Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I Made You Something Sappy

I’ve been doing a lot of changing in the many months since my last post... I’m taking some time off enforced artistic production and am now heading toward a study of anthropology. I’m trying not to see myself as incredibly flaky - which this decision no doubt appears to be on the surface. I’ve been interested in the nature of culture for ages, and have always said it’s what I’d go to grad school for, if anything. (Strangely enough, despite my test scores and complicated interests, I’ve never really considered myself much of an academic...) I’m also eating better and trying desperately to work out instead of taking naps. More than anything else, right now, I’m trying very hard to appreciate what I’ve got: to notice the positive and accept the negative without blowing it out of proportion, personalizing it, or letting it inspire my internal monologue. Gratitude, I think, is key.


I painted this a few years ago. It’s the last oil painting I completed. I did it the fall after I realized a) someone I cared about was completely embarrassed by my obvious and totally appropriate affection and b) I had no place in the lives of some of the people who were most important to me. Or, rather, an extremely peripheral place. As it should be, really, since we’re not actually located anywhere near each other most of the time. It was just strangely shocking to me suddenly when I was painting this. I had never really considered myself lonely before.

Still, nothing to be done about it. I kept going to work until they laid me off. I kept talking to the same people and trying to be relevant to something or someone. I went back to school and hated it. Kept showing up, in case perseverance was the secret to happiness as well as success. I rededicated myself at the beginning of the semester, only to burn out by midterms and finally, last spring, just completely gave up all pretense. I never let myself think that I wasn’t happy because I was mistaken about what would make me happy in the first place. I hate wasting time, I hate wasting time, I hate wasting time, and that’s all I’ve been doing. All of it. If i opened my eyes to that thought - if I really LOOKED at it, I’d go absolutely crazy.

And then I noticed a pattern. I would randomly get unsolicited support from strangers that I took rather seriously. I always filed it under “signs I’m supposed to produce art.” Looking back, the discussions were usually about art, but the message was never limited to art. “Do what you love.” “If it scares you, you’re on the right track.” “Life can’t be about attaining wealth for everyone. Some people have to dream. Someone’s got to overthink the possibilities.” (The last was my favorite. It is the kindest description for being a neurotic worrywart with an active fantasy life I’ve ever heard!) All of these brilliant, encouraging messages, coming out of moving stories told to me by strangers and friends of friends - and it took me an entire day of wondering how I’d missed the point for so very long before I realized that it was all bullshit anyway.

Ok, not bullshit. A stranger comes up to you and says “Beware the Ides of March” and maybe it’s memorable and remarkable. It’s supposed to be, right? It’s no surprise that when someone you just met encourages you, you take note, you take heart, your hopefulness increases. The world is beautiful if strangers can be so supportive without agenda or expectation!

Or, it turns out, any practical knowledge of you and your journey.
No wait - maybe that actually makes it less impressive....

It’s all well and good to show up in someone’s life for five minutes and prop a few buttresses around their dream, but it lacks something. Substance, maybe. Reliability? If you rest your goals on random input, you can’t expect them to be firmly supported for the duration. I mean, duh, right?

That’s when I noticed another pattern. My friends - the very ones I felt so distant and unimportant to -had been offering me random, unsolicited support all along. The difference was they knew what layers of crap I had to wade through to even have dreams. They knew the baggage I carried. They weren’t always tolerant, and weren’t always attentive - they had their own things to worry about, but still, day after day, one or more of them would show up and either openly support me, or actively get out of my way so I could do whatever I needed to do.

Thanks to Chikara, I have a friend I can rely on to drag me along on wild imaginings and unexpected twists of wit. I have someone who can sympathize with my disappointments and who will always listen to me no matter how obnoxiously self involved I manage to be. She’s the one to challenge my ideas of appropriate behavior and to force me to put some of my more liberal ideas on self expression into action. We draw cocks. We sing stupid songs in public. We giggle about boys like teenagers (or maybe cougars...). She taught me that playing and pushing the boundaries don’t need to be different things. She’s always there with a “You’re pretty and not off-puttingly crazy” message in my twitter whenever I need one. Thank you, my chikadee.

Angie has always been there for me, except for those times we broke up and didn’t speak to each other. She’s treated me like family even when she had no idea what i was talking about. If I go to her with some big stupid drama thing that’s almost entirely in my own head, she will listen, look completely confunded for a few seconds and then say something that proves that she was not only listening, but trying to be helpful. Whether what she says is or not, it’s always surprisingly effective to know that someone cares enough to stretch their mind for a solution to one’s nonsense. Thank you, Ang, for always doing your best and being an excellent friend, even though I appear to be from another planet sometimes.

Today I complained that the autoparts guy didn’t install my headlight bulb for me, and Jack sent me a text message offering to walk me through the steps. I can’t count how many times he’s just randomly dropped into a conversation with “You’re lovely and if you need me to kill anyone, just say the word.” Knowing I’m not the hugest fan of books on tape (they’re growing on me), but knowing his own preference for them during long drives, he’s chosen to listen to my favorite book during the trip to Dragon*con, despite the fact that he considers me quite sisterly and the book is, at best, rather erotic in nature. (Kushiel’s Dart. Read it. It’s beautiful.) We have some marvelous and dramatic memories that I’m glad to share with him, even if they didn’t always turn out as we’d hoped. Cause at the end of the day, Jack is there for the people he chooses to care about. I’m forever grateful to be one of his.

My gorgeous and talented friend Jamiemarich is always an adventure. Even if we’re just sitting around watching sitcoms, something substantial will resonate out from the discussion or observations. Mostly it makes us laugh, but after lives like ours, with personalities such as ours, laughter is the most important thing we can give each other. Laughter, honesty, support - these are things I associate with Jamie. She recently invited me to travel with her. Claims she wants to help me see the world a bit. She knows I often get wrapped up into my own small space and only get the chance to look out through my web browser. She’s generous and loving and has taught me that there’s no limit on what you can accomplish if you’re willing to work; that dark nights are as necessary and beautiful as the brightest days; and that some friends you don’t need to see all the time to know they’ll show up with insight and compassion when it’s important. Thank you, sweetie.

Amber and Emily I speak to mostly through twitter, with occasional journeys into their territory to frolic and bond over odd things like noteworthy bone structure and pre-raphaelite art. They have also both sent me messages referring to my physical beauty - a thing that happens rarely enough with such specificity that I printed the words out and hung them on my wall so I won’t forget. Amber has a way of setting a person at ease. It’s easy to be comfortable with her and very easy to take her at her word. When she tells me I’m beautiful, I can’t not believe her. The same is true of Emily, in a lot of ways, only less with the comfortable and more with the keenly observant. If she tells me I’m beautiful, it’s probably because she’s done the math concerning the symmetry of my face or something. I’m willing to trust that she not only wouldn’t waste her time saying things she didn’t mean, but that she could probably defend her position on a given topic with supportive texts and scientific data. She also thinks I’m smart, and I can’t even tell you how much that means to me. I love my girls.

That’s not all, either! My friends are my friends for reasons too numerous to list in a single blog entry. They’ve all been there when I needed, or said things at the perfect time for me to make a connection I may not have otherwise. They’ve all listened to me complain, been my sounding board or my cuddle prop or my shoulder. I can only aspire to give back or pass on the love and support I’ve received. And occasionally offer a sincere thank you, along with my continued devotion. Thank you, my wonderful friends. I love you very much.