Sunday, October 30, 2011

the remarkable thing about being human

'safe' -
The remarkable thing about being human is that the admission of such a state brings the other humans out of the wood work. Get any one person alone and safe, and there you’ll find the truth: they are human too. But out in the bigger world, you’d never know it. We all have shiny hair and friends and are happy-and-you-know-it. In large groups and public forums, our connections are often surface level: humor, agreeable beliefs, similar hobbies and like interests. While these things aren’t bad – in fact they are very good and I would even say they are necessary forms of connection – they aren’t as sticky as the bonds that are formed with honest confessions of failure, of love and genuine friendship. I often find myself gazing quizzically at Happy Façade, wondering why it still has strength to stand when there are so many obvious cracks in the idea. One on one, we’re honest. Why then, can’t we be honest with the world?

The trick as I’ve learned it is that safe venues for truth are limited and scarce. I once belonged to a community that was both welcoming and humble, until I cracked. I realized upon my breaking that I no longer fit the picture – my façade was off in a breeze somewhere, and I was left in the middle of  The (overcrowded) Standard, bare bones and dirty soul a-showing, wondering where my friends went. In short? My safe place was not safe at all, it had only seemed that way. Oh, I could stay in the group if I wanted to, if I cleaned up my act, apologized for disrupting the peace, and practiced my glimmering speeches. To maintain the relationships, to continue receiving the elusive Good Opinion, to keep hearing “Welcome!” at the door, I’d have to dash madly after my façade, and put it sharply back in place. Poetic language aside: to stay there, I would have had to fake it.

And therein begs the question: what do we do with the daily pressure to do what The Group thinks we should? What would they do if they knew the truth; that we not only fell below the norm, but chose to live against it? I was speaking awhile ago with a friend of mine who lives in a beautiful Suburbia with her husband…and no children. The pressure upon the childless to have children is like the pressure on the single to wed, is like the pressure on the unholy to repent: silent, but pressing; subtle, but fully there. She knows and I understand her; that eventually, something’s gotta give. Next was raised a valid and haunting question: if I never fit here, will I have to leave?

Like it or not we are still, at large, afraid of things that are different. More specifically: of people that are not like us. That person does not believe what I do; this person does not have the same lifestyle; their choices are not choices that I would make. We like it when the people we like are like us. The fear of difference may not always exhibit itself as hatred, but rather: an odd mix of incapacitation and haphazardly naive instructions. I do not know what to do with this person’s decisions; therefore, I will keep myself apart from who they are and offer my salacious wisdom instead. One of my best friends, having been married for a good number of years, was given this sharp disapproval from a woman she hardly knew: “You’re waiting too long to have children.” Her response in the moment was a turn of the heel and a quick walk away, but later she confessed to me how much that comment had hurt her. “She doesn’t even know me. What if I can’t even have kids?” Incredible that the woman would blindly storm the gate with her opinion, rather than deal with her own discomfort that my friend had not borne children ‘yet’. It’s much easier, after all, to tell someone what we think of them without paying attention to who they are.

With all my quizzical glances at Happy Façade, there have been just as many if not more at the abuse of unpublic knowledge. The fly in the ointment of confession is that it is right to be afraid of where we’ll land when we come clean. The more honest I have been on afterthoughts, and in my day-to-day conversations, the more I have come to see that I’m not the only one practicing my dance steps. Most everyone I know balks at at least one of the standards: no kids, no husband, no career goals, no religion. Pick whichever one you’d like, and you’ll be doing some mighty fine footwork on the way to sorting yourself out. The goal is not to lie, but rather, to avoid getting burned. Or can we hope for as much? Will it always be important to be a checkmark on someone else’s list? Or will we, at some point, get to dance for the right reasons?

'safe' -
In regards to my friends and their children or lack of children, singleness or lack of singleness, faith or confusion, the only consolation I can offer you is that the journey is yours and you have to make it so. Part of figuring out what you want in life involves uncomfortable interactions with people who are self-appointed-sages on all-things-you. But take heart: the other part of the journey involves actually figuring out what you want, and becoming strong enough to be strong and honest about it, even in the tightest of corners. Eventually, something will give. Either you stay and grow, or leave and do the same; I’ve done both and seen benefit and strength come from each. My rule of thumb is that staying is for my human-self, and leaving is for when I’m not allowed to check my Happy Façade at the door. So far, it’s worked out well.

If I’ve learned anything from falling apart in view of the public, or quietly disclosing my humanity to one, or finding hearts that do not need to be the same as mine to welcome me in, it’s that Love is a better place to land than judgment. Let our familiarity as humans not be found in the likeness of our decisions, but in the likeness of our states, as messy, beautiful people. What a comfort it has been to meet and know those who do not require a makeshift shittogetherness for entry. It is my hope that I would be the same kind of place for others.

finally, a new Hyperbole!

as usual, the girl is right on point; and frickin hilarious to boot. Ladies and gentlemen: the new hyperbole.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

how to break stuff; how to fix it

I'm sitting here trying to think of a first sentence. My midnite snack is a mini bowl of butterscotch chips and a giant mug of Neo Citran; proof that I'm drawn toward opposing forces, even in the small things. It's a weird thing I've done you know - set myself up in a way for a really awkward silence-break. I tried to ease things off with terrible cake, although let's be honest, that cake hardly counted as 'easy'. How can someone announce that they are taking hiatus to fix themselves, and then come back unfixed? The whole-self-fix is not only unlikely, it's kind of silly. I suppose that's what I've realized during this month of stepbackitude: I'm not entirely fixable. Or maybe it's better to say it this way: I'm not fixable in my entirety. Next comes the oddly suprising truth: I'm okay with that.  I'm not totally sure I need to be totally 'fixed'.

The past four days have been largely spent on this same kitchen chair, staring at this same laptop, watching the previously unseen Sex and the City series, from square one. I moved recently (timed perfectly with my bloggy silence, actually), and although I should be unpacking the boxes I find myself staring at them from across the room between episodes. I briefly relocated earlier this afternoon, and organized my bathroom cupboards to the tune of SJP's imitation of neurosis, slowly putting things in my cabinets during the conversational pauses. I've wondered if I have things in common with her, or if I'm just allowed to hate her tendencies. She's a writer, and she stole my habit of narrating life in her head all day as if she were writing a column. Aside from this singular commonality, I have developed over the course of the week a lengthy exegesis on why I think SATC is perhaps the reason for disillusionment among women about relationships and general expectations from life. It isn't real by any stretch; nor is it realistic. But, as it stands, watching these characters interact with and sabotage their own lives has got me thinking about my own approaches and quirks, as if I hadn't been doing that already.

I have not discovered anything new about myself this quiet month, but I have re-discovered some of the old things. A good friend of mine recently described the call she feels in her spirit to head "homeward" - back to who she is instead of who her rushing calendar and peers expect her to be. In this conversation I found comfort, as I too have been trying to figure out how to become unlost in the muss of everyday business, to be purposeful in quiet time; to figure out for the fifty-seventh time how to be me, down to the root. Of course there are distractions - loaned DVD TV series, shopping lists and meal planning. There are good friends, new kitchens, and limited bank accounts. Add to that: monumental thought processes that start at birth and finish...sometime. At the end of it all, whether it be finances or faith that wobbles my course, I'm still left sitting at the table, eyeing the boxes, narrating my life. Not much has changed about me even though much has changed around me, and I feel at peace about it. I'm starting to wonder if I should be as insistent on changing myself as I have been. Or if, like my good friend, I should spend more time here, settled in my heart: home.

Or am I the only one addicted to renewal? What is it about a switch in habit that makes us feel good about ourselves? What is it about the receipt tally that makes us feel like we've accomplished something? We could make all the cakes, buy all the cute teal frying pans and organize a world's worth of living spaces, but this alone won't fill it. Whatever 'it' is; that hole that propels us forward, each in our own way. I know a girl that lives to be complimented, though I'm not sure even she realizes this is true. I know another someone who has good eyes until a mirror comes into view. Whatever the vice, I certainly wish we each - as uniquely as we shape our hesitations - could stop living as if the holes were... it.

I am still learning how and where to set boundaries, and I have (as we all do) a list of experiences to help me draw those lines. But I know something now that I'm not sure I really knew a month ago: I am not my drawn-line slip-ups or busted fences; nor am I my cluttered mind, unpacked boxes, or perpetual list of to-do's. No, I am not each of those things; I am all of them at once, and I'm the good things too. Maybe the world will change, or my house will change, or my certainty of wealth or status-quo-perfectitude will change, but whatever comes I can be sure I'll make it through; because I am me, right down to the root.


Friday, October 14, 2011

it's just a cake. or two.

this should hardly be my next post. but it is. if you're wondering, I will not be bringing a cake to the company cake walk tomorrow.

the worst part is? I was actually trying.
best part? haven't laughed this hard in a long time.