Following the Beam

Last night I read a vaguebook post of mine via Facebook’s “on this day” feature. I had been extremely upset at the time, yet when I read I had difficulty trying to remember the reference. When I did…I felt like I was remembering an episode of a trite ABC Family show. “This thing bothers me! Oh no! I must post about while simultaneously NOT posting about it, pretending I’m venting my feelings, but really asking for attention.” That was one year ago. Holy crap, I’ve changed completely over the past year. It’s sometimes hard to fathom.

It brings extreme comfort to know that something from merely a year ago that bothered me so much at the time, didn’t make one bit of difference in my life. It had no lasting affect. The same will likely be said about most of the things over which I agonize on a daily basis. Awkward things I’ve done, accidental expressions of ignorance, people I’ve potentially, accidentally, extremely hurt or bothered or annoyed someone (MAYBE), will not matter to me in a year.
Last night I read a vaguebook post of mine from a year ago. I had been extremely upset, yet when I read it it took me a while to remember the reference.

Either things will work out in the best possible ways, or in the worst (the planet explodes, after being wrought with a worldwide plague then beset upon by hostile extraterrestrials who ban cheese?). Or some combination of both. Probably not the cheese ban. Either way, no matter what happens, I’ll figure it out.

I always do.

Kudos

Either things will work out how I hope, or they won’t, or some combination of both. Either way, I’ll figure it out.

I always do.

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Not Just Another Princess (*spoilers*)

I have loved Star Wars for as long as I can remember. My generation grew up on it. Well, my generation of boys, anyway. I haven’t had the privilege of knowing many women my age who are as enamored by it as I have been. But since most of my closest friends have been male, I’ve still shared the love with many friends.

But why? I know why many of my male friends like it: it’s exciting, it feels real, lightsabers are fucking cool, Luke used the Force like a boss, Han was cool as shit. They all have different heroes from the franchise; there are so many from whom to chose. They could each find a character, identify with him, and aspire to be as awesome as him. They also had this in every other work of fiction around at the time.

Growing up, I had many book heroines. Anne and Emily and Jo and Lucy and countless others. I gravitated towards the girls like me, or like I wanted to be: opinionated, brave, independent, strong, artistic, funny, empathetic, and pretty. But there were no characters in film or television with whom I identified…except for Princess Leia.

I was a tad too old for the Disney princess generation, but I still wouldn’t have wanted to be like those vapid, self-centered girls. They care about the wrong things, in my opinion: hair, status, princes, hair, princes, forks. Princess Leia cared about her people. She cared about getting the job done. She had kickass Cinnabon hair. She got the perfect guy (more on Han some other time). She sometimes wore dresses, sometimes camo, she shot a gun and wore a bikini and flew a speeder and escaped a trash compacter. The only time she was sexualized was when it was an obvious insult, and that shit ended when she killed the fucker who did it to her. Yeah.

And NOT ONE BIT of Leia was sold as “Girl Power”. Somewhat because GP was about 20 years later. But mostly because not one person said that her gender had anything to do with anything. Not even Darth was like, “Oooh, the poor little girlie just watched her planet get blowed up. Gonna cry now?” Nope. Not even the evil dick father of hers cared about her femininity.

So, I knew Leia was gonna be in the new movie. I wanted to see who she became. I didn’t watch trailers or read any leaks or IMDB. I wanted to wait. And I was so not disappointed. She didn’t merely marry Han and stop life in order to be a wife and mother. Bitch is General Organa now. She got the guy, it didn’t work out, but she never gave up trying to save the galaxy. She saved it from her dad, she’s gonna save it from her son, and she’s gonna team up with her niece (Rey is SO Luke’s daughter, right?) and BITCHES GONNA SAVE THE GALAXY.

Not because they’re women. Not in spite of being women. Because they’re…wait for it…people. People who care. People who will work their asses off to thwart whichever Dark Side person is causing trouble today. Their genitals make no difference. Their hairstyles don’t either. Nor their outfits. The story will play out, and it will not matter to the galaxy that they’re women.

But it matters to me. It matters to the girls of my generation who got it. It’s gonna matter to the girls who watch Rey and decide they need more and watch the Original Trilogy and realize they want to be Leia. It matters because the bestest princess of them all is a Disney Princess now, so she’ll get noticed by more girls who need to know. The girls who don’t care about space ships as much as I did; the girls who don’t want to spend their time doing hair and singing trite songs and letting the princes almost always save the day; the girls who, like me, didn’t see any difference between boys and girls except for their private areas; the girls who want more, who might aspire to be more than celebrities, but maybe world-changers and world leaders; the girls who don’t yet know that they want to grow up to be Princess Leia and then General Organa.

And maybe Rey. Hopefully Rey. Probably Rey. Time shall tell.

Kudos

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The Path

For the past year I’ve been kinda coasting it up in limbo. I know what I want to do with my life, but I haven’t done it. Nope. None of it. I’ve daydreamed about what it’ll be like when things finally get rolling, but I’ve done nothing to actually make it happen. And I’m fine with that. My life has had its share of mountains to climb, deserts to traverse, storms to outlast. But this year of learning to live in the moment has been relatively peaceful. I haven’t had to deal with a single actual problem. It’s all been in my head, and it’s been pretty dreamy. Like a path through a forest on a randomly cool day in the summer in the early afternoon. Probably the easiest year of my adult life. I’ve worked hard, and fairly constantly, but I haven’t worried. And without the work, I’d have been terribly bored.

A feeling came over me earlier this evening, though. The path has forked, and I haven’t chosen. I know where they both lead, and each ends with its own version of happiness. I didn’t see the path before today because the monster attacked upon my arrival. Now the monster is gone and I have to choose.

To the right, the path leads to a pleasant valley where nothing ever goes really wrong, besides the death-and-cancer parts of every life. I know how to make that life work. The high possibility of having minimal worries makes it attractive. But it’s boring, it’s the same, it’s familiar. Most of all, it eliminates a certain possibility that only exists on the mountain to my left.

I know what’s at the top of that mountain. I know the likely type of life I could have if I went left. But it consists of hard work, focus, discipline. I’m not even sure that if I chose the left path whether or not I’d reach the summit. The terrain is rocky and full of unknown caverns. There are other travelers on the path, and I don’t have any clue what kind of people they might be…besides the fact that they are travelers.

I’ve loved my path this past year. Knowing how content I’ve been on the path gives me hope that the path to the right would work out just fine. And it’s these things, this confident knowledge, that makes me really, really want to go left.

Away from the barren desert. Away from the peaceful forest. Towards the unknown mountain. Despite the fear, because of the contentment, the mountain excites me. It’s getting to be time to make my choice.

Kudos

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Less Goals, More Milestones

I’ve been a goal-oriented person since I was a kid. I was about 11 or 12 when I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I took advice from mentors and parents on how to get there. I went to the right schools for me, studied the right programs for what I wanted, and I did it. For the past 20 years I’ve been what I wanted to be when I grew up.

And now I want something else. All my training, in school and life, has pointed me in the direction I want. I have the right tools and knowledge, I have the passion and the drive, I have a vision and a goal. After flailing for the past few years in an attempt to find my “next”, I finally know what it is.

My goal-oriented self, however, is frustrated. Every day that I don’t advance towards that goal, I beat myself up. I get angry at the roadblocks, because I want perfection. I can too easily envision the perfection I want, and it’s keeping me from working with what I’ve already got.

So I’m doing my best to focus on what is needed now. I’m still a person who needs to provide for herself, so I can’t let the fact that I need a job for money get in my mental way. I can’t guilt myself about what I’m not doing. Even when I was a child, I didn’t use every spare moment to work towards my goal. I had fun, I played with friends (real and imaginary), I obsessed over boys. I even had a job for most of my life, very similar to my current day job. But I got there. It wasn’t easy. It took time and growth. It took money and work. It took left turns when life got too lifey.

But I made it, I did it. And I can do it again. I just need to remember to focus on the time, growth, money, and work. I need to let life’s left turns only change how I’m focused, and not let them change whether or not I am.

I’ve lived a lot of life so far. But I’ve got a lot left to live, and a lot more to do and say while I live it. I’m not done yet. And once I’m done with “next”, I’ll be ready for “more”. There’s still so much time.

Kudos

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Limbo

I’ve spent most of my life planning, preparing myself for the next thing. I always knew the next step. It was like my life’s book had already been written and I was just reading down the table of contents to find the next step. But a few years ago I turned the page and found there was nothing there. I ran out of book, but I still had story left.

So I set my life on a course to find the rest of the story. I planned, visualized, scheduled. I didn’t know what was next. There were no clear clues, no obvious inclinations. The only clarity came from knowing that above all I want to create. So I wrote at screenplays, I wrote songs, I practiced, I taught. I tried to make the next chapter make sense. I tried to make it move. I latched onto anything and everything that could use my skillset, actual or potential, to make my life happen.

And just like when a writer tries too hard at a book or a screenplay or a song, my life felt forced. Even doing a hard reset and quitting my entire life to attempt a new city halfway across the country didn’t help. I failed my attempt, learned, moved back, and found myself truly lost.

I still hadn’t learned the lesson, though. I still kept trying to make my story happen. I made plans, I set out a life outline. I made mental flashcards. Obviously it was still forced.

Then one day I decided to let life tell me what to do. I read signs into everything. I chose a bottle of wine because of a book I was reading. I slept with a good friend, not because I even wanted to, but because it seemed that was what I was supposed to do in that moment. And that living in the moment made me happier than I’ve ever been.

I still thought there was a plan to find, a path to take, a next anything. I left myself open to all the possibilities, and suddenly my next big thing, my next goal, my next life moment presented itself. So I thought that I needed to start working toward it right away. And suddenly my happy started to fade.

Because I know what comes next that I can control. But to get there is going to take work and dedication and fearlessness. And it’s not time yet. I have things to do, steps to take, but the goal is very, very far. I’m not old yet, but I’m no longer what one would call young. And this is going to take all the patience I can muster.

So while I know what I want in the future and I know how to get there, I still have to wait. And until then, on a daily basis, aside from actual time-based commitments, I have no idea what the fuck I’m doing.

And I’m oddly cool with that. I don’t know how long it will last, but my happy is returning, so I feel no need to complain. Until the time is right for something goal-oriented to happen, tomorrow will always be a surprise.

Kudos

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Taboo

Okay. It’s Independence Day in the good ol’ US of A, so I’m gonna freely say it. Everyone is a little bit racist. I meam, there are levels. From “aren’t black babies just the cutest?” to “all people who don’t moderately resemble my physical appearance need to die, like, now”. That’s a level 10 racist, by the way. You can’t get racistier than that. Okay, there’s probably an 11, but that involves space travel and way more advanced technology than we have. And the Borg.

The only problem is in meeting new people. You get past the smalltalk and start to get that “this person might make the friend list” vibe, and so you want to make a comment. A racist one, obviously. But you’re all not knowing their racist level. You don’t want to say something level 5 and totally offend potential friend who’s only a level3, and usually only during rush hour. On the other hand, you don’t want to say a level 4 to someone pushing 7 because it’ll quickly turn into a very uncomfortable, and likely loud and animated, scene.

So you both start at a 1, each feeling out where the other is. It’s exhausting and tedious, but way better than accidentally losing a potential over something so silly as race. Because unless a person is a 9 or higher, it’s really unimportant. I’m a 3. I have friends who are 6’s, friends who are 1’s, and everything in between. It just took us some time to figure out our mutual racisms.

So take the time. It’s worth it. When you can finally make a joke about Mexican bus drivers and get your Mexican friend to say something about all white people looking the same, then you’ve arrived. It’s way better to feel the situation out rather than pretend to be a 1 when you’re really a 5.

Unless you’re old. Then you can whatever the fuck you want, whenever the fuck you want. Because you’re old and going to die soon anyway.

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Beauty On the Outside

Like most of America, there’s a portion of every day spent getting ready in front of a mirror. Before going out into the world we like to check that we’re presentable. And like much of America, after I’ve checked that everything I’ve done is acceptable, I spend a moment looking at my flaws. I have cellulite because who doesn’t, and stretch marks because I used to be 150 lbs heavier. Sometimes I can’t believe it, then I get a Timehop picture notification from 5 years ago and think, “Oh.”

Anyway…I have freckles, frizz, and fur-on-my-lip (I needed alliteration, people!). I have a hereditary double chin and random, un-suspicious moles. I have a snubby nose and a unibrow, a moderately high forehead that looks terrible with bangs, but I feel it gives me a permanently “I’m interested in what you’re saying” look. I’m not, though. Permanently interested. Sometimes I’m bored as hell.

For some random reason, one day this week my self-criticism ritual lingered on my mind after I moved from the mirror. It stayed with me the rest of the day. I’ve heard people say that you’re your own worst critic, and I’m certain it’s true, but I was curious. So I went about my day actively trying to see all the physical flaws of everyone else.

I looked for the random birthmark, the unshaven legs, the blotchy skin. I looked for figure flaws, too much fat, too many bones, bad hairstyles. But I didn’t find what I thought I would find. I saw the flaws, because I searched for them. But what I found weren’t flaws at all. I found people more beautiful. People I wouldn’t have noticed had I not looked for what was wrong with them.

I saw a slightly overweight woman with overly bleached hair, looking like straw. But her hair drew me to her face, to her eyes, to the set of her jaw. I saw a woman who looked perfectly content standing in a slow-moving line at the grocery store. She might have just popped a Xanax, but maybe not. Maybe she was just content. All I know for sure is that if it weren’t for her weight, and then her hair, I might never have noticed that a person like her was out there. That SHE was out there. Shopping for groceries. Contemplating a Crock-Pot purchase. Buying a last minute pack of gum.

There was a man at the bank. I first saw him from behind while I was in line and he was at the teller’s window. He was too short, but not short enough to be considered “little”. He was wearing an oversized and ratty coat, worn out sneakers, and camouflage pants. I assumed he was recently un-homeless or living in a shelter…or a van down by the river. The teller counted out his money to him and the man turned my direction to leave the bank. His face was very dark brown and looked like leather. His race could have been African American, Hispanic, Palestinian, Canadian. His skin was wrinkly, his eyes kind of bugged out due to his coke-bottle glasses. And when I looked at him he saw me, and shared the most beautiful smile. It wasn’t even beautiful on its own; when he spread out his mouth with that smile I saw how it further wrinkled his face and bugged out his eyes, and he was missing teeth. But there was a happiness, or a peace, that emanated from him. His physical oddity only made his joy that much more outstanding.

I saw these and many others, and each time all their differentness managed to do was draw my attention to them, and once drawn there all I saw was beauty. Not merely because they let their inside selves outside, but because their outsides themselves were unique and beautiful.

So I decided to look for my own uniqueness, my own outer beauty. I noticed how the skin of my upper arms is slightly tan and very freckly on the outside and fades to Irish white at my flabby, cellulitey triceps. I saw my poochy tummy, my skinny ankles, the moles on my left cheek and right hand, All the things that appear to make me less than.

And I realized I love them. My triceps are flabby because losing weight sometimes makes skin looser. My tummy is only poochy now, while it used to be just a roll of fat leading from just below my breasts to my pelvis. My ankles have been the consistent skinny part of my body and I’ve always loved them so maybe this example doesn’t count.

The mole on my right hand appeared the day, 11 years ago, that I decided to divorce my first husband; while I’ve kept my fingers crossed all these years that it’s not cancer (not likely, since it appeared and has remained the exact same since then), I also love it. I love it because it reminds me of a good decision I made for myself. It reminds me that I’m worth something, and, more importantly, that I KNOW I’m worth something. Worth being happy. Worth not being hurt.

I don’t know what other people notice. They look at me and create their own story of my life in the brief moment they pass me on the sidewalk, when I go out to eat, when I go to the mall or the bank. They either notice me or not, evaluate me or not, smile at me or not. They don’t know that my hair is frizzy sometimes because I’m too lazy to put product in my curly hair. But if they notice and evaluate me, they’ll have their own understanding of why my hair sometimes looks like I have an affinity for playing with knives and electrical outlets. They create a person out of my flaws, out of my perfections. I hope that person they see shows them a little bit of beauty.

The good, the bad, and the ugly. It all adds up to beauty, if we only allow ourselves to see it.

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