The Things I Block Out

Every time a car drives over my drawbridge, its tires make a thu-thunk sound as they hit the expansion joint. I must hear it 20,000 times a day. But I don’t, really. Not anymore. It’s as routine to me as the sound of my own breathing, or the squealing of the mini-fridge.

It makes me wonder what else I block out. I sure wish I could block out the sound of my dogs barking when I’m trying to take a nap. And to block out the sound of Trump’s voice, I have to turn off the television or the radio entirely. Otherwise it’s like nails down a chalkboard to me.

I just sat here for a few minutes and tried to listen, really listen, to everything going on around me. It’s not as easy as you’d think. It requires focus, and that’s not something I’m particularly skilled at. It’s sort of like meditation in reverse. Letting everything in.

And jeez, it’s a noisy world we live in! All manner of mechanical humming. Engine noises. Snippets of conversation. The wind and rain. Sirens in the distance. The sounds emanating from my own body. The impatient tapping of my foot. Music. Televisions. Airplanes. Distant train whistles. Joggers’ feet. Seagulls crying.

It occurs to me that much of what we block out is generated by humanity. That’s kind of ironic. The world would be a much quieter place without us.

I think it would be extremely cleansing to take a vow of silence. Cleansing, but impractical. Which is probably why I block so much out in the first place.

It’s all about preserving one’s sanity. Life, only filtered. We may have to live with the impurities, but we don’t have to dwell upon them.

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Singleness

Recently I’ve felt a fundamental shift inside of me—a shift away from the desperate pursuit of love, with all its disappointments and body-blows to my self-esteem. No, I haven’t given up. I’ve just lost interest.

Or perhaps it’s better to say that my interests lie elsewhere. I want to focus on improvement projects for my new home. I want to take care of my neurotic dog, who seems to hate every human being on the planet except me. I want to read more, write more, sleep more, explore more. I don’t want to have to compromise or try so freakin’ hard. I feel absolutely no need to be anyone other than who I am.

No, I’m not choosing some austere life. I’m not punishing myself, and I don’t hate men. They don’t scare me. Nor am I sexually confused. There’s absolutely no reason to feel sorry for me.

I think the assumption that you aren’t a success unless you are part of a pair is antiquated and absurd. In this day and age, women can support themselves. We can live alone. We can choose not to have children. (Hallelujah to that.)

Being single is not some cross one has to bear. It’s not a sign of damage. It’s not a problem that needs solving. It’s just a state of being. One isn’t the loneliest number. It’s just another number.

But am I lonely? Sometimes. And I’m a very passionate person, so having those needs go unmet can be more than a little frustrating. (I’m not an animal, though. I need some sort of emotional connection to scratch that particular itch.) But for the most part, to be honest, I just can’t be bothered.

Will I feel this way tomorrow? Hard to say. But right here, right now, this is how I roll.

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Doing the Boring Parts First

True confessions: I’m addicted to Magic Jigsaw Puzzles on my computer. (Don’t get too excited. I’ve confessed this on my blog before.)

I tend to do them while watching Youtube or Hulu or DVDs. Gone are the days when I can be completely engrossed by moving pictures. I need to be doing something with my hands at the same time. With age, I seem to be losing focus. Or patience. Or maybe I’m just losing it. (Whatever “it” is.) I’d take up knitting, but I’m trying to reduce the amount of “stuff” in my life.

But I’ve noticed a pattern of late. I always seem to do the “boring part” of the puzzle first. If the puzzle includes a huge swath of plain blue sky, for example, I get that out of the way before doing the colorful city skyline. I’d never given it much thought. It just has always been thus. Come to think of it, that’s how I break down work tasks and home chores as well.

Now that I’m examining this behavior, I’ve figured out that this is a combination of delayed gratification and rewards. If I “suffer” through the blue sky part, then I’ll feel like I “deserve” the skyline part. I’ve earned it through sacrifice. (How utterly White Anglo-Saxon Protestant of me.)

And, too, if I were to do the skyline first, I might lose interest and not finish the sky, and that would feel bad to me on some level. I like to finish things. Case in point, a book has to be really, really awful for me to stop reading it midway through. It’s the same with a movie. I always hold out hope that it will get better. Because of this, I’ve been subjected to a lot of really sub-par media in my lifetime.

Maybe, just once, I should allow myself to eat the frosting and not the cake. Maybe I should see what it feels like to color outside the lines. Maybe I should let someone else worry about the boring bits for a change. At the age of 52, perhaps it’s high time I start being a little more selfish. After all, I’m all I’ve got. For that I deserve a cookie, don’t I?

Magic Puzzles. March 20

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Up Time

Have you ever been so focused on what you’re doing, so in the zone, so completely into your task that you look up and many hours have passed? I love when that happens. It’s usually a fair indication that I am really enjoying the experience. I’m so fascinated with the task at hand that my brain absolutely refuses to be distracted in any way. I can almost feel the gears turning inside my head like a well-oiled machine working at maximum efficiency. What a gift!

In this day and age, it’s a lot harder to avoid distractions, even if you’re engaged in something that you feel passionate about. If your cell phone doesn’t ring, your laptop pings. You get an e-mail or a text. The news plays in the background. Someone tries to sell you something. Tweets and posts and blogs and messages abound.

A friend and I were discussing this the other day and decided that these zones of ultimate production should be called “up time”. That’s as opposed to down time. Perfect.

Even though you are way too focused when you’re in the zone to even realize that you’re there, when you do finally look up, you always feel great about yourself, and maybe, dare I say it? A little in awe. That awe comes from getting a really clear glimpse of exactly what you’re capable of.

There’s usually a great deal of satisfaction about what you’ve managed to accomplish, too. I like that feeling quite a bit. Now I just need to figure out how to enter that zone intentionally and stay there as long as possible. I’m definitely open to suggestion.

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Focus!

First Things First

I take pride in having my sh*t together, but if I’m honest, I haven’t really had it together in quite some time. I’m not quite sure when I lost all sense of organization, but it was, oh…decades ago? Because of that, when the occasional crisis happens, as they do, I tend to feel extremely overwhelmed.

So when my niece’s husband broke his neck and I started a GoFundMe Campaign for him, for about a week there I was bouncing around like a pinball. A lot of things got neglected. Oh, the dogs were fed, and so was I, and I remembered to put on clean undies, but pretty much everything else fell by the wayside.

I wasn’t returning phone calls or responding to e-mails, which made me feel guilty. I HATE it when people do that to me, after all. And I had to wash the same load of laundry three times because I’d keep forgetting to take it out of the washer and by the time I remembered, the clothes did not smell at all good. My already piss-poor diet got even pissier and poorer.

And the deadline for publishing my anthology is rapidly approaching. And my bills need to be paid. And I have promises to keep, and miles to go… yadda yadda.

I now understand why squirrels will freeze in the middle of the road when a car is bearing down on them. There are so many things that need doing at that moment that you just don’t know where to begin.

But then a friend reminded me: first things first. Rather than try to look at and do everything at once, sometimes you have to focus on one thing at a time. What is most mission-critical?

That’s easy. Family. Always. Every single time. So I focused on the fundraiser, and let the laundry worry about itself. And lo and behold, the world kept revolving around the sun.

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Everything’s an Observation

I was looking at my blog categories, and I just realized that I categorize every blog entry, over 1300 now, as an observation. That makes me wonder if I should do away with that category entirely.

When you get down to it, everything in the world is an observation, isn’t it? To form an opinion about something, we have to have first seen it, either firsthand or through the media. To know how to behave ethically in this world, we first have to see what is considered ethical. Facts are facts because they have been observed to be true.

It is so important to set a good example for our children because they watch what we do and pattern their behavior after us. When we are trained to do a job, we are shown what that job entails. Learning is based almost entirely on observation. The fact that we tend to believe what we see in print puts extra pressure on the writers of this world.

What complicates things is that we all look at things differently. We each have a slightly different focus, which means our priorities tend to vary. If ten people view a scene and then are asked to describe it, their descriptions will be different.

So, if everything is an observation, and every observer sees things differently, what does that say about reality?

Something to think about during your morning commute.

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After Close Observation by Arnett Gill

Mixed Signals

When I was seven years old, I was walking into school with my best friend when a boy grabbed her arm and started dragging her down the sidewalk. I didn’t know this boy (I didn’t know any boys, really), so it scared me quite a bit. Loyal friend that I am, I started beating him in the head with my Scooby Doo lunchbox (complete with full thermos), while screaming, “LET HER GO!!!!”

Needless to say, he let her go and ran away. What I didn’t expect was my friend’s angry reaction to my rescue. Apparently I had interrupted some sort of prepubescent mating ritual. I hadn’t gotten the memo. My lunch was crushed and so was I.

This wouldn’t be the last time I misinterpreted the subtle nuances of life. Just the other day I was at a party with a friend, and she said something to me and I responded. We carried on that conversation for the rest of the event. It wasn’t until we were walking to my car afterward that I discovered we had been having two entirely different conversations the whole time!

I always find it to be quite disconcerting when I find out that my reality is completely distinct from the reality of those around me. It’s as if the universal translator in my head is set to the wrong frequency and I’m speaking a different language. I’m out of tune, out of touch. That’s an awful feeling, because my entire ego is built firmly upon a foundation of intelligence. When I realize I’m on a different page than the rest of the readers of the world, I feel kind of dumb.

It also doesn’t help that I’m prone to daydreaming quite a bit. I enjoy the garden of my mind. There is just so much to see and do there. But that doesn’t serve me well when interacting with others. Lack of focus is putting it mildly.

Let’s just say that I am forever grateful to my loved ones for their abiding patience. Thanks everybody!

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Garden of my mind by AishaTheWeirdo