Adventures with Dr. Lady Cutie Troublemaker

Life is in flux BIG TIME these days. I want to keep in touch with all of my peeps. The Internet is this beautiful thing. I can move to a brand new city and still stay in easy, near-daily contact with the people I love. When I feel connected to the people in my life that matter, I am unstoppable!

Judgmentalism and The “No Hard Times” People

By Abby at 11:28 am on Monday, March 10, 2008

I’ve had this conversation a few times in the past few days (with my mom and with Shannon).

People who have experienced life going their way most of the time often assume a cause-effect relationship that I believe is illusory. They feel that the reason that life has been kind to them is that they have done the right things. They feel they are being rewarded for their right behavior and choices. The obvious offshoot of this is that they believe that they have answers that will work for you. If only you did this thing that I did, or behave this way I behaved, you will have a life as content as mine. The corollary to this is the belief that because my life isn’t as worked out as theirs, I must have done incorrect things and made the wrong choices. This is true within my own group of like-minded peers, but it also extends far beyond one’s own social sphere. If those poor people had only done what I did, their life would be more like mine. If that addict had only done what I did, they would not be homeless.

Going through really hard times (and for me, I’m counting divorce and extended unemployment, although these are hardly impressive “hard times” – just using what I know) brings one “to one’s knees” (as they say). You realize that despite trying your hardest, doing your best, taking what is supposed to be the right actions, life can go badly. Things might not work out. That guy you like may not like you back. He may turn out to be kind of a loser. That job you really want may not be yours. You might get the rejection call, even if you did everything you knew to do. One response is to assume there is something wrong about you or that you did the wrong thing, but I don’t believe that’s always true. I’ve been in the position of rejecting others at times (like during breakups), but it was almost never personal – usually about a poor fit, a mismatch, a hunch. That’s just how life goes sometimes.

When there’s a long run of bad luck or hard times, it’s easy to start to question yourself and your approach. Do I interview badly? Did I talk too much? These questions are important to ask in case there is a real issue to address, but to get stuck in these questions can be detrimental and you can end up in that kind of mood that my dad has referred to as “wearing shit-covered glasses”. In the original Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum, the travelers must first put on emerald-tinted spectacles before entering the Emerald City. It isn’t the city itself that is emerald in color. It is the glasses: the perspective those who enter are asked to take.

I’ve had on slightly rosy-tinted specs during this long period of joblessness. Without them, I become immobilized. I think anyone would.

If you haven’t been through hard times, you might think that you know how you’d respond in certain hypothetical situations. So ask someone who is gainfully employed and deeply in love (I have been that person) what they would do if their lover left them without warning. Listen to their answer, and know that it is just something they are making up in the moment because it sounds good to them. They answer from a position of not really knowing. One thing I learned when going through my divorce is that the way I felt and responded to bad news was often NOTHING like I would have expected. I like this idea of being open to how one actually feels and separating strongly from how you think you would feel, how you think you should feel. To know how you actually feel (even if it makes no sense cognitively) is such a gift. It’s something I’ve honed over the past several years since I see so much value in it. It has served me so well. It’s maybe my version of meditation – this asking myself what I feel or what I want. Even if what you feel and what you want has no consequences in the external world, just knowing your actual feelings in the moment makes life so much clearer. It’s like turning the manual focus or getting new glasses, and the clarity just BANG – is there for you.

Over the past five years, I’ve done divorce, dissertation, three brand-new-state moves, jumped a ton of academic and professional hoops (if you read this blog, you know about this), and had some other big changes in my personal life here and there. If you’d asked me before all of that how I would approach all these things, I think I would have answered with some sort of confidence. It would have been false confidence. I didn’t have a clue. And I’m glad I learned to admit that to myself. It has made my life all the richer.

If you’re inclined, then please… Discuss!

Filed under: Dad's Wisdom,Ramblings/Brain Dumps/Opinions9 Comments »

Your Assignment (if you choose to accept it)

By Abby at 1:38 pm on Sunday, March 9, 2008

It’s going to be a heavy blogging week. I can feel it. I know it. I have a little list of topics, and man, it’s gonna be deep. Seriously. Just watch for it, and be prepared to comment. You will be graded on your participation, and this will go down in your permanent record.

Your assignment for today is to wish my mother luck. She’s getting a new knee in the morning.

Filed under: Family,Ramblings/Brain Dumps/Opinions13 Comments »

Françaises (French Things)

By Abby at 9:50 pm on Thursday, February 28, 2008

I’ve been struck down with a really annoying cold this week. I’ve spent most of my time in my apartment, watching bittorrented movies (I know, I know) and sleeping. After seeing Marion Cotillard win the Oscar, I was curious about La Vie En Rose. I’ve always liked Édith Piaf, and I knew that this film was about her life. What an astounding transformation. To see this pretty young thing at the ceremony, you’d never think she’d be able to alter every little thing about herself to create this flawed, fragile, deeply wounded character. Édith Piaf’s life was heartbreaking, every step of the way. After seeing the movie, I did some research and learned that she was only 4’8″. While she was married twice, the true love of her life was a world champion boxer named Marcel who was married with children. At one point, a movie was made about their love affair called Édith et Marcel. In this film, the part of Marcel was played by his real-life son. Weird, isn’t it? A man playing the part of his father while he was in an adulterous relationship? I wonder if his mother was still alive at the time of the film’s production? Anyway, I digress. My point is that I highly recommend this film.

Here’s Édith Piaf two years before her death, singing the song seen in that clip: “Non, je ne regrette rien” (No, I have no regrets). It’s clear in this video how utterly tiny she is:

A rough translation found on teh internetz:

No, nothing at all. I regret nothing at all. Not the good, nor the bad. It is all the same. No, nothing at all, I have no regrets about anything. It is paid, wiped away, forgotten. I am not concerned with the past, with my memories. I set fire to my pains and pleasures. I don’t need them anymore. I have wiped away my loves, and my troubles. Swept them all away. I am starting again from zero.

No, nothing at all, I have no regrets. Because from today, my life, my happiness, everything starts with you!

So after a French-tastic beginning of the week, I decided to go ahead and meet up with some friends to see Keren Ann and Dean & Britta. These are tickets I’d had for some time, so I loaded up on cold medicine and drove to Carrboro for the show. I’m so glad I did.

Keren Ann has an album that I’ve loved for a few years, but somehow I’d neglected to recall that she is, in fact, French. I thoroughly enjoyed her set and will definitely be spending more time listening to her.

This clip is very brief and is her singing a song in French at her show, but my favorite song she sang was this one, called “I’m Not Going Anywhere”

Dean & Britta are new to me. My friend Ayse is a big fan, and I’ve heard of his former bands Galaxie 500 and Luna before, but only in passing. I was pretty undecided about them during the whole set, but I kept feeling like they were very reminiscent of the legendary Serge Gainsbourg. Then, at the end of the show, they blew me away with a cover of the Serge Gainsbourg classic “Bonnie & Clyde”. Perfection! While I’m not a new massive fan, they sure have my respect for their performance of that song, as well as at least one other song that I really enjoyed.

This isn’t the best writing I’ve ever done. I’m still pretty out of it, but I’ve decided to try and pull myself back to help starting tomorrow, even if I have to fake it. Maybe by the weekend, my brain will work properly again.

Filed under: Music,Ramblings/Brain Dumps/Opinions,Uncategorized,Video3 Comments »

Traveling Light

By Abby at 1:23 am on Sunday, February 24, 2008

From Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert:

“I seriously believed he was my soul mate.”

“He probably was. Your problem is you don’t understand what that word means. People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that’s holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then they leave. And thank God for it. Your problem is you just can’t let this one go…You can’t accept that this relationship had a real short shelf life. You’re like a dog at the dump, baby–you’re just lickin’ at an empty can trying to get more nutrition out of it. And if you’re not careful, that can’s gonna get stuck on your snout forever and make your life miserable. So drop it.”

“But I love him.”

“So love him.”

“But I miss him.”

“So miss him. Send him some love and light every time you think about him, and then drop it.”

There was a time maybe four years ago when I might have read this and thought that there was no way in hell it was true. I like the idea of taking a relationship that was significant, putting it in the museum in its place, honoring it for its importance, and moving on. I think I’ve done that. Shelf life times of course vary. Mine was pretty damn long, and I wouldn’t have given it up for the world. But I also wouldn’t have given up my life since for the world, because it is mine, and it has made me who I am today. I realized recently just how baggage-free I am. And when you travel through life pretty free of baggage, and that freedom has come from a lot of work and communication at times when it wasn’t easy, you don’t want to load up your cart with just anyone. I have this Pollyanna-ish idea that being picky is good, and that as long as I live my life well and focus on creating a good life for myself, the right person to share my life with will eventually emerge.

Filed under: Ramblings/Brain Dumps/Opinions5 Comments »

Words First

By Abby at 9:13 am on Friday, February 1, 2008

In discussing music with many friends over many years, I’ve learned that the way I listen is a bit different than the way many other people listen. I’m a music first person. If the melody, rhythm, tone, instrumentation, and harmonies don’t interest me, I’m unlikely to listen long enough to even hear the lyrics at all. If those qualities are highly engaging, then it may takes a hundred listens before I move on to the words.

When at a gig or otherwise listening to a song for the very first time, I am often amazed that someone might ask me the question, “What do you think of these lyrics?” Lyrics? Already? Are you serious? I have to get to the point where I’m really into the song first – well before I have anything at all to say about the lyrics. What’s weird, though, is that I really prefer music that is vocal. I love the complexity and variations (flavors, if you will) the human voice offers. I love the sounds of words. I love pronunciation. I love the rhythm and cadence of rhyme. I love the choices people make about how they use their voice – whether those choices are deliberate or not. I hear personality in a voice. Right now I’m thinking of Chan Marshall of Cat Power, Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Bragg, Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Audioslave, John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats… All voices used well but in extremely different ways.

And speaking of The Mountain Goats, their latest video is what had me thinking about this the most. Having only heard a pre-released song from the upcoming album a time or two, I saw the accompanying video. It forced me to experience the music much differently from the way I normally experience music. Words are the centerpiece of the video. Instead of words just being additions to the overall soundscape, I am forced to recognize the picture that is being described by them. I can’t even say if it’s a good or bad thing. It’s just as different as can be. Take a look:

Filed under: Music,Ramblings/Brain Dumps/Opinions4 Comments »
« Previous PageNext Page »