The Lobster Incident (or how I found myself at a football game)

football balcony

football

Or, how I found out that humans (including myself) are abysmally bad at predicting what will make them happy.

I am always impressed when people who haven’t known me for very long realize that though I am generally low-key, I can be incredibly stubborn at times.  This is a trait that I’ve had since early childhood, and probably one of the main reasons that my dad and I would butt heads when I was younger.  I especially don’t like it when someone tries to tell me how to feel or tries to manipulate me.

Wen I was kid, maybe 11 or so, my family would sometimes take weekend trips to the coast for lobster.  My brother and I would go and get some totally pedestrian food, like hotdogs.  And my parents were trying so hard to get us to try lobster, and we both refused.  I remember feeling skeptical about their motivations.  Why do you want me to try lobster so badly?  What if I try and I don’t like it?  Maybe you don’t think you know me as well as you think you do.  There was that obstinate part of me that resented being urged into something.  But I finally relented and discovered that I love lobster.  It really was as good as they said it would be.  Though I didn’t care, at first, for cracking the shells or dealing with the yellowjackets that would swarm around the carcasses.  But in the end, I fell in love with going to Abbott’s and getting the lobster roll, squinting in the sun and breathing in the salt air of the coast.  Mom and Dad would place the lobster shells on another picnic table so the wasps wouldn’t bother us.  I was a teenager, but it is still one of my treasured family memories, something we just did.

Another memory:  I am age 8 and we are in England.  We’re there for three weeks, my parents, my brother, and my grandmother.  At one point, we are in Cornwall and my dad wants to take me into the ocean, my mom isn’t into it and stays on the beach with my brother.  The water is surprisingly warm yet I am afraid of the waves, but my dad tells me that it will be okay, he wants me to enjoy the ocean.  He holds me up and carries me to where the water level is waist high–and one of the waves, maybe two feet high, crash over our heads.  I am scared and then the waves crash over both of our heads, we emerge out of the foam and I realize how totally fun that was!

These memories of mine became a pivotal point in my life, a late understanding that often I don’t know what I may really like, unless I try it.  My powers of anticipation can be totally off-base, and I’ve never forgotten that.  So my motto for life is that I have to experience it to know.  I can’t know what I haven’t experienced, so a new experience should always be honored.

In that vein, I found myself serendipitously invited to a Badger game on Saturday.  A friend of mine was going to go with his brother, but his brother became ill, and he invited me in his stead.  I have never had the occasion to experience a home football game from one of the suites, but it ended up being super fun!  Okay, so I’m super lame and don’t like being cold – so hanging out on a private balcony gave me great pleasure.  It was a bit surreal . . . but I enjoyed every minute of it.  Got lots of vitamin D too, as the sun was setting full on my face.  And they even won–a nice surprise.  I was just glad to experience it from start to finish.

Giving and Thanks

leaves

I’m having a pretty good four day weekend.  I love Thanksgiving, mostly because breaking bread with people I love is a quintessential joy of mine.  And I don’t usually hold on too hard on how the holidays are going to go down, because whatever happens, it will be good.

I wasn’t supposed to have the kids for Thanksgiving, but I was going over to my brother and his wife’s for Thanksgiving, and they do the traditional dinner.  My ex’s family wasn’t doing anything of the sort, so L. told me I should take them with me for that day.  It’s great that we easily switch the kids.  Our schedules are more like guidelines, because we both need each other to be flexible, and so we are.

So I brought kids and wine and my homemade bread, and hung out with my bro, my sister from another mister, and his wife’s parents.  Great people.  My brother and I called my parents, we ate and watched ‘Elf’, and the girls were good.  And if that hadn’t worked out, I had a couple of friends that were gently inquiring what I was doing, to make sure I wasn’t alone.  I feel so grateful that there are always invitations if I want to get out, I must be doing something right.

Today is one of those perfect days where I’m doing a ton of laundry and doing the dishes and cleaning on my own schedule.  Not going out, just taking care of things, having a pot of tea in the quiet.  Think I’ll work on some of my paintings and *maybe* I’ll do some online Christmas shopping.  Read a book, light some novena candles, curl up with a purring cat–this is life that is so good in its simplicity.  I don’t have to do anything, but I can do whatever I want, I love that.

I did drop the ball with NaBloPoMo, unfortunately.  Guess I’ll have to try again next year.

It’s been too long.

mr.r1

Yesterday was not one of my better days at work.  Things have been challenging, and not really from a technical standpoint.  I vented perhaps a bit too much.  But, you know, you move on.  It wasn’t until I got home that I realized that I miss having a man.  Really miss having a man.  After all, there are those days after a rough day at work, that you just want to get home and get laid.  Those days that after a rough day at work, you want a rough night in bed to compensate. (And this is why, ladies and gentleman, I don’t sign up for improv).

If it was really that important to me, I’d get out and date again.  So it was interesting to read this article in The Atlantic about marriage, though it could be any long term relationship.  It talks about kindness and generosity, not physical intimacy. In many popular articles and forums, sex is often consider a barometer of a relationship; and sometimes there’s a causation relationship to that, but sometimes it’s only a correlation.  I know for me, I really was in denial about the end of my marriage, and so I tried to keep that part going, even though we weren’t doing anything for the rest of the relationship.  And it’s mind-boggling to think that I was intimate with my ex somewhere on the order of 1,500 times.  I’m sure that’s low for some, but I’d have to be in a relationship for awhile to rack that up again.  In any case, it didn’t save us.  It wasn’t enough.

There is definitely a thrill to the dance of attraction, a thrill to the flirting and the fantasying, even if it never pans out.  There is thrill to a new relationship when it does pan out.  Who doesn’t love exploring, kissing, touching?  Best thing ever!  But in the long haul, true connection can only be gained by investment, by kindness, by the worth of someone’s character.  And if you’re going to be physical with someone in the 4 or 5 digit range, it’s going to need that foundation to still be good.  Here’s hoping I break that record of mine someday.

Being Human

“This being human is a guest house. Every morning is a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor…Welcome and entertain them all. Treat each guest honorably. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”
Rumi

Three Tales of Social Connection

When I’ve taken the Myers-Brigg tests, I typically come up either as a ENTP or an ENFP.  The Thinking/Feeling part of me (T/P) is always on the cusp, whereas the other parts of me are far more weighted.  And when it comes to the ‘E’ part of me, the Extroverted part, no one now seems surprised.

I do get a kick of starting conversations with strangers that appear interesting. But in the past couple of months, I have felt the extroverted part of me worn thin.  Introvert or extrovert?  As a child, I was most definitely an introvert.  My parents have a picture of me in my 4-year-old preschool ‘graduation,’ crying my eyes out.  I still have the memory of it – my class, sitting in front, the parents exclaiming how cute we were, and I was terrified of walking in front of an audience to get my pseudo-diploma.  I wanted to be invisible.  I was afraid that attention to me would draw ridicule.  In fact, I felt like most people were laughing at me most of the time.  I hated people. When I was young, I could never control my crying.  I would cry if happy, if sad, if mad, if humiliated.  Really, any strong emotion would induce it.

As an adult, one of the things I am most proud is that I am far more capable of controlling my emotions.  Also, that my fear and hate of strangers has changed to curiosity.  In fact, the older I get, the more I realize and can empathize with the fact that we all have our own burdens to bear.  I wasn’t so unique in reality.  I was perhaps more honest, or less able to hide my true feelings – but I know now that we are all vulnerable.  And the greatest treasure I have ever possessed are my friends, my kindred spirits, sometimes of blood and sometimes not–but I love to find that connecting threads that binds our souls.

Because I am still yearn to make a positive difference and I’m not convinced that my mere existence is enough, sometimes I push myself to go out.  After all, I want connection above all else.  Not the false, shallow connections we call ‘networking,’ but the true nakedness and acceptance when people bare their souls.  I know my faults, my guilt pushes me to bare myself constantly.  Yet the funny thing is, the more I bare, the more I find people closer to me.  So it all works out.

Recently, I had the opportunity to go to a bellydance steampunk show.  Sounds awesome, doesn’t it?  I dithered about going because I would be going alone, but finally forced myself.  But it was not what I expected.  I expected seats, an actual show at the time they advertised – but it was a concert.  The ‘show’ was supposed to be at 8:00 pm, but there were opening acts and in fact, the headliner was not scheduled to go on until 11:30 pm. On a school night.

I hung around until 10:30 pm and then I decided that I had supported the show with my money and this sort of thing is not my thing.  I don’t like concerts or live music.  I’m lame and I accept that.  I like going to bed on time and I like having conversations without yelling.  But the highlight of the night was a local dancer who not only recognized me, but remembered I’ve been dancing for 10 years and exhorted me to perform at the local hafla.  It’s strange, I’m shy about my dance.  I love to dance for myself – but I am reluctant to perform.  I feel like I’m not quite good enough, but it’s really that I can choreograph in my head and I still struggle to perform in reality what I can imagine in my head.

A few days later I went to a wine-tasting soiree.  Unlike the bellydance-steampunk thing where I felt 20 years older than everyone else, here I felt a decade younger than everyone.  It was filled with professional women in their 30s to 50s.  Single professional men, if you want to meet women, go to a wine-tasting event.  That’s where all the single professional women are, looking for partners.  I felt a bit out of my element.  I love wine, especially red – but I felt a bit stifled, as that seemed the only connection between me and all these others.

I consider myself a single, professional woman – but I like to daydream and I love philosophy that breaks conventions.  I don’t want a conventional, ordinary life.  I want a life that defies expectations.  Luckily, I ended up meeting a couple further along than I (in their 50s, maybe?) who were very kind and struck up a conversation with me.  I also realized that I was one of the few that had the courage to attend alone.  Yes, I knew one of the hosts, but that was it.  I knew no one else and I went anyway.  It was a good night to practice asking questions of strangers and practice my listening skills, but sometimes that is all you can get.

Contrast those to a non-planned connection.  Rowan’s class had a field trip to a local German bakery.  I went only for her, she is so pleased when I chaperone one of these things.  I showed up to school to see about ten chaperones – say what you will, this school system had plenty of parental influence.  I felt like I needn’t have shown up, there are so many parents involved, and I could’ve gone to work and gotten stuff done.  But I especially liked one of the parents.  He had white hair and a British accent, with a tweed cap.  I couldn’t tell if it was my predisposition to love British accents, but I automatically liked the guy.  We ended up talking and he confessed that I reminded him of his step-daughter in my face and physique.

This happens a fair amount.  A stranger will tell me that I remind them of someone.  And separately, I end up liking someone, or feeling a kinship to someone without consciously knowing them beforehand (‘liking’ in this case does not necessarily mean a sexual thing).  I enjoy when accidental connections surprise me.  It was the highlight of my day, and one that is closer to my nature.  So I think the moral of the story is that you cannot force friendship, but you should always be open to new friendship from unexpected quarters.

The Why

hand

I was watching this video today, the Simon Sinek TED talk, Start with why.  I’ve seen it before and I think it’s very powerful. These were some thoughts I wrote down while watching it:

Why am I here? What is my why?

I believe in connection, that everyone has worth, that everyone is interesting and beautiful within.

I believe that Art, that the act of creation, the making of things, is a spark of divinity within humanity.

What can I do today that improves someone else’s life?

The goal is to do business with people who believe what we do.

But it’s not not just business, it’s also friendship and love.  I want a life where all that is intertwined.  That the worth of my time, as evidenced by my income, is inextricably linked with my why, with the reason that I’m here, with the people I push love out to.

I believe in freedom to pursue life on my own principles.

I believe in loyalty to ideals, not necessarily people.  Ideals trump individual people. I believe in integrity to my values.

What I do simply provides the proof of what I believe, my why.