you are going to be at the top, make sure they have something to look up to.

10. Mentor people. One of your primary functions is to attract, hire and retain the best person for the position. So if you have someone doing well, encourage them to do even better. If you have someone struggling, set up a plan of action to get them where they need to be and communicate the problem. Don't gossip about it to others. (See #4).

11. Do not make disparaging remarks about anyone's gender, race, nationality, religion, creed, orientation, age, hair color, style, etc. and do NOT ask anyone if they are gay. Ever. If the thought occurs to you to ask, take a long look in the mirror and think about how you would like to be unemployed. This should really be number one. Or, you know, not need to be on the list.

12. Do your damn job. If you are supposed to do annual performance reviews, schedule them and do them. Don't make excuses about how you are too busy. No one cares.

13. Do not complain to the lowly secretary about your troubles. She takes home 1/3 of your salary and is in no mood to listen to how bad you have it.

14.Do not talk badly about your boss. Watching you make bitter comments about your boss is not something that will inspire your subordinates to do differently. Remember that.

15. Let go of the small stuff. If it is important, deal with it directly, and with the person you need to talk to. Don't get crazy about every little thing, then your people will just ignore you.

16. Do not go around interrupting every conversation to get 'in the loop'. You are just swinging your dick around attempting to make it look like authority. Your insecurity is showing, you might want to hit the restroom and deal with that real quick.

17. Your job is not to be well liked, but it doesn't hurt. Gain respect by treating people with honesty and fairness. Let your integrity shine through in all you do. They may not want to get a drink with you but they won't have much to say bad about you either.

18. Do not stand in the way of progress. You will continually be hiring and training the next bright young things. Don't be afraid, get yourself educated on the technology, use it and don't be afraid of someone being better at it. You aren't the only one doing the teaching sometimes and that is good for everyone.

19. Don't stand in the way of an individual's progress either. Don't put up ridiculous roadblocks or pretend you didn't get a request. Don't disparage someone so that you can keep them in their place because you are codependent. They will move on, with or without your blessing. What they say about you within the industry when they leave should matter to you.

20. Let it go. Even at the top, no one gets paid enough to work around the clock. Don't take things so personally that you lose sight of what you are doing or have no down time. You took this job because you thought you could do good things. You had goals and visions. There will be setbacks. Never forget that you are more than the bad days and everyone is looking to you to see how to deal and move forward. Make sure they have something good to watch.

Monday, July 22, 2013

If You Need A Reminder

It happens to the best of us. We make plans over the weekend, we have a few drinks, we dip our toes into the pool of "well, this is what everyone else is doing, we all have to work, right?" and another toe into "You know what? I don't have to do this, I am capable of more- I don't need this shit...", the latter of which is fueled on by more and more alcohol.

Then you wake up, its Monday morning. You are fumbling in the dark and you get yourself out of the house at a reasonable time. You sit at your desk, staring at the screen placed helpfully in front of you. You start to get lulled back in. You forget how angry this place makes your inner child and how much behavioral therapy that inner child appears to need. You lose track of time reading internet articles and web sites and blogs and time ticks away.

Maybe its your lead footed blowhard of a boss bounding down the hall, pushing his weight against the earth in a fight with gravity to show everyone how important and serious he is. Maybe it is his underhanded remark about something you tried to educate him on, so he doesn't embarrass himself. Maybe its your co-workers, oblivious, locked in a match with the sands of time for who will blink first and if they will live a life carved out around this mess. Maybe its someone who will stop in, find themselves in the maze of hallways and randomly appear at your desk, with their whole rolling cart of bullshit you cannot have any less interest in taking on.

For me, today, it came in an even more familiar form. A senior manager, second in line of command to use my boss' favorite terminology. Asking me a question that made me go cold. It is a question I have answered a dozen times, an explanation I have doled out patiently so often. The worst part is that in the nanoseconds between the question being asked and the answer being given, I remember (as my mind loves to do) how much this person makes per year. How much more they make than I do. How they cannot remember the basic functions and processes that drive what we do. How I, the lowly one on the totem pole, will never be able to reach the heights of monetary earning as I am not an old friend, an old colleague, a trusted confidant, and here I am telling them (AGAIN) how to do their job.

Most of the time this scenario plays out and I mutter under my breath. I feel angry and defeated. I worry, thinking about how they are going to get found out, and even worse, if no one does anything. I worry for the person who takes my job- only to be 'managed' by those who have no idea what is going on. They will run into the same quicksand of crazy. They won't know what is happening. They wont understand.They will start their own process from the beginning. And that is ok.

That was a change. A small, but noticeable change in the course of how I am dealing with things. I see the mistakes and I worry about the person who will come to deal with them after me. Because I am leaving. Sooner than I probably thought. On to greener pastures, more important work, people who can mentor me to be my best and help me to find the things I didn't even know I could do. As I worry about the next innocent to take this desk, I am filled with anticipation and joy for all the things that lay ahead for me. A change has occurred, and as with so many things, it is within me, rather than outside of me. They will not change.

The person who takes my position will need the job. They will be glad for the paycheck. They will be happy to be secure. They will be thrilled with the ease of some things and terrified of the prevailing attitudes from some of the people. They will find out just how disproportionate the responsibilities/pay scale/ intelligence quotient ratio is in this place. This will be a stone on their journey, too. One they need. One I should not deprive them of by staying any longer.

If you ever need a reminder of what you know about where things are in your life, look around. They are everywhere.

To Hell With Boring

Who wants convention, stability, quilted bed coverlets?

Who wants totality, conformity, tan turtlenecks?

Who wants to be the same, when different is more fun?

Why drive the tree lined road, when you'd rather run?

The trappings of comfort aren't called trappings for nothing.

We are all trapped, the comfort is smothering.

Take it from me, the road out is straight.

Follow it out, discover your fate.

You know what you want,

You've known all along.

Stop pretending to be weak,

Stop pretending they're strong.

You work so hard to have it all

You look so high, when it is so small.

You want easy, look somewhere else.

You want boring? Boring can go to hell.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

I'm Such A Dick

Now, now... this is no time for giggling, 7th graders! This is going to be a serious discussion. Get your dick out of your ear.

I am a total dick. I have no trouble admitting it, and in fact I state it quite often. To people who not only don't think I am a dick, but who also understand why some other people do. And that is totally OK. Here lies the dilemma we all face- do you do/say/think what you really want or do you do what others want for you? If you choose your own way, someone will think you are a dick. Guaranteed. I'm here to tell you that you can empty your hands of caring what they think, and how I justify doing so. Feel free to borrow/steal in perpetuity:

There are several reasons people might think I am a dick. All of them are a result of their entitlement issues and expectations. You read that right; THEIR ENTITLEMENT ISSUES. I know readers of this little tiny publication have grown accustomed to the thought that I have entitlement issues, but I have done some soul searching and I learned something. I take issue with people expecting me to be in servitude to their bad manners. It would appear that the issues belong to those who would even believe they could do that.

People who expect others to treat them in some special way because of their propensity for whining and getting along in life by inconveniencing others have issues. I can't begin to tell you the weight off my shoulders from realizing that I am not the source of this problem. Granted, I will be responsible for the waves that are made. I take that responsibility seriously. And I lick every last minute of it off of my fingertips while said whiner squirms in discomfort when I don't hand them the ability to decide how I react.

Furthermore, I expect certain things, as do most people. The difference comes when your expectations infringe on another's in such as way as to put them out, to knock them off of their axis. When you think that whatever you want trumps what someone else wants or needs, and are willing to do something rude or immoral or unethical to get your way, I will be there to let you know I saw that. I will call your bluff, I will hold your feet to the fire, I will call attention to the situation and I will get resolution. I expect people to test my capacity for this on a daily basis, so you might want to expect to have to deal with me if you cross my path. It is a mistake you will not soon forget. A lesson you will take with you for life.

I will not let you hold my sanity hostage. I will not allow you to bite my tongue for me. I will not stand idly by and watch while people are mistreated and keep quiet lest I interrupt your views on how a 'lady should behave'. You don't like how I'm acting? Fine. Call me a dick. It will end up saying much more about you than it does about me. I encourage all people of the world to stand up and be a dick. Don't let people invade your space, talk down to you, ding your car, knock you over and steal your purse. Make sure they know. Letting people mistreat you teaches them to do it again.

 If this is why you think I'm a dick- because I won't hesitate to let you know that what you are asking/doing is unreasonable and inappropriate...? You won't believe the size of my erection when I find you lying to me. Better get a butt plug, this dick is coming for your ass!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Why Are We Angry At Jenny McCarthy?

Oh man, it has finally happened. The gates of hell have opened and a former Playmate with nothing going on in her life has found relevance again. The View, a daytime talk show I have never once in my life had the misfortune to be forced to watch, has hired this gem to be a co-host on their show. You know her as a beautiful blonde, she has been in Hollywood for over two decades and despite an acting, modeling and voice over career, she is most famous for her anti-vaccination views...its Jeeeeennnnnyyyy McCraaaazypants! Cue the quiz show theme music, kids. I have questions to ask!

Is the reason we hate Jenny McCarthy because she has crazy views? Is it because she is a quasi-celebrity who used her status to promote said  foolish and harmful views? Is it because she is a pretty blonde who dared to talk about anything other than things that were appropriate for "lifestyle" columns, gossip mags and Cosmopolitan? Is it because she refuses to read? Because she thinks science is a general concept and not the way humans have accepted as our form for finding out truths about the world?

Or is it because we are afraid?

I'll explain.

I think the reason we are all up in arms over Ms. McCarthy being given a spot on a vapid television program that has had more than its share of 'flat-earth society dwellers' (A-HEM, Sherri Shepherd) is that we are afraid. We are afraid that people watch this drivel. Which they do. Lots of people watch. You don't watch, and I don't watch. We have other things to do. But people do. Some people. Some......mostly.....women.... watch this show.

So we are afraid that Jenny McCarthy's views that vaccinations cause autism and that her son is proof and that by not vaccinating your children your are sparing them from this terrible fate, will be swallowed whole by swarms of zombie-robot female viewers, who will then decide they cannot in good conscience ever vaccinate their child again?

I don't often write about current events, but ...come on. I think about as highly of Ms. McCarthy and her views as I do the gum I got off my shoe earlier today. If you think that stay at home moms, those who work swing shifts, women with small children and the entire viewing population of ABC during the daytime are so stupid as to accept her ideas (which have long been refuted by science) without a second thought, I am concerned. 

Are you saying that daytime television viewers are stupid? That women are stupid? That women who watch the show to catch up on current events and assure themselves that Barbara Walters is still alive cannot be trusted to get information that is valid from another source, such as a pediatrician, or I don't know...any research study ever done on the subject? They must have already killed their kids with their own stupidity and negligence by now, then.

This has me concerned. See, I think JM is an idiot. An especially pretty, television-ready idiot with controversial views. Why are you all surprised? This is why they had Elizabeth Hasselbeck on the show so long. People don't watch to get their news. The either want their current ideas validated or to laugh at someone who thinks differently. The women that watch this show already know whether or not they believe in science or in Jenny. And trust me, those putting their money in the coffers of the anti-vax movement are not likely to be swayed any more than you and I are about the importance of making sure our children and their neighbors, friends, etc. do not die of preventable childhood diseases. You already chose your side of this battle.

And lets, face it- we all know why she is on the show. There is a systematic process for deciding who to invite to the show. You want to hit every demographic. The premise of the show is laughable at best, but look how successful it is to pit differing views against each other. And to have women do it? Perpetuate the 'cat fight' story line we are all so sick of in the workplace?Perfect...some watch for real, the others for laughs..doesn't matter. You get the advertising revenue either way, don't you ABC? A fluff ball like Jenny McCarthy with her tits in her lap to boot? Well, who could blame you, right? You're just trying to make ends meet. We get it.

Lighten up a little, America. Let the idiot get out there and show her stuff. This might be her last chance before she is snorting coke off a back table of a titty bar trying to get "Mack" to hire her, so let's go easy on her. The more you protest, the more it sounds like you think your ideas are best and no one else's can be heard. The more you wring your hands over dumb mommies in the midwest watching this twit, the further it pushes women back. Let's let this terrible ship sail. 

And while we are at it, let's take a break on being angry at Jenny McCarthy's lack of interest in science. She is a body that was taught to talk and is going to be deluged by producers quick to make a buck on her stupidity. She needs this gig...Its not like she has a career in law to fall back on. 

I Dream Of Sabotage

I had an interesting dream last night. I was part of a group that had several sisters from a wealthy family. They were all young, very beautiful and chic, raised to expect life to be a series of wonderful things. They did fun, rich girl things like shopping and going out to fancy dinners. 

Somehow or another, I knew them and one of the sisters and I were out at a market doing some shopping.  We saw beautiful artwork and she talked me into buying some trapezoid shaped mirrors made by a lesser known artist. I got the two mirrors and some other items. Later, the mirrors were missing. The young woman tells me that her sister, whom I also know, stole them as usual, to give money to her boyfriend so he could buy her dinner. He is poor and insecure and this has always been a problem. Her parents let her use credit cards, but don't approve of the young man, so if she buys their dinner, it adds to the problem.

Later, we all went out for a meal. At a nice place. Everyone had the habit of ignoring the thefts this girl has committed so that they could keep carrying on as it were. We are all at this table, dressed very chic, drinking large delicate glasses of rare and expensive wine.

I turn to the younger sister and I tell her that I know she stole my mirrors. Another sister interrupts and tells me that they found out the mirrors were worth a lot of money, dozens of times more than I paid for them and that they were worth selling. I told the girl that it doesn't matter,  that she had made her decision on what she had done, and that I expected all of the money back. The money that they are really worth. 

The room stops. The clinking of glasses and silver forks onto expensive china, the rustle of designer jeans and the tapping of thousand dollar shoes on the floor- it all goes quiet. I look calmly at everyone and say that while I would rather not have someone steal my belongings in the first place, I despise that they would all go so far as to continually cover this up, and that upon finding out their worth, I expect full repayment. There are a lot of heads down, embarrassed and contrite. 

The young woman has a look of shock, but not anger. She never expected to be called out. Then I tell her boyfriend that if he is too insecure to have a woman buy him dinner, their relationship is doomed. They will either never do anything he cannot afford, which means she will have to give up a lifestyle she is obviously willing to do anything to protect, or they will end up in jail for the things they do to keep the charade going. I turn back to her and tell her that if she cannot support herself on her own, and always needs her parents' approval, she will be trapped and forced to live out someone else's view of her life.

Almost, but not quite to my surprise, everyone relaxes. The decision is made that I will be repaid the enormous sum of money the items are truly worth and that it will be the payment for a lesson well learned. We go back to eating our meal. No one is storming out angry. No beautiful glasses of wine are thrown at anyone. The dim lighting is still just as beautiful and we are still having just as great a time. 

I knew in the first place that this outburst on my part could create problems, especially among people who keep appearances up. Especially with all of them together, those who had continually covered up these situations before. And yet, I still said it. I woke from the dream feeling a huge weight lifted. 

I feel like this is how I live my life in general. I say the things that no one wants anyone to say out loud. I sabotage the picturesque with my machete, cutting through overgrown weeds of bullshit and secrets and lies. I hate the semblance of perfection put on by people who are afraid of the truth. I always find myself wanting to stab through the wall that pretends to be the clouds and ocean and horizon, telling you that it goes on forever, and not to try to look further. 

I know better. And most of the time, when I show people, they are glad. Relieved. Living the secrecy and the lies and the pretending is a burden. Free yourselves. Call them out. Yes, you may encounter someone who only wanted to think the earth was flat. But at least you will know then and there just who and what they really are. That kind of information is much more useful than the smokescreen they have been showing you.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

To Thine Own Self Be True

If you ever want to figure out just who you are, try a little exercise: First, think about who you are not...the kind of person you will not be, and the things you will not put up with. Don't give me that line about negative thinking- this is positive, trust me. After you do this, you will have cleaned the slate. Free from expectations and pressures, armed with the remembered knowledge of what you resist, you will be able to see who you actually are. This is helpful for when I get lost, which I do from time to time.

I don't toe the line very well. I dress pretty moderately, in clothes you would expect for a woman my age (or older, really). I own a lot of sensible shoes. These are because I am comfortable that way. If they give off the impression that I am interested in pretending not to see what is going on around me and call bullshit on it, they are so very not sorry about that. I don't care what idiots think. I'm not here to make it easy for you to catalog and judge me.

I am a bit of a jerk as far as some people are concerned. Most people want to pretend to be idiots, so therefore it seems like I'm the asshole. I don't actually think people are all stupid. They are stuck, sad, lonely, lazy, scared, bitter, constantly living life through the lens of their experiences. If I am not subsidizing that self sabotage by handing you a Kleenex to cry into, you'll have to excuse me. I don't care what people think of me, only whether or not their negativity has a negative impact on my life and ability to improve conditions. I am working on being aware of that and letting go of the nasty attitudes I encounter. That is THEIR bad day. THEIR long held belief. I do not need people to hang on my every word, to like me because I validate their experience or allow them to turn my life into theirs. You don't need to like me. I have friends. I will be me long after you are gone.

If you are an above mentioned moron, and wish to make contact with me, please take note: your comfort is of no importance to me. Your feelings are inconsequential.  You are in your orbit and I am in mine. Should you drive the vehicle that is your time on this earth into a collision course with me, however- you are in for quite the crash. I will ignore your bad attitude, not your bad actions. Take notice.

I'm not a narcissist. In fact, the opposite is really true. I really need other people to do my best work. Improving the lives of others and changing the world is all I really care to accomplish on this earth. If I support local businesses and smile at someone when they happened to need it, or over-tip someone when they least expected it, that is all gravy on the meat.

To be true to yourself, you need to do a few things. First, you need to know yourself. Then you need to accept yourself. I have done extensive research into the first part of the equation. I spent many years and am coming to the end of the second part. I realize now what I should have known all along. I am who I am. There is probably nothing that will fundamentally change my core beliefs, and there is also nothing that should. I do not need to be changed.  I seek improvement to refine my abilities to add to the world  and the experience I am having while spinning on this rock with all of you, but there is nothing 'wrong' with me. Or you. Even if you are a moron. Your choice to remain clueless and detract from the experience you are having and that of others around you is your choice. You are free to make it. And you are free to live with it.

Once you know who you are, then accept who you are, you will realize an important truth: No one else has to accept who you are. This is perhaps the hardest part, but undoubtedly the site of self awareness we all seek to some extent. I know who I am. I like who I am. I will not change who I am. I will use this knowledge and the inherent gifts that come with being this particular set of cells to do my best to further the human race. This is what freedom feels like.

Falling Apart Is Good

Another year of life has come to a close. As that one leaves, a new one is budding in the wings, waiting to make its stage debut. It has watched this year closely, paid attention like a good understudy, yet it has intentions to make last second decisions and change things up a bit. To be out there on the stage, improvising, where no one can stop it. I feel its rapid heartbeat and know it to be not of nervousness, but anticipation of greatness.

This last year my mortality has loomed in a way it never has before. I have never doubted that I would not live forever; however I have always known the chances were good I will live a longer life than many people that I know. Its a gut feeling. There is no good explanation, other than that I don't smoke and I have no immediate blood relatives whom have had cancer. In fact, the distant relatives that left this world too early put themselves at great risk with their own actions.

Certain events of the past few years have had the effect of slowing things down. Most of the time, I feel as if life is passing so quickly, years flipping like pages in a picture book, with only glimpses and snatches of what is happening even making it to my eyes for comprehension. Now its going slowly, for just a bit. Its as if I am looking around, realizing not just how long I have been around, but how much longer I probably have. How much change I could be affecting. How many things I could do. People I could meet. I have years and years.

Lately I had started to feel like the years were going to drag on. Instead of stretching out before me as the unfinished promise of a long life to lead, I worried. Illnesses, injuries, chronic disease and suffering could take over, get worse and pull me slowly toward death... instead of the catapult I would surely want by then.

Just in time to feel sorry for myself came strength. The will to take charge, to get a better understanding. To gather myself up off the ground and peel away from the self sabotage. I don't have time for this, I have shit to do! That voice is always louder. Which is why I am not prone to long periods of depression. I could spend my time more effectively by telling someone what to do, giving out the free unsolicited advice I am known for...Really though... I know that I am not here for me. None of us are. We are here for us. We are all here as part of a collective group, we are here to push each other forward, to progress not as individuals but as an entity.

Its not what it sounds like. Depending on who you are, it might even be worse than it sounds. And yes, it's all hippie and shit, wearing beads with no shower in sight... I know that in order to do my best work, I have to do something that pushes other people up, not just fill my pockets. I have to learn and teach. GROW and help others grow.I have to help other people change so that I can BECOME.

The only way for me to live is to HELP. To INSPIRE. It may or may not make me rich, that much I don't know. But clearing the copier of a jam because someone sent through a stapled document is not going to cut it. I only feel alive when I get it. Really really get it. And then when I can show to someone else how to see through the crap, how to reach through to what they can be. I can't do anything past that. Everyone steers their own ship in the end. But so often, just opening the blinds for them is more than enough.

I will say though, that the surprising thing about getting older is that the slowing down every once in a while is more helpful than I previously thought. My body won't do what I want it to do when I snap my fingers. I have to teach it and reteach it new things. This takes time and has its ups and downs. It has developed its own system for being angry with me and has spitefully made every simple ailment a much bigger deal. It throws tantrums like a toddler, only you can't ignore it because it knows how to get to you.

I've learned to get better. I'm learning to put up with limitations and not see this as falling apart, but rather as slowing down to pay attention. The things I'm able to see when I look around at this slower pace are amazing. The inconsequential nature of daily activities that don't involve relating to people, making the world a better place or enjoying all that you have becomes crystal clear.

Fall apart sometime. Sit down, have a big ol' red-eye cry. Take a few days off. Walk around your neighborhood. See things you can't see when you are just driving by, on your way to somewhere you don't really want to be. Slow down. Tear away at the daily bits. See what is right in front of you. I can't recommend it highly enough.