Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Windfall

Anyone who knows me knows that we have been um, sort of um, BROKE AS ALL SHIT.

Broke so broke.

So so SO broke. Brokebrokebrokebrokebroke. (what tv/movie is that from? I can see a woman saying it over and over....)

Well, it's spring, that happens to be a good time for me - winters can be slow (and awesome!), but it all picks up now. And other people I live with have gotten jobs...

AND.

I got a little windfall! A little windfall that will just bring us back to stasis and a little to put away for the next time.

Which leads me to this:

As I was walking home from going to the bank to deposit my windfall check, I promised myself, "never again." Never again, I kept saying over and over as I walked, never again and I started to say it out loud, never again, never again...

And then, with all the glory of the universe, that turned into:

AS GOD IS MY WITNESS!!!

But I added something:

AS GOD IS MY FUCKING WITNESS!!!

I will never go broke again.

As god is my FUCKING WITNESS.

I will never go broke again. 

It made me laugh out loud. Mostly because it's truth.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

I'm a Barefoot, Eccentric, Old Lady

Man. Prince.

I'm sad pretty honestly.

Anyhoo, April was quite a month. I had 3.5 scary/cool/butscary things happening in April. And I'm a worrier and a planner, so April has been on my radar for awhile now. I've had fear and apprehension about all 3.5.

My fear, in hindsight, was never all that serious. I think it's how I motivate myself actually. I planned really well for all 3.5 of these things and all 3.5 turned out well because of my pre-planning. Actual things fixed because I PLANNED for them to go wrong. My fear led me all scenarios and to figure out answers for each scenario.

And it helped! So. I'm bringing back fear. It's not so bad.

My last of 3.5 things was yesterday and it turned out more beautifully than I could have hoped. My last of the 3.5 turned out the best and they all turned out pretty well.

But today I am WIPED. I feel like I'm sick and I know that I'm not. I had a thing to go to today, a thing I really wanted to go to on this bright sunshiney day and I set out to go there and I couldn't. My feet would not take me there. So I listened. And it is pretty out.

So I slow-walked. I took it so slow today. I wanted the sunshine, I wanted to move, but not hard, not fast.

I've been practicing my barefoot walking. It's what I'm into now, there are some who say it's all about learning to walk barefoot again, as someone who really is into my feet and walking and staying mobile - it makes really logical sense.

When was the last time you tried walking barefoot, like, down the street? And not the concrete, that's not great either, but in the grass on the side?

IT'S HARD. It's really hard. It takes total focus so as not to hurt myself/step in poop/step on a bee/whatever. So it's slow-going now for me in the beginning. And I'm shocked, completely shocked at how I've lost touch with my feet. Seriously. It is odd and uncomfortable to walk barefoot, I'm looking to change that.

But like I said, it's slow-going, so I don't listen to podcasts or music, I'm generally looking down the whole time, I need to keep everything focused on my next step, so the other great thing about it is, it's really quiet. My ears are quiet, my voice, my mind even, because it's focusing hard on what it's doing.

And then afterwards? My feet tingle! It feels SO GOOD. It's like fucking nerves waking up, it is so nice and ....

I took this really nice, quiet, barefoot walk in my neighborhood.

I'm getting old and eccentric maybe.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Suck It In.

The first thing I noticed when I started meditating was the rock that lives in my stomach, the hard little ball of anxiety that feels like the size of a tennis ball. As I would go through relaxing each part of my body, each time I got to the rock in my stomach, it never relaxed, in fact, it got tighter.

Now, 16 months later, a whole year and a half, that rock in my stomach is still there, as tight and as apparent as ever. Now I don't even try to relax it,  I learn to just let it be there and to know that it's there.

Until I started meditating though, I didn't think about my stomach rock, I'm not even really sure I knew it was there before. But lest we get confused, that is not to say that I wasn't paying attention to my "abs" although, now it's "core." From maybe the time I was 12, I've been aware of my stomach, isn't that the age when that happens? And I see now that since I was 12 years old, I've been holding in my stomach.

It starts because you can hold in your stomach and it looks so much different when you do. I think as young teen girls, we start "sucking it in." The problem is, at 45, I'm still doing it. 

You do it too right? For so many reasons, maybe now it's not teen fear of a tiny bit of tummy hanging, but now, we're engaging our core, firing up our abs, we're doing the good work. Pulling our bellybuttons to our spine, yes? But I still feel like, at least for me, it's still about how it looks physically.

But it wasn't until I read my Nutritional Movement (you guys, she tells you NOT to run, don't you want to check it??) and reading that to hold in your stomach like that is really dangerous. Your organs and all those things in there need that space - that's the whole point! If you're holding in your stomach in one, two, three inches, that is that much more crowded it gets in there.

It's really not good for you. 

And to do weird ab exercises that only work one way your abs work for like, what, 5 minutes a day, 2 or 3 days a week? Not that helpful.

So now my girl Katie is telling me I should relax my fucking abs.

And it is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Seriously, and I quit smoking.

It is frightening to me and to the me that used to be a teenager and a 20-year-old, then 30 then 40, that I literally cannot relax my stomach. I can do it for maybe 30 seconds until I forget and it all clenches back up again. Sometimes I can't even tell if it's relaxed or if I'm just forcing it.

I honestly cannot tell if my stomach is relaxed or not.

And 30 years really, 30 years of actively trying to hold it in. And all of the mental bullshit that comes with that and the fear of "letting my stomach hang out." JESUS CHRIST, I'm so tired of it all.

Relax. Your. Crack. Hixx.

You're hurting yourself now, not helping.

Chill OUT. 

Tell me, can you relax your abs, stomach area, core?

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Cockblocking Responsibility

When I was 20, I totally thought I was going to have kids. By about 22, I was pretty sure I wasn't.

It's such a big decision. And to actively choose not to, it's hard you know? Because, this is what you  do. Go to college. Buy house. Have kids.

I dropped out of college. Twice. The SAME COLLEGE. Twice. And I rent. Like a boss.

I was talking to John about a possible business partnership and as soon as the realization of responsibility came up, my stomach got sick. I got tight, aggravated and felt put upon. As we were talking about this I said something that I think sums up everything about who I am in one sentence:

"I just want to be able to change my mind whenever I want without affecting anyone."

Boom.

I was taken back to when I was 10. Greeley School. Winnetka, IL. We were singing "Sailing," yes, that one, and we were all on stage and my music teacher handed ME the triangle and had me stand in front of everyone and hit it like, 10 times at specific times.

I hated it. I remember now thinking, "I don't want to be responsible for this triangle. Or this song, or getting the timing right. Someone else should do it." And it wasn't that I didn't care. I did. I liked singing Sailing just fine, I just don't want to be responsible for the fucking triangle.

Team sports? No thanks! GUH. Is there anything worse than being responsible for someone else's goal, point, basket? BLECH. I can't think of a bigger hell.

Everytime I try to work with someone else on a project, a project that's half mine or whatever, I get upset and sad and trapped. I'll happily help you with your project, as long as I'm just the volunteer and have no responsibility and it's really your project and on your head. And I'm great running my own projects and having people help me, that's lovely!Thank goodness for all of the help people have given me.

And don't think for one second sometimes even the dog (my precious, perfect, wonderful and spectacular dog) doesn't sometimes get lumped into "responsibility." I think it's actually amazing I have a dog at all. It's the most responsibility for someone else I've ever had. Even my husband admitted he sees this very clearly in me and knew when he married me he couldn't get in they way of my choices and that he has his own version of letting me alone. He also keeps trying to get me to want to "buy" a house, condo, whatever. I have no interest. Can you imagine being responsible for A WHOLE HOUSE?? WHY!!!?!!? Why would I do something like that? I'm such a happy renter.

So children were out. They just were. I can't think of anyone being more affected by my decisions than any children I might have. I wondered for awhile if this was a problem, my lack of responsibility for other people - and fuck it. Who cares. I have great passion for what I have great passion for and the fact that I can change that passion RIGHT NOW without hurting anyone, or putting anyone out, or pissing anyone off, is about the greatest level of freedom I can imagine.

Plus, if I follow my Buddhist teachings, I'll be back on this earth again.

I'll have kids then.

This life? This life is for pleasing me most of all.

SUCK IT RESPONSIBILITY!!!!


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Eight Worldy Winds

I won't talk too much about Buddhism here, that's my own thing and if you're curious about my thoughts on it, you'll ask me.

BUT. Heh.

There are eight worldly winds:
Gain and Loss
Pleasure and Pain
Fame and Infamy
Praise and Blame

The idea is, don't give much credence to one over the other right? You can't walk around all proud of your gain and yell and scream about your loss.

They're all the same see? Floating in and out of your life.

I've had this amazing experience happen before, but I just had an amazing worldly wind experience happen to me last night.

I HAD A BIG FUCKING WIN last night. A big win. I've been working on something, an important person liked what I did and it was A HUGE FUCKING SCORE and it was praise and I ate it up.

And I'll tell you, the physical reaction to great praise, is pretty much the exact same reaction to great blame.

I got shaky, my stomach felt tight, my breathing got lighter and faster, my head bowed down, my fingers rolling through my hair and then what shocked me about my great praise?

I started to cry.

YES I AM A WOMAN, and yes we cry at intense emotion (it's when you cry when you're quitting a job, or really angry that is so frustrating), but it was the exact same tears, face, body stance, as crying when upset or taking blame.

Everytime I get a good Trip Advisor review, my heart starts to beat, my stomach sinks, I get really hot. Once when I got the worst review EVER that anyone has ever gotten, my heart started to beat, my stomach sank and I got really hot.

I don't know, it was just really interesting to me that emotion is emotion and you can't let any of it sink and stay. They're just winds, blowing around, one no more important than the other.














YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAY

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

On Being An Invisible Middle-Aged Woman

There's this saying, rumor, warning - that when women become middle-aged they become "invisible."
Younger people pass us by, men aren't catcalling us anymore, no one sees the 51-year-old woman.

That's what they say and I hope to God it's true. I've been waiting my whole life to be invisible.

I already try to keep myself as quiet and compact as possible anyway. I generally have everything I need on me so I don't need to make a big stink about finding tampons or lotion or whatever middle-aged ladies need (maybe not tampons then?). I don't wear big coats and big scarves and gloves, I am not "swarthy." I keep my elbows in and my mouth closed, the only thing moving all around on me, are my eyes.

I keep my clothes as indistinct as possible. A pair of jeans, a sweater, boots. Coat. Done. Nothing to look at here folks...

Really the only thing that stands out about me physically is my hair and a lot of times, if I'm headed out on a Margaret walk (which is really any walk) - I'll put it up, or in a hat, or out of the way, so no one notices me. It's not that I'm just hiding from leering men either, I'm just trying to sink quietly into the background.

I try to keep my body small on planes, trains and automobiles. I like taking up little amounts of space, it is not my goal to take over where I go, it's my goal to get smaller, quieter, less noticeable.

The less people see me (when I'm trying not to be seen, obviously I'm a tour guide, so...but you know what I mean) the better. I cannot wait until I'm completely invisible.

Because you know what else? You don't notice me taking photos in a building I'm not supposed to be taking photos in. I can do secret, fun things because no one believes a 45-year-old middle-aged woman is doing anything illegal or fun. I hide back and listen to conversations, I sneak into things, I sneak past things, I hear things, see things and notice things and I promise you would never look twice.

I like my autonomy, that's why I like Chicago - everyone's trying to be "seen" in New York or LA, I'm not interested in being seen, I'm actively interested in being not seen.

It's so fucking awesome.

I want my business and work to be noticed of course. But personally, not so much. That way I can concentrate on what I want, not worry about who's looking/judging/leering/staring.

Can't wait for the transformation to be complete....


Monday, February 01, 2016

Men.

It's such an interesting time for all of us now.

All this lady stuff, all this admitting of being afraid of men, of trying to stand up to that fear, of wondering if any of that is going to change ever.

I've been holding off on a lot of this - I lived a long time thinking I was not afraid of men. My mother LOVED men, always, I was never taught to be afraid of men by my mother. I have 3 AMAZING older brothers who are kind, helpful, hilarious, artistic, gentle and have saved me from all kinds of doom.

I have men friends too. Many of them. SOME OF MY BEST FRIENDS ARE MEN.

And then when women really started speaking up about all this, I never denied those were their experiences with fear and harassment, but I didn't feel the same way. Sure, I *used to* get cat calls and such and it pissed me off, but come on, par for the course.

And then of course I started looking deeper, agreeing that we are taught from a young age to be afraid. Then came the Margaret Atwood quote:

Men are afraid that women are going to laugh at them, women are afraid men are going to kill them.

Damn, that totally rings true, really as anything Margaret Atwood says rings true.

And I started to be mindful and began to notice my fear of men, which is if of course, ingrained, deep and scary.

It's fast, first of all. The judgement, the sizing up and down, the decisions of whether a man is "dangerous" is so fucking fast. All humans size each other up, but women have this extra layer of judgement we have to administer quickly. Is he smiling at me because he's happy, sick, malicious, a rapist, a priest? And then in SECONDS we decide how to respond to this, look away, smirk, sneer, look down (the most popular and least offensive choice) or god forbid, smile back. 

The other day I was the only lady in a movie theater with a dude.  I clutched my keys in my hand for the whole movie - the only weapon I had on me - keys held just right in my fingers in case this guy decided to attack in the middle of the movie.

The one I caught yesterday, the one that led me to the writing of this post - I saw a big guy coming at me and my ingrained habit is to look around and see if I'm the only one on the street and make a split-second decision of whether I should cross the street, or stand up and stick my chest out, or do the opposite and play small. I saw some other dudes up the street emptying a car trunk and I thought "oh okay, I don't have to be afraid of this man, because there are other men over there" and the absurdity of being afraid of one man and feeling safe because of others was so strange and weird and amazing and sad that I realized...

I'm just like every other woman out there. Totally afraid.

There's a whole shakeup with women in comedy, specifically improv, in Chicago right now. It's an upturning for sure. So many women speaking out about being harassed and pressured. I don't remember being harassed on stage. I don't remember men making me prostitutes in scenes and then shooting me, I just don't remember it that way.

But I do remember (and still see it as truth in a really weird fucked up kinda way) that the men were certainly in charge. I remember wanting to be cute and sexy for them so they would think I was funny and cast me in stuff. I remember how we made fun of men who "boob hugged" (that means the dude comes in low for the hug and then moves up so he can get a boob-rub). I remember thinking that that stuff never bothered me because I knew how to play with the big boys and I definitely remember other women feeling less than.

I still believe it is in our genes and our DNA to be afraid of men, women have been afraid of men since caveman and beyond - it is nature. I believe that. I'm not sure what standing around and telling men how scared we are is going to help anything, maybe it will. Maybe it'll change the comedy theaters, maybe men will be more careful, maybe women will fight back more and maybe in my heart of hearts, that scares me almost more, because there is a part of me, I don't know if it's ingrained conditioning or what, but there's a part of me that believes all of this will have an effect on the work.

Sigh. I don't know. I don't know what I think.

I dunno. Hang tight ladies. I guess that's it. Hang tight.