Category Archives: Encountering Myself

On getting straight As

On getting straight As

It took me until my third degree to get straight As in any one semester or degree program.  Getting straight As has been my plight since I got straight Os in kindergarden.  The next closest I came was all As and B+ in 6th grade.  That damn B+ demotivated me until high school, when I tried again freshman year.  New school, new me.  New form of delusion.  I discovered a whole world of new books to read that were not listed on any syllabus whatsoever.  I learned a lot in high school, but probably only 30% of that knowledge was in the curriculum.  College was just a more adult repetition of high school.  Day dreams of being a revered honors student while I was drinking in my friend back yard the night before a final that I was sure I would ace.  3.02.  That was my undergrad GPA.  I flew outta there after 5 years vowing never to return to those dry business subjects.  My friend showed me the grad school business curriculum and I shrieked in horror at the sight of “economics 510” listed on the MBA required courses list.  It literally did sound like a hell until suddenly two years later I looked once more at the school website.  I was so exhausted by shit jobs that school once again sounded like an paradise.  School paradise is one where everyone sleeps when they are tired, except before midterms.  Work can be turned in incomplete and you are still allowed to continue attending the class.  You can even sleep in class and still be allowed to come back.  After working in an investment bank, that economics class suddenly sounded fascinating because I finally understood that language.  New degree, new me.  New level of understanding my limitations.  Turns out grad school is a lot of work crammed into a short span of time.  I graduated with a 3.35 and although I had gained a vast new view of the world, I still felt like an idiot because of all the information I encountered that I didn’t fully understand.  The next 5 years after grad school I spent in a constant state of epiphany.  I encountered more knowledge than I could remember, yet when I encountered forgotten concepts in the real world I knew what to do with it.  I just couldn’t remember it all back then during test time, but it was all in there somewhere, waiting to an anchor itself to a real world experience.

This after-learning bothered me.  If school should come in the beginning, then why do I learn so much more after all the testing is done?  My grades are in no way indicative of what I learned from getting a masters degree.  They only say how much I learned while in class.

Anyways.. I started dabbling in classes again once I plowed through all the non-fiction books for dummies at the library.  My grad school student loan made me stick to the inexpensive classes at the community college.  My attendance to on campus lectures induced anxiety which required that i stick to online only classes.  I figured out that as long as I turned in all the homework and follow assignment instructions, I got As.  The quality of the work was not being graded at this level (my art homework is evidence of this), just the fact that people made an effort to even do it got them an A.  Or perhaps, having already ascended through the graduated level, my work quality was already A level in community colleges.  AKA the bar is set low there.

How refreshing.  You mean I don’t have to care about oxford commas here?  Or group projects.  Or having to be somewhere on time awake and happy?  I can just learn what I learn without the stress of cramming in all the stuff I’m not so interested in but still get awesome grades?  How fun…

This carefree approach to picking interesting classes along with the higher salary from my graduate degree helped me to just enjoy the classes I took.  I was working full time so I started by taking once class a semester.  That was easy.  So then I took two.  Until I noticed I could squeeze in an eight week class because some 16 week classes really aren’t a lot of work every week.  Suddenly I was only four classes from an AA degree.  Because I already had a bachelor’s degree, I was just focusing on the specific subject I was interested in and wasn’t distracted by other subjects that, are interesting in themselves, but not what I was in the mood for soaking in.

So many things lead me to a situation where I finally got straight As.  So is my plight done? Mission accomplished?  Goal achieved?  no.  Getting straight As in online classes at the community college level after having already graduated at a master’s level is expected.  Is it an improvement and a positive sign that I am headed in the right direction? yes.

Figuring out what works for me has been huge in my understanding of what skills are important to work on, but it has also shown me what more I would need to do in future, more rigorous programs to keep my winning streak going.

 

Taming the Wild

Taming the Wild

I envision that in my old age, after all the major phases of life have passed, I’ll often ponder back on my old emotions. I’ll spend time remembering how long it took me to classify and name them all; how hard it was to tame them to the point that I can appear in public flawlessly, without incident. I’m sure by then they will sit in my mental tool box as neatly arranged packages, patiently waiting until I decide which ones I need to use for life’s now commonplace occurrences. I imagine that by then, they will know how to take their turn and so very few of them will take me by surprise. Even if I am by chance caught off guard, I will have already developed a technique for being caught off guard and so will not cause anyone alarm. Thus all this time I now spend starring endlessly at my ceiling, pondering what the hell just happened, will eventually be spent on more practical tasks. Though I am sure I will miss these ‘oh so wild states of fits and passion’ that so wrongly embarrass and haunt me, by then I will probably yearn to encounter new pieces of myself and wish that it all wasn’t so well organized….

-Singapore June 2012

On not reading books lately

On not reading books lately

I didn’t read any novels last year; down from one in 2016, 13 in 2015, 11 in 2012, five in 2013, and 21 in 2012.  I tend to read fun stuff more when I travel to fill in empty time and I tend to study for classes when I’m home to build my career up.  Up to what?  I don’t know.  I have no calling, no drive to service.  I seek uninterrupted free time.  I am my most happy and content self when time and money are abundant, even if only in bursts.  It feels like childhood again.  All my needs met while I lazily watch I Love Lucy and laugh.  Not a care in the world.

Books are too dramatic when I’m home in my career state.  I’m disillusioned by how the author just throws obstacles at their protagonists.  I have enough problems to solve in my real life, I can’t handle being kept even more in suspense while some fictional character solves problems that wouldn’t have existed if their author hadn’t bothered to write them down.  I need practical reality in my career state.  I’m focused on my optimal level of success, not hanging out in la la land while my student loan perpetually charges me more money on funds I spent 8 years ago.

Financial mountain climbing.  Of course I take breaks, but they’ve not been so satisfying for the past 6 years since student loan reality set in.  They’ve been necessary to pace myself, but they’ve prolonged this torment due to the Sisyphus effect they have on my mountain climbing.  Three steps forward, two steps back.  Not quite like Sisyphus, thank fully because I haven’t had to start all over each time.

I did buy a book the other day… and I am half way through it.  I can feel my other self waking up a bit.  I’ve only got three point five weeks to freedom, so maybe it is about time I start to color my world a bit more.

 

Post vacation stress disorder

Post vacation stress disorder

Oh it’s real.  I do pretty good the first few days as I get back into my routine.  Then somewhere around Wednesday evening it hits me.  I overspent on all that fun, now I have to live a bit more frugal to stay within budget for the enxt few weeks.  “It was worth it,” says one of the minds in my head.  “Yeah, but maybe we could have had a bit more self control.”  Silence ensues as I internalize my internal thoughts.  “Girls, girls!” I butt in.  “It just is what it is and it was worth it.”

Anyway, it exists, but at least it is less intense with each iteration because with life experience i’ve learned to smooth out my happy highs enough so that I don’t fall so hard on the way down.

It doesn’t help that I have a permanent job.  Well it does, because at least now I have a job to return to right away when I return from an adventure.  But two weeks vacation = slavery.  Seriously, who sets these salary prices anyway.  Supply and demand.  I know, I took a few econ classes.  But in the real world I don’t see it as a reason for how all prices clear.  Belief systems seem more of a culprit.  I’m off topic.  Back to PVSD.

I’ve been day dreaming a lot this week about what i would do if I could do anything I wanted and be free like on holiday.  It’s therapeutic, but as a dark side that doesn’t pair well with PVSD.  Because when I think of all the stuff I would do if I could do what ever I want to do, I just feel more blue because it is so far from reality.  Why do our minds genetically tease us with the possibly of other worlds colliding with ours?  My brain must be miswired, because this habit of thinking in no way has gotten me to the top of the success pile. If anything, it holds me back because all the time spent in another world, is time not spent understanding how this one actually works.

Self doubt, lack of ambition, and a complete undesire to try to accomplish anything more, PVSD.

I would want to accomplish more if any of the things I’ve accomplished actually got me somewhere.  Oh mother of glory I am a goal achieving hamster on a wheel rolling up hill next to Sisyphus.  At least I don’t have to push up rocks, so there is a bright side.  Someone is just watching while puffing a cigar saying, “Oh good, she’s almost done with that accomplishment, what meaningless goals shall we have her achieve once she’s done?” Trophies, pieces of paper, recognition, its all junk. junk. junk. junk. Meanless junk.  Just more junk to put on the wall and sort though in my closet.

I just want to sleep in. Every. Day. That makes me happy.

Commitment

Commitment

Commitment is one of those states of being that you are only aware of when it accompanies feeling stuck.  I don’t have a choice, this world will take away some big things I care about if I don’t conform.  No, I wouldn’t lose it all I would just trade one set of problems (slave to the system) for another (being homeless and poor).  Luckily I am smart and have a more comfortable stuck-state than many people, but still the cloud looms over me at times.

The bright side isn’t in some foreign country or with a different group of friends.  I’ve been there and I’ve met them.  I am still me no matter where I go or what I do.  I should be grateful for that fact that I have had the opportunity to encounter myself in such a vast variety of existence, but I feel a sense of normalcy about it because it is my life and it was me doing what made the most sense at the time.

So I’m finally here.  At that place where there is nothing to discover in my favorite things.  I have no choice but to live for the small excitements.  The little pieces I hadn’t noticed before.  The personalities I previously overlooked.  The benefits of ongoing love and attachments lingering down the same streets as usual.

I’ve been in a place similar to this many times when my dreams abandoned me because I accomplished them.  I asked similar questions like, “have I not aimed high enough?” “Could I have done more?”  The answers are never clear.  All I can do is make new dreams from the drive left over from the old dreams.  That means mapping out a road leading me right back where I am now.  All that work and emotion focusing on what I don’t have to get me what I want, only to get it and be right back here feeling empty.

But the goals are forming, soon they will be full fledged dreams pumping my heart so I can run in these circles all because the sun keeps rising and I enjoy my days to have a standard of comfort.  Off to work I go, I may as well rise through it…

Waiting for Prosperity

Waiting for Prosperity

Raquel sat waiting by the river for something positively exciting to happen to her. She’d had enough of the boring and miserable aspects of life. Death, loss, being broke, toxic relationships, career setbacks, etc. You name it, it’s happened. All these dark sides had shaken her confidence and belief in the attainment of dreams. She found herself going out less and not wanting to get involved in social activities because of the hidden costs associated with them. As she sat she reviewed all her naïve hopes from years past. “I was going to be great! I was going to put in the hard work necessary to make a grand living, gain respect and create my own small empire of wealth.” It distressed her to reflect on the situation in which those dreams evolved. Unfortunately, far from reality was that time of life. So small was the social circle and breadth of knowledge of how the world really operated, it was no wonder that she had once thought she could accomplish all that.

She in herself had changed too. When those dreams were stamped into her mission in life she had yet to experience her own joys of life outside the buffering childhood. The joys of solitude and general dislike for seemingly pointless and repetitive social cues were pivotal examples of how her own personality blocked her attainment of those dreams. Without at least a tolerance for politics how could she expect to navigate organizations in power or even encourage people to follow her should she wish to create her own environment? Some social constructs were fairly easy to navigate, however, those we generally found easy to everyone else as well making them less lucrative and/or just plain lazy.

In a way she was over those old dreams. After all, many of them had been accomplished so it was just a lingering few that refused to be fulfilled. Dropping the dreams was an option, but the feeling of “if I try just a little bit longer” always kept her coming back to them. The idea that she simply lacked new dreams was also toyed with. But her new found knowledge of the world shrunk her dreams to fit that realistic reality and thus new dreams were actually accomplished rather easy as they we both easily attainable with her current skills or simply dreamt up from a more practical mind.

All of which brought her to today, a place where she believed that simply waiting around for a lucky break into prosperity would do her more good than targeted action.

San Francisco

San Francisco

Jane sat leaning on her bedroom’s bay window soaking up the sun on her face while she pretended she was laying on the beach in her hometown. Even though this was the first day in a week that the sun had broken through the dense San Francisco fog, the air outside, helped by the whooshing wind, still sent an annoying chill down her neck whenever she got lazy about tying her scarf correctly.

“It’s always 50 degrees here,” was her latest mantra since it was the first thing that came to mind every time people asked how she was enjoying her freshman year of college.

“Getting into a lot of trouble, I bet!” was another common one. She would stare back blankly or shrug. It wasn’t that she wasn’t enjoying herself; it was that her usual sources of fun no longer existed and the new ones being experienced weren’t reliable old friends she could turn too to ward off her boredom or need for excitement. They were simply fun new experiences with no predictable reoccurrence in her daily routine.

There was plenty going on. Parties, drunken dorm room chats, drama between roommates, and all the usual college campus life experiences that she came there to check out. She had new friends who were getting themselves into all sorts of random situations, but she was still on the outside of it all. Simply going with the flow and wasn’t sure how to breakout of herself.

Her boyfriend wasn’t helping. Even though he was staying home for college they wanted to stay together and still felt connected in their distance relationship, his opinions held her back. She bought a CD off a street performer playing the cello and played it over the phone feeling certain that John would appreciate it but all he said was, “why would you buy a shitty CD off a street performer? I can download something just like it for free online.” She sighed, “I just thought it sounded pretty that’s all. Besides it was only $5.00.” She changed the subject, “Are you coming to visit this weekend? Is your brother’s friend still driving up?” He complained, “Ugh, it is such a long drive, it’ll take like 6 hours.”

He complained. “He was never a good traveller,” his mom explained to her once. “I don’t remember a single time that we drove to Las Vegas without him throwing up. We resorted to sleeping pills once he was old enough, but then he just felt groggy and cranking for hours after we got there.”

He made the drive and was dropped off at his brother’s apartment in Berkley. When she called to tell him which train to take into the city, he was reluctant to take the 45 minute train across the bay from “We’re having a good time here, why don’t you just come join us.” She took the train.

She arrived late after having gotten side tracked by some usual dorm drama and a long deserved nap. He met her at the train station with a big hug and beer ridden kiss and suddenly she felt better. “What’s wrong?” he asked. “Nothing, I just think I had a bad day, should be better now, I’m glad you’re here,” she replied with a deep breath and progressive smile. He took her hand and they slowly wandered to his brother’s place.

The bad friend

The bad friend

I am a bad friend.

All her friends have always said so.

When she was nine, her best friend told her she was a bad friend because she wore glasses.

When she was 12, a friend told her she was bad because her braces and mouth retainer made her breath smell.

When she was 15, she was a bad friend for standing up for her boyfriend.

When she was 18, she was a bad friend for not being friends with a girl she hadn’t spoken to in two years.

When she was 21, she was a bad friend for not saying hello to a friend of a friend who really needed people to be nice to her.

When she was 24, she was a bad friend for not keeping in contact for the few weeks she went home to help her dad recover from heart surgery.

When she was 27, she wasn’t a bad friend because she had given up on having friends.

When she was 30 she was a bad friend for always calling another friend in the evening after a few drinks.

At least she’s got a few years before someone blames her for trying to be friends with them.

On Depression as a Matter of Belief

On Depression as a Matter of Belief

Depression is a matter of belief.  Belief that all your worst fears will come true and that you are powerless to do anything to stop the ship from sinking.  Your future is played in your mind-screen as a projection where all the negatives from your current situation are amplified.  No thought is given that things won’t get that bad.  It is a survival mechanism gone faulty.  True we need to know what seedlings will grow into something poisonous, but not everything is bad.  Depression lays with superstition in that it needs no evidence, not display of physical law to prove that the future is unpredictable.   It is evil in the sense that it relies on the great unknown as proof of one’s powerlessness.

“How could I, a single human, fight the great unknown?” I ask myself in despair.  My first response is to shine light on the unknown and then know it.  But the unknowns are infinite in number and strength.  The process of getting to know an unknown leads to the discovery of more and more unknowns.  The never ending chase leads to exhaustion and then more reliance on depression’s comfortable embrace for sustenance to one’s self feeling good enough again before plunging back down into its depths.

Only once depression subsides (or it lets me take a break) do I get to a point where I can reflect on it as if it were one single packet of time.  Seeing depression for what it is helps me to combat it every time, but each new spring leads eventually to a new winter.  Feeling better just makes me wonder what darkness I will have to combat with in the future.  So I scan my environment, on edge waiting for my next trigger.  Picking up signals and using my imagination, as I walk along the streets I project what an evil seed would look like if it were to grow into a full sized monster.  Then suddenly, I am there again, forecasting my future using my everyday routine as a mechanism to prove that my worst fears will one day come true.  Not only do I waste all my time worrying about all the things that will never happen to me, I feel my hopes and dream ly in that same category as fantasies that I can never achieve.

Depression inverts fears and dreams.  It makes me believe my fears will come true and my desires won’t, even though there is simply no way of knowing what will happen.

On being alone in the world

On being alone in the world

No matter how much we surround ourselves with people, animals, and thoughts of religious deities who validate our existence, we are indeed alone in life.  We rationalize the opposite instinctively.

It is a survival mechanism to utilize the imagination.  Without imagination we’d all be in loony bins because it is a shock to the system to see that no help is coming and there is far more to fall before we hit bottom.  Once we’ve reached the limits of our capabilities and related control over our life situation, there is nothing more than hope that Fortuna, the goddess of fortune and luck, will cruise in and sway her tiller in more a fortunate direction for us.

The fortune of humans.  Being in the right place at the right time does require showing up, but no guarantee that you’ll ever actually get there.

“When your prospects for the future solely depend on luck, you know you’ve screwed up.”  I quote myself.  I believe it to be true that luck lies in the realm of the gods, those mystical creatures who never show themselves to us in their true form. People pry and worship because they are at our lowest of lows and have exhausted all capabilities within ourselves to further our self-created cause.  If this is you, you are low.

Failure is a harsh term at times because it is usually attributed to personal failure as if it was someone’s fault.  In reality, failure is the world’s fault.  This person, a creation of this world, somehow was genetically programed to pursue a dead end cause.

There is a parasite in the Amazon jungle that reproduces by attaching itself to a specific ant specie.  These ants typically fallow along normal army ant (get food, build ant hill, attack enemy) behavior on the ground. Once this parasite attaches itself to the ant, suddenly the ant (for no genetic reason of its own) climbs a specific type of leaf growing off the Amazon floor and dies.  The parasite lays its eggs inside the ant’s body and when the eggs hatch, they eat the leaf before finding ants of their own to commandeer.

It would be great if my failed career attempts could so easily be attributed to a parasitic demon that drives me on adventures all over the world that consequentially spiral me into years of debt repayment AKA indentured servitude, but in reality, it is just me, in my head doing whatever it takes to make myself feel good, alone.