Friday, 28 June 2013

Heads-up: Heart on Sleeve

All my synapses have been firing since last night. Felt like I needed a block o' ice on my brain! And, yes, it was all because of a TT that @MizDurie started: #PSMBookTitles.  Funny stuff. Sad commentary on governance in Jamaica.

But, I'm here now. My lil corner of cyberspace. Ahhhhh. I've been thinking about the content for today's post for some time. As they say in the making of movies, "Let's cut to the chase."

I heard somewhere sometime ago that when it comes to new relationships, the older you get, the faster you know. It didn't take me long to realize what was meant by that. For, truly, somewhere near or after I reached Forty, it was like I was seeing and experiencing human interactions for the first time, clothed with a keen sense of the foolishness up with which I would not put.

And, of course, that applied to the men I met.

I have to say here: No one will ever get me to speak bad about "men in general." I have a beautiful example of a man man; a wonderful gentleman - my father. And, in my now extended family, there are really nice men - my Brothers-in-Law. I'm pretty sure I've said it here before: People are people wherever you go. And, someone who has been unkind or hurtful is just that - someone who was unkind or hurtful. I don't "fry other people in one person's fat" as the saying goes.

But, there is such a thing as wisdom. And, it is not wise to have learned a lesson, only to repeat the same mistake two, three or more times. They say by the time you're Forty, you would likely have met all the types of people you're ever going to meet. Pretty cool, huh? The new people you now meet remind you of someone else you've met...

Over the years, I've met a few very nice men. Others were not so nice - in the end. Dated outside of my race. Always dated older. Along the way, I've picked up a few lessons in gems. They are my gems. If you learn something from them, fine. If not, that's fine, too. I just know that, as that saying goes, we "learn from the mistakes of others. We can't live long enough to make them all ourselves." Now, what may drive one woman crazy, I may probably be like, pshhh! And, what may get on my last nerve would probably not faze another woman in the least. My point, know yourself and come clean from the start. Btw,  the "he" is used in a deliberately abstract way - not referring to all of them but may draw on traits common to more than one of them.

Keeping his word
This is important to me. A man keeps his word. But, he repeatedly broke his word. Even a small commitment seemed like an onerous task. Always said he was gonna be there, but, 8 times out of 10, didn't show. Nor did he call, or text, before, during, or after the disappointment. This was very early on and I slowly acknowledged that he was just not into me. I imagine that if things had gone on, he would've been the kind of person to leave me standing at the altar. I summed it up as a "cycle of disappointment" and, although it was hard at first, it came to pass that we settled into something along the lines of acquaintances.

The way he speaks
I had the pleasure of listening to Lorna Goodison, a Jamaican poet (now residing in Canada) as she read from one of her books years ago. I was in my late teens and had, by then, got drawn into poetry. I don't recall the title of the poem (and I'm not going to Google it. Google and I aren't speaking right now.) But, the part that got me was: He wooed her with words and he won her / He had nothing but words to woo her.  (It was about her father and mother.)

Another point before I make the point. My mother told me long ago - perhaps mid-teens - that "women fall in love through their ears; men fall in love through their eyes." Ever since then, something trips in when I hear a man speak to me in that certain way. It's my pulse reaction is on a 2-second delay or something. Y'know? Like the TV coverage of Nik Wallenda crossing over Little Canyon the other day - just in case tragedy struck? Yeah. Kinda like that.

Now, when he wrote to me, it did not pass Go. The words were immediately emblazoned upon my brain where they will spend the rest of my life. Ok. A bit of an exaggeration, but, you catch my drift. Words on paper  - like, real real letter! - or on a screen, that I'll have to look over and over and over again, caress my senses and invite me in to come, stay a while. That makes my heart glad.

Raising his voice
He raised his voice at me and started to belittle me; tried to tear me down in his insecurity. Something said, "Wake up. This is verbal abuse. A two-fer, really - verbal and emotional and, well a three-fer - psychological as well. And, this is ugly." It made my heart sad.

None ever raised his hand at me. But, I would not have needed to be told twice to get out of that "friendship." Now.

Terms of endearment
The friendship seemed to be on his terms. He reached out only when he wanted something like dinner or so. He lost interest mid-way after he'd had his fill of conversation or dinner or so. It is never nice to feel that you are being taken for granted or so.

Priorities priorities
He placed me on the back-burner. And, I could never be in the right as far as he was concerned. What's the saying? Don't let someone be your number one if they treat you like you're number two? Or, don't let someone be your priority when you're only an option?
The NABA Zone
In the beginning, he made me laugh with gladness. Then, as things progressed, more and more I cried in sadness. As I've written in this blog before, no loneliness feels as bad as being miserable hurts. At times the behaviour was like someone just "hanging on 'til the right one comes along." I call that the NABA Zone - Not Available But Available. Who wants, when they're asked, "Are you seeing someone?" to find themselves going, "Well, not really. No." You're not really seeing someone? Then what are you really doing? That situation can't be fair - for either of you. You can do better. And, sometimes, doing better means doing without.

He cheated on me. No pain so great. No second chance.

God is holding my heart
Now, the heart and soul of the one for me may be in a tall white bald guy or a short white bald guy or a tall black bald guy or a short black bald guy...You see where I'm going with this, yes? And, it may be that the Lord would have me wait a bit longer or a little longer than a bit longer for that one who is right for me. What I do know is this. God loves me. And, if I knew nothing else, that would be enough. But, I also know that He is holding my heart. And, He is teaching me how to love, in spite of imperfections - not to be confused with ugly. He knows how persnickety and what not I get. How? Exhibit A: After tweeting whole night on the topic, I sent emails of book titles tweets to myself at three o'clock this morning because my synapses were firing. That how. I trust Him to bless me with someone who will get me and "love me anyway" - and who would come check on me to see whether I'm okay why I'm still not in bed at three o'clock. Although, I dunno. It's likely that if he were here already, the tweets would have had to wait. Zi mi. ;-)

He is holding my heart. "Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall." Ruth 3:18


Tuesday, 18 June 2013

SoMe Pressure

Does it feel like your attention span is waning these days? Like, it's becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with news coverage of not just the local, anymore, but the global? And, every minute of the day is prime time? And, does it feel like, because people are now interacting with and listening to you, you have to post smarter/achieve more? If you've answered yes to these questions, know that you are not alone. That may or may not be comforting.

There is a constant, nay, continuous demand for our attention from one source or another. I need not go on about the plethora of these sources - online and offline. What I would like to focus on a bit is that demand from Social Media. (Of course, this only works if you do, in fact, use at least one SoMe tool.) And, the attention-grabbing is one thing. But, look at what eats up your attention. It may be something that is of little interest to you, but you still spend a little time to read it or listen to it - just because it's there. Those subjects that are of much interest to you? Those are the blood suckers. And, there's a very real pressure that comes with participating in these media on matters that are of high interest. Most people like to play cool and invincible. Yeeeaah. I gave that up - the little that I had of it - a long time ago. Now, I'm just the perfect human being - flawed, blessed and highly flavoured. Chocolat.

I realized recently, as I scrolled though my Twitter timeline, I was beginning to feel "a way." (That's a legit Jamaican description of feeling deeply offended/shunned/disregarded... Context matters to the definition.) I have been writing for a while and have made the distinction between a writer and a published writer. But, man. Reading about some of the achievements of those who've had their works published, started to make me feel like a small fish in a pond, catching a glimpse of the big ones in the sea of published writers. Sure, there is much to learn from writers on my TL. A lot more to (a) fuel my anxiety and impatience - what is taking me so long? And (b) wonder why some folks are writing what I'm already writing - albeit in secret. I then remembered a quotation attributed to Abraham Lincoln: “Hypocrite: The man who murdered his parents, and then pleaded for mercy on the grounds that he was an orphan.” No one had forced me to follow them. And, I could, after all, choose not to follow any more writers.

Or, I could do what I did when that feeling kicked in: Remember why I write.

That did it for me, really: #writeorsuffocate. I also write to "use it all up" in pleasing my Creator. I write a blog; novellas; short stories and poems. It will all come together. There is no need for me to look around at others. As Joyce Carol Oates put it: "Don’t be discouraged! Don’t cast sidelong glances and compare yourself to others among your peers! (Writing is not a race. No one really ‘wins.’ The satisfaction is in the effort, and rarely in the consequent rewards, if there are any.) And again, write your heart out." Of course, this assurance goes for whatever your area of interest. You do what you do when you do it - and how. Use it all up.

Still haven't got the attention thing down yet, though, while on, say, Twitter. All kinds of news from all over the world come at you in a single scroll. What stands out sometimes is the range of emotions I can go through in one move of my thumb. Somebody won something; a writing tip; someone was killed; a quotation about kindness; a pic of a cute dog... It takes a concious effort to stick to what you went there for. If you're busy doing something else and are just "popping in for a bit"? All the best with that. I grabbed the following from a Monk episode from IMDB. It's kinda long, but, it's the scene that came to mind when I thought of "range of emotions." One of my favourite scenes, by the way. :-)

MONK. Season 5 Episode 7 "Mr. Monk Gets a New Shrink" Writers: Andy Breckman and Hy Conrad

Dr. Kroger questions his abilities after a patient becomes the prime suspect in a murder. He decides to retire but a distressed Monk is convinced someone else is responsible.

Dr. Charlie Kroger: Adrian, I cannot continue to practice anymore after today. The police think that one of my patients killed Teresa Mueller. I should have seen it coming. I didn't; I missed it. This is all my fault. 
Adrian Monk: This isn't happening. This can't be happening. 
Dr. Charlie Kroger: Adrian, I promise you I'll get you another doctor. I'll call you next week. 
Adrian Monk: Okay! So it's not true! You're not retiring! I mean, you can't because... He can't retire... 
Dr. Charlie Kroger: [to Natalie] This is step one in the grieving process: denial. 
Adrian Monk: Damn you, Charles! Damn you to hell! I hate you. I hate you! You are dead to me. 
Natalie Teeger: That's not denial. 
Dr. Charlie Kroger: No, step two, that's anger. 
Adrian Monk: Okay. Okay, we're all adults here. We can work this out. I can hire you full time, all right? Put you on payroll. 
Dr. Charlie Kroger: This is step three: bargaining. It usually doesn't go around this quickly. 
Adrian Monk: Why me? Why is it always me? Everybody's always leaving me. 
Natalie Teeger: Depression? 
Dr. Charlie Kroger: Yeah. 
Adrian Monk: This can't go on. I mean, it's just too much. Okay, you're right. It's not the end of the world. I'll just have to find another doctor. I owe you so much. Thanks to you, I think I can get past this. Thanks, doc. 
Dr. Charlie Kroger: And finally, acceptance. 
Natalie Teeger: Thank God that's over. 
Adrian Monk: He can't retire! The man can't quit because he's not a quitter. 
Natalie Teeger: Wait, what's going on? 
Dr. Charlie Kroger: I don't know. It's like he's starting all over again, like he's in a loop. 
Adrian Monk: I hate you for this, Kroger! You are dead to me! You understand me? Dead! 
Dr. Charlie Kroger: I really should be heading home. 


Saturday, 8 June 2013

People Do Not Like to Feel Like Things

Shortly after I had begun using Twitter as one of my SM tools, I happened to "discover" a Twitter thing all by myself. I had by then learned what hashtags were and what they were used for. But, imagine my delight when I used a hashtag and did a search for it and found several other hashtags just like mine! I do not remember now the specific one, but I do remember thinking then that it was out of the ordinary; that, if or when I did search for it, it would be the only one. Wrong. The hashtag might have been something like #idreaminchocolate. Wait. Lemme search for that... There you have it. Several of them. At the time, whatever the hashtag was, it was just a thought I'd had summing up my feeling about that thing. It was, as I've come to realize that hashtags are, a punctuation at the end of my sentence. I imagine that's what the folks at Twitter had in mind when they created this tool within a tool. Hashtags are like the labels you create and place on different folders in which you place certain files. So, hashtags are labels. The long and the short.

But, how do we know how to label our file-containing folders using the exact same label? We're talking about a love for the decadent, perhaps mixed with other matters as we unleash our wit, and then we end it with something as innocuous as #idreaminchocolate. I think we converge on sameness because we all crave a way to label things; to wrap things up in a package, name it and place it right here where we can come back to find it later if or when needed. As much as we - especially these days - crave to stand out; be individualistic; be unique, etc., there is that other crave - to label things, for the sake of our sanity.

We've experienced it ourselves, right? (Are you nodding in agreement before you know where I'm going with my point? :-) Many of us have endured the annoyance of being labelled in some way, by...wait for it...someone who does not even know us. It's one thing or, bad enough, when someone who does know you tries it. Another altogether when presumption takes over - and he/she gets the label wrong, to boot! Why do we get so offended (most times)? Not many people want to feel that some stranger has got them all figured out. (Not to be confused by your dearest love who gets you.) Not many people want to feel like their lives are predictable and mundane that someone can sum them up, can them up, label them and, well, what's next? Stock them away for future reference. All because their "labellers" know where to find them as and when needed. Like labels on items of groceries? Normally, people do not like to feel like groceries. Or things. Normally, people do not like to feel like things.

See what happened there? A label of sorts. Normally, people do not like to feel like things. (I'll keep the "normally", being mindful that I cannot speak for the 7Billion+ people on the planet.) Labeling is a part of our day to day. It is a way for us to distinguish ourselves from something or to say that we are a part of something. Even in saying that we are not so and so, or not like so and so, is, in effect, a kind of labeling. The inference is that the converse is true - that we are so and so or we are like so and so.

To take it further, we know that folks may look at someone and, based on their own frames of reference, they file or place the who they are looking at, in a compartment in their minds alongside similar folks they have previously encountered. It's human. Adult human. It's how things or people fit nicely into such and such a place and helps us make sense of the world around us. Is it familiar? Is it not? Is that person like someone I like? Is he not?

What is most-called for, is to fight that "judging a book by its cover" thing and push back against the auto-file and take the time to see deeper.

I'm not going to act like this is easy to do. Depending on the circumstances (interviewing for a job comes to mind), first impressions are the ones we go by. Who would likely hire a candidate who chews and pops gum during an interview? For example. In other day to day scenarios, we meet upon a number of people we mentally note or label as stupid or weird or appear entitled or selfish or thoughtful or humourous, etc. We label, because labels, or the impressions or the mental notes, help us determine how to react or respond, mostly with some degree of self-preservation in mind. Not doing that, as hinted at before, is the second thought in the adult human. It screams guard down. Wide open. Vulnerable.

Is that such a bad thing? That's one of the ways in which we train ourselves to look closer; look deeper at those who might've been unfortunate enough to come crashing into us during our judgmental phase. I've been guilty of extended judgmental phases. One thing that has helped me deal with that is the reminder that everybody is fighting some demon or the other. Everybody has a story behind their gory. Just made that up. Heh heh.

I keep mentioning that our tendency to label and act/respond accordingly is adult human. That's because we have lived experiences and have got burnt or bit or shaken or stirred at some point or many points along the way. And, not only do we label, but, often, even after the label is no longer warranted, that's all we see.  (Reminds me of the saying, "If all you have is a hammer, everything will look like a nail.") For small children, however, not so. No frame of reference. However life comes at them, it comes. Anything goes. And, the truth comes out.