Monthly Archives: July 2010

Let it all out, rip it out, remove it.

I ended today (today being July 30th) feeling rather crappy, and decided to take a nap–which turned into five hours of sleep.  During the initial stages of sleep (though I couldn’t tell if it was my usual first-20 or not), I dreamed of them, yet again.  A family I once had.  Three people that I would never have even attempted to be closer with, if I knew it was at all possible to just…change your mind about having family members. …But I take that back, because every second I’ve ever spent with KJ was worth whatever pain his father and mother have decided to put me through out of convenience.  And without question, I will find that child when he is able to make his own decisions, and I’ll let him do just that.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let me start with this: after “the incident,” which, ironically, started here, my father decided he would rather sit down and talk about what happened.  I was utterly impressed, and not a little proud that for the first time in my life it looked like I was going to have a confrontational conversation with someone I had always wished had had more of them, be it with me, my mother, his mother, or anyone at all, really.  (I didn’t learn to run away from my emotions/anything challenging by constantly talking things out, that’s for sure.)  But that day, sure as shit, as soon as I saw his name in the “from” field, I knew it was a cancellation.

Weeks (or was it months? it feels like decades) later, I get an email telling me not to touch the cell phone account (family plans are only a good idea for real families, it turns out) and explaining that it was a courtesy and not mine to do anything with, etc.  I wrote back explaining the death of the EnV2 and how I had paid the difference the data plan cost to offset the bill.  And I added, for confrontational effect, that I would like to know what happened to the Meeting That Wasn’t.

What I got back was more mature (or is it less reactive?) than the last correspondence, but disheartening nonetheless.  I’ll spare you every detail, but I cannot help but express my feelings on some things.  And I do it here because I am okay with letting the people that read this (a/k/a my friends, for the most part) know how I’m feeling.  I made a mistake by being overly judgmental before, but I will not deny myself expression of emotion. So here goes.

At one point, it is mentioned that KJ was “lacking confidence” and struggling somewhat with school.  I, admittedly, laughed.  Not at the struggling with school bit, obviously, as we all know how seriously I take school.  Now I could be wrong, but my personal (and ultimately professional, when I have a doctorate that says “yes, I know this information”) opinion is that a lack of confidence in children is strongly influenced by parenting style.  Dr. Kaplan drilled it into our heads; I remember it like it was yesterday, because it depressed the hell out of me, knowing I did not feel as though I had been met with the acceptance required for an ultimately self-confident life.  No, world, I had to establish self-confidence on my own (okay, late-night talks with my mother and screaming “I rule!” at the top of my lungs on city streets with Mike helped), and it is now being confused with arrogance and–get this–insecurity.

But here.  Don’t take my (and Dr. Kaplan’s) word for it.  “Many factors affect the development of self-confidence. Parents’ attitudes are crucial to children’s feelings about themselves, particularly in children’s early years. When parents provide acceptance, children receive a solid foundation for good feelings about themselves. If one or both parents are excessively critical or demanding, or if they are overprotective and discourage moves toward independence, children may come to believe they are incapable, inadequate, or inferior. However, if parents encourage children’s moves toward self-reliance and accept and love their children when they make mistakes, children will learn to accept themselves and will be on their way to developing self-confidence.” Dr. Vincent Berger.  I couldn’t imagine the encouragement (or, excuse me, the lack of discouragement from) competition could do much to help either.  So I laughed, because it was all I could do not to cry.

“[Kellen’s teacher] spoke of how hard he tried and how he talked about you all the time. It wrung out my heart, I couldn’t allow Kellen to lose contact with you as a sibling, how he would miss you and not be able to look forward to you coming to the house…but, removing the emotion from it, the more I thought about it, about your thoughts and how you were  analyzing us while you were hanging out made me realize that it wouldn’t work. … He’d just need to get over it.”  No matter how many times I read that, I gape at it, dumbfound.  So what this says, fundamentally, is that it’s a better idea to deprive a child of something he loves more than most things by removing emotion from the situation and realizing that I was thinking all the time, a conclusion reached by analysis. Here’s where I need some help from my friends (and hell, even people who aren’t my friend, to correct for bias) — am I flawed here?  Should I not be thinking about things that go on in my life, peoples’ actions, reactions, emotions and their potential results?  Should I not be concerned for the happiest possible life for the one person who means more to me than anyone in this world?  Should I not want to figure out what would help or do what I can to provide what I can without stepping on parental toes?  Because this is big.  I am/have been building a career on compensatory strategies for when things are beyond an individual’s control.  The past four and future five years might be all for naught if these are not things we, as a civilized society, should be striving for.

On top of that, isn’t life constant analysis?  How do I know what art project to work on with KJ if I don’t know what he’s capable of.  If I thought he wasn’t yet at a concrete operational stage, I would show him a cool “trick” about conservation.  If he’s being screamed at for yelling (irony, my bff), I’d mention calmly the reason the person telling him not to yell was yelling.  But how can we know to do any of these things, for the well-being of the child, if we don’t think about them?  Chris, help me out here — you were always a huge advocate of thought.  Should I not have listened to you and just kept my mental soundtrack instead?

This is getting long, and there’s so much more to say, so I will try to simplify.

My father adds that he was already slightly uncomfortable around me, due to a some comments I’ve made over the past decade or so.  I can’t even begin to get into how this makes me feel.  Let’s just say that with the comments I’d made that he listed as examples, I was only looking for acceptance, for a bonding-with-my-dad experience.  Yes, my expectations were always too high, but I was also always met with resistance, so getting upset as a result was a product of the two, not any one person’s fault.  Did those things bother me, and do I still think about them from time to time? Absolutely.  But I don’t find them reasons to feel uncomfortable.  Getting over it seems to be a mantra of his, so I don’t see how this would be any different.  I guess it’s the ultimate “I could never speak honestly around you” thing.  Maybe that’s just it — nobody does, except him.  Mental filters, consciences, call them what you will, but people do not speak honestly, to anyone.  There is always something being kept back, be it for the sake of avoiding a fight, or sparing someone’s feelings, or doing what’s right over what’s desired.  I don’t know; I feel like I could be onto something there, but I just don’t know.

“I’m trying to simplify my existence, not complicate it.”  I get that, all too well.  How many times have I said I would avoid drama at all costs?  I just never thought you could do that with your family members.  I thought blood was thicker than water.  I thought you had to do something really wrong to deserve a disowning.  But I didn’t hit Kellen or even yell at him, I didn’t destroy property, I didn’t do drugs or smoke in their house, I didn’t even speak out against anyone.  I expressed my opinions, my thoughts, my arrogance through a public medium and hurt some feelings.  I wanted what was best for my brother, and my opinion differed.  I analyzed, I thought, I critiqued.  This is my punishment for that, in exchange for a “simplified existence.”  I’m sorry I offended the people I did, and they’ve every right to have gotten mad about that, but to just cut your own daughter out of your life for it is baffling to me.  My life doesn’t just get simplified with people out of it, because I care and have love and loyalty as underpinnings.  But it doesn’t matter what happens to my life.  In fact, “It took me way too long time to get to an OK place I hope it doesn’t take you as long,” a statement that followed, “perhaps at a later time when you find yourself a good place and accept the world for what it is and people for what they are not for what you think it should be or what they should be.”  So, essentially, “change and maybe I’ll love you”?  How accepting.

For the record, I am in a good place (go self-confidence, go!), and I accept the world for what it is and people for what they are.  It saddens me, but I accept it.  What I think it/they should be and what it/they are are not mutually exclusive.  I will try, and I will, change the world every single day, because that’s who I am and I can.

He adds that he was a lousy father and perhaps that is why I don’t have respect for him.  Whether it be out of fear or not, there will always be a level of respect there, because he is my father.  I still don’t believe having differing opinions is a lack of respect.  If I didn’t respect him (again, or is it fear? thanks, Machiavelli), he’d surely know the difference, I guarantee that.  But ask anyone that knows me — I have respect for every living creature.  (Stefan thinks this is funny.)  Remember, though – this is only apparent to people that know me.

Lastly, I wanted to touch on the fact that he noted how accepting and trusting and sharing of KJ (wtf?) Lynn was of me, how she was nothing but a friend to me.  Then I guess that makes us even, doesn’t it?  How long are you supposed to hide your dad’s girlfriend from your mother before it’s cliché? (When you’re 16, every day is an eternity.)

“But you are just too smart for us, too all knowing.”  I guess so.  I guess my opinions are facts and cannot be reasoned with or changed or even acknowledged.  I guess my education was a waste of time.  I guess a future in psychology is moot. I guess my belief that life is a constant work-in-progress is ignorance at its finest.  It’s certainly not “simplified,” that’s for damn sure.

So through my pain, I have said my piece.  I’m hoping I can let it go, because if that’s what makes them happy, then so be it.  But I know for certain that’s not what makes Kellen happy, and that makes me very angry.  There is no need to “get over it” when it doesn’t have to be this way.  Pride is not worth hurting two of your children, one of whom you love.  But that’s just how I feel.  I do what I think is right, and if someone disagrees with my opinion, they can discuss it with me.  I am actually quite reasonable…when reasoned with.

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Willpower, Commitment, Security and other things I don’t generally think about.

Driving to and from Philadelphia in one day leaves a lot of room for thinking, especially when you’ve only gone there to find an apartment to spend the next five years living in.  Therefore, I’ve been spending the last day doing much of that.  Some conclusions I’ve reached:

1. I have way less willpower than I would prefer.  I’m sure that’s a pretty popular notion for most people on the whole, but I’ve tended to pride myself on it in the past.  Now, not so much.

For one, I made five or six New Years’ Resolutions, but I did ’em with a twist.  Instead of starting off the new year forcing myself to act/do certain things, I had given myself the year to accomplish them.  I had a chart (’cause I’m a wacko) that I used to rate myself  every day in a Likert-scale to determine how close to “goal” I was.  I haven’t touched it since March.  Granted, three months is a pretty good track record for following a resolution-tracker, but what it boiled down to was that I wasn’t getting past 2 or 3 on anything.  Today, I’d likely have 1 for most if not all of them.

On top of that, I’ve grown considerably worse!  I was keeping note of what I was eating and managing to frequent Whole Foods, but that waned.  Every time I try to get back into eating healthy or writing down my caloric intake (or even just jot down the foods I consume), I don’t get farther than a few days.  And don’t even get me started on the exercise thing — all I want is to want to do it enough to do it. Again, I might have managed once a week at best.
I don’t bring any of these food/exercise/weight things up because I’m looking for someone to patronizingly tell me I’m pretty (and that they’d take me in a manly fashion were they unwed); I say it because I don’t really want to feel like a heifer every time I put on a pair of shorts.  It’s not about what other people think–it’s about how I feel about myself (without being anorexic or bulimic, both of which I promise you I could never be).

I shouldn’t even bother bringing up the whole smoking thing.  I went about a year having only smoked three or four stogies in total.  A few weeks ago I bought a pack.  And then another one the following week (I don’t really smoke  more than about a pack/week in the first place).  Yes, I stopped at two and haven’t purchased any since, but that doesn’t stop me from grabbing one off of the people in my life who smoke so much that they don’t even notice being less one or two a week.  This is not okay.  Not only did the majority of my family die from cancer,  but I have vocal nodules I refuse to take care of by changing my habits.  I’ve made so much progress, I can’t help but say, “hey, they’re pretty damn good — good enough at least.”  And being around it so much makes me want it; why should I deny myself something I want so much that doesn’t seem to stop other people?  It doesn’t help that several of these accomplices work with me–work is the single most disturbing place I frequent.  I’m hoping leaving the job (and the state?) helps me with that.  What’s six more weeks, right?

2. Oh, commitment, you fickle creature, you…  (There’s irony in that in case you didn’t get it.)

I think I have all of the logical, rational emotions of someone who has been scorched (not just burned) by commitment in the past — it’s scary, it’s the source of a variation on claustrophobia (what’s the equivalent of anxiety due to being “trapped” by commitment?), it’s got an air of permanence despite its most modern usage as a temporary label, and it’s…stupid.  Evolutionarily, I mean.  I’ve been over this–boys aren’t supposed to commit and girls are obviously supposed to try to find the ones who might be defective enough to do so despite their natural proclivity.   I don’t say this because I’m trying to rationalize the end of relationships; I simply believe it to be fact.  You don’t have to agree with me; Darwin would have and that’s all that matters to me.

So in applied format, commitment, when it was just a thought, was incredibly appealing.  Ooh, mine! After its inception, however, things changed ever-so-slightly.  Ooh, mine! = still good, ’cause I’m not the world’s best sharer, but when I allow my brain too much slack in thought, it starts wondering where things could end up.  (Reading a chapter on tests of personality and the footnote that like-couples facilitate more stable marriages could have shaken my brain up a smidgen as well.)  Yeah, I know, everyone wonders where things could end up, but the pessimist in me realizes she’s non-confrontational and has a fear of being able to walk away if she’s no longer happy.  The optimist in me thinks the pessimist is a dumb broad because there’s no need to even think about that, but you know how it goes.

I suppose it needs to be established that I am completely and totally happy where I am now.  There isn’t even an inkling of a desire to run away (even of the all-too-common “before I get too involved,” because that’s already been and gone).  It’s just my brain preparing for all possible situations, even though the ones that usually present themselves are the ones that haven’t even been thought of.   Of course, I’ve briefly once-overed the opposite possibility and I’m not even comfortable enough to put more than the word “forever” anywhere near my thoughts on relationships.   So yeah, that’s where I stand on that:  in limbo, exactly where I should be at this point, I think.

Obviously, leaving for Philadelphia in a month and a half makes my brain go into overdrive when it ventures down that road.  There are no answers of course, so the questions are rather moot.  There’s just no real way to stop them, and it remains that the omission of information does not constitute lying.  Sure, distraction works to an extent, but there always something there to remind me (cue song).  And speaking of songs, this one currently has me hooked:
(excerpt from ‘Vaporize’ by Broken Bells)
Doubtless, we’ve been through this,
So if you want to follow me you should know:
I was lost then, and I am lost now,
And I doubt I’ll ever know which way to go.

I have also decided to re-apply to Adelphi for next fall.  But I’m sort of cheating myself by doing this.  I maintain that it doesn’t hurt anyone/thing for me to apply, it’s if I somehow manage to get accepted that becomes an issue.

…says the girl who used to sing “Break Your Heart” by Taio Cruz as if it were her theme song.

3. “Security just happens to be a calamity; no matter where you go exclusion is well known.” -L. Kudla, 1997-ish.

I’m not saying I’m insecure.  I’m just saying it’s difficult to stay secure all the damn time.  I don’t even have a lot to say to this.  I was just making a general observation about myself.  Of course, every girl’s daddy issues are partically at work here.  Mine are simply exacerbated, but I digress, ’cause ya know, even more things I love could probably be taken away from me should I let my opinion be known.  Screw psychology, what crap!

Speaking of which, there’s something I have less faith in in myself than I would like — it seems so many people in my cohort have some kind of background in the field (excepting an undergraduate degree).  I worked at South Oaks for four months and did art.  I didn’t do a single assessment or do a 1:1 because Deanna did the 1:1s and the graduate students did the assessments.  I’m a n00b, and it’s scary.  What if it turns out I’m really horrible at it?  It’s bad enough that every time I think I’m giving good advice, I do it in a way that offends the person I’m telling it to.  Am I trainable?  Or am I making a horrible mistake?

4. I lied.  There aren’t really other things to say that I generally think about.  Lately, it’s been those three.  Otherwise, I think about Kellen, I think about my grandmother, I think about my future, I think about my father (unfortunately), and I think about my job, which is screwed up to high hell (but not really my problem come the end of August, right?  I have to keep telling myself that).  Everything else that I think about is either unimportant or fleeting.

And now that I’ve successfully stalled for an hour and a half at going to work for all of 30 minutes, I shall return to my regularly scheduled janitorial work.

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The Last Airbender: Book I

I don’t think there’ll be a Book II movie, let alone the end of the series, though I wish there would.  I’ve heard lots of critics and lots of friends trash-talk this M. Night Shyamalan flick, and in all fairness, the acting was rather horrible.  It could certainly have been produced (or is it directed?) better, but the story remains the same as the original cartoon on Nickelodeon, and I don’t love it any less.

Why is it that we’re so focused on needing action, adventure and amazing graphics, that we can no longer appreciate a story about the elements, about spirituality, about culture, about standing by one another, and about taking leadership roles and accepting responsibility?

Eddie Izzard said it best:

But we’ve got known in Britain for making the smaller films, you know. Recently, we’ve been pulling out of that into the more “Trainspotting” area, but the smaller films, they’re kind of “a room with a view with a staircase and a pond”-type movies. Films with very fine acting, but the drama is rather sort of subsued and – subsumed or – a word like that. Sub- something or another. You know, just folded in and everything’s people opening doors.

“Oh, I’m – oh, what? Well, I’ve – oh.”

“What is it, Sebastian? I’m arranging matches.”

“Well, I – I thought you – … I’d better go.”

“Yes, I think you’d better had.” ( sings morose melody )

And you can’t eat popcorn to that! You’re going ( mimes trying to eat popcorn but getting frustrated and sighs ).

Whereas if the film did any little bit of business in America, if the film did some decent bit of business, then Hollywood would take it, and they’d remake it, and they’d up the budget by 50 million and it’d be called, “The Room With A View of Hell!” “Staircase of Satan!” “Pond of Death.” And have people open the door, going,

“You’re fucking in here all the time! All the time you’re in here with the fucking matches! In here with the fucking matches! You’re fucking doing and fucking ( clucking )”

“You don’t talk to me that way! You don’t talk to me that way! You fuck my wife? You fuck my wife? You fuck my wife? You fuck my wife? You fuck my wife?”

“I am your wife!”

“That doesn’t matter! That doesn’t matter! I say again, you fuck my wife?”

“All right, yes, I fucked your wife. I am your wife, and I fucked her.”

” ( Nonsensical ) fucking matches – I can’t get ’em… I’m going to drive around town and put babies on spikes.”

( sounds of babies sliding on the spikes ) …

“Oh, no! Space monkeys are attacking!” A whole new part of the film that wasn’t in the original! ( mimics battle sounds )

“Damn, its jammed!” ( dialing on mobile ) “Janine, I love you really, even though you fucked my wife…” ( big explosion )

( mimics eating and drinking everything in sight while watching ) “It’s a fucking handbag. With a brick in it! It’s the Queen! Don’t know who that is…” Yeah.”

Yeah.

I guess movies nowadays are still about some of the important things (see: Avatar), but they have to be disguised in allegory so they’ll sell.  If Avatar was a flick about evolution, people wouldn’t watch it and it’d flop.  But dress some people up in blue, CGI it to death, make it pretty and throw in Sigourney Weaver and BAM-you’ve got a hit about something most people don’t even know they watched. The Last Airbender should have been on IFC.

I think M. Night stuck with the original story so much so that the point(s) weren’t lost.  On the other hand, I did believe the movie jumped around a lot, and those who weren’t completely aware of details portrayed in the cartoon, would find it sloppy.

I loved Nicola Peltz.  Whether she sucked at her role or was directed poorly remains unknown, but she’s pretty to say the least.

I hated that the major Fire Nation roles were played by actors with the last names Toub, Patel, Mandvi and the like.  Does that make the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan okay now? The “good” guys were Asians, Inuits, and good ol’ Caucasians.  We win! Yay! We’re so awesome.   Good thing our leader is Buddhist, or we’d be fucked.  (Oh, and on an aside, Dragon spirit?  Lame, but so awesome all at the same time. I’m a sucker for dragons.)

Okay, so taking a step back, I’m being a little overly cynical today.  I had a rather “alone” day.  I did lots of chores and errands and got the exact amount of homework I wanted to complete finished, but I then went to Jones Beach by myself, met up with my mother’s best friend, her mother and husband, and drank beer while watching a (rather poor) Beatles tribute band, the Day Trippers.  I’m not saying I had a bad time, or that I didn’t enjoy the company (fortunately, I love Joann), I’m just saying I don’t know if I would have done that regularly.  I don’t think.  Maybe I would.  My head has been cloudy this past month.

I went from Jones Beach to Farmingdale Multiplex to see The Last Airbender alone.  For those of you that have actually read my post about going to see 2012 alone, I’m not wholly opposed to going to the movies sans company.  I especially didn’t want to “drag” anyone to see this one with me, knowing almost without a doubt that they would hate it (it appears only Chris Pinzone & I liked it). But as I felt then (and I do now), there’s still something aberrant about sitting solo in a movie theater.  So my feeling of alone-ness was augmented, and I reflected on some things I needn’t have.

For one, the Katara/Sokka bother-sister thing.  I don’t think I need to expand on that one, but I will.  During one of the first scenes in the movie, Katara makes Sokka explain that he will take care of her because she is his responsibility.  Yes, that was due to their father instructing him to when he went away to war after their mother was murdered, but it doesn’t change their relationship.

Secondly, Prince Zuko was banished by his father because he wouldn’t fight him.  So instead, he burned him and sent him away.  I shall say no more.

It doesn’t help that my (make this work: grandmother’s brother’s daughter) e-mailed me today (gotta love Facebook!), asking if I was in fact my grandmother’s granddaughter and my father’s daughter, then commented on how much I looked like my father, and asked who my brother was.  I should be grateful to have found more family, but I’ve never felt so alone and alienated in all of my life.

So I played “8-mile road” on repeat as I was traveling, in an attempt to give me more confidence in my independence and try to help me close a metaphorical door (Airbender was also about letting go) and bring nothing with me on my journey forward in life to a new state and a new lifestyle. And so I’ve come full circle and am back to being at odds with what to let go of and what to try to hold onto.  Thus far, holding on to anything (family, most of all) has proven fruitless when it never should have been.  Why try to keep anything else?

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