If You’re Reading This It’s Because I’m A Coward

I’m a lazy friend. Plain and simple.

Friendship is a give and take type of relationship. What I give is what I take. I don’t give much so I don’t expect much. My earliest memory of friendship was back in elementary. It’s a bit fuzzy yet vivid on some days. 

I don’t know how others perceive my outer persona but lately I’ve been fixating on it. I find myself telling Pablo again and again of how I (playfully) hate how easy he makes conversation with strangers. He had a full conversation with the fedex guy (or was it the usps guy?). He even got his name. He got the life story of a dude that is twice his age with no hesitation. There are countless examples. I told him he’s like my mother; there is something about them that just attracts easy conversation. Is it his vibe? Is it his lack of fear of what people think? Perhaps it’s his openness to accepting all that is unknown. Whatever it is about him it is what I love the most. His way of being is everything to me. Note to reader: i apparently have a big ego and I don’t take criticism well. But that doesn’t mean i can’t relate nor that I’m not open to new friends. I’m also not really looking for them but damn I want to be approachable. I also let go very easily so if someone wants some type of validation from me he/she probably, most likely, won’t get it. WELP! 

In elementary I felt like an outcast. Wait, outcast is very defining… I was very normal, but always trying to fit in. Just ask my oldest sister. I dont remember really having friends like friend friends. You know, the type you’re always with and the ones (or one) that you told everything to? It never really happened so I was the girl that would play kickball and pachuco with the boys. I played tetherball and volleyball and handball with the class but I wasn’t part of any alliances happening around me. For the record I was an average athlete but I was competitive. 

In middle school I was the lame ass that ran to the fucken nutrition and lunch lines and after I ate I walked around campus. I finally made a friend but it was shortly lived. She left me, that bitch. She left me to be friends with another girl that was as boy crazy as she was. Then I made another friend and she took me in with her little group. It was nice and fun, but I only really connected with the one that took me in. The thing is that I thought I had friends in many circles… the reality was that I only connected in the classroom. I was funny, I made people laugh and I seemed to have something that pulled people in. I realize now that those relationships only lived in a controlled environment. If it required actual energy I wasn’t readily putting it out there. 

In high school I finally felt a part of something. A smart group of girls that shared common interests took me in. But then I found out I wasn’t part of the rituals of secret sharing or the phone calls girlfriends have or the inside jokes. I tried it but in retrospect I only did it out of desperation. Eventually I started hanging out with a different group. The same thing happened with these girls. The same thing happened with me and them. I let it be. I felt sad about it, but I didn’t put any effort in salvaging or maintaining the friendships. I give them credit for continuing to make an effort to include me in things but it isn’t the same when I was putting my part in the mix.

It wasn’t until after high school that I finally met someone that was/is awesome and a great friend. I now consider myself to be low maintenance and I love that with her I don’t feel guilty. I want to do more and have more but looking at my past experiences it seems I either don’t know how or I’m too lazy of a friend. I like how when we reach out to each other it never feels like too much time passed us by. However, I do want something that surpasses that. I’m writing this out because I want accountability on my part. I want to be able to look back at this post and think of how this used to be me. 

I rest easy now that I know it’s not the number of friends but the quality of the relationships that counts. I have to work on the quality of  my friendship, tho. For really, girlfriend. 

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Latinas For Latinas

Back when I started this blog site my intent was to speak on my Latina-ness. That may sound odd or perhaps broad yet very specific. My first post was on being a Revolutionary Girl. Here is a link to the post: The Revolutionary Girl. The following posts were more or less along those lines of speaking to being a Revolutionary and on topics that I felt contribute to my greater being but with ties to my Latina-ness. Somehow I lost focus and it went to posts about me and my personal life. If my intent was to create awareness of the issues that are important to me or perhaps particular to me and my intended audience is women like me, I should have at least tagged my posts with latina blogger, latinas for latinas, mexican-american. I believe these tags help us find each other, much like how when I searched for these tags I found other Latina women posting and writing and doing outreach and spreading awareness. The beauty and amazingness of tags led me to read and in essence listen to voices that sound like my own.

Today one of my life’s mentors linked me to this: Latinas of Influence Conference 2016. March is Women’s History Month and Hispanic Lifestyle will be highlighting Latinas for each day in March. Amazing, right? Well this conference has a special meaning to my mentor. Her cousin Irma Ramos has been nominated and will be present at this year’s conference. My mentor asked me if I had noticed anything about the site. When I made the connection I felt so much joy. I know how much Irma means to Rose (oh my God! I have revealed her name). I’ve met Irma and she’s a wonderful person and when Rose speaks to me about her I know that she respects her as a relative, a friend, and as a professional.

Here is what the highlight of Irma Ramos means to me:

I am in the Human Resources line of business and so is she. Her official title is Vice Chancellor of Human Resources for the North Orange County Community College District (NOCCCD). Rose has given briefs every now and then on her career path and it’s impressive and commendable. But for some reason to see her being honored and acknowledged by way of nomination did something to me. In no way do I dismiss her work prior to this mention, but I saw my reflection in her in that moment. The work I am doing now is very important to me. The “added duties” that are outside my position description are welcomed and I am enjoying every part of my job.

Back to how I saw myself in her… The closest people around me tell me how great I would do in a position of higher rank and how well I would do managing people because I genuinely care and present integrity and character in every situation I am in. As much as it’s nice to hear such things, it’s also hard to believe. It seems so far fetched and sometimes too crazy of an idea or thought. There are not many women around me that hold high level positions and there are even less women that look like me- Latinas with brown skin and Spanish surnames that also speak and relate to Mexican / Mexican-American culture, that have a connection to and with a minority background, etc. So, not only learning about these 31 women that will be presented at this year’s conference, but actually knowing one of them, albeit not really personally, is so inspiring. I finally believed that I can be the person Rose sees I am. I can believe that I will be the HRO one day. For the first time felt that I could stand among those “executive leadership” types. The even greater part of experiencing these emotions was that I know I will one day be well qualified for such a position. I never thought it possible until now.

I scrolled back through my posts and came across this one: Direction. At this point in my life I was lost. The job that I was in felt like a dead-end. I remember not wanting to go in and I was constantly late and barely meeting my performance measures. That’s when I realized how important it was for me to get back into HR. In all honesty it’s a truly rewarding career. There are many that warn me about what it can do me physically and emotionally, but I now feel I have the skills to make it work for me. Again, I may be naive and very much green in this field, but the best part of it all is that I believe in myself now. And you know what, it’s not only that she’s also in the same profession, but that she’s faced adversity and overcame it. I don’t know her personal struggles, but I know part of her general family history and that’s enough for me to relate.

The Dichotomy of Control

I’m in a better emotional state than I was from my last post: An Analysis of My Recent Situation  written a couple of months ago. I feel very proud of myself for allowing the insight of two special individuals concerning my confirmed metamorphosis. Noticing my struggle one of my life mentors (that sounds about right. That’s what I’ll call my two go-to people), referred me to William B. Irvine’s A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy which is based on a branch of Hellenistic Philosophy particularly Stoicism as taught by Epictetus. Whew! That was a mouthful.

In recent years I have been unconsciously, and most recently consciously working on myself in regards to increasing my quality of life. I’ve been removing myself of material pleasures and separating from the feelings of insatiability due to constant desires of things that I’m either not ready for or that are not in my control. I probably wouldn’t have worded that in that specific way before reading this book, but I’m happy that I am able to point to something tangible in a sense.

Before I dive into my reflection on the Dichotomy of Control chapter and the techniques to becoming invincible I will, in my best terms, describe Epictetus. Epictetus is a Roman Stoic Philosopher from like over a thousand years ago. His philosophy was this: analyze the why of life. He was an early Cynic or had Cynic principles/lifestyle before being described as a Stoic. He had two requirements for his students: 1 – wanting to benefit from philosophy (meaning he didn’t want no half-assed efforts from them because this was a lifestyle to be taken seriously) and 2 – understanding what a commitment to philosophy entails (meaning the student had to be aware that philosophy was not a joke, that he/she needed to take this seriously in order to make life worth living and to find purpose). His ideal pupil is someone who will be satisfied if he can live untrammeled and untroubled. I had to look up untrammeled; it means not deprived by freedom of action or expression; seeks to be tranquil and free from turmoil. His belief was that students of his should be leaving his school feeling bad about themselves because treatment likely to cure a patient is also likely to cause discomfort. Here it is again: treatment likely to cure a patient is also likely to cause discomfort. He taught dialectical lessons (e.g. examining yourself) and the art of living, what your cosmic scheme role is, and to live out the functions of being a human.

Here is what the dichotomy of control is: it is to ask ourselves if we concern ourselves with things external to us or things internal? A Stoic reflects and looks for the benefit and harm that comes from within himself. A Stoic gives up the rewards the external world has to offer in order to gain tranquility, freedom, and calm. Part of working to become a Stoic is to change our desires – to not be frustrated by what we cannot attain in order to decrease anxiety about whether or not we will get what we want. Some things are up to us and some are not up to us. For Epictetus it’s foolish to spend time thinking on things that are not up to us because they’re not up to us and worrying about them is futile.

So, what IS up to us? According to Epictetus opinions, impulses, desires, aversions, and our goals are up to us. What is NOT up to us? Possessions and reputation. Internal versus external controls. Internal goals affect our external performance. Our goals have an impact on our emotional state. Internalizing goals leads to preserving our tranquility. We have control of our values and having such control we choose the genuine value of things and be indifferent to things that lack value.

How does this all apply to me and what I’m going through? Oh, it applies perfectly- in my personal life as much as it does in my work life. All of this goes back to what is in my circle of influence. What are the things over which I have complete or some control? I have control over how well and efficient I do my job by doing the proper research, applying the knowledge I’ve gained so far, and to always have and ask questions. I have control over my career goals and the focus I place on achieving those goals. I don’t have control over the perceptions people around me have, but I have the satisfaction of knowing I worked hard and did my best.  I have complete control of my character and how I carry myself. Knowing that much leads me to tranquility and a life free of anxiety, anger, and sadness. So, what about my personal life? I don’t have control over whether people will love me the way I want them to, specifically my s/o. I do have control over treating him well, and loving him the best way that I can. I also have the control over ending something I no longer want. I don’t have control over his feelings or actions, but knowing that I did my best for him and by him that should lead me to tranquility. I have control in maintaining relationships by paying attention to them and continuing to appreciate them by using the Negative Visualization technique of a Stoic. I have some control of my financial situation. I can save and manage my spending, but I don’t have complete control because there is the unexpected rainy day. I have control over the things I place value in and that has shifted from the material to intangible experiences. I want to be at peace and not have to stress over what I don’t have. Remember this post? I Have A New Favorite Quote  One of my quotes is: Happiness is Wanting What You Have Not Having What You Want. Wow! I’ve been a Stoic without even knowing it.

The thing that for a while I wanted to make people listen to me. To listen to my ideas and make them change. Pretty much I was forcing my ways onto people and then I was angry and frustrated because no one was buying into it. Then I re-focused on just “doing me”. Putting my ideas into action for me. The results started to speak for themselves. I had questions on how am I able to manage my time so well? How is it that I know the exact status of every action? How is it that I can reply with the right references and resources in a timely manner? How is it that I’m able to live so far away from my familiar friends and family and explore new things and places without needing to be with those familiar to me? How have I not lost myself by living on my own so far away? All of these things come naturally when the focus is re-centered to things that you can control. It’s not easy, it’s something that takes time, but I’m glad that unconsciously the new me was going through that process. Maybe it was the books I was reading. Maybe it was my Main Mommy, Christina P. Maybe it’s the universe aligning itself for me. Maybe it was my awareness of self. I just wonder and hope that those struggling to find tranquility find it soon. I’m still working on it and still reading The Guide to the Good Life and looking forward to the other techniques.

Below are some episodes from one of my favorite Podcasts: That’s Deep Bro with Christina Pazsitzky. Listening to her has been an awesome experience so far and she never fails to make me laugh on each of her episodes. The below relate to the above and the philosophy of what it all means to be Me (i.e. You).

  • Episode 43 What do you really, really, really want?
  • Episode 36 Find Yourself Then Get Over Yourself
  • Episode 29 Expect the Unexpected and Whenever Possible Be The Unexpected
  • Episode 27 The Illusion of Control
  • Episode 20 Compassion, Anger, and Control with Dhaya Lakshminarayanan

 

 

When You Create Your Own Problems

Maybe I should title this post “When I’m Told I Create My Own Problems”. In a twisted way this is a solid thing to hear during an episode of mild hysteria. But, on the other hand, it’s also the shittiest thing to be told. This goes back to the whole thing of talking to someone just for the simple fact of knowing (sometimes wrongfully expecting) that the other person is there for you. Most of the time during these venting sessions I’m not looking for a solution, or for a diagnosis. I’m just looking for a bit of validation, a little sympathy, or maybe just the opportunity to say the crazy shit that runs through my head out loud.

I didn’t get that today so I’m writing it out as I enjoy a cigarette. Yeah, a fucken cigarette. I’m not proud but it’s been relaxing me this last month and a half. I said today that I am not in a good place and it’s the truest statement I’ve made about myself in a while. These last couple of months I have not been eating well- no food in my fridge, not eating at all, eating fast food, smoking, and not working out. That is the perfect combination for someone to not be in a good place mentally. I put on a pretty good act for people not to notice. The last time I went through something similar was about six years ago. That was straight up depression.

Going through depression sucks fucken balls. I knew I was in it and as much as I told myself that I could get up and do things I couldn’t. It’s a mental fatigue I would not wish on my worst enemies. I fear that’s what’s happening to me again. I wish I knew what was bringing this on so that I can do something about it. Is it my relationship and my SO? Is it that I feel horrible for being OK with not being physically active and eating healthily? Is it that I am ashamed of how much I am OK with not talking to my family? Could it possibly be the stresses of my job but dealing with them all because I really love it? Is it my financial situation? Everyone and everything annoys me and has been for some time. All of the above?

Well, like I said, I put on a pretty good act.

One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak – Book Review

One More Thing Cover.jpg

I had this book on my radar for quite some time. Enough time that I thought I had it on pre-sale. I didn’t. On my last Barnes and Noble haul I purchased it and I couldn’t have done anything more rightly at that moment.

I wish I had the book with me so that I would be able to be more precise but since I finished it at the BF’s house that’s where it stayed. I did just finish it a few hours ago, so I’m hoping my memory of it is still on point.

To start off I thoroughly enjoyed the first chapter, or story (the book IS titled One More Thing Stories and More Stories). The story’s perspective was what reallyl got me. After reading it I experienced that, “Hu. Wow! I can’t believe I never saw it that way. It’s so simple and I never saw it differently.” Maybe I had already been given this vantage point but since I feel so enlightened about it I perhaps have not.

We’ve all heard the saying “Slow and steady wins the race” and I believe we all know where it hails from, right? B.J. Novak has changed that lifelong notion that the tortoise is the one to learn from the most. Most people I know that refer to this tale of life lesson have charged the hare with conceit and self-destruction, and have given so much credit to the tortoise. So much so that in this story the tortoise has now made a living on conferences and appearances speaking on how slow and steady gets the job done. The hare, poor hare, has lived long enough in this perceived failure and attempted to restart his life but to no avail. I’m turning this long story turned short story into a long story. I’ll speed it up. The hare requests a rematch. The tortoise declines. The hare trains and begins to convince others that a rematch would be the best thing to do. After much pressure from those around him, the tortoise agrees. The hare wins setting new records and is celebrated. The closing to that story went something like this: slow and steady wins the race. Until hard work and talent take its place.

I mean, you always hear of the person who sat around and waited and finally got the victory. You root for him because well, something WAS accomplished; technically. And you always hear of the undisciplined athlete who should have been at the top and he becomes a clichĂ© because he didn’t. But he becomes the clichĂ© because he didn’t attempt to persevere. That’s what the hare did, that’s what the story wants to convey- that there is a second chance out there after your fuck-up- if you want it badly enough. (At least that’s what I took from it.)

This book is filled with observational commentary of today’s society. There’s a story on how the calendar was invented, which is quite funny because the person who created it is going about his day and journal writing as anyone in today’s world would. The Elvis story is another favorite. Novak has challenged what I think of writers of my generation to be (I think I’m in the same generation, but he’s published so
). For the Elvis one he spins the narrative in such a way that Elvis himself had something to do with all of the Elvis’ in Las Vegas; that he, Elvis, is living and reliving the best Elvis he’s ever been and has always wanted to be.

There’s a story, a script actually, on the Roast of Nelson Mandela. Seriously? I love how there are no boundaries for Novak.

One story connects with another in an unexpected way, which gave me joy because since they were narrated in different styles I wouldn’t think there would be a connection to any previous one.

There are a few one page, simple, deep and insightful stories and there are funny, longer, light hearted ones.

This one story is about a man who purchased a sex robot and returned it because the robot fell in love with him. This guy became the butt of every late night comedians joke and a headline on news sites. The criticism in this one is how society has decided to focus on the fact that he returned a sex robot rather than the fact that a robot could fall in love. Continuing to push the boundary, he questions the motives behind the constant attack of the choices private individuals make by asking what if he had requested for the robot to fall in love with him but didn’t. Would the weight of judgement be the same?

My favorite are the ones about love.

I wouldn’t doubt that this book will end up being a classroom reading assignment. I hope it doesn’t (there’s a story about that, actually). There is so much to pick and reflect on that it can speak to generations now and in the future. I want to buy a bunch of copies and pass them out to young readers because I feel there is much to learn from this book. A lot of critical analysis has gone into every story. If I were to ever think of writing something such as Novak has, I would pass out. His work and writing skills seem to be effortless, but nonetheless impacting.

Conversations With The Self

have you ever had three conversations going on in your head all at once? How about four or… 1,000?

You know that little voice inside your head? I have one too and it has a name; BJ. I remember I was around 11 or 12 when I finally decided on a name. It’s like it was yesterday* cue in harp and clouds and a fade out from reality*: I was listening to a CD on my newly gifted boombox and having a conversation with said voice. I got annoyed that I couldn’t address the voice in my head by name, so after much thought I decided on BJ. It’s a girl, by the way.

Blah blah blah. The point of my post is:

Lately I’ve been having thoughts about my future that are not as simple as they used to be. Thoughts on my financial stability, the current situation being the culprit, my status as a long distance girlfriend, the possibility of moving back to my home state or moving further into the Pacific Northwest, marriage (it matters to me outside of religious reasons), kids (would I welcome the change my body will go through?), and the lack of discipline I have on mostly everything I do in my life. I’ll be well into my late twenties by mid this year and that’s also a scary thought. Is it true that your thirties is the hardest decade? What are stats on that? Get them to me. Pronto.

Then thoughts on mundane things float around in my head that BJ desperately wants to address. For example, I set a book reading challenge to 20 books this year. For some stupid reason it’s stressing me out. I also didn’t complete a 30  day workout challenge thanks to my menstrual cramps this cycle. I would have been done this week. I’m also thinking about all the things and places I want to go while I’m living outside California and… I can’t take it!

All these thoughts turn into full on back and forth conversations between BJ and I. Sometimes I have to shake my head to refocus on the task at hand. Sometimes BJ is not even part of the conversation, it’s just me talking to myself. Here’s a recurring one:

am I truly happy in my relationship? I mean if I wasn’t why would I be in it? What if because I’m asking these questions it means that I’m not? If I share these thoughts with him would he understand? I would tell him why I feel this way and at the end of the day I can’t force him to be someone he’s not. I want sweet nothings. He’s … practical? Maybe cheap or selfish. I deserve better. Why can’t I look for better? I feel guilty for thinking this way because he might not even know that he’s doing wrong by my definition. No. Fuck that! He should know how I am based on our talks. But I also should know how he is and it’s just me putting up with it. I never thought I’d be this girl.

here’s another one:

my year on this current job contract is up in 4 months. I have to decide to stay longer (would it be forever?), move to a big city further North or go back home? But what if back home has nothing? Close to home would mean about a couple of hours away or three to four (better than 12 I suppose). I said I wouldn’t ask him to move with me after our last talk regarding my status; I hope he does though. If he doesn’t its a sign- we’re not meant to be. I would love to move to a bigger city. That means more expenses. That means moving to the bigger city expenses. That means I need to have good money saved up. I fucken don’t have shit saved up. I don’t want credit problems- I’ve just cleared that mess up. If he moves with me… what will he bring to the table? Can it work? I really don’t mind being the bread-winner. We work well together. I can see it. I have to apply, interview, get selected BEFORE I start thinking about all of this. Gah! Why am I even… really, girl? I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. In four months.

I’ve felt like I can’t catch a break. It’s constant and incessant. I’m afraid I’ll bring on another anxiety attack with all these conversations. The universe knows I wouldn’t be able to handle that right now.

Como dice mi Nina, “que Dios me libre.”

Books I Need to Pre-Order

In no particular order here is a list of books I’m looking forward to reading. They are due to come out this year and I hope all is on schedule with the authors and book publishers.

1. Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance An Investigation – Aziz is a favorite of mine. Ever since I saw his first special Initimate Moments for a Sensual Evening and his latest Aziz Ansari: Live at Madison Square Garden he’s been a continious comic in my life. And his awesomeness that was Tom on Parks and Rec? He won me over. When he put out that he was having a Reddit AMA I immediately jumped to it. I participated in questions that I could and well, I hope it was worth it. I mean, of course it had to be… he has a release date (June 16th). I need to pre-order!

2. Greg Propps’ The Smartest Book In the World – The Proops! I’ve been listening to his podcast (The Smartest Man in the World) and proudly own a podcast T-shirt, just so people know a man such as he exists. He’s on my list of comics to see and I need to make it happen. His release date is May 5th and I would prefer a hard-cover or paperback so that when I do see him he can sign his smart signature on the jacket. He has a date in Portland, OR and I hope I have it by that date.

3.  Christopher Ryan’s sophomore book ____. I tried looking for the title of his upcoming book and release information, but I may have missed it? I know he’s not completed the book, so  he better stay on schedule for this year. Since I don’t have a link to the book information, here his website. I’ve read his first book, Sex at Dawn and it had such an impact on my life. It allowed me to accept myself in a way I never thought possible and it also gave me a different way of looking at the world. I’m an avid listener of “Tangentially Speaking”, his podcast and I recommend it to anyone and everyone that will listen to me. I need to get his Civilized to Death T-shirt ASAP!

These next two are not really pre-order status, but more on the why-haven’t-I-bought-them-already list.

1. Feminista Jones’ Push the Button – I began following Feminista Jones on twitter for over a year… maybe over two. She’s someone I have learned a lot from and truly an insipirational woman. This book has been heralded as a must read among circles of Feminism and people new or part of the BDSM Lifestyle. I don’t know much about the plot, only what Twitter has told me via conversations that appear on my TL. I’m not much to whine about spoilers, but this is one I have not searched but don’t mind the bits that come through.

2. Daniel Jose Older’s Half-Resurrection Blues – Again, I came across this author through Twitter. All. Hail. Twitter! He’s a writer, editor and composer and such a great person to have on my TL. I have learned so much through him as well. Never read this type of book (Urban Fantasy), but neither have a lot of the people talking about it; seems he has a legit fan-base to have picked this book up just because he wrote it. I’m here to support AOC (authors of color) <- is that a term? It’s a series that just began in January and well, I have to get to it- I might really enjoy it and want to continue it.

Hmmm.. the above got me thinking. I’ve only read two series’ in my life: The Hunger Games and (admitting with shame) Fifty Shades of Gray. Last year I read Olivia Cole’s Panther In The Hive and can’t wait for the second book! C’mon, girl! Dystopian Lit is here to stay, or has it been a thing for a while? I guess I never really thought about how much I liked the few books I’ve read in that genre, but it can stay.

What’s on your list?