Saturday, February 17, 2018

Risking looking like a perfect, self-serving ass

I got some good news yesterday. I was selected to speak on stage at an event that will have hundreds of attendees. I will be sharing the stage with not only with peers who are highly accomplished, courageous, and brilliant, but also speakers who have made significant impacts in the world.

I'm literally playing on a big stage.

When the event was in early planning, I was struck with a clear picture of myself telling a story on stage. It was a powerful, vibrant vision. So clear and powerful that I knew it was going to happen. That I would get to speak. 

Almost every big accomplishment I've made has been preceded by such an image.

But there was one little problem. 

I was on the planning committee--a position where I could influence the outcome. Why did I think it was ok for me to submit a proposal to speak? Shouldn't I be enabling others and just enjoying what I helped create? 

I put my idea aside. There wasn't even a call for speakers yet. I was going to let it be.

Except, the idea kept nudging me.

Months pass, preparations are made. Finally, a call for speakers goes out. Days pass. I do nothing.

We have meetings to talk about the review process. I am silent. 

The day of the deadline comes. I feel something. Like a person standing behind me. I look at my calendar.

The deadline is two hours away. 

I write a hurried note to my colleagues on the committee that would it be ok if I submitted a proposal if I could get it in on time. 

I started writing frantically. My story about the Gay Marriage battle of Prop 8 started flowing out. I dropped it in the submission box. 

My colleagues didn't comment. 

I was grateful for "polite silence". It wasn't lost on me that none of my colleagues had submitted a proposal. 

I felt like a greedy, self-serving ass. 

The review process began. I was supposed to be part of the process. I wanted to stay out. 

But there was urge again. The person standing behind me. I read every submission. There were some good ones. Mine was one of them. 

Ugh. I withheld my input for a day. I didn't want to vote. 


I rated myself along with the others. I gave reasons for every rating including the marks I gave myself. Let the cards fall where they would. I was going to advocate for my story and let others tell me I was wrong if I was.

To my surprise, my peers on the committee were saying yes to my story. 

I made the list of finalists. I had an interview with the selection chair. As of yesterday afternoon, I was in.

There were several times I could have bailed out. But I wanted to tell this story. Not just have the story be told. 

I said Yes to me. 

One of the barriers to own creative expression (any expression really) is the persistent belief that my voice doesn't belong. The reasons for this are many and varied. Every time I decide I want to be seen or heard, those voices telling me to STFU and sit down will be there. 

Recently, I coached someone who is working on a significant social good project. Her work is literally touching millions of people. She is tortured by the idea that her ego is running away with her. 

I asked her if her mission was important enough for her to bear the discomfort of those thoughts? 

For me, the decision to advocate for my story was the same. I had to be willing to be uncomfortable and even run the risk of looking like a self serving ass. 

I just really wanted to tell this story. Now I get to. 

Saturday, December 30, 2017


I'm reading a real paper and ink book. It's a collection of essays by Ursula K. Le Guin. Essays by one of the great science fiction (or just plain fiction) writers of our time. She is writing about her perspectives and life. It's a joy to read them.

The first one made me think of my own use of my imagination. Seriously, I take in a lot of information which does a lot for my curiosity. But my imagination (except for the anxious part) is under-exercised.

I spend far too much time in this world. The world of facts, data, and speculation. Speculation is a kind of imagination but it isn't the kind I feel separated from. No, speculation is all about how the world will turn out on certain trajectories. It doesn't do much for me except make me want to close the door and turn the lights low.

I miss writing fiction and painting from my mind's eye. It doesn't come easily. And that is because I'm certain my imagination is underfed and under exercised.

I think I'll play with it a little right now.

Liebchen, my dog, grew a pair of dragonfly wings this morning. I woke up to find her on my chest on the bed where she doesn't belong. I told her to jump down but instead she started to buzz loudly lifted off me and hovered in place. Her legs paddled in the air frantically until she plopped back onto me. The wings folded against her flank, originating near the joint where her front legs attach to her body.

The wings explained how she got up there. But they didn't explain her being out of her kennel. That was answered when MoMo jumped on the bed and started patting my face with a big beefy hand. He wanted to be fed.

I just rolled over. If he could open the dog's kennel, he could feed himself and the other cats.

This people is my imagination. I imagine a world where the cats feed themselves.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Full stop sort of, I'm just relaxing kind of

Now that Christmas has passed, I have been in a full stop mode. Well, somewhat. I still did a little post holiday shopping with Miss K and took a road trip with A to visit with someone we are collaborating with. But, more or less, I've been shirking the urge to do something productive and meaningful with my time.

Luckily I managed to catch the cold that is going around so I won't be taking anything new on today.

Ok, one thing. I made walnut milk.

Several months ago I did EverlyWell to figure out what things could be gunking up my system (the test measures for IgG reactivity which apparently can be responsible for a whole host of issues including fatigue, migraines indigestion, bloating etc etc etc).

However, after briefly scanning the results, I did nothing with them. But now, after a ton of holiday indulging, I thought it wasn't a horrible idea to take a look again.

The only thing I remembered from the list is that I'm highly sensitive to eggs (whites coming in as more sensitive than yolks). I don't eat many of them anyway. I could explain why I sometimes get nauseated eating them. I also don't eat many things with eggs as an ingredient outside the occasional baked good.

What else is there on the list?

Under "moderately reactive" I have 7 items that include usual pariahs such as soy, gluten, wheat, and barley, but also, honey (???), yogurt (again ???), and mozzarella cheese.

With the exception of barley and mozzarella, I eat these other things nearly daily (especially yogurt and honey which always seemed like a righteous breakfast choice). Annoying.

Still, I don't have celiac so even a reduction in wheat/gluten probably will have a beneficial effect without having to go crazy with obsessive label reading.

And then there are the "mildly reactive" items which have a blend of daily things and things I can take or leave. Milk is on the list--I don't usually drink milk but I do put half and half in my coffee. So is black pepper (I will not be eliminating that). So are almonds and peanuts.

I think I can work around these for the most part. 
Happily, there are far more things on the list that don't show up as reactive.

If I feel up to it, I'm going to make some non reactive butternut squash soup. Maybe.

Even though milk is supposed to be only mildly reactive (along with peanuts and almonds), and soy is supposedly an issue, I made a batch of walnut milk in my Vitamix to inaugurate my food sensitivity exploration.

Because, what is the point of experimenting with your food if you don't include some really weirdo substitute that isn't easy to find at your local coffee shop? Maybe this will be the new thing.

Walnut milk

1 cup raw walnut pieces

3 cups water

pinch of salt (I used the pink Himalayan kinds)

I suppose you can soak the walnuts overnight to start the process but I didn't. I put all ingredients in my Vitamix and blended starting at the low end of the dial and turning it gradually to 10 and let it go for about a minute. I then poured it through a fine strainer and re-blended it. The solids separated but came together with a good shake.

It blended with my coffee as easily as half and half.

Try it before the hipsters find out and we reach peak walnut milk.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

A Merry Little Christmas with Mom

Once I wanted to write a graphic novel with the title "Damn Damn Christmas Ham". The story was going to be a retelling of the first year after my father passed away.

The title came from that first Christmas. It was Mom, my brother Mike, and me all staring at a huge ham at the kitchen table. I recall looking out the window at the total blackness of the early evening--it was gloomy and the lights in the kitchen were not enough to beat back the literal and figurative darkness of the day.

Fast forward 32 years. Here we are again. Mom, my brother Mike, Miss K, and me. There is the ham. Also, left over side dishes from my Mom's birthday festival. And some brussel sprouts that I totally overcooked. This time we were laughing and smiling. Not in a boisterous way. More in a "gee, how nice the holidays are wrapping up and look at this ham!"

I have to say, Miss K has done what no one else has ever been able to do. Make my Mom smile in spite of herself. Now Mom is ready for her and starts smiling in advance. Things are easier in this way.

Mom is not a believer--in Christmas or any of the reasons behind it (with the exception of Miss K, none of us are, really). Yet, I know Mom likes that I wander by on Christmas in the most casual way anyway. We are all introverts in this family. We do the get togethers, but they all cost us something. We all end up exhausted even if we are glad we came. This is why we prefer these low key, extremely low effort gatherings.

I looked out the window. The once dark, empty field now has a Bass Pros plopped on it. The darkness is gone--replaced with the light of the sign. I never thought I'd miss the cheerless dark but now that empty patch won't be filled with golden sky on summer evenings.

There is a sweetness in contrast--even harsh contrasts.

My Mom brought up a memory about camping in Patrick's Point and I started regaling Miss K with memories of going camping with Mom and Dad and staying in a canvas tent in Patrick's point--I don't remember being cold ever in that tent--only the crisp air when my little pajama clad feet stepped onto the moist earth. Mom would be frying bacon over a gas stove. It imprinted itself as a memory of the goodness of life.

I could see Mom smiling with each memory from that time.

Seeing Mom smile, makes me smile.

We both have so much resistance to the holidays. Its nice to break through that and be in the moment instead.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Mark Zuckerberg's lunch

My Christmas present from my nephew was a device that is supposed to help with sleep. It plays a variety of tonal patterns that influence your brainwaves. Also, it has a number of color schemes to either help you relax or bring about wakefulness.

I set it up right away. And while it still took a while for me to fall asleep I definitely enjoyed the upgrade in my dreams!

Last night's dream:

I was at work and Sheryl Sandberg came by my desk (she sat on the edge like she sat on the edge of the couch when we visited last spring). She was dressed in a snow white, full length coat as well as a white turtle neck and trousers.

She then "leaned in" said "I always read your blog".

Before I could reply she went on her way.

I was then whisked up to the upper level of the office building. It was all in white.

At the back of the office was something I couldn't make out at first. It was huge (floor to ceiling) and looked like the trigger on a fire extinguisher--but what it turned out to be was a special locking mechanism that was meant to keep two large plastic drawers closed--the drawers were way less substantial and looked like the kind of container you put wrapper paper in and then shove under the bed.

And what did these cheap ass draws contain that needed such a big lock?

Mark Zuckerberg's lunch.

I think I need to aim higher.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Sasha eats her mochi too loudly!

Dreams are 100% from inside the dreamer and represent all aspects of the dreamer.

Also, dreams told in detail are usually only interesting to the dreamer.

I'm going to bore you with two of mine anyway--because I can.

Dream the first.

Amy Farrah Fowler (Big Ban Theory) gave me a box of mochi as a present. I immediately gobbled them up!

As I licked my fingers I saw her looking in my direction saying that I ate mochi way too loudly. I don't think she expected me to hear her because there was a moment of silence and awkwardness.

Then AFF started telling me about all her many flaws while hiking up her skirt to show me a lot of shapely calf (I know that's a dream as it's something she wouldn't do in real life or on the show).

Dream the second.

Miss K and I have moved into a commune. It's not really supposed to be a commune but we have taken up residence there and there are lots of people also living there and seem only semi-interested in moving on.

She and I crawl into bed. While Miss K is peacefully sawing logs, I am offered a plate of hot wings that I tuck into enthusiastically. Off to the side is a very prim woman in glasses (not AFF but the vibe is there...she kind of reminds me from someone from work actually) who is aghast that I haven't taken a napkin (there were no napkins ok???). She says this just as I put my drippy hands down on the white coverlet. She then crawls under the covers next to Miss K(WTF?) and tries to tell me that it's fine but I can tell she's freaked out. I look around for a sponge to daub the linens but there are none to be found.

These are pretty much the same damn dream--getting messier and weirder as we go along. Who knows what will show up tonight--drinking pumpkin soup directly from a tureen while in the middle of a bridal shop? Spaghetti and meatballs with my bare hands in the Louvre?

I have an inner AFF who is disturbed at how messy I can be when I'm fully in the enjoyment of the moment, being myself. This inner AFF knows it's weird and contrary but there it is (also, there are not enough bulky sweater outfits to cover up those legs either girl).

In the meantime, the one thing I didn't feel was bad about chowing down on treats. In some area of my life I am raining on my own parade while giving a cover story about it being great about being who I am.

Incoherence all around!

I am a messy person in many ways. This is nothing new. Almost every self improvement kick I've gone on is tied to some sneaky "draw inside the lines" agenda that will make me look like I have my act together in one way or another.

Honestly, my act is really together...and it's a very messy act.

When I was a child I often pressed down with crayons to get deep colors. Can you imagine how shocked I was to see that some of my little friends drew neat borders around the figures they colored and then colored right up to the edge?

It was ridiculously easy to copy that but once I learned the trick it bored me. It was never as good as pressing the crayons down to get that deep, deep purple.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Ho ho ho headache

Forcing myself to write something everyday is making me look at my persistent thoughts. It's also making me look at what I want to exclude.

I woke up with a clanging headache. I tried to wash it away with a cup of tea but that promptly came up--since when does tea cause nausea?

Am I sick? Maybe. Or maybe I shouldn't combine hot chocolate with a hotdog and not have any other food for dinner.

Either way, I'm not operating at 100%.

We all went to see Last Jedi last night. A and Miss K both scrambled to get their last minute work requests done. I had the tickets. Despite the frenzy and the fact that the mall was full of shoppers, we found good parking and were seated even before the credits rolled.

I'm rolling into a week of time off. As mentioned before, my first blog was filled with complaining about work. Nothing new there so I'm moving along. I'm just happy to only have a task or two left before I can put this laptop away for a full week.

I took two Tylenol, a decongestant, and more black tea. No movement in my headache. I want to feel better so I can go to the store and buy some ingredients for my Mom's 94th birthday dinner. Honestly, now is the best time to do it AND the worst time because I feel like shit and don't want to face Whole Foods.

I'm going to do it anyway. If it's the most painful thing I do today, it will be over and I can just put a blanket over my head and pray for mercy from the headache gods.