January 2009


I was in Dulles Virginia airport a few days ago thinking of how different it is.  I was there soon after 9/11 and it was wicked.  The newly hired and trained swarm of security stood about in their new starched uniforms.  There was dead silence among the travellers, and there were 100s of us quietly marching our way through the winding line-up. 

The soldiers in fatigues stood at attention at each security station with their rifles.  The only sound was the security people repeating “shoes off, laptops out of bags, keys, coins and metal out of your pockets”.  And it was really important to not make the metal detector go off because the 10 minutes of being patted down could make you feel like a convict, and miss your flight.

And it seemed like wherever I went the news was always on.  CNN or whatever station that specializes in don’t-blink-the-world-is-ending-now news would be blaring in whatever hotel or airport I’m in.  One time I remember going from the screeching news channels in a US airport to the Montreal airport where the tv’s were broadcasting Fashion TV.  What a difference.  Sure it’s inane, but man, I relaxed and was glad to be back in my home country.

Last week at the hotel the news was all inauguration all the time.  The only crisis the news station could come up with was – Sure the White House is pretty wired, but there are no Macs!  Whew, thankfully I’ve never heard of death by PC usage. 

This time there was talk about the 7 year old neighbour to President Obama who’s written the book and giving the proceeds to charity.  (Aside – what is it about kids doing stuff for charity these days?  Where are all the greedy kids with a bad case of the gimmes that I grew up with??) This time there was footage from a National Geographic show on Air Force One and Obama’s first ride in it, showing him cordially greeting and thanking the flight staff.

This time at the airport the 20-something guys sitting at the xray machines were joking around with each other.  Not slacking, just relaxed and having fun while they work.

This time a 50 year old white security agent took a long time graciously helping a black woman out of her wheelchair and through the metal detector while the line up grew behind me and everyone waited patiently.  Now maybe that happens every day, i just haven’t seen it.  But it all just felt so different.

I’m working with this guy on a project, let’s call him Bob for fun.  And he’s decided that something that’s been going on is Wrong and Needs To Be Changed.   It’s one of those things that’s been going on forever and is kind of a cultural thing.  But boy does it bug him.

I get endless entertainment watching this kind of thing play out.  Because lord knows i can be rigid in my life but it’s tough to see when I’m doing it.  I think I have a great view from up on my high horse, but really, all I can see is how darn Right I Am.  The view’s much clearer when you you’re watching other people.

Bob is so sure of his Rightness that he’s completely wound himself up and is making demands on people which isn’t making him any friends and he is convinced that he needs to change this thing now although from where I sit it’d be like turning a cruise ship with your shoulder while you’re treading water.  It just ain’t gonna happen and you’ll probably drown trying.

And what I find so fascinating is how much easier and effective Bob would be by lightening up on his Rightness a little.  Just a little.  Maybe re-frame it so it doesn’t need to be “fixed” today.  Maybe find a baby step to focus on.  Find a specific problem to solve that people can rally around.  Or maybe talk to some folks and ask about their views and options.  Instead of metaphorically pounding your fist on the table which guarantees you’ll find who’s in dead opposition to you.  

All it takes is changing your mind.  All it takes is tweaking your point of view.  All it takes is lightening up just a little.  And the funny thing is, is that the person who would benefit the most from it is Bob.  His blood pressure would drop.  He’d be a happier guy.  He’d have the bandwidth to focus on day-to-day problems.  People would talk to him again rather than avoid him wondering why he always looks so cranky.

It seems like we pretty consistently shoot ourselves in the foot when we see things from an all-or-nothing point of view.  And I know what I’m talking about.  I am the *queen* of all-or-nothing.  I’m can be the Absolute Absolutist.  

And it doesn’t work.  Because the thing about seeing things black or white, wrong or right, all-or-nothing is that it looks like it’s about me judging the world or the people out there when what i’m really doing is limiting myself.  I’m only giving myself 2 lousy options. 

If I dig just a little deeper I can probably come up with 8 or so options in between.  Or stop obsessing about it and do something else.  It just takes a little flexibility and creativity.  It means I let up on This Is The Way It Needs To Be.  I try to gently say to myself – come on let’s look, maybe there are other options too.

I’ve been working on catching myself in all-or-nothing for years and am amazed how I still do it with alarming regularity.  I gotta be up for a girl scout badge by now.

But I keep at it.  I want to get so good at catching myself that just the *feeling* that I’m getting all wound up about how darn Right I am is enough to immediately say, OK what’s going on here and how can I lighten up about it?  So it’s Wound Up -> relax, Wound up -> relaaaaax.  You get the picture. 

When I’m successful I can feel my blood pressure drop.  And if I’m lucky, people start talking to me again because I’m not looking so cranky.

 

 

You had asked me if I was afraid of death.

I said I was afraid of not living.

I don’t want to eke out my life like a resource in short supply.  The only selfish life is a timid one.  To hold back, to withdraw, to keep the best in reserve, both overvalues the self, and undervalues what the self is.

Here’s my life – I have to mine it, farm it, trade it, tenant it, and when the lease is up it can’t be renewed.

This is my chance.  Take it.

Jeanette Winterson, The Powerbook

I was tossing a bunch of music into a folder for a new yoga CD and realized a bunch of them were about journeying and coming home. I hadn’t really planned on a “theme” for this one but I like where it’s going, so to speak.  Here are a few I’m using:

Many The Miles – Sara Bareilles – I like playing covers in yoga class, people get familiar and potentially new in one shot.

Love and Happiness – Al Green

A Sorta Fairytale and 1000 Oceans – I had never really gotten into 1000 Oceans until I saw the video of the PS22 Chorus doing it, those kids are awesome.  I like the bit, “if that’s what it takes to sail you home.”

Northern Skies and The Day Before The Day - Dido

Home to You and Where No One Stands Alone – Peasall Sisters – just to switch it up a bit.

Make You Feel My Love – Adele

I Love, You Love – John Legend

Forgive Me – Missy Higgins – I’m crushing on Missy these days.  I love the line “home is anywhere you are too”.

Teach Me To Whisper – Liquid Mind – for Savasana

I get lost in busyness all the time.  And I’d rather be moving toward what inspires me instead of doing what I feel I *should* be doing.  But how can I feel inspired when my kitchen’s a disaster area?  And what if I find out i’m not inspired even when it’s clean? 

How do I dig deeper to find an urge, a desire, some kind of ”go” feeling that points me somewhere, anywhere like a dog that picks up the slightest scent of a trail.  Or what if I know exactly what I want but can’t do a damn thing about it?  Then I just get to wait it out.  I might as well be asleep.  Except I’m sure as hell not.

So I try to be spin it for myself so I can live with it.  Like, maybe there’s a purpose to the waiting.  Maybe I’m saving up my energy.  Maybe it’ll all make sense down the road. 

But if I don’t buy it then they’re just useless platitudes and there’s nothing more depressing than that.  So sometimes the best I can do is - it is what it is.  And try to relax. 

That’s what I thought about when I read this by the guy who was in Jane’s Addiction.   

Letters to Xiola

How great it would be
If the sun lost all responsibility
And left us here
For me, the days become an excuse
But I too have found a way of not waking up
I’ve been asleep now for days, and days, and days
I feel as if I’m sitting in an open box car
And it’s heading out of town
It looks like the inside of a prison cell
I’m scared
And excited
My days and my dreams have never known each other so well
In the course of my day, I have no idea where I’m going
But in my dreams, no matter where I end up, as soon as sleep rolls over me,
I sneak out and head downtown
My dreams allow me to cheat
My dreams punish me
They’re so vivid, I see pictures so clear,
It would be forgery to paint them
I hear songs as clear as a summer radio
Songs that pass the time
As the boxcar heads south
I woke up in the late afternoon
On a day like this, I wonder if you age less, because you didn’t use all of it
You see, if that’s so, you should be able to live twice as long
As anyone else, just by waking up at four o’clock in the afternoon
Turn on the late-afternoon TV
There’s all the career school commercials,
Drug addict and alcohol rehabilitation commercials
And I think to myself,
Gee, I’d like to have a drink and get high
Then the phone rings
But I don’t answer it, cause I don’t care who it is
I don’t got anything I want to talk about
I remember when you used to call
Remember?
You’d always say,
Oh, we’re going to famous
That’s how you always end the conversation
An inspirational message
It was okay between the two of us, it was funny you know, but
Inspirational messages always seem the most possible
When you’re totally wasted
What do I need?
What is going to bring me around?
It’s not listening to ex-drug addicts
I know for a fact all drug addicts are liars
I get off on athletes when they start getting all inspirational
Then they gotta go and mention Jesus and ruin it
Weight loss commercials are pretty good, you know
Some forty-year old lady who’s lost eighty-five pounds
And I look at her, and I think,
She could not possibly have more guts than I do
Books
The Bible’s never really done it for me
Being an extremist, I’ve always thought it was just too popular
There’s a paper in Los Angeles called the Recycler
The Recycler has given me a lot of inspiration
I remember when I first moved here, and the determination that I had
To get a job, and find a band
Get an apartment
You know, if only I had a cool apartment
I’ll save every penny and I’ll buy myself some equipment
Always just two or three steps behind happiness
It’s too bad they don’t do centerfolds or cover stories
I’d kinda like to be on the cover of the Recycler
I had no friends at the time
All my friends now are drug addicts
I don’t believe I would ever wish that I had no friends
You never met Bernice or Alfred
They’re a couple that have been through thick and are now very thin
Bernice is usually in a better mood than I am when I see her
She lives on the street
She’s an adorable Mexican girl
It seems like, if you were to take her home and scrub her up,
She’d probably start singing and become America’s sweetheart
Alfred sits on the curb and reads
He reads more than I do
I like to believe it’s because he’s got more time
Last dream I had, I drove downtown, and I just stayed there
Hung out with Alfred
We both sat on the curb, talking all sour over current events
While Bernice and Casey hustled up the business
Yeah, adding up credit with Kiko
It amazes me how little difference there is between me and Alfred
And Bernice and Casey
As far as I can see, the only difference is that,
Right now, we’re making our rent
I remember something about a boxcar
Inside of it, there was something on the wall
Bernice loves Alfred
Hey, I got another one for you
All men are created with equal time
Father Time has got to be the richest make-believe individual
That never lived
A man that knows what to do with his time
Is a man, I guess, that’s up in the front of the line
In the course of the day, a man can make three phone calls,
And make three thousand dollars
Another man can curl up his bicep for three hours,
And he can puff up his arm three inches
And another man can stand on the corner, chasing down cars for three hours,
And end up with three spoons’ credit with Kiko
Me, I spend days on end trying to come up with a three-minute poem
That’s gonna mean something to somebody
And I’ve never been satisfied
Maybe I should try scrubbing up Bernice

– Perry Farrell

At first I thought it was the flu.  Then I thought it was the oddest flu I’ve ever had the way it came and went.

And then I noticed my boobs were bigger.  I’ve never heard of the flu or any other illness having that side effect including weird glandular conditions.  They don’t usually affect just one body part.  Or two actually.

My friend said, “maybe you’re pregnant” and I said, “shuddup!”  and thought crap crap crap crap crap.

The first test was negative, but you know when you know when you know – you know?

Red wine stopped tasting good.

I suddenly needed to eat every 90 minutes or so.

I could tell when someone started a pot of Starbucks brewing (vs. Hazelnut Chocolate or Amaretto god-knows-what) from 30 paces down the hall at work behind a closed door.

This was so not the plan.  All the baby stuff has been given away or sold. 

There was bargaining with God or whatever might be listening and more snacking.

It’s funny because Angus has been a handful at times (or I’m such an easily overwhelmed parent) but now that he’s 4 I had just started feeling that I *could* handle a second kid, but immediately thought, “oh well i’m too old for that nonsense!”  I seem to only be too old in the head.

My Mom’s friend Gloria said, “that’s what she gets for doing yoga”.  Ha!  Yup, I’d better trade in yoga for whiskey shots and smoking or I’ll have to change my name to Angelina.

My Mom once said that pregnancies last 9 months to give every one time to get used to the idea.  I think she’s dead on.

The doctor had a hard time getting her head around it too.  She said, “so you went *off* the pill”.  I said, “um, nnno.”  Then a little later she said, “so you were trying”.  And I said, “um, nnno”.  And then later she said, “and are you going to go ahead with it?”  And I said, “yes”.  

My spider sense tells me she’s a girl.  I was never this ill with Angus.

So here’s where I’ve gotten so far.  As I’ve written here so often I’m trying to get better at going with the flow. I’m trying to get better at trusting that life is taking me down the right roads.  Even when the scenery is upside-down and the signs are in Swahili.  I’m trying to trust – some days it takes radical trust - that in hindsight, it’ll all be clear.  Or at least make slightly better sense than today.

So here’s another opportunity to practice.  If this little chiquita is *so* set on coming into the world, and has fingered me as her parent, I’ll do it.  I’ll sign up.  I’ll give her a bed and a home.  I’ll be her own personal overwhelmed parent.  I’ve figured that much out.  Thankfully I’ve got a few months to figure out the rest.