The Tall Guy’s Office Hours Are…

I had a film cinematography teacher who was a cross between Jeff Goldblum and a mid-80’s era Lou Reed. One would think that this sounds incredible. How lucky was I to encounter such a magical creature?

Okay, but imagine a person made up of all of their absolute worst-known qualities. The self-indulgence, the myopic vision of what makes things good and bad, the shunning of people who just ‘don’t get it.’ Okay, this is just Lou Reed in personality with the looks of JG. One third of the time in class was devoted to his opinion on tragically misguided Hollywood blockbusters that would turn into conspiracy theories; one third spent on wistful tales of his time as a filmmaker, including sexual exploits done with a wink because it was just so CUTE AND NAUGHTY, RIGHT!? What a mischievous scamp!!

The final third of the time, he’d walk down in front of the podium, take the two steps down to the next level where a small table and chair was, slip his shoes off, sit “Indian” style with his crotch front-and-center and pick out anyone he thought had stopped paying attention to grill them on obscure, philosophical questions about cinematography or the dreadful assigned reading for the week.

His name is lost to me…Perhaps I blocked it out because he was also super sleazy and bummed cigarettes off of the students (rotating who it was) when we smoked in the stairwell (since it was too cold to go outside and we were up so high in the building), sneering at the brand if it was anything other than American Spirits. If they were his preferred brand, he’d crouch down to sit down on a step, as he fell into silence, with his eyes closed in feigned orgasmic glee. Then, he’d actually moan.

I should remember him since he taught me how to navigate infuriating and indulgent personalities, roadblocks to any kind of success in a career, and the ability to find ways to turn those challenges–delivered via disdain, of course–into success. Smashing the demands from him when he thought I wasn’t paying attention, by answering his questions in an equally confrontational manner, delivering stellar project work on difficult-to-watch obscure movies and acing the course.

And if I gave him the benefit of the doubt? That maybe it was all a lesson swaddled around a seemingly impossible and somewhat arbitrary course. A lesson that you would encounter people even worse in the film industry, so develop a thicker hide, honey.


But, did he have to be so gross about it?


How to Establish the Message for 2015

For 2015, I want to pick a verb as a form of action for my resolutions instead of a laundry list of how to improve myself or sweep out the ashes.  It’s so easy to just say you’re going to do something and to have it be perfectly expected to fail since “everyone else does” only to move on to the next year and do it all over again.

It will be an annual tradition, starting this year, so I chose “connect.”  It wasn’t solely because I’ll be joined with my BF in holy matrimony by the mid-point of the year.  I had to pick a word with a quality that didn’t automatically take a direct object, one that possibly only involved the subject.  There are no rules, per se, but to me it was important to ponder over it enough that it had to have multiple meanings and could not be passive.

Last year, I set up a playing field, with my career, that made it easier to move onward and upward in the second year.  A one-year plan started to feel too rushed and when you deal with other people’s schedules and the cycle of when job opportunities arrive it created panic.  What actions had to be done, right away, or what I needed to learn the most, so that way the second year of the plan, it was easier to wreck it in just the right away?  Not wreck my potential for a better-paying job, but destroy those expectations, methods, and illusions that were unhealthy.

And then it was obvious what created momentum came from new people, new relationships, new connections.  Old friends, far away in various cities across the country, who kept me in their world or were pleased to share with me their new arena and dreams, made me feel it was okay to reconnect.   The support felt so great and new opportunities arrived because of it.  I opened up to new people and saw they rolled out a bridge to escape to a more exciting future.

Life takes on more meaning for me with writing, art, reading and love when I connect.  Transfer to the page with my thoughts; join up with the mood of whatever I’m painting or sculpting; to couple up with new and old favorite literature; to join with my fiance for a lifetime.

“I don’t understand how the last card is played
But somehow the vital connection is made”

Read more: Elastica – Connection Lyrics | MetroLyrics

What I Felt This Morning

In an email to my fiance, I wrote the following re: a dream that split me in two:
“We were traveling to a place with a beach and I carried a heavy dress in my arms while our tour guide took us to all the places along the coast, close to our hotel, that we could visit throughout our trip.

This tour guide then took me aside to say that we had to go on a special trip for the rest of the day.  You would stay behind.

We suddenly were at my grandma’s house, empty of people and stripped of the carpet and any upholstered furniture, but full of new furniture and/or re-imagined pieces of furniture en media reas…We were joined by this man’s (who turned out to be a interior designer) assistant, a woman around the same age as me, and we slowly went through each room.
He pointed out how different the space looked; how beautiful this piano was; how glorious the light hit the hutch in the dining room; how he’d had my dad re-do the organ with stained glass pieces incorporated into not just the sides, but the keys.  Each time he’d press a key, it would glow.
It was quiet and it was life on an alien planet through some wormhole from my past.  I could see myself, as a ten year-old, reading in the smallest bedroom upstairs when we walked by it and I could see myself, as a four year-old, splashing in the tub.  We crept into the master bedroom and I saw the designer and his assistant exchange a look.

It was the bedroom of my grandma’s present.  The old dressers removed, the side tables gone and just a mattress on the floor.  Not even a box spring;  just a mattress, old comforters and mismatched pillows that were sprinkled with stale cookie crumbs.  The sight of that bed made me cry.  At the loneliness of it and the solitude she had to feel each night, going to bed without my grandpa and all of her life–via furniture–in disarray.

Obviously, in that moment, they explained that she was gone.  She was dead and my parents couldn’t bear to tell me or even talk about it.  So, now it was up to me to take care of everything.  To take care of the house, to help this designer and his staff re-model the entire house, including the furniture, and sell it.  If it turned out successfully, the next project would be in Italy.

There was a letter which explained what I was to do and that my grandmother left me this house to start the next chapter of my life.  My life would be the re-creation of space and to literally reorganize my past in order to reflect my present.  That process would develop into my future.

I don’t have to tell you that when I woke up, it took me awhile to adjust to the fact that the day had started.  And I don’t have to tell you that I cried.  Because throughout all of the dream I didn’t feel sad.  I felt that I had a purpose again and that this was a gift from my family to realize that.

So, a friend of mine from Chicago, who has now moved back to NW Ohio and created her own art-related non-profit spoke about fear.  That because she faced the fear in her personal and professional life, she experienced failure, but through that failure, she found a life she was proud of and “how important it is to have someone to push you past your fear because when you have a healthy sense of vulnerability, true happiness can be gained.”

This is probably a dream to use as a lifeline and I know that to include a space somehow for my heart in its potential and creativity to be full again.  My heart is full of you and our life, but I want it to be full of possibility, too, if that makes sense.”
It’s hard to type this at work, surrounded by a corporate specificity, but I felt as though I’d forget this delicate feeling if I didn’t get it out there…A token to keep going, to appreciate what I have and to have confidence in what I will be.

External Reflects Internal

After I read through the last post, I realized just how much of an excuse maker I’ve become.  I haven’t embraced myself, faults and all; it is always someone  or something else’s fault.  Why haven’t I gone forward in my career?  Clearly, it’s the corporate mindset and its inanity of the day-to-day.  Why haven’t I felt as healthy as I possibly can?  I can’t afford to attend the yoga classes or the expensive grocery lists (eating healthy is hard, guys!) or the outdoors affects me in such a way I can’t do it (allergies, am I right?).

I’d like to accept what my life is and to know what I want out of it.  I’d like to be more patient and to move forward with that presence of mind that there will be a glorious result for me.  I’d like to understand who I am completely and be plugged into that journey in all of its surprises.

I take two steps and pause, not to reflect, but to look around and see that I’ve only gone two steps.  That’s it?  That’s all there is right now?  But, I’ve done so much by now.  Why does it take this long?  Because when you’ve been treading water your whole entire life you expect to shoot forward like a jet ski; to zoom past the failures, annoyances and setbacks once and for all.  Except, I’ve lost exactly how to look around and see that it’s pretty damn good from here and it will only get better.

Can you celebrate life even in the midst of a crisis?  Can you stop whining for a moment about everything that is supposedly unfair and realize your awareness is a gift?

I looked around and found this to hold on to:

If we can live life consciously and authentically—understanding that things do not happen to us, but rather for us—we can use everything that comes in to our as experience to our benefit. We can locate all the barriers that keep us from beauty, love, abundance, intimacy, joy, and good health.–Erin Lanahan/tiny buddha

Tell Me Something Good

There was something that happened over this past weekend with my family–my mom, dad, brother and sister-in-law–that has really put me at a standstill with my progress in our relationship.  A point, just a few months ago to be exact, my brother had a breakdown of sorts, and he had to be checked into a psychiatric ward, in which the staff helped him find a better medication and better ways to deal with stress at work and home.  I wasn’t there for that, because they are all two hours away, but my parents and I were in constant contact.  It opened up or at least shed light on a possibility of what our relationship and methods of communication with each other would be; to be more open and honest and to start a dialogue, in the moment, despite how uncomfortable it felt, was the goal.

We promised it had to change.  It did, for a very short and temporary time, but it made it easier to move on in a healthier way for all of us.  Because I’d been in therapy both one-on-one with a counselor and in a new group therapy session for other women with ADHD, it was something that I was constantly aware of and obviously, to be that open made me much more vulnerable to any new and unexpected change.  However, it did not prepare me for things to go back to what they were before; to be quiet and to be as contained and as private as possible (I say as waspy as possible) with everything again.

This bled over into what our wedding next year would mean.  Before this recent revelation–same as it ever was–what we wanted to share with friends and family, in terms of who we were as people, what we meant to one another and what our new family would look like went back to a feeling of uncertainty.  In our minds, a sense of pride and happiness was the ultimate outcome; this would influence our creation of this special event.  I felt a little trepidation, sure, and a little gun-shy about the possibility of a conversation with them about my recent diagnosis with adult ADHD.

The fear was there, only I knew it had to be shared, as it ultimately could create a sense of togetherness moving forward with this whole process.  What it meant to me personally, if they noticed any patterns during childhood, or ways we’ve communicated that made it pretty clear what I had, was something I actually looked forward to, despite how terrifying it felt.  We talked about it in my group in the weeks leading up to Mother’s Day weekend.  How to prepare, the talking points, what to share, what to keep back and share later, and what the overall sentiment should be, kept the door open for this conversation.

The week of, in the days after group, there were a couple instances that completely slammed that door shut.  And it was not because I was gun-shy about that particular subject.  I saw so many possibilities arise for miscommunication, and saw moments of passive aggressive behavior about such insignificant details in travel plans, times, the methods of communication, inserted into what they HAD to do because of my disregard.  The framing of all this was the reasoning, “because of your brother” and “well, your brother and ___” to excuse these little slights toward my character. 

I realized again that the opportunity to be open about ADHD would not be received in such a way and it never happened.  The weekend was okay, and I held back many times to just make it easier to get through the rest of the time I had there.  It was nice and I could point out positive things, but when you have something in mind to happen and it’s so important, and you know it isn’t possible, it only makes you feel stunted.

Now, I can’t shake those hurt feelings; the fact a great opportunity was taken away (my decision and it was a good one) to just make things easier for everyone.  That is our standard and it will change at some point, yet it does make you feel like the level of progress you thought you had made in yourself, the forward momentum and the slow building up of the self-esteem, isn’t as much as you thought it was…I am so controlled because I have to be, at certain times and with certain people.  Only, why do I translate that into most other areas of my life?

My work interaction, my professional life, my writing, my Art, contained a hesitation to share completely who I am, what I’ve become, what my goals and dreams were and that was present enough that it made the decision to not share anything with my family so much easier.  That was when it came to me and my life, though.  When it came to my brother, the door opened a couple of years ago with his mental disorder diagnosis and stayed opened.  Jealousy played a part, in that I felt I couldn’t be vulnerable or show a (perceived) weakness.  I had to be in control and confirm who I was to them; their expectations of me remained intact.

What does this mean about my wedding?  What do I mean as an adult to them?  Can I change this in time to be able to talk about this openly at any point in the future before the stress levels kick into high gear and I just won’t be able to deal?  My mom did settle in, at some point over the 24 hours I was up north, and requested for me to “tell her something good.”  What that means needs to change…

No Silver or Gold, Just Solid Craftsmanship

The fact that this question is one that not only haunts me, but itches at various friends and family, and even though we yawn into adulthood, it never goes away:

“Why do I have so trouble making and keeping friends?”

I don’t take it as personally, now, because I’m in the process of self exploration to tap into the reserves of my creativity, productivity, and personal accomplishments.  I look around at social circles and some of them overlap, but generally we (sometimes unconsciously and mostly consciously) keep them apart from each other.  I notice that I do that to satisfy very specific aspects of my personality, like the maintenance of a cafeteria table from long, long ago in my head.

There are few people I connect with on all levels–which is why my fiance makes the most sense to me now as a partner for life—and I reach a saturation point with friends sooner than later.  It has nothing to do with her or him, of course; my brain just has a knock at its door and I have to answer it.  The sound means I need to escape back into solitude for just a little awhile before easing back for more social interaction.

What does it mean that I like the type of friend from whom you can tiptoe away due to life, love and work circumstances, and return a few days, a few months, a few years, and pick up again?  The implication isn’t pure selfishness; I just want to be open to life and its ever-changing nature.  When you truly know someone, the ‘catch up/elevator/how’s the weather?’ talk is unnecessary or strictly temporary before you dive back into why you feel neglected by your family, sometimes, or how on earth do you paint hands so well, dammit?

We females need a sense of comfort and not necessarily a shoulder to cry on always, only someone  Life stops its junior-high type rhythms into our twenties when we know that there is something meaningful for us or in the way we couldn’t care less about who sees our visible panty-line at work or the kind of booze we like as much as we want or that tucking our children in with just two books YOU want to read before bedtime is the highlight of the year.

A friend is who we need her and want her to be at various times and when she is not, to know that it’s okay to try again in another way or expect that you will still be who she needs you to be and to try the next time it’s important for her.  The next time I find myself wrapped up in what is or isn’t about a friendship with someone means I’m either reading too much into it or that she’ll be an overlap friend because that is how we connect.

People Who Have It

I met a person on Friday night, which happened to be the first day of taking a new medication for my ADHD.  This time it’s a stimulant and really something to get used to if you’ve never had anything like it before, and I wasn’t sure how to incorporate it with the way I ate, the way I drank, the way I talk to people–my social interactions–all of that.  I felt so much uncertainty about what to do with so many things and whether or not this type of medication would be a positive thing or if it would be more proof that I needed to incorporate more natural ways to combat it, in order to feel better.  To feel myself again on a regular basis.

So, then, by happenstance, we were outside of a local move theater/bar, on a break from watching the NBA playoffs, and my fiance, a friend and I discussed blockbusters and the nature of them. How did it compare to what it felt like when we were little, growing up and was it really all that different?  Was it that we were more naive or more open?  Were we really more cynical than kids today?

This became a conversation with a stranger, standing close by, about the way that different blockbusters are represented on the big screen, and why some directors/screenwriters/actors were brave enough to show something that was a little more complicated, more gray, morality-wise, than the movies who portrayed superheroes who saved the world over and over again–to then be re-booted and shown in practically the same way less than ten years later.  (Hints on what movie played at the theater?)  Gradually, we turned it to what defined a sociopath, or a psychopath, and do they represent well onscreen?  In that, do they need to be tweaked and made a little more fuzzy-wuzzy, so that way it wasn’t so intimidating for the audience?

To encounter something so complicated in the form of supposed entertainment isn’t likely to be what they looked for in the summer time and it wasn’t an escape to a cool, dark place, safe from the boiling outdoors.  I opened up about personal situations from my past and if either one of us knew someone who suffered from these tendencies and how that exposure stimulated various symptoms of ADHD throughout our lives.

It turned out that we were the same age, that we had the same kind of romantic interactions and self-discovery:  attempts to rescue men from sociopathic behavior, to save boyfriends as our love was so strong and pure, potent enough to render a “sick” man well again.  We weren’t allowed to be selfish because someone had to be freed from the chains of mental illness; our ADHD tendencies shoved under the rug because the relationship forced us to be otherwise.  When the relationships inevitably imploded, the aftermath was an absolute feeling of blindness frozen in a place black and far, far away.

Now that I’ve had to be so reflective about my past and present, I haven’t stopped thinking about myself and what I had to do to feel 100% myself again.  What was obvious from this interaction is that this medication created a moment for me to surrender to and to feel confident.  That I interacted with intelligence because I heard what he had to say, reflected, and actually responded.  I didn’t wait with a rising tide of impatience for him to finish, so I could talk, and therefore not hear what he said.  In other words, I had a conversation with a smart person about a fascinating topic and we became friends in that moment.  It was a comfort, a joy (and even liberating) to know that I could still make new friends and that I understood how to communicate and talk to people again.

Part of it was the way that the “happy” hormones/chemicals flooded my brain and the beer and pretzels helped, too.  The knowledge that to feel this way was normal?  It was a nice change of pace and something I haven’t felt in a very long time in that context.  Friday night was a lesson that I am headed in the right direction.  Everything that I’ve done, the steps I took to get to this point, and the hard work I’ve put into have led to something good…