Positions and Oppositions…

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Of birthdays and bugs…

Twenty years ago, I was 24. I had finished my master’s degree and had been accepted into a doctoral program. As newlyweds, we were broke, and we spent the summer living in a relative’s basement. Even though continuing my education gave the appearance of knowing what the future held, I still had no idea what I wanted to do with myself. But my head was full of notions about what I was supposed to be; all those grand ideas, hopes, and expectations stuffed into ourselves during that phase called, “growing up.” I suppose I felt some pressure to turn some of those concepts into reality (or perhaps the reality of wanting to buy a sandwich without compromising the rent overrode the wish to remain in the purely conceptual). Nonetheless, there was some need to show I knew a lot, even though I didn’t really know anything at all.

It is likely this is what one does in one’s Twenties. Some form of transitional pseudo-adulthood angst that rams its way into you, making you do ridiculous things while trumpeting with the confidence of a rutting ox. Self-assurance without substance as we cling to an aspiration of significance. But it is this occasionally self-defeating bravado that often propels us to try the unusual, unexpected, and downright foolish.

Except, I wasn’t being foolish. I was trying to be calm, collected, and self-assured. Spoiler alert: all that flopped. I’ve spent the last 20 years dismantling pretty much every certainty I thought I had, and it is in my present life where I leap, sometimes destructively, from many precipices simply because I already know what will happen if I just stand there.

What have I learned? That in the end, I still don’t know much. But there are a few basics that seem to come back to me:

  • I like being small. Being a tiny speck in a massive universe is reassuring, not isolating.
  • People suck. Because they’re people, and they frequently get things wrong.
  • People can be amazing. Because they’re people, and when they stop trying to be something else, they create majestic things.
  • I like being an introvert. Get over it.
  • Most things should not be taken seriously because the few things that are very serious require tremendous attention and dedication to be handled effectively. Thus,
  • Choose battles wisely and sparingly.
  • I really don’t like fighting. Being a good diplomat doesn’t mean I run around looking for conflict.
  • I like to be left alone.
  • I like to be with people.
  • Being observant means always seeing too much. Learning how to carry the responsibility of that is the real trick.
  • Food is good.
  • I don’t like bugs.
  • I have no idea if there is a god, and I don’t think I can ever know. But I am also okay with that since I don’t think God needs me to validate their existence.
  • They say sarcasm is a defense mechanism, in which case I am well defended.

At 44, I am about to move, start a new job (again), journey with my children through their new phases of pre-teen/teen life, and see what happens to marriage after 20 years. I will wait to see who I become in this next adventure. I have no idea where we’re going to live, so in the meantime, we’re spending the summer living in a relative’s basement.

I still don’t know anything, but I kind of like it that way.

 

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And We’re Back…

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Midnight rambling…or searching for underwear at 1 am when your bags have gone missing

Nothing like a professional conference to throw oneself back into the working world. Good news: we showed the film! Bad news: conferences are boring. Ok, conferences in and of themselves aren’t necessarily boring. But I did find this conference to be particularly lacking. In fairness though the talk I really wanted to see I couldn’t, because Chicago managed to send our luggage somewhere else. I don’t know what trip our bags took and I hope they had a good view and some drinks wherever they landed, but it meant we had to rescue our bags instead of attend the conference when the bags did decide to arrive.

More conference shenanigans also meant small turnout to our film. But on the bright side those who did attend liked it a great deal and are interested in bringing it to their schools. That’s our big hope. Then on the serendipity front, we talked to a potential distributor who is interested and may very well take the film on. Hooray! Much celebrating all the way around. It is not to say that taking care of our film hasn’t been near and dear to me, but I am also more than ready to let someone else run with it. I have learned the very hard way that self directing,producing, and distributing is a seriously full time job, one that very nearly pulled all the hair out of my head. (By the way, for any film hopefuls out there – you better love what you’re doing because the chances of getting paid are pretty slim unless you manage to sneak in a few explosions or big name celebrities. Am I bitter? Naw…chafing a bit, probably.)

So conference talks can be less than stimulating, but a positive of conferences is that they can be places to catch up with people you’ve not seen in a long time. This was one such conference, and it included seeing some people who were in the film who have now gone on to fabulous things like doctoral programs and such. But I hasten to add, it is very odd for me to meet someone and be greeted with, “Oh, I’ve heard all about you! How’s it going with such and such…” And I’m left thinking, what was your name? Why do you know anything about me? It isn’t necessarily that I find such encounters offensive; actually they are somewhat flattering in that you’ve-actually-heard-of-me kind of way, but also a bit disconcerting in that what-prompted-all-of-you-to-sit-around-and-talk-about-me kind of way.

I am not used to being noticed, and especially not used to being noticed also being a good thing. I suspect I’ll never get used to it. I suspect though that actually is a good thing, to not be used to it. I’m not interested in being that self-conscious. Or aware. Blissfully unaware I say. Blissfully unaware and unconscious, even better.

My head cold is making me ramble. Time for tea with honey and a hot bath. And some mindless Netflix binging watching. And chocolate. Oh, did I mention how much I miss having extensive, soul-searching, process-oriented existential breakthrough conversations with people who also love having such conversations? My goodness we would’ve all been great patrons of small, dark, eastern-european pre-revolution bars stocked with only a small crate of bourbon to serve us pathetic angst-ridden neo-poets. Such people I met up with at the conference, and was reminded of the small gap left in my life after they left…as I relayed to them, it is not possible to fill such a hole with replacements. You just live hoping for the next encounter. So here’s to another vow to make such encounters more frequent than less. (And to finding many excuses to take the piss out of each other as often as possible.)