Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Positively Stone Canyon Road....

Someone made contact with me today. Someone I have not seen, nor talked with, since 1976.

My first impulse was to run away. Since this contact was made by computer, I nearly recoiled from it. I wasn't sure whether to throw a towel over it or just turn it off altogether. Change my email address. Slink back into the caverns from whence I came.

Truthfully, I would like to talk with her. She was my closest friend for a number of years. I met her in high school and we stayed in touch through our college years. We were quite a pair. I remember more than a time or two going to the lounge at the Hotel Bel Air and hanging out, trying to see who we could meet. We would put on our nicest clothes and head up there almost every weekend. We strutted up and down Rodeo Drive like we owned it. We lived on junk food. When we shared an apartment briefly, we lived on Kraft macaroni and cheese with hot dogs because we couldn't afford anything else. M, of course, paid most of the rent.

(Both of us will deny it if we're asked these days! Who would want to admit to such blatant gold-digging, groupie behavior as adults?)

The real thing is that under all of that, M. was the strong, sensible one. I was the flighty, free-spirited - oh, hell - the flakey one. She was always perfectly in control and very practical. I was bouncing off the walls with some new passion each week, changing my life and identity like changing clothes. M. drove me home when I got too drunk to drive. She never got drunk! (Our friendship lasted through the worst of my drinking.) M is always the one who had money. I was always broke. M was the pretty one. I was the ... plain... one.

M went on to get a good job while I still played hippie. She got married and had kids. I got married and got divorced.

Still. I want to talk to her.

My real dilemma is how I should present myself. Naturally, she asked for a picture.

Should I send her this one, in keeping with the L. A. Woman I still am on some levels.....

... or should I go for the dignified look?

She was always able to see through me though. I can't fool her because she was always good at sorting through the BS. Especially my BS. And she was the only one with the guts to call me on it.

Maybe I'll just snap a picture with my cell phone, now that I've lost so much weight that my old ones won't work anymore, and toss it to the universe.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

True Day: A Scathingly Brilliant Idea...

A few days ago, Olivia posted this. It's a very brave post, addressing the fact that we all have things we wish for that we don't want to admit to others. Within the post, she suggests that we all need a "true day", times when we are free to admit the things we really think, really want, really fantasize about, without fear of how others will receive it.

We began talking about this off-line, about the possibility of creating a space where all of us would feel free to express our inner selves, including these things we typically hide from others. Most of the time, we only believe we're hiding them since others do see it, but there's something freeing about writing it or saying it. It's almost like a confession without the penance. In these spaces, we don't want to see any penance dished out, just acceptance and sharing.

I'm willing to start.

I am ashamed of how small my world is and do a lot to hide it. Over the past year or so, I have used many of the lessons from my mother, things I scoffed at in the past, to create an image that isn't entirely true. In other words, I've allowed myself to become a social climber. I want to be perceived as "A List" material and have compromised my own values at time to accomplish that. I've given the impression that my life is much fuller than it is because it's easier than dealing with the shame and embarrassment.

I haven't lied exactly. Maybe a little. I've just left a lot out. My life embarrasses me. It should be fuller than it is, yet I deal with a touch of the isolationist. I love my alone time, yet recognize that I am not serving myself or anyone else by giving into it to the degree I do. Even knowing it is unhealthy doesn't necessarily push me out of the pattern. I fake it around others. I've allowed numbers and a calendar to control my perceptions of myself.

This began because there are times when I can be a petty and competitive person. I had a minor conflict with someone on my recovery list. She said "most people have lives, Chani" and my immediate reaction was to think "I'll show you, you *****!" and go into full-tilt competition, to prove to her that she was wrong. I not only "have a life" but one that is rich and full... the extension of that being "richer and fuller than yours". Because sometimes I can be that way.

It's stupid and faulty reasoning, of course.. but one I nurture anyway. I want to prove something - by any means necessary. My life hasn't changed all that substantially since that conflict occurred but I've learned how to present myself in such a way that no one will ever be able to say something like that to me again. It was humiliating, hurtful and intended to wound. Mission accomplished.

(For the record, I detest that expression "get a life". It's only purpose is to embarrass or humiliate another person. From now on, I will challenge anyone who says it.)

So I've admitted it here. Sometimes I can be petty and competitive. And sometimes I'm a phony.

I don't like that about me but I believe the quote in the graphic on this post. Each time we bring something like this into the light, we have an opportunity to heal it. If we don't admit it, it festers and spiders in several directions, making it possible to become an unhealthy pattern.

So I'm putting this on the table, admitting it because I intend to heal it. The other possible outcome is that I will accept it as part of my character and determine to not use it in a hurtful way - to myself or anyone else.

This is the purpose of "true day". If you would like to participate, put "true day" in the subject line of your post so we can find it with a search.


Monday, August 17, 2009

War on Women....

*This post may be disturbing and contain triggers. Please be cautious about reading it if you have ever been raped or attacked.*




I am sick and tired of turning on my television to see that one more woman has been abducted, raped and killed because she was hiking, jogging, shopping or sitting on her living room couch.

It's become clear over the past few years that these crimes are not being taken seriously. It provides plenty of sensational fodder for Jane Valez-Mitchell and Nancy Grace - but I'm not hearing anyone calling for direct action by the law enforcement community or the government to stop this war on women. That is exactly what it is.

I agree that we have to use common sense in going out alone at night, jogging in an isolated place or going for a long hike alone. That's an unfortunate reality that in this society, at this time, women are not free to live our lives as we choose.

Where and how have men gotten the idea that women are safe prey?

I'm sick to death of it!

Some of you who have been reading me for a while are going to be surprised by what I'm about to say.

I no longer go out alone without a gun. Yep. I am armed. And I'm NRA trained. I'm prepared to use it if some man decides to attack or abduct me in a parking lot because I have the audacity to go shopping by myself. If I am driving home late at night and some man decides to try to abduct me at a stop light, he is going to die.

It's time women were given the right to carry concealed weapons with a permit. We women are peacemakers. We don't like violence but I would challenge anyone to cite any belief system that holds that we should lay down and allow ourselves to be harmed.

Men need to know the justice system will take attacks on women seriously. Five or ten years in prison is not enough. There needs to be a PSA campaign that states clearly: You attack a woman, you go to prison for life. No parole. It should be treated as a hate crime. In addition to the charges he will receive, he should also be charged federally with a hate crime. This behavior is not acceptable in a civilized society.

I know some readers won't agree with my stand on gun rights but I have held these views for a long, long time. "An armed society is a polite society," as Robert Heinlein once wrote, "Manners are good when one may have to back up his actions with his life." The idealist in me wishes we didn't have to live in a society where self-defense of this nature was needed but that is the reality of women's lives at this time and in this place. I'm sure we would all like to be able to turn on CNN occasionally and not hear that another woman has been found mutilated in some ditch. Women are not to be treated like Bambi at hunting season.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wellness Wednesday: Reconnecting

We have some new neighbors. They've been here for a month or so and they've triggered off a whole series of internal machinations on my part.

They are of the Romany community, better known as "Gypsies". They are very interesting people and I've enjoyed getting to know something about them. The first thing they did when moving into the apartment is to make it their own. The decorations, the color, the beautiful fabrics. It's really quite lovely and they seem like joyful people.

I sat down this past weekend and read a history of the Roma people. God knows they've experienced a lot of persecution throughout the world. I'm sure there are some, unlike my neighbors, who have gotten caught up in that mindset of victimization. I don't sense any of that with these folks.

Nor do I sense a faux positivity and cheeriness that comes from never having really dealt with hardship. My neighbor said to me the other day, "I move depending on prayer. I go where I'm needed." And he does. He prays, makes a decision and moves.

He doesn't worry about where he will find housing or where he'll find work. (Whether or not they are Travelers is unknown to me at this point for certain.. and isn't relevant to this anyway.) His nomad spirit is firmly intact and he and his family up and move without plotting and planning all the contingencies and "what ifs" that can keep us frozen in time and space. They pack up their decorations and their clothes and hit the road.

Being frozen is what I'd allowed to happen in my own life. We can live our lives in fear without even realizing it. I was born with itchy feet, with wanderlust. When I was younger, I moved on a whim and can't honestly say I've suffered for it. Somehow things worked out and I would either stay or move on, depending on how many doors were open and how many are closed.

I miss that part of me. I miss the part that didn't stay frozen out of fear of consequences. Beyond a sensible caution, I'd like to let go of that and experience more adventure and newness in my life. Sometimes getting older can make us stodgy and scared. While I haven't been consciously aware of it, the Roma Next Door have awakened that part of me and have caused me to see it in glaring detail.

Now I'm consciously choosing to be awake to the possibilities and to not stay stuck because the devil that's known is better than the one that's unknown. That's not really living. It's existing. I'm thankful for my new neighbors who, even though they don't know it, have re-awakened a bit of the Gypsy soul in this gadje body.

How about you? Do you have an internal nomad, begging to come out?