Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Fellowship of the Outsider: Where We are Going, Only Time will Tell

When I awoke at this morning, it was almost five AM. Elanah was standing at the side of our bed. I put her in the middle. Then I added Darah because I knew if she woke up on her own (i.e., without Elanah) she would be upset. Once they were both down and asleep, I didn’t want to move them for fear that they would wake up and not return to sleep. I tried to sleep next to Darah in the few inches that were available, but I was hanging off the bed so I decided to move into the twin bed by the window. My feet were cold, but I didn’t want to wake Elanah with the sound of the sock drawer opening so I piled pillows over my feet. I was still cold, so I covered my head with the comforter. And that was when a blog entry unfolded. In the quiet dark morning. Blogging. Mind-blogging. Basically, the voice in my head spoke aloud a whole blog entry that was coherent and insightful. No one else reads it or hears it, just me. Sound like torture to you? It was to me. Anytime I compose something, usually on the fly, in my mind; I feel an urgent desire to get it down on paper or on keypad. Around 6:30, I finally ended the unwritten entry and fell asleep. At 6:45 Elanah woke us all up, and we actually cooperated because we knew the wood floor installers (are they technically carpenters, or ?) would be coming soon to work on putting in our oak bedroom flooring. It wouldn’t have been so bad if I had been to bed before twelve or if I had taken the hot bath I was planning to take after the girls fell asleep last night or if I had actually risked waking the girls up this morning to open the computer and write the blog entry that was in my head. I didn’t do any of the above, I just had an insightful conversation with myself despite my freezing feet and had a fifteen minute power nap after having four or so hours of sleep. So here I am, delirious yet trying to take myself to the place where early morning insights live.

Before we turned off the lights last night, Sandy announced to us, “Mummy’s wearing her movie star eyes tonight.” When she started to say my name I was expecting her to say, “Mummy’s having a tough night, she seems to be stressed.” I was surprised by what she said, because I WAS acting like quite a sleepless grump (and that was last night, before going to “bed”). I looked at Sandy with my movie star eyes. “Awe, really? Thank you. I’m so exhausted, I thought I was wearing my sleep-deprived eyes.” Then we both agreed that maybe I was, maybe movie star eyes are just sleep-deprived eyes. In any case, I’ll admit that I’d give up a night’s sleep to be told by an amorous Sandy that I have movie star eyes. What’s two! Unfortunately, I think I have gone beyond movie star eyes and entered into another state of eyedom. I won’t be surprised if Sandy says tonight, “Mummy’s wearing her porn star eyes” or “Mummy’s wearing her movie extra eyes.” Or, even: “Mummy’s wearing her medical student eyes.” I don’t know if I was raised to be vain or if it’s just in my veins (!), but I feed off of complimentary verbal attention when it comes from someone I respect, find interesting, admire, am attracted to, or even someone I know nothing about. Never enough, never enough. The bottomless well behind my moviestarpornstarbmoviemedicalschool eyes. Throw her a compliment and she will put on a free show, folks!

Behind my movie star, or movie extra, eyes is a mind though (I'll have you know!). A really rambunctious and unstoppable mind. A mind that works sometimes like a synthesizer on Speed, unless someone mentions anything mathematical or anatomical or chemical (in those cases, a mind comes to an immediate halt). I'd get to the point if I had one. But here, here's something: I do a lot of reflection. I’m good at it. I like doing it. If it had been a subject in school, it would have been my best subject. I could reflect on anything. I’m convinced I could connect myself to anything. I can find myself in anything. Fibers from the rug, runoff in the ditch, the note on pitch or flat, the grease of the print on the mirror, the word on the edge of your lips that never makes it out, snowflakes so slight you wonder how their dusts of dew amount to anything. Am I just that narcissistic or is this a “gift”? Oh well, I’m just reflecting again. I could reflect my little life away, and then my movie star eyes might become rocks of fire lighting the night sky. It can be a nice quality, the reflective trait, especially as it expresses itself in writing and other conversational platforms. But, like anything, if you live with me and my constant state of reflection, you’d start to get sick of it and wish I would just be quit reflecting for one goddamn minute. Ask me to change? You couldn’t. Not when I don’t want to change. Maybe, instead, you could see me less often or see me differently and once again rekindle your appreciation of my life of reflection. Live next door to me and pretend you're meeting me for the first time when you see me stopping to stare at the moon on my way to my midnight mailbox. Maybe you could forget about the neurotic state of my reflection and imagine me to be a dreamer with a penchant for a lovely night sky. Often as soon as a moment happens, I start reflecting on it, creating art from it, analyzing and connecting it to other smaller and larger moments, memories, concepts, characters, stories.

So, in other words, I can think. I’ve got that one covered. I can think (often aloud) in such perpetuity that you'll surely want to strangle me after a month of being trapped with me on that (...) desert island. After you try to strangle me, I will give you some space. But then you'll find me writing thoughts in the sands with my fingers. You'll be relieved to know the tide will wash away the lines by morning but you'll find me there again, after the tide has eased your trouble, using my whole body to write a message with my seashell assistants and crabby consultants. (Actually, who can say what effect a desert island might have on me....I can only imagine - and when I'm not reflecting, I'm imagining...). I'm good at thinking. As for all the other ings in life, I may be at a loss. On my tombstone, it should be said that  “She thought reflecting-thoughts and she reflected all she thought.” Hold that, I need some time to further...reflect on it. I’ll come up with something better (but if I don’t, that’s a starting place…and while I’m on the matter of my gravestone, don’t forget to hire an artist, using the six dollars I have to my name, to chisel two Georgia O’Keefe style cunt-inspired flowers intersecting. And if you are visiting my plot, don’t leave flowers. If you leave me artificial flowers, I will come to you in the night and give your cunt such a stir that it will never be still again! Please, in lieu of flowers leave vials of Witch Hazel, speak aloud sonnets, cast spells, masturbate, do something indecent. Come to me when the moon is ashine, especially when She is yellow and harvesting something she shouldn’t be harvesting). Oh, but enough reflection about meeee (myyyy future resting place); I’d rather reflect, right now, on some of my (whoops!) early morning reflections.

When Sandy and I first got together, in 2003, I had no one from my pre-Sandy life who was there in a way that I needed.  I was isolated because of my choice to be with Sandy. I also took on the psychological role of an outcast - I shunned the people that I felt were shunning me. In other words, I  began to hate the world. I went from seeing the world through rose (or purple) colored glasses to seeing the world through glasses without lenses. My eyes were burning. I wanted to love, but I just couldn't. The only one I loved was Sandy, because I saw her as Other Worldly (not of the world I hated). That is how I saw the pair of us. Aliens from another planet. You get the idea. Sandy and I married in 2005, when I was twenty. We had lived together for two years before we married. I didn't have anyone with me to cheer us on the Big Day. If Sandy and I didn't plan it all so quickly (three days in advance), she would have had good people with us to cheer her on. I told my parents I would not blame them but I did not want them there unless they could be happy for us. So naturally, they did not come. I stood by my word. I never blamed them. That doesn't mean I didn't cry during our hair appointments that morning. That doesn't mean I don't feel sad when I think about whatever the hell it meant to me. It just means I don't blame. Sometimes I set the bar so high for people that they are destined to fail and then I look at them in disbelief, like "What the hell is wrong with you? I can't believe you failed. I thought you were better than that." What a set up. I don't mean to do it, it's just part of being a little...errrrm, different. You all, my reader-friends, might have other ideas about me. I-dea-away!

Well we do know one thing. I’m very good at being “right.” I can chew a hypocrite out (and even myself when I’m a hypocrite) like no other. I’m terribly good at holding a grudge against someone who betrays my sense of fair play. It’s terrible how good I am at carrying all my grievances with me. But where to? Where will I carry them to? To a publisher, that’s where! Just kidding. Where I am carrying them is just with me. It’s nowhere but with me. I have to go back to the roots of my love in order to find the place for the letting go of the injustices.  What good will carrying them do me? Probably not a lot. I’d rather carry the roots from which the love was born with me than the meaningless third or fourth generation twigs and branches of the overgrown bush it became. If what I want is to feel the roots, I need to trim back the bush. I can’t carry the dead trimmings with me in a shoulder sack if all I really want with the bush is to see that it hasn’t been uprooted, that it’s showing signs of new growth and that it’s still blossoming occasionally.

Way back when, the ultimatum was my weapon of choice in my acceptance-deprived world. It did protect me from cruelty but it did not protect me from suffering and becoming a big ball of emotional scar tissue. The ultimatum felt like the only tool I had available to fight for myself. (The key word here is FIGHT...) I was a very lonely and bitter person. I should have taken any form of acceptance available, maybe, but I was extremely picky about the type of acceptance that was acceptable to me (and from whom). I made myself a narrow window to look out from, and then I didn't like what I saw when I looked out from it. Go figure. Ah, well, I cannot go back. I can't send an email to Nowhere. Ut ohhhhh. The Should-Haves have entered the building: I shouldn’t have been so right. I should have done this, I should have done that. The Should Haves, like the dead trimmings, need to leave the building NOW, though. The Should-Haves have no place in this building (or land or island) with its healthy and strong-rooted bush. In fact, the girl who was So Right in all the wrong ways doesn’t think it was even all that wrong that she was so right. At the time, she felt she needed to be right. She felt she needed to be right and loyal and ethical. She thought she was doing the right thing by not settling for anything less than fully supportive, respectful and humanizing people; people who welcomed Sandy into their lives with open minds and hearts. By doing what she thought was right at that time, she was right. Now if she was a different person with a different history - if she wasn't left out in the cold after she was drawn toward what appeared to be and felt like a great and powerful fire; then maybe she could have done differently. No, that's actually not a maybe. That's: she WOULD have done differently. The story wouldn't be what it is, she wouldn't be who she is today, nothing would be as it is. She, then the Right-fighter (yesterday the Right-writer and maybe someday the Right-righter) was defending and honoring Sandy. She, who then felt that hostility and anger were the only acceptable solutions, was protecting the only person on the earth who acknowledged the heart of the Revolution, looked the Revolution in the eye, and, God help her, volunteered to join the Revolution: Sandy. So listen: while She was wrong, She was also right. She was wrong and right. That’s how She’s always been, and that’s how She’ll always be. Now, unlike then, She (still me) now recognizes a little more fully the rights in her wrong and the wrong her rights. I love the wrongandright She (me) was, but when I reflect on her I often cannot help but see how the dominoes fell as a consequence of her (my) choices.

There were many who got The Ultimatum from me, either directly or indirectly. My sister, for instance, got it when she asked me to come to her graduation ceremony without Sandy. My father got it when he tried to make what he claimed were logical arguments against our age difference (i.e., that my lack of experience was reason enough to abandon the relationship, that marriage at a young age traps a person for life and prevents them from fulfilling their dreams and aspirations, that I was not capable of making any decisions or taking any risks until I gained some kind of surreal experience gained only through a lack of all risk and decision). My high school friends got it when they didn’t show any desire to or interest in getting to know Sandy. My mother got it, more than anyone, when she aggressively tried to verbally abuse me into stopping what I was doing (i.e., “Jessica, do you know why your teachers will not meet with you for dinner with Sandy? Do you know why your friends no longer call you? It’s because they think what you’re doing is WRONG and DISGUSTING. She is brainwashing you, Jessica. Sandy is a sick, sick woman. And now you’re becoming just as sick as her. ONE DAY YOU WILL SEE, JESSICA. You will see that I am right. You will see that this lifestyle, being with an OLDER WOMAN WHO IS USING YOU FOR SEX, will destroy you. You will see that you will LOSE EVERYONE YOU LOVE because NO ONE wants to be around to see the SICK things that are going on between you. No one wants to be around Sandy. I don’t want to get to know her. I will never get to know her. I will never have her in this house. If you EVER try to have her in this house, I will call THE POLICE, Jessica. You are a SICK, WEAK, TWISTED little girl. Something is wrong with you that you do this. Do you think this is NORMAL? Do you think anyone else is going to think this is normal or okay? They WON’T, Jessica. Even your friends, or Sandy’s friends, who act like they think it’s okay DO NOT really think it’s okay. They are just LYING because they don’t want to hurt your feelings, Jessica. CAN’T YOU SEE THAT? You are going to lose everyone in your life. You are going to end up VERY lonely, JESSICA. I can tell you that!” But, F.Y.I, my mother has since come a long way from these early moments of bullying that she used in order to torment me into leaving Sandy.)

The ultimatum (accept Sandy and me with open arms and a smile on your face or wish me well and say goodbye) felt like the right thing to do, the only thing to do, at the time. And it probably was the right thing to do. I was defending and standing up for the person I loved. OF COURSE I WOULD do that. But it was also very sad for me, as I felt disconnected from everyone but Sandy. Sandy’s friends, on the other hand, all welcomed me with open arms. Her colleagues and friends were my main social connections at that time, and still are. My family came back into the picture, and I am very grateful for that. One major reason why I encouraged Sandy to apply for (and accept) a job in Western Illinois was because I felt so disconnected from everyone I had ever known or cared about (from People in General). My isolation made me even more dependent on Sandy, and moving only increased that dependence. So a move toward independence has been a long time comin’. I don’t see independence as being synonymous with having a support system outside of Sandy in place; there are other dimensions of this issues, mainly emotional ones, that have yet to be unfolded and explored. I know there were people who could love and accept Sandy and me as a couple when we were first together, but I didn’t manage to bring any into our lives until a couple of years later. Regardless of my introversion, social otherness, social laziness, or one-on-one preference for all social endeavors; I know that a mind governed by ultimatums is not a very content mind.

While those close to me got the spoken and unspoken ultimatum, those not-so-close to me grew distant in other ways. Regardless of whether or not an ultimatum was involved, during the early period of our coupledom I felt isolated from the rest of the world. I did not blame Sandy at all, in fact it brought me even closer to her and bonded us in the most awesome of ways. To state the obvious, I blamed Everyone Else. For not making an effort to welcome Sandy into their lives, for not understanding our need for warm and welcoming people who could love us and accept us as we were, for not reaching out to us, for abandoning us. I don’t know how much of it was “real” and how much of it was self-imposed. I do know that my perception was that it was Sandy-and-me-against-the-world (and fuck ‘em for their ignorance!). What I felt, at the core, was hurt. It may have been that I abandoned the world, since I had been heading in that direction since my high school graduation. Or it may have been what I perceived it to be: misunderstanding and fear. Or it may have been something else: the natural transition from young adulthood into adulthood, in which a person narrows her social circle to consist of relationships with close friends and family (as well as with colleagues). It’s true that I was in an unconventional situation. I am somewhat of an unconventional sort of person. Unfortunately one of the things that makes me an unconventional sort of person is that I am generally unmotivated to socialize and so I depend on socialization built into the landscapes of my life (social opportunities available at school, etc). I had that going at Niagara University to an extent. I made friends and enjoyed their company during and a bit outside of classes. However they did not know Sandy. They did not go out of their way to know Sandy. They did not go out of their way to welcome her into their world. And how could they?

It was so outside of their realm of normalcy to welcome an almost-fifty year old woman into their world. And then, on the other end of it, there was my contribution to my isolation. A big one, in fact. I didn’t feel like I had much of anything in common with most of the people I met who were my age in school. When they talked about going to get hammered at some party in the dorms, I couldn’t have been more opposed or uninterested. I wanted, instead, to sit and read and drink tea by the fire. When they talked about meeting up for a study session, I wanted to stay in my dorm room and study alone so that I could write poetry and dance in between chapters. I have always felt like an outsider since I was a kid. All signs point to Outsidership. I don’t know which came first: outsider status or an internal outsider characteristic. Being an outsider means having outsider privilege – whatever THAT means! Outsider privilege to create a life out of being an outsider? The questions remain: Am I an outsider because THEY didn’t and couldn’t understand me or am I am outsider because I didn’t and couldn’t understand them? Am I an outsider because I’m genuinely uncommon or am I am outsider because I have an ego-complex and THINK I’m an outsider? A grain of truth in every thing implies that the only whole truth that exists is the whole of every thing. In you and me, in our perceptions, there is only a grain. Yet so often we think we possess more than the grain. What fools! Ah, well, aside from the reflection on my isolation and its single grain of truth; what I do know, in my grain of truth, is that multiple factors led up to this moment, right now, in which I am waking up thinking and spending my day writing about isolation. I do know by now that I am very selective when it comes to deeply being interested in other people. It’s not something I’m proud of.

It isn’t that I don’t find people fun and interesting; it’s just that I go into most situations assuming the worst about people. And the worst, to me, might not be the same as the worst to you. The worst to me just means that they will be even more narrow, limited, hypocritical, ignorant, “right,” dishonest, self-serving, self-motivated, insensitive and self-preserving than I am. I do my best and I think I do pretty well compared to most (self-deception likely, indeed). I fell in love with my wife, Sandy, not simply because she was in love with me and we were attracted to each other, but also because I knew she was both philosophically and psychologically similar to me and far smarter than me. I knew she was the smartest person I had ever met. When I say smart, I mean something very grand and multidimensional and spiritual. I have known a lot of smart people. People with unbelievable memories, people with astounding talents, people who can ace any exam, state any rule, recite any poem, explain any diagram. I haven't met many people who understand me. Or, let me rephrase, I haven't met many people who I believe are capable of understanding me (who I believe understand me). I have met plenty of people who claim to know and understand me very well. But I never believed any of those people. Internally, I go by the mantra, "If you think you know me, you don't know me at all." All my life, I felt like people wanted to fit ME into THEIR grand-scheme, instead of seeing me as being a separate being that has my own scheme. I have perceived the world as being very selfish - and being incapable of seeing me, knowing me, understanding me or accepting me because of this limiting selfishness. So do I look "down" on others? It's not down, no. I look at others as others and me as me. Or I look at me as The Other and others and Them. Am I really just an Us and Them kinda gal, after all? I'm stumped. I'm just trying to figure all this out as I write this. I always tell Sandy not to take my words too seriously. That goes for you, too. I think things out as I speak. I often start out saying I'm one way and end up saying I'm just the opposite. I'm never decided or decisive about anything. (But I do seek out people who are and I can easily lead people to believe that I am.) My mind-changing happens in any kind of self-disclosing situation - even in a blog. Oy, where was I going?

Here, maybe. I have met some interesting folks, I haven't come across many people who ASTOUND me. Who teach me something I didn't already know about, who share something VITAL with me. I am astounded by wisdom, insight, open mindedness, philosophical understandings, and unselfishness. I am more than anything astounded by the experience of RELATING on a deep level to someone other than myself because it is SO goddamn rare. To rarity! The blessing, and the curse...

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