musings of a malcontent

seattle native, teacher w/out a classroom, bookkeeper, drinker of coffee and red wine, a constant work in progress

Archive for the category “subjective reality”

the dark side

i just heard a follow up to a news story from last week that made me so sad. Roger was 15, he was in and out of foster care since the time he was 3 years old, he had some emotional and behavioral problems, and Roger committed suicide last week by jumping off of a local freeway overpass during rush hour traffic causing a traffic jam that i now regrettably and ill-informed at the time, complained about having to deal with. i will never know what it’s like to be in that dark of a place. Roger’s story especially, hits home to me. i often wondered why it was that these sorts of stories made me feel so emotional and grateful, seemingly more so than the average person. Roger lived the life that could have been mine. the circumstances are slightly different but not so far removed that i don’t get this welling up of knots in my stomach. only 2 days after being born i was adopted and taken into a home. a home where i have been unconditionally loved, cared for, mentored to and invested in. babies come in 2 categories: the wanted ones and the unwanted ones. then, once in those categories there are choices. the wanted ones are cared for in the best way their parents know how and those parents make choices daily that will lead their child down the path that hopefully will work out to the child’s best interest. for the unwanted babies: the choice is: abortion, foster care, adoption. i was an unwanted baby that was blessed with adoption. i don’t talk about it a lot. but there are times when i’m in the grocery store and i see a woman who kind of looks like me and i wonder softly to myself is i could be related to her. it’s not that i’m daily sad about not knowing my biological parents, it’s that it’s a natural human curiosity. i’ve never met anyone biologically related and that’s ok. but i sometimes wonder what they’d look like and who’s eyes i have and who’s fault it is that my toes are weird. but if i never find out, i think i’ll be fine. because i have parents and sisters and an extended family and, this goes without saying, an incredible network of family friends and personal friends that would be there for me in a heartbeat if i needed anything. they love me. i’m loved. and i know it. i may get in my funks, and i may feel annoyed or get antsy or whatever, but i know what love is. i’m not sure that Roger did. thru no fault of his own he was ushered into this world of misfits, chaos and uncertainty and did the best he could to stay afloat. Roger had some issues. kids, specifically teenagers with issues, are not easy to deal with. it wasn’t the foster parent’s fault. it’s not one person’s fault individually. Roger reminds me of the food bank patrons. i feel like i talk about them constantly. they are a demographic with issues. food banks are all different depending on which area of the city you are in. we get a lot of homeless and people dealing with handicaps, whether they be mental or recovery handicaps or social ones.  i think, after processing this for a while, i think why i love them and feel so drawn to working with them, is, that they have lived in a dark spot much like Roger. whether they are there thru their own doings or not i don’t know and it’s not my place to judge. i just know that i connect with these people. like the foster parents care for the Rogers. it takes certain people to deal with certain people, if that makes any sense. in any place in our lives there are people who live in dark. my dark is a shade or two or twenty lighter than some people’s, but we all have places where we hide and feel lost in the dark. i don’t know what Roger was dealing with in his head, i probably never will.  i don’t know how it is to have no other options than to kill myself or to live on the street. and i probably never will.  but there’s always this little twinge inside me that knows that even at the ripe old age of 2 days old, my future could be so much different than it is today at the age of 29 years. we need to talk about this. we need to talk about the things that make us uncomfortable. suicide, homelessness, substance abuse, domestic violence, bullying… we need to talk about our own discomforts, the things we don’t always want to talk about. my being adopted, isn’t a sore subject for me. but i’m guarded about it. but if i can tap into that and become a little less guarded, and use the things i feel about it to make eye contact and see others and help them in whatever dark spot their in, then i need to do that. everyone’s got their stories. use them. you might not be able to fix them, but just… reach out i guess, be available, or do something, however small to show that people matter. for the Rogers.

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being angry is exhausting.

i can’t understand how some people make it their regular mood. you know who i’m talking about, the types that go around just being angry or irritated with everything. they choose to focus on the negative with pretty much everything surrounding them. there are negative things in life. daily life in fact. there are the people who cut you off, there are the people who say dumb things, there are the highly unfortunate fashion choices that some make, there are the bad cups of coffee… but to have a running negative commentary on everything, just sounds completely exhausting to me. not to mention a waste of time. i complain, sure. but it’s not a hobby. and the sad thing is, that these people are for the most part completely unaware they are this way. they have slipped into this routine and are oblivious to the darkness that their attitude emits. it truly is dark. not only is it exhausting to BE negative always, but it’s also quite draining to be AROUND it constantly. i have a friend who is this way. friend… yes. she didn’t used to be this way though. i’ve seen her slip into this and it’s sad. and it’s of her own doing and there were hints of it early on but now it’s almost intolerable to be around her for any length of time without feeling the need for a drink. and that, is a sad way to conduct a friendship. it makes me sad. i just don’t get it. the guy who called me all sorts of fowl-mouthed things for no reason at all the other week, he is this type of person. there’s no need to be a fake person. there’s nothing to suggest that the world is full of rainbows and kittens and unicorns always and everywhere. life happens in the world. and life is often messy and imperfect. but to dwell always on that i just can’t handle. it festers and spreads and multiplies and i don’t want to live in that. for my sanity, i can’t.

adventures in bookkeeping

my job it very routine and could be characterized as mundane or boring by most.  certainly i’d rather be teaching but, i’ve found that this job has tapped into a part of my brain that i don’t get to explain very often.  i’ve always been very organized and like a certain order to things.  i wouldn’t classify myself as OCD and i’m certainly not the neatest person i know, but in the world of numbers and papers in which i work, there’s a certain order that i love.  i remember sneaking up to my dad’s office when he worked at home and i’d take papers out of the recycle can and use them to play office or school.  i liked the ones that looked important and “officy.” i didn’t have a clue what they were but they looked grown up, they looked orderly and they were going to be mine to use in my “office.”  i’d play receptionist or office for hours secretly in my room or wherever i happened to be.  and school supply shopping was always my favorite part of the new school year.  i loved, and still do, office supply stores.  there’s a certain smell they have that i love.  there’s something about that whole aisle of pens and post-it notes that makes my heart happy.  i can’t explain it.  i don’t expect others to understand it.  in fact i expect to be mocked.  but it is what it is.  anyhow… oh, so, we had this computer game when we were younger.  it was called “Dr. Brain.” i’d play that game for HOURS.  literally.  it was basically a bunch of ‘games’ that used problem solving or puzzle skills and required thinking.  but in a fun way.  i think i was one of those rare kids that actually LIKED learning toys.  hm…

it takes a certain kind of person to do books and to be an office worker bee.  in school i was never very good at math.  i could do it, but it didn’t come naturally to me.  i had to think about it and practice it and even then i didn’t like it much.  unless it was practical math.  and that’s what i use here.  my resistance to math in school was probably much in part to the pointlessness of it i felt.  i didn’t know why we needed to know it.  but practical math i understood.  i got that i’d need to know how to do basic addition and multiplication and division and other things like that.  my brain works that way.  my job, for lack of a better phrase, is pretty simple.  it’s made up of simple tasks but within each task is a set of problems, of puzzles that need to be put together in order for my co-worker to be able to do his job.  if my job isn’t done well and accurately, he can’t do his job well.  i like this.  it motivates me to not get lazy.  sure, it seems like that all i do is count other people’s money.  fill in numbers on a chart and file things.  but the details in that simplicity are anything but.  when things don’t match, i get to figure out why and how to make it work.  i love puzzle solving.  i like that my brain thinks about organization and that i get to help others solve their problems or that i can help keep the papers flowing smoothly.  when it leaves my upstairs office it’s a crapshoot as to what will happen to it downstairs but at least i know it went out as it should have. 

i have a symbiotic relationship with the copy machine.  it loves me and hates pretty much all the other employees.  i can’t explain it.  there was one unfortunate incident involving the toner cartridge and black ink powder but that wasn’t the printer’s fault.  it was the fault of a faulty piece of plastic that was installed as it shouldn’t have been.  but i digress, and the paper shredder.  it loves me too.  and it sounds like it wants to explode when others use it.  i secretly like holding the power and secret of how to use the sensitive (and self-explanatory) office equipment. all these impatient people, geesh!

i love people, and teaching would make me happy, or another job using the same skill set would seem more fun, i like where i’m at.  perhaps i’m making the best of a situation that is what it is right now but regardless… it takes a certain person to enjoy adventures in bookkeeping.  and for better or worse, it would seem that i’m that sort of person.

afterthoughts

afterthoughts, 2nd hand leftovers.

you keep thinking in your head, in fact you’ve convinced yourself of this, that you are in fact, not an afterthought.

but then, alone in your room,

as you digest and mull over the reality…

you listen to the voices in  your head, you decide you are.

it’s lonely, being an afterthought.

you try to stop caring, you try to empty your head of the thought of them.   you try to let it not bother you.  because to care for someone and to think of them always and to be nothing more than an afterthought of theirs, that’s pathetic right? you try to not focus on it, you try to pretend you matter just as much to them, you try to busy yourself with the mundane in hopes to overshadow what you feel. 

it doesn’t work.

you lay there in the silence. 

you might cry or you might be angry or you might feel taken advantage of or you might feel like you’ve done it again.  you’ve become someones option while they have remained your clear choice.  and it’s happened before.  with friends, with guys, with those you looked up to. 

why?

simple.  because you buy into the lie.   you buy into the notion that you’re sub-par, that you actually ARE an afterthought.  you are loved without a shadow of a doubt even if not by those you wish would.

absolute “truths” of childhood

beach babeswhen i was little, there were certain things that i understood to be absolute truths.  things that i was without a shadow of a doubt, convinced were the way they were just because, and didn’t give a second thought to the fact that they could be or exist any other way. 

north was up, literally up, towards the sky.  south was down toward my feet and through the ground, east was right and west was left.  those 2 were a little more tricky.  they moved depending on where i was standing.  if i turned around, left was still west and right was still east.  that’s just the way it was.  because, why would it be any other way? i mean really.  on maps it’s that way!

it was also a ‘fact’ that 2 year olds were horrible human beings.  i even wrote a paper in one of my classes, 4th grade or something, about this very fact.  one of my sisters was 2.  it was terrible.  my mom recently found the paper and showed it to me.  it was hilarious and perfectly illustrated how every older sibling feels about their younger 2yr. old brother or sister.  they cry all the time, they are selfish and demanding, they have the parents wrapped around their little chubby sticky fingers, and they totally know what they are doing.  so manipulative!  they are not quite evil incarnate, because back then i only associated calling something ‘evil’ with such things as the only thing that should actually be called evil in all truth the devil himself.  as opposed to now when i use that label for things such as spiders, birds, and all things teen disney.  but i digress… 2 year olds were horrible.  they were just barely above that ‘evil’ line.  and the only reason they were allowed to exist in homes, i was convinced, was because they were so cute.  take my sister julie for example,  she was probably (sorry janna & jessica!) the cutest 2 yr. old that i’ve ever seen.  ever.  even still.  so when i wasn’t avoiding her like the plague, and when she wasn’t being perfectly wretched (because 2 yr. olds were always wretched), i thought she was like my personal doll.  so cute!! which, was also, her downfall in my eyes because she got so much attention for her cuteness that i soon grew resentful.  psh.  danged 2 yr. olds!! fortunately, i’ve outgrown this.  she’s still cute but she’s no longer wretched!

another absolute truth, snow was magical.  literally.  it was sparkly, it made everything pretty and made everything quiet and peaceful and put everyone in a good mood.  ok, now as an adult i realize that snow doesn’t make everyone happy but when i was younger, everyone worth knowing thought it was great.  how could it not be the most wonderful thing ever?  school was cancelled because of it, you could throw it, you could eat it (much to the shagrin of my mother), you could build things out of it, you could burry your sisters in it, you could sled on it, you could gaze out the window at it and it sparkled like mini diamonds and it usually meant you were either to soon receive presents (for my birthday or for christmas) or, you had just received them.  it was glorious!! snow was magical.  bottom line. 

disney movies were cinematic genius, hot dogs were gourmet, mac n’ cheese was supposed to be neon orange, and potato bugs were created f0r my personal delight. oh childhood, how i miss you so!

the strange things we hold onto

i locked my door this morning as i left for work and looked at my keys.  i noticed a key from my old Saturn.  i haven’t had that car in months and months since it self-destructed in a car fire.  so why on earth would i keep the key on my key chain?  i vividly remember the weeks after the fire, i noticed the key was still there too.  i remember it still smelled like that sour yellow electrical fire smell.  not that i make a habit of smelling my keys, i just remember that smell being so strong that it permeated the black plastic top part of the key.  it doesn’t smell smokey anymore but the fact that the key itself remains on my key chain is interesting to me.  why DO we hold on to the things that we do?  i’ve worked hard to overcome my pack-rat tendencies, i’m making progress.  but, the things i wonder the most about, are the things such as my key, the things that make no sense to hang onto, and are connected to a very unpleasant experience.  another example is a phone number i have saved still in my phone.  it’s the # of a friend of mine who died last month.  i was scrolling through my phone looking for a particular # and i paused on hers.  i couldn’t delete it.  why?  it’s not like i’ll be using it.  it’s not like deleting it will somehow vaporize all memories of her.  and quite frankly, seeing the # there in my phone with her name by it made me sad.  so why would i keep hold of a sad thing like that?  i’m not in denial, i’m not keeping it because i subconsciously think that by deleting it will be admitting that she is gone.  so why?  it’s interesting which memories stick out in our minds the most clearly too.  i am fuzzy on memories from the camping trip i just took last weekend but i can vividly remember snippets from Halloween night when i was like 6 or 7 when we got news that my dad’s best friend had been murdered.  i remember clearly how my heart sunk when i heard the official news that the church i had been part of helping plant downtown, was dissolving.  i remember all to well the every detail of when my car was on fire, when i got the phone call that elisa had died, when i was sitting across from the doctor and he told me that i’d have to have knee surgery… why on earth would these things remain so clear in my mind?  we do remember the happy times, but why is it that we hold onto the things like a key or phone #’s we’ll never use?  i hold onto lots of strange things, but these are different kinds of things.  i have some sort of strange self-imposed rule that i hold onto gifts that i don’t like but were given to me by relatives of close friends, that i need to hold onto them for a certain amount of time before it’s acceptable to either re-gift them or to donate them or something.  but those are silly things that mean nothing.  the keys and # are very much not like that.  so why do we hold onto the strange things we do?  hm…

the great entertainment debate

this isn’t a ‘note’ on michael jackson. but his death has brought back to my mind something that i thought about a while ago. is it possible to separate the entertainment value someone offers to the public while you don’t agree with how they’ve conducted their lives and hold very little respect for them? i got into a semi-heated discussion with someone over the rapper snoop dogg. i don’t like his music. i find him annoying, and he’s not someone who appeals to me in any way shape or form. but it’s what he stood for that i find the most detestable. the things he chooses to put his money into, the his public lifestyle, his attitude, his values, the way he values women and children… i find him reprehensible. i’m sure there are things in his life that he’s done right, that’s not my point. but the overall image i get of him and how he’s perceived, makes me not want to purchase his music. but then i felt slightly convicted inside. michael jackson’s death made me re-think about this. i have the ‘thriller’ album. i’ve long enjoyed the michael jackson stuff from the 80’s and 90’s. i think he was a fantastic entertainer, what he added to music, whether you enjoy his stuff or not, is indisputably huge. there have been lots of rumors of pedophilia among lots of other things. none of which he’s been convicted of, but i’m not convinced he’s innocent. which, i dont’ want to get into. my point is, if things come out, as things often do after deaths of the famous, do i stop listening to him? then another singer came into my head. amy winehouse’s music i actually enjoy. her life is a total wreck though. she’s in and out of rehab (no pun intended), she’s a drug addict, and buying her CD’s would financially contribute to that. but her music style i dig. then there’s the directer guy, don’t remember his name, anyhow, he’s rich and famous and had earned himself lots of acclaim for his work. but he’s a convicted child rapist in his home country and that seems to get glossed over. so do i stop watching his work even though i enjoy the films he makes? where is the line? everyone’s got ‘skeletons in the closet’ and i’m not sure that that should impact how i view their entertainment. but i’m not sure it shouldn’t. i’m honestly torn. and i kind of feel like a semi-hypocrite…

is it naive?

is it naive to think that not everyone is out to screw me? is it naive to trust what i’m told by a complete stranger?  is it naive to give others the benefit of the doubt?  is it naive to believe that good guys do exist and are nice for reasons other than sex?  is it naive to believe that one day there will be a cure for cancer?  is it naive to think that looks aren’t the most important thing?  is it naive to have unwavering faith in a God that i cannot see? 

i hope not.  i know it’s not.

there are exceptions to everything, but i choose to live a life not ruled by the exception but rather, by what i know. 

i might be taken advantage of at some point, sure.  i might be lied to, sure.  i might be wrong about someone, sure.  i might be hurt by a guy, sure.  i might die or see loved ones die, sure.  i might be called names, sure.  i might be challenged on my beliefs, sure. 

so let the world call me what they may.  they will anyway.   i know better!

beautiful disaster

a life’s importance and worth is measured by standards beyond our control.  calendars, pre-supposed expectations and the ticking of the clock serve as constant reminders that life moves, seconds go by, and eventually we disappear into physical oblivion.  before that time comes we must do, we must achieve, we must create, we must earn.  but what?  a beautiful life to one might be a chaotic disaster to another.  it’s all subjective, based on the perspective of the onlooker who feels they must dictate what your life thus far has amounted to.  to each their own i suppose.  life is the sum of what i’ve done, true.  but it is measured by how i do those things, the standards to which i hold myself, the lives i’ve impacted, and the words i speak.  importance to me is a different word entirely to someone else.  in the private moments is how i will be judged ultimately.  a beautiful life is meant to be given away to those around me.  to laugh with them, to love them, to cry with them, to encourage them, to grow with them… that’s what it’s about.  if it’s a disaster… then it’s a beautiful disaster.

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