Sunday musings

I so did not want to get up this morning.  I stayed up too late on Saturday–I ended up driving around on backroads in the night.  It’s so strange, what people do when your brain won’t shut off.  Driving in the dark.  But I made my way back to my friends’ house and slept over there. I woke up at my usual time and just stared at the ceiling for a couple of hours.

I had been talking too much about my marriage on Saturday.  Telling the old story, my side of it at least, and it’s still strange to look back on.  You start to wonder sometimes if you could ever do that again.

Friday morning when I dropped off the kids, Rowan was so happy.  She was going to hand out valentines’ and get candy and go snowshoeing and her story was all typed up and ready to go.  She was telling me what a great day it was going to be and I looked at her and just loved her.  I’m still kind of  surprised how easy it is to love her and her sister.  I never hold back, there is nothing to hold back from.  How different from my marriage where there were hurts and unresolved things and the ending was that we brought out the worst in each other.

I still believe in love.  And it’s not hard to get dates, when I choose to, because I genuinely adore men.  Men are just all kinds of awesome.  They can be really cool friends, and smart, and funny–and then there’s that element of sexual tension and physicality that’s like nothing else.  But I was reading about all sorts of love things this weekend and especially about gazing into your lover’s eyes for three minutes or more will make you feel closer to that person.   Wow.  I don’t think I have looked into anyone’s eyes for a solid three minutes or more without flinching for years.  (Keeping the kids out of it, obviously).  I don’t know if I could even do that right now.  I think when I can, I will know that I’m ready.

So my opinion is that when you’re feeling vulnerable, you should hang out with people who love you.  I spent the entire weekend out of town with friends.  One friend made me Sunday morning crepes and then I hung out with his wife who was an old roommate of mine.  She was still in bed so we sat and talked for awhile and then took a nap.  I have people in my life now where I’ve been friends with them for 10, 15, 20 years.  We feel asleep in her bed and it was like we were in college again, talking about boys and life and stuff.  We finally got up for real in the early afternoon to hit the tail end of the steampunk faire.  I wore her leggings and she wore my corset.

And then I had to go home and get ready for life again on Monday.

Gamer Girls on Valentine’s Day

02-14-2014

I wasn’t sure what I was going to do this weekend, so I decided to be social.  I went gaming last night at a friend’s and killed imaginary zombies with a bunch of people.  (The female contingent is shown above, yes it was 50/50-men not shown). Although we ended up talking more than we gamed and I was so tired I mostly observed and rolled dice as needed, listening to people talk.  But on the way over, I got to see the moon rise over the horizon and it was beautiful.  Quite pink against the blue dusky sky, that was my gift to myself–to enjoy a perfect full moon for Valentine’s Day.  I don’t know why people call it V Day though – it makes me think of Victory or Venereal Disease.   Which I suppose probably does do an uptick on Valentine’s.

Today, I am hanging out with different, mostly female, friends for a full moon gathering.   Setting intentions for the year, burning  candles and drinking some wine, hanging out with a new baby, that sort of thing.

And then tomorrow is the steampunk faire at the Domes.  Should be fun, I’m going to wear my corset I got at Teslacon.  🙂  Or I’m going to try to lace my friend up in it, if she will let me.  I can always wear it another time.

Drawing

Years ago, I used to be a math and chemistry tutor and really enjoyed it.  For a long time I planned to be a professor, until I found out that it’s not about the teaching, it’s about the research and the funds you can generate.  Even at my last job, I got to do some corporate training, which I really enjoyed.

Today, I got to try my hand at teaching something totally different – I taught drawing to my kid’s Girl Scout troop.  Wow, was that interesting.  One was really offended that I brought in real animal skulls.  Georgia O’Keefe, anyone??  Most girls drew the fake fruit or something from their minds.  Rowan, who had been looking forward to me teaching her drawing, was disappointed when it didn’t just magically happen.  I’ve never taught drawing before, so it went okay, but it I had to do it again, I would do it totally differently.

My personal belief about art is that it is a triumvirate of desire, skill, and spirit.  Granted, skill is probably the most debatable – Picasso and Pollock do not have great realism in their famous works.  But it feels very satisfying if you can draw something somewhat realistically.  Then you have to want to do it, and have something to say.  Something that resonates.

But the first step is unseeing what you think you see.  This is the part I neglected with the girls today.  Every day, every minute, our brains take in an enormous amount of information and the way we get through it all is triage.  What is important?  What should be saved?  Not everything can be saved.  Some new studies on memory show it to be more like a play being reenacted in our heads, rather than a tape recorder–so every time you replay a memory, it is slightly different.

Especially if you try portraiture (which I’ve done with mixed success) the difficulty is that you already know what you’re looking for.  You’ve already rendered that person in your head and as soon as you start drawing, you mess yourself up because you don’t recognize all the weird bits that go into a person’s face.  You, in fact, do not really know what they look like.  Not completely.  If I’m trying to draw realistically, I often try to cross my eyes a little or unfocus them, to distance myself from the subject and turn it into impersonal blocks of light and dark.

Look at when kids draw a person’s face – they always put the eyes towards the top, and larger than they should be.  That’s because we focus on eyes.  Barbies and manga draw upon this all the time.  But the eyes should be in the middle of head–which looks weird until you add hair.  Because a skull is three-dimensional, and the face only goes to the hairline.

Rowan still wants me to teach her more drawing–we’ll see how it goes.  The skill part is all practice, practice, practice.  And first attempts are often very sucky.  It’s the nature of learning anything, you have to put the time in.

Sitting into Uncomfortableness, Part II

One of the the things on my bucket list is to do a vision quest one of these days.  Just sit in the wilderness for a few days and be totally alone.  Preferably somewhere in the west, my internship at the government facilities in the Columbia basin cemented my love of that area.  In the morning even at 7:30 am, you could smell the sagebrush starting to roast in the sun, and all the white pickup trucks had fire gear in the back because if you went off-roading, you could easily start a fire.

I was renting a room from a woman who had two teenage kids and because they lived there, were totally oblivious to the immense beauty around them.  She took great pleasure in driving me all over the place, we hiked Mt. Rainier and visited upper Idaho which is full of mountainous plateaus, and at night it was blacker than black with a silence that settled in your soul.  Growing up in Connecticut, where the night sky always had a faint orange-brown cast at the base of the horizon, I had never seen blackness on that level.

Just as being comfortable with your body can take time, it can time to be comfortable being alone with who you really are.  I know people who would never want to be that alone even for a few days, without technology, without any distractions, because there is a fear that something will come up from inside you that you don’t want to see, don’t want to sit with.  Judgements, fears, old pains, loneliness, mortality.  I’m not perfect with it either, there are plenty of times when I just want to be with people.

In my teens, I was so, so unhappy.  Sometimes I wish I could go back and give myself a hug and tell myself it gets better.  While other girls I guess were fantasizing about their weddings, I was fantasizing about my funeral–because part of me did not think I would ever make past my 20s.  I read a ton of fantasy to run away into and wrote a ton of really bad poetry.  But then college happened and that was the beginning of a new life.  A new place, no one knew me, so I could be anyone I wanted to be and I met people that somehow saw something good in me.  I grew into the reflection I saw in their eyes.

But the one good thing about obsessing about death for you know, a decade or so, is that it gives such perspective.  Many days I am just happy for no particular reason because that self-hatred has largely disappeared.  I got over myself.  I got over thinking my problems were insurmountable.  I got over thinking my individual life has great impact–which sounds depressing, but it’s not meant to be.  So if years ago, before I was born, I was soul deciding to jump into the Disneyland that we call mortal life, why am I here?  I don’t quite know that yet, just that I feel like I am one little blood corpuscle and I need to find my tribe of other corpuscles and together we’ll do something great.

Meanwhile, all this other stuff needs to be taken with a grain of salt.  I do think life has meaning, but it’s nothing to be afraid of.  It’s okay to not quite know what you’re doing, and mess up sometimes.  It’s okay to get into relationships and not know what the end game is, even if it means that your heart gets hurt.  It’s okay to try new adventures and not know the outcome, because baby, we’re all going to die anyway.

 

I wrote this post while listening to Abendtrost (Solace of Night) written by a friend of mine.  You should check it out.

 

 

 

Sitting into Uncomfortableness, Part I

At my last workplace, I was the Wellness Coordinator for the site and the last year I was there they gave me (and the other WCs for the other US sites) a pair of commemorative dumbbells.  They’re very nice, bright chrome aluminum with a parabolic curve.  They’re the most artsy dumbbells I own.  But the funny thing is they’re only two pounds.  What am I going do with 2 pounders?  A minimum would be maybe 5 lbs for flyes, and otherwise 10/15 and up.  But I found a use for them–they’re the great for bellyrolls.

Bellydance has a mystique and if you’re watching a really good dancer you end up thinking, “Man, how is she even doing that?”  And that’s because you practice drills, separating out and individualizing the movements and the muscles, and then you integrate them all together again.  But now the whole–the whole of the dance and the movements and the dancer are using all of the muscles.  And so it seems fantastic and weird and beautiful and mesmerizing because it no longer consists of one note, but of many working together.  Those tiny side movements may not be individually discernible in the dance, but you immediately recognize the impact of all.

For me, a challenging move is still the bellyroll.  We think of our bellies as one big glob of softness (unless you’re young and hot, and then it’s one big glob of tautness).  But it’s not one thing, it’s not just a glob that you either suck in or let hang.  Trying to talk to individual muscles is difficult, it’s a kind of magic that you just keep trying until you connect.  Like peeing–how are you telling your internal bladder muscles to hold when you’re not paying attention and let go on command?  We learn this as kids.  So when I was trying to connect to my belly muscles, I found that it was useful to lie on the floor  and have one 2-lb weight on my lower abs and one on my upper abs.  And then I practiced pushing one up while sucking the other one in.  It’s difficult, it takes time.  You’re calling to part of yourself, to muscles that only listen in a vague sort of way.  Until you just get it, and it takes practice.

It’s interesting, both bellydance and yoga–you learn how to really sit within your body.  To just be comfortable when you’re not, when you can’t be as flexible and as graceful as you would like to be.  Because really, unless you’re a Victoria’s Secret model, very few women are comfortable with who there are.  And even the models judge themselves when they wear the g-strings with their derrieres hanging out–and there’s thousands of pictures of their VS butts.

There’s an old joke that if a man was transformed into a woman, he would do nothing but play with his boobs all day.  Yet, we have to tell women of all ages to do monthly breast exams and explicitly instruct them to touch themselves, hand to breast–no loofah, no washcloth inbetween.  How sad it that?  And how sad that even the word “touch” has been commandeered to always mean something sexual, because Americans have no idea how to be sensual.  It’s cool now to be into food (taste), it’s always been cool to be into music (hearing) and art (sight)–but touch!  Holy cow–so uncomfortable.

To add to it, besides the shade of 50% gray that separates sensual from sexual, there is the 75% shade of gray that separates sexuality from crass f***ery.  Look!  We don’t even have words for the distinctions of the thing.  Because there is an uncomfortableness to being within your own skin as women.  Are you a slut?  Or a prude? Are you easy, or hard to get?  But there is a middle.  It’s hard as a woman to sit within the seeming contradictions of herself-yes, I like sex, and yes I have job that I’m competent and smart at, and yes, you mess with my kids I absolutely will be mama bear–all these things can exist in the same person.  But we have no name for that, for balance.

Meanwhile, we forget the best things about the best men–smarts, loyalty, that quality of fierceness and protectiveness, some untamed wolf that wants to ravish you, but not total prickery.  Without the ability to discern the permutations, men get unfairly thrown into two camps, the “nice” guy, the one who will father and parent your kids, but can’t make your insides clench with desire OR the jerk who is great in the bedroom but not somebody you actually want to grow old with.  But people aren’t just in two camps–there is moderation and messiness, and seeing that comes from wisdom, judgement, and maturity.  And if you cannot sit within the different aspects yourself, you cannot discern it in others.