"If writers possess a common temperament, it's that they tend to be shy egomaniacs; publicity is the spotlight they suffer for the recognition they crave." Gail Caldwell, from her book "Let's Take The Long Way Around"

"To look life in the face, always to look life in the face and to know it for what it is. At last to know it, to love it for what it is, and then, to put it away. . .always the years. Always the love. Always the hours." From the movie "The Hours", based on the book of the same name by Michael Cunningham

"Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly." Baz Luhrman, "Everybody's Free (to wear sunscreen)"

"A writer can do nothing for men more necessary, satisfying, than just simply to reveal to them the infinite possibility of their own souls." Walt Whitman

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant or talented?’ Actually, who are you not to be?” Marianne Williamson

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Then and Now

When does it ever stop?  The things we do, I mean, to make our lives easier but which take up so much precious time.  Can't time stand still while I make the coffee for the morning, do the laundry, take out the garbage and the recycling (and don't forget to replace the bags)?  Is this just life?  Is this just it?  Are these the little things in which I am supposed to be finding joy?

I am burdened by this overwhelming sense of failing, like I am failing at living the life I want because I just don't know how to get there.  I was complaining to my mother the other day about the stress of my recent promotion, the challenges I was facing and she said with cheerful sympathy, "It's like you're on the Apprentice!"  "But there's no million dollars at the end," I whined and then went on to unload the other burdens of my life at the moment, to which she said (this time with a more cynical cheerfulness), "It's like you're on the Amazing Race!  Your life is the Amazing Race!"  I laughed this time because ironically it's true - isn't that what life is?  Yes, but I reminded her that somehow making coffee and doing laundry and cleaning the cat box don't seem quite as exciting as backpacking around the world, building crystal goblet pyramids and learning how to plant potatoes, Russian-style.  And again, no million-dollar prize at the end.

Once, during the few years after college when I lived in my much beloved studio apartment on the tree-lined street of downtown Sacramento, I made one of my weekend excursions to Los Gatos, just north of Santa Cruz, to visit friends.  As I embarked on the 3 hour drive in my Toyota Tercel (fondly nicknamed the "Bullet" by the same friends), I decided that I was going to be on vacation that weekend; that it wasn't just a regular weekend - I was going on vacation with a vacation mindset, even if it was just from Friday night to Sunday night.  I declared my "vacation" to my friends who were satisfyingly impressed with my decision, and indeed, it felt like I was on vacation all weekend. 

I never have weekends like that anymore, in truth, mostly because I work a retail job and in retail we rarely have 2 days off in a row, much less an actual Sat-Sun weekend.  But what I remember about that weekend and those weekends to follow - the ones where I abandoned my Sacramento life for the fun and yuppiness of the Bay Area - was how carefree I felt, how enriched my life suddenly became if only by the blissful indulgence of brie and bread and olives and strawberries after a walk to the farmers' market and a feigned interest in the local art gallery.  Or salmon for the first time with mango salsa and wine and intellect, the cool wit of twenty-somethings who think they have it all figured out, know better than everyone, even though we had no clue.  What snobs we were, and I loved it.  Youth, I guess that's what it was.  Youth.

Now I'm going on forty-something, and most would say I am still young - and I do believe I am - but it's a different kind of young.  In my mature wisdom, I know - and more importantly, understand - that I have so much ahead of me, that in many ways, life is just beginning.  How to seize it, that's what I haven't figured out yet.  Does anyone ever?

My friend Kevin has amazing stories about his life.  I love talking to him.  Someone will bring up the name of a well-known person and he will say, "I grew up down the street from him and we used to go ice skating on the pond, etc, etc" or something to that effect.  I love his stories.  I want stories like that.  Of course, he has about 30 years on me, but he is as alive as anyone I know.

I want to be happy.  Generally, I am happy, but sometimes, like now, that depression just slaps me in the back of the head (think NCIS and Mark Harmon).  I have good reason.  My husband, Deril, is back in the hospital, this time with pneumonia ("you seem strangely calm", the ER paramedic said to me.  I could only laugh because pneumonia is nothing compared to brain surgery).  I am glad Deril is there, only because that is the best place for him to be, as sick as he is.  How he got pneumonia is still a mystery to me, but if I ever entertained the idea of an air purifier, the deal is sealed now.

Anyway, my newly found exercise routine is on hold and my house is still in boxes because between trying to find my way in the dark in this new job role and visiting the hospital (bad wife, leaving your husband all alone all day!), I have no time, except to come home and try to get enough sleep to do it all again tomorrow.  Hence, the drudgery of making coffee tonight so I don't have to do it at 5 in the morning.  The Lifetime Movie Channel never sounded so good as I try to drift off to sleep in my bed made for two, bookended at least by my two kitties who can't understand where their daddy is.

But here are the good parts:  I ended my work day on a very high point albeit 20 minutes past my already nine hour day; I kissed my husband and held his hand and felt very loved and appreciated; and I blogged (amazingly without a cat climbing onto my lap while I try to type).  Not bad, in spite of the coffee-making, which, at 5 in the morning, I will be very happy I did when I smell it brewing and know I don't have to get up and make it half-asleep.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Life Is Hard

Someone I love so much is hurting today, and I wish there were something I could do to change that.  I have been out of touch with everyone in my life it feels for the past month at least because, well, life is hard.  I've said it to myself so many times, "life is just so hard."  Yes, it is.  I try to comfort myself with the familiar quote I've heard from somewhere that nothing worth doing is ever easy.

Is it March already?  I am chastising myself a bit for having ignored my blog for so long.  I wasn't going to do that!  Let life get in the way, or lose momentum.  So here I go again.  I am starting, it feels from scratch, but not really.  I realized tonight I just have to get something down and the rest will come; the momentum will return.  It's hard to be so positive sometimes, yet it's critical for my survival; otherwise, the depression will creep back in, kind of like "The Blob".

Have you seen "Black Swan"?  Here's the thing I love about movies like this and especially books:  you can believe whatever you want about the story, the ending.  I won't spoil it for you if you haven't seen it, but my interpretation of the ending seems to be the least popular; that is, I am in the minority - so far I haven't gotten anyone to agree with me.  That's okay.  That's the beauty of art, and even if the creator of that art has a definite, decided explanation of what it means, I can still believe inside that there is something else to it.

I guess what I'm saying, maybe what this post is all about, is that interpretation is everything.