An introvert’s submission + radical prioritization in action, also pouting (Week 16: Ruthless and Weepy)

monday

Meh.

tuesday

… had a nice rhythm. Except for the afternoon of MATH HELL. But then, writer tribe in the evening, always good. In the interim… an attempt by someone (not me) to create drama. Sidestepped. Ruthless radical prioritization for the win!

wednesday

My mom’s over, and she’s telling me she’s leaving Monday, movers, help Dad, etc. The timing of the move’s not stellar—what with her being away, and it being the weekend of Sean and mine 18th anniversary on the 29th (happy anniversary to us, thank you). But the movers are coming on Friday, the 27th.

Jane: Oh, the 27th, that’s perfect—I’ll book the day off, and I can be available to Dad all that day for whatever he needs.

And then. My eldest.

Cinder: Book off? You don’t work.

There’s this sound I now make when they say that.

Jane: What the fuck do you think I do all day?

Cinder: I dunno. Meditate?

I just really don’t know what to do about this.

thursday

I’m sad and moody. Just because. Even spending time with you didn’t really help.

Moody. Feeling… out of step, out of synch. Not really here.

Sudden burst of productivity. Bam.

And… moody again.

Sheesha.

Numbing activity? Self-medication?

Whatever. Give it to me.

friday

… a spectacularly good day. Tell me—what is it, exactly, that makes the difference between a good day, like today, and a meh-day like Monday and a moody day like Thursday?

I really don’t know.

Was it the community potluck?

saturday

Sunbath in the morning, writing, coffee, cigar.

First rain of spring.

Mom-and-daughter date, first one in a long time. She spoils me rotten.

Writer tribe.

sunday

…all the feelings.

happy anniversary, my favourite motherfucking sadist

The good thing about Thursday was that I spent 30 minutes of it with the man who gave me back my mobility (my life, really) after I told him—“I want you to get me straight and get me walking again. Give me that, and I’ll deal with the pain.”

He took my at my word, and never once asked me not to scream so loud—although we did stop meeting in the public gym after the first couple of sessions. We didn’t discuss it, really. Just mutually agreed that working out of his home gym traumatized fewer bystanders.

He made me cry twice in the space of this 30 minute session.

MFS: It’s not really crying if the tears just stay in the corners of your eyes.

Jane: And it’s not really screaming unless the neighbours call the police?

Anyway. That was… holy fuck, babe, that was six years ago now.

Thank you.

 

gratitude

Thursday actually really wasn’t a bad day. Really.

I was just sad. Moody.

It was sunny but not sunny enough and not wintry but not springy enough.

I read Natalie Goldberg’s The True Secret of Writing and loved it and loved her and accepted her as a teacher. And accepted we wrote for different reasons.

And tried to figure out, exactly, why it was that I write.

I tried to tell you. You didn’t like how I framed it. You didn’t like the idea of my needing an audience.

When you write, you, like Natalie, write to make sense of yourself to yourself. Your journal is enough. Your blog is set to private.

Me, I think stories exist to be shared. An unshared story is an untold story—is not a story.

You: But then your entire value of yourself is in the hands of others. What if they don’t like your story?

On a good day, the answer to that is, it doesn’t matter whether they like it or they don’t like it. But it matters that they—at least some of them!—hear it.

Because otherwise… it doesn’t exist.

You: If the next sentence out of your mouth is, “And so I don’t exist,” I will throw this pillow at you.

I say nothing.

Am grateful that you exist.

the sketch of an idea

…actually, I’m not going to share it with you, but, yes, it has been a productive week.

Productive doesn’t always mean happy. But it does bring with it a measure of tranquility.

I wish—I do wish I knew how to find tranquility in stillness.

Cinder: So all that meditation isn’t working, hey?

Jane: You are still in the doghouse over your last comments.

Cinder: Go meditate some more.

I meditate on how much the Buddha pisses me off. Write furiously afterwards.

Sean: If I tell you that you’re doing this whole meditation thing wrong, will you get angry?

Jane: No. I realize I’m doing it wrong. I don’t want Enlightenment if it comes at the price of detachment. Remember? The Buddha was a psychopath.

… speaking of psychopaths…

The teenagers come into the kitchen at 8 pm on Friday night as Sean and I are talking about BIG PHILOSOPHICAL THINGS.

(Including, for reasons I won’t go into, psychopathology.)

And join in the discussion.

For hours.

Ender crawls into my lap at about 10 pm.

Ender: Bed!

Jane: A few more minutes, babe. Cuddle up here…

Teenagers are like wildlife. You don’t wanna spook them when they come close to you by being… too enthusiastic. Nor do you want to be the one to walk away, you know? Who knows when next that magnificent wild animal will deign to visit with you?

introvert versus extrovert

On Saturday, my mom and I go out for coffee and to wander all the vintage clothing stores in Kensington. She spoils me rotten—I have a new wardrobe for my conference #gratitude #abundance even a purse. I do manage to buy her the $2.75 coffee. But not lunch.

We have a great time—I want to be very clear on this. We have a great time.

When we part—she is energized and she will carry that energy into her interaction with the world, my dad.

I am exhausted and overstimulated, and I don’t want to talk to my children, and go hide from them on the balcony with a cup of tea and chocolate, even though there is no sun warmth there anymore.

Introvert. Extrovert. Defined.

 

submission

I am reading Zadie Smith’s Swing Time, and she stops me dead:

What do we want from our mouthers when we are children? Complete submission.

Oh, it’s very nice and rational and respectable to say that a woman has every right to her life, to her ambitions, to her needs, and so  on—it’s what I’ve always demanded myself—but as a child, no, the truth is it’s a war of attrition, rationality doesn’t come into it, not one bit, all you want from your mother is that she once and for all admit that she is your mother and only your mother, and that her battle with the rest of life is over. She has to lay down arms and come to you. And if she doesn’t do it, then it’s really a war…

Zadie Smith, Swing Time

I read the paragraph to Sean; he frowns a little.

she really said this to me…

Flora: Mom? Did you always suck at doing the dishes, or is it something you practiced getting bad at so that the rest of us would do them more often?

I give her the stink eye.

But I’m not mad.

The truth is actually quite complicated. And what she said… it’s kind of part of the truth, too.

all the feelings

On Sunday, I had all the feelings. The morning was perfect, the afternoon productive (although not in my favourite way), the evening, the demons came.

I meditated.

Cinder: Like I said, I don’t think it’s working.

Jane: It’s this or smoking marijuana, and I don’t want to set you a bad example.

Confession: I really love saying shit that makes them shut up and do this, “What did she mean, exactly?” thing with their brains.

ruthless, radical prioritization

… yeah …

For the record. Please. I’m not a bitch and I’m not a machine and I’m not an automaton without feelings.

But I score off-the-charts on executive function / capability, and I know precisely how precious my time and my energy are.

I love you.

I’ve got to go do things now.

xoxo

“Jane”

PS 

 

2018

The year started with a Monday; so does every week (Week 1: Transitions and Intentions)

Easier than you think, harder than I expected: a week in eleven stanzas (Week 2: Goodness and Selfishness)

A moody story (Week 3: Ebb and Flow)

Do it full out (Week 4: Passions and Outcomes)

The Buddha was a psychopath and other heresies (Week 5: No Cohesion)

A good week (Week 6: Execute, Regroup)

Killing it (Week 7: Exhaustion and Adrenaline)

Tired, petty, tired, unimportant (Week 8: Disappointment and Perseverance)

Professionals do it like this: [insert key scene here] (Week 9: Battle, Fatigue, Reward)

Reading Nabokov, crying, whining, regrouping (Week 10: Tears and Dreams)

Shake the Disease (Week 11: Sickness and Health… well, mostly sickness)

Cremation, not embalming, but I think I might live after all (Week 12: Angst and Gratitude)

Let’s pretend it all does have meaning (Week 13: Convalescence and Rebirth)

The cage is will, the lock is discipline (Week 14: Up and Down)

My negotiated self thinks you don’t exist–wanna make something of it? (Week 15: Priorities and Opportunity)

Looking for Nothing By The Book multi-media Postcards from Cuba project?

This was the first “listening” postcard:

and here’s all of the first three series—->>>POSTCARDS FROM CUBA

 

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You: “But how much should I give?”

Jane: “I get $1 each time a sell a traditionally published book, so my bar’s set really low, love. Want to buy me a cup of coffee? That’s $4.75 if you’ll spring for a mocha or latte. Bottle of wine? My palate’s unsophisticated: $19.95 will more than cover it.”

If you’d like to make a contribution but have PayPal issues, email me at nothingbythebook@ gmail.com and we’ll work something out. J

My negotiated self thinks you don’t exist–wanna make something of it? (Week 15: Priorities and Opportunity)

in brief

Monday I spent in bed with a sick Ender, break for walk in the sunshine, reflections, the question—what do I want?

Tuesday, like a bolt of lightning on a bright sunny, a reward for kindness, I suppose—a chance to peer into my father’s soul 30 years ago. OMFG, what a gift, what a surprise.

What a price.

Worth it.

Wednesday, torture. Tequila.

Thursday, no sun, no spring, no hope, cruel clarity. But I worked.

Friday, I prepared the balcony for spring. It’s coming, it was in the air today, yes! I cooked love. I got love. Then missiles over Damascus; frantic texts to family. Everything’s different when you watch it from up close—nothing’s black and white.

Saturday, writer tribe, a cop who may or not be a sociopath—the question, really, was he born like this or did his job make him like that? I teeter on the edge of asking the question, come close. A few hours with my love and Frida. Then, an old friend in the sunshine; I think about buying a cigar. No. Instead, Japanese scotch—or do I mean whiskey? Sushi. Reflections on how we aged; how we changed… not at all.

Sunday… I think Sunday is going to be full of surprises. It’s not over yet.

knock, knock

Jane: Who’s there?

X: Opportunity.

Yes.

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!

Wait.

Radical prioritization.

Sometimes—often—no.

But today? YES.

negotiated self

William James (brother of Henry, the novelist, and Alice, the diarist, who would have been a novelist had she had a penis or been born even 50 years later) posited that in any interaction between two individuals, there were six persons present (six men, actually—not his fault, I asuppose, as Ursula K. Le Guin so sharply observed, women hadn’t been invented yet… anyway… I’m paraphrasing him to be more inclusive, because now I exist and so do you).

And so when we are together, you and I:

  1. You as you think you are
  2. You as I think you are
  3. You as you really are
  4. I as I think I am
  5. I as you think I am
  6. I as I really am

Currently, in the theory of the negotiated self, psychologists argue that there is no such thing as the self as it really is—that the self is always constantly negotiated in social interactions. Always negotiated. Never absolute.

I think they’ve just told us we don’t really exist.

Pinch me.

Kiss me.

Am I here?

turkish delight

I have a friend named Fatih, and there’s a neighbourhood called Fatih in Istanbul that’s now Syria away from Syria—and I’m writing about a woman named Matilda, and I give her an ex-husband called Fatih.

My friend is not impressed. Fatih the fictional character is not… well. He’s short, for one. And has many other flaws (and possibly, a very small penis, although we haven’t gotten to that part in the story yet).

Fatih: If you give Fatih a very small penis, our friendship is over.

Jane: Well, he’s comic relief.

Fatih: A small penis is not funny. Just change his fucking name!

But I have to call him Fatih, because, you see, Matilda is very fat, and there’s a scene with in a little convenience store in which the clerk calls her Fatih’s Fat Matilda, and OMFG, do you hear that cadence?

My friend is not impressed.

I shouldn’t have told him anything. Sigh.

(the above story, by the way, isn’t actually true, not exactly)

(but it’s a good story, and I will keep on telling it, until everyone believes it’s true)

unschooling looks like this

Jane: Ender-love-of-mine, please understand this. I have no desire to teach you to read until you really, really, really want to learn. When you are ready, when you want it—I will sit here with you for hours. But if you just want to go play Minecraft—go. I have nothing vested in this: I will not fight, make you, force you.

(I’m paraphrasing myself.)

Ender: I want to learn!

Jane: Then you have to look at the fucking letters and not make faces at the mirror.

Ender: How do you spell fucking?

Fuck.

Parenting fail, again.

Unschooling win. (This was on Thursday. In case you care. I don’t.)

why natives hate tourists

I’m reading Natalie Goldberg still—Thunder and Lightning: Cracking Open the Writer’s Craft this time—and still arguing with her in my head (in this book, she really admits to me her novel as shit, a thinly disguised memoir that took her nine years to write and that her New York editors, despite the phenomenal success of Writing Down the Bones, pushed to revise and revise, and kinda sounded reluctant to publish, and to be honest, I’m kind of gleefuly here, I whisper to her, “Ha, Natalie, //I//  know the difference between fiction and memoir, //I// know how to write a story that’s not about me and my neurosis, //I// know how to keep the reader up all night with events I’ve never experienced—only imagined… and I can take that from idea to clean draft in weeks not years, ha, ha, ha—okay, yes, I’m arguing with the Goddess of North American Freefall Writing, sorry, but despite all the voices in my head, sometimes it gets a little lonely inside the work…)

Anyway. I’m reading Natalie Goldberg and she’s quoting Jamaica Kincaid:

That the native does not like the tourist is not hard to explain. For every native of every place is a potential tourist, and every tourist is a native of somewhere. Every native everywhere lives a life of overwhelming and crushing banality and boredom and desperation and depression, and every deed, good and bad, is an attempt to forget this. Every native would like to find a way out, every native would like a rest, every native would like a tour. But some natives—most natives in the world—cannot go anywhere. They are too poor. They are too poor to go anywhere. They are too poor to escape the reality of their lives; and they are too poor to live properly in the places where they live, which is the very place you, the tourist, want to go—so when they natives see you, the tourist, they envy you, they envy your ability to turn their own banality and boredom into a source of pleasure for yourself.

Jamaica Kincaid, A Small Place

A few thoughts: I have spent much of this terrible winter wishing to be back in Cuba, occupying the responsibility-free role of tourist, not-native, not-of-this place person. Now I remember the shame and guilt that came along with the pleasure. Right.

And I remember how important it is for me to have a life, build a life from which I don’t want to escape—from which I don’t need a vacation.

(Can you think of anything worse—more banal, to use Kincaid’s word—than living your life FOR your vacation? Ugh. No, no, no. Not me.)

I also think—I must read everything Jamaica Kincaid has ever written. This is what I do when I suddenly, violently fall in love with a writer, a voice. I drink her, drown in her, until I’m sick of her. And then I leave her—but she never leaves me.

(This is  why we read, why I write. Why musicians compose and play, why artists create. It’s the only everlasting, unconditional love there is—falling in love with, using up art—giving yourself up to be loved, to be used.)

(That was either a profoundly deep thought, or a stupidly pretentious one, but I’ll let it stand.)

canadian spring

…is here. I think it’s here.

But I’m afraid to take the winter tires off my car just yet.

…good thing I didn’t…

and also, this

How I spent Sunday night. Existential angst notwithstanding, life is good.

xoxo

“Jane”

2018

The year started with a Monday; so does every week (Week 1: Transitions and Intentions)

Easier than you think, harder than I expected: a week in eleven stanzas (Week 2: Goodness and Selfishness)

A moody story (Week 3: Ebb and Flow)

Do it full out (Week 4: Passions and Outcomes)

The Buddha was a psychopath and other heresies (Week 5: No Cohesion)

A good week (Week 6: Execute, Regroup)

Killing it (Week 7: Exhaustion and Adrenaline)

Tired, petty, tired, unimportant (Week 8: Disappointment and Perseverance)

Professionals do it like this: [insert key scene here] (Week 9: Battle, Fatigue, Reward)

Reading Nabokov, crying, whining, regrouping (Week 10: Tears and Dreams)

Shake the Disease (Week 11: Sickness and Health… well, mostly sickness)

Cremation, not embalming, but I think I might live after all (Week 12: Angst and Gratitude)

Let’s pretend it all does have meaning (Week 13: Convalescence and Rebirth)

The cage is will, the lock is discipline (Week 14: Up and Down)

My negotiated self thinks you don’t exist–wanna make something of it? (Week 15: Priorities and Opportunity)

—->>>POSTCARDS FROM CUBA

The best things in life and on the Internet are free, but content creators need to pay for groceries with money. If you enjoy  Nothing By The Book content, please express your delight and support by making a donation via PayPal:

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

You: “But how much should I give?”

Jane: “I get $1 each time a sell a traditionally published book, so my bar’s set really low, love. Want to buy me a cup of coffee? That’s $4.75 if you’ll spring for a mocha or latte. Bottle of wine? My palate’s unsophisticated: $19.95 will more than cover it.”

If you’d like to make a contribution but have PayPal issues, email me at nothingbythebook@ gmail.com and we’ll work something out. J

The cage is will, the lock is discipline (Week 14: Up and Down)

monday

… started and ended in tears, but in-between, it was a good, good day. It flowed. Isn’t that kind of amazing?

tuesday

… was a hard day. I struggled—to focus, to breathe, to do. I took Ender swimming, drank in his joy. Made a good supper. Struggled. If you ask me about what, why—I can’t even really tell you. It was just a hard, hard day.

I’m reading Natalie Goldberg’s The Great Spring: Writing, Zen, and This Zigzag life. Also, Karen S. Wiesner’s Writing the Fiction Series and Jesse Warren Tevelow’s Authorpreneur.

Meh. I don’t know.

Mostly, I think despite writing about them for the better part of two decades… I’m not an entrepreneur. And I’m not an entertainer either.

I’m not so sure, today, Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way Koolaid notwithstanding, that I am an artist.

Who am I?

Natalie is writing… memoir. Again. As always. I lie in memoir. Again, as always. So I suspect everyone else does too. But maybe she doesn’t. Maybe it’s all true. Maybe she really remembers things like this… (She doesn’t. It’s all story. I know.)

But—there are some true things there. She really loves, loves, loves some of the places she has lived in. Taos, New Mexico in particular. (She writes as if she loves them—which is more or less the same thing, as far as the reader and posterity and manufactured history is concerned.)

I wonder what it would be like to really love… a place.

I don’t love my city. I don’t mind it. Sometimes (not in February or March, or this fucking snowy April, why?), I like it, a lot.

And I love my tiny little patch of it, my Sunnyhill, my hill, this bit of river, wilderness, the Common, my weed patch.

But this city? Not so much. Have I loved any place I’ve ever lived?

I tell people I loved Montreal. But I didn’t, not really.

Today, I don’t love anything. It’s one of those days.

Struggling.

The day will end.

Maybe, as it ends, in the end, I will love. Or. Cry.

Sleep. Will Wednesday be better?

wednesday

yes.

thursday

Thursday starts with a disappointment. No, that’s not quite true: Thursday starts with my morning pages, this habit Julia Cameron inculcated in me about four years ago now. And say what you will about Julia (there are moods in which no one is more critical of her than I), in the four years since I’ve been doing morning pages, I’ve written four novels, dozens if not hundreds of poems, and my creative non-fiction output has been… beyond steady.

So Thursday morning starts with my morning pages. Then the disappointment. I text you to share it—Julia taught me that too. Before her, I used to suffer alone and be proud of it. You say, this time, all the right things. Almost.

You: What did I do wrong this time?

Jane: It doesn’t matter. You tried.

You offer to come over, to offer solace in person. I refuse. I don’t want you to hold my hand while I weep. I don’t even want to weep. I have plans for the day—a routine and tasks—and I don’t want them derailed by a text, an unplanned disappointment… or even your visit.

When I make decisions like this, you sometimes think I don’t love you. It’s not that at all. It’s just that… I know I have to follow my schedule, my planned rhythm. Today HAD to be a work day. I am two weeks, more, behind because of my illness. So. Thursday, I work. I am disciplined, and that soothes me much more than talking with you about what sucks would.

In the granola-New Age-voodoo circles that I move in, people place a high value on flexibility and spontaneity. They equate them with creativity and freedom, and they define freedom as lack of structure, lack of planning, lack of… routine.

I value freedom too. But I define it different. Not as a lack of constraint or structure. Nor as chaos. Freedom is… the freedom to do the work, live the life I want to live—the passion I want to embody.

And that kind of freedom requires discipline.

Internal discipline. Self-discipline.

My self-discipline manifests in routines, rituals, commitments to self… and following through on those commitments.

I like a touch of chaos, too, of course. There is a lot of chaos, creativity, unpredictability in my life. But what makes my life and its creative chaos possible—makes me thrive in it—is routine and discipline.

Morning pages. Coffee. Work sprint one—do day’s critical task here. Breakfast. Shower. Meditation. Reading with Ender. Work sprint two, the less-creative-but-necessary-task—these are the anchors of my morning, the building blocks of my morning routine. They make it possible for me to be FREE to take two hours of the middle of my afternoon to go to the Y, to my culty yoga… or to spend the afternoon smoking sheesha and staring out a window… Return to chores, kids,  and work sprint three (mundane tasks) in the hours that abut prepping supper or cleaning up after it.

Flora’s martial class, three times a week. Chore? No. Routine. Focused one-on-one time with my girl—sometimes all she gets from me, that time in the car, but sometimes, that’s all she wants, needs. And for me: an hour and a half, every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday to write-read-proof-reflect.

The Y on Monday and Friday, Kundalini yoga on Wednesday and Saturday.

Anchors.

Have you noticed, though, that when people say, “You’re so disciplined!” it’s this odd compliment? They’re not sure if they’re giving you (me) a compliment… or telling you (me) that you’re boring.

Freedom to do what you want, if you what you end up doing is squandering your time and passion and talent, is worthless.

You:  I’m not mad you didn’t want to see me on Thursday.

Jane: Good.

What was this little segue about?

Disappointment. Discipline.

Routine.

Freedom.

interlude: The Great Spring

It will not stop snowing in Calgary—no one has told the weather gods that it’s April and for fuck’s sake, enough with the unique snowflakes, give us some boring, same-everyday sun and some green grass and leaves and shit, will you?

I’m still reading Natalie Goldberg’s The Great Spring: Writing, Zen, and the Zig Zag of Life.

I start reading it on Monday, and it disappoints me. I don’t like it. I bitch to Sean about how all Natalie knows to write is these stupid memoir vignettes (and who wants to read those?), self-indulgent blog posts really (shut up), and who is she to be a writing teacher anyway? She’s only written one novel. And nobody’s read it. It’s probably bad.

Sean shuts me down. Not intentionally—I think he’s a) trying to be fair to the Great Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones who changed the way writing is taught in North America and b) trying to redirect me from what we both know is a destructive unproductive place: envy, resentment, anger, defensiveness, insecurity.

I turn my anger and resentment towards him and to go bed crying. And hating Natalie and the literary establishment that made her god. With only one crappy novel under her belt.

But I keep on reading the book.

I finish it on Wednesday, and by Thursday, I think it’s good. I also realize that for Natalie, writing is not what it is for me. It is, in the end, a spiritual practice for her. Another way of reaching Zen. Enlightenment. Ironically—for one who is a writing teacher—writing is not really about communicating. Sharing with an audience. That purpose of writing is, to Natalie Goldberg, secondary.

But I think our commitment to practice—writing practice—is similar. In one of the closing chapters of the book, “Lost Purse,” students ask Natalie for… what else, the secret to writing.

The students say:

“I have to be trust myself!”

“I have to have courage.”

“Speak from my heart.”

“Know myself!”

Natalie sighs.

Crinkles her nose.

“No. No. No. Not even close. It’s not about how you feel.”

“You. Have. To. Pick. Up. The pen—and write. Just. Write.”

“For years, that’s all I’ve been saying. If it’s hot out, write in the heat. If it’s cold, pull on a sweater and write. … Act. … Writing doesn’t ask you to be any different from who you are right now. Not better. Not more.”

Pa-dum-pam.

friday

I finally feel myself. Awake. Mind sharp. My faith in my capabilities mostly back. My demons, caged.

Funny, you know, I use a few metaphors with my demons—in all of them, they are contained. Not banished. Not invisible—I am not safe when I can’t see them. No, I’m safest and happiest when they’re caged—not lurking in the shadows of the edges of my consciousness. Caged, contained—the cage is my will. They exist. I acknowledge them. I see them—I put them in the cage. The lock on the cage, what is it?

I suppose it’s discipline.

Back to discipline again.

Such a loaded word these days. Perhaps it always was.

I often wonder—is it an innate quality or something that needs to be—that can be—cultivated? When does discipline—of the self—morph into self-repression? Or inflexible near-OC behaviour?

Why am I thinking about this?

I guess because I’m planning, effectively, a 31-month—33? maybe 36 actually… fuck, my math sucks, probably even more… 40?—a 31+ month experiment that will require more sustained discipline than I’ve deployed in my life for a while. Can I do it?

Sean says cautious things.

Jane: You don’t think I can do it.

Sean: That is not what I said!

Ok. It isn’t. But that’s what I heard. And it’s fair. What I’m planning is bigger, x7, and longer, x10, and scarier, and harder than all the crazy shit I’ve done so far, and it requires a tenfold leap of faith and…

You: Can you just tell us what you’re planning?

Jane: No. I don’t want your advice. God knows I don’t need a reality check. Or input from—excuse me—lay people. Full of opinions but no experience.

You: What are you saying?

Jane: Your opinion and input will carry no weight with me.

You: Bitch.

Jane: And I can’t afford to be infected by your fear or doubt.

You: Like I said—bitch.

Whatever. I prefer… self-aware.

speaking of self-aware

I’m taking a course that requires me to take the Myers-Briggs / Jungian personality test.

I come out an almost perfect midline personality (I’m also, btw, on every test I’ve ever taken, 51/49 right-brained and left-brained):

  • Introverted (I) 61.11% Extroverted (E) 38.89%
  • Intuitive (N) 53.66% Sensing (S) 46.34%
  • Feeling (F) 55.88% Thinking (T) 44.12%
  • Judging (J) 53.33% Perceiving (P) 46.67%

Except, as you see, the introvert is in some ascendance over the extrovert. (If you want to take the free version of the test, btw, here ya go: http://similarminds.com/jung_old.html

Jung, by the way, coined the terms Introvert and Extrovert, as well as synchronicity. Jung was an introvert, and Freud was an extrovert, and there you probably have the root cause of their break-up.

All week, I’m reading The Introverted Entrepreneur: Amplify Your Strengths and Create Success On Your Own Terms by Beth L. Buelow.

This resonates:

Introverts are internal processors. Their primary source of information and point of reference comes from within themselves. This doesn’t mean that they are self-absorbed or oblivious to others: they simply rely first and foremost on their inner thoughts to guide them. … When an introvert receives information, she takes it in and flips it around in her mind until it’s right side up enough to be shared with the world.

I’m not always an introvert. But I’m always an internal processor.

Sean: I know.

(He’s not.)

I’m also reading Seth Godin’s We Are All Weird: The Rise of Tribes and the End of Normal

and I find myself thinking that, ultimately, there are two kinds of people. People obsessed with slotting everyone into Category A and Category B…

…and people who think Category A and Category B aren’t sufficient. Should we perhaps subdivide Category A into A1, A2, A3, A4 and so forth?

I want to be neither.

You: Unique snowflake.

Jane: I want to recognize and worship everyone as a unique snowflake.

You: That doesn’t sound like you.

Jane: You don’t really know me.

…the landscape of you and me

When I am still feeling ery said and sick and unsupported, I text with my friend the practicing Buddhist almost-monk. Er, nun. About life, sex, relationships, dharma.

She says:

“You’re brilliant and adorable and wonderful and everything is going to work out perfectly. Smooch snuggle kiss.”

And also:

“What would happen if there was nothing to fix, nothing wrong, nothing ‘fucking complicated’ about you?”

Jane: I would be terribly boring and that would be even worse.

Ego.

I want to be a unique snowflake.

Demons: You are utterly ordinary.

*I also take the DISC test. Here are my scores:

week versus day

When I am having a bad day, I will sigh and cry, “Will this day never end!” And, when it is a very very bad day (like the Wednesday of Week 12), I will actually go into bed, turn off the lights, pull the covers over my head, and wait for the day to be over.*

*I have three children, of course, so this is generally a figurative rather than a literal act.

When it’s a bad week… month… you can’t do that.

Anyway. It wasn’t a bad week. Or even a rough week. It just had some… you know. Rough spots. Bad thoughts.

You: And that disappointment.

Jane: It’s all good. I’m already over that. It’s Sunday.

I was happy on Wednesday. Productive on Thursday and Friday. Playful among all the chores on Saturday.

But I’m looking forward to Monday. My mini New Year. Blank slate.

kids report

I do want to tell you that this week, I was a very present mother and I experienced minimal guilt. Ender and I read every day—with a view to him mastering the art, not just at bedtime. I sprayed Bactine on Flora’s had when she cut it falling down in the alley and I paid attention to her fully when I played her chauffeur. I encouraged Cinder to NOT rush into his math test until he understood the material, and I helped him figure out how to identify the range of a quadratic equation (thank you, Khan Academy, fuck you, official math textbook). Ender and I went swimming, too. Everyone seems happy, thriving.

Can I sustain THAT for 31-36-40 months?

Maybe.

And I can’t start until I believe the answer is yes.

You: Idiot.

Jane: Shut up.

You: Also, hypocrite.

Jane: Fuck off.

I know… I know… the secret. Chunk it. Think in segments. Days—weeks—months (hours and minutes). Chapters—scenes—paragraphs—sentences—words.

Buildings blocks.

But I need to see and trust and commit to the big picture.

You: Well, I think you should…

Jane: Shut up. I did tell you, did I not? I don’t want your advice.

I’m just sharing some of doubt and process and demons because I’m tired of you thinking I have no feelings.

But that’s another story.

Ender: Mama! Tortilla?

Sigh.

Jane: Coming.

It’s the sixth cheese tortilla I’m making him today…

i’m hungry

When Flora says “I’m bored,” she means her demons are rattling the cage and she needs to be held and loved and told she exists and is an important, unique snowflake.

Ender’s code phrase is “I’m hungry.” When he says he’s hungry, he means “I need you to show me that I’m important to you and that you will take care of me.”

So while, when Flora says, “I’m hungry,” I can tell her to eat an apple or go scavenge in the fridge, when Ender says, “I’m hungry,” I have to make him the fucking tortilla.

And not grumble if he doesn’t eat it all.

It’s sort of a metaphor.

These days, though, he’s going through a growth spurt, so he eats most of the love I make for him.

When Cinder experience existential angst, he punches holes in the walls, runs up and down the hallway, or throws himself on the floor and cries.

He’s the kid I understand best.

(I leave it to you to slot us into the Introvert/Extrovert categories if you like)

I love them all so much it hurts.

speaking of pain

I’m now 100% sure the Buddha was wrong about pain, suffering, and desire. Cowardly rather than enlightened, actually. So is that… a meditation fail? Or my own enlightenment?

lifestyle

Sean’s trying to diplomatically describe to Flora why we don’t spend a lot of time with a family with whom it would be… convenient, let us say, for us to have more of a relationship with.

Sean: In case you haven’t noticed, they don’t really share our hippie lifestyle.

Flora: Wait. We’re hippies?

Sean: The only reason we don’t live in a tent on Vancouver Island and shit in a hole in the woods is because I’m here.

Jane: Hey!

Flora: OMG, you’re right. I never thought about it. If it was up to Mom, we’d be like Pippa’s family and travel around the world in a camper van, wouldn’t we?

Ok, so that’ s been my dream since I’ve been, like, 12, and I’ve been trying to figure out how to make it happen with them for years, and those three months in Cuba were the closest I managed to come to it, and…

Flora: I love you so much, Dad.

Jane: Hey!

Flora: I love you too, Mom. But you know what else I love?

Cinder: Toilet paper and flushing toilets?

Flora: Word.

Ungrateful bastards. (For context, see POSTCARDS FROM CUBA)

saturday

On Saturday, a stranger from Egypt helps me articulate an odd truth about myself,* we put together Cinder’s bed,** and Sean and I take a trip to the 1920s, where I taste Virginia Woolf (she’s too sweet, I tell the bartender, and he sours her with a twist of lemon) and Sean puts Daisy Buchanan to his lips.

*It’s not an epiphany, exactly, but it’s this…

You: Another thing you’re not going to share?

Jane: No, you can hear this one.

I don’t expect people to be there tomorrow.

Ponder the implications of that for a minute or two…

**When I say we… I guess I really mean Sean and Cinder, although I helped carry things up and down the stairs, and cleaned the gooey corners in the teenager’s room.

Also, there was this:

Cinder: Mom! We lost a dowel! Where is it?

Seriously. How the fuck should I know?

But. Here’s the thing:

Jane: It fell on the second landing—I’ve put it in your room on the Lego shelf next to the castle!

Also, this:

Sean: We need the vacuum cleaner!

Jane: It’s broken! Broom?

Sean: No! Gum and a pencil!

I’ll leave the “why” to your very capable inference capabilities.

i really said this to my son

Jane: While you’re up and I’m here sitting on my ass, could you get me my Guinness from the fridge?

Cinder: Doesn’t it have wheat it in?

Jane: It’s my binge day.

Cinder: Isn’t it illegal for me to get you alcohol?

Jane: I can’t send you to the liquor store to buy me beer. I can send you to the fridge.

Cinder: It still sounds sketchy.

Jane: For fuck’s sake just get me my beer!

sunday

I know exactly what I want.

And how to get it.

Oh, if only I could package that feeling in a pill, tonic, or mantra…

xoxo

“Jane”

PS This week, I’d like to give the last word to Seth Godin. Two non-sequiturs, but they connect dots for me:

“Some people are more comfortable believing that there are no edges, that everywhere is like it is right here. That they are normal, that everyone is normal, and that ignorance is bliss. If everyone could just be normal (like them), they’d be happier.”

“I’m running out of patience for people who would further their personal or media goals by dividing us in exchange for a cheap point or a few votes. If members of a tribe encourage schisms and cheer on the battles, is it any wonder that it’s hard to create forward motion? When we’re not in sync, power is dissipated.”

Seth Godin, We are All Weird: The Rise of Tribes and the End of Normal

2018

The year started with a Monday; so does every week (Week 1: Transitions and Intentions)

Easier than you think, harder than I expected: a week in eleven stanzas (Week 2: Goodness and Selfishness)

A moody story (Week 3: Ebb and Flow)

Do it full out (Week 4: Passions and Outcomes)

The Buddha was a psychopath and other heresies (Week 5: No Cohesion)

A good week (Week 6: Execute, Regroup)

Killing it (Week 7: Exhaustion and Adrenaline)

Tired, petty, tired, unimportant (Week 8: Disappointment and Perseverance)

Professionals do it like this: [insert key scene here] (Week 9: Battle, Fatigue, Reward)

Reading Nabokov, crying, whining, regrouping (Week 10: Tears and Dreams)

Shake the Disease (Week 11: Sickness and Health… well, mostly sickness)

Cremation, not embalming, but I think I might live after all (Week 12: Angst and Gratitude)

Let’s pretend it all does have meaning (Week 13: Convalescence and Rebirth)

—->>>POSTCARDS FROM CUBA

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