Archive | July, 2006

Flipping It

28 Jul

Me and my victim mentality go wayyyyyyyyyy back. I have often felt like, one or a combination of the following: Why is everything so hard for me (potentially more so than for everyone else?)? Why does everything always go wrong? or the flip side of that: Why can’t anything go right? Why do I (choose your favorite word – suffer, struggle, some variation thereof) so? Why does this (some inconvenient or even worse, upsetting thing) always happen to me??? (And, I don’t want to beat this thing over the head, but a strong victim-mentality is pretty classic codependent behavior.)

Anyway, yesterday I was flying to a writing conference that I was/am so excited for. So my flight was delayed. A little. And then a lot. And then it was canceled. And I had a moment (a moment!) of: “Poor me, this sucks, why doesn’t anything, ever, work out for me?” But then…the moment passed. Or. I forcibly pulled myself out of it. Which is huge for me. (I have mentioned how I love to wallow, no?) I mean, I was all like: “Shit, I had to leave work early to sit around in an airport all day?!” but then I was all like: “I got to leave work early to sit around in an airport all day!” (These conversations with myself can be so enlightening!)

I mean, I got to read for six (it was more like a little over 5, but I am rounding up, the victim in me can’t help but milk it for sympathy) consecutive hours, alternating a self-help text and a fiction book, so I was very well-prepared. I got to justify eating butter-soaked (and I do mean soaked) pretzel-bites that came in a paper cup with a tangy dipping sauce (which, by the way, I was deciding between the standard-pretzel-formation and the bites, and I went for the bites, only realizing later, or during, that the bites definitely had more butter saturation per their considerably greater surface area, and I’m not even good at math, and there I was thinking about surface area!). I almost justified buying the Lance-Bass-I’m-Gay People magazine, but I think I’ve already mentioned that I was well-stocked in the reading material department, and celebrity gossip generally upsets me, or, in the case of Britney Spears, makes me angry. And let me just say while I’m on, or not far from at least, the topic of food-in-airports: I am so happy that airports now house recognizable chains. Remember when we were kids, in the days before somewhat pretty food-courts and limited-menu Chili’s??? There was like, one depressing sandwich shop in every airport, with bad coffee (although at age 8 I didn’t drink coffee, but thinking back, on the decor, or lack of decor in these places, and other facts, like, the coffee couldn’t have been even close to good, right?), flickering fluorescent lights, and stacks of soggy, plastic-wrap-choked sandwiches on stale white bread, dingy yogurt parfaits, and mushy fruit behind a depressingly generic display case. Remember that?). So I got to eat mushy pretzel-bites, which I would never do in my real, daily life, and I was comforted by the reconizability of the chain name printed on the paper cup holding these buttery bits. (This morning I had a non-mushy banana and yogurt for breakfast to cleanse my system and hopefully counteract aforesaid bites.)

And then: I have the day off today, and I got to sleep in, so now, I will be super-rested for the conference tomorrow (I only got less-than-six hours of sleep the night before last so I possibly would have been the opposite of super-rested if I went today). And also, my body feels like I participated in some kind of athletic activity as a result of sitting in an airport chair for six hours, so I can pretend I did, although really (really), I didn’t. And lastly, everyone on the other, destination end of my trip thus far has been super-nice, especially as it pertains to refunding me money for lodging and activities that I am missing.

I do want to say this: Our society is pretty heavy into the victim mentality, and yesterday, it felt like I was really fighting against a double-grain (myself, and society) to remain calm, peaceful, and optimistic. All around me, people were complaining and commiserating, telling their most miserable “I was stuck in an airport stories” to each other, comparing/contrasting who had it worse/worst, who was possibly, at that very second missing the more (or possibly most) important thing, and saying things to me like: “It’s such a mess,” to which I nodded, half-smiled, and ducked back into my self-help book; I really didn’t want anyone else spilling their negativity all over me. A group of people behind me had such tangible negative energy that at one point I had to cover my ears, stand up, and sit down again when I realized there were no other vacant seats. Plus CNN was on in the corner, blaring its bad news for all to soak up. Yuck.

But overall, I was super-successful at flipping it. I headed my disappointment off at the pass instead of letting it carry me into some kind of irreversible meltdown situation. I did the next indicated thing, and then the next and then the next, changing my ticket, canceling my hotel reservation, getting myself home, sleeping in, taking very excellent care of myself in general. I can say, to myself and anyone else who wants to hear: it’s a bummer, but it’s alright. No big deal even. I can go with the flow, in a very un-victim-like manner. And this is a major un-doing of a lifelong pattern. This, is an accomplishment.

Just Say No

26 Jul

I am totally excited. I recently self-diagnosed myself. As A Codependent. This past weekend I started reading a truly excellent book by Melody Beattie called “Beyond Codependency (and getter better all the time),” which, by the way, I firmly believe that the mark of a truly excellent self-help book is all in the subtitle; a self-help book without a subtitle does not even stand a chance with me. But like, mostly I started reading it ’cause I was really down and my local Barnes & Noble – we’ll call it “Self-Improvement” section – didn’t really have anything that raced my engine, and I have had this book in my possession for about a year, since a friend gave it to me (so, clearly my friend knew what was going on with me long before I did, but, one of the signposts of codependency is a lack of self-awareness, so this whole thing really only further serves to prove my point and super-validate my self-diagnosis). Anyway, I had this book nestled in the back of a shelf, and it is one of the few self-help books in my collection that I have not already read and I was – I don’t want to say desperate but you get the point – for a shot of inspiration, somehow, somewhere.

And. This is totally me! Every single thing about codependents – ME! Which, previously I mostly identified as a COD (Child-of-Divorce) but this is so much – bigger, broader, BETTER! I’ve been in therapy and worked with other such professionals and I don’t understand why no one ever pointed this out to me before (although, in their defense, if they even need a defense and if this is something that is, in fact, defensible, perhaps they just didn’t want to limit or define me, but I was an English major; I like definitions). Alas, we (me and my codenpendency), have finally come together. And. It all seems so clear now. And. Even better. In her truly excellent book, Melody Beattie talks about advanced codependents – people who know better but do it anyway (ME!), and I’m really excited that even in my neuroses, I get to excel (this, by the way, now makes me an AC-COD).

There are a couple of other cool things about being a recently-(self)-diagnosed codependent. First of all, I get to set boundaries. Historically, I have been a massive people pleaser, a “Yes Woman” if you will, which is actually a lot less sexual than it sounds. (Historically, I’ve had difficulties with my boundary – at best, it’s been more of a permeable membrane; at worst, completely absent.) Like, as an example, I used to volunteer at this organization, and then I was volunteering so much and working so little, and like, the balance was so off, that I had no money and couldn’t pay my bills and essentially got kicked out of my apartment. So I started working (for money) and had less time to volunteer, and they kept asking and asking, and finally I would be like, “No, I can’t; I don’t have time anymore because my life was in complete disarray/shambles, so now I really have to prioritize working and making an income,” (this, by the way, was complete agony for me to say) and they would get all pissy and I would feel guilty. That’s just one example, anyway. But now, I have a reason (as part of my “recovery”) to say “NO” to pretty much anything and everything. So far this week (because I am such a great student!), I have already said “No” to:
-a super-nice girl who asked me to water her plants (I am a plant-killer), and keep a spare set of keys (I already have a few people’s keys and I really can’t be some kind of Universal Key Master)
-multiple plans and arrangements that would have been inconvenient for me
-plus I did a bunch of other good, non-codependent stuff this week, too

And speaking of boundaries, I was reading the chapter entitled “Boundaries” this morning on the subway when the guy sitting next to me sprawled out spread-eagle – you know how guys do that, spread their legs and take up like two seats while you are curled up in a freakin’ ball next to them? – so he was sprawled with his arms and legs, but I was like (to myself) “I am not curling up in a ball, Mr. No-Bodily-Self-Awareness! I have a right to be here and take up an appropriate amount of space!” So you can see, this became a huge metaphor for my quest and I kept reasserting my boundaries literally, to remind spread-eagle guy, “I am woman, hear me roar!”

Ok, and the other thing I love about codependency is, it is something I can recover from. I can be in recovery. I can get better. There are steps I can take. There is a process I can follow. I am a recovering codependent. Damn, that sounds so empowered.

So, anyway, what I am mostly trying to say is, if you need something this week, don’t ask me…I am too busy establishing my boundaries, and I’m just gonna have to say, “No.”

This Really Happened:

20 Jul

I am currently enmeshed in a brutal power struggle with a relentless commitmentphobe: Myself. More on this later, but suffice it to say that as of late, I have been obsessed with my own: commitmentphobia, commitment conflicts, intimacy issues, relationship ambivalence; and as a result, have immersed myself in a quite excellent self-help book about the topic, hence all the fancy labels for what I am feeling/experiencing. The upshot of all this is that my own self-sabotaging (or self-protective, depending on how you look at it) behaviors have been on my mind a lot (read: all the time) lately.

A couple of Saturdays ago, I went out to buy myself a TV dinner (perhaps this is evidence of my bachelorette-hood. But it was Amy’s Organic brand, so I think it is slightly different and, dare I say elevated from like, a Hungry Man Salisbury Steak type deal-y. And while we are the subject, if you are looking for further evidence to support my fear of intimacy, look no further than my refrigerator, which contains: soy sauce, a carton of spoiled milk – I’m not sure when it expired, I can probably pinpoint it to the nearest month, somewhat melty tofutti cuties, and a couple of beers, although I don’t own anything that could remotely open such bottles, and a few other miscellaneous items not worth mentioning).

Anyway, I was walking towards the market when I saw a woman sitting on a bench in front of a coffee shop, and the remarkable or at least somewhat remarkable thing about her was that she was perched next to a tiny cage containing even tinier kittens. Two of them. Spooning. I started looking at the kittens (they were super-cute), and she started talking to me about the kittens, and how they were siblings – a pair – and couldn’t be separated. And THEN (and this is where it gets all Twilight Zone-y), she said that everything is better off in pairs you know, and “studies” have shown that it is better to be in a relationship, any relationship, an unhealthy and terrible relationship even, than none at all (ok, this surely has to be wrong, and there definitely must be some “study” out there proving just the opposite point but whatever). And THEN she said, ’cause she was really on a roll now, that ACTUARIES (did she just use this as an example because no one knows what actuaries actually do?) have PROVEN that living alone, health-wise, is the equivalent of smoking! (!)

“Your kittens are adorable. Good luck finding a home for them!” (Oh, that’s me, walking away waving, pretty much done with being a part of this conversation, yet still managing to be polite. BA-bye. TV dinner, here I come. Wait for me!) I forgot to mention that before I got up and walked away, in between, maybe, the “it’s better to be in an unhealthy relationship than to be single (which, I am totally not advocating here and I completely think is a total and complete LIE; at the very least, this woman was seriously misinformed. And honestly, I don’t think she meant any harm, I just think she was trying to state the case for the kittens staying together and not being split up. Point taken.)” and the bit where she tried to confuse me with a song and dance about actuaries, I did, what my friend and I like to call “The Dog Look” (so named because it’s what we imagine a confused dog, or even a cartoon dog, would do if he/she wanted further information. Or food. And it might even be accompanied by a Scooby Doo-esque sound effect.), which means that I cocked my head to the side and put a look on my that said “Huh?”.

The next day in a subway station I was bopping down a set of stairs when something made me look down, and at my feet I saw a sticker that said in big bold screaming (at least to me that’s what it seemed) letters that shouted: “MARRIAGE NOW!” Closer inspection revealed that it was referring to homosexual marriage so it was not as applicable to my life as I had initially thought, but still, it seemed like a sign. A sign that was echoed when, later that same day, I walked into a deli (that same day), only to hear Al Green’s plaintive voice crooning: “I’m so tired of being alone,” and later even, when I rented the movie Shopgirl to see, or remember as I should have known, being that I had read the book, that is about: commitmentphobia, commitment conflicts, intimacy issues, relationship ambivalence.

So, basically, I’m kind of, or actually really, in this weird place whereby I recognize and am further obsessed with observing and analyzing my own “ambivalent” beliefs and behaviors, and yet, although I want, I think, to not be this way; I want, I think, more, my beliefs and behaviors haven’t exactly caught up to my inner whispers of desire and stirrings of my soul on the matter of letting someone into my life in way that requires I release my need to be, or habit of being, alone. This tension leaves me feeling, generally, like I am hatching from this commitmentphobic shell that has encased me – I would be lying if I didn’t say, my entire adult life (I didn’t have this problem as a child: in kindergarten, I was engaged to not one, but two of the cutuest boys in my class) – only, my particular shell contains all these pulsating nerve endings, which I’m not sure if real shells have; i.e. it hurts. A lot. And then there is the matter of all these signs from the Universe…


18 Jul

Ok, I’ll admit it: sometimes I just really like to wallow. To reach deep down for whatever sad sad mood or wretched emotion I can find, clutch onto it, and milk it for all it’s worth. In times like these, I like to draw upon the help of musical accompaniment to really get me good and depressed, you know, so I can really feeeeeel it, like in my core (this is a little bit emotionally masochistic, but don’t discount the cathartic value inherent in such practices). I find that the Counting Crows is (are?) particularly effective in inducing such a state of desolate despair. But last week early on, I kind of noticed Adam Duritz and crew having the opposite effect. Like, I would listen to “Time and Time Again” (mildly disturbing), or say, “Colorblind” (rip-your-guts-out-heartwrenching) on the subway on the way to work, and then, as I was ascending the escalator to my office, I would take my headphones off and think, “Hey, my life if pretty good. At least I’m not as depressed as that guy. Things are really looking up!” And thus, I started my day, relying on the “I might feel bad but he feels worse so I feel better that I’m not that bad” game to do the trick.

I was really excited about my new discovery but then everything turned, and it seemed as if my daily repetition of the Counting Crows was having some sort of subconscious, cumulative effect, and I was feeling myself, at first comfortably, initially quietly, settle into this gnawing despair that grew exponentially as the week progressed.

By Sunday night it was clear that I had to do something to aggressively reverse this situation, and the sad state of affairs of my musical selections. I mean, I was listening to Annie Lennox (whom I love, but hello, not the most uplifting choice) to take a break from the Counting Crows, as a mood-elevator.

Sometimes, when I’m walking down the street, or riding in a train, I pretend I’m in a movie and what I am listening to is the Soundtrack of My Life. I do this a lot with the Rent soundtrack, and then burst, up the stairs from the subway and out in the bright bright day, understanding, and further knowing, to the depths of my being that there is truly, No Day But To-Dayyyyyyyyy! (except that, if this were really true, and I was living every single day to the fullest, occupying the very-center of each and every present-moment, I would have to seriously call into question several of my choices) with a (little would be an understatement) spring to my step. (And oh, in case you were wondering, my cinematography is breathtakingly outstanding, featuring sweeping cityscapes and intimate, dramatically poignant-yet-subtle close-ups.) But somehow, I knew that after all that “I wanted so badly/Somebody other than me/
Staring back at me/But you were gone, gone, gone” (note how the three-times repetition of the word ‘gone’ creates a mood of complete and utter hopelessness), I needed something stronger than Rent, I needed something more, more…Janet. Ms. Jackson if you’re nasty.

Listening to Janet Jackson makes me feel like a powerful, incredibly fabulous I-Can-Do-Anything sex-goddess of a woman. So I put myself on a strict audio diet of all Janet, all the time. Except when I take breaks from her, and then I am listening to Natasha Bedingfield, who is super-poppy yet oddly deep and surprisingly philosophical. I am starting to turn this thing around, and I feel better, way better, but just in case, as an added precaution, I am staying away from the Counting Crows, at least until this heat wave passes.

To (somewhat) quote Natasha: “Drench yourself in words unspoken/Live your life with arms wide open/Today is where my blog begins/The rest is still unwritten…”

Say a Little Prayer for Me

12 Jul

Just so you know, I am not always anxious. Sometimes I am depressed. I like to mix it up to keep things interesting around here.

In the course of my quite-extensive self-help studies, I have learned that anxiety and the hyperactivity that comes with it is caused by worrying about and projecting into the future, while depression and the lethargy that comes with it is caused by worrying about and being stuck in the past. They originate, respectively, from going forwards and backwards and being anywhere but – in fact refusing quite adamantly to Be. Here. Now. This opposite direction thing makes them essentially mutually exclusive, and in my self I observe, through one of my favorite hobbies of self-observation, that I am either one or the other, but never both at the same time, as this seems to be some sort of mental health impossibility. (Thank God.) I mean, can you imagine being an anxious depressive or suffering from a depressed anxiety attack? (Oh God.)

In any case, how this has manifested for me (disclaimer: results are not scientific, and are based not on empirical data, but rather on my own subjective processes of once again, self-observation) is that my life often feels like some sort of oscillating depression/anxiety cocktail, in which I swing from one extreme to the other, with brief, rare moments of respite from my self and my forward-leaning and backward-yearning thoughts in the form of quiet pockets of serenity and contentment tenuously situated between my aforementioned extremes. Oy.

Today I was walking through Columbus Circle when two pretty women – one old and one young, both with very broad smiles and exuding an inexplicable warmth – asked me if they could pray for me. They were clumped within clusters of Central Park tour guides frantically pointing to maps and near the horse-drawn carriage area, so I kinda assumed that they were offering a similar type of service and I said, “Nothankyou” mechanically as I breezed past them before they even finished their pitch. I was about to cross the street when what they said struck me. I was curious, why were they standing on the outskirts of Central Park on a dramatically uncomfortable muggy July day offering their prayers as a service amidst the sweating men hocking bicycle tours? The writer in me couldn’t resist the urge to know more. And the human in me wholeheartedly agreed. Since it was unanimous (after waffling a bit at the corner across from Starbucks), I decided to go back.

It turns out that although these pretty women had bright matching smiles, they were not, in fact, mother and daughter. They came to New York City for the first time from Arkansas, and were here for a convention, and they were praying for people. They even had a centralized booth set up that they could refer me to (I am assuming that this was for extreme cases?), and they held stacks of blue flyers listing all the reasons that one might need to enlist someone else’s services of prayer, but I refused a flyer for the same reason I don’t watch the news – I didn’t want to get any ideas of what could possibly go wrong, that I would then latch onto and worry about. They used some religious-speak that made me nervous, so I wished them Good Luck and Have a Nice Stay, and crossed the street towards Starbucks.

But. These Pray-ers got me thinking…

In our society, to me, it seems pretty shameful to admit that you are depressed and to confess to having problems. In our society, to me, it seems pretty shameful to admit that you are human. It seems like there are a great many of us walking around, denying massive chunks of ourselves and our identities every day because these parts don’t fit into some sort of neat pre-defined box of acceptability.

I will confess: I have been depressed. I will further confess: during these times of depression, I have cried openly, on the streets and in subways, and felt lost, afraid, ashamed, and most of all, alone. I have walked down the streets of New York City, and stood in subways, lacking the mechanism that makes me stop crying and so I have continued to cry, and people will do one of two things: they will either 1) ignore me or 2) look at me, and both feel pretty terrible. And I have thought, during the worst of these times, I have tried to communicate, silently and psychically, with the ones that look, and even the ones that don’t – please pray for me, because I feel too far gone to help myself very much right now.

If this post feels preachy, it is because it is based on a prayer. That we can stop hiding the “unacceptable” parts of ourselves, maybe by simply just deciding to accept all parts of ourselves, and that this will in turn free others to do the same. And then, together we can inhabit a world full of whole, complex, complicated, perfectly imperfect self & other-accepting people. The opposite of alone. Here, I’ll start. Now you go.

Prayerfully yours,

Jen G.

Relaxation Accomplished!

11 Jul

Did you miss me? I have been gone for THREE WHOLE DAYS!!! (Actually, to be super-precise, it is more like (approximately) 3 days, 8 hours, and 37 minutes.) And the good (great!) news is that…for part of those 3 days, 8 hours, and 37 minutes, I have been relaxing! I was particularly relaxed, if I may toot my own horn for a moment here, on Sunday, which, as you may recall, was my day that I pre-designated for Being and not Doing. Admittedly I had to get out of my apartment, leave my borough altogether, and travel two hours to a faraway land of B&B’s and antiques to ensure that I would not check my email, but still, I did it…toot toot…

I had initially sort-of planned to spend the whole day detoxing from email, but when I returned to my apartment in the evening, I had to check. And then I rented a movie (Shopgirl – it’s great! See it if you haven’t already!) and made it through more than half of the movie before checking my email again. I even let myself watch one of the DVD extras. And yesterday I bought myself the newest issue of Oprah magazine. So as you can see this has been a week of relaxation and blissful indulgences for me.

But really. During and after my day of Being, my thoughts have been, I don’t know, calmer, and quieter. This caused me to wonder (I am going to put it in quotes here so you can actually hear me wondering): “If I can let go of even a few of my stock worries, you know, those recurring ones that plague me daily, and then maybe additionally let go of a few extra-special circumstantial worries that I have cooked up for myself, in one day, one mere day of river views, wraparound porches, and a gazebo, imagine…(and here I go off into imagination land)…imagine the transformation I can have if I commit to this practice more.” Maybe not the 1:1 Being to Doing ratio of my goals, but just…more.

This reminds me of something my coach said to me a few months ago: It’s a lie. It’s my favorite lie, but it’s a lie nonetheless. And this is what it is: that once I have “It” (ideal job, perfect relationship, heaps of money, a better haircut, creative fulfillment, Pulitzer Prize(s), my plays on Broadway, my books on bestseller lists, maybe a couple of cute kids who sit peacefully at my feet as I compose the Great American Novel, understanding re: The Meaning of Life, some new clothes (including perhaps a super-cute sundress), a summer home on the beach, and oh, by-the-way, all my dreams and desires, then (and only then!) guess what? I will be happy. (And consequently, then I can relax.) Yeah. That’s bullshit. It’s bullshit that I have to keep consistently reminding myself of, but alas, still bullshit. This lie is what is underneath all of my manic, frantic Doing. This is, in short, The Great American Lie.

And the truth is: I can be happy now. If I want to. If I choose to. I can look around at my curly-hair-in-need-of-haircut, at my job and my relationships just as they are, at the gorgeous and refreshing Starbucks ice coffee by my side, and just, Smile. I can be proud of myself for what I’ve done and learned and accomplished and say to myself, (here I go again, talking to myself): “Self, you are doing a great job. You deserve a day off once in a while to do nothing but Be. Happily.” And every-so-often, I do just that.

I tell myself the truth.


Jen G.

P.S. In the past few days, a couple of you have said that reading my blog is just like talking to me. Except without me actually, you know. There. So talk back if you want! I would love to hear what y’all have to say!

More xoxo,

Still Me.

P.P.S. Lest you fear that I have lost touch with the Old Me, I did partake in some serious Doing today to, you know, make up for lost time…

To Be, or Not To Be…

8 Jul

I am a high-strung over-achieving obsessive workaholic perfectionist Type A personality prone to anxiety. And on top of that I’m a Virgo, even. “How high-strung am I?” you ask (or perhaps you had no intention of asking that, and I am merely projecting). Well, I’ll tell you regardless: I am so high-strung that two years ago, my New Year’s Resolution was to take up more vices, i.e. drink and smoke more. I lasted for about a week of this, and then I had to revert to my old, non-substance abusing, healthy (I use this word subjectively) lifestyle because I was EXHAUSTED. And I felt like shit. And I think I may be slightly allergic to alcohol and very allergic to smoke or whatever crap they put in cigarettes, but this is neither here nor there. And honestly, I just have too much to do to waste an entire evening being unproductively drunk, or the following day being even less productively hungover. Who has the time for such indulgences???

I am the type of person who uses my yoga practice as an opportunity to refine my To Do List and meditate on my anxieties. I am the type of person who lies, not peacefully and/or blissfully in sivasana during those final moments of class, but rather, contemplates whether I can pick up my dry cleaning, buy fresh flowers for myself, get a bite to eat, and still manage to get home within 5 minutes so I can write down my newest idea before I forget it. Something like this may have happened today, for instance.

I am such a pro, I can even take something like relaxing, throw it on my infamous To Do List, and make it unfortunately anxiety-producing. These are some things that may or may not make an appearance on my To Do List:
-Declutter papers
-Delete emails (I was up to over 2300 in my inbox recently)
-Read self-help book
-Shred (I will most certainly get back to this, one of my most favoritest activities, in a future post)
-Evolve as a human being
-Go to CVS
-Transcend my limitations
-Return calls
-(Don’t forget to breathe!)

I am such an over-achieving perfectionist, that one time in college, I got an A- in a theatre course. Ok. I was pissed. I had gotten a (perfect) ‘A’ on every single assignment, test, and paper. I sat in the front row. Center. I raised my hand. A lot. I always knew the right answer. This minus attached to my grade was clearly a devastating mistake.

So. I did what any normal, healthy, well-adjusted over-achieving perfectionist Virgo would do: I (benevolently) stalked my professor. Which totally wasn’t (that far) out of line as he didn’t return my calls. I mean, what’s a girl to do when her class rank is in jeopardy? It would have clouded your judgment, too, don’t try to pretend that it wouldn’t have…So I just happened by the theatre building and waited for him to walk out. After I explained my plight, he sort of expressed this sentiment like what’s the big deal? Um, do I really even have to answer this question? The story ends with my grade being (rightly!) changed to an un-tarnished, and beautifully perfect ‘A’ (insert sigh-of-relief here).

I also called to confront another professor who was in charge of Phi Beta Kappa when I didn’t get in. But alas. Sometimes you have to choose your battles.

I always have to be THE BEST at everything I do. Even things that clearly, are non-competitive. Like online dating for example. I signed up a few months ago and literally got sick because I was up all night reading profiles and filtering all this new information. If I was going to online date, I had to be the best online-dater in the history of the whole-wide-entire-world!!!

I work this wonderful coach who is sooooo onto me, and she gave me this wonderful assignment: I have to alternate days of Doing, with days of Being. “What’s…that…what’s…BEING?” you ask, or perhaps I am just projecting again. When she told me this, I immediately started tapping my pen frantically on my notebook. When she pointed this out, I threw my pen down as to not let it give me away again, and this time, with no pen in hand, I started agitatedly running my hands through my hair. My coach also pointed this out. On my Being Days I have to (gasp!) do nothing that is “productive.” I have to kick back and relax. I have to maybe have a drink (but NOT a cigarette – so bad for you! The Anti-Smoking League or whatever should also sponsor me here, with all these shout-outs). Do I have to tell you how panicked the idea of not doing anything that can somehow, any how, be construed as productive makes me?

I have not quite hit the one day Doing, one day Being mark just yet. Right now my ratio looks something like this – 7 days of Doing: 2 hours of totally-reluctant-white-knuckled Being. Like when I lied out in the park yesterday and although I felt desperate to return to my apartment/email/To Do list after 45 minutes, I forced myself to stay there for another hour and fifteen minutes and relax (dammit!), because, really, what did I have waiting for me at home that couldn’t wait a little longer?

So, in this spirit, and in a little bit of my over-achieving perfectionistic spirit, I am going to up this ratio! I am going to take a full day, that’s right, ONE FULL DAY, to just BE. I am going to be the best Being that there ever ever was. In the whole-wide-entire-history-of-the-world!!! (I feel like there should be some demonic laughter or something inserted here). Tomorrow will be this day. And as proof of my sheer being I will not even write a post for my blog tomorrow. I will not even work on a sentence or a title or a concept or the teeniest tiniest flicker of an idea. I will, quite simply, Be. To the very best of my ability.

If you check back tomorrow, and notice that I have in fact posted something on my Be-ing day, then it will be confirmed, and you will know that I most certainly have a very serious problem. But until then, I will ponder what in some circles is known as the question: “To be or not to be…”


Jen G.

Does He Make Your Soul Sing?

7 Jul

I had a date last week, I was going to this super-fancy cocktail party and I surreptitiously got dressed for it at work. And like, ok, so maybe I take the liberty of wearing denim mini-skirts and tank tops and flip-flops to work a little too often (cultivating what M likes to call my “Casual Sunday Look” which is one or two steps down/more casual than Casual Friday even. And sometimes he just comes right out and says: “Hey, Jen, going to the beach today?”), but honestly, I was trying to be really subtle about my after-work plans and was sneaking out of the bathroom all stealthily (as stealthily as one can hope to be while wearing a low-cut silk wrap dress and beaded shoes in an environment that employs un-flattering fluorescent lights, a cubicle-situation, and well, ME) when I accidentally intercepted my boss, his boss, and essentenially their TEAM on their way back from a Very Serious Meeting (or maybe it was they who intercepted me?). Mission: So Not Accomplished. And also honestly, EVERY SINGLE PERSON I passed commented (positively, which was a good thing) on my dress, you look great/beautiful, where are you going etc. “A cocktail party” sounded way more innocuous than “A Date” (insert dramatic “Ga-GONG”-like sound effect here) and plus, maybe I’m old-fashioned but I strongly believe in strict separation of Work & Date. And even further, if I said “A Date (Ga-GONG),” then people would ask lots of questions and I’d have to provide follow-up who knows how far down the road, and I just wanted to head that whole mess off at the pass.

However. One co-worker who I love because she’s totally beautiful and wise and gets me and on top of that even, as a total bonus, she is a major True Fan & Supporter of Me & My Writing, stopped me to tell me some variation of how great I looked (see: major…Supporter) and where was I going? I told her, my stock answer: “A cocktail party.” She smiled (she is SO WISE!) and said, “You’re going to meet someone tonight. I can tell.” Which was like, totally cool to hear, and really neat that someone else is having (and further) dedicating their time to having psychic premonitions about me.

The next morning I ran into her and she asked me how it went. I told her about a celebrity I sort-of-met at the party, by which I mean I stood near him and smiled incredibly-widely while nodding semi-vigorously, because that seemed like the better option (my other choice was to GUSH senselessly and uncontrollably – total side note, there is a musician I used to love to see play at a piano bar and one time I said to him (all mushy-and-gushy-like): “You like, sing like, how people should LIVE.” At which point my sister told me that I should a) stop drinking and b) refrain from ever talking/letting myself gush to said musician EVER AGAIN).

Back to the action: I knew that this celebrity-information was not going to satisfy my co-worker (I mentioned she is wise, right?) re: her “You are going to meet someone tonight” prediction, and follow-up that I had promised her. I knew she wanted, and deserved (as my True Fan & Supporter, and plus, a really freakin’ cool person on top of that even) more. So I gingerly fessed up: “Actually, it was A Date.”

Here’s what she didn’t ask me:
-What does he do?
-Is he cute?
-How much money does he make?
-Did you kiss/make out/get any action/fuck? (Ok, she would have totally never asked me this because it would have been completely inappropriate as she is my co-worker and not my BFF or anything, but still, the point I am trying to make is that sometimes people have been known to ask this, or some variation of this question, and although fun and juicy to know, it does border on the superficial, no?)

Or even:
-Did you have fun?
-Where was the party?
-Who was the celebrity?
-Who else was there?
-Is your date famous?

This is what she did ask me:
-“Does he make your soul sing?”


And then she followed-up with:
-“You know, does he get you? Does he make your soul sing?”

And let me just say that I am a woman whose number one criteria for a man is that he GET ME. I am a woman desperately in need of BEING GOTTEN.

And I also want to say this (because apparently I am also using this blog as a means to communicate with men or in this case, one man in particular):
-“Hey Date – if you’re reading this, my answers to her two questions are:
1) YES and
2) YES

Yes, you do. You totally, do.”

A Trust Fund Baby Without a Trust Fund

6 Jul

I’m playing hooky today. Sort of. Ok, not at all. I took the whole week off. But, it didn’t feel like it, I didn’t get that I’M FREE (!) feeling, that “I’m out here and everyone else is in there so hahahahahha!” feeling (I know, not so mature, but nontheless…). It just felt kind of, mneh. Until yesterday. When everyone else, all those other people, went back to work. I noticed a difference immediately, when I rolled out of bed at 10 (my ideal time to wake up! By the way, I seem to have decided that the use of italics is going to be the sub-theme of my post today), and there was no line at Starbucks! Not only was there no line, there were hardly any people there at all! And almost instantly, I got that I’M FREE (!) feeling, and I settled into my vacation. This is what I love about days off:
-An empty Starbucks
-No lines at the drugstore
-Only a quiet few benevolently straggling through Target
-(I can get everything done so much more quickly!)
-Taking a late morning or early afternoon yoga class, where no one’s toes come remotely close to my nose, my feet are in no danger of whacking someone in the head when I do downward dog split, and I have an unobstructed radius in which to gracefully, widely, swan dive in the full expression of the pose.
-There is always the option of balling up my oppressive To Do list, chucking it into the trash, throwing on my bikini, grabbing my beach towel, and heading out to the park with a rolled up copy of Oprah Magazine (or if I am feeling really liberated from the responsibility to be/know/do more, Marie Claire, or the most liberated choice – Cosmo) tucked under my arm. The real, non-trust fund me, may indulge myself in an hour or two of lying out in the park, but I will bring some kind of responsible reading that has the distinctive feeling of being an assignment or an obligation, and promises to enrich me in some very obvious way.

And then, there are the less tangible reasons I love these kinds of days – the feeling that I have no responsibilities, no where to go, no where to be, and nothing to do. I pretend that I am the kind of person who does not have to work. I pretend that I am the kind of person who can follow her fancies, desires, and whims at every turn. I pretend that I can wake up early, or I can sleep in; that I can grab a bagel and head to the beach, or I can sit down at a corner outdoor cafe for a giant plate of pancakes. I pretend that I the most important decision I will have to make that day is the type of coffee I choose to drink (and as a Starbucks addict, this is actually, no easy decision to make).

In short, I pretend that I am a Trust Fund Baby tooling around this glorious island of Manhattan at my very own pace. Only. Without a trust fund.

A friend of mine made this up. She took a month off after leaving a job and before moving to California. I asked her what she was going to do, and she said something like: “Live it up like a trust fund baby without a trust fund!”

I used to waitress and work nights. I would take a yoga class at noon, or maybe 2, and I was obsessed with the other people there, like, who are they? What do they do? Why are they here, OM-ing, in the middle of a sunny afternoon, as if they have no where else to be? Sometimes I would corner fellow yoginis in the dressing room and ask them what they do for a living. I justified this by pretending that I was on a research mission, collecting data about how I could become one of these Ladies of Leisure. What I would have to do to live this life for real. A lot were dancers. Several waitresses. A writer or freelancer or two.

I want to pretend that I could meet you at Fred’s at Barney’s for lunch if we so decide, or stop at Saks to pick up a thing or two (although this is highly unlikely as I can count the number of times I have shopped at Saks on one hand, and they mostly include times that I had been given a gift card. Plus one run-in in the jeans department which proved to be way too overwhelming, despite being told by a friend who knows these things that a salesperson there would solve all my denim woes and find the perfect fit for me). Maybe you’ll see me strolling lazily through the park, and wonder, who is that girl without a care in the world?

Until then, I am sitting at my computer, listening to Jill Scott, eating sweet juicy pineapple out of a plastic deli container, knowing that on Monday I will have to return to work again, and that the knowledge of this makes days like today all the more sweet and worth savoring.

Enjoy the day!


Jen G.

An Unhealthy Obsession?

5 Jul

I’ll be the first to admit that I have an addictive personality. Luckily it has never manifested itself in anything more serious than Diet Coke (six 20-ounce bottles a day at the height of my addiction, junior and senior years of college which, yes, is pretty much a constant stream, like I could have just hooked up an IV drip of the stuff and been done with it), and a brief brush with smoking in high school (Marlboro Lights) and college (Camel Lights). Although it never really suited me, and as much as I tried, as much as I was drawn to the image of being a smoker, or a writer-who-smoked, as cool as I thought it was to be up all night in the living room of my dorm-suite with one dim light flickering overhead, hunched over my keyboard frantically typing a paper comparing and contrasting “Women in Love” and “To the Lighthouse” for an English professor who had apparently been using the same lecture note cards for the entirety of his (exceedingly long) tenure, and which were consequently yellowing and fragile, and on the verge of actual disintegration, Camel light in one hand, Diet Coke (20-ounce bottle) in the other, as I ashed into an empty Diet Coke (can) than I had sucked down between bottles, I could never fully pull it off, I could never really look like a smoker. And to my great dismay, every time I awkwardly lit up, someone (a boss at the restaurant I worked at for eight days (I used to find it challenging, and confining, if not flat-out suffocating, to hold down a job for any extent of time, by which I mean more than three weeks), a classmate, a boy I had a crush on) would inevitably say: “Jen, you smoke?” and I was outed as the social trying-to-be-cool-pseudo-smoker that I really was.

Oh, and speaking of addictions, I want to be honest, and put everything, all my cards and whatnot, out on the table, to be a reliable narrator, you know, so I feel I should mention my Starbucks addiction (which I’ve already touched upon, ever-so-delicately) here, at this juncture. Although you may not know that extent of that yet, some things are best kept a mystery, to be slowly revealed over time, and I’m sure it will all surface eventually, as with most addictions of its scope, it can’t not.

So we’ve established my predilection towards the extreme. What happened yesterday was that I was at a very lovely lunch when suddenly, I sort of mentally checked-out and started to think of things I wanted to write on my blog. One minute I was ummm-ummmm-ummmmmm enjoying what was possibly the best lobster roll of my life, and the next my mind was racing and my blog was like an illicit lover that I couldn’t wait to run home to rendez-vous with, just rush into the passionate embrace of its arms, my keyboard. At which point I realized I had been mute for about 7-10 minutes, which, if you know me, NEVER HAPPENS. Not even with the best of the best of lobster rolls.

When my very-lovely-lunch-companion sojourned to the restroom, I frantically groped for my notebook and passionately began scrawling my ideas messily across its luscious lined pages (see July 1st post: “thoughts…fast…furious”), and then, just as quickly as it had begun, I threw the notebook back into my tote before I was discovered. When my companion returned and we continued our conversation (now that I had gotten all of that out, I was again able to focus on the conversation-at-hand), I looked down to see the evidence of my infidelity: my telltale pen, lying there, exposed, between my water glass and the bread basket. I discreetly fondled it and swept it back with its companion, my spiral notebook.

What is the moral of this story? While I can see that my blog can serve as a positive outlet for my creativity, I also see its destructive potential. Will I lose all my social skills and start blogging like how I drank Diet Coke in the late 90’s? What will become of the me that likes to fill every moment of conversation with the melodious tones of my own voice??? Where will that Jen go? Off to some anti-social cyberspace-y Blog Land? Will I become a blog-o-holic and lose my abilities to eat, sleep, hold down a job (by the way, I have gotten much better at this as of late), and above all, engage in healthy, possibly even interactive, conversation, and partake in my all-time favorite pastime of TALKING?

And I am left what I am always left with: as with everything, from Diet Coke, to Starbucks, to blogging, the key is, it must be, BALANCE (it always is! Except in the case of smoking, where the key is clearly, it is bad for you, so don’t do it at all).

As always, xoxo,

Jen G.

P.S. I promise to stop obsessing about how many views my blog has gotten VERY SOON. As soon as the novelty wears off. I promise…