24 December 2011

Torn Between Two Archetypes

On the one hand there is the man who has a specific skill set at which he is brilliant but causes him to be rather megalomaniacal. He has tunnel vision, ignoring the things, the people, the situations that don't fit into his small view. But within that small, specific world he inhabits he is master. No one can compete and that makes him dangerous to others and, more especially, to himself. 

On the other hand is his friend or accomplice or partner or companion, a man who is equally or nearly as equally brilliant as the other, but with a wider world view that means his brilliance is more diffuse, used in more areas and therefore seen, especially by the first man, as less-than. This second man sees value in humanity and society, respects the conventions of society and social morality more, and lives accordingly. He is, however, drawn to the experiences and adventures inherent in the life of the first man and his dismissal of these same conventions and morality. He also acts as the voice of reason and morality in the actions of the first man, a check to his impulsive myopia. 

Half the shows and movies I watch play with these archetypes. Psych, Sherlock (the BBC series), House, Sherlock Holmes (the movies), White Collar, Burn Notice, and even Doctor Who. I think the reason I like the shows so much is that I'm torn between the archetypes. I can't decide who I like better, who I would ultimately choose. Shawn or Gus, Neal or Peter, Sherlock or Watson, the Doctor or Rory. On the one hand, the brilliant, myopic man lives an adventurous life, an extraordinary life away from the mundane. However, there is no room for the ordinary, for the relationships or the day-to-day that must be lived and can be extraordinary.  There would be no possibility of a relationship with him, as that is exactly the sort of mundanity he dismisses because it doesn't fit into his world view.

On the other, the reasonable, more conventional man appreciates the ordinary in life and understands how the small and the mundane can be beautiful and extraordinary in its own way. He would actually see the value in a relationship. Although we might both be more drawn to the extraordinary and adventuresome ways of the first man than either of us would care to admit.

Perhaps I just want to BE the friend or accomplice or partner or companion. A female Watson. That would be the best of both worlds; I wouldn't have to choose. Which is why, I suppose, I love Doctor Who so very much. There is a constantly rotating cast of Watsons, mostly female, who get the opportunity to enjoy their time with a brilliant, myopic, extraordinary individual and have amazing adventures. If only a madman in blue box would arrive on my doorstep. I can worry about adjusting to life post-adventures later.

27 November 2011

Thanksgiving Family Fun

I got to spend Thanksgiving with my brother and his family. It was a lot of fun and nice to have some down time where I didn't have to do anything. I spent most of the time playing with/spoiling (depending on who you are asking) my nieces. They are so big now! Bug likes to ask questions and discuss all the important things that adults never think about but are of utmost importance to three year-olds. Baby Bee doesn't talk yet, but that is because she has Bug and everyone else to talk for her. But she always knows exactly what is going on and is very good at expressing her displeasure should it not be what she wants going on. We had an adventure on Friday getting a gargantuan Christmas tree for their house. They also found a fun train to go under the Christmas tree that delighted the girls. Here are some pictures of the girls being themselves. In between the games of Can't Catch Me and You Stole My Chair which consisted of me chasing them and throwing them in the air, which wore me out, but didn't seem to phase them.

Bug giving me her best 'cheese' face.

Funny faces for the camera.

A more contemplative moment between funny faces.

Baby Bee gave this coy face every time I took the camera out. She definitely knows a secret she isn't telling.

The coy look through safety glasses.

Someone wants a turn behind the camera.

Their hugs always look like someone is getting strangled.

Showing their excitement over the Christmas tree and train.

More celebrating about the tree and train.

See what I mean about the strangle hugs?

21 September 2011

Responsible Is Sometimes A Four-Letter Word

Many years ago, during my sophomore year in college, I was horribly offended by a roommate's boyfriend. Unbeknownst to him, of course. My roommate said they were discussing our apartment and somehow started assigning them familial roles. Her boyfriend said I was like the mother of the apartment. I was not pleased. To my 20 year-old self this was most unfortunate. No one wants to be known as 'motherly' at the age of 20. I assumed it meant I was frumpy, overly responsible, and bossy. None of these are known to attract members of the opposite sex.

Flash forward to today. After a full day of subbing, I came home to find we only had one roll of toilet paper. After eating and taking a moment (or a couple hours) to relax, I cleaned up the kitchen, took out the garbage and recycling, and ran to the store for the aforementioned toilet paper, paper towels, and milk. As I was pulling into my complex's apartment, I noticed that my roommate who had come in as I was leaving had not bothered to close the front door. I was in the middle of grabbing my bags and grumbling about the open door when I realized I had again become the mother of my apartment. Maybe I never stopped.

05 September 2011

The Advantage of Gaining Perspective and Having the Spirit

Re-reading my last post, I realize it is bleaker than I intended. I was in a fairly self-pitying, Eyeore-ish state of mind that is now captured forever in Friday's post. The thing is, I'm not generally like that. I'm generally a happy person, even with as frustrating as my life is at the moment. This is a prime example of how one tiny little straw can break the camel's back and then the camel focuses on all the other straw that came before it and suddenly all the camel can see is a pile of horrible things that have accumulated. With that kind of obsessive focus, it all looks wrong and sad.

Yes, there are quite a few things that I want, that I feel are good things to want, that I do not have. Yes, I have wanted most of them for a while now and it is getting exhausting to keep looking forward and moving forward without seeing them on the horizon. And yes, when I think about it, I feel like a huge loser for being almost 33, underemployed, and unable to support myself. It is easy to compare myself to friends who are building careers, families, houses, futures really, that I am not able to build right now. That comparative mindset is easy to get into and hard to get out of without help.

Thankfully, I have wonderful friends and family who both sympathize and kindly suggest I get outside of my own head. Additionally, I have my faith, my covenants, the scriptures, and the gift of the Holy Ghost to also kindly, but firmly, suggest I stop feeling sorry for myself and get to work. Yesterday morning, as I was preparing for my Primary lesson, I was reading in 3 Nephi 18 and was struck by a scripture that I had never really paid attention to before. Christ is visiting the Nephites and is praying for them. The first prayer He gives, which I do remember, asks that the Holy Ghost be given to His disciples and those who believe on their words. The second prayer He gives asks that His disciples be purified and that those who believe on their words also be purified. That passage made me think about what it means to be purified. It is not an easy process. Purifying water takes intense heat and/or very strong chemicals. Purifying metals takes even more intense heat and requires the melting of the metal. These are not pleasant processes for the water or the metal. Neither is the purification of the soul.

These trials and tribulations I'm being asked to go through are not punishments nor are they meant to make me feel lost or alone. They are meant to purify me. The only reason I feel punished, lost, or alone, is because I lose perspective and forget to ask for help in keeping that perspective. Having perspective does not make the trials disappear, nor does it make them suddenly lighter or easier; it does, however, make the burden bearable. It makes it possible for me to stand up, brush myself off, and move forward knowing that at some point I will a) see the reason behind them and b) see the fruits of my moving forward in faith. It may take decades or it may be next month, but at some point I will know it has all been worth it, rather than just believing it now.

So yes, I will probably still feel like the last person invited to join the members-only country club that is adulthood and I will probably still whine about it at times. But I'll also be moving forward, focused on my faith and (hopefully) less obsessed with the pile of trials I'm sifting through.

02 September 2011

Accumulated Realizations

I will be the first to point out that I am not happy tonight. In fact, I am grumpy and sad and angry about things over which I have no control. I am also being extremely ungrateful by being so after having so many prayers answered with my niece's safe surgery and fast recovery. However, the following are things I have realized or learned that I'm not exactly thrilled about.

  • Months of work in property management have illustrated that there are loads of obnoxious, loud, insufferable, entitled people who can't be bothered to live by the simplest of social norms or act like adults, but seem to have no consequences or repercussions because they are loud and insufferable enough to get their way a majority of the time.
  • At the age of 32, I do not want to be living with three roommates. One roommate, tops. I like my space.
  • It isn't the active rejection that makes these single years so difficult. In those cases it is easy to get angry, indulge in ice cream, angry girl music, and rants to long-suffering friends and then get over it. It is the years of passive rejection in which no one shows a bit of interest that wear me down. It eats at my confidence and my hope like no other.
  • I am apparently not destined to work at a job I enjoy or that pays a living wage.
  • Arthur Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet was once removed from a school reading list in Virginia because of its depiction of Mormons as kidnappers and women-enslavers.
  • "No mater what" and "Thy will be done" are some of the hardest phrases in the English language. Especially when those phrases encompass the realization that there is only the steep and difficult path in front of one and that there is no way of knowing if it just stays that way until the end or if there might be some happy days ahead.

28 July 2011

Lather. Rinse. Repeat

It's like having deja vu all over again. An unused degree that took longer than most to get, check. Underemployed at an office job that is irrelevant to my chosen field, check. Feeling destined to a disappointing and unfulfilled life, check. Honestly, this is precisely how I felt nine years ago when I graduated with my bachelor's degree. I had hoped that this time around things would be different. I had hoped to find a job as a middle school teacher. Obviously that can still happen, but I have a deeply-rooted paranoia that I will be stuck going from office job to office job, unable to get teaching experience because I need a steady income, and constantly rejected for that lack of teaching experience. I spent most of the six years between my bachelor's degree and graduate school miserable and working at dead-end jobs I didn't care about. I don't want that again. At all. The office is not for me. I love the feeling of being in a classroom, of working with students, of collaborating with other teachers, of channeling the excitement of learning and the power of knowing. That is what I want and I am extremely frustrated that I can't find it. Now I feel like a hamster on a wheel, having expended a lot of resources thinking I was getting somewhere and then realizing I'm in the same exact place I started. It is not a happy feeling.

The life-on-repeat feeling isn't only applicable in my working life. I'm tired of watching successive generations of friends build careers and families and leave me behind, either physically or metaphorically. I'm tired of being the dependable friend who is there when people need me, but rarely included in the fun stuff. I'm tired of friends who disappear when dating someone and then reappear seeking consolation when it doesn't work out. I would really like not to feel stuck on the side of the road while everyone flies by, headed for the future at 60 mph. 

I don't want to sound ungrateful, as there are a lot of good things in my life and I am a happy person. I haven't always been this happy; it has been a battle to get happy and I don't want that fight to be in vain. It is just hard for a worry-wart overachiever like me to wait, to stop, to be patient. 

11 July 2011

Stuff Happened

'Tis a while since I posted anything to my blog, which means this will probably be a quick run down of stuff until I disappear again into my random busyness. Quite a bit has been going on, I just haven't felt much like talking about it until tonight, mostly through laziness, if truth be told. Also, there isn't a unifying thread or connection between anything other that it is my life, so welcome to my disjointed life.

In March I was sick of the dwindling amount of clothing in my closet that I could actually fit into, so I joined Weight Watchers. It is a surprisingly easy and flexible system and since a) I am paying for it and b) the computer does all my thinking, I follow it. In the last seventeen weeks I've managed to lose 25lbs. Which is on the awesome side, as I can wear much more of my wardrobe now and have even had to buy new jeans. Which is actually a huge chore I do not feel like repeating anytime soon, but is better than accidentally pantsing oneself in public.

This spring I learned that I did not grow out of my childhood response to hospitals of faintness and nausea when I nearly passed out in my niece's hospital room after she had surgery. For future reference, I do not do well in hospitals and will be happy to help out in any other way and at any other location. Which means I will be serving some other function when my niece has another surgery in August.

In June I managed to get my Master's paper finished and turned in and I officially graduated. Although it is again with a degree in a field that is shrinking job-wise. So, good times. I did have an interview with the school I student taught at, but they went with someone with several years of experience. It was pretty disheartening and sent me into a spiral of thinking I will be relegated (again) to hated office jobs. Also, I now have no idea where I will be in August. I might just end up an old spinster living in my brother's basement because I am working minimum wage jobs and trying to pay off student loans I racked up for a degree I am (again) not able to use. This is not a happy place to be, mentally, but it is where I am. Also, writing cover letters is of the devil. This requirement for a job fills me with angst and loathing directly proportional to how much I actually want the job. Pressure equals writing block and I end up stymied and racing down a depressing spiral of psychological torment imagining all the ways I am not qualified for the position and how hysterical the HR people will find my cover letter and resume. I realize this is toxic headspace, but I'm not sure how to get out of it.

This headspace is not helped by the fact I found a summer job at a property management company. While the people who work in the office are lovely and nice, there is at least one person each day who feels it necessary to be horrid. Which is ridiculous, because being horrid removes any incentive on my part to help them. Sadly, these people have learned that if one is awful enough, people will give in just to stop having to deal with one. Blech. But hey, I have a pay check for the first time in three years and an opportunity to save some money for the impending payment of student loans.

Finally, the loss of weight mentioned above has highlighted another piece of my life with which I am not entirely happy. While lots of women have commented on my appearance and been complimentary, it has done nothing with regard to male interest in me. Ever since I hit puberty and started realizing I looked nothing like what everyone said was beautiful, I thought if I would only lose weight, I would get dates. I thought that what was holding me back was being fat. Apparently it isn't the only thing. I'm not finished losing weight, but the magnitude of the physical changes only underscore the lack of change in my social life. Sometimes I wish I had a male friend close enough to just sit down and ask what is so off-putting or repellant about me and then take that information and decide what was worth working on and what wasn't. There are things I'm not going to change. I'm not going to be less opinionated, I'm not going to act less intelligent, or in any way pretend to be less than. But there are some things I could work on. I think. I hope.

19 April 2011

Obsessions and Overthinking

As you may have noticed from the massive quote on my sidebar, I have been reading Alexander McCall Smith. I started reading The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency in February as a way to pass the time. I loved the unfamiliar setting (Botswana) and the wonderfully drawn Precious Ramotswe, the first lady detective in Botswana's capital city. I plowed through the first three books in the series in a matter of weeks (the fourth is on my floor waiting to be started), finding them at a fantastic local used bookshop. In addition to the endearing characters and fascinating setting, I was drawn to McCall Smith's writing. Despite being a detective and dealing with some of the ugly sides of the human experience, there is something so joyful and enjoyable about Mma Ramotswe and her life. I wanted to read more of McCall's writing, so I picked up The Sunday Philosophy Club at my public library. While this series is set a continent away in Edinburgh, Scotland and focuses on a privileged philosopher and editor of the Review of Applied Ethics who gets involved in solving others' problems and mysteries out of a sense of what she calls 'moral obligation, the same spirit inhabited the books. As I was reading, I finally found the adjective to describe McCall Smith's writing: gentle. 

What I love about these books is the consideration and gentleness with which McCall Smith treats his characters and their lives. Even though the two women that lead the two series are often dealing with humanity's individual and collective faults, frailties, and foibles, the ugliness is not passed onto the reader. In most of the cases, the characters involved are treated with respect, compassion, and the recognition that no one is perfect and everyone messes up. To give forgiveness to others is a duty because the main characters (and we the readers) need it too. I feel this is missing from the majority of modern fiction and life in general. Like the quote on the sidebar states, we have lost something as a society. We are assertive, aggressive, and constantly in one another's face. That takes its toll. If we could remember kindness, compassion, understanding, and forgiveness we could all benefit. I love that his writing reflects that in such a subtle and un-didactic way.

While I relish The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series for transporting me to a far-off land and a life completely different from my own, I derive a much deeper pleasure from The Sunday Philosophy Club series and its heroine, Isabel Dalhousie. In Isabel I feel I have found a kindred spirit. A reserved woman who overthinks everything and, under the weight of her sense of moral obligation, feels an enormous amount of self-doubt and guilt. She is imperfect, self-sacrificing to a fault, prone to long inner monologues about what is the right way to act, and long inner debates over the discrepancy between what she wants to do and what she should do. Because of this she tends to not say what she feels and do what is best for others. This is how she ends up shouldering the burden of others' problems. Additionally, she has the endearing habit of exploring topics thoroughly, long after her conversational partners have tired of the subject. And she has a flair for making random and difficult-to-follow connections that lead to charming, if confusing, non sequiturs. While I'm not in my early forties nor in love with a man a decade younger than myself who is also my niece's ex-boyfriend (my niece is not nearly old enough for such things, nor will she be when I am 42. Thankfully), I do recognize the overthinking, the self-doubt, the guilt, the inner monologues and dialogues, the cluttered conversing, and the unspoken want for the wrong person (even if he is quite fantastic in his own way). It is rare for me to find such a kindred spirit in books. There are always things I can relate to in my favorite books, but I don't usually find such integral things that we have in common. The only other two I can think of right now are Elinor Dashwood and Anne Elliot who, while wonderful, are over two centuries old. I could use a modern compatriot. 

26 February 2011

Sometimes Good Things Can Happen

I spent a fair bit of time bemoaning the fact I couldn't see The King's Speech because of an R-rating due to a scene of repeated profanity ostensibly used to loosen the King up during therapy. Well, it turns out the powers that be re-edited it, muted the profanity, and resubmitted it for a new rating. Ta-da - The LA Times is saying the re-edit got a PG-13 rating and will be re-released soon. Good times. See you Colin Firth fans at the theater!

14 February 2011

A Random Collection Of Thoughts On This Notorious 'Holiday'

My distaste for Valentine's Day started long ago when I was forced to endure decorations that assumed that pink and red matched, when in reality they clash rather horribly. Especially the bubble gum pink that was all the rage in my childhood known as 'the 80s.' Also, I hated being forced to give Valentine's to everyone and rather wished we didn't have to give them at all. If they are forced they mean less than nothing and are, therefore, worth nothing. Which is a long way of saying Valentine's Day and I parted ways in elementary school. There are a few good things about it, like all the 50%-off chocolate in grocery stores on the 15th and those candy hearts that taste like sweetened Pepto Bismol. I also thoroughly enjoyed the tradition my roommates and I started in which we dressed in black, wore black nail polish and loads of eyeliner and then went to class at BYU. Watching everyone silently freak out and put on their I'm-totally-not-judging-you-but-you-are-a-total-freak face was fantastic. Good times.

Not good times: the combination of middle schoolers, cheap candy, and a day devoted to hormones. Seriously a crazy day. It was much harder to refrain from flicking them in the nose like disobedient puppies than it usually is. I feel that we should just observe President's Day on the 14th of February every year instead of try to hold classes. It would make everyone's lives (except possibly parents' lives) easier.

As I have stated in many past posts, I have a decades-long addiction to fashion magazines. That I am a fan of the website Go Fug Yourself should be no surprise, as the women in charge are witty and charming. A few years ago they started attending and blogging about spring Fashion Week. Always amusing, just gossipy enough, and an interesting preview of what I'll find in my InStyle next month, I look forward to their excursions into the world of fashion. While I don't always agree with their assessments of outfits, I do share their undying admiration of Victoria Beckham. The more I read about her (and I really want to get ahold of her books someday) or see her in interviews the more I like her. Her designs are equally likable. Most fashion seems impossible off the runway, especially if you are not built like emaciated gazelle, but when you look at her collections, one can imagine that the dresses she designs could be a) worn in real life off the runway and 2) worn by normal-sized women. Which makes her aces in my book.

Finally, if you haven't yet seen the movie RED, go do that. Tonight. Not because it is an excellent movie or is in any way important. See it because it is a ridiculous movie and it knows it and it revels in it. Which made me giggle. Also, Helen Mirren is fantastic. And I personally believe that Karl Urban decided his character had decided his entire work persona would be an impersonation of Brad Pitt. Enjoy!

07 February 2011

It Hardly Seems Fair

I've been gone for a long time, which I assume means no one is reading this anymore. My absence has mostly been due to the insanity that is student teaching, as I was very, very busy. Also, I haven't figured out how to talk/write about my experiences in a way that I feel protects everyone involved. Although I will say that every single night (and sometimes during my naps) I have had a dream about the school and the students I worked with, which is completely annoying. It feels like I'm at work when I sleep and I wake up all fuzzy and uncertain about what I should be doing. Anyway, still processing the whole student teaching experience. Love teaching, not sure what to say about it. But that isn't what I really want to discuss.

What I really want to do is whine. Intellectually, I know that life is hard, the struggle is integral to our growth, yada. But that doesn't make it easy. And, frankly, I feel that what my family went through with my mom should preclude us from any more suffering. Again, intellectually I understand that isn't how the world works, but it doesn't stop me from throwing an internal temper tantrum when I find out my 2 and 1/2 year-old niece might have to have open-heart surgery. Because of who I am, I generally only imagine worst-case scenarios and nothing about the words 'open,' 'heart,' and 'surgery' inspire much confidence in best-case scenarios. So, yes, it hardly seems fair that my adorable little niece might have to have major surgery. We shouldn't have to go through this again.

Edited to Add: My niece has Atrial Septal Defect, which isn't uncommon and is fairly routine as pediatric heart conditions go. Her hole is pretty big, which means catheterization might be off the table, hence open-heart surgery.