Controlling Emotions

It’s always been easy to not take complete ownership of how I react to situations. And you know what makes it easy? That I can relegate it to astrology. I’m a Cancer; actually, more of a hybrid of a Cancer and a Leo. My birthday is July 22 and it’s the last day of the Cancer calendar so, technically a Cancerian, but have many attributes and characteristics of a Leo.

My family has always called me moody and I blame it on the Moon. I say I’m like the tide; ebbing. I don’t ignore the fact that sometimes I’m out of line or that I could have handled things differently. I’m actually working on it and giving credit to one of my mentors guiding me and pointing me towards Stoicism. It’s so amazing, you guys. I really recommend reading into it. I didn’t have a perception of Stoicism before, but philosophy has always interested me and this has been a wonderful experience.

So what have I been doing? I’m still a huge work in progress, but I’ve learned to do better reflection of the self. I’m learning to accept this as they are, to accept that I don’t have control over the actions of others. And going through this process I’ve been working on challenging myself to take control over the things I do have influence on. And this applies to all aspects of my life – personal, professional, and recreational.

In my reflections I have come to understand that my reactions have an impact. That I am creating a perception of myself to other individuals. And with these perceptions I can either be casted off or be welcomed. Stoic philosophers are of the idea that we are not to banish emotion from life but to banish the negative ones. They are also of the belief that our ultimate goal is to reach tranquility and constantly work for it while acknowledging and recognizing the forces that work against attaining that goal. For me, I have to work on controlling these reactionary emotions and practice negative visualization to better prepare for situations in the future. Has this been working for me? Sometimes. There are times I’m in the middle of my negative emotion and reacting – sometimes and most of the time – unjustly, but I let pride get in the way and keep trudging forward fully knowing I’m headed in the wrong direction. Other times I react and stop myself. I take a deep breath and let it all play out, staying silent and truly think of my words, my body language, and my thoughts. At this point, I go back and reflect. I literally sit down and do a play by play to pin point where I lost it, where I stopped myself, and how I could make a similar experience different in the future.

In all, practicing Stoicism has been rewarding.

– M

Fork in the Road

fork-in-the-road2I’m standing at the tip of the road trying to figure out which path to take. Both roads have a certain predictability to them but I would say an equal amount of uncertainty as well. I keep saying I will do a pros and cons list but I haven’t because I’m afraid. I’m not even sure what I’m afraid of, but it’s been the reason I have delayed this exercise. Because the probability of me actually doing this is very unlikely I will just write it out here in a very informal manner.

Situation: I submitted my application to go back home without being certain I was ready to actually move back to LA. I have a second interview this evening and the likelihood of me getting the job offer is HIGH!

Self: Why would you do that if you were not 100% sure that you were ready to make the decision to move back?

Me: Well, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to move back when the chance presented itself. I thought that the process would be longer and I didn’t think I would be so hesitant. Maybe I should tank this second interview and then … end to worry! But what about when I’m actually ready (the way life works no opportunity will be available). *shakes fists to the heavens*

Who/what has weight/impact on my decision? My boyfriend and our long distance relationship. My mom. The fact that I care about what I’m doing where I actually am. That I still feel I haven’t done everything – or close to half the things – I thought I’d do while away from my home city and family. That being where I am feels right. But I miss being around my family; I feel I’m missing out on them.

What if I go:

What if I stay:

What does this mean?

Fears:

To be continued …

An Analysis of My Recent Situation

A couple of posts ago I wrote about how I was told I create my own problems. I was really hurt by that conversation and I have been thinking a lot about it lately. Am I creating my own problems? Am I being irrational and illogical?

I have a friend that I go to for everything. She’s been my rock for as long as I can remember. She’s been through my fails, my falls, my victories and everything in between. It’s beautiful to know that I have someone like her in my life. I spoke to her about what I’m going through and this funk that I desperately want to get rid of but can’t seem to shrug off. I told her about the okay-ness I feel with not talking to my mom, or my sisters as often (which wasn’t frequent to begin with), and the sense that I am losing what I thought I had with my BF. I was so glad she called me. She listened.

Today I spoke to someone else about it. He is a very unlikely person for this type of insight into my life but very much approachable and I’m happy that he was there and offered to be here for me if I need him to. In no way am I diminishing my dear old friend, but it kind of makes a difference speaking to someone about what’s going on in person. In different words but similar lenses and voices, they told me the same thing. It seems as if I’m going through a change. This change is one that is bound to happen to a person my situation-away from family and the usual friends, a new job and career path, a new state, a greater sense of self realization due to living on my own (again), etc. But there is something I am not letting go of… allusions of past, present, and future. These allusions have instilled a fear in me creating guilt and resentment of myself.

Yea, I guess that can be it. In one my favorite episodes from That’s Deep Bro, Christina Pazsitzky talks about letting go. That episode has been resonating for a while and it deserves another listen. And then here he is, my unlikely confidant, talking about letting go of these allusions and accepting the metamorphosis that is happening to me. And here she is, my guardian angel in the flesh (well, over the phone) telling me it’s OK to feel alright with myself for not wanting to talk to my family. I guess the guilt I feel is because they haven’t done anything wrong for me to want to feel like I need distance from them (which to be fair, sometimes there doesn’t need to be a reason other than this how I feel). I have to remind myself that my feelings are valid and no one should feel entitled enough to denigrate them.

Now, for the feelings about the BF. It’s so painful to write these thoughts out, but it helps. I had a dream last night and I love dreams. I’m a believer in the sense that they are subconscious thoughts and feelings making themselves known in order for us to deal with them. Anyway, I had a dream in which I decided to stop waiting for him. As he angrily accepted me walking away from him he decided to leave himself- I mean, that is what I was implying right, for him to be gone? As he rode off in his bike with his hiking backpack on and a blue-green mullet I wanted to chase him. But like in most dreams I couldn’t move. As much as I wanted to I couldn’t run after him so I thought that maybe running backwards would help (go ahead, laugh). Then I woke up! In my Five Years From Now post I speak briefly about where I see myself with him. It goes much deeper than that, but I don’t want to get into it. So what does it mean?

I’m afraid that I am becoming more and more OK with the distance between us. I am also angry with him for … for … things I cannot bring myself to write out. It hurts me to think he’s not meant for me, or worse that I am not meant for him. I don’t usually have set timelines in my life, but I want to do something about this distance and I am expecting to hear the worst come this next month. There goes the allusion of the future- of what I want it to be and what I fear it can be and what it will be. The present? Well, I’d like for it to be better between us, but like I said in another post “as the worst saying in the world goes… it is what it is.” The past? Well, the past has shaped notions of what the future can be and mean.

I suppose I am maturing and I just haven’t come to grips with my new self. This maturity process that I am going through means that I have become a new person willing and able to lead a different life than what I originally thought. So what’s my life line? How do I manage to put aside all these emotions and continue to be a capable person? The brain is tricky that way. I suppose this is how compartmentalization works. It’s work. My job is what I feel I have control over right now and I’d like to keep it that way because if I lose that control I fear it will be the end of it. There is stupid Fear again. But it’s the honest truth. I’m going to write “I know” in my next sentence even though I really don’t. I know that if I let go of going to work in order to deal with all of this I will go down that spiral I was in six/seven years ago. I don’t want to, but I also don’t know how to deal with this metamorphosis if this what it is because it feels like depression.

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.

Feeling Joy

It may just be me reading way too much into the last serious conversation I had with the BF a few days ago, but I’ve been tense, anxious, and trepidatious in our interactions following it. I tell you, those feelings are definitely heightened by long distance. But today… All those feelings went away.

It was getting late into the night and I thought he might just decide not to G-chat so I just conceded and kept reading. Minutes later my Google Hangout ringtone played and I was instantly happy.

We caught up on the mundane- not on a whole lot since we had briefly spoken earlier. And then something funny and beautiful happened. He made a funny face and I told him he looked like a frog. He said I looked like a toad. If you don’t know Frog and Toad I feel bad for you.You see, we have a running joke on Frog and Toad and how we’re total fatties (see image below). Anyway, we laughed like a pair of silly kids. I asked if he knew the difference between a frog and a toad and before he could answer I said I’d take to Google. We researched the difference- well, I did, the difference between a frog and a toad. We laughed even more.

image

As I read the word “Antarctica” out loud and stumbled on the pronunciation we went into another moment of hysterical laughter. We went back and forth making sure we were pronouncing it correctly and it was all hilarious to us. Remembering how much I correct his pronunciation he randomly says “picksa” and I automatically reply, “No. It’s peetsa”. For about 10 minutes we laughed at his pronunciation of this word. We went Mike Tyson with it, we went Italian accent with it, and even questioned how to pronounce it in Spanish. I tell you, it was all a very frenzied 15 minutes.

Then I told him about a funny part on Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance, my current read. I read him a piece of a chapter I found particularly interesting. Shortly after he said he was tired and wanted to go to bed. I asked if I could read to him just until the chapter finished and that if I heard him snore I’ll hang up. He said he doesn’t snore. (oookay).

I finished the chapter I had already started… all 30+ pages and after I was done I creepily stared at him for a bit before I hung up.

He looks so cute while he sleeps. I wished him a goodnight that I’m sure he didn’t hear and ended the hangout.

Five Years From Now

Have you ever asked yourself that question? I have and it’s a question my boyfriend and I have gotten into an argument over. The first time it was just an awkward silence after he raised his voice due to getting frustrated at the question. The second time he walked out on the conversation and I ended up getting an anxiety attack. The latter was shortly before I made my move out of state due to my decision to make a career move.

Five years ago I would not have guessed or predicted for myself that I would be living out of my home state, but I am. I would not have thought I wold be in the position to have to make such a decision either. Things happen, people change and adapt, and others, like me – even though afraid of change – are always looking for something different.

It’s almost a year now and I can’t believe I have survived. I say survived because before I made the move I experienced anxiety and was put on mild medication to relieve the symptoms. I was afraid of the changes and I was even more panicked over trusting myself to make it work. Depending on my mood I say that it has been a very fast year or very snail paced one. Regardless, I’ve made it. I can’t say that it has been easy or financially steady, but I am proud of myself.

I consider myself to be independent and self-reliant. I see my boyfriend as such as well. However, we have varying definitions (so it seems) of living comfortably or of success. I want to say he’s a minimalist but I don’t know if he’d agree with that. We’re not complete opposites, but I do feel that he challenges me in my way of thinking and my way of seeing things. His opinions either reinforce my own or they allow me to expand and question. Can I say the same of him? I’m not sure; he seems to be pretty set.

Admitting to how much of a consumer I am shames me. It shouldn’t but it does. I have debt. I’ve cleared it and then allowed it to creep up on me over and over. I wish I was more logical in my spending and it’s something I’m working on. I use the “it’s American of me to be in such a position” excuse. or reasoning, to cut myself some slack – but that’s lazy. I need to practice saying no or perhaps say “maybe”.

Saying “maybe” is what my bf does best. He doesn’t like to commit because “something else might come up”. Oh that bugs me. I, on the other hand, say “yes” too freely and often don’t come through. Most of the time it’s my laziness and when it comes to the both of us it is me failing to convince him to join me. I should adopt the “maybe” strategy.

I love this guy. I see myself with him and I want the rest of my life with him. So, what does the above have to do with five years from now? I’ll tell you…

Five years from now I want to be back in California close to my family living with him and talking about expanding our family. If it’s not in California I want to be where I am and have him move in with me. And if it’s not either then I want to be on my own living my life – accepting that despite all the love I have for him, not being on the same page in terms of goals is something that I can’t change and will not compromise. I don’t want to resent anyone I love for not doing what I want them to knowing that they don’t want to and them not being 100% with it. I also don’t want to blame him for something I could have done without him.

That scares me. Am I self-centered? It is me just knowing what my priorities are and working for them? Is he being too careless with me and my plans? He can change his mind and I can change mine. Nothing is definite in this life except death. I just don’t like the “what if’s” in life when I feel I can control the positive what ifs. For example, I was unhappy in my last job, I was living at home again sharing a room with my 18 year old sister at the time. I was paying a monthly fee to have all my things in a storage unit and I hated it. It wasn’t fun.

Living at home and having less expenses. although a good thing, was driving me up the wall insane. I know that if I wouldn’t have taken this position I would most likely still be in the same place wondering what could have been if I’d taken the job. I controlled that what if and in turn made myself happier. Yes, there were sacrifices, like having to be in a long distance relationship, but it’s not half bad when we both have mutual respect and maintain communicative. For the most part it’s doable. Sometimes it sucks, but … as the worst saying in the world goes: it is what it is.

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 cliché because he didn’t. But he becomes the cliché 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.