Monday, June 21, 2010

"Wanna be friends?" "Ok!"

I remember the first day of first grade, riding the bus to school. A few stops down from mine, Tess G., a sprightly first-grader, with dark red hair got on the bus. Without hesitating I asked her to sit next to me, even though I'd never met her before and there were plenty of other places to sit.

She plopped down next to me and since none of our legs were able to touch the ground, we started swinging them with growing giddiness, our little hearts fluttering from the thrill of it all.

"Do you want to be best friends?" I asked, grinning.
"Ok!" She replied instantly. And so, from that day on, we were best friends. She later moved away and we lost touch. But at that moment on the bus, nothing else but her newness and proximity were in consideration.

This was before I got really cranky at seven o'clock in the morning, before making friends and sharing seats got way more complicated. Some of my friends, like Tess, have had their run in my life. Some are on layaway, some on pause, while others have remained steady for years. I have enjoyed seeing my friendships grow and deepen, while I've mourned others that I've lost.

Still, I really miss this time, when making friends was just so simple. In a lot of ways programs like Facebook impart on me that same leg-swinging giddiness. "Wanna be friends?" "I ACCEPT!!!" Instant, un-complicated.* But then that feeling fades (as that initial, love-at-first-sight electricity often does in relationships, making the relationship turn into something deeper and more interesting, or alternately more superficial and intermittent.). Maybe occasionally I'll drop a comment on their wall, or poke them or whatever, and that'll be that.

That said, even Facebook's drop-down menus have a subtext, and making new friends is pretty daunting to a sensitive little flower like myself. I find myself thinking back to that first day of school, before my feet could touch the ground.

*As an aside, this French comedian, Gad Elmaleh has this great skit where he actually acts out this scenario ("Can you imagine if we spoke in real life the way we speak via MSN chat, texting or Facebook? Can you imagine? A guy walks into a bar directly to another guy and asks, 'Will you be my friend?' and the other guy answers, 'No, I ignore you.' Or you walk up to a pretty girl and plead, 'Add me...' It's absurd!") I still like it, though.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Oh Em Gee...

I TOTALLY relate to this article and the accompanying chart, as I just went to the bank for the first time in....four months? Maybe got the number for a doctor to schedule my first checkup since...I was 17. "What AM I, some kind of Wizard???"

Thought you guys'd appreciate.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Holy Cannoli

I spoke to a city worker about my (2009) taxes today who was SO nice.

I forgot to fill out a form, and something scary came in the mail that said I might need to be audited, potentially FINED. There was apparently a glitch in processing one of the (many) checks I sent out this year for my crazy artist free-lance taxes. They just didn't get to it, so I was kind of powerless in the matter anyway.

But then I called the number on the letter and I was immediately connected with a human being who was actually in charge of the whole thing. And he was like "Don't lose sleep over this, it's no big thing."

So, I won't. Thanks, man, you made my day!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Your Nose is Growing

My landlord lied to me today, with a grotesque blatancy that nearly sent me off the edge. He said that he did not own my house, and therefore was not in a position to properly repair the roof, which leaks and has caused some mold damage to the interior. The matter was out of his hands. If I'm lucky, and keep on prodding him to do something, he'll patch it, but that's the best I can expect until the next round of damage occurs. My discounted rent, he said, was to make up for all of the sh*t I "have to put up with."

However, I was informed by one of the (many) maintenance men I've met in this year-long journey that they are just sitting on the property to tear it down and construct an $800,000 replacement on the prime real estate, and that they're waiting for the people next door to sell the lot. The matter is well within his grip, he just doesn't want to put any money into the house.

I've been on this guy's tail since April when I detected the (first) leak, and they've been "calling roofers" and "fixing other units." They'd get there as soon as they could, and thanks for letting them know.

Then the bathroom started, and water was coming in through the air vent. They didn't pick up their phone because they were "busy serving other units," their voicemail box was full because the child of an immigrant woman who doesn't speak English "keeps calling and filling up the box."

Then water started coming in through the electric socket in the bathroom, and mold erupted on the ceiling. "It isn't for lack of trying," they plead when I sent them a written request via fax last week (the first week of JUNE). "This winter was bad, and there was a lot of ice damage in all of our units."

And I accepted what they said because, you know, maybe it was all true. (Those immigrant children can be burdensome!) But it doesn't add up, and I'm sick of being trod on because I'm a relatively open, trusting individual. My grandmother recently called me "an injustice collector," and I'm starting to think it's true, and, even worse, that it might be my own doing (like, for not standing up for myself due to chronic insecurity and self-devaluing, etc.).

So I'm not sure quite what to do. If I were acting solely on principle, then I'd move out tomorrow, but as a sentient being, there are other factors to consider. But wait, isn't that what got me into this in the first place?? Bugger.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Lately, I've been giving some thought to the way I manage stress. I'm pretty sure I'm not super-healthy about stress. I am generally open about things, and I wear my mind on my sleeve (and yes, in case you were wondering, sometimes I do go sleeveless). But at the same time, I obsess over problem situations, and I get aggravated when I find myself dwelling on things that my logical self knows aren't worth the effort! Chronic back problems abound, (wait, hold on, I have a body to worry about too?!?) I am confident that I need to find more constructive ways to recognize stress and figure it out. Now wouldn't that be the mature adult thing to do?

The first step is identifying the problem. What better diagnostic tool than one's blog? So, now I am going to delve into a bit of self-analysis. Whether or not y'all wish to come along for the ride is up to you.

When people go on vacation, or come home from work they say they "need to unwind." What exactly are they unwinding? What part of them is wound? With what, and how does it get that way? Thinking about this word in its affirmative form has allowed me to see a kind of vision of how I get stressed, how I become needy of unwinding.

Faced with stress, I am a definite wind-er. I do not really act out much, in fact, most of the time when I'm feeling stress, I wouldn't necessarily say "I'm stressed!!!!" especially when there's no tangible end in sight. I'm more likely to accept things and feel "normal" until some benevolent person in my life says, "This isn't normal."

But I am [stressed]. And the situation usually isn't "normal," whatever that is.

In reality, when I'm not "feeling" anything, I'm actually winding myself around and around an issue. Defense mechanism, anyone?! I've mentioned before in this blog that I feel like there's a maximum threshold for the comprehension of psychological and physical pain before the brain just shuts down. I'm relatively sure the same thing goes for stress.

I diffuse tangible stress by talking about it--and even my speech patterns are circular. A little thread of logical thought and analysis, starts to accumulate inside me, coiling around the amorphous form of my stress. This is a long process--like mummification? For instance, I might "vent" about something for five to ten to twenty minutes straight, feel like I've "gotten it out," but then half an hour later I've circled back to the same issue over again, and it feels just as urgent as the first twenty-five times I've talked about it. My mind becomes a satellite, bound by forces beyond its control into orbit. Endless, increasingly abstracted understanding of a topic.* And of course stress factors change--they expand and contract, their presence is not constant or controlled, and so sometimes a bit bursts out here or there, and the coil needs to be reworked. Eventually, once I've done it enough I am able to (kind of) move on. But the bugger's still there. Intact, but wound up.

Those of you who know me well know that I have a seriously one-track mind (see Fig. 1 below). What I don't realize at the time is, especially with endemic stresses, that this talking is slowly winding me up inside in such a way that I can start to tolerate that stress at a higher level. The way I've begun to think about it now is I am building a little cocoon around each stressor, and for the big ones, there's a lot of thread that goes into it.

Well when there is a clear end in sight, when the stressor breaks itself free from my life, I'm left with a lot of that winding, binding material, and it's awful. Because then, and only then, do I realize just how stressed I was the whole time. The meters, sometimes miles of winding thread gradually falls away, and, just as actively and painstakingly as before, I have to retract, unwind, and let the negative bits of whatever (or whomever) was stressing me out just seep slowly out of my pores, and away from me. Yet, I'm left with heaps of this stuff, this spent effort containing and managing in a knotted confused mess in my interior. (Illustrations to follow). Frankly, unwinding is way harder for me than winding, because it involves becoming a little vulnerable again, having to undo my fiction of control to return to some, slightly less stressful way of life.

Anyway, I hope those of you who bothered to read this aren't totally freaked out right now. I could actually be wrong, but I just felt a sproing in my needs to happen asap.

Fig. 1: Distraction Test

Take it yourself here.

* My artwork also functions in this more obsessive fashion; I will examine something and "get into it" until it's hardly recognizable, representational, but abstracted through the intensity of a single, patient unrelenting perspective.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Are the kids asleep?

Today I made a bunch of calls that I've been putting off:
1) to the tax man (re: missing/unprocessed checks)
2) to the orthodontist (re: braces)
3) to the landlord (re: roof leaks)

I called my gallery director to set up an appointment, I paid my AmEx bill (YIPE!) and my rent bill, I answered my work email, and responded to three text messages. My room is messy, but it can wait.

I made sure that this pro-bono graphic design stint I've been working on was finished before the team took the booklet I created for them to India. I called in some birthday thank you's. I took some frames to be repaired for my show at the end of June. And I'm posting to my blog.

And then I turned on my AC unit in my studio (the only one in my house) and looked at the mess before me. Beneath the detritus of my everyday efficiencies, my partner, creative Lizzy, has been waiting here patiently all along, all hot and bothered, waiting for me to put the kids to bed. Efficient, bring-home-the-bacon Lizzy has been on a role, but she's been awfully lonely these days.

Well, the kids are finally in bed, and I'm ready to jump in and make some magic happen! She's fallen asleep, but I'll wake her gently, and maybe we can work something out.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

You're 24

A new year, joy of joys!

Last year was hard, and I admit, I was ready to leave it be-hind. It felt kind of like this at times. Like this other times. This year, at least, will be a different year. It should be said that each year that goes by, I feel like I am learning a ton, and I really couldn't do it without my friends, who, each in their own way, really help me, like, not evaporate.

And I'm trying to learn from my mistakes, have a brighter perspective, and be better about my weaknesses (most shockingly, I have joined a gym--WHAT?!).

I wanted to share an awesome, grin-inducing song with you called "You're 24" by First Floor Power, this Swedish band that I've been bopping to for a while now. I have been dying to turn 24 JUST so I can hear it in a new light, but, I can't figure out how to work this internet thing to upload the mp3 onto this blog, and I can't find a link to it online.......Any help would be appreciated, ye internet buffs :)

If not, here's your homework: download it illegally online, on your own time, and report back here.