Category Archives: Introspection

On the one who thinks you’re perfect, even though you’re not.

In which there’s a very long-form piece about love. (Originally posted here, but since I wrote it I decided I’d like a local copy and moved it. So here it is.)

A year ago, if you’d asked me if I’d ever been in love before, I would have said yes, of course. I mean, I’m a divorced grown-ass woman, aren’t I?

I’ve been in love a dozen times or more, haven’t I? I’ve had that wonderful flush at the beginning, and the horrible heartache and tears at the end, and the various shades of really good to merely okay to this-fucking-sucks in between. I’m an old hand at this shit. Been there, done that.

So much so that I weighed the pros, as I understood them, of being with someone versus the cons, and came to the only logical conclusion:

Fuck relationships.

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On God

In which there are quotes from some favorite non-fiction in my library.

The truth is that we are all inclined to flatter ourselves – despite our daily experience to the contrary – that we spend our time thinking logical, consecutive thoughts. In fact, most of us do no such thing. Consecutive thought about any one problem occupies a very small proportion of our waking hours. More usually, we are in a state of reverie — a mental fog of disconnected sense-impressions, irrelevant memories, nonsensical scraps of sentences from books and newspapers, little darting fears and resentments, physical sensations of discomfort, excitement or ease.

The mind seems to be intelligent and conscious. Yoga philosophy teaches that it is not. It has only a borrowed intelligence. The Atman is intelligence itself, is pure consciousness. The mind merely reflects that consciousness and so appears to be conscious.

The external world, even in its most beautiful appearances and noblest manifestations, is still superficial and transient. It is not the basic Reality. We must look through it, not at it, in order to see the Atman.

PatanjaliHow to Know God: The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali
by Swami Prabhavananda, Christopher Isherwood, Patanjali

 
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Meta. It's all meta.

In which I tell you about my weekend. And the crazy fluctuations in my state of mind. (Seriously, watching your mind do whatever it does is EVER an exercise in weird.)

Friday night I went out and got drunk for no good reason. I hadn’t intended to get drunk, but I was sitting at the bar having a really nice conversation with one of the regulars and Amy kept pouring the way she does, and, well: shit happens. Saturday I had to get up about three hours earlier than I usually do and if it was a little rough, well, that was my own damn fault, wasn’t it!

Curt & Shelly came and picked me up and they gave me an egg biscuit and hash browns from McDonald’s the very minute I sat down in their ride (and OMG I srsly LOVE THEM for that). The drive to the Benton Franklin County fairgrounds was uneventful; we didn’t need to be there early because it turned out there wasn’t going to be a sound check after all. I was, hangover-style, a little agro that I’d had to get up when I did. We milled around aimlessly instead. Steve bought me a coffee. I love him, too.

At noon, Romagossa Blu kicked off the festival with a bang, and then Vaughn Jensen went up and smoked. Coyote Kings went on at 1:30 and three songs later I went up and joined them.

UnTapped

Playing festivals is great. The stages are huge, the crowd is way into what you’re doing, and there are actual professional sound people at the board. Monitors! Lights! No schlepping!

There was a wedding on stage directly after our set. I got to sing ‘At Last’ for the happy couple, then bluesman Billy Stoops officiated the marriage of (our friends and fans) Nancy and Steve right there in front of everybody. It was cute.

After the set I changed into comfy clothes and promptly started drinking the free beer from the craft services tent. I spent most of the day backstage because I could (UnTapped doesn’t take your VIP pass away after you finish playing, like other festivals sometimes do) but I did wander around enough to have seen absolutely everything. UnTapped has tons of beer and wine makers and lots of food and a scattering of other vendors. It’s a really cool festival.

A few of the NW players I met told me they’d heard of me, which was, as you can imagine, immensely gratifying. I was encouraged to move to Portland; I was encouraged to start my own band. In short, I got a lot of ego stroking, but – because the mind is a terrible thing – I somehow managed to feel self-pity anyway.

I know, right? WTF, Mush? Fun blues festival, stage time, free beer, beautiful weather, good friends, and my internal dialog is fux0red. This is what happens when one doesn’t deliberately choose the upside.

My (admittedly not accurate) perception was that the musicians got younger as the day went on. In the early afternoon we had guys pushing 60 but the kids in the headliner’s band all looked like they were still on the fresh side of 30. I was having, in the back of my mind, one of those completely negative “since I wasn’t headlining at 26 it follows that I suck” thought processes. Why? It’s stupid, but lemmie tell you what: all that crap about the negative psychological effects of unemployment? Appears to be true. After not getting yet another job, I’m having a glass-is-half-empty crisis in the form of a really insidious “I’m totally mediocre” mental litany.

It doesn’t help that this is my second long-term bout of unemployment in the last five years, either. Stupid job market!

I met a metric ton of musicians, including the superawesome Miriam (of Portland band Miriam’s Well) and her bandmates; Chicago tenor player Eddie Shaw and his son Vaan (who is a really cool dude); trombonist Ed Earley; and the headliner, Hamilton Loomis (who was not only a smokin’ musician but a really, really nice person), to name a few.

Loomis’ set was not at all what I’d call blues; his has been described as a “blues-rock-funk-groove-soul band,” and he did charts that broke down into funky Stevie Wonder grooves, charts that were pure rock, charts that were pure soul. It occurred to me that from here on out, it’s all meta. Every song will contain shades of every genre that’s ever gone before, and descriptors like “R&B” and “pop” and “blues” will go the way of the dinosaur. Listeners will be expected to understand music from a global perspective that spans the whole of recorded music.

In other words, it’s so meta it’s actually like this: I have some cheesy pop in my library that features a raga in the bridge, house with a gypsy violin in it, and funk with a banjo solo. There’s really no reason I can’t do R&B-soul-blues-jazz-rock and still get booked at blues festivals, that’s all I’m saying.

Applying this meta concept to the idea of “work”, I’m realizing that my bad attitude is stupid. I’m online all the time, so I know that very little can truly be monetized. All this free information on the Internet is there because people want to do it. They try and try and try to monetize and the vast majority of them fail; overall they do this shit for the love of it. Free ebooks, free TV series, free how-to videos, free games, free lessons, free recipes: some people manage to be offering the right thing at the right time and they break through to monetization, but most of them don’t. And that’s okay.

I do what I do for the love of it: I sing, I take pictures with old film cameras, I publish thousands of words online per year, I share recipes, I comment on tech. These things are fun, and I don’t need to feel guilty – or mediocre – about not turning them into money.

I have this belief that life is structured like this: there’s this job thing you do, and it pays your bills. You do not love it. You’re very fortunate if you like it. It takes up much but not all of your time, and it subsidizes the other things you do. Some people get paid a lot to play at whatever they play at and they don’t have to do the job thing. They are rare and special, and I am not one of them.

That’s my job meta. I don’t like it, but I don’t think I’m eligible to transcend it because it seems that if I was I already would have. So, I believe that I need a job, and I don’t have one, and it’s messing with my head. Since I can’t through any amount of effort on my part cause a job to exist, I need to do something else meaningful to structure my time.

Tomorrow I’m going to visit the WorkSource office and find out what options are available. I’m ready for some options. I’m a displaced worker, I guess, since there aren’t any ISP support gigs around here and I’m 41. I think I might be eligible for grants and scholarships.

I think I’d really like to go back to school. I’d much rather be in class than on the job market since the endless rejection, poverty, and uncertainty is, um, starting to bug the shit out of me.

I mean, sure: I love having nothing but free time. Who doesn’t? I like eating when I want, sleeping when I want, playing guitar when I want, going out when I want: it’s fun. I read all the time, I can meditate whenever I want, or do push-ups and crunches when the mood strikes rather than when I have to. The freedom is great, but apparently I just can’t stop worrying about what will happen. What will happen when my benefits run out? What will happen ifone of the minimum wage jobs I apply for actually offers me a position I really don’t want?

Anyway. Sorry about the digression. All the pics from the blues festival are here, if you want to check them out.

My next gig isn’t until July, but we’ll be playing The Pastime at the Ritzville Blues Brews & BBQs festival, which should be a total blast.

On Tuesday it was sunny. And also it rained.

In which I spent all day in my fucking room.

I worked out, I surfed intensely and endlessly for nothing, I folded some laundry and didn’t fold some other laundry. Except I did go out – I walked my dog. Twice. She’s old. Like, 13 or 14 old. We didn’t walk very fast.

I made lentil soup, like, totally without a culinary net if you will, just throwing stuff in the pot willy-nilly. It came out fucking brilliant. So brilliant I put the recipe on the Internet. Soup is so my bitch. I obsessed about the food I didn’t eat. Dieting is like a form of voluntary insanity. I used to think it required discipline but now I think that you just have to go fucking nuts to not eat all the awesome food you have access to. The body just wants to eat good stuff all the time. It’s hard-wired to eat good stuff all the time. It’s like it wants to make up for the past ten thousand years of not having constant 24/7 access to chile rellenos and walnuts and falafel pitas and goat’s milk fucking brie.

I didn’t really think much about getting a job, but there was like this sort of sub-thought pulse in my head that implied over and over like a mantra that I ought to be doing something with myself, as if it were in any way possible to be both alive and not doing anything. Pshaw. I mean, like, my best unemployed friend, the drummer in my band? Even he got a fucking job this week. People have jobs. Or jobs have people. Either way, at least a job provides fodder: one can always either bitch about work or fume about not being able to bitch about work. Did you dig that awesome colon back there? I totally use punctuation like an employed person, don’t you think?

Thing is, I don’t want a job. I want income. I feel like this is a riddle I must solve and I suck at riddles so I just feel lazy and common about it. I have all this time right now and I should be producing something awesome but I couldn’t for the life of me tell you what that something is. Maybe this life of mine is creatively barren. I can’t gestate anything bigger than 3000 words at a time but if you give me nine years I can give you a blog chockablock full of unrelated styles and aborted directions totally full of the win. Oh yes I can. Just call me in 2019! You have my number.

Every time G’ma leaves the house she turns the kitchen radio on to this easy listening jazz station out of the Tricities and holy fuck I’m sure he’s a nice guy but Kenny G is the worst sax player of all time and I cannot figure out how he ever got famous. Was it the hair? Because I really think that the prettier you are, the more likely the world is to forgive you for being juuuuuust slightly less good than you fucking ought to be at blowing that shiny horn. In addition there’s a new Simply Red song built on top of Hall & Oates’ I Can’t Go For That and both times I’ve heard it I have felt weird, like the 80′s were riding a bicycle over my musical grave.

The guy at the Zen lecture I went to last Friday told us to listen, to listen intently and with our whole selves, as if to hear a pin drop. He didn’t have any pins but we listened anyway.


This entry was an exercise in writing somewhat like this guy.

Epiphany.

In which every time I go to New York, I have some sort of revelation about how unhappy I am. This is a very long post; YHBW.

The last time I was in New York, I’d gone to sing on my friend Barbara’s a capella album. I went because I was invited, not because I’d decided to check out New York. But when I got there, I had an amazing and transformative week.

My then-husband was off in Colorado at the Telluride Blues & Brews festival. I’d been to that festival before, and while it is hella fun, lemmie tell you what: it ain’t no fucking New York City.

I loved every single second in the city but I kept having the recurring thought, each time I was transcendently happy with what I was experiencing, that my husband, if he’d been sitting next to me, would not have dug it. I realized that he would not have liked the food, the company, the conversation, any of it.

In short, I finally really grokked that my husband and I were utterly unsuited. Add to that the observation that I’d been panic-free the entire trip (save for the episode I had my last night there, when I thought about having to return home), and I’d had a life-changing breakthrough: I wasn’t sick, I had a panic disorder. I had a panic disorder because I was deeply unhappy. I was unhappy because I hated my life: my husband and I had nothing meaningful in common and I was emotionally, intellectually, and socially starved. On Maslow’s chart I was essentially hovering between the bottom two states, with no hope in sight of ever going any higher. Ever again.

This was a revelation to me (although perhaps not to those around me) because I honestly hadn’t allowed myself to know how miserable I really was. I had been trying to count my blessings, I’d been trying to make the most of my choices, and I was trying to honor both my wedding vows and the terms of my mortgage. It just turned out that, after trying both, I didn’t like marriage or country living. Not even a little.

So I left New York after a deliriously happy and fulfilling week, and went home knowing that if I were to survive some shit seriously had to change. Within the year I had separated from my husband and moved back to town. What followed then was a period of fucking off and being selfish, followed by a period of being responsible again.

Five years later I’m having regular panic symptoms again, and once again I’m trying to attribute them to physiological anchors – I wrote a post about my luteal phase less than two weeks ago, didn’t I? Well, I don’t know if it’s perimenopause. I think I might just be really fucking unhappy. Again.

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The benefits of a liberal arts education.

In which I realize something!

You know when someone says, “Say ‘Irish wrist watch’ fast three times!” and most people try to and proceed to totally mess it up?

Well, I don’t. I can say all kinds of awkward shit really fast three times! And I just realized that this is entirely due to all the pronunciation and diction one learns inadvertently when studying classical voice, which I did in high school and junior college.

Irish wrist watch! Irish wrist watch! Irish wrist watch!

This is only a working title.

In which there’s, like, not much.

Apparently my brain is broken. I mean, I’m doing stuff – making bentos, knitting a hat, doing Xmas shopping online – but I can’t think of a single thing to write about. All my creativity is going into my tweets, I guess… there is a lot to be said for brevity (pun intended).

This dearth of stuff to write might be due to what I’m reading, which is pretty much nothing. In the past week I’ve consumed few nice sci-fi shorts and some cheesy erotica, but not enough to get my brain going. (I can tell I’m not reading enough when my in-use vocabulary drops to twelve single-syllable words.)

In keeping with the aimless, disjointed tenor of this entry, here are a few unrelated items:

- I want to buy a tiny little Christmas tree and hang tiny little lights and tiny little ornaments on it, and then plug it in and stare at it. For about nine hours. In the dark. With a cup of hot chocolate. Yeah.

- I need to figure out something to bring for the potluck tomorrow. Suggestions, anyone?

- Since I can no longer read anything more than ten feet away, I’ve decided it’s time for new contacts and some glasses. I have an eye appointment on Monday. It’ll probably take about two hours because I’m 40 and have astigmatism and floaters, which means A FULL EXAM WITH PRESSURE TEST AND DILATION. I seriously hate having my eyes dilated, but I’ll get to pick new frames for the first time in twenty years.

- It’s so slow at work today that I can barely keep my eyes open. But I’ve noticed that if I pick up my knitting, the phone will ring within eight stitches.

- Freaked out about the number of hits I get from people googling “my little pony porn,” I googled it myself. And it’s this. Naw, just kidding! It’s actually a game where you try to determine if a name belongs to either a My Little Pony item or a porn star. While I understand why my site is the first hit when people google the phrase (because GOOGLE IS MY BOYFRIEND), what I can’t figure out is why everyone’s googling it IN THE FIRST DAMN PLACE.

Is my life boring? Or is it just me that's boring?

In which I ponder my reactions to my life and wonder at the key to joy.

During the last few years of my marriage, when I was depressed and boxed in and miserable, I developed a form of aversion to complacency. (In my defense, at the time my complacency was nearly killing me: I had an unsatisfying relationship, I felt trapped, I had no career to speak of, no artistic outlet, limited spiritual outlet, a day-to-day schedule focused on cooking and cleaning that I loathed, and a hideous panic disorder because of it all.) I’d been in that state for years and had been so busy convincing myself that I had a great life that I was going nutso.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve always been an optimist. I’ve always been happy with what I have, be it ever so humble. But. I have finally learned that I am not only an optimist, I am someone capable of making herself sick pretending that she likes a life she really doesn’t.

I love change. Always have. I love travel, I love new jobs, I love new friends and new experiences. The past two years of my life have been change-filled: I left my marriage, I moved across the country, I traveled a lot. It was wonderful.

Now, though, I’ve been living in the same room and working the same job for a year. I’ve had the same boyfriend for six months and we’ve settled into a routine, a schedule. (I sleep at his place on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. The rest of the week he drops me off at home around 11 or 12 and I sleep there. I’m home on Saturday and am supposed to do my laundry and knitting and surfing and lazing around then.) I’ve been playing with the same band long enough that I’m bored of playing the same songs, I’m bored of the same mistakes, I’m bored of the types of audiences we pull because they’re all ten years older than me.

See, listen to me! My life is awesome and all I can do is bitch. Somewhere deep inside I can feel myself panicking a little: am I really happy or do I just think I am? Continue reading