Day 9 Party: Two Parties, One Blog

Published December 11, 2010 by rippnpebb

December 9 – Party Prompt: Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans. (Author: Shauna Reid)

Actually, it wasn’t one party I went to this year, but two, but they happened on the same night. That counts right? I attended and was part of my best friend’s wedding, and then went straight after to a Halloween party.

Gosh, I hope she never finds this, but while my best friend’s wedding was beautiful, and it was fun, I think the couple missed out on making it memorable for themselves and everyone else by skipping and not planning some of the traditional elements of a reception. I think it was suited to them, but in an effort to make it “casual” and not stuffy, they didn’t plan a first dance or dances with the in-laws or cutting of the cake, and they actually never made it to the dance floor. I think because they didn’t plan those things and didn’t have a program, a lot of the guests never really got started partying because they were waiting for “things to happen.” The couple hitting the dance floor is cue for others to do so, and that would’ve forced the guests to come find the couple and dance with them instead of the couple barely being seen in the room as they were on the outskirts or in other rooms talking to guests. Also, I had to find them and tell them they needed to cut the cake because guests were starting to leave and nobody was touching the beautiful and delicious cupcakes. So the groom goes up to the mic and says, “I guess we’re supposed to cut the cake” as if I was wrong. I had assured him that yes, everyone was done eating, had had seconds and maybe even thirds and were sitting around chatting for a good hour at least. Anyways, I’m just venting now – it wasn’t my wedding. I’m so glad I helped and the day pretty much went off without a hitch, and I had had enough to drink by the end of the evening that I danced my booty off. I got to see some old friends and maybe made some new ones.

Then I dragged some folks from the wedding to my other closest set of friends legendary Halloween party. I joined probably the fourth wave of folks to arrive, and the party for me really commenced thusly. I usually think about my Halloween costume for months and even save up costume ideas to do in following years. Because I was so busy helping with the wedding and so low on cash, I knew I couldn’t pull off either of my costume ideas. This year I spent the least on my costume I ever had and put it together from stuff I had around my house. I bought one item at a store that day that was less than two dollars, and it ended up being one of my most successful costumes.

Being as I was not the most sober, I couldn’t tell you much what happened at the party except there was a very tipsy Peter Pan, and I could run my filthy mouth off as much as I wanted. Besides that there were other girls there as filthy as me, and there was a lot of butt revealed – the dropping of pants, unnecessarily. It wasn’t even so much what happened, but the company. Oh there was a perfect Russian hooker and an Aztec goddess. But this is about how parties usually happen at this house, and maybe part of what makes the party legendary is that I don’t remember much of specifically what happened, but I do remember I had a really good time. It’s a good party night when you go to your best friend’s wedding and your other best friend’s annual best party of the year.


Day 8 – Being Different – Major Illness and Loss of a Parent

Published December 8, 2010 by rippnpebb

December 8 – Beautifully Different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful. (Author: Karen Walrond)

There are a couple of things that I’ve experienced in my life that I think about at least some moment of every day since they’ve happened that make me different from most people my age. First is that my dad passed away very suddenly when I was 25, and he was only 51. My parents had just celebrated their 25th Anniversary barely a month prior. Second, about a year after my dad passed away, I had open surgery as part of a three month stay in the hospital. During that stay, all but about a week of that stay I was not allowed to eat or drink anything, not even ice chips. If my mouth felt dry, I was given a gigantic cotton swab with lemon flavor.

At the time my dad passed away, and even now, I rarely meet people my age who have lost a loved and close parent suddenly. There are few more people I’ve met now who have lost a parent to illness. From when my dad was taken away in the ambulance (and I wasn’t there – I had to travel a few hours) to the time of death was probably less than 12  hours. I also wasn’t at the hospital at the time of his passing, and I don’t think about it much, but maybe it was better that way. He was already in a coma by the time I arrived at the hospital.

I once read something written by another young woman about the same age as myself that related it to being part of a club to which you don’t want to be a member – explaining to new friends and co-workers that one of your parents is gone. Every once in a while, one of those people ask about seeing your parents for the holidays, and you have to decide whether to correct that person knowing you will be seeing their brief moment of discomfort about deciding whether to offer condolences. It’s one of those things that you get used to after time, but it never gets easier. Not to mention all the times that you will miss them forever at holidays and celebrations but I don’t feel like talking about that right now. After several years, I decided that I would work on my dad’s birthday and his anniversary, but in the last few years, I’ve decided to always take those days off not so much to honor him anymore like I felt I was doing the first few years, but to honor myself and my feelings and memories I will always have of him. Besides that, it was too distracting to work on those days and try to put on a brave face. Why make it harder than it already is?

Later the year that my father passed away, I found myself in and out of the hospital for a serious condition that wasn’t being resolved. Most of my friends and my family and myself included think that I probably got that sick from my body dealing with the shock of my dad’s passing. I had one internal surgery that never healed and turned into a major infection. I had to heal from the infection, and after lots of consultation decided to have open surgery to repair the damage to my organs. That meant I couldn’t leave the hospital. The issue was with my digestive system, and so I was fed through an IV. I spent Christmas and New Year’s in the hospital. Finally after about two and a half months, I was allowed to have the open surgery, and I spent the next two weeks recovering in the hospital – trying to stand up straight and walking around, and finally in the last week being allowed to have bouillon broth and Jell-o. My nurses thought I was crazy because I still loved watching cooking shows on PBS.

In the end, I didn’t work for six months and had to go through withdrawal from having been on narcotics for months. Trainspotting isn’t too far off. It took me a few more months after release to get back to eating normal food. Let me tell you, it was a happy day that I could eat a slice of pepperoni pizza. It’s not my favorite food, but it is probably one of my favorite comfort foods and what I missed the most in that time. As a person who cares about the environment and organic and local whole foods, I don’t let anybody get righteous with me or make me feel guilty for eating whatever the fuck I want to eat even if it’s a McDonald’s burger or gigantic slice of chocolate cheesecake. I don’t do this in casual conversation, but if I feel that militant vegan righteousness or compensatory spinning class speech coming my way, asking somebody if s/he has ever gone three months without eating or drinking anything will shut someone right up.

And so what makes me different is that I really do understand what it’s like to almost die, to know how fleeting life can be, how fragile one’s health is, how a loved one can be lost in an instant. On the other hand, I know how life should be lived every moment, how to cherish the time that we have, how resilient a mind and body can be, and that we should not only tell people we love them, but also show it as much as we can.

Day 7 Community – Intentional Family

Published December 8, 2010 by rippnpebb

December 7 – Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011? (Author: Cali Harris)

I’ve thought about this a lot this year and even more so this year. Last week, I saw a friend who borrowed my copy of the Tales of the City series – the television production of the first book by Armistead Maupin. I watch it about once a year, and I always think about how I want to be just like Mrs. Madrigal. I own my apartment, and I’ve had many roommates over the years of whom I often turn into an older sister or mother figure for them – especially the gay boys. Even though I grew up not too far away, Tales of the City was very instrumental in influencing me to move to the city.

Almost every Sunday for the last few years, I go to a friend’s house and have brunch. I never really thought about it until my friend brought it up, but he intentionally has it on Sundays because it has been for many years the day that folks gather together in community – usually in places of worship. I would say in this group, most all of us are atheist or agnostic, but not without some version of spirituality.

We eat together with some regulars, some occasional, and some one-timers. We talk about our past week and upcoming week. We talk about everything from the most mundane to our versions of spirituality. We’ve plotted many projects, some even of the money making variety. But mostly, we know who we’ll probably see that day, hope to see, and we love surprises.

Most importantly to me, these folks have become my intentional family. I’m just getting to know what this means in one community, but what it means here, is that I know every Sunday, I have a place to check-in with friends who have become as close as family, and doing one better than my blood family, it’s a place where I know that I can totally be myself. I can swear. I can say the filthiest, dirtiest things. I can smoke. I can drink. These friends won’t judge me, in fact, they’ll join right in. Best of all, this intentional family functions for me pretty much the way my family should. If I’m sick or hurt, they’ll help me out. We’ve gone on trips together. Until I found this family, most all of my friends were younger, and in my immediate family, I only have one younger sibling. In my intentional family, there are folks older than I, and now I feel like I have a safe place where I don’t always have to be the most responsible one. I can relax and let some other people take care of me sometimes. In return and not because I feel like I owe something tit-for-tat, I try to help them with whatever they need help with or take care of them because I love them.

I especially noticed this after Thanksgiving this year. I went home to see my blood family. I get along really well with my family. We don’t have any drunk uncles or surly rebellious cousins or overbearing mothers-in-law. But I keep a lot from them, especially my mom. She never hears me swear (not even “shit”), almost never hears about my love life, and I stick to either neutral subjects or only tell her things that I think might make her proud or otherwise good about her daughter. I’ve discussed with my therapist that it hurts sometimes that my mom doesn’t really know me. So it had been awhile since I had spent four whole days with my family, and as soon as I got back to my apartment in San Francisco and thank goodness my roommates were around, I couldn’t wait to pop open a bottle of wine, smoke some herb, and swear as much as I wanted. I felt like the self-imposed straight jacket had come off.

Having recently found out that there’s a possibility that my friends who are the center of this community may move out of the state, I’ll be forced to create something new. While I’m connected to other folks in the community, the brunch house functions as the glue. I’ve also found myself taking steps into another community here in the Bay Area that is very strong, an alternative community that I never thought I would be a part of, but I’m going to give it a try and see what happens. I know it’s very structured and even in Bay Area, fairly small. It remains to be seen if I will find or create a new intentional family in this community I’m trying out, but I’m definitely excited – and more than a little scared. Let’s see if the positive and freeing things I have found so far from trying on polyamory for size will continue until this time next year. I’m going to hold on because I know it’s gonna be a bumpy ride!

Day 6: Make

Published December 6, 2010 by rippnpebb

December 6 – Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it? (Author: Gretchen Rubin)

I’m going to skip anything that I have cooked, because then the last thing I would have made is my favorite chicken dish which I’m still perfecting. But really cooking deserves a special mention because since I have not been regularly working, I have been cooking just about every meal when while I was working, I often skipped meals or ate out. I used to tell myself that I was lazy or that it was just because I didn’t like cooking for one, but really I realized that I just was too tired or too hungry to bother cooking. Now that I have a lot of time, I don’t mind and even can enjoy cooking myself and sometimes my roommates a meal. I made my mom’s birthday cake a little over a week ago from a doctored cake mix, and I made the frosting from scratch. I think it came out pretty good actually and even nice to look at.

The last thing I made was actually just a very small craft project. I took a very inexpensive clock I bought at Ikea and dressed it up a little by putting pink sequins around the face. Now it sits in my bathroom, and I love seeing the bling out of the corner of my eye.

As far as a bigger project, that would probably be the small bench/stool that I scored from the sidewalk. I knew it would be perfect for a bench near my entryway to sit and put on shoes. It was a sturdy wood bench with decorative legs that had been painted a silvery color, but someone had “re-upholstered” the seat with flannel that looked appropriate for pajamas! It was fabric with tiny rosebuds on a cream background. Ick! I knew I had red silk at home to re-upholster it, so I stopped my car and put it in my back seat. All it took was a drill to unscrew the seat, scissors, some extra batting, and a staple gun to upholster it with the silk fabric. I don’t think it took more than an hour, and now I use the bench a couple of times a day to put on and take of my shoes. It would also be great to use for extra seating if needed in my common area.

The next thing I want to make is start knitting a scarf for my mom. I have the time to do it, but I just need to get it started. That and whatever Christmas gifts I have time to make for the rest of my friends and family. I have very little money for gifts this year, so I need to get cracking on projects. I typically host a weeknight craft party this time of the year, but this year I’m too broke, and don’t know if I can get the house together to host it. It’s still a possibility, but I’m losing time.

I’m hoping that several things I’m waiting on will come to fruition in the nearer future so I feel like I can move on with the projects – mostly some small influx of cash. I’m definitely afflicted by the half done or never started craft projects, but I also have finished several recently, and I shouldn’t beat myself up for not working on them. If I’m not motivated to work on them, then I must not be interested in it for the moment. I definitely get as much out of making things as in the process as completing them. My hope for my “time off” was to get some projects really going and maybe have some income, but that is something I definitely should schedule time for working on those those things.

Day 5: Let Go – Letting go of guilt

Published December 5, 2010 by rippnpebb

December 5 – Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why? (Author: Alice Bradley)

Since I’ve caught up on the Reverb 10 prompts in such a short time, I see how they are all entertwining (my posts I mean) with one another. In another post I talked about guilt and pleasure and martyrdom, and here is my chance to talk about it more.

All growing up, I had heard over and over about this idea of Catholic guilt but never really understood what it meant until very recently; I had this general idea, but I thought, well it just means I’m being good to not damn myself to hell which is all metaphorical to me. I haven’t believed in an idea of a monotheistic God since I was about 10 years old so fear of hell has not ever been a motivation for me. It’s always been more of a belief in the golden rule and doing the right thing and being caring and compassionate. I could also say that some belief in the idea of karma has something to do with it, too.

Since I left the woolly fold of Catholicism (and itchy wool, mind you), my spiritual beliefs have morphed way more into something like an agnostic belief in energy and spirits and souls than the traditionally understood image of myself as an atheist that
“believes in nothing.” It’s probably even something that is much closer to the indigenous animistic beliefs of my cultural and geographic ancestors than I even know.

So in deep discussion with a friend the other day, I found out that I have so much more deeply embedded Catholic guilt than I ever knew. Also, I cannot write about this without mentioning that an older book of Dr. Wayne Dyer’s was certainly a catalyst. I’m not sure of the title, and I found it among other self-help and spiritual books in a bookstore’s free box a few months ago. In it was a chapter on guilt, and how it can be such a stifling cage for many people.

I realized that feelings of guilt and sacrifice all fed into this image of martyrdom as an ideal to attain. Responsibilities and obligations were conspiring to make me extremely miserable, and if I’m miserable, who would enjoy being around me? How could I attain my personal goals if I’m always putting others ahead of myself and thinking that their happiness is more important. I realized that it is better for me to be selfish and take care of myself and make myself happy first, and in the process I would be a pleasant and fun person to be around which will probably lift the spirits of the people in my life.

It’s so much easier to have fun and enjoy life if you’re not sitting around complaining or helping other people be happy before yourself. Like my friend said, this idea of sacrifice doesn’t even apply since I’m not working on the principal that the more I suffer and sacrifice, the more likely I will get into heaven. So why had I been living my life as if that was so? As if I was not deserving of whatever joys and pleasures were coming my way. The universe is giving me a gift, and it would be disrespectful of me to not accept those gifts and enjoy them fully, especially if those joys and pleasures were coming to me through my own design – disrespectful of my belief in the flowing energy of the universe to bring me good things.

Day 4: Wonder

Published December 5, 2010 by rippnpebb

December 4 – Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year? (Author: Jeffrey Davis)

It’s not hard for me to cultivate a sense of wonder. It’s in my nature to be curious, especially about the natural world, but I’m just as curious about people and their motivations – different cultures, different religions, different ages and so on.

I think what is hard for me is to wonder and find the answer without judgment. I know that I have a bit of the cynic in me and maybe even a bit of a snob, but I think it is only because I question people’s motivations and am suspicious about them. If I get the feeling that something doesn’t come from a real place, I have a hard time enjoying being with these people or their scene. But I really need to not judge what other people find enjoyment in if it’s not hurting anyone. In a city like San Francisco, it seems that often the motivation for someone behind liking something is because that person is trying to attain some status by liking or being into certain things – activities, art, music, etc. The motivation of the need to “be cool” is what bothers me more than anything else, but I’m sure that there are many things that I like where that may be subconsciously part of the reason why I like it.

That being said, my biggest obstacle to cultivating that wonder is that running commentary of judgment, and I do work on it. Otherwise, I am very satisfied with my naturally curious nature – if anything, I sometimes worry that I have too many interests, but if I am dedicating time to pursuing some interest to the perceived detriment of another, then I must be enjoying it. For instance, as a child, I read the encyclopedia for fun, and I love anything that explains how something works from a video on how crayons are made to a book on explaining the biological, emotional, spiritual, and psychological mechanisms for falling in love.

I’m also aware of my fear of asking questions of other people for fear of looking naive or ignorant or unintelligent. I constantly remind myself that my desire to learn should override any of those things, so I am always forcing myself to ask questions in those situations where I feel that fear the most.

I think part of what kept me aware of creating that wonder is working as an educator where I am constantly telling students to ask questions so that reinforces the sense of wonder for me as well.

And so I must wonder away with no obstacles …

Day 1: One Word – Trust

Published December 5, 2010 by rippnpebb

December 1 – One Word. Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you? (Author: Gwen Bell)

Trust. My word for this year is trust. It has become so clear to me in the past few months that trust was something that I had lost in friendships, relationships, and in myself, and that I had to work on regaining trust in myself first so that I could figure out how to trust anyone or anything else.

One way I figured a lot of this out was going on a trip where there were so many unknowns – places to stay, how to get from one destination to the next, having enough money, being in a strange city, etc. I had to trust that I could figure things out on the fly which might also mean trusting strangers or new friends – a leap of faith in a lot of senses.

Another thing that has stuck out in my mind was also reading about Rob Brezsny’s ideas about pronoia – the idea that people and the universe aren’t out to get you, but out to help you – the opposite of paranoia. This turned into a constant conversation with a close friend whose mother is most likely suffering from some kind of unhealthy extreme of paranoia. In my negating and supporting my friend in dealing with his mother’s paranoia, I was also negating my own. I have a tendency to be a worrywart with sometimes enough anxiety to need medication. Most of the dreams that I remember aren’t nightmarish, but definitely have a running theme of anxiety – missed connections, out of control cars, being at a final exam and not having been to class. When I heard about this idea of pronoia, I made a conscious decision not to go to bed worrying about everything (which often kept me from falling asleep), but to instead read some positive books or at least read for entertainment and think about all the good things that had recently happened or things to come whether they were events that I was looking forward to or even dreams and goals coming to fruition. I just realized yesterday that since I’ve instituted this practice in the last several months, I can’t remember any anxiety dreams I’ve had, and I know I’ve been having neutral to positive dreams.

Most recently, I’m learning to trust other people more than I have in a long time or maybe ever. It’s been very freeing for me and has helped erase many insecurities I have about myself. I have had a very hard time trusting men in a romantic relationship since an over two year relationship ended in me having to obtain a restraining order on my boyfriend. He even at one point asked me to marry him. Thank goodness we never got married. I found out that I had been lied to for months on end, and I don’t even like to think about what I didn’t know. The whole thing made me distrustful of men but worst of all, not trust my own judgment in people. It still to this day three years later is difficult not to blame myself. I’ve always had an image of myself of as a strong, kick-ass feminist woman, and I hung on to this abusive relationship because I thought I was deeply in love with this man. It proved to me that it really can happen to anyone – class, education, race – doesn’t matter. I came from a nuclear two-parent loving family as did he. Now all I can do is work on changing my own self and environment so that someone like that does not end up in my life again.

And now I’m trying something new – seeing what it’s like to be in an open dating relationship. A couple of flaws in myself that I’ve always wanted to eliminate are how jealous and possessive I can get over lovers, friends, family, and sometimes even things. At the moment I’ve decided to continue seeing someone whom I knew from the beginning did not want to date monogamously. He has done nothing but cultivate conditions in our relationship for open communication and trust. Through this relationship, I’ve been able to step back and look at what my insecurities are and where they come from. And in that, while they are still difficult to deal with, I’ve realized that while I might not be able to change my emotions, I can change my reaction to them.

I’m lucky to have found that the universe has conspired for me to meet a man that in so many ways is the opposite of my ex-boyfriend. The gift here is that I am finding that there is no reason that I should expect any less from anyone else, especially from someone that I am dating. I couldn’t trust someone that I was deeply in love with before, and now I trust someone that I’m beginning to love as an amazing friend.

Next year at this time, I would like my word to be pleasure. I’ve had so many things in my life that have tried to rob me of experiencing pleasure, and I want to recognize in each moment whatever pleasures I’m experiencing whether it’s relaxing in my apartment or the adrenaline rush of riding my motorcycle. Most of all, I want to erase the association of the word guilty from pleasure because if I am feeling any guilt, I am not truly and wholly experiencing that pleasure. Feeling that guilt is another theft from the experience. And so 2011 will be about pleasure to its fullest.