happiness is finding the place where being yourself is exactly what's needed

Thursday, November 8, 2012

are you SURE i never had a cat?

i'd like to take just a few minutes this morning to talk about something that can be super annoying: dream memories.

you know what i mean. when in your dream you remember another dream you had months, maybe years, before.

the problem with dream memories is that they have a way of actually feeling even more real to me than real memories, and that's one of the ways i tell them apart from stuff that actually happened. but i always wake up with that same feeling in my head, afterward, that "holy crap how could i have forgotten that?" sensation.

in dreams, of course, emotions are heightened, so something too ridiculous to ever happen in real life could be a catastrophic event in a dream. and the emotional impact is part of what makes them so believable.

what my brain seems to be going in this situations is picking through pieces of reality and forging a bunch of shit together that doesn't belong, in order to explain something i'm confused about in real life.

- - -

here's a made up example:

let's say you've always wanted a cat but never had one. so, one time, you have a dream that you have a cat, but you're brain knows you really don't have a cat, so, before you wake up, it gives you a reason why you don't have a cat anymore. at the end of the dream, your friend gets bit by your cat and takes it away to an animal shelter.

so, years later, still with no cat, you have a dream again that you're just walking along minding your own damn business, and something triggers the memory of your lost cat. your first thoughts are "holy crap, it all makes sense now! that's why i don't have a cat, and why Larry has always been so awkward around me! how could i have forgotten that he stole my cat?"

so, then, you wake up, all ready to go punch Larry in the face for stealing your cat.

the dream feels so real, real enough that it probably is just as real, at least to your brain, at least for a moment, as anything that's ever really happened. it is now, however, a part of the same reality you share with all these other people, and you realize that once you dissect that.

as you're lying in bad and some part of you is still going "what the fuck?" you remember that Larry lives in another town, and has never visited you at the house in which your dream took place, so, even if you'd ever had a cat there, it never interacted with Larry. besides, you didn't have a cat, your roommate was allergic. your feelings of loss are just an enhanced dream interpretation of the minor sadness you experience daily because you've never had a roommate that allowed pets.

and its good that these things can be realized in a matter of minutes. you don't want to go punch your friend in the face for stealing your cat, when you never even had a cat.

- - -

but here's the most annoying thing, at least for me, about dream memories:

you know why i used a made up example, and not a real dream of mine? because the emotional residue of this shit stays for a long time after, making me not want to talk about the dream ever, no matter how silly it was.

and, for me, what makes these scenarios more difficult to talk about that even my worst and most emotional and tragic and bloody and horrible dreams, is that the emotion behind them usually has a lot to do with shame and/or embarassment. even though they don't make any sense. like getting locked in solitary confinement at work for messing something up.

sometimes i even remember the same scenarios in other dreams over the years. (not necessarily related to my recurring dream themes, with i'll discuss in another post.) and in those later dreams, i tend to get mad at myself for forgetting whatever it was, knowing i recently remembered it and then dismissed it from memory.

- - -

i'm not checking this for typos, so sorry. it's more important to me, right now, that i remedy my lack of coffee, as i just crawled out of bed.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

leave me to wander alone, and this is what happens

today was one of my rare saturdays off. i asked for it off last month to go camping, but then the camping trip was cancelled, so i found myself contemplating what possible things i could fill today with and came up with reading Wise Man's Fear at Muddy Waters (my current favorite book and my favorite local coffee house).

i spent about 5 hours there reading in my favorite comfy chair in the corner, drinking delicious coffee and a bagel with avocado and swiss, reminiscent of my times at Shot In The Dark Cafe in Tucson. the weather was amazing, too, with the perfect amount of sunlight and all the right scents in the air. i came to the conclusion that i might be the happiest person alive.

The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss, with a bookmark from Tempe, AZ
(on another note, there's a cool character in the book called Tempi)

when i felt the urge to wander to the next part of my day, i did so, not knowing yet what the next part of my day would be. while walking, i decided i would get a tattoo today. i wasn't sure if i wanted to get Kokopelli on my right arm under my friendship symbol or the chorus of my favorite song "dirty face, dirty hands, dirty mind, i feel fine" on my left, under Mishipeshu. i've been feeling the urge to finally get my Kokopelli lately, but i've always felt i should get him done in Arizona.

at any rate, i figured i would let my feet carry me to the next part of my day. if i ended up finding a tattoo place on my path, i would get a tattoo. if not, i'd probably wind up back at the house with an evening pot of coffee and an open notebook. either way sounded fine, since i was walking around with that bliss you get from being in the middle of a great book.

while walking through a quiet neighborhood, i started getting closer to an elderly woman also walking on the sidewalk. knowing that i sometimes scare people when i come up to quickly behind them, i veered off the sidewalk for what was meant to be a few lengthy strides. it ended up being me slipping and landing in an awkward heap in the mud.

i was laughing instantly, and the concerned look the woman on the sidewalk gave me was certainly no cause to end that laughter. removing my earbuds as i got back up, i said "serves me right for walking in the mud."

the woman was rather kind. she offered to let me come into her house to wash up, but i declined, as only one knee and one hand were very muddy. she told me that she's legally blind and falls a lot, and she told me a story about how she once tripped over a construction cone in a crosswalk and landed right on the hood of a car, and no one stopped to help her or ask if she was alright. i made a mental note to offer assistance if ever i see someone fall, which isn't necessarily the norm here in SB.

walking away, i pondered the significant of falling into the mud because i was trying to avoid an obstacle and not paying enough attention to the path i was taking around said obstacle, an obstacle that turned out to be a rather nice person. seemed like a good lesson. then i realized how if i hadn't slipped, i would've talked to one less interesting person today, so i added that to the thought pile.

then, of course, while rubbing my palms together to remove as much of the dried dirt as i could, i laughed because my hands were dirty. "dirty face, dirty hands, dirty mind," then. i had my answer.

eventually my feet carried me to a somewhat familiar intersection close to where i live. i had the distinct feeling there was something important here, and suddenly i was all but tripping over a sign that read "tattoos."

there was no obvious entrance to this place. it was up a windy little staircase, which suited my sense of adventure rather nicely, even though i was a little nervous at first, thinking i was about to walk unannounced into someone's home. but fortunate smiled, and it was, in fact, a tattoo parlor.

i walked in the room to get inked, and there was the girl who'd been working at the coffee place when i showed up, also getting inked. we'd left at different times and somehow both ended up here. we chatted a bit about our tattoos, while some friendly fellows drew on us with needles, and i felt like i'd made another small but interesting human connection today.

on my way back to the house, i was thinking about how when i got my first tattoo, the friendship symbol in Tucson. i'd just been sitting there writing at Shot In The Dark and idly scratched my old symbol onto the paper. shortly after, a friend of mine i hadn't seen in a while, had no way of contacting, and had been hoping to run into showed up. we chatted for a bit, made further plans, and then i went to the tattoo place next door and had the girl put my symbol on my arm, as a way of feeling always connected to my friends, i suppose, though near or far.
that little friendship symbol i leave everywhere

i thought about when that was. 2008. i laughed. this is 2012, and my Mishipeshu is from 2010. what, do i get a tattoo in a different state every two years? i laughed harder when i realized that the other ones, though i don't remember exact dates, were also gotten in Oct. it was Oct. 2008, when i first moved to Tucson, and i got the tattoo within a few days of being there.

Mishipeshu was a going away present from a buddy in Michigan, when i moved to Tucson for a second time, in an October 2 years later.

creature of habit much? 

the chorus of "Dirty Mind" by The Miller Stain Limit, beneath Mishipeshu

I'll leave you with a quote from Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss, page 556:

"It's the questions we can't answer that teach us the most. They teach us how to think. If you give a man an answer, all he gains is a little fact. But give him a question and he'll look for his own answers." [...] "That way, when he finds the answers, they'll be precious to him. The harder the question, the harder we hunt. The harder we hunt, the more we learn."

Sunday, October 14, 2012

the world used to seem so small

the world used to seem so large and full of wonder. i'd walk around like a wide-eyed child, seeing so much everywhere i looked. i'd have trouble choosing between soaps for the bathroom, because i wondered what each would say about my personality. i wanted to make sure i was drawing the right energy. i'd look at each and envision the kind of person who might buy them, envision their whole lives and pick the one i most wanted to identify with at the moment.
stuff like that.
but as we learn and grow, we realize that every individual personality is a combination of choices. every choice is more immensely complicated than another person could possibly imagine.
so, let's take that a level more inward.
i set myself up for the kind of evening i want to have by envisioning a scene that fits more current mood and/or what feelings i want to have/work with later. then i look around for the props.
it's like when children see something they want and then have difficulty reconciling with themselves why they can't have it. it's because when they look at something, a whole world builds up around it.
so, most people probably have that type of wonder beaten out of them by the time they're 3. i, however, was always a very introspective and sneaky child. i was able to hide it until almost 30, when thoughts like this started breaking through into my conversations.
the things i look for. why i look for them. the things i hope to create.
i woke up this morning with a new sense of sadness. it was the sadness of knowing i would never look into the world again with such wonder and naivety.
but as i thought it over, thought about the ways i used to think, i realize the world was so much smaller to me, then.
in a way it seemed bigger. the world was huge and i was small, wandering through it unnoticed.
looking back, i realize the world was smaller. or, at least, i was perceiving much less of it.
the sense of wonder has only vanished because my mind has realized all is wonder. there's nothing particularly less worth wondering about than anything else. my mind is more open, and the only thing i'm missing out on is the ability to dwell.
and yet i no longer feel small in comparison to the world. i'm an equal piece to any other piece, and the world is not only one great thing, but a collection of pieces, of which i am one. it'll never be the world against me. i'm part of it.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

the debate class in my head

whenever a reasonably sized issue seems to arise, before i form a solid opinion, i bring it to the debate class in my head. the classroom is the room where i had a class with my favorite professor. the teacher is a combination of him and a couple other favorite professors of mine.
there's always been about 20 students, and over the years, i've gained more understanding of each of their varying opinions and experiences. so far, there's only about 6 that i feel i really know.
i have them discuss the things that i wonder about, and try to experience the debate through each person as they're speaking.
some of their attitudes seem cliche at first, until i dig deeper into their individual awarenesses. how they relate to one another, changes according to the debate.
some of them have always been big thinkers, and some of them haven't. but, here, they all must look into themselves equally, to find the places from which they're looking at the world.
just like in a real class, the students are continually gaining new perspectives from one another, and so each debate brings with it slightly more complicated opinions.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

on making decisions

the great thing about flipping a coin to make a decision is: if it lands the way you want it to, you get to be like "oh, thank the powers that be for this divine confirmation of what i must do." and if it lands the way you don't want it to, you get to be like "i no longer have faith in your guidance, coin. it's time for a revolution." either way, you're getting that second cup of coffee.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

chemicals don't change your personality, they just change which parts people are seeing

i'm posting this here for my own personal reference, more than anything. i'm not actually going to say anything useful, i'm just going to be talking about my feelings. i usually don't keep posts like this around for very long. that's why i gave this one a good title. to trick myself into not deleting it. because i may need it for perspective later.

how i feel when i have anxiety vs. when i don't:

at work

with anxiety:  everyone here hates me because i'm such a spazz, and i screw up everything i do, so i'm probably going to get fired. and then when i get fired i won't be able to get unemployment to pay the rent because i'll either just keep falling through the cracks or just be too stupid to figure it out. and even if i get unemployment, i probably won't find another job on time, cause we all know how easy that is to do these days.
this means i'll have to move away from california and never see anyone i know here or in arizona ever again, because plane tickets are too expensive from there and i probably won't be able to find a job and i might not even wind up with a place to live anyway, because other people all have lives, and no matter how much they think they'd like to have me around, i'd eventually just be a burden like i was on everyone for the whole first year i was in california. 
even if i could get a job and a place to stay in michigan, everyone would think of me as a miserable failure, and they'd know it's because i had such an easy childhood that i never grew the strength to survive in the real world like a normal person. they'd be like "ooh, look at the little spoiled girl, i bet she even got money from her parents for a plane ticket back here when she fell on her spoiled little ass."

the middle ground (having anxiety and trying my best to ignore it): i probably won't get fired. there's usually steps between a perfectly normal work day and getting fired. i'm probably an okay worker. maybe i screw up a lot, but other people screw up sometimes, too, right?
it'll be okay. it'll be okay. i just gotta get through the day without doing anything too stupid, like spazzing out again. the fewer signs of emotion i show, the better. the less i talk, the better. it's like being a kid and getting into trouble. just keep your mouth shut and don't react to anything. 
i'll be home again soon enough where no-one can see me and judge me. i can sit in my room and shut out everyone, if i want to. i just gotta make it through the day like a normal person. like a strong person. that's it, just pretend you're strong like everyone else, and maybe they won't know the difference.

without anxiety: i don't really care if i get fired. it doesn't really matter who does and doesn't like me. my job is just a thing i do to pay the bills, and if i lose it, i'll find some other way to pay the bills. if i end up with no place to stay anymore in california, i'll guess i'll have to go back to michigan. but there's some cool people there. maybe some of them will want to hear my stories about living here and think they're cool.
i won't really never see anyone i know out here again. plane tickets cost a lot, but i'm sure i could find a way to save up and visit some time in the winter when not a lot is going on in michigan. it wouldn't be like here, where if i took ten minutes off from work i'd never be able to pay the rent again.
i'd be sad, yes, but it wouldn't be the end of the world. i'd probably be easier to go back to school at the college i already graduated from, anyway. i'm pretty sure at least a portion of out of state fees are waived for alumni. i'd go for a Bachelor's in Psychology during the school year, try to get my summer job back (though it's iffy whether this would be possible), and connect with some of the people i used to know (none of which probably hate me as much as i'm assuming some of them do).

with friends

anxiety: everyone i know thinks i'm neurotic, because they only see the anxious and depressed sides of me. i talk too much, and everyone hears me complain about everything and thinks i'm just an ungrateful little bitch that can't handle the things that everyone else can.
either that or they think i'm pathetic. innocent. naive. something to be coddled. 
they say "oh, poor little stupid Amber. there she goes hating herself again cause she's just so gosh-darn stupid. she's lucky she had the family she did, because otherwise she wouldn't have survived childhood. in fact, do you remember how in gradeschool she was the kid who cried all the time over everything? no, she never could've possibly learned any of these useful life skills she's developed herself. she's far too stupid for that. someone else must have held her hand and walked her through anything she claims she knows. because she's obviously useless and pathetic. but, oh, just be nice to her. she's sensitive."

the middle ground (having anxiety and trying my best to ignore it): i wish my friend would stop asking me questions. doesn't she/he realize that i don't want to talk about what i'm thinking? i'm just not in the mood to be judged right now. i know, i'll bring up something else completely unrelated, like a kid when adults are asking too many questions.
as long as i'm not vulnerable, it'll be okay. as long as i don't complain about anything, my friend will still like me. i just have to start acting better around people to earn their respect. 

no anxiety: hmm, my friends are pretty cool. i'm lucky to know such awesome people. they might misunderstand me sometimes, but i bet i misunderstand them sometimes, too. it's all good. we all respect each other. man, coffee sounds good right now.

I was just reminded of this video because the "no anxiety" examples I gave are definitely the "Adult" frame of mind discussed. Also, a lot of the "anxiety" examples I gave (whether controlled are not) fall into the "Child" state. 
As far as I can tell, the best way to get me to move into an Adult state from a Child state is by someone bringing out my Parent state (for better or worse), because then I balance out. (Examples of multiple types of exchanges like this are shown in the video series.)
It's like how when I'm walking alone at night, I sometimes get scared (Child state), but if I have someone with me, my first response to potential danger is a protective instinct (Parent state), which smooths out back into an enjoyable walk (Adult state) as I evaluate how small the actual risk is of walking around at night in a normal neighborhood/park/forest. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

stubborn crafty list

Bouncin' Barb gave me this idea in her last comment. Feel free to join in with what YOU'RE good/great/awesome at.

Make a list (maybe 15 things) that you're good at. Start with "I am . . . " or "I am a . . ."

1. I am great at imagining. Daydreams. Possibilities. Stories. The hidden meanings in song. My brain likes creating pictures from sounds and sounds from pictures and all that. I have some stories that have been playing out in my head for years.

2. I am good at being stubborn. At sticking to what I believe is real and what I believe is right.

3. I am good at understanding myself. My own needs and wants and the reasons behind them. I'm good at noticing things about myself like that I've already spent more than half an hour thinking about this question, so I could answer one person on my blog, and when asked what i was good at on my okc profile, viewed by who knows how many, i probably just answered with some lame joke. maybe because those people are strangers?

4. I'm good at making friends, or at least, I sure seem to meet the awesomest people ever.

5. I'm good at making people feel comfortable. People have always found it easy to say things to me, at least the ones who are smart enough to know I won't judge them.

6. I'm good at thinking things through, when I need to.

7. I'm good at knowing when and when not to let my guard down.

8. I'm good at decorating and sometimes making little crafty things to suit my impulse.

9. I'm a good poet, though don't ask me what it means to be a good poet, because I don't know.

10. I'm a good blogger during high energy seasons of my life, when I'm doing a lot of thinking and reading and talking to people (this isn't one of those seasons, but there's one on the way, i'm certain).

11. I'm good at picking out tasty new fantasy novels.

12. I'm good at knowing when I'm done making a list. :P