Sunday, July 21, 2013

The next episode

I haven't blogged in a really long time. I made a decision to go back to school.  I cannot go to community college anymore because the curriculum doesn't move quickly enough. The biggest challenge is ignoring the students who haven't done the reading or homework and not getting irritated by the time wasted in class going over information they should already know. I felt like either I should be paying less tuition than they were or there should be slower classes for them.

I'm intimidated by writing classes. UC Berkeley has a ton of intensive workshops. The first one I've got my eye on is Screenplay Writing. That will be useful for my projects with Twin Peaks. It will be nice to work in someone else's project for a while.  

Following the first of the novel creation workshop in the series, I've taken another break from the memoir. It's mostly to protect my sanity. It's especially difficult to keep it together while surrounded by the main players in my story. Mom has returned from the Philippines. My brother and his wife haven't moved out yet (it has been over two years since they moved in and said they'd only stay for a short time). Everyone else it's stagnant, so now I've got to do something. I need pace and quiet. I need privacy. I've gotta get out of here!

Now that I have a dog, I can't live at my former residence. I'm considering giving him away to a co-worker who already loves him. School and moving are big changes. The only way I can keep him is to have a yard or a safe walking/running path or trail where he and I can get a good run in every morning before my other responsibilities take over. There's no rush, so I have time to really look carefully. Either way he'll be just fine. We'll be just fine.

Monday, June 3, 2013

June's Project

I’ve enrolled in a beginning novel writing course.  It’s every Sunday in June.  Now I'm wondering if a person can write a novel in one month.  I have so much that may not be used at all.  This is an idea that doesn’t sit comfortably, but I’ve accepted that it is a very real possibility.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Bite me, self conscious thoughts!

Last night I spent several fun hours hanging out with a small group of friends from junior high. Twenty eight years we've known each other, and I actually considered skipping out because I felt self conscious about being overweight.

A few nights ago, after meditating, I decided to just get over it and accept myself the way I am right now. I may not feel attractive at this weight or at this fitness level, but I'm still me. Anyone who loves me won't stop simply because I'm overweight and any "friends" I lost during my fitness hiatus weren't real friends anyway. These people in particular have known me so many years that they won't care about anything so shallow. They just want me to show up.

Surprisingly, or perhaps not so surprising after all, I've been steadily picking my healthy habits back up since that night without any feelings of obligation or dread. I dare say it has even been fun! I tell you, what they say is completely true; the kindest and most satisfying embrace is the one you give yourself.

Friday, April 26, 2013

hard work

Sometimes the most difficult thing to do is put your own problems aside long enough to support a friend.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Shattered Pieces in my Wake

The Puppetmaster and I walked along the embarcadero after brunch on Sunday. We passed the yacht club at China Basin, and a memory of being a theater usher came flooding back.

It was late one night after a Rent show. There was a cast and crew party at the yacht club, and there were a handful of ushers in attendance. I sat out on the deck in a dark corner with a few of the sarcastic girls smoking and cracking inappropriate jokes about the guys performing their favorite selections inside. They were each very talented, most of them so much that it overshadowed their larger than life egos. I had watched them in their glory so frequently that it was no longer a novelty.

A stranger walked in during one of the performances and bellied up to the bar. He was dressed in the dark layers common to the area like a fisherman or longshoreman. His pace was slow and purposeful, but his height allowed him to cross from the entrance to the bar with a few steps. The deck was silent as we looked on in awe.

He was beautiful. The ends of thick dreadlocks dangled beneath the wrap around his head, brushing his back just above his waist. His face was smooth olive with a thin goatee.  His eyes glowed golden green. The silence on the deck was broken with a whisper from one of the girls behind me, "Now, that's a man." The rest of us sighed and groaned in agreement. The top of my head tingled.

The tension in the yacht club was palpable. It became painfully clear that the stranger had encroached on a private function. He didn't stay long, but I don't recall anything that happened after his departure that night. I felt as though I'd seen a ghost, there for a fleeting moment and then gone forever. At least that's what I assumed at the time.

Monday, April 1, 2013

the ego's familiar face

I’m probably a typical underachiever.  I don’t take risks because I don’t feel like I’m good enough at anything to really excel at it.  I don’t compete at anything because I’m always afraid that others will beat me.  Not only will they prove themselves better than me, but they will rub my face in their victory.  That’s crazy!  My brain goes in a crazy direction there.

As a young person I never felt like anything I did was good enough.  When something turned out well, I felt compelled to come up with something better.  Perfection was the only scale for measurement.  If it wasn’t perfect it wasn’t right.  Mom taught me that.  I could never please her.  I tried.  Oh, how I tried!  She focused on every imperfection she could find.  To this day I cannot wear shorts because my hyper pigmented hair follicles, which she referred to as “polka dots” looked terrible in her opinion and should always be covered.  I’m not exactly sure why that particular memory came up, but it seems unnecessarily cruel to me now.  Why would a person tell their kid that?  Confidence is something that takes people far in life.  It’s one thing to teach your kids that disappointments happen (and then give them the tools to recover from it); it’s another thing entirely to take away their confidence and make them believe that success is unattainable for “someone like them”.  She probably just didn’t know what she was doing at the time, but it still makes me sad.  I feel sad not just for the child Hester whose dreams of the wide, enchanting world were shattered, but also for my mom who was so hardened and broken that she couldn’t even allow the people around her to believe in kindness, faith and miracles.

I am now at a crossroads that will likely be a recurring one for me – growing out of my irrational fears.  An important part of this process is looking at the beliefs I have about self-worth, remembering where they came from, reliving the emotions associated with the formation of those beliefs and rising above them.  It’s challenging to say the least.  The ego wants to cover up, cry, guilt, attack – anything to make the probing stop, but my logical mind knows that this is all necessary.  I lie awake at night while they fight sometimes. I don’t remember my dreams when I wake up afraid, angry and upset in the middle of the night.  It takes hours to shake it off.

This morning, for the first time in several weeks, I felt light.  I felt a peaceful acceptance of the things that are going on in my life.  I slept well last night.  I only wanted one cup of coffee, which I drank after the rainy and crowded commute.  I’m not exactly sure what changed, but it felt great.  I meditated in the dark before dawn and the minutes flew by.  Whatever this is, I hope I am able to sustain it.  I’ll need it to deal with the emotional gunk that I need to pull out.

Friday, March 29, 2013

turn the beat around

My character, success and happiness do not depend on other people’s opinion of me.  I cannot control how others interpret my behavior nor am I responsible for their thoughts about what I say or do.  I have no expectations of other people.  I do not concern myself with what they think about me or anything else.  Furthermore, there is no way for me to know!  I bring my best to what I do and it is enough.

These are the words I’ve decided to live by today.   I’m tired, irritable and especially sensitive, so it makes perfect sense for me to return here.

 Over the past year I’ve constantly fought my natural inclinations.  I dream about running and yoga all the time but haven’t done as much as a set of simple stretches in several months and haven’t laced up my running shoes in over a year. 

There are a few positives.  I’ve stopped compulsive gambling.  The shopping has slowed, but hasn’t quite stopped yet.  I don’t feel high from it anymore, though, so it’s just a matter of time.  The biggest change is the reduction of my sexual desires to little more than an occasional passing thought upon resting my eyes on a nice-looking man for a moment.  I’ve even stopped dreaming about it.  It scares me a bit, but I am facing it just as I do the walk from the bus stop to the house at night.  The fear of what comes next is just one of those things I have come to accept as unavoidable.  Besides, just because I’m afraid of it doesn’t mean it’s something bad.  I’m afraid of many things; most of them would make me very happy.

I often hear words out my own mouth that come from a peaceful abiding place that is achieved only by mental, physical and emotional balance, but I do not feel balanced.  I do not behave as a balanced person does.  I do not often think what I speak.  In my mind doubts and fears are prevalent.  I have intense highs and lows to my moods that I do not express.  I have withdrawn.

This morning I finished “Finding Ultra”.  The story itself was a thoughtful recount of the life-changing decision Rich Roll made that led him to become completely transformed inside and out.  I didn’t find his physical and spiritual development particularly inspiring necessarily, but I was particularly interested in the appendices.  Rich Roll, just like Scott Jurek, is a vegan world class athlete.  He went through in detail his experiences with highly nutritious, animal-free superfoods and research he had found about microbes, intestinal flora and what all these things have to do with eating habits and cravings.  At one point I touched my palm to my gut and thought, “This is what’s happening inside me.  The flora in my intestines feed on the unhealthy, oil and sugar-laden, meat and dairy-rich foods I’ve been consuming.  I need to get them out of there.  I need to detox.”  I ate the banana pancakes in the employee cafĂ© for breakfast, mostly out of convenience.  For lunch I walked to Berkeley Bowl and purchased four items: a cauliflower and walnut bean salad, a quinoa and edamame salad and two bottles of chia seed kombucha.  I’m on my second fill of the 96-ounce Klean Kanteen I keep at my desk.  This is the solution or at least the beginning of it.  I am absolutely convinced.  It is going to be a difficult transition, and likely some bumps along the way, but I have to get back to my happy, healthy, energetic self.

In support of the detox, I’ve also decided to reread “A New Earth” and “Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul.”  This is the way I will recover, with the physical.  It is the only thing I can grasp right now, and I am desperate for control.