Sunday, April 26, 2015

Mothers and Daughters

I have to weigh in on the adage that, “Worrying about the youth of a generation, is the first sign of age.”  Its true.  I am officially worried about the next generation, my kids generation, and the one right behind them, that are teenagers now.   With that logic in hand if things don’t change in the way we raise our kids I’m worried about the wee ones too.  Let me clarify:  I have two grown kids(one daughter)  and my best friend, The Poet In My Heart, has two young adult daughters approaching or at college level.  The Poet in My Heart and I speak almost daily about life, and our kids are a big topic.  After all who are you going to share all the great accomplishments, and all the 'WTF? Were they thinking moments’, if not with your best friend?  And as a good friend I listen and try to give advice as if they were my own daughters.  And then I secretly am glad that my daughter hasn’t made the same mistakes.  But wait for it.  She’s not perfect and has recently given me pause not so much in her decisions or the way she goes about them, but in her attitude.

And I realize that it's the attitude of the younger generations that is really pissing me off.  It's a privileged, white, American, spoiled attitude that the world actually owes them something.  My bestie Poet, says, ‘My kids too and they are Mexican’.  LOL  so it’s not so much the race I’m pointing a finger at but the stereotype of the way that race, my race, raised our kids.  What really floors me is I gave up so much as a single parent to make sure she and her brother, had everything they needed.  And so that they would have a similar lifestyle to their peers.  Not exactly like their peers.  I wouldn’t have spoiled them with material things if I could have afforded it, but sometimes I was able to perform a miracle for Christmas morning.  So I wonder, if she didn’t learn this by example, where did she learn this?

And I find myself blaming her peers and the media.  The entertainment they watch that I don’t have the time to watch.  But then I remember that’s what my parents blamed when they said the same thing about my generation.  The late seventies and early eighties brat pack generation, the Me generation, right after the boomers.  We were spoiled, white, privileged, American kids too.  We were Punks and Rockers instead of Hipsters and Millennium’s but they who grew up in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s could only shake their heads at our lack of manners, and respect for our elders.  And our attitude! That our generation would change the world without any hard work attached to that statement.  Just a common belief that we would never sell out!  Sitting around smoking pot and drinking and having sex before sex could kill you, believing that our generation would sober up enough to stop the madness.  Shades of the 60’s there too.  We didn’t do that, anymore than the 60’s kids did.

Now my kids are much straighter than I was at their ages, but some of my friends kids aren’t, and yet they all seem to have the same “fuck you its all about me” attitude as the Me generation did and Generation X.  Thats all of you like me in your 40’s or 50’s now.  WTF did we do wrong?  Did we give them too much?  Did we stop spanking?  Did we give them awards just for showing up?  Did we let everyone play ball or act in a play just because some kid with no talent for that cried to do it?  Instead of the pride and confidence it was supposed to give them, like when you actually audition for a play and nail it, or try out for a team and get chosen, or practice so hard that you get first chair in orchestra.  Did we try so hard to make all our kids equal that we took away all their individuality, and now we have not one but two generations of people with their hands out looking for an award just because they show up, not because they did their best.  They act like the world owes them something when they don’t read the fine print they sign and then wonder why they are in the mess they are in.  They act like its everyone else’s fault when a decision they made doesn’t work.  And the really scary thing to me is that I’ve seen this across all income brackets.  And I’ve heard the adult temper tantrums and the giving up verbiage.  That kind emotional blackmail, to a parent is some of the harshest words you can utter.  We have no idea if you are being dramatic, like with your girlfriends, or if you are really about ready to cash it all in over something as silly as…well everything is silly if it is put against your life, isn’t it?  Or your sanity?

I just don’t get it.  And my mom said the same thing about us.  And I understand now why.  We aren’t meant to understand the younger generation.  Oh we may like some of their music or books or movies or fashion, but we really don’t ‘get it’.  And we never will.  Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t listen and try to guide them, but we can’t be expected to fix it.  Because we don’t get how they got there in the first place, and it teaches nothing when a parent ‘fixes’ every mistake for a child, does it?  No matter how old that child is, at some point you have to say, “Well I’m here if you need to talk and I know you will find a way to work this out.  I love you.”  And boy does their face change when you stand tall.  And so does theirs when they find a way, stand tall themselves and work it out.


Sunday, April 19, 2015

You’re My Best Friend- You know who you are

In my life I’ve had a nice run of ‘best friends’.  People I trusted so much I could tell them anything, almost everything.  Sometimes it was a man, sometimes a woman.  But when I have one, and I honestly can’t think of a time in my life that someone wasn’t willing to at least listen, I’ve felt less alone, and never lonely. (thanks now to my best friends: Mr. Hopeful, The Poet In My Heart, and She of Little Combat Boots).

The only time when that didn’t seem true was when I was depressed.  Then, even the friends and best friends that reached out to me didn’t seem like it was worth the effort to talk with them or be with anyone.  And it had nothing to do with them, and everything to do with me and my attitude towards my depression.  Or in my case, my stubbornness to let go of someone that was making me depressed. Actually two someones, (Mr. Practical, and Mr. Charisma) but they are completely gone from my life and I’ve discovered that when you hold on to a relationship that makes you sad more than it makes you happy, this can add to or create a depression.  A hopelessness about life that weighs on you like the world.  Every problem that seemed solvable when not depressed becomes overbearing when depressed.  Our worlds tend to dissolve into a hermit like state, that while some alone time is good, alone time lying in bed and thinking too much is never good.

Unfortunately, your best friends will tell you all the right things to do:  “Don’t think so much”.  “Get out of your own head”.  “Leave, change your life”.  “Make a start, do something”.  “Breathe”.  But none of these very good ideas seem like the right thing, and most of us fighting with depression will find themselves paralyzed to do anything but lay in that bed and do all the worst things you can.

I was clinically and emotionally depressed after Mr. Charisma left me.  But it wasn’t because he left or chose someone else or all the things my stubborn mind tried to convince me.  See I didn’t really love him anyway so why would him leaving bring out all the traditional jealous female emotions?  Because I had been depressed alone and never really knew it, and the thought of being alone again and letting that depression win, was more than I could handle. That, and all the negative triggers he sprung in my memory. Being alone, and being afraid of that instead of using that to be creative or do the things I wanted to do, (like I am now with my solitude) was the straw that broke the camels back.

Now that I’m not actually fighting with depression daily, more like every few months or so, or a twinge here and there, I can see it for what it was.  That DOES NOT mean that everyones depression is easily solved or that there is a pill or potion for that. Believe me I tried a lot of self medication and prescribed.  And while both seemed to help, and some really did, in the end it was a deep commitment to love myself and believe and myself and the most important thing, NEVER, NEVER give up, that helped me out of the deep dark pit, that I had thrown myself into.

Never let your own negative impression of yourself get in the way of the real person you are.  Because its true that everyone is unique and different, and yet we are all very much the same.  And so many people suffer from a low self esteem and a depression about life, that I believe we are all just walking past each other, glued to our phones, and never really taking the time to help make a difference in others lives.

I don’t stay glued to my phone in public like most people on the bus or train.  I look around at people, I make eye contact and I smile.  Not grin like a fool, just a small smile of understanding and greeting, and you know what?  Sometimes, another person sees this and returns the smile.  Unfortunately sometimes I’m the only person on the bus or train not looking at my phone, but in those opportunities I can look out the window and enjoy the scenery of the bustling city as it flies by.  Think about the little things in life, and be happy that I’m still alive and that I didn’t give up.

So if you find yourself depressed, or ‘in a slump’ or ‘out of sorts’ just give it time, and try to remember when you were happy, because I guarantee you were not born this way.  We are born joyful, in all states.  And we slowly become what we are exposed to.  That is what flavors us and takes away our childlike innocence and joy.  Remember who you are, and what you want, and then DO THAT.  BE THAT.  Because fighting that will only make it worse.


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Taxman - Ready Player One

I know I lament a lot about the past and things that went wrong,  or rather, choices I made that turned out to be wrong for me.  But something has happened that has made me feel like the move to Chicago was the absolute right thing for me to do, and at the right time.

I’m a nanny.  Thats my new career.  For the last year and two months, I have had my own business being my own boss and doing what I love.  Which was easy to see as a right decision.  But what was harder is the way I’m paid.  Always in cash, no W2, nothing withheld for taxes or social security.  Part of this great experiment for me was this time of year.  As with all business owners, not being able to pay your taxes at tax time is a good indication that maybe this is the wrong business for you.  Even with the stat that most new businesses fail within the first two years. I was determined to make that payment.

I got my news early so I’d have some time to save.  In late February I got the amount and it was significant for me.  Having lived my life as a daughter of a single parent and being one myself, I was used to living with just the essentials, no frills.  So cutting back was easier than I thought it would be.  Saving has always been a challenge.  I don’t have a savings account.  (I’m opening one on Friday).  But that wouldn’t help me with last years taxes, or the wonderful idea of paying for next year every quarter.  Which being a secretary for many years I knew about but was also skittish as to setting that up and how to do it for myself.

So through the month of March and two weeks into April I went into deep survivor mode.  Nothing was purchased that wasn’t a necessity.  And by my tax appointment yesterday I had saved enough to pay all of last years state and federal tax.  And be able to put the first quarter estimate of next years on my charge card.  So now I’m not saving for next year already three months behind.  I’m on track!  And I did it without any help from any friends, or family.  I owe my charge card true, but most of us do.

And I felt like Mere Winningham’s character in Saint Elmo’s Fire, when she made that first peanut butter and jelly sandwich in her own new apartment.  And it was the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the world.  I feel so adult, and successful that my business is not with the majority of new businesses.  And I hope I can start saving what I need every week.  As Heinlein said, “Pay yourself first.”  And he was right.

Side note:  I’m reading Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline and I find that everything in life is now peppered with 80’s references.  I love this book and can’t wait for the movie.  If you are like me and behind the times, and haven’t read this best seller yet, PLEASE pick it up.  You will love it.


Sunday, April 5, 2015

Through The Looking Glass of Perceptions - Easter and the Wounded Child Within

Easter.  I hate this time of year.  My mother died around Easter, and so the holiday flowers always remind me of her funeral.  I miss her every day, and as hard as that time was, I look back on it now and realize how loved she was, and how loved I was by the friends who are family, that showed up at her funeral.  She was the youngest of 15 so all her relatives had passed before her, and I am an only child so there was no other family but me and my kids.  But her funeral was a testament to the people in my life that she had touched somehow.  And a reflection of how much they wanted to be there for me.  Knowing how alone I must have felt.

I wonder, as I’m sure you sometimes wonder, who might show up to wish my loved ones well when I die.  I know there will be people who won’t find out until its too late and others that might want to come but feel awkward or can’t make it for some reason.  And unlike the carpenter king we celebrate this day, I won’t be coming back.

Or at least I won’t be coming back here.

Or I won’t remember that I’m me.

Or I get to go to the next level.

Or what?

We just don’t know, do we?

I wonder how much unfinished business my mother left on this world when she died.  I wonder how much I will leave.  I hope not much, but it's practically impossible to fix everything we mangle in our journeys.  The most we can hope for is to learn from our mistakes and try not to repeat them.  Fixing ourselves is a full time commitment, and one I highly recommend.

Now I’m not saying I’m fixed, just committed to trying to be the person I think I am.  See that’s the trap isn’t?  We all perceive ourselves as someone that no one else sees.  Even the people that love us the most don’t see us the way we see ourselves.  For example, I had an ex boyfriend once comment, after I told him the trials and tribulations of my divorce, that he couldn’t believe that I divorced him because he tried to fuck me up the ass.  And I marveled that that was the only thing he saw wrong with the story I told him. Not his affair, not the absence he had in our friendship and marriage, not the slow deterioration of our communication because of his affair, just that I had refused him that anal activity.  And what a wrong perception!  How could he love me and see only this?  It wasn’t the act that turned me off of my husband it was the WAY the tried to perform it.  With no tenderness or thought to my feelings, and it was a huge trigger to my rapes when I was 12.  There wasn’t even any discussion about how we would attempt this new position other than he wanted to and that I should just relax and it would be ok.  Not did I want to.  Not lets research this together as a loving couple and try this.  Like all sex exploration should be.

Once you are forced into a rape, sex becomes a much more slippery slope than for others.  Its unfortunate that that husband and my ex boyfriend didn’t understand those things then.  I hope for their lives they do now.

Perception, unfortunately is everything.  And back in those days I was handing out incorrect judgements right with the rest of them.  But because I’ve been perceived so incorrectly most of my life, I’ve become a bit more understanding of the faults and inconsistencies that appear in people.  You might say Im a gullible door mat, but at least I explore all the reasons for an action before I label a person as a player, or a slut, or a prude, or frigid, or broken, or a bitch.  All names that have been slung at me.  And my reaction is usually to hide, shut up, flee or smile.  Smile to hide the hurt not smugly.

This carpenter king was all about unjust perception and forgiveness and love.  I’d like to think that as humans, if we take one thing away from his preachings it was this.  Its all about love.  Loving without conditions, or unconditionally as you would a child.  With vast amounts of forgiveness and understanding.  For in each of us is a wounded child, looking for a safe place.  Be that safe place.