Monthly Archives: August 2010

Shaken, and Stirred

I just finished Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Warning, if you have not read the book and are planning to read it, I am going to include spoilers in this post.  Huh.  I just read on Wiki that the original title in Swedish is Men Who Hate Women–which is a much more apt title.  Anyway.

I have had several people recommend this book to me, and I have been intrigued by what I’ve heard.  Plus, I enjoy the mystery genre very much, and I enjoy mysteries set in other countries, and there were tattoos!  (At least, I assumed there would be).  This book sounded tailor-made for me.  Because I was going to read it, I didn’t look to see what it was about.  I rather not read blurbs if I know for sure I am going to read a book.  If only I had read a bit about it beforehand.  Then again, I just read the Wiki entry, and it wouldn’t have been enough to put me off my feed.  A pet peeve of mine, but I will get to it later.

Now, I bought the book some time ago.  And I meant to read it at the time; I really did.  However, I kept putting it off, and then, I never read it.  Then, the books and the movies became a sensation, and I felt compelled to pull out the book and read it.  Someone at BJ jokingly asked if I was one of Lisbeth Salander’s alter egos (titular character).  Briefly, Stieg Larsson wrote three books (his Millennium trilogy) before dying.  People have mourned that he hadn’t been able to write more.  Intrigued, I dug out the book and started reading.

The first thirty pages were deadly dull.  I struggled to get through them, and I almost put the book down several times.  However, I plowed through, and I was soon glad I did.  The story really picked up steam, and the introduction of Lisbeth Salander was…well, let me put it this way.  I have not identified with a character like this in some time–and, that’s not necessarily a good thing.

I’m going to get all spoilery below the fold, so again, if you want to read the book without knowing what happens, leave now.

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Shining a Little Light

OK.  As some people have pointed out in the comment section, I don’t say much nice about myself.  This is true.  I have always been more comfortable with my negatives than my positives for many reasons.  However, even before reading <b>morzer’s</b> first comment today, I had been mulling over my next blog entry, this blog entry and about writing something positive.  Shocking, I know.  Surprised the hell out of me, too.

So, here’s the deal.  I took my first step to becoming an adult yesterday.  My fiction writing is very important to me.  I talked briefly about it at the party last Saturday, and I realized that I really miss it.  I have always looked at my ability to tell stories as a gift that was given to me.  I have characters living in my head most of the time, and they are the ones who narrate the stories–not me.  In fact, most of my best stories come to me intact, and I have to do very little tweaking on them once they are on paper.  Anyway, I went to Poets & Writers to look at the current crop of contests.   I found a few that I have decided to enter.  One is a Flash Fiction contest (under 1,000 words) due by the end of August.  I wrote a story in about an hour, and it was pretty good.  I looked through my archives (I have a shitload of old stories) and found two stories that fit the category and that were really fucking good.  Creepy as hell, one of them, but that’s only to be expected.

Then, I started reading other short stories of mine because the next contest is Glimmer Train’s (under 12,000 words), also due at the end of August.  Glimmer Train is an excellent and respected literary journal, and I will continue to submit to them even though there is no chance in hell they will publish me (I’m not literary enough for them).  Anyway, as I was reading my pieces, some that I have not looked at in years, I realized something:  I am a fucking good writer.  No, really, I mean it.  I used to say, “Well, I enjoy writing, and I think I have some talent for it, but, you know,” but really, y’all–I can flat-out write.

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Tempus Fugit

I had my therapy session this morning.  First of all, the temp has dropped considerably, which makes me a happy camper.  Autumn is definitely here–and it’s my second favorite season.  No, you get no bonus points for guessing my first since I’m not exactly reticent about it.

Anyway, I walked into my therapist’s office and started blathering about how I’ve lost my momentum since my mom left.  After my therapist listened to me list my dissatisfaction with myself, she asked a seemingly non sequitur question.  She said, “Minna, what are you going to do after I’m gone?”  I looked blankly at her.  She said, “Not on my vacation, but after I retire.”  I stared at her, and she hastened to add, “I’m not sick or anything, but I’m a month away from 61.  I want to retire when I’m 65.  4 years is not that long.”

I admit, my first reaction was sheer panic.  I have been with her for some time, and it freaked me out to imagine not having her in my life.  But, that was her point.  I have been steadily gaining momentum in the last year and a half or so (with setbacks, of course), and I can’t afford to slide back again.

Four years ago, I was saying I would have a house by the time I was forty.  Well, I’m going to be forty in eight months, and I will not have that house.  It’s not that I couldn’t have a house by then, but it’s that I am not prepared to make that decision by then.  Am I closer to making that decision?  Definitely.  Am I there yet?  No.

Here’s the thing.  I haven’t had to be a full adult yet in my life.  I haven’t had to face the consequences of really failing.  Now, it’s time for me to put away childish things and be an adult.  And, if there is no external reason for that to happen, then I have to make it internal.

Back to my therapist’s question. After my initial panic faded a bit, I thought about it.  I said that what I got from her was clarity and a new perspective.  However, I had other people in my life who functioned in similar ways, and what’s more, I often times know ahead of time what her response will be (though it’s not as elegant in my head as it is when she says it).  We have been together so long, I know what her basic tenets are.  She is not always going to be there.  And, I tend to think, “Oh, I am going to bring this to therapy and talk about it” before making a decision.  That’s not a bad idea with big, tough, grappling issues, but it can be a way for me to avoid having to make  any decision at all on my own.

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I’m Just a Girl

OK.  I got thoughts about feminism, being a woman, being girly, and related things, and I need to share them.  They are pretty jumbled at this point, so bear with me as I untangle the threads.  It started yesterday as I was sitting in my therapist’s room waiting for my appointment.  I will get to that later, maybe in another entry.

Actually, this started a little bit ago.  I have a party to attend this Saturday, and the dress is sexy/sophisticated.  I don’t wear makeup as a general rule for many reasons, but I suddenly had the desire to girl it up a bit.  I went to the MAC website (a colored girl’s best friend), and I did a little surfing.  I wear lipstick now and again, and I favor dark, bold colors.  I remember the last time I visited a MAC counter, they told me they were getting black-colored makeup in a few weeks.  I promptly forgot about it, but remembered it upon my visit to the website.  Now, in case you don’t know, black is my favorite color.  It’s like a second skin to me, and I wear it often.  So, I found a shade of lipstick called Cyber that is bluish-black, a lip pencil, and black nail polish for my toes.  I have no nails of which to speak on my hands, so I won’t bother with them.

Then, I got it into my head that I needed a cute pair of shoes.  I hate shopping.  I am extremely picky, and I have wide feet.  All I wanted were a pair of black platform heels in wide.  I scoured the intertubes, but I couldn’t find anything.  An offhand remark by a friend led me to looking at stripper shoes, and while I really liked the styles, I don’t DO four inch heels, let alone eight.  Plus, I don’t like patent leather–I prefer satin or suede.  So, while I love the look of this, this, this, and this (this is just hilarious), none of them matched up my specs.  I did find some cute black platforms with sensible heels (sensible stripper?)–for drag queens.

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Not Going Out Like That

So.  I took a nap today.  That’s not unusual as I try to grab sleep whenever I can.  The boys love it because they can sleep with me or on me or near me.  Since I don’t let them in my bedroom, this is a treat, indeed.  I don’t even mind (much) waking up to a cat snoozing on my back.  My head, yes, but I think that’s reasonable.

At any rate, I was still in a funk over my father when when I went downstairs to nap.  I had just read Kel’s offer to house me, and I was thinking about that.  I knew I couldn’t do that (for many reasons), and I was despairing over what to do as an alternative.  With those unhappy thoughts in my head, I fell asleep.

When I awoke, I was violently ill (dry heaves) for a few minutes, and then I was determined to fight.  I thought of my boys and how I couldn’t leave them alone with my father.  He wouldn’t do anything to them, but he does not like animals.  He tolerates mine because they are mine, but he is not fond of them–though he does say they are not bothersome in any way.  High praise, indeed.

I do not want to move them or board them because this is their home, too, damn it.  Besides their foster home, this is the only home they’ve known.  They don’t take too well to change, and I will not move them.

In addition, I’m tired of flight.  I have done flight all my life, and while it was useful and necessary in the past, I cannot do it any longer.  I don’t know why it especially sticks in my craw this time, but it does.   I think it is because I’m just starting to live again, and damn it, I am not going out like that.  Seriously.  I lived through the shit he did to me when I was a kid.  I can fucking live through this, too.  And, to be honest, I am tired of giving him so much power.  Yes, he fucked up my childhood.  There is nothing I can do about that.  If I could I would go back and change it and never had to have experienced that.  However, it’s not gonna happen, so there’s no point in dwelling on that.

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My father is coming home for four days in early September.  My mom emailed me the info tonight, and I don’t know what to do with it.  To top it off, his favorite sister just passed, and they aren’t sure when they are having the funeral.  Which means that he will be raw from the grief when he returns.  Which means I should try to be sympathetic and all that.  Or something.

But, I don’t want to do that for him.  More to the point, I am not sure I can do that for him.

When my mom came home, it was difficult because of all the shit between us.  However, there is also love between us.  I can now say that I know she loves me and wants what’s best for me, even if what she envisions as best for me is so far off the mark.  I trust her to a certain extent (but not completely).

My father?  No.  I do not love him; he does not love me.  I don’t trust him one bit, and I don’t know or care whether he wants what’s best for me.

I thought I was over my anger at him, but I discovered that wasn’t true when my mother was home.  There are wells of fury hidden under my surface, but there are also layers of…other things.

He cannot physically harm me any longer, so I do not fear that.  He is old and in bad health, and god, I do not want to touch him at all.  I know I will have to hug him (have to as in feeling guilty if I don’t), and I am cringing already.  I think I have related how when I was in my twenties, he liked to walk with his arm around me.  When I informed him that I didn’t like it, that it made me feel more like his girlfriend than his daughter, he scoffed at me for being silly.  He did quit doing it, though, so there is that.

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An Act of Triage, Part II

So, this is Part I.  It’s not necessary to read, but it gives some good background.  Before I get on with the meat of this entry, I want to meander a bit first.

After the last fairly-positive blog entry, the demons were doubling down on their attacks.  Now, their attacks are fairly short in nature (meaning less than a week, usually), but they are more intense than ever.   I knew they would attack after the last entry, and they didn’t disappoint.  Even though I expected it, it was still exhausting.  In addition, the intertoobz-free day (well, except to check sports scores and stuff like that) was both good (giving me a much-needed break) and bad (leaving me very alone with my dark thoughts).  Still, in the end, it was a worthy endeavor and one I think I will be doing on a regular basis.

I had a Taiji session today.  It was good, even though I totally fucked up the Solo Form.   Some of the postures seemed totally foreign to me, and I was struggling not to fall asleep again.  Before the actual Taiji, though, Choolie and I chatted a bit.  We were talking about another entry of mine in which I was talking about how the demons were berating me for wasting fifteen years.  She said, “Let’s say you jumped out of an airplane at 1,000 feet above the ground and your parachute didn’t open on the way down.  Somehow, you managed not to die, but you broke every bone in your body and had internal bleeding to boot.  The doctor says you’ll live, but it’s gonna take awhile for you to mend.  You are not going to be moving for a very long time.”

I added, “And healing fucking hurts.”  She said, “And people are understanding.  If you broke a leg, people would say, ‘Oh, Minna can’t climb a mountain today because she has a broken leg.’ ”

Her point was that in our country, mental health gets short shrift.  She said what happened to me in my childhood is the emotional equivalent to falling out of the airplane and having my parachute fail.  I wasn’t wasting those years, according to her, but I was recuperating from the damage done to me.  She pointed out that I was essentially in a coma at that point.

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It’s MY Life!

Ed. Note, Part I: I have decided to take an internet-communication-free day starting from when I get up tomorrow (or go to bed tonight/this morning) until I get up Saturday morning/come back from Taiji).  Why?  Because.  I am posting a new entry before I take my mini-hiatus, but I will not be replying to any comments tomorrow night (as I normally would do). *

Ed. Note, Part II: This entry will be about my last therapy session, not about committing triage on my flaws.  I will return to that topic on a later date–or not.

When I was depressed, I didn’t think about my future because I didn’t think I had one.  As most of my regular readers know, I thought about killing myself on a daily basis back then–there was no room in my head for hope.

When I slowly and painfully started clawing my way out of depression about two years ago, I started thinking of the future.  I still wasn’t sure I had one, but I thought, “Hey.  Just maybe.”  I still had it in my head that I wouldn’t live a long life (55), but that would still give me about eighteen years of life left to live.  Plenty of time to do something.

I started thinking about getting my own place.  I wanted my own house, I thought.  The problem was, I couldn’t picture what that entailed at the time.  I knew I wanted something with enough space to keep my cats happy, that I wanted two bedrooms (one as a den), and that I wanted one full bathroom.  I love Spanish Missions, but we don’t have many of those here in MN (lots of Tudors and Ramblers (Ranches)).

In addition, my desire to move was more about just getting out of THIS house.  In other words, it was a reaction.  I wanted to get away from my parents physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

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Committing Triage, Part I

Music note: I told a musical friend that I liked Trent Reznor and Lords of Acid and asked for his recommendations.  After commenting that I liked “electrofuckpervsleaze”, which, I had never heard before but immediately dubbed perfect, he suggested VNV Nation.  Illusion was the first vid to pop up on YouTube, and I was hooked from the first gorgeous note.  I listened to it a dozen times (or two), and I knew I had to put it in this entry.  Now that I have moved past my Illusion obsession, I am listening to the other songs.  Beloved, the second vid, is a wonderful song, too.  The third vid (and yes, I am putting them in the entry as I hear them) is Arena, and I fucking love this song (as Ronan, the lead singer exclaims as he’s singing it).  H/t to Ned R. for his spot-on suggestion.  He’s better than Pandora!  Fun fact:  I am really digging every other song on the list he gave me (and yes, I am listening to it in order because that’s how I roll).  Now, on with the actual entry.

We all have flaws.  Some of us have more than others, but no one is completely free from them.  If someone claims s/he has no flaws, s/he is in denial–or utterly boring, or both.  I am one of those people with many, many, many flaws.  I am very aware of them, and I have railed against them over the years.  As I noted earlier, the fact that I’m aware of my flaws actually adds insult to injury because I can’t change them at the snap of my fingers, so what good does it do to know I have them?  It just makes me more frustrated and self-critical.  I can list roughly 125 flaws off the top of my head, and because it seems so daunting to work on all of them, I don’t work on any.  Which, is one of my flaws, come to think of it (all or nothing thinking).  However, in the last half year or so, I started to realize that all flaws are not created equal.

WTF does that mean, Minna?, I hear you asking.  And, even if I don’t, I’m going to pretend I do so I can go on with this entry.

Back in the day, I would list all my faults and get overwhelmed by how flawed I was.  I would plan how to change all these bad habits/traits/etc., and then get exactly nowhere.  The problem is, well, many-fold, as usual.  One, some of the things I thought were flaws were things in actuality that I only wanted to change because I thought I should want to change them.  For example:

I prefer my own company to the company of others.  I like my own space, and I never had the urge to live with someone.  In fact, when I’ve had roommates/housemates, I’ve chafed.  So, the idea of cohabitating with a romantic interest made my blood run cold.  Our society pushes the living-together thing to the point of mania.  For years, I thought there was something wrong with me because I had no desire to live with someone–especially since I was a woman.  It’s only recently that I have started to see that hey, there’s nothing wrong with not wanting to live with someone or wanting duplexes.  I can theoretically be in a loving relationship with someone and not have to put up with listening to his/her music on a daily basis or work on his/her schedule.  Relationships are about compromise, yes, but not wanting to be part of a unit is not necessarily an indication of dysfunction, either.

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The Reckoning, Part II

This is Part I that I wrote earlier tonight.  It’s best to read Part I before reading Part II, but it’s not necessary.  I promise you I will return to the subject of my mojo by the end of this entry.

Another thing that came up in my last therapy session was how the hell am I going to be self-supporting?  I talked about doing editing, which is fine.  However, I’m not sure it’s the only thing I want to be doing.  She mentioned…first, a little background.  I have a thing for bartender.  I have no idea why this is, but it’s become an inside joke with my friends.  If I mention I find someone cute in a bar, my friend will inevitably say, “The bartender!”  Anyway, my therapist and I were talking about my thought of being a barista/server ten years ago.  She said, “You should bartend.”  I thought she was half-joking, but she really wasn’t.  She said my affinity for bartenders is what made her think of it, but then it actually made sense.

My immediate thought was, “I can’t fucking do that.”  It was immediately followed by the thought, “Why not?”  I confess that my immediate reaction had to do with the reaction I imagined from my parents if I told them my decision.  However, this is something really common in families where someone wants to do something artistic for a living.  Parents are rarely supportive of these endeavors for various reasons.   My therapist pointed out that I had to reframe the issue from, “This work is beneath me (legacy from my family’s class issues)” to “This is what people in my community do to make a living.”  It’s true.  Performers, artists, musicians, and writers alike have done mundane jobs in order to have a bit more freedom to pursue their creative projects.

I couldn’t have been a server/barista ten years ago.  I could be a bartender today.  Plus, I hear the sexual shenanigans are pretty outrageous in certain bars.  I would get hit on, and I would have to deal with that.  I would get to hear people’s lives stories (I tend to elicit that from people, anyway), which I could then harvest for my fiction.  I could work nights and sleep days, which is my preferred sleep schedule, anyway.  I don’t drink much, so it wouldn’t be a temptation in that way.  I would have to deal with the noise factor, but that’s what earplugs are for.

To my amazement, by the end of the session, I was actually seriously thinking about it.  My best friend, Kiki, had mentioned the idea awhile back, semi-joking, but not really joking, either.  It has a lot of merit.

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