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.