I’ve neglected my writing routine for a solid few weeks and I attribute that solely to distraction. One particular thing. A person. It’s a person.
That person is Rob Lowe. Just kidding, it’s not Rob Lowe. But that’d be a funny anecdote wouldn’t it.
Unfortunately or fortunately, I have to be alone to write. (Duh) Very alone. And by that I don’t mean lonely, although it can get that way. But even someone in the next room, doing something else, watching some movie, talking on the phone–it all feels exponentially more important that I be a part of their experience in the other room, even if it is just watching Robinhood Men In Tights which for the record, I’ve seen. But someone being over there and me being over here smells something like missing out, and as a full-fledged youngest child, I’ve lived 29 years trying to avoid just that. I think all youngest children do.
I’ve been spending time with my unofficially official ex-boyfriend/boyfriend/best friend/comrade/casual dating kissing partner. And we spoon too. It’s all very simple. We’ve known each other ten years and been through a lot including tumultuous breakups and taking turns carrying one another. We’ve been through things that either harden you or strengthen you and somehow rounded out in the middle. It seems to me we’re on the same learning curve. It’s the only way I can explain how after so many ups and downs we still seem to find one another, each wiser from their mistakes, and seeing in each other something that has always been there. Of course maybe all this is way too analytical. Maybe simply he was my first love and I was his and some part of that just never goes away. Regardless, he went away this morning on an adventure. The kind people talk about but rarely actually embark on.
He packed his life in a green hiking backpack and is starting out in Nicaragua– and that is about as far as his plans go. One of his plans involves staying and working at a hostel near Leon, where he will lead expeditions to the top of a volcano and then get down by surfing down it. I remember I was eating yogurt in my pajamas, exhausted after doing something undoubtedly small and stupid, when he told me that plan. I laughed a little as I envisioned his day versus mine while taking another bite. “Our lives are so different.”
In that way he’s kind of my hero. For one thing, he’s been blessed with a body that works and he is using it to his advantage. Pushing it, training it, challenging it and paying very little. He is strong and coordinated and a fast learner. This is of course something I’ve been unable to keep up with him on. And that’s OK. I’m learning to be content from the passenger side. I’ve actually come to enjoy and take pleasure out of watching people do what they want and go on adventures and seek what makes them happy. You don’t need to be strong to do that. At a fundamental and simple level, this is where human beings can be very wonderful additions in each others lives. If we merely nudge our friends in the direction of happiness, we’ve at least done something.
It’s funny such a thrill-seeking adventurous soul would ever have any attraction to the sick bag of bones called me. I guess I wasn’t always this sick, but still, life with a chronically ill person can be slow-paced and sedentary and a downright pain in the ass. But I guess all of life isn’t a thrill. At the end of the day whether you surfed down a volcano or not, you need a good snuggle partner and I am a pretty DANK SPOONER YALL.
He doesn’t know how long he’ll be gone. At least six months, or until the money runs out. We made no real plan of contact or correspondence. I know that this is an adventure he’s going on truly with himself, and he should be free to explore everything along his path. No ties or obligations to the homeland. Clean slate. But on the way to the airport I felt myself squeezing his hand tighter than normal. I guess that’s to be expected when facing the unknown.
Then I had that all too-human experience of returning to a house after an airport-goodbye with that hush all over and the remnants of someone in all the rooms. It’s all a little quieter and things feel hollowed out; you know it’s the start of something new whether you wanted it or not. At the same time, my own adventure is beginning here. Now that I have my solitude back, I have to get to writing. And reading. And arts and crafts And following my own glimpses of joy. It may not lead me to volcano surfing but it could get me somewhere close. Like healing yoga or gluten-free breakfast cookies!
Anyway I never much write about my love life, or lack thereof, but it all feels sticky in my brain and I am hoping that by releasing this feeling I can continue on with other endeavors. I am happy for my friend who is following his bliss– and Gator if you’re reading, be careful out there! If you died out there I’d be really annoyed. I know I have to let go and I need not to lose myself in someone else’s tales. For a while there I was getting so caught up in his life I was forgetting to tend to my own. Marianne Williamson says most of our problems stem from forgetting who we are, and that rings so true to me now. Time to move onward. Time to live and let live.
I must admit, I really love being a girl. I’m not sure most people would know that considering a few things. I’m not overwhelmingly feminine. I don’t officially dress the part that often. And my manners slip up a lot. Maybe I’m thinking more about what it is to be a Southern Girl, but I love being that too, even though I know I don’t always do the South proud. Still, it’s in me. And I like that it is.
A disappointing factor in being sick is that my wardrobe has taken quite a hit. I used to work 5 or 6 days a week, and I enjoyed putting together my little corporate outfits each day. It always felt like a part I was playing anyway, so I took time for the appropriate costume. There’s pride in getting dressed for work each day. Even if it was a crappy day– bad weather or crappy co-workers–whatever it was, there was still some amusement in dressing each day. Looking my best. It was some part of the job that I could control. And I indulged in looking good and smelling good and hearing my heels click on the gallery floor. There was some identity, among pride, in the ritual of all of that.
Now I don’t have somewhere to be 5 out of the 7 days a week. I don’t have to wake up at some ridiculous hour–which let me be clear, I don’t miss in the least. And while I don’t miss hitting the snooze button 6 times before forcing myself out of bed and dragging myself to the shower, I do miss the ritual of working. The wardrobe it required. The pride in looking good and knowing your purpose and getting a paycheck every two weeks. Clear parameters. Certain expectations. Consistent and adequate wages. I realize that while you’re working it’s not uncommon to be fantasizing about not working, because that grind–it’s a lot. Every day. All day. The same people. The same setting. It can be overwhelming in its sameness.
While I did enjoy the ritual of working, I knew I couldn’t stay there forever, mostly because it didn’t do a lot for my soul. The work was not a challenge creatively in the least. I told myself that I could work full-time and do my creative work on the side. I could write and draw at night or on the weekends, but I was so dead at the end of each day, so spent by the weekends, I always spent them half-conscious in sweats watching mindless television or attempting to write but tiring out quickly. Maybe some could do it, but it was certain I could not. One day I would have to leave that job if I wanted to explore the more creative life, but I never thought it would be involuntary. It was–due to my health. I wonder how long I would have stayed there had it not been.
Anyway, now I am sort of living the creative life. I follow my inner-self a lot which is a privilege, I admit. I’ve learned songs on my dads guitar. I paint watercolors when I’m bored. I watch French movies to brush up on my French. I write. I read. I rest. Repeat. I think it would be easy to look at my life from the outside and say it looks easy. And to an extent it’s certainly easier than my scheduled life I used to lead. There’s no calling in sick or feeling guilty about not performing well. But also, there’s no paycheck. No official schedule to follow or tasks to complete. But I have a feeling those things will come again.
It’d be easy to fall down the black hole of daytime TV or something more depressing. I work hard to keep things moving. To strike when the creativity is hot. To find newness in each day. I consciously work to keep my life from going to stagnant–that’s where a girl could get into trouble.
Since my new life doesn’t require any certain wardrobe, I often joke about the clothes I wear and my general appearance. Not to mention, the whole showering and routine that follows deal totally exhausts me, so it’s often a matter of energy reserves. I used to be so polished. Now I leave my hair curly and wild and am wearing a stretch cotton tank top with a cat wearing sunglasses on it. This of course is acceptable, as I don’t really have visitors or male suitors. Haha. But still, as much as I have to strive to keep my life moving, I think I need to remember that I am a girl and I can look pretty when I try. And I really enjoy smelling good. I don’t have official reasons to make those things happen anymore, but maybe just being a girl is reason enough.
Like last night, I painted my nails this bright red. And it really thrilled me. Red nails! The thrills of being a girl!
Laughably I take pride in being able to give myself a manicure comparable to the professional ones. Since I’m broke I can’t afford those things, but I can do them myself and so I do. I also bought this knock-off gold watch for $20 dollars which I really enjoy wearing. The best part is it fit perfectly, I didn’t have to remove any links. It makes me feel glamorous, with these red nails and lipstick too. Sometimes when I’m feeling good, I take really long bubble baths, I spend a long time doing my hair, I put on full makeup, and I spray myself in perfume. And then I go nowhere. I strut around my house like an idiot, just like it used to be–a girl playing dress up. Or I pretend to go somewhere and take photos like these:
Monty gets nervous because it’s gotten to the point where if I put on pants he knows I am probably leaving. But I don’t leave. I clean the house. I indulge in the mirror. And still, even though I have nowhere to go or no one to see– I revel in being a girl. If even just to remind myself that when I try, I can still be one. One day I will have places to be and people to meet and parties to attend, so I’m just making sure I still know how. How to be polished. How to walk with poise in heels. How to look the part. How to be a girl.
It’s raining. And whenever it rains it feels easier to write. So I’m forcing myself to sit down, because lately, the words haven’t come as easy. I have this recurring nightmare type of thing, although it doesn’t come at night–it’s more a dull anxiety beyond the curtain in my brain- that one day I’ll wake up, and have nothing left to say. Nothing left to write. None of my ideas will be new. Whatever creative juices that used to run through me will have all run dry and I’ll be sitting there, blank pages in front of me, and have nothing. left. to say. Luckily, that day is not today. I have some stuff to say I guess.
The funny thing about my little recurring nightmare, is that ironically, the only way to avoid it is to keep on writing. The longer I go without doing it, the harder it becomes. Sometimes I cringe at what I’ve written, and I’ve deleted entire pages of text that just didn’t seem to “do it” for me. But this is my art form and I care about it. It isn’t really a hobby I do on the side anymore. It is my principal work for now and once you’ve come to care this much about what you do, you really have to nurture it or it will fade. Like a marriage of sorts, or any relationship at that. The interesting part of it is that continuing to produce only gives way to more creativity and newer ideas. Not the other way around. It’s not some finite jar you reach the bottom of. My nightmare is possible I suppose, but more likely from me having abandoned the work, not from literally running out of ideas. If the universe is infinite than it’s true, our ideas can’t run dry.
I have to remind myself pretty regularly that whether the words come easy or hard, to just keep going. If you give in, well then what kind of a writer are you? I think beyond your final product, being an artist is in the way you live and in how much you give of yourself. Not just when inspiration comes but also when it doesn’t. There is debate in the literary world on whether or not writers block actually exists. I can say that without a doubt, there are times when it’s easy and times when it’s alarmingly difficult, but I think the point is that you just keep plugging away. It was Picasso who said that inspiration exists, but it has to find you working first. You can reject entire pages later if you need to, and there’s no harm in discerning good work from bad work even if a great majority of it is bad. It’s nothing you can hurry or fake or force. You just have to keep working humbly and the right words always find their way out. Think of Michelangelo sculpting his masterpieces like David. He said it was his job to carve away the excess, chip away at everything that wasn’t David until David emerged.
I know that the worst I can do now is let a gift pass me by. In stillness I know that being capable of writing is not something I own but something that was given to me. And I feel that by not putting it to use is letting someone down somewhere. I fight lethargy. I fight distraction. I fight excuses. It’s been a while since I’ve really sat down and put my words to use. And I have to remind myself everyday that very easily I can let all this slip by me. It takes commitment and participation on my end and sometimes I actually have to talk to myself out loud and force myself to move things through me. I do this because it’s not about me. It’s about something bigger and longer-lasting than me. And I don’t know what that is yet. But I know I have to keep at it. And I guess on this rainy Thursday, I am being reminded in more ways than one to keep going. Keep writing. And someday the pieces of it all will begin to make sense. Carl Jung said the details of his life would only make sense in the context of the centuries. Maybe that’s the ticket.
I’ve read this excerpt of Marc Nepo’s book at least a couple of times. I know this because I’ve underlined some things in blue and starred others in black–And even this morning while reading it for what is evidently the third time, I still felt inclined to mark parts of it. So I thought I’d share the whole excerpt here, because it really speaks to me, and I think it will to you too. Here it is. Have a beautiful day.
Rather the flying bird, leaving no trace,
than the going beast, marking the earth
Much of our anxiety and inner turmoil comes from living in a global culture whose values drive us from the essence of what matters. At the heart of this is the conflict between the outer definition of success and the inner value of peace.
Unfortunately, we are encouraged, even trained to get attention when the renewing secret of life is to give attention. From performing well on tests to positioning ourselves for promotions, we are schooled to believe that to succeed we must get attention and be recognized as special, when the threshold to all that is extraordinary in life opens only when we devote ourselves to giving attention, not getting it. Things come alive for us only when we dare to see and recognize everything as special.
The longer we try to get attention instead of giving it, the deeper our unhappiness. It leads us to move through the world dreaming of greatness, needing to be verified at every turn, when feelings of oneness grace us only when we verify the life around us. It makes us desperate to be loved, when we sorely need the medicine of being loving.
One reason so many of us are lonely in our dream of success is that instead of looking for what is clear and true, we learn to covet what is great and powerful. One reason we live so far from peace is that instead of loving our way into the nameless joy of spirit, we think fame will soothe us. And while we are busy dreaming of being a celebrity, we stifle our need to see and give and love, all of which opens us to the true health of celebration.
It leaves us with these choices: fame or peace, be a celebrity or celebrate being, work all our days to be seen or devote ourselves to seeing, build our identity on the attention we can get or find our place in the beauty of things by the attention we can give.
For as long as I can remember, my mother has never been one for presents. Specifically cutesy presents like mugs that say # 1 Mom! or trinket-type gifts like the kind from the Hallmark store. I guess at her age and after four children, she’s accumulated enough “stuff” to last until her end. She gets it. She’s the worlds greatest mom. Enough with the mugs already! It’s not that she isn’t sentimental, because she is. It’s more that now, those $20 items from the mall just seem gratuitous. She will always say “Thank You” to a gift but I know she’d rather we save our money or donated it to someone or something that really needs it. It seems like free, homemade gifts have always been her favorite. Since I’m living under her roof and on her dime, it wouldn’t make sense to buy her a gift anyway. It’d be with her money! I’m like the little drummer boy but all I have to give are words. “I have no gift to bring Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum!” Anyway, I guess every mom just likes to know they were thought of in a meaningful way. I’m not a parent so I couldn’t know, but I’ve heard it’s both the hardest and the most rewarding job on the planet. Most of the time your efforts go unnoticed, or under-appreciated, or unrealized until decades later, and it’s good to set aside a day to let them know: We noticed the work you did– and thank them for it because it’s a job well done. Here is my totally affordable thank you to a mom very deserving.
I want to say that whether you knew it or not, I’ve been taking notes from you. Because more than someone who performs countless motherly duties each day, a mother is also simply a model human being for her children. Everything you were doing as an adult, were things I observed and learned from. Watching you navigate through dark times. Noticing your courage and grace when things fell to pieces. Watching you keep going when it would have been easier to give up. Those are all things I will carry with me–forever. I never felt too young to take on the lessons you were learning yourself. If I am ever a mother I will hope to pass those things down to my own kids. But as a singular human being, I will keep them with me and they will guide me long after you’re gone.
Perhaps the best thing a kid can tell their mom is that they’re happy. The last few years have been extremely difficult for me. And I know that as a mom, having to watch your child suffer is even more painful. So often she told me she wished she could go through the experience for me, and save me from the pain. I think most parents would agree. They’d prefer to take on the hardships themselves then have to watch their child go through it. But as much as parents want to protect their children, hide them from the pain and perversions of the world, they also have to trust that they have instilled enough love, value, self-esteem, and wisdom in us so that we may not run from the hardships, but that we may find our way through them, and come out of the other side intact–wiser and stronger, not bitter and broken. I want to tell my mom that even though life has been at difficult, sometimes unbearably difficult, and I’ve wondered how I’d get through, that I would reflect on her life and remember all of the hardships that she had emerged from. The memory would remind me that I could do the same. I’ve always known that at the root of everything, I am loved. Unquestionably. Unconditionally. Consistently. I have always known that. And that knowledge makes a difference to a kid. Whether we’re 3 or 30. I wonder what the world would be like if every child knew that. In times where I didn’t feel like I could keep going for me, I knew that I was loved enough that I would keep going for her, for them. And that guided me. That kept me going.
I know that watching a child in pain is almost unbearable for a parent. I could see it in her eyes when I was sick and incapable of many things last year. It hurt her too. But I also know that there are few greater feelings than a parent watching their child experience joy, find happiness, emerging out of the other side of darkness. I want to tell my mom that I am happy. That I’m OK. And no matter how hard my life gets, I will always be OK. Because look what we’ve already made it through! It used to frighten me, remembering how hard life can get. But now it strengthens me. It’s a choice; I can think of either the rough times and be afraid or remember that we made it out of them and be reassured. I know that being a mother and worrying go hand-in-hand, but I want to tell you not to worry. I am OK and I will always be OK.
I think in the end it doesn’t come down to how many shirts or mugs or magnets you have in your drawer of trinket gifts. Those are things and things are temporary. The love and the lessons you handed down are what is forever. The love you gave through happy times and sad times. The wisdom you exuded when it felt like the world had turned its back on us. Crying when you need to. Laughing when you need to. But never turning bitter, never giving up. All of these learned responses are what you handed down. They are what we will hand down. And the next generation will hand down. And that’s the thread of life being sewn across the world. Nothing temporary about it.
I guess all of this is to say, job well done. Your work will live beyond your life.
Mary (and Monty)
P.S. Since your other children are out of state, they each wanted to draw you a picture for today. In case you forgot their age judging by the quality of their art, I’ve included them for you.
There is one component of this illness and autoimmune diseases in general which exacerbates the whole experience. The invisibility factor. You can’t see it. Many times when it shows its ugly head, no one is around to bear witness. People see us when we’re out and about and well, or faking it. I’ve lost count of the number of times I hear “But you don’t look sick!” People have a notion of what sick looks like, and this doesn’t fit the bill. One day you’re normal and the next day your plagued with something worse than a flu, or a hangover, but you didn’t do any drinking. It’s just such an enigma on so many levels, besides keeping up appearances, that it’s no surprise people just plain forget you’re sick. And it’s understandable. Because honestly, you forget too.
To this day I find myself committing to things as though I am normal, as though I have boundless energy, as though I don’t spend days in bed sometimes for no real reason at all. My circumstances aren’t normal. And some days I have to remind myself by the hour of my limits. Many times I fail to recognize them and I pay the price. So it’s no surprise that the people we love, the people we’re closest to-friends, lovers, family- they’ll forget too. And it’s easy to see why, but it will make you defensive. You’ll tell yourself they just don’t get it and they’ll never understand! And you’re right, they don’t. It’s impossible to know unless you’ve got it yourself. But don’t let that separate and isolate you more. You’ve got enough boundaries. When someone doesn’t believe you, when someone criticizes you, judges you, or doesn’t give the sympathy you’re looking for, let it go. Meet their disbelief with love and understanding. Because the truth is, if you weren’t sick with this, would you understand it? I know it’d be hard for me. I was young when I became ill but I remember distinctly things coming easy to me. Being a good gymnast. Getting good grades. Good family and friends. A 9-year-old with everything! I had no real reason for pause. I often consider what my life would be like had I not gotten sick and in general it’s with the notion that I’d be a better person living a better life. I really wonder about that now. Being sick and at the mercy of others help and kindness, I’ve learned remarkable lessons in humility and compassion, and those are just scratching the surface. I can’t say who I’d be without illness. But like my mom said once “Who knows? Maybe we if we hadn’t gotten sick we’d just be two capable assholes.”
The point is, when I still my mind and consider all the parts of this, I can understand the doubt, the skepticism, the misunderstanding from others. This is not a well understood disease, even for us sick ones. (But I know that one day it will be. I know that.) I remember once last year, I woke up with a pounding migraine. I was in one of my awful cycles. The first dose of medicine didn’t work so I took two, among my other cocktail of meds. I got out of bed around 1:30, hazy, tired, and the hint of my migraine still masquerading around my head. My boyfriend at the time saw me and said “You’re up! Hey, do you want to go shoot guns today?” At that moment I thought of 647 other things I would rather do than shoot a gun. The mere thought of shooting a gun made my headache perk up like what? huh? guns? Here I come!!! Even the suggestion of that activity made me mad. I felt really misunderstood and alone and thinking what I so often think: if they could only feel what I am feeling, they would understand. And it’s true. I think if most people felt the symptoms of CFS even for ten minutes, they’d have such a better grasp of what we are dealing with on a day-to-day basis. But that’s not possible. So it is up to us to communicate with love to those who don’t know. What we’re dealing with is basically invisible, and getting defensive and trying to prove it will exhaust us even more.
Besides my mom, who is also sick with this, I think about the one person who has been by my side throughout all of this, and has required the least amount of explaining. The answer is Monty. I realize that sounds juvenile. Oh Mary, you crazy dog lady..maybe you should talk to some PEOPLE. And truthfully I probably should. But I think about the number of beds Monty has slept at the foot of. Patiently he waits until I get up. Some days it’s only a minute..we don’t play and he doesn’t seem to mind. He follows me into the bathroom, he follows me out. When I go back to bed, he does to. And this is a very energetic and active dog. He could go all day, literally. But it truly feels like he picks up on sick days. When I wake up in the morning, he always takes some deep breaths really close to my face. It’s like he can tell by smell whether I’m going to get up or not. Sometimes he sniffs and hops out of bed ready to go. Other times he sniffs and goes back to bed. It really is like he knows.
The thing is, Monty doesn’t understand all the weird components to the illness. He doesn’t know what chronic fatigue syndrome is. He doesn’t understand why some days we play and other days we don’t leave the bed. Sometimes for a few days at a time. But he doesn’t even require an explanation or a defense, because what he is exemplifying so beautifully is living in the present. When it’s time to play, we play hard. When it’s time to sleep, we sleep like it’s nobody’s business. Whatever he does, he does fully. He shows up wholly to every moment. And it’s a truly impressive thing to witness. One of my favorite things is to watch Monty when he gets up in the morning. I open the door for him and he walks outside, stops, and sniffs the air for about 15 seconds. It’s like he’s taking in everything from the night and everything that the day will bring. I like watching it because it’s reflective, and we live such busy, fast lives, we constantly neglect reflection. I think it’s fair to say that it’s required for a happy life. We have to stop sometimes. We have to take things in. We have to feel our feelings. (Smell the roses, if you will.)And we don’t need to say it all on Facebook. Some things we should hold inside near our heart. Or whisper it to someone we love.
I am reading a book called Everyday Grace by Marianne Williamson which is incredibly poignant and really well-written. I find myself underlining entire pages. It’s always been a goal of mine to have a book club but of course I’ve never gotten it together and am bad at keeping commitments. So for now the blog will be it. And I invite all of you to read and share your thoughts on these books. I have about twenty more pages and will have a review/summary/dialogue next time. But if you’re looking for a book as a companion..this is a good one. It’s been seeing me through sleepless nights and reading it when I wake up in the morning gives me a happy way to begin the day. One of my favorite lines near the beginning is “We don’t need to push life so much as we need to experience it more elegantly, to be motivated more by inspiration than by ambition.” I like that idea. When I’m not in bed I let my instincts and inspiration guide me…even it’s just sitting on the porch swing and looking at the flowers, which I do a lot. Monty makes me throw a ball and swims laps in the pool. See?
Anyway, I am working on living a reflective life. I try to take in every moment truly, and feel it genuinely. Even if the moment is sad or fearful. I know that not feeling things through leads to trouble later on. I’ve been there before. For now, I feel happy. The sun is out and the porch swing is calling.
At one time, each and every human being on the planet was a tiny baby in a mothers arms. In front of him lay a pristine and untouched future, where anything was possible. One thing will shape the direction and vibrancy of that future more than any of other thing; love. From whom he learns it, from whom he does not, how he is taught it, and that he experiences it in its most authentic and pure form- unconditionally. Money is no matter, health is no matter, religion, beauty or brains. Without the message that love sends- the gentle reminder that who you are matters- all of these things are fine but rendered useless if they are anything but anecdotes to a love-filled life. There are many ways to measure a life, and many definitions to the word success. You don’t have to go far to find the richest people, the famous people, or the ones deemed very important. And they will often gladly share their secrets to what we call success. But behind numbers and cameras and curtains is a very basic human need- not desire- that we all share no matter what characteristics separate us. We have to have love to evolve. And we have to give it to surrender. And we have to lose it, at least once, to really know who we are. And when we find and learn to love ourselves wholly, then might we love others the best possible way. If we haven’t used it to fill holes, if we haven’t given it to get control, then what we’ve done with love, we’ve probably done it right.
I’m going to briefly talk about two things I love to hate: Facebook and Politics. Bear with me.
Apparently, there’s an election going on. Like right now. You most likely knew that because you’re not an idiot. And you also probably knew that because if you’ve visited Facebook for even a millisecond in the last few months, you’ve seen it–the political outrage, the emotional pleading, angry outbursts, passionate opinions, and my favorite; quoting of the constitution. I have long thought that Facebook and politics go together about as well as pizza and peanut butter. But, we’re still figuring it out. This is the first generation of Facebookers. There’s no precedent. Which is why when Facebook opened the flood gates and allowed anyone to join, college kids ducked in horror as their parents and sometimes even grand-parents had access to a microscope highlighting all of their activity (legal and illegal) for the last year or so. They also laughed as Baby Boomers slowly learned what a poke meant and how to effectively comment on photos and walls. There’s no written etiquette for Facebook We’re all just a bunch on neophytes figuring it out as we go and hoping not to ruin ourselves in the process. Undoubtedly, the consequences of Facebook activity can be huge, regardless of their intent. There have school expulsions, job firings, missed job opportunities, and countless breakups over this enigmatic social network. But hey, there are pros too. Keeping up with family members and long-lost friends, stalking your ex, knowing what your neighbor from grade school ate for breakfast this morning and that your high school boyfriend and his girlfriend are expecting a baby boy! But I’m getting off topic. There is an election going on. And if you spend any time on Facebook right now, you cannot escape that fact, opinions about that fact, and the ensuing written diatribes about that fact.
Sadly, I admit I have engaged in political debates on Facebook. They were miserable, dirty, and useless. No one walked away with their minds changed or cleared or any more informed than when they began. To be fair, verbal arguments can sometimes be just as messy and ineffective. But a verbal argument seems more tangible and more accountable. It’s much easier to write nasty things than to say it to someones face. There isn’t much accountability on the internet. Facebookers and bloggers have a lot power but not necessarily a lot of accountability. It’s easy to type what you feel many times anonymously, without being liable for what you submit. On the Internet, we’re all just a bunch of small boxes with a face (or sometimes a picture of a car or a sonogram) and a name, but we seem to lose a large part of our humanness.
As miserable as Facebook political warfare is, we seem to be addicted to it. It’s hard to keep your mouth shut, (or your fingers idle) when you see someone post something you deem ridiculous. And truthfully, Facebook is where a lot of people make their voices heard. So it makes sense that it is on this platform where people express themselves politically. I don’t wonder why politics comes out on Facebook. It’s clear. I only wonder if it’s ever meaningful. It reminds me of a bumper sticker. It’s a tiny little snapshop of your views, but rarely does it encourage an intelligent dialogue or seem to persuade the other side. For all the engaging and speculating on Facebook I’ve done, I have never once witnessed a meaningful political conversation. Inevitably, someone will type something like “Hey screw you you dirty liberal!” or “You conservatives are a bunch of assclowns!” The people who agree with you are already convinced, and the people who don’t will tell you to go Eff yourself. And then most likely send you a FB invite to their birthday party.
All that being said, my prediction is that we’ll see a large backlash on Facebook November 7th, regardless of who wins the 2012 presidential election. (Duh) Democrats and Republicans alike are enthused, passionate, and each seem to use a disproportionate amount of explanation points. Here is my prediction:
IF OBAMA WINS:
(Warning of the apocalypse)
Everyone ready for the Socialist States of America?
God is good. God is great. Romney lost. We’ll suffer our fate!
Awesome! Another four more years of bullshit! Can’t wait!!!!
I’m moving to Canada. Eff you America!
Four more years of assclowns to run the White House. GREAT!
IF ROMNEY WINS:
(Emotional Depression Sweeps the Nation)
It’s a sad day for America. I really thought we had this one.
Wahhh. How will I afford my birth control?!?!
God is good. God is great. Obama lost. I wanna shoot myself in the head.
I can’t believe I won’t get healthcare and I’ll be in a binder!
Woah, Romney won. Does anyone wanna get frozen yogurt?
When you sign up for Facebook, you sign up to see and hear a lot of things about about your Facebook friends, which is mostly everyone you have ever known. Sometimes you’ll like it and sometimes you won’t. I always wonder how Facebook will evolve and how its users will change. Regardless of who wins, the world will keep on spinning, (according to most) and Facebook will keep on status-ing all over the place. Whether you like what you see or not, it is great to live in a country where you can say it all. But just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Most of my recent Facebook activity that deals with the election is linked to The Onion–a satirical newspaper. Because I don’t find that political views on Facebook do very much except attract those who disagree. Which is fine. Maybe that’s even the point. Ranting and bickering can be fun, I guess. But from my seat, it never seems to goes well or end well. If we are to examine our intent, what is it exactly? To change minds? To be heard? To inform? I wonder if Facebook is really the place to do it. I think there may actually be a place for politics on Facebook, somewhere. I just don’t think we’ve found it yet. It is however, the best place for pictures of cats and babies and suggestions for cold remedies. No question.
Maybe it won’t always be that way. Like people, Facebook has continued to grow and change throughout the years. Most would probably not even recognize the user interface of Facebook 1.0. And it will be interesting to see what it will look like in the 2016 election and how people will interact then. My prediction: Still a lot of cats. Still a lot of political warfare.
I could tell you a lot of things about my life right now. That once again it’s 4 am and I can’t sleep. That once again Monty has gas but I love him too much to kick him out of the room. That the Chinese doctor told me not to take my pills today and so I haven’t. I feel the effects of it. I have some fear about it. Some hesitation. But I have the same fear of a life dependent on pills, so either way it’s fighting demons. I don’t mind being awake when the world is sleeping. So many days I’ve missed out. Slept through. Called in sick. Night is my time to take life back. I could tell you my music of choice at night when I can’t sleep–lately it’s Tchaikovsky (Swan Lake) but tonight it is Radiohead (In Rainbows) and I’m deciding whether to keep squinting hard and trying to force sleep or to give up. Give in. But since the only cure for insomnia I have found is waking up, I give in.
When I open my computer to begin, a fly immediately lands on the screen, undoubtedly drawn to the light of the monitor. When I scroll the little mouse arrow under him, he jumps. Flies away a second. Then he comes back. I play “tag” with my computer mouse and a fly for probably way too long and smile at this activity. What makes me smile more is that we have this big joke in my family that my dad would be reincarnated as a fly. He used to do this hilarious impression (often at fancy dinners, with no shame) of a fly, rubbing it’s little legs together the way they do. Half of the people laughed because it was funny and the other half probably laughed out of discomfort or something. He was such a nerd. This was his dinner entertainment. I wonder if this fly I am playing computer mouse tag with is my dad. Then it starts rubbing its spidery little legs together the way my dad used to when impersonating them and I smile bigger. Because these are strange anecdotes at 4:14 in the morning and I’d prefer to be getting sleep. But then again I would have missed the fly. The fly and all its mystery.
There are a lot of fly stories concerning my deceased father. Like at his funeral when my sister started crying and one landed on her shoulder. Most people would call these things silly, coincidental, random or meaningless. And that for sure is the easier belief. Faith requires energy. But it almost seems like doubt steals it. Sometimes it appears more attractive to trust nothing and be skeptical of it all. But there are incredibly real moments in my life, where explanation just doesn’t work. It’s beyond science. It’s beyond religion. It’s more along the lines of intuition, instinct, and of course, an awakened state of consciousness. It is really amazing what we can see and access when we are awake. But I think we’re mostly sleeping.
In early September I was beginning to really resent my situation. I was physically feeling worse and worse. Everyday activities were becoming harder and I was having to rely on people more than ever. I was beginning to resent the fact that I needed help, which is, insane. I should have been thanking every star in the sky that I had help, but I was too busy being upset that my life didn’t look like what I wanted it to. I was really irritable one day. I was short with everyone. I felt angry, sad, and misunderstood. I needed help but I didn’t want to ask for it, so I resented those who tried. Fed up over something stupid, I took Monty on a walk. We walked up “the hill” that presumably was what put me over the edge after walking up it once a day for a week and then facing a monumental crash. Anyway, at the top of the hill was wide open space for Monty to run and for me to think or yell or curse. On that day I let Monty run while I unloaded some words at the universe. I cursed and yelled because no one could hear me. Except maybe some cars that drove by slowly, and at least they had a story to tell later. (Yeah this girl was flipping off the sky and cursing about fibro-vagina or something?) Pretty soon, this fly landed on my face. I swatted it away and it immediately landed back on my nose. Again I swatted. Again, it returned. I was in such an aggravated state, I wanted to punch the fly in the face. I remember thinking those exact words: I want to punch this fly in the face. When I say the fly would not leave me alone, I mean it. For at least five minutes I let Monty run, let my tears fall, and relentlessly swatted away this fly while also trying to punch it in the face. As if that’s even possible. Fed up, I told Monty that due to a CERTAIN INSECT THAT WILL NOT LEAVE ME ALONE, we had to walk home. Monty looked at me like the psycho that I was, and then we started back down the hill. The fly followed.
I started to cry. All I wanted was peace. I was so upset and felt so alone. My life felt out of my hands and I had become completely reliant on others. I’m always the guest on someone else’s couch. When will I sleep on my own couch? I’m always going to be sick and helpless. These were the thoughts that were circulating. As you can see, they are pretty negative. They weren’t helping me. They were the cyclical mental thoughts that dig you deeper in the hole. The fly continued to dart at my face and I continued to flail my arms in what I think were actual attempts at punching it in the face or more simply, just killing it altogether. But to passers-bye, dear God, I must have looked insane. Finally, near our complex I began to calm down. It finally occurred to me; our little joke about my dad returning to earth as a fly. As I remembered I yelled “Seriously dad this is NOT the time!” So now I was punching the air and talking to a fly which I was beginning to believe was my dead father. Want to be friends?
The truth is, that was the time that I needed to be bombarded. The most effective thing that fly did was make me stop. And examine. And get to the truth of my experience. I had been feeling so alone. But the truth was I had love from all sides. I had family to carry me when I couldn’t do it on my own. It was just time for me to humbly accept that not everything was going to be on my terms, and that’s OK. You can still be happy down another path. Once you stop fighting it. That fly relentlessly flew at my face for at least 10 minutes, while I relentlessly tried to kill it. But by the end it had gotten through. Something told me, something from inside, that fly was a reminder. That life wasn’t over. That I wasn’t alone. That I shouldn’t be so irreverent about living. I was still here. Still breathing. And so I still had purpose.
I approached our front door, now smiling at the events of the last 15 minutes. I had tapped into a different energy. A better energy. All thanks to that really, persistent, annoying fly. Whoever he may be.
Even when you don’t feel like it. Even when it hurts. When it would be not just easier or more convenient to say no, but less painful, less exhausting, perhaps even, the healthier option– even then, sometimes, you gotta say yes.
As my role as the “sick girl” has slowly developed over the past few years, I’ve noticed how often and how easily I’ve begun to say no to things. And that’s mostly for the sake of my livelihood. I don’t have the endurance to do the things I once did, nor do I have the resilience to bounce back if I overstep the boundary. There’s an invisible line with illnesses like this; one that not even the sick person can see, and it doesn’t make a sound when you overstep. Not until later, when it’s too late to take anything back. So, you pay for it. And you start to feel your way through it, constantly guessing whether you’ve gone too far or done too much. It’s about as easy as pin the tail on the donkey in the dark, with booze. But this solid body of mine, as broken as it is, it always lets me know if I’ve infringed on that boundary. Always.
The last few days have been crappy. Not Colorado crash crappy, but, crappy. There have been a few 26 and 27 pills a day, days. Which I’m learning how to be OK with. Even sick days, where the most you do is brush your teeth, are OK too. They have to be. It’s interesting what this illness turns you into; a spectator where you once a participant. I often feel the quick pace of the world spinning and everyone rushing by with their busy lives, and then there’s me…just kind of, standing lying there. I miss being busy. There’s something comfortable about always having something to do, someone to see; there’s an importance about it. I notice now how different my to-do lists are verses my to-do lists a few years ago. 1. Wash clothes. 2. Pick up prescriptions. 3. Buy new notebook!
I’ve begun examining my life a little closer lately, and am putting a lot of thought into how I spend my time. It’s really crazy to think that I can sort of do what I want given that I don’t have a full-time job or any REAL responsibility besides my health and my dog Monty. (Although I don’t know, one might call my constant correspondence with the Walgreens pharmacy a full-time job in and of itself. For real though.) The thing is, since I can’t hold a full-time job right now, I don’t have any income. So that’s the first damper on “Doing what I want.” The second damper is, duh, I’m incapacitated most of the time. If I had my way, I’d be going, and doing, and meeting, luncheoning, and painting and creating and…you get it. Saying YES a lot. I’d be one of those busy people with alphabetized spice racks and really organized DVD collections. And I’d run half marathons for fun! BLECH. Scuse me, I just puked thinking about running a half marathon. Anyway, that’s not my life. Most of the time I feel too exhausted for showers and everything I buy at this point is on someone else’s dime…so it’s really teaching me a lesson in humility, appreciation, and grace. Every night I pray that I will be able to pay back everyone who has been so gracious in taking care of me. And I solemnly believe that day will come. One day.
In the meantime, I have a lot of something that many people don’t: free time. And whether I’m sick or not, it’s up to me how I spend my time. I find myself feeling bad a lot about not having a full-time job and not being able to support myself. I was used to having a job and independence define me. But, I think that’s pride and the ego getting the best of me and I constantly have to remind myself that if I could, I would. But right now, it’s not where I am. So how about instead of feeling shitty on top of feeling shitty, I try to make better use of my time. I decided I’m going to read as much as I can, write as much as I can, and start looking at this free time as a gift instead of something that “happened to me.” A lot of people would love time off from work, to be a spectator, to read for the sake of reading. To be honest, not having something to do is harder than you’d think. We’re kind of a culture that tends to define ourselves by our work. I guess I’m redefining both my purpose and the definition of that word. Is it still considered work if you’re not getting paid?
This week has been rough health wise, but today I was sick and tired of being sick and tired more than I was actually sick and tired. SO, I said, screw it. I took a bath, got dressed, and went to the park with Monty. Not because I felt like it, not because it felt good even, but because I needed to get out. Sometimes I do the things I would do if I weren’t sick, just for a little while. I can go outside. I can throw a ball for Monty and finish reading my book. I felt shitty the whole time, but mentally I needed it. Chances are, I’ll pay for it tomorrow. But it’s one of those weeks where I felt like I would be paying for something tomorrow whether or not I did anything today, so I went for it. Every once in a while, it’s nice to feel like things are on my terms. It’s my way of giving the illness the middle finger. And you know what? It felt good! Screw you sickness. Today, Mary Gelpi SAID YES.
OK so maybe I am really over-glorifying my little trip to the park. But, I have to keep myself in check. It would be really easy for me to say no to anything that required leaving the house or socializing with people. I can feel the crotchety 80-year-old inside of me getting way too comfortable. I remind myself that I am 28. I need to stop being so opposed to meeting new people. (Dude, I hate meeting people. Also, I’m terrible at it.) I have to be OK with going places sometimes, because I think our souls like a change of scenery. I need to not automatically say no, even though my experience gives me that tendency. Sometimes I will pay for it, yes. But there’s a price to be paid for constantly saying no, too. So I’ve got to find the middle. I’m still young, and I need to start acting my age. Before I know it I’ll be drinking Ensure and wearing Oopse I Crapped My Pants. And then meeting people will be REALLY hard!
You know what else I did today? Bought a new notebook. That’s my favorite thing to buy. I’m very particular when it comes to notebooks. It takes me a while to pick one out and I sit there in front of the shelf of books running my fingers over pages, opening and closing it, taking measurements and looking like a crazy all the while, but I like to take my time. I can’t have things like paper texture or wide rule lines interfering with my writing. Anyway, I found a good one after going back and forth between two for 10 minutes. This is typically what I do when I buy anything. I’m very indecisive. So I’ll buy one, and then go home and think about the other. It’s terrible. Anyway, I’m trying to work on that. So I’m going to do some writing. And then some reading. And then I’ll do it again tomorrow I guess, in a park, and throw the stick for Monty. Because that’s what my life is right now, and it won’t always be that way. Maybe it’s not about being important. Maybe it’s just about being.
Health, Happiness, Yes.
*To all my family and homies in New Orleans, my thoughts are with yall. Although I’m pretty sure most of you are drunk and having an OK time. Stay safe.
I think my favorite present to both give and receive is a book. And not an e-book, not a kindle or a tablet thingamajiggy. A real, tangible book with pages to flip through and words that you underline and notes in the margin that you come back to later. There is something necessarily palpable about a book for me. Maybe I just really like turning pages, but I don’t think I’ll ever make the switch to electronic literature. I know it costs us trees, but I kind of feel like a tree would be happy to be a book. If only trees could talk. OK, anyway, I received a book from my mom for my birthday, and I’ve been lost in it for the last 4 days. I kept telling myself I needed to write, but my urge to read was stronger. I had to finish it before I could do anything else. I think it may be one of the most important books I’ve read as of yet.
“The Untethered Soul” is written by Michael Singer and I’d never heard of it or him until I began reading. The book is 181 pages but is densely written and covers everything from consciousness to identity to happiness to God to death to Christianity to the Tao. I really don’t know how he combined all of these topics so succinctly and covered them with such perfect simplicity, but he did, and it all made perfect sense. Every word. Sometimes I’d read a paragraph over and over, not because I didn’t understand, but because it felt so good to read the words. It was like light would suddenly pour in the room, and with each page (each TANGIBLE page) I felt more clarity, maybe even more happiness. At least more awareness of it. There is such a wide variety of topics he covers and methods associated with them, but he ties them all together seamlessly to teach one huge and vital lesson; to know yourself, and to find bliss. It will be difficult to summarize the whole thing up on just one page..this may need to be a two parter. So I’ll just cover a few topics that really captured me.To begin with, you can’t fix the world. You can’t fix other people, and you shouldn’t try. But you can become the purist and most open version of your Self, and that is your gift to the world. You will be the most successful and biggest help to humanity by knowing yourself truly, and waking up–becoming conscious. So long as you are unconscious, reacting to external factors, hiding behind fears and anxieties, letting that voice in your head dictate important matters, you cannot be of help to the world. You are stuck in your mind, and so you can’t go any further or higher up than that. Not until you wake up.
Like Tolle, Singer writes pretty extensively about how to answer the question “Who am I?” …a question I constantly ponder but feel my answer always comes up short. I am Mary Gelpi. Well no, that’s a label given to me by my parents. Take it away and I’m still here. Who am I? Who is the Self? It was more poignant and enlightening to hear him explain who we are not. Some we’ve been over before.Ready? You are not your thoughts. You are not your emotions. You are not the things that happened to you. You are not a gender role. You’re not even your personality. And here’s the big one: You are not that voice in your head. In fact the journey to discovering your self (which is who you are) involves the attempt to eliminate that voice. In other words: telling it to SHUT. UP. And in the meantime if you can’t get it to, DON’T LISTEN TO IT. For the love of GOD don’t listen to it. Think how many times that voice in your head has been wrong…a lot. But we continue to reach out to it for advice and guidance as though it were an intelligent shrink. It’s not, it’s noise. Just so we’re clear, I’m not talking about voices plural in your head. That’s another disorder altogether and we don’t have time for it. I’m talking about the voice in your head that is constantly chattering. If you stop reading this right now and look around the room, just wait a few seconds and listen. It will begin talking. About anything. Stupid things. Funny things. Memories. To -Do lists. It’s noise. It’s a lot of noise that isn’t really propelling you in any direction on your mission. This attempt was among the original purposes of things like meditation and yoga. It wasn’t to pray or to exercise–it was to find inner stillness, the center. The center is where “You” reside. Behind the chatter, judgments, and noise is your soul or spirit, or whatever you’re comfortable calling it. It’s quiet there. It’s the part that doesn’t die. It’s the center of your consciousness, or what Zukav called The Seat of the Soul. (Also, another awesome book) So this is how the book begins; with the search for the self and a map of where to go to find it. Once you’re able to pull back the curtains on all the things that don’t define you, you begin to feel and hear the real you. Your higher self. Perhaps he puts it most accurately with this definition: the simple awareness of being aware. Or..You are not the thinking mid; you are aware of the thinking mind.
“When you contemplate the nature of Self, you are meditating. That is why meditation is the highest state. It is the return to the root of your being, the simple awareness of being aware. Once you become conscious of the consciousness itself, you attain a totally different state. You are now aware of who you are. You have become an awakened being. It’s really just the most natural thing in the world. Here I am. Here I always was. It’s like you have been on the couch watching TV, but you were so totally immersed in the show that you forgot where you were. Someone shook you, and now you’re back to the awareness that you’re sitting on the couch watching TV. Nothing else changed. You simply stopped projecting your sense of self onto that particular object of consciousness. You woke up. That is spirituality. That is the nature of Self. That is who you are.”
There was one chapter that I re-read a few times, because it really challenged my notion of happiness. It asked this question, which I find myself constantly asking: Is happiness a choice? I have always believed that we are susceptible to our circumstances, therefore happiness isn’t really a choice because we aren’t in control. We can’t help it when bad things happen. But Singer absolutely disagreed with that, and I’m pretty sure he beat me. Just because we aren’t in total control doesn’t mean our happiness isn’t in our hands. If our happiness isn’t up to us, who is it up to? Other people? Circumstance? Conditions? No wonder we’re not happy! You can’t rely on anything or anyone else to cause your experience of happiness. It is entirely up to you. If you make the commitment to be happy, it is to be unconditionally happy. But, that means acceptance of the present. That means erasing your version of what you think your life needs to look like in order for you to be happy. That’s something a lot of people don’t want to give up.
I know what you’re thinking: What if my family dies in a plane crash? What if a bird shits on my head on the way to work? I can’t help that! Of course there will be challenging events in your life, you already know that or may have already experienced them. It doesn’t mean you don’t grieve appropriately and process the hard times. But it also doesn’t mean that you stop, that you can’t be happy again and continue to live a beautiful life. (Just ask my mom, she was widowed twice, but has once again found happiness.) That’s part of the commitment. You have to accept what happens in the present, deal with it accordingly, and release. Keep going. There’s no hanging on to the past allowed. It will never change by you clinging. There’s no cringing about tomorrow allowed either. You’ll deal with tomorrow when tomorrow comes. And think about it. Does you reacting and getting upset and yelling change the fact that a bird shit on your head? No, it doesn’t. Clearly our reactions are not only silly, they’re unintelligent. They serve no purpose. They’re just noise.
Your definitions of desirable and undesirable, good and bad, all come about because you have defined how things need to be in order for you to be okay. We all know we’re doing this, but nobody questions it. We think we’re supposed to figure out how life should be, and then make it that way. Only someone who looks deeper, and questions why we need the events of life to be a particular way, will question this assumption. How did we come up with the notion that life is not okay just the way it is, or that it won’t be okay the way it will be? Who said that the way life naturally unfolds is not all right?
This is still a challenging notion for me to process, but I know it’s right. This is not to say that making unconditional happiness your mission is easy–it isn’t. It’s probably the hardest work you’ll do. But I’ve decided to take this mission on. I certainly have the time, don’t I? Maybe we all do. But we fill it up with a lot of stuff. A lot of Kardashians and O’Reilly Factor and arguments and anger and work and chaos and noise. I think it’s time to slow down. Time to go IN, not out, and find that little nook where our soul is, and try to please it. What more important work could there be? Chopra says that this is a recreational universe and that we were meant to have fun here. We weren’t meant to suffer! So I think it’s time to play. Today is August 22nd. It’s my dad’s death day. Death birthday? I wonder if they celebrate the day you die in Heaven the way we celebrate birthdays here. Anyway, my dad was one of the happiest people I knew, and that’s what everyone else had to say about him–How positive and kind he was. This book reminded me of him and his constant disposition of joy, happiness, and love. I’m going to start my work toward consciousness and inner peace with him in mind and this book as a guide, or at least a solid starting place. I highly recommend The Untethered Soul if you’ve been searching for a deeper purpose or listening for a higher calling and need a little help getting started. This is a really good road map to begin with.
My favorite line from the book: It is actually possible to never have another problem for the rest of your life.
Health, Happiness, and Real, Tangible Books.
*My favorite underlined phrases from the book. :)
What it means to live spiritually is to not participate in this struggle. It means that the events that happen in the moment belong to the moment. They don’t belong to you.
The only way to inner freedom is through the one that watches the self.
It’s bad enough that your happiness is conditional upon your own behavior. When you start making it conditional upon other people’s behavior, you’re in serious trouble.
It is not life’s events that are causing problems or stress. It is your resistance to life’s events that are causing problems or stress.
If you want to understand stress, begin by realizing that you carry around with you your own set of preconceived notions of how things should be.
Imagine if you used relationships to get to know other people, rather than to satisfy what is blocked inside of you.
When a person is dealing with their own fears, anxieties, and desires, how much energy is left for dealing with what’s actually happening?
The truth is, everything will be okay as soon as you are okay with everything. And that’s the only time everything will be okay.
Remember your first perfume? Mine was Malibu Musk, age 10. It came in a can the color of wildberry pop tarts and looked like it could emit either aerosol liquid or cheese. The smell was exactly as it was named; tropical and musky. Something that would probably make me nauseous if I smelled now. But when I was 10, I doused myself in the stuff. I loved it.
But, this isn’t a post about perfume. It’s about perfume commercials.
It’s happened more than once. I’m watching some intellectually stimulating show like The Housewives of Orange County or 16 and Pregnant when it starts; the television advertisement for the latest perfume I’ve got to try. Or smell. I get that ad execs must have to really rack their brains for these commercials, because they are trying to effectively sell a product based purely off your preference and sense of smell; a sense that as of yet, we haven’t figured out how to transcend through television. So I guess in some attempt to compensate for the void in technology, they decided to just confuse the shit out of everyone. The commercial will typically involve prancing A list actors, trench coats, flashes of light, weird indie music, and sex. Lots and lots of sex. OK so it’s not confusing. Sex sells. I get it. But every time one of these commercials comes on, it doesn’t leave me thinking of sex. Instead I kind of feel an intense urge to giggle. And not like a sexy laugh either–That nervous, Michael Scott giggle, and something tells me that is not the reaction they were going for. It’s not even just the production, it’s the names of the perfumes themselves. Angel. Guilty. Covet. The whole shebang. It’s kind of how I feel about the underwear I buy from Victorias Secret–Where one day I’m folding laundry and I realize I have underpants that say “University of Pink” on the butt. (True story) I get what they were going for, I just don’t think they got it right. What would Donald Draper say if he saw these? Who would he hit?! Here is the most recent one I saw that had me super weirded out. Exhibit A:
OK so the takeaways here:
Mediocre actors make even more mediocre singers.
Eva Mendez lives in the future where subways look like aerodynamic toaster boats.
Something about circles?
This Angel Perfume stuff apparently gives you an orgasm when you smell it. WIN!
Remember when Sarah Jessica Parker released her own scent? It was called Covet. And the commercial was really bad.
Did she really think she could get away with stealing that big ass bottle of perfume? That thing is GINORMOUS.
Those eyes at the end?–Those are what you call Crazy Eyes. (See also, Ramona from NY Housewives)
That last scene reminded me to lock the doors.
Here’s one for Gucci’s “Guilty”
Someone is definitely guilty here..of LIGHTING MY CAR WHEELS ON FIRE.
I think we just found Ghost Riders wife.
Did you see that? She broke like, 15 common street laws.
This is Prada’s commercial for “Candy”. I actually appreciate this one. I’ll just go ahead and tell you the takeaway for it now: Big. Pink. Panties. Watch:
Here’s Nicole Kidman’s famous commercial for Channel #5, though it looks more like a movie trailer for Moulin Rouge. The budget for this little production was $42 million and funded exclusively by Channel. That’s right. FORTY TWO MILL.
The Takeaway: It would have been cooler if they just lit $42 million dollars on fire :)
I just threw this one in the mix because..dude..FORTY TWO MIL!
The 80’s know what’s up. THIS is a how a perfume commercial is done. I heard that Charlie is actually a pretty stinky perfume.
This woman’s life looks awesome. I kind of want to be her.
Kinda Young Kinda Now, Charrrlieee.
OK last one. This is pretty scandalous, especially for the 90’s. It’s for Calvin Klein’s Obsession. And um, is that you Justin Bieber?
Health, Happiness, and I just watched perfume commercials for the last two hours and now I’m really contemplating the meaning of my life.
Here is the truth; you’re not missing out on anything if you don’t get on Facebook today. I’ll fill you in: Someone got engaged. Someone had a baby. Someone is angry at Obama. Someone cooked spaghetti. And someone is hung-over after going out big last night. But if you spend the day on Facebook, you’re missing out on all the rest. You know, like on life. So now here’s 10 things you can do instead of get on Facebook, that might actually make you feel better.
1. Forgive somebody. There is probably someone or something from your past that needs to be let go of, moved on from, and it might even be you. Letting go of things in the past opens up room for good stuff in the future. Go!
2. Appreciate who and what ya got. Having a gratitude journal sounds super cheesy I know, but once you start writing down everything you’re thankful for everyday, you’ll see very subtly your whole perception change for the better.
3. Create. Make art! Or a sweater! Or music.Or dinner! You’ll be surprised at what you end up making. And have someone in mind when you create. The best gifts are home-made.
4.Exercise. Even if it’s just a walk outside or 15 minutes of yoga… exercise releases serotonin and adds years to your life. Imagine if you did 10 sit-ups/push-ups for every 10 minutes you spent on Facebook. Everyone would be all muscley and stuff.
5. Bake a cake for someone. Anyone. Just because you love em. It’ll make their day! Let us eat cake.
6.Organize your closet, dresser, room, or junk drawer. Cleaning things out just feels good, it’s free, and the end result will make you breathe easier.
7. Occupy Wal-Street. Just kidding. Couldn’t think of a good O verb. Uh, organize your second closet!
8. Kidnap someone and bring them on an awesome adventure. Dont actually blindfold them and throw them in the backseat of your car or anything..just bring them to lunch or something. And then maybe antiquing.
9. Read a book. Remember books? Instead of getting lost in an anonymous persons wedding album on Facebook, (ahem, yeah that’s me) get lost in a book. It’s such an awesome feeling. And you don’t feel like a creeper by the end.
10. Write and send a letter. Not an email, not a text. A real letter, written in your own special handwriting. Old school mail dude, it’s the best! (May take 2 weeks to arrive though. The post office has had a rough year.)
Health, Happiness, Lifebook. (See what I did there?)
Maybe that title is a little extreme, but sometimes when I’m counting out my pills in the morning and filling up my coffee mug for the third time, I wonder about my existence. Not in the depressing suicidal way, but more in terms of how such a weak physical specimen as myself has made it this far, it being survival of the fittest and all. I’m far from fit, but I guess I am surviving. But when I see people on facebook climbing mountains and shit I think crap, I can’t even stand the thought of standing in line without needing to faint. What am I doing here?! Then I get off facebook because I’m really starting to believe it is the demise of human beings. I think I’ll post that thought on facebook.
After visiting with the doc in Miami and changing around a few doses of things, we agreed upon my next round of treatment; which is two anti-biotics for the next two years. Woo! Yeah! Apparently, all my liminess isn’t gone, and the 6 month run on those overly priced horse pills didn’t do the trick. SO. Round two. To be honest, I’m fine with this decision. I mean, my pill bag has just enough room for two more bottles, so I’m cool with it spatially. I could look at it and be like waahhh two years of more pills. Or I could look at it as; In two years from now I presume I’ll be alive anyway, so would I like to be full or free of lyme disease? It’s my patriotic duty to choose freedom. And anti-biotics. So here’s to more pills! We’re waiting on the blood work still to finalize decisions but it’s looking like I’m in it for the long haul. Which is fine because, you know, I have the time.
So I’ve been reading A New Earth and it’s really awesome even though I’ve read it before. I think it’s one of those books you could continue to read your whole life and never fall short of gaining incredible meaning. The only other book that has done that for me is The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. I love that book.
So anyway there’s this part in A New Earth where Tolle is talking about human evolution. It reminded me of my first day of my college anthropology class. The teacher brought up evolution and began to talk about the timeline for the semester and then started to give his personal viewpoint on evolution so the class would have a clear direction. Then he asked if there were any questions and a student raised his hand and asked “But if evolution exists, then why have humans stopped evolving?” The teacher smiled big and shouted “Great Question and THANK YOU for asking!” (This was his enthusiastic response to any question a student decided to ask during class.) Then he put his hands together under his chin and answered with “That’s the good news. We haven’t!” He went on to explain that evolution are adapted changes made over a long period of time, and that if we compared modern humans with our counterparts 10,000 years ago, there would be numerous differences. I at least know that in terms of communication even in the last ten years there have been an incredible amount of changes that will forever change the ways humans interact with one another. I’d love to show a caveman Facebook.
Anyway, back to the book. Soo Tolle is talking about humans and how we’ve evolved and that one of the biggest fundamental differences between human beings and the rest of the animal world is that we are conscious of our consciousness. This kind of awareness is what drives the fundamental questions like “Who Am I?” and “What Is My Purpose Here?” Although these are the kinds of questions that can be terrifying or seemingly impossible to answer, they are what make us uniquely human and for that they should be celebrated! And pursued, too. What he also says is that “The next step in human evolution (enlightenment) is not inevitable, but for the first time in the history of our planet, it can be a conscious choice.” Cool dude!
Along those same lines, I watched a lecture that Deepak Chopra gave a few days ago, and much of what he spoke about correlated with this very concept. (Synchronicity, Yeah!) He talked about the mind, the body, and the soul, but he began by expounding on the intelligence of our human bodies independent of our human minds. For example, our bodies are made up of 100 trillion cells, which is more than all the stars in the Milky Way Galaxy. Each cell is performing roughly 100,000 activities every second and every cell instantly knows what the other cells are doing and correlates its activities respectively. This is how we are capable of thinking, talking, digesting food, playing piano, killing germs and removing toxins all at the same time. “This is the inner intelligence inside of you that mirrors the wisdom of the Universe,” he says. It was cool to hear him speak about this because so many times I’ve laid in bed with my hand on my heart, listening and feeling my heartbeat and thinking “Who’s making it beat?” I guess the answer wasn’t a who, but a what. Or a who-what.
Then he broke down human intelligence into four levels. He said that the highest form of human intelligence is State of Being. He describes this as the ability to observe yourself without judging yourself. The Second highest form is Feeling- our ability to feel compassion, joy, empathy. The 3rd highest form is Reflective Thinking-Who Am I? What Do I want? What will my contribution be? What inspires me? And the 4th highest form is Doing- the ability to create happiness. He also provided a pretty simple but profound definition of the soul- the space between your thoughts. Think about it.
Anyway seeing as how sometimes I’m a worthless physical specimen that doesn’t “do” a whole lot, I liked how doing was last on the list. :) But it was his last thought that was most reassuring to me, since it had been a very sick week and I was feeling a lot like a horse needing to be shot. “The next state of evolution is consciousness. It will be survival of the wisest, not the fittest.”
You’re in the right place. This is still the blog about fibro, pills, humor and attempted awesomeness. I gave the blog a little makeover and I’ve been putting it off for a while now, but the time has come my people. First, I shortened the address from 25pillsday.wordpress.com to just 25pillsaday.com so we can all breathe easier knowing we have 9 less characters to type. Also as someone who’s 5.3 feet proud, I always argue that shorter is better. Secondly, all the crap that used to be at the bottom of the page is now easily accessible at the top. See? Right over there. >>>>>>>>> And that old picture of all those drugs that were the colors of library furniture have been replaced by bright neon cascading pills in the background. It’s all so magical. It’s funny that I would even consider so heavily the design or lack thereof of something that makes me no money and is in most people’s eyes just a hobby. But truthfully, it’s my baby. I care a lot about it. And in recent nights I’ve woken up like Wait, should I put the links on THE LEFT SIDE?? Then I’m like OK there are wars going on and the location of links and font color is not so big a deal. I just needed to pull the trigger. So bang. I’m also reminded of the time I spent an hour picking out a dog collar for Monty and I guess it makes sense I’d take so much time with this. If you don’t like it, just give it a few days. If you still don’t like it, feel free to email me with only these words: YOU BLEW IT! I’ll know then what I’ve done. There will be some new additions to the blog but I thought I’d ease into those slowly. We’ll start just with cosmetics.
What else? I’ve spent the last two weeks in California at my sister and brother-in-law’s house in Orange County, California. (Side note: I recently realized my life is whole lot like Rob Kardashians, and that makes me have quiet moments of extreme discomfort.) It’s funny, because both my sister Amelie and my brother-in-law Keegan work full-time jobs, like most normal people. So in the morning they’re getting ready for work and I’m laying on the couch lifeless, half conscious. Sometimes I don’t even wake up to them scrambling around because I think my sleep schedule is so incredibly screwy that I’m in my REM cycle at 8:30 a.m., but that’s something different altogether. Last week Amelie was putting the final touches to her work attire in the bedroom and Keegan was getting ready to walk out the door. I was fumbling through pills on the couch. Before he walked out Keegan asked “Are you sure you don’t want me to leave the car here for you? Like are you going to get restless?” Amelie and I answered in a monotone voice in unison: “No.” “You’re not going to get bored?” Again, from both of us. “No.” Then we kind of all laughed, maybe for different reasons, and the functioning people went to work and I opened my book.
I am reading two books. I must admit, after I finished reading Freedom I felt like there was this new hole where something solid used to be. The way it feels after you lose a tooth. Then when I was in New York, my brother told me Strong Motion written also by Franzen competed heavily with Freedom so I brought it with me and have been enjoying that one too. It’s written in true Franzenian form and I once again feel like I’m getting a literary/science education just by reading the work, so it’s fun. But I don’t know that anything can top Freedom. OK I’ll stop talking about that now. Except wait I have one more thing. On NPR people with cool voices were all telling Jonathan Franzen he needs to keep an eye on Nell Freudenberger and there was all this jabber about the book The Newlyweds and so I decided to give it a try. So far it’s really good. She isn’t as inventive with the prose as he is but her writing is clean and the storyline has me going; a mail order bride from Bangladesh marries a 30 something engineer dude in upstate New York and there are hints of secrets and controversy and all the good stuff that makes good books good.
The other book that I just finished is The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav and it was really, really incredible. Not as dense as A New Earth but just as enlightening and really reassuring, especially if you fear death. And for a while I think I became a little too obsessed with this idea that I was going to die. In the sense that I would actually start to wonder, maybe I just won’t die. Like maybe I’m exempt? But duh, I’m not. And it’s cool, because he says all this stuff that makes so much sense and I basically underlined the entire book. I feel like I’ll just keep it at my bedside forever now. Until I..you know, die.
OK, that’s all the housekeeping for today. Or should I say book-keeping. Get it? Health-wise I’ve been managing pretty well. This morning was my first migraine I’ve had since leaving NYC two weeks ago. That’s a long time for me! Good stuff. Maybe I just need to be by the ocean for the rest of my life. California is awesome, but weird. I’ll talk about that next time. Cliffhanger!!
The topic of forgiveness has been making its way into many conversations I’ve been having among friends and family lately. It’s also shown up in my books and things I’ve been watching, and I don’t take signs lightly. I’ve been thinking a lot about forgiveness and also about resentment. These are incredibly strong feelings to hold on to. Whether you know it or not, your willingness to forgive has more to do with you than anyone who has wronged you. The concept is simple; forgive those who have wronged you and free yourself, or stay angry and chain yourself to the past. I can tell you from personal experience that the latter makes life incredibly heavy and mostly uphill. The premise of this idea of forgiveness is one you don’t hear often but as I’ve been confronting this new definition, makes an incredible amount of sense to me albeit at odds with our typical definition in the realm of apologies. Ready? It is this: It is not our job to judge other human beings. Maybe you feel one or both of your parents did a less than adequate job raising you. Maybe you were wronged by a romantic partner or betrayed by a friend. Don’t you think it’s interesting that the wrongdoing could have happened something like 10 years ago, and yet you still feel the pain, hurt or anger as though the wound were made yesterday? This is the ego hanging on for dear life. The ego wants to see the person who wronged you suffer. They want to see them ‘pay’ for their crime. But as many people will tell you, or what you may have experienced yourself, is vengeance is often so exhausting that when you see your perpetrator pay for his crime, you often don’t feel any better. That is because your higher self doesn’t like to see fellow human beings suffer. Your ego does.
What I’ve gathered from recent material, is that forgiveness granted to others is a gift you give yourself. It does not exonerate what the other person did. It does not excuse them from their wrongdoing and it is not a symbol of weakness on your part. It is quite the opposite. If someone has wronged you, they will have to face those demons, the consequences of their actions, on their own. And you have to trust that they will eventually have to confront their behavior. It’s how energy and karma work. But whether you forgive them or not does not determine whether they will have to come face to face with their wrongdoing. It is impossible that they won’t. This is good news for us. This means we don’t have to hold on to what was done to us, we don’t have to take on the task of seeing perpetrators pay, and we don’t even have to wait for them to apologize in order to forgive them. The universe and karma will take care of these things for us. It is only our job to work towards consciousness and becoming a whole human being. And you can become neither of these things if your clawing away at a crime done unto you whether it be yesterday or 10 years ago. The resentment will infect all parts of your life, because it is such a negatively charged emotion, besides draining your positive energy and keeping you halfway in the past. It is impossible to become conscious and live fully in the present if you have one foot in your childhood wagging your finger at your dad. Here is the most relieving and powerful definition of resentment that I heard recently; “Having resentment for someone is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.” Nelson Mandela said that. And I think it’s safe to say that guy has good reason to hang onto resentment, and yet he let it all go. So can we.
So, of course, this is all easier said than done. How do we let go of the past? For one thing, look at the anger or hurt that you are hanging onto. Where is it coming from? First you need to ‘bring it to light’ as they say. Chances are you’re holding onto pain and haven’t even fully acknowledged it. But it’s there. Maybe you are drinking it away, smoking it away, sexing it away, manipulating it away, or betting it away. But once you stop, (try stillness, that is when many answers arise) you will feel those inner parts that are hurting. The next thing to remember is that by letting go of the pain, forgiving what was done to you, you are not excusing wrongdoing. You are freeing yourself. You are feeling the hurt of what was done, maybe even one last time, and then releasing it. You’re saying that you aren’t going to live with the pain, anger, hurt, sadness, exhaustion or judgement anymore. (Keep in mind, the person who needs forgiving may even be yourself.) I know that the word surrender seems to have a weak stigma attached to it, but it is the opposite. Surrender is the brave acceptance of what is and also of what was. Whether you accept the things that have happened in your life or not, the truth remains the same. Your anger at the past won’t change it, so it is time to let it go.
I’ve thought heavily the last few days of what sort of pain I’ve been carrying around with me. After a year and four months, I feel like I have forgiven whoever or whatever I was mad at that I am sick. In fact, I turned that emotion around into gratitude. Of course, I wouldn’t have chosen this. But since when do I know what’s best for me in the context of eternity? I don’t. But intelligent divinity does, and I’ve finally begun to trust that. Last night I tapped into a moment that my deceased step-dad and I shared on New Years Eve one night. He had been in a terrible mood for three days. He would stomp around the house angrily, slam cabinet doors, sigh heavily at small things. Finally he blew up. It was over this: a dryer sheet. There was a dryer sheet on the floor of our laundry room, and it put him over the edge. He reacted, threw his hands in the air, yelled something about respect and consideration and grew red and heated in the face. It was an obvious overreaction and clear to my mom and I that he was dealing with the hurt of something else. How could a dryer sheet make someone so mad? Those things smell awesome! My mom stayed very calm and told him his behavior wasn’t acceptable, and the two of us left for a few hours and allowed him to get his head straight. When we returned, the two of them spoke in our office for a few hours, and I got ready to celebrate the New Year. When I walked into the kitchen, Roger called me into the office where he and my mom were sitting. He was weeping. He told me “I can’t be who your dad was. And I’m sorry.” I remember holding his hand and saying “I don’t need you to be my dad. I just need you to be you.” We looked at each other and for the first time in a long while, I felt that we really saw each other. Each for exactly who the other one was, not who we wished them to be. It was a freeing moment. I learned then the power of forgiveness, and have since (over 8 years ago) tried to constantly look past the external reactions of people, and into what is real. People don’t act in poor ways for no reason. They just don’t.
I’ll leave you with one last quote about forgiveness. It was said by Iyanla Vanzant, a spiritual teacher and author. (Life Class anyone?) Here it is:
Until you heal the wounds of your past, you will continue to bleed. You can bandage the bleeding with food, with alcohol, with drugs, with work, with cigarettes, with sex, but eventually, it will all ooze through and stain your life. You must find the strength to open the wounds, stick your hands inside, pull out the core of the pain that is holding you in your past, the memories, and make peace with them.”
Pretty powerful no? Since I am trying to break the pattern of holding onto pain, or holding onto judgement for others behavior, I find that having a replacement reaction makes it easier. (Sort of like supplementing a cigarette with a cup of tea.) Whenever I feel that judgment stir in me, I take out my gratitude journal, and find something about the person or situation which I find…crappy…to be grateful for. Maybe someone wronging you taught you how to have self worth, how to tell the truth, how to listen, how to set boundaries. There are any number of things. I just know that the people in your life that have caused you pain were not just sent here to mess with you. The universe is not a random kid playing games. Like Nepo says, It is our job to make sense out of pain; there is a lesson in everything. It’s not easy. It’s hard as shit. But the reward of compassion is far greater than the result of resentment. The time has come to free myself this way. I hope you’ll do the same.
I bought a watch in the airport on my way to New York. The battery in my old watch stopped ticking not too long ago, but to be honest, it mostly served an ornamental purpose anyway. It’s not like I have a real job and am constantly under a time crunch. But after wearing one for a while, I realized how nice it was to flip my wrist and know the time, instead of wondering around the house to find my phone, which was usually dead, plugging it in, and waiting for the numbers to appear. (There are three clocks in our kitchen at home: The one on the stove. The one on the microwave. And an old clock that hangs on the wall. They tell three different times.) Anyway I found this store in the Atlanta airport where everything was ten dollars. This impressed me. It was the equivalent to The Dollar Store with a less than typical airport markup. So I found this basic orange watch and purchased it for $10, which in my opinion is the deal of the century. But now I’ve been doing all this reading and studying about the concept of time and how letting go of the past and future, even immediate pasts and futures, is an important step towards consciousness, presence. Of course the telling of time serves practical purposes. In my case, it helps me know that I am always ten minutes late for everything. Anyway, I was watching Oprah interview Deepak Chopra and he showed her his watch and you know what it had on the face of it? RIGHT NOW. I was like dude, that’s what I’m talking about! I thought about scribbling that on the face of my new watch with a sharpie. That would of course ruin it aesthetically, but hey, it was only 10 bucks. Bargains rock.
I have been practicing presence. Lucky for me, I am so conditioned in slipping out of the present moment that it has become seamless, so each day gives me plenty of practice. I catch myself becoming sad at feeling sick, disappointed in my productivity, jealous of others resilience, or irritated at not feeling understood. I say three words to get me back to the present: Here and Now. The best way to handle these scenarios is first, not to judge yourself for the feelings you have. Just recognizing when these feelings arise and acknowledging that they exist is the beginning of progress. (If I’m understanding what I’m reading correctly) The second step is to not react to these feelings. And that is the harder part. But as soon as you have created a gap, the tinniest of gaps, between your emotions and a typical reaction, be it yelling, throwing, saying something hurtful, manipulating etc., you’ve done it. You’ve conquered that moment. You’re far from done, because your life consists of a gazillion moments that you can accept with grace, or resist and pay the emotional or physical price; pain, in any number of forms. If you’ve done it once, you can do it again. Now the goal becomes to live in the gaps. As Gary Zukav so beautifully puts it: “Live your life like a feather on the breath of God.” Cool!
I have been thinking a lot about the new state of mind I am consciously trying to move toward. And I’ve been thinking about the illness and its role and whether my state of mind makes a difference. Truthfully, I am not incredibly better physically than I was this time last year. Certainly the first few months of 2011 were the worst. I remember before seeing the specialist in Miami, we had to take data a few weeks before going. One of the assignments was to stand for 10 minutes and then have my blood pressure taken. I remember finding this exceptionally difficult. For the last few minutes I had to lean against the couch because I felt too heavy, too weak to stay standing. We found later this was predominantly due to low blood volume among other things, but the point is, while I have made progress, every day is still somewhat of a battle. There are constant symptoms showing their faces, coming and going, almost as though they have a life of their own. As though they make up their minds to visit me, then leave. Like the last two weeks where I had a migraine every day for nine days. I was doing nothing different but my head seemed to… hate me. Anyway, I just try to deal with each day as it comes. But what has shifted more than anything is my personal assessment of where my life is. I’ve let go of a lot of anger and resentment. I had to go through the emotional work of it, grieve the loss of my old self. But in a strange way, I have come to see the illness as a gift; not a hindrance, not an enemy. It is what I needed in order to evolve. This has not resulted in me getting all better. There is a real possibility I could be sick the rest of my life. But that’s not the point. Although if that turns out to be the case, so be it. I’m learning it’s still entirely possible to live well, love well, and find peace–sick or not. It really isn’t up to me to judge these circumstances. It’s only up to me to persevere with what I have and what I am with grace and wisdom. The part of me that wants to call my set of circumstances unfair, unwise, unlucky, or stupid, is only pushing me further out into the ocean of despair. (Haha, ocean of despair. Yessss) I’ve never met a happy or successful person who was working against themselves, against the pulse of life. Everyone I’ve met who is joyous and successful has taken what they’ve been given, and put it to use, not tried to cast it away.
So that is how April 2012 is different from April 2011. In simpler metaphors, I’m like a crappy car. I have this somewhat dysfunctional body, but that is not so serious of an issue in terms of achieving my purpose. The soul is not heavily effected by external circumstances like these; the personality is. And making that distinction is important. Our bodies are just a vehicle. So, my body is like a car that can only go 10 miles at a time and frequently overheats and needs constant oil changes and runs out of gas quickly. But even 10 miles at a time, a car can still get to where it’s going.