Friday, July 30, 2010

Is This Is The Part Where I'm Supposed To Get Lifted?

There is a cookie company in River Falls, Wisconsin that provides the yums to the little deli/convenience store in my office building (Best Maid--we'll give them their due...), and I eat probably 2-3 of their giant, peanut butter cookies every week while I sit at my This Job's Making You Fat gig, upstairs.
Oh, if only it were my job to make cookies!  How much simpler that would be, and how much more joy I could bring to the world if I did that instead of what I actually do for a living.
What I actually do for a living, which is persuade people to do stuff and/or persuade people to be OK with stuff that I do, doesn't require anything of me that I can't provide--I'm on it, and it's all good.  Kicking ass, taking names, etc.  At the same time, I can see the appeal of trimming tall grass from around headstones at a cemetery, or, maybe adding Reese's Pieces to a giant batch of cookie dough.  So much simpler.  So much more zen.

It's not a good thing to be sick of talking, and especially not a good thing to be sick of talking while simultaneously feeling like if you stop talking, something bad is going to happen--like you're furiously treading water and you know you can stay afloat for quite a while, but you're not thinking positively...all you can think is, "Where's the fucking rescue boat already?"

Maybe I am just reaching an age where I feel I have earned the right to rest a little, rather than spend my days duking it out with stupid people.  Weekends are much happier times for me than they ever were before.  Happy weekend, all!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

We Now Return You To Your Regularly Scheduled....Something Not Sad or Mopey

A few random points of truth:
  • I segregate my M&M's, Reeses Pieces, etc.  Oh yes, I do.  Yellow, Brown, Red, Orange, whatever--all separate.  For all of the reasons I shall indeed rot in hell, this is the most troubling.
  • You know what's really annoying?  When you're smart and you do something smart and the people around you act surprised that you were capable of doing something smart.  With an IQ of 158, I do occasionally come off looking intelligent.  I can assure you that it's entirely accidental, because I am working on keeping my nerdness contained, but it does happen.  And when it does, I would like you to NOT behave as if I were a puppy that just learned how to roll over.  Please, do not draw attention!  Thank you so much.
  • Having said that, we can now focus on something DUMB that I have done recently.  Hmmm....well, I'm happy to report that I haven't made a complete ass of myself for at least a month.  Actually, the incident where I made a complete ass of myself in early June was the most spectacular one of it's kind.  I don't expect to top it in this lifetime.  Actually I don't expect to top it in this lifetime because right now I'm all "Well, I'll never f*cking do THAT again!" which is kind of a drag, really.  I rather looked forward to those opportunities to throw caution to the wind and scare the living hell out of myself.  To that end, I need some other boy to crush on--candidates, please line up to the left! ;-)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Yours Mine Ours

Once upon a time, 100 years ago, I was doing yard work.

OK it was TWO years ago.  Two years, not 100.  Jeez, why so literal all of a sudden?


Two years ago, I was doing yard work at my home in Mobile, Alabama.  This type of thing was a dicey affair for me, what with the blistering heat, but I think the experience taught me a lot about Southern accents and how they have been used so effectively by women through the ages when they needed to play the Girl Card to get out of back-breaking physical work:

Me: (with obvious fake Southern accent)  Lawd...this heats about to take me home to Jeezus! (I fan myself with a non-existent fan)
Husband:  (Not buying it.  Ignores)  We just need to finish (insert projects that sound like an awful lot of work).
Me: (both the accent and I are dripping at this point) But I...I'm not sure how much further I can go on!
Husband:  (says nothing...looks at me with the look that says "Who is this person? She can't be my wife--she's acting too much like a girl")

Eventually, I finished the morning's labor and proceeded to the back patio where my seat next to the refrigerator full of grown-up beverages was waiting for me.  

You sit hard, after yard work.

I had a particular pair of tennis shoes that I would always wear when actual foot protection was needed, and the filthy look of them screamed of their purpose.  These are gardening shoes--no question.  Now my sad, overworked, achy self reached to untie them, having failed to get out of anything with my phony-baloney "But I'm a GIRL!" fake accent attempt.  I released my feet into air that was not much less hot and humid outside the shoe as it was inside and peeled off each sock, depositing it, inside out, into it's coordinating shoe, sole pointing out in a vain attempt to dry the sock in some way.  Thinking about it now, I'm not even sure why I do that--it's not as if I'm going to wear that same pair of socks again the next time I put on those shoes.  Tucking the sock back in the shoe must be an "I'm too exhausted to go to the hamper right now" thing.

Two years, we have lived away from that house in Alabama.  Almost two years to the day.  As I write this, it is July 15th, my husband's birthday, and when everything in our marriage fell to pieces and I was planning to leave, July 15th was the original date that I was going to drive away.  It was not meant as anything vindictive--July 15th just happened to be the day of the week that worked best that year.  He asked us to stay another day, to spend his birthday together as a family, and we did.  It was, without question, the saddest birthday "celebration" ever.

Earlier this week, I saw him for the first time since we left.  Live and in person.  Neither of us were safely ensconced, 1500 miles apart from each other--I could literally reach over and touch him, because he has decided to, at least temporarily, return to Minnesota.  To say that this has stirred up all kinds of thoughts in my head would be understating things.  I was able to re-visit the reality of what we were, though--of what I was to him--by digging through the boxes he had handed me on Tuesday.  These are the things that I had left in Alabama that he thought I might want, all packed up and returned.

Among the CD's and DVD's and pictures of the children, there were those shoes.  The filthy gardening shoes, with the socks still tucked in them.  Two years untouched.  I was stunned.  It was as if everything about me had just stopped, for him.  Just stopped.  No forward movement at all--no, "I'm going to get rid of everything that reminds me of that bitch" or "I'm just going to clean these up and put them away".  None of that. It was almost like he was operating as if eventually I would pick up the shoes, toss those socks in the laundry where they belonged, and put the shoes on again to do whatever project he had determined needed to be done outside.

I can't tell what would cause a man to do that.  On the one hand you would think, well, "To hell with her," and that's understandable, but that sentiment doesn't lend itself to, "I'm just going to shove all of her crap in a box and not care what's there and put it in storage."  

Why hold on to these things?

So I am sad today.  I am sad, and I feel bad, again, for how it all went to hell.  But while I think of how I must have hurt him and think of things returned to me in their "as I left it" state as evidence of that, I also find little reminders in the boxes of how I was hurt, too, and why I left.  That mantle clock we bought together that I loved so much, now carelessly shoved into storage and arriving with pieces broken off--the handling of it says just about everything.  Or odd, random pieces of clothing that I never wore, or that weren't even mine, but he didn't want it so he packed it up and gave it to me. That kind of thing.  Funny how my guilt makes me forget ever having been told "Get your shit and get out".  Funny how it fails to remind you of how crappy you felt just two short years ago.

Ultimately, this is just stuff.  Junk.  Well that clock wasn't junk, but it is now.  We don't really have any more shared junk--now we're two different households, acquiring new junk of our own.  Would I have acquired that crazy-colored lamp shade if we were still together?  Or a pale blue living room rug with wavy brown and green stripes?  I'm not so sure I would have.  When we were together, I held so tight to structure, probably because everything else in my life was so out of control--or at least out of my control.  The decor was decidedly geometric and orderly, then.  

I'm much more light-hearted now, if only in the art work, with soley my pleasure influencing my choices.  My life, and stuff, is like this today because I was willing to walk away from things.  Things--even that clock I loved.  In truth, I thought about bringing that clock along when I spent those four days packing boxes in the heat of July, in between the sobbing, but the memories attached to acquiring it made me leave it behind--it was "our" clock, after all.  I thought that owning it, or taking it, would break a heart.  Well I own it now.  Turns out I was right.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Just More of Someone Else's Writing...

"...a lot of the time, when you do what I do, you're not really all there. You're half there living your life, and half thinking about how to write about it." 

"I've realized that sometimes subconsciously, but also probably consciously too, I'll create trouble to write about it. I sort of mention this in one of the songs on The Great War called "The Way That It Falls." It reminds me of a great quote from a woman novelist I heard years ago. She said that most prose writers have to 'manufacture their own loneliness.'"--Justin Currie

Don't you hate it when someone famous says something, and you can absolutely relate to it on a very real level but you don't want to say that you can relate to it for fear of looking sheep-like because, duh, they're famous and agreeing with them is so very...lame?

Me too.

Read the entire interview with JC and David Wild on HuffPo, here.

Oh, go on!  Go!  Read it.  It's short.  Very little thought required.  And later, at happy hour, you can mention something about how you read in the Huffington Post, blah, blah, blah--it totally fits into your name-dropping day.

I am writing something of my own, but I can't publish it this week, which is, in itself, a delightfully long story.  Actually, and unexpectedly, it is several delightfully long stories.  Mmmm....brain stew.

In the meantime, we are driving West for the weekend, to the land with no addresses. 

(I am NOT addicted to GPS!  I don't CARE if it's a farm, gimme the address!!  I don't want to hear "turn left at the old school building"!  I have no idea where that even is!  Give me an address!)  

I probably won't get lost.  If I do get lost, it will be one of those things where I am within a half-mile of my destination and my insanity will have me taking the same left turn 8 times, even though I know that's not the correct way to go because it didn't work any of the other times I turned that way.  Luckily, gas prices seem to have come down just a bit, so I can relax and enjoy the hilarity of experiencing my children's growing frustration every time I say "I know it's right here!  Why isn't it here??"  It's fun being a parent.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Gooble-Botkin* Visitors Aside...

Alas, Poor Bloggy. 
Barely Contained, the blog, is the dedicated "Look At Me!" project of one Shelly Payne, who hasn't been much in the mood to be looked at lately because she's so freaking boring, and so, the blog, she is neglected.
I think I'm going to blame the heat.  Sure, why not?  It's hot out, and as a result, I sit on my ass in air-conditioned rooms a lot.  Directly linked to that?  Feeling hugely fat.
Avert your eyes.
At one point, mid-weekend, I realized that I had done virtually nothing but eat and knit for the last several days.  The fact that significant progress was made on the Flower Bud scarf barely compensates for that OhMyGod I'm HUGE thing going on in my head right now. 
Drown me in a sea of Leinenkugel!
You know what else stinks?  I HAVE a sea of Leinenkugel!  Like my fridge is actually FULL of beer that I'm not getting around to drinking because nothing about climate controlled comfort lends itself to "I could use a cold beer right now!"  That's the stuff you do when you're hanging around with friends--outside!
And another thing!  GAH!  I quit smoking, which is another thing I used to do, OUTSIDE.  Obviously, not worth it to take up smoking again for the sole purpose of sitting outside, but, I miss outside!  I miss drinking and smoking outside.  Now instead of drinking and smoking, I have to EXERCISE outside, because the inside makes me fat.
So let's review:  It's hot outside, so I'm inside.  And I don't smoke, so I'm inside.  And I don't drink as much because I don't smoke and I'm inside.
I have become that which I detest.  I'm boring, even to me.
*Gooble-Botkin:  Bot searches that bring up loads of archive material, read by people that are either A) Obsessed, or B) Making sure that I'm not saying anything bad, or C) Both.


  • What happens when you don't write on your blog for a week?  Is that one of those "tree falls in the forest" things?
  • Why is it called an IntallShield Wizard?  Is installing software really that magical?
  • What's that smell?  My daughter and I stopped in to a GameStop store and she remarked that it did not smell good in the store.  I am sorry to report that my only explanation for her was that it smelled like gamers in the store.  Yes, it smelled like adolescent boys who would rather beat the next level than bathe.  Ew.
  • Am I the biggest dweeb ever, to have taken the days off on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, but felt compelled to show up on Monday and Tuesday?  Who does that?  A dweeb does that.  I have enough days off stored up to take the whole week off, but, I'm working Monday and Tuesday.  Why?  Because I'm a dweeb.  No big projects due, no major roll-outs.  I'm just a freaking dweeb.
  • What would happen if I started a complicated sock project (complicated, like, Cookie A complicated) before I finished my complicated scarf project?  If you say that my head would explode, I'm totally doing it...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Another Freaking Live Album

I don't think it is a bad thing to look at something you have written, realize that you actually like it, then, Play It Again, uh...Dan?  For me, it is usually a pleasant surprise to re-read something I wrote a couple years ago find it still has merit, because I write So. Much. Stuff. and a lot of it is brain dump, which, as a rule, is usually crap.

Sometimes, though, you hit upon something decent.  And then you completely forget about it and don't know that it's hiding in the archive, getting dusty, until someone does the unthinkable and asks you about it and you react like this: 







And then you post it again and we have the bloggy equivalent of the Live Album which half of the people like, and the other half is pissed because there is Nothing New going on, to which I can only say "At least three times a week for the last 5 f*cking years in a row--you know what that means, don't you?  It means I write more than I have sex.  So shut up."

Anyway...From September 2008:

I didn't always think of writing as a means of casual communication, but rather, relief from intense social frustration:  It is a far less frightening way to talk.  The medium itself, for the most part, doesn't really include dialogue in the traditional sense, where people are talking over you and you're debating and eventually, they might change your mind.  You write the whole damn thing and present it.  There you go--"This is how I feel..." and let them answer all they want--you've said your peace.

I have found that I am an extremely mutable person--that I just go along with whatever, even when I hate it or it feels wrong to me, just because I don't want to make waves, or disappoint or anger anyone.  Basic doormat behavior.  Strange how I'm not at all like that on a page--When I'm writing, I've got seven million ways to say, "You are a complete idiot, you need to stay the hell away from me, and hopefully you will die soon, to spare the rest of the world from your dangerous stupidity..." but, I'd probably never say that to you in person, even if you richly deserved it.

I want very much to believe that people have good intentions, but the reality is that most people who are trying to get you to change your mind are thinking only of their own comfort, or, they are acting upon some societal norm--its not their fault.  Many people are this way, and it is I who am the "weirdo" in this situation--not to worry, I'll be uncomfortable enough for the both of us.

The Weirdo personality quirk that has caused a lot of problems for me.  For example, I ended up getting married a couple of times... :-)  Sitting in front of this computer right now, I will tell you that I never should have done it, that I don't like being married, that I can't handle it, that I don't have to strength for that kind of arrangement, that being married just about killed my entire spirit (both times), that I don't especially like living with other people, anyway, and that I'm much, much happier left to my own devices and not not living in some kind of "have to" world. 

Why have I come to this realization?  For starters, I can't even count how often I was up at 2 in the morning, happily working on some project, and my mate d'jour stumbled out of the bedroom, questioning why I wasn't snuggled in bed with him.  Strangely, "Because I'm painting/writing/working..." never seemed to cut it as an answer.  Neither did, "I'm afraid if I don't act upon this inspiration right now, it will be lost forever."  I mean...not wildly logical, is it?  Don't you have to work in the morning? 

Everyone assumed that I if I didn't want to hang out with them at "bed time", that I didn't love them, so often I would bow to their pressure for the sake of keeping them happy.  Consequently, I found that the things I cared about--my personal expression chief among them--suffered dramatically.

While it is true this was a consequence that I brought upon myself by constantly acquiescing to people who had no artistic leanings of any kind, and I probably should have known better than to hang out with that kind of person in the first place, the lesson escaped me for a very long time.  Finally, it is hitting home. 

Luckily, I'm still young and fabulous.

Also lucky?  The desire to create never really leaves a person.  It takes an awful lot to beat it out of you.

Of course, there is little money in artistry, save for a select few people, and you do have to support yourself in some way that may have nothing to do with purely creative endeavors, but, I think that is OK, as long as you recognize and honor your creative self, and also, make sure that the people you choose to hang out with honor it as well.

And, that they do it from the safe distance of their own houses...

...and I mean that in the nicest possible way.

I was reading
Stephanie Pearl-McPhee this morning, and she talked about artists, and the art industry.  It occurred to me that it is really a strange affair to a lot of people--they don't "get" it on the action level.  They can't relate to sitting down and writing, and doing that enough times where you eventually end up with a book.  Or putting any kind of effort into anything of that nature, with no guarantee of a return on your investment of time or resources.  Most art is done on spec.  Yet, art is everywhere around them, every minute of the day:  They listen to the radio, they watch television, they walk past a sculpture on their way into their office, they read, etc.  Somebody had to take that leap of faith and write that freaking didn't just appear out of thin air.

Well, actually, it DID just appear out of thin air...and someone with the ability to see it and recognize it for what it was, had the inclination to write it down.  That is what art is.  Ideas appear, and artists interpret them for you in a medium that you can understand--photograph, book, TV show, symphonic movement...whatever.  I often hear people who are not artists claim that artists are selfish, but I am here today to tell you that those people are dead wrong.  Imagine a world in which no one had ever bothered to share an observation, and you'll see what I mean.  They are the complete opposite of selfish.

Art cannot happen unless the artist is actually given the freedom to do it--and I do want to stress that I am not talking about money or grants here, but a more precious currency:


Michelangelo painted four years on a little project known as the Sistine Chapel, with no guarantee of payment, since the man who hired him was often off to war, and at one point was actually lying on his death bed, being administered the last rites of the church.  Somehow, though, the planets lined up and the work was presented to the world as we see it now, one of the greatest achievements not just in the art industry, but in any industry.

And...what have you done for mankind lately?

I still write people notes instead of talk to them if it's something that I consider important.  I just don't trust myself not to say something stupid, even after all this time.  Words are very powerful to me, especially in times when I feel powerless, and with so many things that can go wrong, I dare not leave some things to chance.  I am happy to be a writer, happy that I can do it, and happy that it can make a difference in somebodys life, in some way.  Not to mention the fact that it is cheaper than therapy...