There is no result

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At 27, particularly as peers buy houses, make babies, get engaged, get married, hit career milestones, finish grad school, pay off student loans, and buy cars, I sometimes feel a little left out. Not to mention, there are moments I have felt that with all my personal package, not limited to student loans, I will never be able to find my way out of the imperfect mess I made, the choices I made when younger and less full of piss and vinegar that seem to put boundaries around my life, like a pet carrier or a baseball diamond.

For a long time, I grew like a goldfish within them, until I got a sense of what it felt like to be accepted for who you are, to finally fit in without trying, and then I realized I was a goldfish and started hating my container.

I did everything I could to protest it without actually breaking the bars.

I took up more space, ate too much, ran late to things, spent too much money, let everything be a mess and refuse to clean it up, because it was hopeless anyway.

And the more I tried to set a goalpost, the more squished I became in my container, unable to move towards it, going backwards, just shoving it down with all my supposed flaws, trying to tell myself I could consume my way to happiness if I just learned to live in the box.

I went to a psychologist, like a Victorian woman, hoping to be fixed. That a better girdle could be found for me, that my insane modern life was just in my head, that everyone who loved me was right and I was wrong and I could go back to being a good little girl and hit the milestones, and stay in the cage where it’s safe.

Why should I be the one to break my chains and stare towards the light rather than the shadows on the wall?

How could I know I wasn’t wrong?

I stopped going to church, I read up on Buddhism, and released, drop by drop, the traumas of being conditioned by the hive mind.  A few days ago, I woke up in a hostel bed in tears, realizing I may have been cared for but not loved, and they may have been proud of me and supported me but never really accepted me, which is what I needed  more. Or at least, that’s how I experienced it, and why my life was built within four walls of shame and a big lie about who I was, and the belief that I am always wrong, dirty, shameful- something is wrong with me.

Not long after this suffering, which passed through me with sobs but like a storm washed me clean and fresh, I got a glimpse of who I might be, who I might have been with no boundaries.  And I realized, with all the soul that’s in me, that I have to be that person.

I have to be Joan of Arc whose father told her brothers to drown her if she ever went off with soldiers.

I have to be Ernest Shackleton, called a dick because he beat his competitor, the hometown hero, to the South Pole.

I have to be a witch of a woman who doesn’t live by and for men, who doesn’t predicate the value of my life on ensnaring one and doesn’t think a baby is a valid reason for being.

I believe we are not simply born to serve others, or to please others. We are born to be ourselves, and the deepest most wonder and awe part of the divine that exists in each of us is the still small voice pushing us to our greatest joy and highest truth. I don’t believe god is the bogeyman they use to keep children out of the wild woods, nor the scarecrow put in the fields so no one will come further than the bounds of the town.

I believe we are, with God, both the bow and the string. We don’t simply lie there, passive, accepting, receiving, gestating- God also calls us to do something and to ask Him for things, to use power on His behalf.

And the truth is there is no process. All the mess I made, which I would still like to clean up, in the eyes of God is so much rubble at a construction site, so much rock that was hewn off to make the sculpture. The pain only came from me believing that I was the extra bits laying on the floor, the perfectly square factory made block, rather than the sculpture within.

Like all great works of art, it’s never finished, and it’s made for the sculptor as much as or more than for the world. And God is both, and sometimes the adze that chips the old parts away and the sun that lets me see what I am doing and the moment of fatigue  that causes me to make an “error,” to take what I think is too much away because it doesn’t go according to my original plan. The divine plan looks like chaos sometimes, and I don’t know what I’m doing.

If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.

Luckily there’s no finish line to be found, the Odyssey is just a ruse because Penelope is hidden on the ship the whole way long, Ithaca is not just the goal that gives you the journey, it is the journey itself.

There’s no where to go  but here, now.

Enjoy.

My career as a writer officially begins today

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Coming home from my latest trip, when inspiration struck me and illumined the person I want to be, here I sit, typing, because from here on out, this is my real work, my vocation, my top priority, and I recognize it as such.

Not family, nor social pressure, nor fear of speaking truth to power is going to keep me away from it. I am working on a new blog, meant for wider distribution, but I will certainly direct a lot of meta commentary here as I always do.

Thank you readers, for bearing witness to me when I didn’t believe in myself and literally just used this blog as a place to lament the rejection of boys I believed knew better than I did.

Thank you for teaching me that my lack of perfection can be loved and the hard edges, the typos, the rambling paragraphs and wandering essays of my peripatetic mind can be loved and of service to others. Thank you for seeing me, in all my anonymity, and making me feel truly beautiful for the first time in my life.

I thought my golden age in Paris as a student was because of the environment, but I also realize that you played a huge part too. This blog gave a home to parts of myself that had never seen the light of day before.

Now the time has come to bravely, dutifully, joyfully, prayerfully shine.

Love is mortal, we are free

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I’ve put a lot of physical, chronological, and psychological distance between me and the person who fell in love with C. Telling the story of how we met and how what I imagined as a Notebook level romance degraded into him cutting me off without so much as a good bye after 4 years of friendship feels distant. This is just one incident, among many, that has made me want to lock my feelings up in a box and wait for Arthur to pull the sword from the stone that is my heart. The truth is that the stone chose Arthur, and my heart is not a dead dumb thing that has to wait to be saved.

One thing that has helped is devirginizing a Moroccan boy, who apparently meant what he said when trying to get me to sleep with him enough (not that I believed it) to check on me after my flight back home. This was a good experience for me. It showed me that I am not wrong to be open, and that cloaking myself in my family’s prejudices is not going to keep my heart any safer. The check list of things my parents would like to see in a man, even if I once thought it was my own list, is not going to guarantee me everlasting perfect love and happiness or even just a life like my parents’, which I’m pretty sure I don’t want in all its details anyway.

The truth is that love can die, and this is a really good thing. Compatibility can change too, people grow, and even if you stay married for 50 years the person you are married to won’t remain the same. I was always taught that divorce was one of the worst failures a human could commit, and now I realize that while there’s more to it than the luck of the draw, a happy long lasting marriage is really not in one’s control.

Looking back on past loves, I’ve felt disgusted as the more confident, self-loving and yes, feminist person that I am now could never accept their bullshit. I have been mad at myself more than at them, thinking it was my mistake and on me that they screwed me up. The truth is that we are all young and make mistakes, and it’s not fair to expect myself to know everything about life and love at any age, let alone tenderest youth, and it’s fair to win some and lose some, not reasonable to expect I will win them all.

It feels like another life, when I think of C and my time in Washington after being hell bent on it being my home for life, although some confidence from the old days is coming back, and I’m not so depressed anymore.

Love dies, and it’s a good thing. It’s better than being eternally yoked to someone when you’ve changed and they’ve changed. THat doesn’t mean I don’t believe in marriage- marriage and love are distinct entities. But the fact that are hearts can slough off old loves like a snake shedding skin, that is reason for hope indeed.

THe fact that love doesn’t last forever doesn’t mean it’s not real at the time. Or valuable, or an experience worth having lived. It doesn’t mean it was a mistake.

I feel like with C, it was the culmination and what kept together a lot of my contradictions which have since melted away.

From now on, I want to live and love a bit more spontaneously, secure in the knowledge that things can die when they are not right, and life is an adventure meant to be lived.

 

To defeat demons, face your dream

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The road doesn’t end here. It never does.

I followed my bliss and got here. According to my standard of wanting to live in Paris and have a great job, I have succeeded. I am living the life I choose.

But this isn’t the end of the road. I do want to get French citizenship, but more importantly, I want to travel. A lot. And write.

I miss being a teacher.

I think my life needs to change.

And yes, I want a family. I want to fall in love and have a baby.

I want to have the balls to love someone regardless of whether it will be forever or not.

It’s time to move again from comfort and satisfaction to a new challenge.

And this challenge hasn’t entirely taken form.

I hope to take a new job soon, and I do like my corporate job and my vacation time.

It is great. There is nothing wrong with it. I deserve to enjoy my success.

And I would like to get a chance to be a producer in the business world, and not only a performer. I want a chance to lead, innovate and transform.

but even more than that, I want to have the wherewithal to work away, and a blank canvas to create.

Yes, I want both. It doesn’t all have to be either/or.

And whatever I do, there will always be a path that I didn’t take. And the choice of right vs wrong is rarely simply binary.

I think that’s been my biggest and most troubling dscovery these past years.

I am both a hero and a storyteller, and a good listener.

And all my family just wants me to be safe and well taken care of.

But my heart yearns for adventure. My story is one of choosing truth over comfort, every time.

It is also one of being adaptable and keeping an open mind and open heart.

I want to work in a place where it doesn’t matter if I have tattoos and big opinions.

I don’t want false security. I want authenticity, belonging, to be valued for who I am.

I want to start my travel blog and post my pictures.

I want to do the backoffice administrative stuff to make my life here easier and better.

I want to take care of my body so I can be a better adventurer and feel more peace in my journey here on earth.

I want to be happpy with who I am.

I want to name the demonds of caring what other people think and believing I have no value besides what the world ascribes to me.

I want to disobey my family or at least the chorus of voice sin my hea dthat claim to speak of them and dare to be loved for myself alone.

I dare to love someone and make a committment and have  child without accepting it as a lifelong tether to a life that is stale and not what I want anymore.

I dare to love myself enough to do all this.

I dare to take it slow and easy on myself and ot make steady progress.

I chdare to change my life right away in accordance with the wisdom of my heart.

I dar eto be.

 

 

Tearing the Veil/ Hatching out of the Egg

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I’ve been seeing a psychologist and it’s been great. It’s been great to have someone hear me, and apparently know me and like me, in the flesh, uncensored.

It’s been amazing to have someone help me understand my thoughts and feelings and where they are coming from, much better than just going around in cirlces in my head.

Talking to you, lovely reader, is also one of life’s great consolations😉

When things you never dared to put into words get said, it has a bit of an earth shattering influence.

I tend to discount my supposedly petty worries of my middle class childhood and largely happy family, and feel like I’m not allowed to suffer or make mistakes since I’ve been blessed with so much.

But the truth is, not everything is always so peachy, and my life has been difficult.

I’ve always felt rejected on account of my “weird” personality geared towards intellectual pursuits and being full of curiousity and open mindedness. My body grow up very fast and I was obese as a child, so that didn’t particularly help things either. And most painfully, even though I know I am loved and I love them, I still don’t feel like I fully belong in my family.

But that’s ok.

It’s not all or nothing, things aren’t blakc and white. There is complexity. THis is another thing I am working on.

And in addition to woes from my family, there is also society, which is not always such a sane influence. I don’t understand why we collectiely make te choices that we do.

For a long time I wanted to save the world, now I just want to live in it.

And I htink that by being true to myself, I liberate others.

I’ve seen it in action.

Thanks to me, people have realized there’s more to life than New Jersey, and the Iron Curtain has gone down. And no, Georgia is not a part of Russia.

And dreams do come true, the most dangerous and liberating and destabilizing truth there is.

God is on our side, no matter how petty and small and unimportant we may feel.

For a long time, I thought the events that precipitated my burn out/break down/high functioning depression/ existential crisis were a sign I was going nowhere fast, and the road to Hell was paved with good intentions.

Now I know that cause all your psychic defenses to go on high alert and that really change your life and your way of thinking of yourself are the way you find your treasure, the boon of your adventure which you get to bring back with you and remains part of who you are forever.

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” Joseph Campbell

I’m also a huge believer in the Alchemist of Paulo Coelho. I beat my breasts for years wondering why I was here in France and why I’d answered the strange call, wondering if I’d just made it up, but in fact I have found quite a lot of treasure. Not only in the form of living here, but also in the way of figuring out who I really am.

A long time back, someone locked the most powerful and magical part of me in a cage, to keep me safe from those who would call me a witch, and to spare me the discomfort of being different. They tried by grooming me to help me fit in better, but that only caused me to flee once I got a taste of real belonging. Then I realized that was more important to me than anything I’d left behind, but once I was there, the angels didn’t sing as loud as I expected in comparion to all the fear and worry and self doubt that followed me.

But now I am feeling magical again, and I realize tht no, I am not this person with such sadness and lack of energy and dark clouds and painful lightning over her heart.

I am not, and will never be, the perfect princess of a girl who would settle down for good in America with her all American husband and have three children and be content as an urban professional. That does not appear to be my path at all.  I thought for a long time that was who I was meant to be, and then life intervened and destiny took over.

A few years ago I chose between working for a start up and being an English teacher in France. I think the joke is on me that they were more or less the same thing, with the same things at stake. All is one, right?

“A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive.”

~ Albert Einstein, 1954.

 

Also I’m pretty much getting over the relationship and even the kids thing. If it happens, it happens. I also crunched some numbers, or really, just took my head out of my ass, and realized it could be possible for me to take a sabbatical sometime and go teach English somewhere far away again. But, besides running away from the complications of my life now and trying to shed them into bohemian wanderer identity, I don’t really see how that would give me much more freedom in the long run. I htink I need to dig deeper and see what I really want to do and do that. Travel is definitely a huge part of it, but it’s not everything.

But the treasure is not figuring it out and solving the equation for the various things I want in my life and finding a solution to get all of them at one time, or without pain or adjustment;

No the real treasure, is to realize who I am. It feels very crazy to say I of all peolle want to go trekking in Nepal. But I do. No I am not a hardocre fitness enthusiast, but I could be. I would like to be. And I would like to go vegetarian, like 90% of the time ish, too.

And maybe not eat too many grains or processed foods either, and go to CrossFit in the morning, and hike and do outdoor stuff on weekends, and manage my time and money and energy in keeping with my dreams goals and values.

Yes, that’s who I would like to be.

Not perfect, but fully engaged in my life, not watching from a distance.

Most importantly, wanting the things I want without shame, without being attached to them; free to be the person I’ve always wanted to be, full of everyday joy rather than striving for perfection and trying to control the future.

some good things I’ve just stumbled across: http://www.lifeintherightdirection.com/resource/finding-joe-lifes-adventure/

  • “You could spend decades climbing to the top of the ladder, only to find it’s against the wrong wall.”
    • The metaphor of the quest for the Holy Grail. If the path before you has been trodden, it is not your path, it is someone else’s path. If you follow someone else’s way, you will not realise your full potential.
      • The metaphor of the golden Buddha. Each of us is born made of gold but a casing of stone develops over us and, by 6 or 7 years of age, we believe that we are, in fact, made of stone. One day something chips off a bit of that stone and we get a glimpse of the gold below it. We never turn back.

 

those things all hit home as I am writing this post.

 

So yes, I am and have been in the cave all long time. I adescended intoa hell of my own making of self inflicted suffering an and negative thoughts and self sabotage. I don’t deserve that and GOd would not want that for me.

I have to open the door because only I have th ekey to myinner joy and peace.

I think I need to look more into spirituality, not necessarily philosophy. And change my shoulds to wants.

THank you God.

And most of all,keep tearing back the veil to see the world, and myself, and God, more clearly.

 

Namaste,

MJ

Recovery from the cult of perfection

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It has finally occured to me why I am neither thin, nor rich, nor coupled off, nor as happy as I should be. It’s the self same reason I struggle with inner peace, impulse control, and self sabotaging behavior.

I have spent my whole life trying to be the person I wanted to be. This is an ever changing adn impossible to achieve goal. It only makes me feel shitty, and I am mired in basic inadequency and lack of self worth.

It has always been so, since the beginning of my memories practically and my consciousness of myself as a person. But I pray it will not always be so.

Because this is wat unites the times of binge and self starving famine; this is what myperiods of ennui and laziness have in common with my hyperactivity- the belief that no matter what I do it’s not enough, happiness is somewhere beond the horizeon, and I cannot be content with the way I am now.

And I realize that both extremes are self rejection; the stagnancy i have felt for a few years, and all the muck and self sabotage and self loathing comes from the fact I finally recognized I can’t be who I thought I should be, and I am not now, as a so called adult, doing anything like what I expected.

I am not the person I thought I would be, and it’s taken me a while to mourn the dreams that did not come to fruition. But what I have missed, and what’s been a bit pathetic, is the fact that perhaps what did come about, even if not by my design, has been so much richer and multifasceted and profound than what I had envisioned for myself.

My period of disillusionment and sloth makes complete sense in light of the fact that I never felt like my chage efforts took genuine root in me, nd the more I became and achieved the more I felt there was to go. I suppose I took some pride in myself along the way.

And self acceptance is not self indulgence. Going in the opposite direction fo who I wanted to be and staying stuck in a rut to avoid the pain of failing hasn’t helped much either.

I know the only way to get out of this is to accept myself, to beocme more of myself, and to know that the most genuine part of me isn’t my flaws.

It’s my courage, my heart, my perseverance, my goodness, my honesty, my sensuality, my sweetness, my curiosity.

I am not an obese inner child and I am not a compulsively dieting perfectionist 14 year old either.

I am a woman recovering from hating herself. And realizing that it wasn’t just me that decided to hate me, it was the whole world who was afraid of a strong woman and an independent thinker, who wanted to turn me into a sheep instead of a hero.

But here I am.

 

 

Growing up to be happy

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I think there’s a very basic fear that comes from declaring one is happy, adult, whole complete: that this is all there is, and this is all your potential has come to or will come to. The drive to be special and extraordinary and successful may in some way be linked to a basic fear of inadequency- and the problem is that once you say you are whole, then you have no more excuses for not being Superwoman or Barbie or whatever other mythic, perfect human and are forced to accept your limitations and the choices you have made up to this point that have rendered you less than pluripotential. You are no longer a stem cell, but a stomach; no longer a young girl with acne who promises to be very beautiful but instead concerned at 27 you are as beautiful as you can ever hope to be and on a downhill slope. The person you were in college is not there any more; luckily both her shallower concerns and anxieties no longer eat you up and you have more inner peace, yet in your maturity you get to wonder instead, “Is this all there is?” And the things about yourself that you hate are still there, and you can no longer claim that you will grow out of them or its just a phase.

You are drawn into reckless habits; you subtly sabotage your largely succesful and very fortunate life; you avoid love because you are afraid of settling for less than a dream and it’s hard to give up on Prince Charming, because if you don’t find him you’ll be admitting you are less than a Disney princess.

You rage against educational debt, but what you are really concerned about is the fact that by making one choice other avenues are less open to you, and you didn’t become exactly the person your ridiculous younger selves would have dreamed of. You have fallen short of perfection, of your ideal of where you’d be by now; you have experienced much more than you could ever have imagined and are living dreams that you never dared to whisper aloud to yourself for fear they could never come true, yet, you find yourself obsessing over the checkboxes you have yet to fill and thinking that this can’t count as real happiness

Because you think they must have been right, your youthful dreams, conventional wisdom, and what your parents told you, and when you find them to conflict with reality as you experience it, you assume you must be wrong. That is what FOMO is, believing other people are enjoying the party more than you are and there’s something wrong with you for not having fun in the same way. Because you have been blessed in that most of the time, you are indeed having fun it just doesn’t look how you pictured it.

And this collision course between dreams, collective and individual, of what you would be like, of what you should be like, and the reality of your happiness coming in a different shape is terrifying. What if they are all wrong, and everything you’ve done to fit in your whole life, and to achieve what they wanted of you, was a total waste? Those As gave you the freedom to go to the college you wanted, but would you have been happier now had you staged a teenage rebellion and had a better time experimenting rather than achieving your whole life instead?

And now you are experienced that delayed teenage angst, the turbulent Sturm und Drung. You are a bohemian in a bildingsroman even as you are a yuppie planting yourself on the corporate ladder. And you hate yourself in both directions.

The sad thing is that it’s almost over, this period of your life where you were in denial over your wholeness, completeness, and raged against the reality of your own happiness, blessedness, good fortune, and the fruits of your labors. WHen you should have been enjoying them, you hated yourself. Questioning everything wasn’t such a bad idea but you didn’t have to destroy yourself in the process, and that was maybe a bit of a waste

Although you know now that no experience is wasted, that everything is both silly and serious, that you can be as stable as you’ve ever been but life can turn on a dime. You feel guilty for enjoying change so much when you are supposed to be settling down, and you are terrified of missing your window and wandering the earth alone, single, carefree but lonely, forever. You wonder if those white picket fence people are on to something and covet every child you see but you know that living life the way your parents did just isn’t for you, and you are terrified that you are the most selfish person on the planet and you’ll never find happiness because of it. You refuse to lower your standards when looking for love, and you have vowed not to sacrifice your creative path, not even to have your own family or find a partner, certain that you can only have those things honestly if they come to you on the path. ANd if they don’t, you know you’ll be ok but your heart is breaking, grieving the possibility anyway.

 

And that’s ok, it’s all part of being an adult and facing the fact that not just our life choices, but who we are is not what we expected or perhaps wanted, and that is the deepest source of shame- that we are not the people we think we should be. The deep self loathing and shame that sabotage your success and happiness when it doesn’t come in the form you intended even if it was a dream you fought hard for. The little girl part of you that is terrified your parents were wrong and feels overwhelmed by the choices and lost without the absolute authority of family, tradition, church, country. The conservative backlash part of you mixed in with your deep insecurities and unwillingness to own your own views on life, in fear that they are wrong, that you are wrong and deeply flawed and different and will always be alone and not quite enough.

I know you are at the tail end of this thing because it finally has a name, and words are starting to come out to do it justice. Not the pages and page of existential crisis, but the real, deep engagement with your whole self, and te fact that the fog has largely cleared and you are starting to love yourself enough t ohave a l ittle perspective again.

And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” Haruki Marukami

And you are also afraid that the storm will never be over, and that you will never have anything to stand on, just open sea and sky, that there will never be certainty again. And some zen part of you is born, and your new religion is

“You must love life more than the meaning of it.” Doestovsky

“I had a discussion with a great master in Japan, and we were talking about the various people who are working to translate the Zen books into English, and he said, ‘That’s a waste of time. If you really understand Zen, you can use any book. You could use the Bible. You could use Alice in Wonderland. You could use the dictionary, because the sound of the rain needs no translation.’”

– Alan Watts

“Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes.”
Alan W. Watts

 

“The art of living… is neither careless drifting on the one hand nor fearful clinging to the past on the other. It consists in being sensitive to each moment, in regarding it as utterly new and unique, in having the mind open and wholly receptive.”
Alan W. Watts

ANd you’ve realized, not only is the crisis the healing, as mentioned by Pema Chodrun, but both are eternal and there’s no one point at which you’ve healed or grown up or reached your goal. ANd most importantly, all that you have experienced as sickness was actualy growth:

“Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.”

ANd all of this drama and angst and pain was actually necessary to rid you of your illusions and to make ou finally be who you are.

And now, looking at this person, you have to remember that in every moment you are a newborn baby and a hospice patient at the end of your life, and that this monent and the self ou are in it will never come again and are to be cherished, if only for that. ANd life is much more lovely than you give it credit for most of the time, and you are a wonder.

And yes, you can continue to win and achieve and be awesome if you finally cut yourself some slack and stopped being pissed that you couldn’t jump up to the stars on your trampoline or dig a tunnel to China.

And the more important thing is just to enjoy things as they are now, to enjoy yourself, and to be kind in the way you look at t things.

When Paris falls off its pedestal

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“If you meet the Buddha, kill him.”– Linji, Zen Master

–This post composed to/ inspired by https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkoOQoaWLY0

So I just got back from Georgia, the country not the state. People were so lovely and things were very different from France and especially Paris. I’m sure people were especially kind because I was among friends of friends of family much of the time, and America is well loved by young people especially for helping protect the country from Russia.  Perhaps being an American abroad used to be more like that before some of the misadventures of the last 15 years or so.

“I got out, I got out, I’m alive but I”m here to stay.”

I thought this had to do with Paris, and getting out of te bullshit of the “anglo-saxon,” and particularly American world. Heard this song with a friend from a wealthy Southern family who had married a French bouge for convenience in part and had a baby with an aristocrat she passionately loved who is now fascinated by Brits and wants to get in touch with the anglo side of Paris and apparently has trouble meeting American people, after more or less a decade trying to avoid them. We were in an Irish pub listening to the most velvety voice I”ve ever heard live with Irish, Scottish, and Welsh/ENglish dudes we’d met in the Scottish pub in Paris.

THe more I listened to the song, and met some Brits and thought about life, I realized that maybe it would be imaginable to leave Paris for London as work seemed to be dictating, and the new boss who would be there seemed amazing when I met her. And maybe the BRits have something to teach too.  Plus it could still be possible to come back to Paris and back to my current type of position.

A lot to think about.

I feel so disgusted with the French. I’ve been here for years trying to fit in but have nearly no French friends outside of work. I find plenty of French guys to go out with, particularly the not classically franco francais de souche types, and I got disgusted and jealous of the friends with their French life partners who can barely hold a conversation (in French) who have fully Americanized or nearly so partners. What is so wrong with me that I am scorned?

Nothing.

Not a single thing.

As my Georgian host suggested, “You are too open for them.”

And I like my openness, and I hate their pettiness. THeir claim to universality that is really just assuming you are a barbarian if you don’t know all their fussy unwritten rules or worse, challenge their monopoly on Civilization.

The worst is how I have become randomly rude and nasty to people, especially French, in retaliation for all the small slights and unkindnesses I have experienced. I hate that part of myself. I love my openness.

“I hold two fingers up to yesterday, light a cigarette and smoke it all away.”

I don’t smoke, still too American and health conscious for that. I fucking hate all of them who feel like they have the right to comment on my weight, by the way, and tell me what a shame it is to have a pretty face and a fat body. They mean well, but that doesn’t make it right. And note, the French do not have a monopoly on such types of compliments and in a way I appreciate their forthrightness.

“Hey, hey it’s fine, I left it behind.”

There are so many things I love about it here. When I was a teacher, the pounds fell off me and I lived a simple if boring and isolated life. Things seemed enchanted. When I was a student here, it was truly the first time in my life I felt truly accepted for who I was. Working here, I’ve become a higher breed of professional and found motivation to stay and fight things out and learn what I could from business because of the amazing quality of life I have here. By which I mean, vacation and reasonable hours and nearly universal acknowledgement of the fact that work is not life’s number one priority or the surpreme arbiter of a person’s worth.

“There’s a story for every corner of this place.”

I don’t know if I will actually leave France, but I see a lot less value and meaning in becoming French. I bought a magazine on Frenchness and identity and read all kinds of historical texts and essays in it, realizing the French are the most idealistic and also bastardly motherfuckers out there. Universal declarations of the rights of mind and petty, petty persecution of a Jewish civil servant just because he’s not a “real French” and all that, luckily the leading lights of the literary establishment came to his defense, but Emile Zola got sent to exile to London in the last years of his life. And now he is claimed as a French hero. I guess wherever you go, the radically important people who stand up for the truth get kicked up. Also, don’t forget to keep in mind that the artistic bohemian set we revere from the 1920s and all that weren’t so well accepted, and Cezanne was never exhbited in his hometown of Aix en Provence because the local curator there thought his work was dog shit.

It’s not exclusively French to deal in this type of hypocrisy, but somewhere I read that France had not produced any real genuine larger than life eccentrics, and somewhere else that in Paris all the moves of life are choreographed and everyone is policing everyone else thta they behave according to the codes. A civilization toppling under its own weight.

But please god, please odn’t collapse. Please show us there is another way in the Western, benighted world than what we boorish materialistic concrete dolts of anglo saxons have cobbled together. Let there be culture and rayonnement and gloire and not just cruelty.

I hope France doesn’t turn to just any country.

But I think the ugliness in France and in the US is a bit in reaction to losing some of their national glory, and it’s not pretty. Fuck the authoritarians.

So yes, I am perhaps a wanderer. No, perhaps I don’t need to stay here until I have a fully gestated French self and passport. And maybe there is no ultimate truth I will ever find, and all my idols will be shattered in due time. It feels like nearly all of them have.

Hopefully the false beliefs holding me back will be next to go. As it turns out, all this myth of national glory and Catholicism and even business school rationalistic thinking is all holding me back I think. Just as much s the save the world idealistic make a difference not a buck silly liberal arts school cant has.

I feel a bit alone and helpless. Is this nihilism?

“Something is changin, changin, changin.”

I think this must be the post modern jumping off point where I finally construct my own values and stop looking outward for meaning. Maybe all there is is art, and French civilization was right about a few things: wine and madeleines.

LIke Proust, I will note with gladness the care and soin and terroir that went into the wines I tried today at a salon des vins. There was even convivialite and someone told me she didn’t think I had an accent.

“Running too hard you got out but your knees got grazed.”

Maybe part of it is my abrupt and desperate exit from America in hopes of something better, and yes, another emperor has no clothes, and it is devastating. Devastating.

I’ve known this for a long time without admitting it.

And in the past week, I had coming back from Georgia, seeing a bit of TUrkey and realizing they are a bit of a center of the world too, and most of all, an amazing massage, which was followed by an amazing Crossfit session and some intense sex later that night, the three amazing physical things all within 24 hours, and me feling like I lost 15 pounds and walking up straighter. The thing is, during the workout, I realized what I love most about myself: my heart.

Also called hustle by my old basketball coach, who gave me the number 23 like Michael Jordan, not a little bit symbolically since I was chosen to be a benchwarmer but ended up starting as the season progressed, I can get hit and keep going, when I am literally 10 minutes behind the res tof my peers for a 30 minute workout I can just keep going anyway and finish it, thinking to myself:

“It Ain’t How Hard You Hit…It’s How Hard You Can Get Hit and Keep Moving Forward. It’s About How Much You Can Take And Keep Moving Forward!”
Sylvester Stallone, Rocky Balboa

Fuck Philadelphia, I hated it there, but I have something in common with the place.

And today, I realized I am the only person not coming from an upper class background living the life in Paris, and I am earning more and doing more than my peers, at least at this point. I am the one in a position to offer career advice. I have done something rare and heartful in that. Yes, I have a very supportive and loving middle/upper middle class fmaily, but my parents have never been to Europe and I didn’t go to Disney until I was an adult.

I did graze my bit on the way here, and getting up off the ground here. I didn’t start a new job, a new life, a new career path in a new country without some bruises. But I made it.

And perhaps if I went somewhere else things would be easier, but it would be because of the strength I have developed here, in part.

Perhaps it’s due to the claims ot universality, and the vacation time and places I’ve been able to see, that have made me realize Paris is not the center fo the world, and I could be happy in many places, even, and becoming Frenchis not as important as becoming myself, it’s not necessary at all really.

“I got out, I got out, I got out, but I”m here to stay.”

Don’t know what will appen now. Do we ever? I know I am not going to keep fighting to be here if it’s against my best interest, whatever that is. I don’t want to be ruled by my ambition, but I don’t want to put a ceiling on myself either.

And my ambition is not and has never been really corporate or job oriented; it has been about saving the world, living the lifestle I want, but most of all, finding the truth.

ANd what I have found is, the truth is kind of malleable. ANd the truth cannot be contained.

It’s not in Paris, city of LIghts, it’s not in Goergia not even among the “wild” Svanetians in their mountain paradise and unbroken traditions from Colchis.

IT’s not in AMerica, not in Captain America who I just found out has been working for hydra all along.

It’s not my first boyfriend who I “loved,” or at least was bonded to and lsot my viriginity to who put a ring on my finger. It’s not in “my Marine” who thinks he’s Captain America and loved the notebook and is the  only person I fucked because I loved and for no other reason, just because I wanted to be close to him.

I don’t even think it’s in the babies I love, even though they are not mine (yet). I don’t think it’s in marital bliss or motherhood or the Catholic Church.

I’m not even sure it’s in God, or if GOd exists in the way I was told He did, or even in a round the world trip to seek myself and find Him/Her.

It’s not in vending machine madeleines or binge eating, it’s not in the bottom of my Coca Zero.

Nt even in guarded sex with strangers or less guarded sex with friends or boyfriends. Though God, I wish I could really love someone again.

I think it’s somewhere in the fact that you can someday look at someone, realize they are no perfect and time can’t make any promises and neither can they, and not so much commit and make a plan to control the future and shape it as youplease, but more in that moment of total vulnerability, long before a ring or a ceremony, when you open your heart knowing that in some form, “this too shall pass.”

Not only that we are ashes to ashes and dust to dust, and more irrevocably mortal than Snapchat or any video game character, but that we arjust cherry blossoms and fall leaves, here for a season and no more.

Not the cosmic gardener, not the might eternal tree, but just leaves.

And yet perhaps of all of them.

And our only task is to be beautiful, and wear our colors boldly, bravely, and truly, from tenderest green shoot to ethereal blossom to green summer vibrance to fall foliage fading to yellow to brown to becoming part of the ground again. Back to the ground of being.

I hope we get to keep some measure of individual consciousness, and all my love and life and memories and even my complexes and fears and so called revelations aren’t lost.

But most of all, I hope that now that I’ve killed the Buddha and realized aht I have perhaps outgrown my spiritual teacher and seen all the ugly dirty PETTY PETTY PETTY flaws, I can still find the light within, and without.

But something tells me now is the time, I have to find the light within.

But until you start believing in yourself, you ain’t gonna have a life.”
Sylvester Stallone, Rocky Balboa

Time to go back to career plan #1, where I can never lose my job: artist.

PS GOd knows i did the best I could tonight and couldn’t go to sleep before letting the words out. t was urgent, not ego pleasing, and very hard to say these things. Not painful, just that it took all my courage. And so far, life has met me more than half way every time I’ve been honest with it, and myself.

 

 

 

Thank You, Crisis & Paris

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Sometimes you need to get lost in order to find yourself.

Sometimes you only figure who you really are through self-sabotage- and no, the answer is not found in the saboteur, the answer is found in the radiant being they are trying to suppress.

Sometimes you need to suffer and stew and ruminate, far more than is actually necessary given the initial pain or shock, to find the deep roots of joy that don’t depend on circumstance.

I went to Paris, thinking it would last for a year, and stayed until I got a permanent contract. I thought about buying a house, and sometimes I feel like I never want to leave.

In a way I feel like my time here has just begun since I’ve spent so much of my time here stuck in my head and not really enjoying it, but deeply loving it.

But maybe that’s what Paris was supposed to do, give me a beautiful place to be lost in, and such lovely surroundings I was forced to come out of myself.

I do believe that Paris is a moveable feast.

Joie de vivre is simply saying yes to life, to beauty all around and simple pleasures, and most of all, to loving who you really are.

Learning to love my “toomuchness”

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So I’ve been seeing a psychologist, haunted as I am by my inner saboteur, a crisis of values that won’t seem to go away, and the pressing need to make big decisions about what I want from my life. And maybe just a little peace, and a break from feeling so guilty and ashamed all the time.

One of the big questions to resolve is to figure out what the saboteur wants, and how or if it should be satisfied.

It gave me some peace to think that maybe, as she suggested, it is not worth listening to at all.

But then, I have had the feeling that if I continue to satisfy it, it has something to teach me.

Allowing myself to fully experience all this quarter life crisis and extended adolescence and sturm und drang should do something for me, hopefully catapult me higher and keep me out of the weeds for good.

It appears that I probably have ADD. It would explain many of my chronic struggles. Funny how people have responded with “me too, everyone has it,” or”that’s a thing psychologists say.”

This has made me feel, well, less guilty as well as providing a missing puzzle piece to the 2nd most pressing of life’s mysteries, “why do I fuck up all the time? ” (second only to the meaning of life).

My suspicion has been that my struggle for the meaning of life has compounded the fucking up all the time times a thousand, and that in the absence of meaning, chaos has been given the driver’s seat and life seems to be an empty circus on a gray day. Midgets on unicycles, but no audience to make it a happy place.

So anyway, my acceptance of the ADD and the idea that my mind is well suited for a(n) (erratic) hunter gatherer rather than a patient (plodding) farmer and works well a lot of the time and is great, but needs to be tended in certain ways to stop it from giving me less choices through fucking up in a not even purposefully self sabotaging way.

Which brings me back to the original point- why do I self sabotage? I would say a top reason is that I find it hard to believe in myself, in my ability to get results, to define values and have faith in something worth doing beyond results, and a revolt against the cult of utility.  It is also a protest against the fact that my values just don’t seem good enough compared to everyone else’s, and I don’t seem to be in touch with my inner desires, inner voice, or inner compass. ALl my compass can tell you is that I got a little confused somewhere along the line, I have sinned in some way, and some of the debaters in my head will tell you one thing while others will tell you something different leaving me caught in perpetual limbo and fuming internally over the fact that my thoughts are never good enough to trump others (pun not intended, but perhaps every now and then we could use a shot of his bravado). Rather than fucking up the world, I fuck myself up, and hope the world will notice I’m miserable, I guess. I always feel like there’s something wrong with me, with my view of things, and I just need to get aligned and get the bones of my psyche cracked into place to go with the program. WIth the program I”ve been socialized and raised and programmed to think is mine, but is actually what everyone else wants from me. I can never lose enough weight, enough mass of critical thinking, to please everyone, so I might as well drop through the floorboards.

Perfect all or nothing thinking. The inner critic perfectionist is who created the saboteur. The saboteur is really anything but freedom from the perfectionist, since the perfectionist seems to offer the only walls solid and strong enough against te saboteur, as well as the sketchy promises of a better future, “someday,” that are the like of addicts and abused spouses everywhere.

But I think the saboteur, and the ADD, the unintiontional sometime saboteur but mostly genius, always looking for more, and even the perfectionist, they point to something I need to learn to love about myself.

My too much ness. My larger than life ambitions. My big thinking and not enough small talk. My refusal to color inside the lines or stick to fucking type A sorority girl corporate bitch Pinterest when I can be a motherfucking mother Goddess archetypal prototype, a statue cast in my own likeness and no one else’s, a work of epic proportions, the mortal inspiration of a monument of gigantic statues and huge morals, a work not meant for the small or silver screen, and much less the tablet and the smart phone. A work of art to be lived among and in the shadow of, to inspire you all of your days, ever in the background like the Tour Eiffel or Washington Monument. A beacon raised against the sky, a burning supernova and not just a twinkly diamond. An Elizabeth Taylor, Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe, Cleopatra, Eleanor of Aquitaine, not a Martha Washington, or Audrey Hepburn, Taylor Swift, or Blake Lively. Not a well behaved, blonde, thin, girlish, pretty but not gorgeous, trim, athletic, girl next door young starlet, but a powerful, influential, intense, fiery, force of nature, goddess personality both on and off the screen. Radiant in herself and not in need of limelight.

I was going to say that the too much ness was the confidence to overindulge and sin and be a little slutty and sloppy and disorganized and chaotic and gourmand, but when I started writing, it appeared I was wrong. No, my inner goddess is not a Jennifer Aniston, had her man stolen by Angelina Jolie, hot at whatever age because she eats nothing and remains America’s sweetheart and is famous for being on Friends, nor a Zooey Deschanel who is relatable and quirky with googly eyesand blunt bangs and a believable “strong fmeale lead love interest” for some socially awkward dork. No, mine is a peerless queen, fit only for a fellow force of nature, even if his is the hidden power of a coursing mountain stream hidden deep.

No less than an Old Hollywoord, Old World, Old Kingdom goddess, not a well behaved perpetual girl child, not too intimidating, who tries to stay perpetually young and innocent.

No, the power that should be me doesn’t have a dress size or a winsome cheerfulness, she is delightful, innocent as the ancient stars, mother, maiden warrior, crone, queen.

A woman in all her splendor, timeless, eternal, beautiful.

The kind of “strong” that need be enumerated no more than the tidal wives of the ocean.

A force of nature, able to launch a thousand ships without lifting a finger, to call up a tornado in a whisper.

Not amoral, no, but a little bit of an Ubermensche , having grown beyond the spiritual illnesses and petty fears of her time, not easy to characterize as good or evil according to shallow conventional mores. No, not Machievellian, but just not giving a shit. A woman who has integrated her shadow, and swallowed all its power.

Yes, this is the woman I wanto be. Not a straight A student, not a super mom, not somebody who is known for doing it or having it all. Not a person who can’t make a choice.

Mostly, just a woman, freely and unapolegetically and joyfully herself. And a little bit more.

 

 

 

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