Thursday, March 31, 2011

Opposites Attract

Image courtesy of
Today I was reading about introversion and extroversion at Taupe and Lime   I too am an introvert married to an extrovert.  I call my partner the Wild Woman of Borneo.   My love is a hurricane, flying in, flying out, leaving chaos and mayhem in her wake.  Each day I do my best to organize the  house and keep our affairs in order.  Every day my wild woman comes home and in a matter of minutes has discombobulated an entire day's worth of work.   I have difficulty keeping up. 
In addition to her penchant for acting like the Tasmanian devil she also has an uncanny ability to go through food and drink.  I shop.  I stock the cupboards, fridge and freezer.  I cook.  And again it seems immediately the cupboards are bare.  I swear she has a parasite.  Each day after she gets dressed and leaves for work, I go into our room and rehang the 6 or so outfits she has pondered and then thrown onto the bed.  She works out and creates laundry.  Oodles of it.  A bra here, a sock there, a pair of underwear hanging from the railing.  And I have never seen anyone with the ability to create more crap. She throws nothing away. (just in case she might need it)  We have mail from 2009 in a pile along with magazines, bills, junk mail, coupons,  It never fails that if I do pitch something the very moment I do she is looking for it.  I swear we are gonna end up on "Hoarders: Pittsburgh".

What does this have to do with extroversion?  Well, my love lives life, voraciously, devouring every bit of it both bitter and sweet.  She embraces life and adores people.  She loves to be around and engage with others and she hates to sleep.  Being tired makes her cranky but she doesn't want to nap lest she miss something.  She is a force to be reckoned with. 

My love is optimistic, compassionate, an idealist, an entertainer, funny, athletic and outgoing.  She is never without a smile.  And I, I am a misanthrope.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I've been thinking about courage lately.  Where it comes from. Why some folks have it and some don't.  Why I never seem to be able to find it when I need it.  Where super heroes get their superpowers.   And this brought me around to thinking about my undies. 

Doesn't it seem that superheroes are always zipping around in their drawers?  Look at Superman, Aquaman, Batman and half the Justice League.  I mean aren't those codpieces just basically really souped up undies?  When I was a kid, Fruit of the Loom Underoos were all the rage.  I had them of course and I always felt more powerful when I had them on.  I felt like I could take on the world.  Fight the good fight. Prevail.  Be a master of the universe.  Then I would get a wedgie. 
Anyway, today I am wearing my blue Superman skivvies and am ready to do battle.   Courage can come from some odd places and I take it where I can find it. And I really do need to get me some rocketship undies!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


You will respect my authority!

Ok, so I'm not big on authority.  I hate to be told what to do and I am not good at following directions.  I mean I really hate answering to anyone.  Loathe actually.  Chances are if I am being told what to do I will either 1) do the exact opposite, most often to my detriment  2) be compliant and do what is requested of me but then do something passive-aggressive  3) do as told but purposely f things up or 4) do as asked but bitch, moan and complain so much while complying that the person in authority will avoid ever making a request of me again.

I remember once drinking to excess.  OK more than once.  OK all the time.  Anyway, this one time (at band camp) I was drinking Gallo burgandy wine.  You know high end stuff.  Woo-hoo!  I had drunk a goodly portion of a gallon jug and it was obvious to everyone that I was shit-canned and soon to be either passed out or worse, sick.  Per usual though, I just could not get enough of this nectar of the gods.  I poured myself another large glass (ok plastic cup) when my friend forcefully said "don't drink that."  I immediately raised the glass to my lips, and can vaguely remember thinking to myself "hmmm, this might not be the best idea",  just as another friend said "I wouldn't do that  if I were you."  Well,  you know of course what happened. I chugged the entire thing.  As fast as I could.  As hard as I could.  Without taking breath or pause.  It went down, it came back up.  Mmmmm purply goodness.  So there.  No one tells ME what to do!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Is It Friday Yet?

I am dragging ass today and I didn't write at all yesterday.  I have to chair a meeting tonight and it seems that no matter what I do I can't get up any energy, despite my 3 cups of Starbucks.  Exercise works but why do that?  Time was I could drink as much caffeine as wanted and still be able to sleep.  Now I can guess exactly what's gonna happen.   When 11:30 rolls round I'm going to be wide awake and wound for sound.  Ah sucks getting old. 

My reaction to these kind of days is to wonder, as a friend of mine would say, "what fresh hell is in store for me now!"  (h/t Kerry)  
Right now I just want to curl up under a comforter with a cup of tea, watch Burn Notice on Hulu and block out the world.   I can't, of course, because of the aforementioned meeting which I need like a hole in my head but responsibility beckons.  Bleh!   It 's actually a deceptively sunny day in the Burgh.  Blue sky, grass greening, tulips and crocuses peeking out their little heads.  Did I mention it's 39 degrees outside?  I stepped out to get the morning paper with no coat (or shoes for that matter) thinking spring had sprung and almost froze my ass off. (as if)  Now meteorologist Julia (what is with that wardrobe?) Bologna  is calling for dropping temperatures and snow.  Oh hell no.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Writing Burst

-Bill Waterson
I have been trying to find a focus for this blog but to this point things have been pretty random.  I thought about using the exercises from The Artist's Way but when I went to the bookshelf I realized I had sold it to Half Price Books.  This led me to look for beginner's writing exercises on the web and I came across the idea of "writing bursts". Writing bursts are described as 5 minute free writing wherein the writer covers the computer screen with brown paper and begins typing on the keyboard without being able to see what he/she is typing.  I really liked this idea because when it comes to my own writing all I feel is last minute panic.  When it comes down to stretching my imagination I am paralyzed.  So I thought I would give the writing burst idea a whirl.  I  chose a famous quote as a prompt to get me started
Personality is everything in art and poetry.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Personality in its various incantations has always fascinated me.  For example, I am an  introvert and my partner is an extrovert.  I am obsessive and she is compulsive.  I am a cynic and she is an idealist.  I am a pessimist and she is an optimist.  You get the idea.

Additionally, over my lifetime I have met folks with mood disorders, substance abuse problems and any number of personality disorders -borderline, schizotypal, avoidant, oppositionally defiant, narcissistic, histrionic and obsessive compulsive. Psychologists posit that personality is formed in the very early years of life.  Some say that personality is fixed in youth and some believe it to be malleable.  Developmental stages important to the formation of personality can be thwarted by abuse, life circumstances or organic disease.   As a result, neurons in the brain of a child will not connect where they should or can wire together where they should not adversely impacting personality and developmental growth.  At least that's my excuse.

Goethe says that personality is everything in art and poetry.  This makes me think of what I have read about the lives of Virginia Wolfe, Sylvia Plath, Walt Whitman, Kurt Kobain, Judy Garland, Jim Morrison,  Vincent Van Gogh and Michelangelo to name just a few.  It seems that individuals who have mood disorders, substance abuse problems or personality disorders create some damn fine art.  I am hopeful then because I know it is intelligence, emotion and spirit that define who I am.  And I have these things to draw upon, even if what I create doesn't rise to the level of art or poetry.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Something to Ponder

It's sunny and cold in the Burgh today.  I just passed an accident on Liberty Avenue and the police have blocked both lanes from the 16th Street Bridge to the 21st.  I heard on the radio that a pedestrian was hit by an SUV.  It's a shame but this isn't an unusual occurence.  Of course, it has traffic backed up across the bridge and to Polish Hill in the opposite direction.  My doctor's appointment is in Shadyside, but because I am neurotic I left an hour and a half early.  The woman behind me apparently did not.  She keeps honking her horn though it is doing no worldly good.  Wait, is she MF-ing me? Ok, so this would be a goodtime to check my phone messages and enjoy the sun.  But let me just say Mrs. Wild Hair Up the Ass is laying on her horn whenever I don't IMMEDIATELY inch forward as space opens up in front of me.  Ah well.  Sucks to be her.

On another indirectly connected note, I have been feeling grateful for my life, my family, my health and all of the support I have today.  I don't know if the person who was hit on Liberty today was killed, injured or what.  I do know that bad shit like this happens all the time, every second, every day. Right now even as I type.  It has made me think about how blessed I am.

Jane is my next door neighbor.  I help her to bathe her mom who is bed ridden three days a week. Jane works nightshift fulltime as a prison guard.  She then drives directly to her mom's house, bathes, changes, and feeds her and only then drives to her own home to get some sleep. Sometimes she is only five minutes from her house and her mom will call and she'll have to go back.  Despite this, and the fact that she is exhasted and  it is not a pleasant task, she is gentle and loving with her mother.  I fear that if I were that tired and under that much stress I would be harsh and mean, even cruel.  I admire the strength it must take for her to sacrifice so much.  I told her so one day and her response to me was "She took care of me."  That was it.  Just that simple.

Jane's younger sister Sue lives with her mom.  She gets up at 5:00 AM, wakes her mom, feeds her, cleans her up and then leaves for work.  When she gets home from work at 4:30 PM she does the same thing over again, day in, day out.  Jane just told me that Sue has lupus.  Yet Sue goes to work every day, takes care of her mom every day and has lupus every day.

 I've lived in my current home for 10 years and the truth is that my next door neighbors have always scared the hell out of me.  They are Northsiders, no bullshit, brusque, tell it like it is folks.  They do not suffer fools kindly.  I can't remember seeing any of them smile and they don't go in for hugging or affectionate talk.  They crack wise, insult and grumble and growl at each other.  Yet when it comes down to it, their actions speak clearly their true feelings.  They are of service to one another.  They take care of one another.  For 10 years I have thought that my neighbors didn't like me because they are gruff, never smile and don't make small talk.  And it turns out that all this time it had nothing to do with me.

Picture Credit

Thursday, March 24, 2011

It's a Twister Auntie Em

Yesterday the city had hail the size of golf balls. I kid you not.  This hail was of biblical proportions.  I kept looking up today expecting frogs or locusts.  Unfortunately, although Pittsburgh was spared, Hempfield Township sustained serious damage from a tornado sporting 170 mph winds.  Thirty homes were completely destroyed and over ninety homes damaged.  The TV stations were pissing themselves chasing funnel clouds all over the entire viewing area so they could say "you saw the death and destruction first here on - fill any local news station in this spot."  Today the meteorologists confirmed that yes, in fact, what we experienced was a tornado but ain't it grand ma, the wind stopped blowing.  I don't know why we need the National Weather Service to make it an oh-fficial like tornado what with all the storm doors, porchess and rooves flying through the air.  It reminded me of the movie Twister when Bill Paxton's fiance' looks out the window, sees farm animals flying by and says to her client on the phone  "I gotta go.  We got cows."


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

An A-ha Moment

 Natalie Dee Comics
"When you learn to trust yourself, you will know how to live." - Diane
On Friday at the workshop, prior to beginning the first writing exercise, Diane came and stood in front of where I was sitting on the couch.  She looked really tall!  The room we were in was the clubhouse for a plan of homes called the Fields of Nicholson and the room was my favorite color - YELLOW! (I feel like using lots of exclamation points today!!!!)  Anyway, the meeting room had cathedral ceilings, a gas fireplace, full kitchen and best of all did I mention it was yellow?  The bottom half of the walls were a medium shade of mustard and the upper half and ceiling were a cornhusk shade.  The furniture was comfy chic.  And the couch, the couch was a sit and you sink so that you might never be able to pull your fat ass up and out of it cushy.  But I digress....

Before the writing exercise started, Diane came and stood in front of me and held out a pen for, oh, I don't know, like 30 seconds or something.  I already had a pen.  I had numerous pens actually.  I came prepared.   I ignored her at first but she kept standing there and finally she arched her eyebrow and looked at me and said "Well?"  I got pretty irritated and whipped the pen out from between her fingers.  This was apparently what she'd been waiting for because she said "why did you do that?"  I was now annoyed AND confused and I said "well what else would I do?"  Alright, pay attention because this was my AHA moment.  She looked at me, laughed and said, "You didn't have to take itYou had a choice."  Hmmmm, I thought pensively.    At first I didn't get it, as in I didn't really see it as a choice.  What else does one do when someone insistently stands in front of them with a pen?  And it was then that I realized this is how I have lived my entire life.  Being compliant, taking an action because it is what I think someone else expects of me or wants of me, and not even seeing that I do, I do, I do have a choice.  Hell yeah, I have a choice.  I am responsible for my actions and HA, everything is not someone else's fault.   Which leads me to this question, can it really be a choice if I don't know that I have a choice?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

On Writing

So I attempted to attend Diane's writing workshop on Friday and Saturday.  In 2005, I  registered for a beginner's poetry class at the Center for the Arts.  When I attended though it was apparent that the class was not full of beginners as expected.  Folks were working on chapbooks, had been published in anthologies etc. etc.  I stopped going after I made a fool of myself. A woman in the class used the description of an Ansel Adams' photo as a metaphor in her poem.  Not having seen the actual photo, I said something like "that part of your poem reminds me of an Ansel Adams photo." She derisively (at least in my mind) said, "that is an Ansel Adams photo."  I never went back.  How's that for resilience?  Someone, I don't remember who, made a comment to me when I was young that I should keep my mouth shut and let others think I am stupid, rather than opening my mouth and confirming it.  That stuck with me and so I am quiet oftentimes when I want to speak. On this occasion I braved my fear and commented and then felt like an ass.  I could not get past my shame and embarrassment to go back.

Now 6 years later, I decided to try again.  There could not have been a safer venue for me to test the waters.  I love Diane.  She has a huge heart and she loves me back.  I also knew some of the attendees and though all the folks in the conference were seasoned writers I knew they would be gentle and encouraging with me. It was obvious I was a beginner and had never actually written, aside from plagiarizing other writers in my journal when drunk which doesn't count. After a long night of Dewars  I often meticulously copied poems I loved.  If nothing else I have good taste in lit-er-ature. (She says with nose in the air!) These beautiful pieces of writing were always obscure works that not many people would recognize.  (You know, just in case all those folks as enamored with me as I am with myself  might happen to pick up my journal and read it.)  At the end of a poem I wouldn't credit the author.  Later when I sobered up I would read what I had copied and think "Damn I'm good!"  It wasn't until I quit drinking entirely that I realized those poems were not mine! 

Prior to the workshop, my only expectation was to attend both days.  I wasn't worried about what I would write or how foolish I would look.  I just wanted to push through my fear and be present.  I love to be around accomplished, smart people because my hope is some of it will rub off on me.  Of course, I've never put in the work and have always hoped these qualities would just magically osmose into my being.  It's progress for me to realize that I have to start writing daily (at least 15 minutes and at least enough to fit a 2X4 picture frame - this advice from Diane)  Right now my imagination has flat lined.  However, Diane says it can be resurrected if I  write every day and exercise this muscle in my brain  and I have made a decision (this is important for later - note to self) to attempt it.  Right now, due to my lack of imagination I am left writing about my  own experiences and it makes me feel whiny and indulgent.  I want to be able to create original poems, non-fiction that isn't boring but has some universal appeal, short stories, RIGHT NOW!  Time takes time however and my hope is that someday I will become a writer, if only for myself.

Anyhoo...back to the workshop.  I attended the entire day on Friday but had an unexpected response to one of the writing exercises.  I became horribly self conscious and felt ashamed of what I had written.  Then the homework assignment was to "begin writing the story I don't want to write."  I've lived that story thank you very much and have no desire to parse it again in a writing assignment, so I declined to attend on Saturday. The big difference today is that I was not afraid to attend.  I chose not to and I am proud of myself.  I was 50% successful and that is better than zero. I saw Diane yesterday and she is facilitating another workshop in June so I get a second chance to be 100% victorious.

Tomorrow:  The most important thing I learned from Diane's writing workshop.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Who Am I?

So what if I'm fragmented?  I just have to trust that "I'm doing it right!" Or at least as best I can.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


"I am on a drug.  It's called Charlie Sheen" - Charlie Sheen

Nuff said!