In the cards

A dude read Tarot for me the other day. He only reads from a positive perspective, he says. I pick my 10 cards, trying to feel which cards to choose. As if some mystical energy is guiding my choices. I wonder if other people think that way. Did my friend who was read before me think that, as she chose her cards, seemingly less deliberately? Did the older woman after me think about this imaginary force as her fingers kissed the flourish of cards, choosing her destiny? My cards, as carefully chosen as they were, seemed to convey the same story I’ve heard before. The same parable of the resilient survivor, always charging forth, despite the kick in the head, despite the blood. In the end, that could be anyone that isn’t dead. Yet, the energy, it remains – a tingle, a vibration, a dulcet melody in my flesh. Like a single drop of rain sliding slowly down my neck, then the middle of my back, to fade away, somehow into me, my skin.

Solitude and the 21st Century Need for Constant Togetherness

Google defines “Solitude” as:

sol·i·tude
ˈsäləˌt(y)o͞od/
noun
  1. the state or situation of being alone.
    “she savored her few hours of freedom and solitude”
    synonyms: loneliness, solitariness, isolation, seclusion, sequestration, withdrawal,privacy, peace

    “she savored her solitude”

     

What I find particularly interesting about this definition is the examples. “She savored her solitude”, “she savored her few hours of freedom and solitude”. What does that say for the act of experiencing solitude? It says, to me, that it is pleasurable. That solitude, in and of itself, is something one wishes for, dreams of, and strives to obtain. Yet, when one actually enjoys solitude, many can be conflicted by their enjoyment of such a state. It serves to reason, doesn’t it, that everyone who is healthy, of strong mind and character, would not choose to be alone, does it not? Perhaps the reverse is far more truth than many would choose to accept.

What am I going on about? Allow me to expound with a story, of sorts. The true variety, specifically, auto-biographical in nature. It all began five years ago with a single choice. A choice that changed everything I ever knew, twisted it upon its often ugly head, and splatted it back into a new place, that was full of mystery, and seriously lacking in solitude.

In mid 2009, I fell in love. (Cue the “awws”.) Within 4 months of said courtship, I packed my life and moved across the pond to lovely Bedfordshire,  just north of London, to be with my love. By the New Year, my heart was broken, and I left my love. – If you paid attention to that timeline, my life changed forever within about 6 months time. Love does imbue madness in people, and I fell hard, fast, and mad-ly.

I didn’t leave England straight away, but rather, moved northward and relied on good friends to mooch a bed from until my visa ended. I had hopes of pursuing work permissions still with a few methods of attaining such results; alas, I was unqualified for even my most certain of methods. It appeared I was meant to stay state-side, much to my chagrin.

This prompted the longest ever string of unemployment I’ve experienced and it was near a year for me to find a full-time gig. In 2010, the US was in full recession, and jobs were very hard to come by. Until then, I worked odd jobs, painted houses, wallpapered interiors, even returned to doing nails in a salon – anything I could do to make some coin. All the while, I stayed with my brother and his family. A kindness much appreciated, and this arrangement allowed me to spend loads of time with nieces, which I will cherish forever, despite their familiar sarkiness with their beloved Auntie!

Once proper work was attained, I set a goal to move out and be back on my own, and to seek some solitude, which I so very much desired, and needed. Repairing not only a broken heart, but a broken life, needed time – specifically, peaceful time. Time away from the every day to let emotions find their ugly path outward from my twisted insides, that were threatening to revolt on the outsides that held them in. But, as it was, five years later, it is here I remained. At first, it was a request, but now, it’s patiently awaiting the next phase of my life to begin. A new job or a new business? (Currently under determination).

My yearning for solitude is strong and deep. I long to spend time on my own, and have even taken overnights in hotels to get some time away. Alas, nothing is as deliciously peaceful as one’s own bed, and a quiet home, comfortable, safe, and wonderfully peaceful. I’ve enjoyed my solitude since I was a young child. I would often go off into a corner nook somewhere and find a space to be on my own, with my thoughts, dreams, and everything in between.

Before my excursion to a new land, I spent most of my time alone. I enjoy being with myself, left to think, write, paint, etc. Friends often found this challenging to understand. They thought I removed myself from socializing and was hiding. Certainly, there have been many a time where I have not been interested in being social at all. In fact, I don’t often like being social with people I do not know. I do love to spend time with a friend, but typically prefer one friend at a time, or a small group. Yet, I have had many friends throughout my life that enjoy being social in abundance and must have plans at a constant. I am not like that, nor have I ever been. In fact, if I’m too busy for too long, I feel at a loss – mostly a loss of the solitude I desperately need to live and be happy.

To truly understand the confusion people feel when I choose solitude over dining out or a get together of sorts, they tend to believe I’m an extroverted personality, which could not be farther from the truth! I’m deeply introverted and don’t like social events where I don’t know people. I’m very good at enjoying myself when I feel comfortable, and not so much when I’m thrust into social situations otherwise, hence the extrovert/introvert confusion.

With that, it is very important to note, that being an introvert does not in any way imply that I am anti-social. Choosing to not be social because you have no need to be social is far from being anti-social. In fact, it is this very distinction that came up in “How to Be Alone: An Antidote to One of the Central Anxieties and Greatest Paradoxes of Our Time” by Maria Popova, the mind behind Brain Pickings.

Popova’s article captured me with her leading quote, by author Sara Maitland from “How to be Alone“, “We live in a society which sees high self-esteem as a proof of well-being, but we do not want to be intimate with this admirable and desirable person.” Indeed, this is a sign of our times, isn’t it? The constant need for social media connectivity, chatting with friends on IM or Facetime, getting together for meals and constant events being planned. – None of these things are bad things, and I do many of them myself; however, the distinction is frequency. Because I choose to do them less, the insinuation is that I am anti-social; alas, what it really means, is I don’t need to be connected 24/7, but, I do enjoy using technology and tools this modern century has provided.

My quest for solitude, at this current juncture of my life, requires again finding corner nooks to dwell within a house full of people and children. Alas, it took nearly 5 years to figure out how to find solitude amidst chaos, and it still often evades me, but I do know how to get what I need more than previously. I still long for my quiet space, not needing to close doors, wandering around my space, thinking, pondering, creating and tinkering. Soon, I shall have it, but until then, let it be known, that now and always, I simply relish in solitude, which does not make me anti-social, it makes me comfortable in my own skin and being with myself, whom I rather like.

 

To Be Feminista

“In societies where men are truly confident of their own worth, women are not merely tolerated, but valued.”
– Aung San Suu Kyi

I’m not quite sure why we need an International Women’s History Day. Frankly, isn’t every day Women’s History Day? Is it because for centuries, women haven’t been recognized for their contributions to the development and advancement of society? So, to have our day of recognition makes up for history’s magnificent, egotistical, chauvinistic blunders? I have a better idea – shouldn’t we appreciate accomplishments of humans, always?

fem·i·nism, ˈfeməˌnizəm/

The theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes

To explore this topic, I must first define some context. Specifically, what it is, and is not, to be a feminist. The definition of feminism, according to Merriam-Webster is, “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes“. Pretty straightforward. However, it is oft confused with “man-bashing”, “lesbianism”, and basically aggressive, pushy, “broads”.

Admittedly, I too confused the word to mean something that it does not. Specifically, I refused for years to call myself a feminist as it carried with it a misunderstood connotation as “man-hater”. I did not wish to be categorized for my beliefs in a manner that did not represent them. But, it has been proven once more to me that with age, comes wisdom – if you’re open to its arrival, that is. This wisdom has taught me that Feminist is merely a word. The power of the stereotype lives only when it is allowed to live. Therefore, today, as with everyday henceforth, I am proclaimed a Feminist. Or, as I prefer, Feminista.

I dare say, that no one person encapsulated the issue as perfectly as extraordinary Bette Davis, who famously said, When a man gives his opinion, he’s a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she’s a bitch. To this day, it rings true, with harsh, sad realization. For many years I was proud to be called “bitch”. I did not care what people thought of me, I would not stand around and tolerate behavior that was not humane, that lacked compassion, that was irreverent, that was domineering or sexist. I still feel the same; however, to label me as “bitch” is incorrect if my delivery is not “bitchy”, but thoughtful, articulate, and conversant.

Again, to refer to Merriam-Webster, in this context “bitch” is defined as, “a:  a lewd or immoral woman, b:  a malicious, spiteful, or overbearing woman —sometimes used as a generalized term of abuse.” I am but one of these things – “woman”. Though, some may think otherwise for I have a tendency to speak my mind. This can come across to the less educated as “lewd” or “overbearing”, but I am not. After all, Nawal El Saadawi summed things up perfectly with, “They said, ‘You are a savage and dangerous woman.’ I am speaking the truth. And the truth is savage and dangerous.” The truth is indeed savage and dangerous – to those it exposes; but this truth, as with all truths, will set you free.

Another truth – women throughout history have invented, discovered, created, wrote, and founded many amazing contributions to the world we now live in, but most were credited to men. You may have heard one of the most famous of such mis-credits regarding Eli Whitney potentially not being the true inventor of the Cotton Gin, but rather Catharine Greene, who funded the invention. At the time, women could not apply for patents and some historians suspect that Eli Whitney was merely a means to an end for Greene.

“Every man I meet wants to protect me. I can’t figure out what from.” – Mae West

The most recent discovery by a women scientist happened in my lifetime, which shocked me to the core. Jocelyn Bell Bernell is an accomplished Astrophysicist and was the first to discover pulsars in 1974. Her male supervisor and colleagues were awarded the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physics for her discovery. This was not the first time the Nobel Prize committee allowed such misrepresentations to happen.

Although men didn’t always get – or take – the credit for discoveries by women, many major discoveries history has not been forthcoming in sharing. For example, did you know that Heddy Lamarr wasn’t only a beautiful Hollywood actress, but also an accomplished mathematician? In fact, Lamarr invented Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum, which is still used today in your Bluetooth technology.

femme fa·tale, fem fəˈtal,fəˈtäl/
noun: femme fatale; plural noun: femmes fatale
An attractive and seductive woman, especially one who will ultimately bring disaster to a man who becomes involved with her.

If I’ve reached this pinnacle of truth within my own beliefs in my life, why do I need to change the terminology? Feminsta, (which has nothing to do with the fiction novel of the same name that I haven’t read), is a reclaiming of the term as inherently feminine, while simultaneously adding strength. I am a Feminista – a warrior, a champion, a woman. I wear dresses and adore lipstick and sparkly lip gloss, and never am without a pedicure and rarely without a manicure. I love being a woman and everything it entails. I enjoy the company of men,(and please don’t take that down some perverted hole that you cannot climb out from nor am I dogging on lesbians); from conversation, flirting, work, and friendship. I do not need to wear pants to feel strong, nor do I need high heels to feel feminine. It takes the “fatale” out of femme fatale, leaving only the woman – brilliant, multi-faceted, intelligent, confident, loving, strong, warm, successful, independent, amazing.

I am Feminista – a warrior, a champion, a woman. I love being a woman and everything it entails. I do not need to wear pants to feel strong, nor do I need high heels to feel feminine. It takes the “fatale” out of femme fatale, leaving only the woman – brilliant, multi-faceted, intelligent, confident, loving, strong, warm, successful, independent, amazing.

Reality Collides

I found myself swept into a veritable typhoon of emotions this past week, so much so, I was worried I would not survive them. The past year and a half of my life has been the most tumultuous in a very long time. This week attempted to roll every emotion I possess into a giant ball of duct tape, attaching to me without any desire to leave. I felt that ball of tape unravel and wrap about me tightly, binding me… alas, I am here, still… barely… a survivor, once more… a term I despise, but one I am trapped within.

Trapped… that’s a funny word and one that resonates deeply within me. It, in fact, is the key within my struggles this week. I do not manage well when I feel trapped within a situation, relationship, etc. In fact, I tend to claw and fight tooth and nail to free myself from whatever is trapping me in a place I wish not to be. Envisage an animal locked within a cage, and it will be me that you see… blood-stained fur and anger in my eyes, fighting for release. This week, however, I realized I did not have the fight in me… I no longer cared enough to fight, which has never once happened to me… and that is exactly why it terrified me so.

It has been one year yesterday that I returned from England – a place I believed to be my new home. Alas, that was not in the cards, so they say… reluctantly, without much choice, I returned stateside to my hometown… a place I have never cared for. I will offer up one consolation prize to the suburban wasteland where I was raised – for as much as I dislike this place, especially to live within it, there is a certain comfort that comes from knowing where everything is and seeing the same faces night in and day out. With that tiny speck of a gem offered up, I feel I live within a bubble of mommy-types, those fending for their rights to be the lead Jones’, and most depressingly of all, there is nowhere to walk without seeing the same house repeated down a vast street of nothingness. – I dare anyone to tell me of something more depressing than a house farm of new construction nightmares without character, without creaky baseboards and without even a modicum of soul… go on, I dare you.

It is no surprise that depression enveloped me and my emotional weakness became overwhelming nearly to the point of ceasing all daily functionality. I somehow managed to preserve the day to day, but it was a fragile attempt that nearly faltered. But, work must be done and attempts at cordiality made, but most importantly, the theatrical mask of whom I’m supposed to be donned to keep up appearances and hide my melancholy as best I can… which, I have been told, I either do exceptionally well, or very poorly… it depends upon circumstance… this week, about 50/50.

It seems, or so I see through the tinted glass of a rum and coke, my displeasure in my living arrangements, coupled with the denial of my dissatisfaction with the terms of my work, smashed within my inherent and vast loneliness collided… no fireworks, just Grade A depression. We go way back , depression and I, and we enjoy a visit now and again if only to simply remind us how much we loathe each other. Alas, realization of such collisions of emotion do not assist in making things all better and happy with butterflies and pixie dust.  But, it does at least provide perspective, and understanding and most importantly, a starting point toward moving forward, yet again.

NOTE: A timely arrival to my Twitter stream occurred today as I was pondering this very post.  @davidgerhard is a talented artist who played with some of my photos to create this: Reality of @samanthai by David Gerhard Check out his work, you won’t regret it.

Put The Damn Bow Down and No One Gets Hurt!

I have never been fond of Valentine’s Day… mostly because I’ve always been single around this day… or, on a few occasions, dating a complete twat. I’ve always wanted to enjoy it, just because it is sorta cute with all the flowers and hearts and chocolates… ok, so I’m mostly fond of the chocolate – it isn’t wrong.

Since the nieces arrived on the scene, it’s a bit more enjoyable as they are, of course, adorable. I already received a Valentine from the eldest, a.k.a. Thing 1, last Friday as she was simply too excited to wait. Thing 2 offered up an adorable creation which she sneakily left for me to find early this morning – she is squishibly cute. But, I can’t say I’ve ever received a romantic Valentine of any kind… once, I was given really crappy flowers (because they were near death) and the sentiment was apologetic rather than romantic – not at all Valentine-y.

Today was no different from any other Valentine’s Day… full of woe, no matter how hard I tried for it not to be. I think it’s simply one of those reminders that, because it surrounds and consumes you all day long, there’s no escape from the truth – I am alone. Most days, I’m ok with this fact. I am alone because I choose not to settle for someone whom isn’t who I want to be with. There is no point being miserable with someone I don’t love, don’t need and don’t want… of course, I speak from vast experience in this particular area. I am positively, unequivocally a-ok with this… most days. That stupid little fat kid with an arrow just exacerbates an already overwhelming loneliness that no matter how peaceful I am with my circumstance, there’s no removing the needs within.

But then, something happens… something so emotionally shattering that I can’t help but realize that there are better things to be depressed about… yes, this sounds an oxymoron, but wait for it… My lovely friend Nicola wrote the most beautiful, honest, heart-wrenching blog post about her mother that made me realize my loneliness ain’t nothin’. It made me cry, deeply… and it made me remember that my loneliness isn’t missing someone that has been with me, but someone that hasn’t been. Two very different emotions that both leave one empty, but only one aches of loss, and that isn’t my ache. What I’ve learned today is that, no matter how deep the hole feels, it’s not the deepest hole.  And, the little prick in a diaper trying to cap my ass, he’s just another twat that I don’t need to date.

Living a Muppet’s Life

When I was a kid, maybe about 8 or 9 years old, I recall being asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. I remember my answer so vividly it’s as if it was yesterday – a Muppeteer. Take particular notice to the specifics of the profession – not a puppeteer, as I had no use for puppets. Muppets were the only way to go for me and I still love to watch anything the clan of Henson produces. In fact, my love for the Muppets even encouraged me to forward my resume to Henson Productions for employment last fall… clearly, I didn’t get a response. C’est la vie, so they say… I still adore them, now and forever.

This memory makes me wonder many things… the foremost involves Animal and Gonzo in a gondola with Beaker poling them down a channel. But, it also makes me wonder – how the hell did I know what I wanted so clearly at 9 that I can’t possibly figure out at 38? Curious question indeed, and I think I have finally discovered the answer – adulthood. Being a grown up basically sucks. We spend much of our childhood waiting, desperately, to be older so that we can be free to do what we want. Then, we get older… and what do we do?  We begin working for “the man”, telling ourselves our dreams need to be funded, blah blah blah. Well, in part, this isn’t entirely unsound, in theory. But, this grown-up life becomes cloudy and disillusioned by paychecks and cars and rent and having a sofa you’re not embarrassed by.

Add to this cluster of madness the entire last year and a half of my life – I’ve lived in 2 countries in 5 different cities, unemployed, country-less, penniless and homeless. All of my belongings can fit in a couple of suitcases and maybe a giant trash bag… I wasn’t this portable at 18. I cannot deny that there is a certain sense of freedom in not possessing an exorbitant quantity of stuff… and I mean that in every way George Carlin would mean it. I can go anywhere without much hassle and moving, someday, will be a dream…oh, wait – I need to work to make more money to attempt to pursue my dreams… *sigh*.

Few things are more depressing than being a responsible adult. Or, perhaps, this is due to the fact that it took me an obscenely long time to understand what being a responsible adult was. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t careless with anything but silly things like money, my heart, my stuff… ah well, it’s all about learning, right? So, as of now, here I am, sat before this space with all this profound wisdom… yes, I am calling it profound, it makes me feel better. Regardless of the status of said wisdom, I have learned. I have learned that being a grown up can, at times, suck giant donkey balls. But also, with planning, I can again someday be careless and fancy-free… it’s that whole “planning” aspect that gets stuck in my craw… what helps it become un-stuck is knowing that a juicy, fat savings account means play time.

More profound than my grown-up wisdom is my new financial credo – live like a Muppet. Whenever the Muppets needed to raise money, they put on a show. Now that I am working again, I too, am putting on a show to raise money for what I need and want. Simple. In essence, I suppose one could say that simplicity is the key with money and life. But, it sounds far more fun to live like a Muppet… I rather fancy emulating Animal myself (no offense to Kermie).

That Ship Has Sailed

I have not always been proud to be who I am.  Considering that an understanding of self is developed with maturity, I would wager that most people could say the same about themselves.  But, with age, I have learned that I am who I am and I’m proud of that woman.  I suspect that my sub header at the top of this page is indicative of how much I embrace what makes me, well, me.  Especially that quip at the end, just up there to the right… that’s it… “a sailor-esque vocabulary”.   I do enjoy a good, verbally colorful rant. Sometimes, the best adjective is indeed four-letters and purple… sometimes black… others, yellow.  But, the point is, that no matter how much I enjoy cursing like a pirate on a quest for some rum and a bow-legged woman, the quickness of my tongue has been deadened to a tortoise-like pace. What could do such damage to my very being?… Living with children.

Eight short years ago, I had to learn to watch my tongue with the increasing age of my eldest niece.  Watching a tongue is tricky business when it’s your own.  But, I did my best, with the occasional mishap, followed by a firm, chastising look from my sister-in-law.  When I would leave the presence of the child, I would curse and listen to naughty music in my car to feel myself again.  Then, nearly one year ago exactly, I moved in with my brother and family.  The transition was painful and I got myself into trouble with their mother more often than the nieces did.  A tough task when in the company of a precocious 8-year-old and a whimsical 7-year-old.  Oh, but I did get in trouble, – and even was chastised by my very own nieces!  The audacity of children these days… I digress… given that I had just moved back from England, where the F-bomb flies with breakfast and c-u-next-tuesday is used in place of “the” in most sentences, my tongue really wasn’t all that bad.  They didn’t care, I had to change my ways.

Being strong-willed since the day I was born – yes, some may say “stubborn” – I fought this forced change to my lifestyle.  However, knowing that I was within their abode, I needed to be respectful, and was.  However, my insides were in knots and when alone, I would let ’em fly from my lips like there was no tomorrow!  But, with time, as most things do, I became accustomed to these new ways.  I started to note the cursing in some songs so my nieces couldn’t listen along.  I began noticing how many f-doozies flew in movies, and when poop wasn’t poop, and even when someone wasn’t going for a wee, but a … you get my drift.  Then, I realized that I was realizing all of this… what has happened to me?  I’ve become cautious of what my nieces hear and see in ways I never imagined.  But worse – not only has my tongue become censored – so have my thoughts!

Possibly, “censored” is harsh.  I still think all these words, I just try not to say them in the company of children.  What is truly frightening is when I squelch the desire to say them in front of adults – this is where I draw the line.  I am a single woman, non-parent, creative type – we’re expected to by nutters of the very best variety, which includes drinking, smoking and cursing.  I’m failing at the latter, which used to be one of my strongest attributes.  Alas, I do still slip on occasion, for which I’m promptly corrected. But, perhaps my abilities towards poor behavior are still inside of me.  Possibly, they simply await for me to be renewed, to once again be on the path of less-righteousness, sinking to new lows… or, worse… I just don’t care anymore.

No, I am absolutely not going to launch into some spiel about maturity – that’s ridonkulous!  What I will convey however, is that sometimes, it’s not about how you say it, rather, what is said.  Usually, one hears that the other way around.  I find it’s better this direction, especially for the current purpose.  I could perform a rendition to song of why this direction is the best direction for said adage, however, I shall spare the discomfort.  But, I will state, for the record, that when appropriate, my sailors’ tongue can fly with the wind and it shall be so.  Other times, it’s ok to sit back and think of silly words to replace those more colorful words with.  “Sunny Beaches”… that’s a favorite and imbues delightful, pleasant images…. or, “Uckfay Emay” in the famous pig latin… a myriad of connotations await, and if nothing more, this new-found cleanliness of mouth offers up some entertaining creativity in wordsmithery.