August 31, 2010

Articulating Annoyance.

I'm used to listening to discussions on all different types of emotions and feelings--fear, sadness, anger, joy, hope, etc.  But there's one feeling out there that just doesn't get the street credit it deserves despite its flagrant frequency, and that is . . . ANNOYANCE.

People don't really talk about this feeling, probably because the mere thought of talking about it makes them even more annoyed.  In fact, because I am in a state of annoyance, I don't want to talk about it either.  BUT, because I don't have a television and it's 10:30 PM on a Tuesday night and I don't feel like reading, I decided I am going to at least try and articulate my annoyance.

To begin, there's no real reason why I'm annoyed right now.  It's completely unjustified, which makes it even more annoying because then I can't really blame the mood on anyone (which is always the easier route when you want to avoid taking control of your own moods).  I actually didn't even know I was annoyed until I caught myself in the middle of a negative stream of thought, and then realized that I had been clenching my jaw for the past hour (a sure sign of an irritable state).

How to describe this mood? It's is like the yellow light in a traffic signal.  Annoyance is not per se a bad mood (red light), but it's certainly not a go-ahead for positive and happy thoughts (green light).  It's more like a "proceed with caution because anything you do right now may really piss me off."

There are approximately ten main things that really annoy me (I offer the caveat that I'm completely aware of my own hyprocripsy in naming some of the following):

1) rudeness (including condescending tones, "better than you" mentalities, or pathetic attempts to validate the constructs of hierarchy)

2) inappropriately loud voices (please stop screaming, thanks.)

3) homophobic, racist, or generally bigoted remarks (you'd be surprised at how many people don't mind hearing unprovoked mean-spirited comments about a person's immutable characteristics)

4) the act of checking one's cell-phone in the middle of a conversation (a sure sign that the person, despite pretending to listen, would rather be doing something else. also may be categorized as rude (see [1])

5) chewing popcorn in the movie theater (my family hates watching movies with me because I give them the death stare when they sit next to me and shove heaps of popcorn in their faces.  One time my sister was chewing popcorn (very loudly I might add) in a movie and, because I found it completely distracting to hear her buttery fingers attempting to grab handfuls of popcorn during a quiet and sad part, I made her get up and sit in another part of the theater. I'm sure you will judge me because of this)

6) judgment (i'd prefer one not to judge the essence of another based on a differing belief (i.e. chewing in movies is annoying) or practices)

7) noise in the morning (excessive talking, mindless tv, loud radio, my mom clearing her throat = sure recipe for annoyance)

8) the sound of my dad eating cereal ( cant explain it, but trust me, it's annoying)

9) endless banter (it gets old after 5 minutes, if you'd like a real conversation, you can find me later)

10) people who have little spatial awareness (like when you try to pass them on the street and they unknowingly weave across the width of the sidewalk so you cant get around of them)

11) (i know i only said i had 10, but i thought of another) - when Alex takes out his contacts in random parts of the apartment and flings them, leaving little dry contact remnants that feel like shards of glass when you step on them) (they don't me)

anyways. . .

I think the main conclusion to draw from my annoyance is the fact that when I feel it, for whatever reason, I feel it.  It's not worth fighting or trying to convince myself that it doesn't exist; I just can accept that when, for a moment of time, I feel annoyed, that's ok.  And hopefully the mere observance of this feeling will be a step in furtherance of separating myself from it.  Then, like these moods always do, the annoyance will simply pass.

August 26, 2010

Shuffling Shit.

Last week, I moved stuff out of my small studio and transported it to my new apartment.  It took five hours.  Granted, I refused to use the more efficient "pack up your stuff in boxes" and chose the "chinese water torture" method of moving by slowly bringing down heaps of clothes and individual baskets one by one; regardless, the move took much longer than I (and my friendly helper) expected.  It also reminded me how much I hate stuff.

As a child, my mom was surprisingly calm and even-tempered considering the personalities of her three children (her calmness probably foreshadowed her eventual decision to run off to India to become a yoga teacher).  But the one thing that would knock her off her rocker (in a not-so-positive way) was. . . the BASEMENT.  Just saying the word brings me chills, flashbacks of a shrieking mother threatening to throw out everything that was shoved down there.   It was like when she went down into the depths of the house, Hades took her over and made her into a person that my siblings and I could only refer to as "evil mom."  She would walk down the steps after an inspirational Oprah show and simply go ballastic.

The basement also made her a liar.  In fact, it was the only time my mother ever lied.  "I promise you," she would begin in a scarily whispered voice, "that if you help me and spend one day...ONE DAY...going through the stuff in the basement, you will NEVER have to do it again."  We heard that freaking lie a good twenty-five times.  Other times, she would make no promises and just bark orders, beckoning us to emerge from the comforts of our room by repeatedly yelling our name from the basement until we could stand it no longer and finally succumbed to her screams. "Kerrrrrryyyyyy" she would yell from two floors down, "I need you for just a couple minutes (lie) in the BASEMEEEEENT!"  As we got older, she would return from her yoga room after meditating and sneak into the basement.  Instead of yelling, she would just sigh and state "Shuffling shit...I'm so sick of shuffling shit."  (a sure sign of a step closer to enlightenment)

But now, her crazed moments seem to make more sense after I too have slowly started to accumulate STUFF. And it makes me CRAZY.  I have become my mother.  I despise shuffling shit. (I already feel badly for my children, who will one day have to deal with a clothespin with a bucket for a Barbie Dreamhouses for them...)

When I lived in Santa Monica, I became friends with a man who essentially was a walking monk, Raymond.  He spent his days walking up and down the streets, with nothing but a plastic bag which he held in alternated hands.  I used to find him on various corners and we'd sit and talk.  Unbeknownest to him, the years of walking awakened him into a modern day prophet.  On one particular day, he said, "I think...we lose God a lot.  We lose sight of him.  It's like, picture a piece of paper.  Then picture a small black dot on that paper.  When there's nothing else on the paper but the dot, you can always see the dot.  But when you start to add things to the paper, when you start to fill that paper with stuff, it's hard to find the dot.  And then one day, maybe you can't see the dot anymore.  Life is that piece of paper, and God is the dot."

Raymond's analogy deeply resonated with me.  He, a man who had nothing, had freedom. He had the ability to see God all day because he was completely liberated from the distraction of stuff. He always had his eye on the dot.

Raymond's words echo those of Jesus who directed his followers to leave everything behind to follow Him; and echoed the teachings of Buddha who stressed that attachment to stuff, amongst other things, resulted in suffering.  It the freedom from wordly "goods" that helps the Mother Theresas of the world and the Jesuit priests and the Buddhist monks remain focused. Stuff doesn't only clutter our homes, it clutters our souls and weighs them down, and distracts our eyes from remaining focused on a Greater Truth.

And while I'm not yet to ready to completely rid myself of some baskets full of trivialities, I'm forcing myself to give away some of my excess, if only to get better a glimpse of that dot.

August 17, 2010

Word Calculator.

Sometimes when I type on my iPhone
I feel like I'm using a calculator
The words mere numbers in a mathematical equation
But the keys can't convey feeling
So the sum of the parts don't have the meaning
Of the wholeness of a spoken word.

August 10, 2010

Deepest Darkest Secret

In college, my friends and I made up the game "D Squared S" also known as "Deepest Darkest Secrets."  We would sit around late at night telling each other our innermost thoughts and feelings.  Despite the intimacy of the game, the secrets often involved new found crushes or worries about social circumstances.  But regardless, we loved to play the game, shrieking at each others' personal gossip or listening to one's concerns.

Recently, there has been something deep and quiet that has arisen in the trenches of my heart.  It has sat there so quietly that for a very long time I didn't even know it was there.  And every once in a while, I'll think to myself, "can this be? is this true?" But only recently did I finally admit to myself that indeed this secret is how I truly feel.  And it was so shocking and surprising and seemingly out of character that it took me a while to register.

My D Squared S is:

I don't believe in myself.

That is a stark and scary statement to hear myself say aloud and I still want to pretend that it's probably not true. However I cannot let it remain cloaked and entrenched in other thoughts, remaining unrecognizable in my consciousness.  I have recognized it as what it is.  And while I may be confident that I am competent in my daily tasks or profession, and I may be optimistic in my future goals, my deepest darkest fear is that I will not lead the life of purpose of which I think I am capable.  I do not trust myself to do what I think I should do.

A few weeks ago, at a Faherty Family Barbeque, I stood in the kitchen washing off scallops while my eventual family members, Jack and Michael, prepped the meat.  The men had just suffered the loss of their dad and father-in-law, respectively.  Despite the upbeat tone of the night, a heaviness weighed in the air that allowed for a deepness of discussion.  As we seasoned and chopped, Michael suddenly asked, "What is your biggest fear?"  While my normal response usually would have been squirrels and turbulence, after a second (and the reality of the funeral the day before), I responded "the death of someone I loved."  And then I paused, realizing that my statement was not entirely true.  Fearing the death of another, while rational, is entirely outside my control.  And the things that I truly fear the most are not what I cannot control, but that which I can, but do not.  So, I changed my answer and it was the first time I outwardly admitted my secret to others:


I am not talking about the failure to attain physical wealth or prestige or fame.  I am not talking about the failure of relationships.  I am talking about failing my true self, failing my spirit--that is, the failure to pursue the journey that my soul has dictated I must pursue. Of course, I am still figuring out what I am "supposed to do," but the signs have pointed to a particular road and it's just up to me to follow the signs and listen to directions.   But so often, though I see the signs up ahead, I subconsciously (or consciously) choose to take a side-trip, distracted by social fun or self-absorption or security or internet distractions.  So my biggest fear is that I'll stray from that "yellow brick road" and wake up one day in complete comfort, removed from the realities of the poor and the hungry and the struggling, and think, "what about all those who are suffering that I have left behind?"  "What about the people whose paths I refused to cross because it was inconvenient?" "What about the dreams that I had in my youth that I let deaden because of proclaimed impracticalities?"  And if I have to ask those questions one day and I cannot honestly say that I pursued my heart's desires, the tears will fall...because I have failed.

And this is my fear.  Instead of convincing myself otherwise, I'm trying to embrace this fear and convert it to a motivator as opposed to an inhibitor.  I try to carry the fear along with me so when I start to go astray it can poke its head up, but before it can whisper "I told you so," I'm going to U-turn back to my path.  I'm going to let the shadow of a girl who doesn't believe in herself follow me around as I go, knowing that a shadow has no power to dictate the direction of a woman walking in the sun.  And then perhaps one day, in my older age, I will share secrets with my daughter at bedtime, and tell that my deepest darkest secret was that "I once believed that I couldn't do it, but I did."