I’ve Never Read A Maya Angelou Book….BUT

….I’ve had a quote of hers, handwritten in my twenty year-old script, framed in my apartment on a scrap of torn memo paper when I first heard it and it resonated. Two quotes of hers in fact.  The other quote is next to my bed; we’ll get to that. The first:

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We make a lot of excuses for people.  But they show you who they truly are when you JUST LISTEN.  They can try to talk around it, attempt the smoke and mirrors.  But all you have to do is be quiet and listen.  Not to words, necessarily, but to their every innate method of movement. They are giving you every opportunity to run in the other direction. They want to wave a white flag on your behalf, giving you any out they could possibly invent.  I’ve been, oh how should I put it, incredibly fucking stupid for not listening to this advice.  The individual in your life who you’re making excuses for is holding a billboard that says, “I AM NOT THE PERSON YOU THINK I AM.”

Listen.  

Their actions, or lack of actions, show you every day.  Loud and clear.  Megaphone-howling, pyramid-climbing, polyester-wearing, screaming at the top of their cheerleader lungs, “BELIEVE ME.”  Sometimes with a marching band with streaming flags and teenage acrobats, but that’s usually for bowl games.  Sometimes with a silent glance, but one that, with a recipient’s clear, dare I say, sober, head, it is as loud as the bagpiper at Spanish Bay.  And we all love that guy.  But, yeah, he’s loud.

We’ve all come across a lot of liars.  Often we’ve been that liar.  From a little white, whispery one that slithers from lips without a second thought to the creation of another persona of a human being that isn’t truly us.  We’re all liars.  Go ahead, say you’re not.  LIAR.

It’s a quote that gets me through tough times.  Because it reminds me that we’re all just human beings.  We make mistakes.  More often we tell the truth.  Yes, I just called everyone liars three sentences ago; stay with me.  I believe that people tell the truth; and then they alleviate a potentially high-risk situation by pretending it was just something said in passing. But, it is we on the receiving end of a truth we don’t like who choose to define it a different way. A way that fits us, a way we can analyze into a completely different box, and cram it into that (GET IN THERE), box that we’ve chosen to, (HOLD ON!), make it fit.  (LOOK AT THAT, I KNEW IT!)   And we make them out the hurtful truth-tellers to be bad people.  They’re not.  They’re bad truth-tellers.  Because they don’t stick to it.

There are some that tell the truth and their truth is amazing.  It fits your truth, and wow you’re on the same page, with the same timing, and, are those butterflies?  This is a rarity.  So, you know what, a-holes?  I mean, ahem.  You know what, lovely people in the world reading this?  When you find it, open your eyes.  There’s not something better coming along.  If you’ve found someone you connect with, who makes you laugh til your sides hurt, who challenges the very core of your being, who wants you to find work you love, who wants you to travel, see the world, so you can tell your kids about it….you know what?  I’m sure the next gal at happy hour will do just that. Dime a fuckin’ dozen, we are.

God knows my friends have been put through the ringer, both male and female (if you’d like a list of these people who have caused said ringers, I have it both chronologically and alphabetically, so please be specific. WARNING: I bear no responsibility for you being on this list).

But I think we hear what we want to hear, what fits our ‘schedule.’  When we DO hear their truth, we move some words around, add some inflection, analyze it until it has too much meaning, and then come up with a whole newly defined strategy with zero basis in its origin. And this is why I now choose to go underground and live with mole people in the NYC subway.

I kid.  Unless, well, give me a week, I may sell all my shite on Craigslist and my sassy new chevron living room rug to Goodwill. [Friends, take note: I will need someone (I’m looking at you, Kelly) to remove my boxed wine from the fridge, someone (oh sister,Therese) to delete my Netflix Watch List because no one needs to see how often I watch Masterpiece Theatre and Battlestar Galactica, and only Alex is allowed to go through every piece of paper and discern who can read it. Please, no excitement, there’s nothing in the nightstands, I’m way too straight-laced  – although suggestions can be sent via email or in the comments below].

Anyway, back to the point.  When people show you who they are, don’t make excuses for them.  Believe them.  They’re telling you their truth.

 

The second quote that is in my apartment:

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Oh.  OHHHHH.  This is a doozy.  I need a moment.

 

 

Ok, I’m back. I’m going to make t-shirts with this sentence on it.  I’m going to be THAT girl wearing THAT T-shirt: new goal announced. Yeah, June 2014! $12.99, get ’em here!

Seriously, though…I put people before me.  Actually, let me rephrase that.  I put the wrong people before me.  I’ve had many well-meaning people (“You’re fantastic…you’re sensational…you’re one of a kind, BUT…”), and I have put more sensitivity and thought into what they want to eat for dinner than a cumulative thought as to what charities I’m donating to this year.

And now I want to take a butter knife and pull a Van Gogh.  But at least, I’m being honest.  I dare you to find someone more so.

I feel my online dating friends, the less successful ones than those that have met their literal match on Match, can understand this the most.  And I am most guilty of this.  We spend so much time thinking about the wrong people, mainly because we think they’re the right people, and shocker, they don’t deserve the amount of time and energy we’re spending on them.  Truthfully, if I spent the same amount of time following my dream of being a writer, or putting my mind to curing homelessness in San Francisco, or creating a new cable company so that Comcast can go to cable hell….as I spend on thinking about guys who don’t deserve it….well, Bay Area, you’d all be getting HBO for free.

There are so many good people in the world.  People who will and DO love us unconditionally, think we’re sexy, fantastic, awesome, witty, hilarious…the list goes on an on.  And there’s no “BUT” following any of those statements.  “But” negates everything said before that.

You just are sexy, fantastic, awesome, witty, hilarious.

What should follow is: “And I’m lucky to know you, and can’t wait to spend more time with you.” Find that person.  The rest, we’re spending too much time on.  Good….night.

 

Things My Brain is Thinking About When No One is Looking – Part VIII

My train of thought today –  I really should use my power for good.

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  • Tonight is bar trivia night.  I lerve trivia.  And I know stupid shite like Debbie Gibson’s middle name (Ann), that a rat can last longer without water than a camel (longtime NYC residents unite!), and that Leonardo da Vinci could write with one hand and draw with the other simultaneously.  More importantly, my team’s name is “We Don’t Care about Your Kids,” and I didn’t even name it!  Ah, kindred spirits.
  • It’s possible I’m wearing mom jeans today. I can’t decide.  I suppose if their fashion status is questionable, the answer is yes.
  • Speaking of mom, I’ve been evolving these past two years into her clone. Habitually, I use the word “slacks” instead of pants, calls people “pills” when they’re being annoying, and strongly believe that “Nothing good happens after midnight.”  I go through two books a week on tape and constantly tell Mac the dog that “the kitchen is closed” whenever he looks at me and wants more food. It’s like instead of Revenge of the Sith, it’s Revenge of the Sheila. She always said we’d end up like her.
  • Speaking of Star Wars, why are they making three more Star Wars movies?  I love me some J.J. Abrams and all, but why, why are we doing this?  Have we learned nothing between the years 1999 – 2005?  It’s like that saying, “Fool me once, shame on me.  Fool me twice, and I will toilet paper the entire campus of Lucasfilm.”
  • As an unemployed person, I have a request (and let me point out that I know you mean well and are being polite). BUT – please stop asking me “And how is the job search going?”  It’s unsettling and makes me want to hit the bottle.  I WILL TELL YOU. Thankfully, through this process I’ve learned that “I am not my job,” because losing a job would mean that I, too, as a human being are lost.  Even though this identity struggle has not yet involved barbiturates, it kind of makes my self-esteem plunge south.  Then I want to ask the following of you:
    • How is your parents’ divorce going?
    • How is that STD treating you?
    • Lose that last ten pounds yet?
    • Did you get fired?
    • When are you ever going to get married?
    • Or my favorite…. Are you pregnant?

Again, I know you mean well.  Thank you.  I recognize your well-meant interest in my personal and professional well-being. Now stop.

  • Why in the sam hell (another ‘Sheila-ism’) are iphones made of glass?  We put men on the moon 60 years ago, but we are making our phones out of GLASS? Things we poke at while jogging, shove to the bottom of our purses, and give kids to distract themselves.  Glass.  We childlock a shoe closet, but we give our children in a high chair a glass object with which to throw around.  Fortunately, when I got my iPhone5, I remembered I was a klutz and signed up for the “I will definitely drop this within the next 3 minutes” insurance, and so only had to pay a small fortune to get it replaced. If I can offer you any advice (in addition to “Never get involved in a land war in Asia”), get the monthly insurance. Because Steve Jobs didn’t like plastic.
  • Speaking of Jobs, have you seen the trailer for the Ashton…oh, I can’t be bothered, I have to get ready for trivia night.

The Bitter End – or better yet, the End of the Bitter

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I got slapped in the face the other day.  Not literally slapped, that was a few months ago. I mean metaphorically. Stay with me, people.

A guy I went out with whom I now am happy to call a friend, informed me of something the other night over dinner.

 

He: “When it comes to guys, you’re bitter. You need to find some Zen.”

Me: “F*ck Zen.”  (pause, as he raises his eyebrows in victory)  “I mean, yay zen, totally!”

He: “You’ve been hurt, but so has everyone.  Take it all in stride.  You’re on a timeline, and it’s a made up one. You’ve made it up.”

Me: “Easy for you to say, you’re the one with the girlfriend who’s 6 years younger.” (I didn’t say this, but I thought it.  I DO sometimes bite my tongue).

He: “Let go of the idea that there’s not enough time. You are the source of time in your life.”

 

Smarty pants.

 

So yeah, well, I’m bitter. Because I’ve been put through the ringer.  More than once.  More than twice.  More than three times.  Really, they should name a church after me.

But really, he’s absolutely right.  With some of my recent angry actions, I’m hearing it loud and clear now, as I have taken it out on people I shouldn’t have.  I am bitter.  And I don’t want to be.

Being bitter doesn’t mean that I’m not over the pain of the past relationship.  I am. And I don’t want those people back in my life (stop emailing me, jackass), the ones that hurt me.  But I didn’t realize until this conversation that I’ve still carried the anger of wasted years and shed tears.  So, it took someone who didn’t return my affections to inform me I was bitter.  Oh, the irony.

This whole process has been exhausting. I’ve lost new friendships because of my bitterness. It’s been mostly infused with Sauvignon Blanc, which helps nothing, and only exacerbates my already over-opinionated mouth and my eventual embarrassment.

Yes, I did the best with what I knew at the time. But anger causes wrinkles. And a few other things, I’m sure, but most importantly, wrinkles.

There is no point in continuously beating myself (and guys) up about something I cannot change.  Sure there are things I don’t like about my life.  And there are things that I don’t have in my life that I thought I would by now.  But I’m the one that’s increasing the impact of their absence.

My aunt passed away a few days ago, and as my mom said, it’s a reminder for me to “give the loved ones around you a big hug and enjoy as rich a life as you can.  Every minute counts. Live and love your life.  You’ll get over the bumps.”

That’s been my big takeaway from all of this these past few days.  That I have the power to write my character as a hero rather than a victim.

Because in fact, I am proud of myself.  It took supreme courage to resolve to find something, and someone, better for me. Rather than pursue doomed relationships for fear of being alone, I chose life.  And radically improved the outcome of my own.

You can accept or reject the way you are treated by other people, but until you heal the wounds of your past, you will continue to bleed. You can bandage the bleeding with food, with alcohol, with drugs, with work, with cigarettes, with sex, but eventually, it will all ooze through and stain your life. You must find the strength to open the wounds, stick your hands inside, pull out the core of the pain that is holding you in your past, the memories, and make peace with them…. Iyanla Vanzant

Now watch this, it makes me happy.

Self-sabotage is boring.

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I’ve never been a gray person.  I’m a firm believer in the black and white.  You are or you aren’t.  You do or you don’t.  You can or can’t. You should or shouldn’t.  It’s about having a spine. Knowing who you are.  Making a damn decision.

I’ve always thrown myself into everything once I’ve made the choice to be a part of it.  I’m not saying it’s the right way to go about life.  Sometimes it has served me, and sometimes it hasn’t.  But it’s the only way I know how to truly live. There have been plenty that don’t get it.  They like gray, from cool to charcoal.

To better explain: I don’t watch one episode of Dexter, I stay up until 4am to finish the season I’ve pirated on my laptop. I don’t buy a coffee table, I paint my walls and retile the floors.  I don’t write a blog entry, I write a screenplay. I don’t go to the store for milk, I have to rent a car and buy enough chicken cutlets for a small army. I can’t go for a jog, I must train for a marathon.

Unfortunately the same goes for things that are bad for me.  I don’t eat a handful a chips, I eat the entire bag of Lay’s Sour Cream & Onion.  For no one can eat just one, right?

While I wouldn’t know how to live my life in any other way, with it comes a kind of imprisonment. Without participating in the entire shebang, there is discontentment.  Giving up the unhappiness would mean to throw my ego into the gutter, to completely let go. This prison of incompletion, while safe, makes me fear constantly that I will not be deemed a success, by my own or anyone else’s standards. While the mantra “Patience, patience” enters my thoughts, I simultaneously pray, “Let’s get on with it already.” Many can’t deal with a process like this, as expressing your creativity and your calling has incredible mountains and valleys.  Some deem it easier to steal things a better man has built.

Mostly, I am scared when I cannot find the motivation to create.  I doubt my own ability to do something worthwhile  – something worth looking at, reading, studying, exploring, being immensely proud of. It’s a vicious circle of ego and fear, self-love and loathing.

I do know this: I need to be creating, in whatever form.  It is more than a form of expression, it is a need, like breathing, eating, or drinking Spottswoode Cabernet. I want to create, but I don’t know the best way to do so. I suppose there is not a best way, there is just a way. So I’m asking you, and the Universe for help, and good wishes.  I’m a firm believer in the power of the mind. You send me yours, I’ll send you mine.

Creative people are not happy unless they are being creative.  I can vouch for that.  So while I sit here going the corporate route, I silently hope frequently that I never hear back from my inquiries.

I read this today and it made my heart beat fast and tears well in my eyes:

Creative people appear on this earth and they don’t ask to be creative but they are driven to be creative and they are not happy unless they are being creative. They aren’t happy unless they are making things or discussing making things or putting things they made in the mail or painting the things they made or selling the things they made. That’s why people live in lofts and join caravans because the only time they feel alive is when they are drenched in the colors of their being. In a loft with buckets of paint. In a studio with instruments and knobs. On the road. In an attic room with a view of the river. Barefoot in a stranger’s bed. Waiting for a train on a vast prairie. You will only be happy when your mysterious need to create is being serviced, addressed.

I suppose the first part is getting past the ego.  Not only putting it to bed, but crucifying it. I don’t need my creativity to make me wealthy, I need it to fill my soul. Maybe I won’t find it fully in a day, or months, or years. Maybe that’s the point of living a lifetime.

Today can be a demarcation from the self-sabotage, if I choose it to be.  Self-sabotage is getting boring.  Instead I choose to watch the entire second season of Game of Thrones, and read a book form cover to cover.  I shall see the sun rise.

Inhale. Exhale.

I spent an incredible night with friends, was reminded of the coolness of Zipcar, arrived home to be met with the brilliance of Aaron Sorkin, and then read this below email in my inbox. An email that spoke to me and made we remember a lot of feelings, and acknowledge how far I’ve come.  A full Sunday.

Before you read further, a Happy Birthday to Eileen Coughlin.  My best friend in the whole world, for 27 long years. She worries about me and pretends she doesn’t.  She doesn’t give me a hard time about not checking in with her because she knows I don’t want her voice so far away to make me cry.  She reads my blog dutifully to check in to make sure I’m still inhaling and exhaling. She’s constant, my North, and she’d do anything for me.  And I her.

Anyway, back to that email….

It’s hard, it’s wrenching. It’s incredibly painful and it’s difficult to feel lightness. Or to see clearly. Hanging by a thread can be really disorienting. What you’re going through undeniably sucks.

Listen to me: It’s going to be okay. You’re going to get through this. You can do it. Baby, you ARE doing it. You’re getting through this. Right now your cells are plumping up and your heart is beating and you have your breath. In breath. Out breath. It’s really okay if you have to get that basic about getting through it. In breath, out breath. Sun’s gonna rise. It’s going to be okay. Take encouragement from strangers. Like me. Go ahead. Take it. It’s free and I don’t feel karmically entangled. So listen to me: It’s going to be okay.

This will not kill you.

Do you believe in angels? If you don’t just believe in them for the next twenty fours. There are a hundred thousand angels by your side.

You’re probably feeling devastatingly alone, like an iceberg drifting. No one can hear you cracking. It’s cold. But, just like an iceberg, you have so much beneath the surface. Years of layers and lifetimes of experience and strengths to call on — skills of expanding consciousness that you didn’t even know you had. You will not sink.

People have been through what you’re going through right now. Thousands of them. Really and truly. Your picture of heartbreak, your strain of pain is part of the human fabric, and that tapestry is holding you like an Eskimo blanket. Other people have survived this and when they got out of the hole, they left a morphogenic popcorn trail out of the pain. You can trace their steps.

It may be hard to believe right now, but not only will it be okay, not only will you get through and over this, you will thrive again. You will be clear and vibrant and INCREDIBLE. You will not only have more character to pull out at parties and wisdom to offer the world, but you will feel more joy than you think is possible right now. You will.

You may walk with a limp. You may wince when you look back (understandable,) you may cry unexpectedly in the book store, but you’ll be more alive, and more You. You will be strong. And you will feel a curious sensation of being more useful. And it will feel really, really fantastic.

What you’re going through right now is so difficult.
And it’s going to be okay.
More than okay.

I’m rarely speechless…now I have no choice.

It’s always a spectacular day when you receive a cold, calculating email, odd (and inexpensive) credit card charges appear on the rare night you’re not swiping it, and Facebook shuts you down for “indecency.”   Yes, I’ve been hacked, and not for the first time.  But this time is more vast, and I even feel myself looking over my shoulder.  He/She/It/We/They even canceled my Netflix.  What the what?!?  Now I’m pissed. It’s obviously more than the average thief that has invaded my privacy. This is skeevy and creepily intimate, because it’s different than a physical purse being stolen.  Our lives are online…personal, professional, economical…and its a deeper betrayal. And it appears to be endless. This evening, even my blog was taken over, and a post was created that did not come from my fingertips. There is nothing creepier than someone putting words into your mouth and signing your name with a Send button.  If there is, I don’t want to experience it.  It’s an extremely emotional violation. And I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’m downright scared as to what tomorrow will bring.

I was told today that this is the price we pay for living in a social world, with our lives on display.  And I agree with that, but to a point.  I trusted all the precautionary measures – the firewalls, the passwords, the two security questions, the text verifications, the privacy settings….Is it all smoke and mirrors?

I think back to college exams, when we were asked to not write our names at the top of the page, so that our wise, old dusty professor wouldn’t judge our essays with his predisposition.  Instead, we continually wrote our social security numbers on them, collected them, and received them back when they were called out loud in front of the room.  Priceless, when you think about it. Our most secret number, given to us at birth, our key identifier, yelled out in a room…and we didn’t bat an eyelash.  I write it on everything to this day, with no questions asked.

“Would you like fries with that?”

“Absolutely.”

“Great!  If you could just write down your social security number…”

“Here you go!”

Ironically, I’m sitting here watching Diane Lane in Cinema Verite, a movie recounting one of the very first reality series, “An American Family,” filmed all the way back in 1973.  Their normal Santa Barbara lives are turned upside down, “friends” come out of the woodwork, infidelities are broadcast, and lives become stiff caricatures.  Producers push the drama and relationships unravel, no longer able to engage in warm, intimate conversation. They lost the link to anything real.

So I feel like it’s time to step away for a bit, shut down, leave for the weekend, and get away – from California, from online billpay, from Citicard fraud alerts.  I’ll be back, when I feel whole and one, when Mark Zuckerberg resolves my security breach – and when I’m feeling clearer about things.

And because I’d like to end on a lighter note, this clip below shows what technology can do to us, when we act like it’s a friend and don’t respect what it’s supposed to be used for.   How it can turn on you when you think you’re safe.  It’s hilarious, trust me.

That’s all from me – over and out.

Tuesday letters – and lighten up, Eileen!

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Things have been getting dark and deep in my posts recently, and alas, a time to lighten up and say thanks, in the form of a not-so-handwritten letter.

Dear Tuesday rainy days, thank you for supplying the dinner menu of red wine, cheese, and chocolate Haagen-daz by the fire.  Dear David Walton, where have you been all my life?…Dear Don Draper, I know your kind all too well, and it hits a little close to home, Mr. Narcissistic.  Dear #2 bus, thank you for saving me from that awful #1 bus, where you been? Oh, here the whole time…. Dear Westchester County, I’m sorry that my kids never got to see the house I grew up in.  Dear North Carolina, for being the place I will spend future holidays. Dear Roger Sterling, for lines like “when God closes a door, he opens a dress.” I’ve met you, too. Equally sad and lonely, but you amuse me because you don’t pretend your something you’re not.  Dear Ed, thanks for being my daily pen pal. I look forward to you everyday.  Dear Clay Jackson, I’ll see you this weekend and every weekend.  Dear Anna Donaldson, for showing me what faith looks like. Dear thermostat, why the heat in the bedroom and the chill in the living room?  Dear Mr and Mrs Loerke, thank you for giving me the marriage I strive to have one day. Dear Elisabeth and Shawn, thank you for showing me that skiing might be my favorite new thing. Dear umbrellas, I keep leaving you in cabs and hope you are supplying your adopted owners with dry days.  Dear inspiration, for giving me reminders that are hard to believe:

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