The tyranny of my imaginary audience, or, I would love to not give a shit.

August 28, 2006 at 9:10 pm (Bloom Status: Downward)

Do you have that? An imaginary audience that you carry around in your head that has a few key members that are always sitting there with their arms folded, glaring at you? I have that. I am an oppressed people. The people of me are oppressed by five or six or eight hostile imaginary bastard dictators who have for some reason purchased tickets to my life, and there they sit.

critic

I also blame the lighting designer of my life, who has subversively made it so the house lights over those seats never go entirely dim. The hostile people are subtly pinpointed, slightly lit. The friendlier, more supportive members of the audience of my life – they’re much foggier silhouettes when I look out there. And when I squint to find out more about them, they’re either dear friends who are obligated to love me or they’re people I don’t know at all. What I need are some well-lit, friendly acquaintances of known intelligence and taste out there. See, the ones I don’t know who are out there smiling at the show of my life…I have it so if you cut to them at other locations, you find out they’ll smile at anything. They’re smiling at McDonald’s commercials, smiling at Touched by an Angel, smiling at Celine Dion’s show in Las Vegas. I’m lovin’ it! So, I need a sort of tough crowd of discriminating acquaintances out there to be like, well, I came in here skeptical, but she won me over. Her life, how she lives it – I hate to admit it, but it’s GOOD.

The hostile people in my audience are people I know. I will never reveal their identities! But they’re around. They’re around. They’re not necessarily hostile to me in real life. But they seem like they’ve got some hostility ready to deploy at the first sign of foolishness. And I have cast them in these terrible, creativity-crushing roles. And now I have to figure out a way to fire them, or eject them from the theater, or kick them out of this mixed metaphor.

There have always been things about myself that I’ve felt like I’ve had to hide for fear of ridicule. Like, I skipped seventh grade. So in eighth grade, at my new school, I was like, they must not know I’m only twelve. They must believe that I am thirteen. They cannot know that I have skipped a grade. Being smart will be no help to me here at Jane Addams Junior High! It will be a big red target on my back! All year long, I was desperately trying to evade embarrassment. Ah, Jeeeesus, I can’t open a locker! Don’t let on! Don’t let on! Ah, Christ, my butt is too small! Oh, Lord, Lord, don’t let my mom drop my age into the conversation! Lord, let me rest! I am exhausted from dodging the bullets of ridicule! Slow me down, Lord.

And for a very long time, I kept my interest in spiritual matters on the down low. I was afraid people would think I was some kind of airy cornflake. Yeah, first I didn’t want people to think I was smart, and then I didn’t want people to think I wasn’t. I was afraid that people would assume that my open mind had caused everything to fall out of it. And then I sort of crept the cat out of the bag little by little. And now the cat is out. In case you didn’t know, the cat is out. I am all the way one of those There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy mofos. But I still get a little wobbly when I talk about these things and glance out into my imaginary audience.

I have my twentieth high school reunion coming up in less than two weeks. I’m frantically figuring out what to wear, how to cut my hair, what I’ll say about myself, how I’ll spin what I’ve been doing. It’s sad, really, it really is. I’d love to just make a small effort to look nice, show up and focus on other people, what they’ve been doing, and not overly care what impression of me people will take away. I would like to pull that off. What will happen is that I’ll futz with my appearance until I’m a walking shred – I am guaranteed to have one squirt too much hairspray on the front of my head – and then I’ll go and I actually will be interested in other people and what they’ve been doing, but I’ll be having a constant parallel heart flutter that will spike at any whiff of negative impression I imagine myself making at any given moment.

This has all gone on too long! I constantly put off doing important things because I follow imaginary trails out to the potential withering look waiting for me on the other end. Withering look?! A withering look?! I’m afraid of a facial expression?! YES! What gives? What is the fallout of the withering look that I fear so much?! Some sort of dangerous ostracism from my fellow man? A fatal trip to some kind of social Exile Island? What would happen there? Would I die? Is death in there somewhere? Oh, chickenshit, examine thyself. Set thyself free.

I would follow this train of thought out further but Weeds is on now. I gotta go. But there’s more here to figure out. Meet you here later.

Bloom status: No time. Mary Louise Parker. I don’t know. Sideways. No, lots of fear. Downward. Damn.

P.S. What a great episode that was! Holy shit, that show is good. The acting is so great. Makes me want to act like nobody’s business. Also, non sequiturishly, I love this quote from Steve Pavlina’s blog:

Intelligence can be used as an antidote to fear. If your life is full of fear, denial, and suffering, you don’t understand your life well enough not to be afraid. If you use your intelligence to increase your understanding, and if you fully accept the truths you discover along the way, you’ll gradually withdraw your power from your fears and begin feeding it to your desires.

I think that’s great. I’ve always heard of love being the antidote to fear, but sometimes that pops for me and in certain applications, like with my imaginary audience, it doesn’t. Sorry, Love. Love you, but you can be kind of vague.

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Meditation, quit eluding me! Me, quit eluding meditation!

August 23, 2006 at 11:44 am (Bloom Status: Sideways, Bloom Status: Upward)

Oh, my god. I know. I know! I know I’m supposed to be doing it. I want to be doing it. I mean, if there’s one thing in the world to be doing, that’s it. What is it, what’s the quote, something about the world rolling at your feet….?……ah, well. Can’t find the quote. But I know that meditation is the ultimate enchanted magic chip that we all have in our pocket, and I can’t get myself to cash it in.

fear not buddha

I’m afraid of it! I’m afraid of meditation! Hello, up there, Buddha in the Fear Not position. So, listen. I’m going to grab a flashlight and march into the cave where my fear is, and I’m going to examine it. I’m going to chronicle the shit out of it. I hope to suck all the power out of it, and leave it sitting there blinking lamely in its chair.

(Yes. It’s in a cave sitting in a chair. Or it’s in a cave stalking around near a chair.)

(Hey! What if that were a past life memory?! What if I were afraid of meditation because in a past life I was doing it in a cave and some tiger came in there and stalked around and ate me?! Huh?!?! No wonder I’m afraid of it. I was eaten by a tiger. And then he didn’t sit down.)

Anyway. So, here in this life in Seattle, meditation freaks me out. I know I’m not alone in this. I sit down, and immediately I feel vulnerable. If my eyes are closed, I feel like someone’s going to sneak up behind me and stab me in the back. So I open them a little, and focus on one point like a candle or a pebble or a spot on the floor. Okay. I’m all right. Maybe I’m saying my mantra. (I got a mantra from Ammachi a few years ago. In another post I’ll talk about Ammachi and tell you all about my relationship with her.) After a while, I’ll start feeling some sensations. Like some energy around my head, or, I don’t know, just some different sensations. (Wow, Tina. What a pointillist picture you’re painting for us here. The specificity is dizzying.)

The sensations! That’s one thing. They make me jumpy. I’m afraid I’m going to start flying around the room or something. Or that I’ll disappear or….die or something. (Read this blog long enough and you will know that you are keeping company with quite the chickenshit.) Also, my grandmother was a famous clairvoyant, and I get tweaked out that the sensations are the embryonic herald of some abilities that I’m not sure if I want. I used to go to sleep at night when I was a young girl, and say out to the ether, “I don’t want to see anything….please don’t let me see anything…I would appreciate it if I could just go to sleep without seeing anything, thank you….” And I didn’t, so that worked!

Okay, so there are the immediate fears about any given meditation session: that I’m going to fly around the room and die, get stabbed in the back or see freaky, needy monster beings with my third eye.

But then there are the long term fears about meditation. These are maybe the most potent ones. Fears of actualization. Brrrrr! So, this is what my fear imagines. I’m a regular meditator, I’ve been doing it for years. I fly around the room meditating, eluding death, seeing weird monsters and not minding. And I get really powerful! I’m powerfully calm in the face of the most egregious crisis. I could be walking through a 9.7 magnitude earthquake and simultaneously getting mugged at knifepoint, and I’m like, eh. No biggie. I got this one. So then these egregious crises start getting all cocky and testing me all the time! I attract them! I go from flood to serial killer to crumbling building to hostage situation, because the universe is trying to top itself! I’m like one of those guards at Buckingham Palace that nobody can make laugh, only it’s not tourists, it’s the universe, and it’s not trying to make me laugh, it’s trying to scare the shit out of me.

Okay. So that’s one thing. That’s one problem.

And then, there’s my insides. I’m so kind! I’m so kindhearted and loving and compassionate that I can’t contain myself! I’m wide and diffuse and dense (yes, both) with overwhelming kindness. I’m a giant eye roaming the earth, welling up. I am unable to turn away from anyone’s pain or anyone’s beauty. But instead of breaking down, I just get bigger all the time to contain it. So I’m too huge! I get vertigo just opening my eyes!

So, as you can see, my fears are extremely realistic. Is that all of them? Um, let’s see. Well, there’s some vague stuff about what if I meditate so much that all the above things come true and I totally finish the curriculum of the Earth? Then I’ll have to switch schools. Switching schools is scary! I don’t even know what high school I’ll be sent to. Oh, man, I’m going to have to compliment myself on that analogy. For if this Earth is not a giant junior high, I don’t know what is.

So, I think what I need to do is maybe underestimate the power of meditation. I need to perhaps get the thought in my head that meditation will make me a touch calmer, a drop wiser, a skosh braver. (My fear is yelling already at that, TIP OF THE ICEBERG, TINA!)

Okay, JESUS, so, what, then? What then, fear?

Fear: Ha ha! Don’t meditate! Renew your subscription to Us Weekly!

That’s the question, now. How do you work with fear? What’s the way to do it? Maybe I can enlist fear to think about what could happen to me if I don’t meditate. Maybe I can make a freaky picture there. Give fear something new to avoid.

Maybe if I don’t meditate, I will live more and more in a world where George W. Bush is the president, and I will become more and more the sort of person who would vote for him. Maybe if I made the commitment to not meditating, my world would grow increasingly plastic and violent and deadened and meaningless. Maybe my eyes would get dim and I would start befriending people with dim eyes and bad senses of humor and vicious mean streaks. Maybe I’d get lost in a stinky, jingling, polluted video game maze where everyone’s eyes are on the opposite of the prize.

All righty. There’s that.

And then there’s the best way to attract myself to something, which is to disguise anything as a spa visit. I love nothing more than a spa. If I can convince myself that meditation is more of a spa treatment than slow-acting spiritual TNT, I might be able to get into that. Not that I’m opposed to spiritual TNT. In theory, I love the concept. But I’m working with a big old chickenshit, here, so I need to get realistic and sneaky. I’m like a giant child whose vegetables need to be hidden in a large pile of macaroni and cheese or cut into nonthreatening shapes like bunnies and daffodils. If I can successfully equate meditation with hot stone massage, I might be golden.

baby meditating

Well, at least I’m thinking about it. At least I’m talking about it. I’ll let you know if I ever actually do it.

Today: Wrote about meditation, examined fears.

Ergo, bloom status: Sidewaysupwards. Sidewupwards. Diagonal.

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Additional greatness features

August 22, 2006 at 12:37 am (Bloom Status: Sideways, Bloom Status: Upward)

11.  Foreign languages!  Oh, how I speak them.  I speak, in my dream of greatness: French, Italian, Spanish, Finnish, German and Russian.  Japanese, in my dream of greatness, is the language that I talk about learning one day.  For, dude, one cannot speak them all.

jeanne moreau     sophia loren

akira kurosawa's dreams

12.  I suppose I better learn how to ride a bike.  Naah.  That’s nowhere in my dream.  But swimming!  And running!  (I know how to run already.)  I have actual dream-dreams, like nighttime dreams, wherein I’m either an ultra-buoyant, swift, effortless motherfucker of a swimmer or I am a crazy-light-on-my-feet nearly-flying cheetah runner.  Whooooooosh, splaaaaaaash, whoooooooooooomp, whooooooooooomp.  Yes, so those are good for my dream of greatness.  Also, yoga.  Ba-doing!  I’m like a rooted bendy yoga arrow.

13.  Always a great haircut in my dream of greatness.

14.  My teeth are whiter, and I don’t have this one side of my front teeth that sort of aims outward.  I call them my friendly country horse teeth.  Nobody can see this problem but me, but it’s a hillbilly feeling that is totally gone in my dream of greatness.

15. I am a firm, calm demander of justice in my dream, in situations ranging from trivial to grave.  I am like H & R Block, in that when I speak, people listen.

16. I’m psychic in my dream of greatness, but it never scares me.  Meditation never scares me either.  My psychic information comes gently, like pouring watermelon juice out of a pitcher into a small nice glass.  The beginning of a meditation session feels like a visit to a purple-walled spa, and the middle is like riding a glass elevator up to the top floor of the Mall of the Gods, which is this blinding white sparkly light place that’s not blinding at all, wherein I can talk to Ganesha or Jesus or Buddha or the Divine Mother or Green Tara or whomever I find wandering around up there, or my higher self, or wait, I am my higher self up there, so I get to feel what that feels like.  Or it’s white but quiet, or dark purple and quiet, but a quiet that’s not frightening.  Not quiet that feels like some kind of ambushy boogieman is behind me ready to get me.  Quiet like the finest spa treatment of all, one that allows every old weird pain and constricting idea to fall out of me, fooop, and not readhere to me once I return to daily life.  Then it’s down through the purple-walled spa again for a spell, and then I’m back.

17.  I can use a sewing machine! I design clothes.  I design chic, folksy, flattering dresses that look like a cross between something French and something Scandinavian.  I just make them for myself, but then people start clamoring for them, so I make and sell a few which become these elusive, desirable items like Faberge eggs or somesuch.  Also I make modern, charming quilts, and I sell them, too.  And give a bazillion of them to people as gifts.

18.  I’m neat and tidy and organized in this INCREDIBLE PIPE DREAM* of greatness.  I don’t live in a world of weird, topply piles of books, cushions, unopened mail and used bibs.  You could pop by my house any time of day for a sudden photo shoot and I’d be like, oh, hello, come on in.  Not like now, wherein if you’re dropping by my house for five minutes to say hi, I would prefer a week’s notice.

* I like how it appears that this dream of neatness seems so much more far-fetched to me than the trip to the top floor of the Mall of the Gods, so much more far-fetched even than enlightenment.  Wow.  I must be one deeply sloppy bastard.

************

Today we took my son for his first shots.  HORRIBLE.  And the doctor looked at his eczema again, and suggested that I give up dairy and see if it helps.  So I’m suddenly sort of vegan.  Vegan except for eggs.  So, that solves my ice cream problem!  Except when I went grocery shopping after Finn’s appointment, I was like, I better buy a bunch of Soy Delicious and Tofutti Cuties.  I am constitutionally unable to visit deprivation upon myself.  It will never happen.  Deprivation, if it must be visited on me, must be visited on me by forces beyond my control.   Also, I bought myself crayons, markers and a small pad of paper, so I can start drawing my dream of greatness.  A-ha!  Ha HA!  I am bounding forward on my path like a nighttime dream cheetah!

Bloom Status: A skosh upwards, a little sideways. I only ate one Tofutti Cutie.  That can’t possibly merit a full-on downward.  Yeah, screw that.  Upwards and sideways.

green tara

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My dream of greatness

August 21, 2006 at 4:57 am (Bloom Status: Downward, Bloom Status: Sideways, Bloom Status: Upward)

Everybody has a dream of greatness about themselves. Everybody has a picture of what it would look like if suddenly: WHAM! They had their shit supersonically together and had no fear and could make anything under the sun happen for themselves.

fireworks
So, this is some of my picture for myself:

1. I’m an actor, and a writer, and I’ve long wanted to do a solo show. Well, in my dream of greatness, I’m the LORD of the solo show. People see my show and they’re like, FOR THE LOVE OF PETE! That woman smokes the solo show all over the stage! It’s fucking fireworks out there! Pop pop bang! She is in her sweet spot, people.

2. I also love to sing, and compose music. So in my dream of greatness, you cannot believe my CD. Nor my live show. Cap. tiv. ATING.

3. And I love to draw. The cover art on the cd in my dream of greatness? Totally drew that. Plus I have a website wherein I draw pictures of people surrounded by their dreams of greatness and they sell like hotcakes.

4. In my dream of greatness, I’m crazy limber. I’ve figured out how to move my muscles, and I like moving them, and I’m strong and lithe like some kind of dancer. I can totally wear a leotard, and people are like, yeah. That looks right. And not like, oh, the sad fat little ballerina is here. Was not your recital thirty-odd years ago, sad fat little ballerina? Can you not hang up your little toe shoes now? No. They’re like, what? Leotard? Okay, whatever. She’s clearly a dancer. It’s cool.

5. And I’m an author, in my dream of greatness. My book, whatever it is, it is so beautiful. It’s not a novel. It’s not a cookbook. It’s a…book. A great book. A very charming book. One of many very charming and profound books. And so popular. Thank you, Oprah. I know it kept you up at night. The charm would not allow you to sleep. And the profundity also had you rocking ’til the break-a-dawn. I know. I know.

6. Let’s not forget that in my dream of greatness, I found a way to get enlightened. No lie. I either suddenly took up meditating really diligently or the powers-that-be decided to just cut me a break and spring enlightenment on me. So Nirvana is totally an option for me once I kick the can. And I can pop in whenever I like before then. Hey, there, Nirvana. What’s shaking? Same old bliss? Excellent. See you in a little bit. Or something.

7. Plus I can cook!

8. In my dream of greatness, I have got so much money it’s bananas. I’m rolling in it. ROLLING IN IT. And I can do so many fun and wonderful things for myself and for the world. Travel, classes, clothes, houses. Charity up the ying yang! I’d start this dream place for kids, like a Hogwarts for children who’ve been treated poorly in their lives and don’t believe in themselves. They’d come for a week or a month and have great classes and counseling and crazy dream-come-true fun, and the place would be decorated like a radiant, colorful, magic castle. And all these great, loving adults would work there and instill as much self-worth in the little bunnies as could be stuffed into them during their stay.

9. In my dream of greatness, I’m the mom of all time to my little son – who’s real, he’s here. He’s no pipe dream. He’s a wee actual angel person who came out of me four months ago today. In my dream of greatness, I’ve helped my boy feel so loved, so supported, so himself in the world. So ready for this place.

10. And in my dream of greatness, my husband (who is also really here in real time) and I get to live to be 100 years old, and we die at the same moment, laughing our way into sleep. Is that my dream of greatness? No. It’s the dream of greatness I have for the universe, that it is so kind and benevolent and miracle-bestowing that it would make this happen for us. You can do it, universe. I know you have it in you. I’m behind you all the way.

***********

So, there you go. All of that, that’s what I’m looking for. Now, to the job of this blog. What did I do today to get me closer to all of that?

I had a meeting with the theater company of which I’m a member, and we talked about my solo show. I’m doing one. I found the balls, somewhere. So, that’s totally something.

And I did this blog entry, trumpeting my dreams out into the world. That is also absolutely not nothing.

And I woke up today with the feeling that I could probably stop eating ice cream for a while and still be happy. So I made a plan to do that. But I had to eat a bowl of ice cream to help get the ice cream out of the house. So, uh, yeah. Also, I imagined myself walking on a treadmill. But even in my imagination, I was like, eh. Feh. Forget it. So I got off.

ice cream

So, bloom status: Upward, sideways, downward.

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Excuse me, ma’am – or, We Begin.

August 18, 2006 at 6:25 pm (Bloom Status: Upward)

Where am I? What blog is this? What’s happening?

Hi. I’m Tina. I’m the author of this blog.

So. Here’s the premise, laid out for you:

I believe that this is a universe of self-fulfilling prophecies. I think that if you believe something, then that’s the universe you live in*. In fact, I happen to think that this here joint is completely magical. And anybody can be a magician of this place if they put their mind to it. And I believe that every effort you put out to blossom into that magician comes back to you in the form of some kind of goodness. It may be what you expect, it may not, but it’s coming back to you.

*One thing that’s not happening on this blog is any kind of debate about that. Not that it’s not worth debating. It totally is. This world is bananas, so you could make a case otherwise. Go for it, if you like. Just…elsewhere. The universe of self-fulfilling prophecies is sort of the a priori thing of this blog that you have to accept in order to come along with me.

Anyway, what goes up, must come down, so if you make an effort to bloom, some cool things are going to happen to you, is the idea. Hence the title of the blog:

bloomerang

You see what I’m saying.

So, here I am, with this particular heart/brain/body/set of talents/set of quirks/set of aspirations, all of which suggest a path I can go down to leave the world a brighter and groovier place than I found it. And I’m moving along this path: creeping, tiptoe-ing, squinting at the map, looking frantically for the map, occasionally making a mad dash, frequently stopping to stare at my feet, but moving largely foward-ish.  And I’ve got this THING in the way. This…this lady is in the way.

I am the lady in the way.

I’m like two people. I’m the person who sincerely lives for progress and makes it happen sometimes, and I’m the inert stasis-loving mofo who just as often holds myself back out of fear.

So, with this blog, I’m going to chart for you everything I’m doing and NOT DOING to make my life bloom. I’m going to see if I can get the lady in the way – me, when I’m in my natural state of magazine-reading, M&M-munching inertia – to shove over and make way for The Totally Fancy Magician.

How am I going to do this?

I DON’T KNOW. I DON’T HAVE A PLAN.

Because I hate plans. I hate structure. I’m just going to fly by the seat of my pants, make some sudden moves, see if I can sneak past my internal censors. I may not barrel directly down my path at first. I might dash from behind this rock to behind a rock a few feet ahead. I might hide behind a rock for a month or five, reading magazines. But I’m going to move forward, I tell you. If it takes me a million years.

I’m going to try some things out and tell you how they’re working. Or not, and tell you how that’s working. If I come across some good ideas, and they work, then I may provide a little bit of inspiration for you. If I try some bad ideas – and LET ME TELL YOU, I’VE PUT SOME BAD IDEAS INTO ACTION – I will be your cautionary tale.

So, here goes.
Today: I started this blog. That’s totally a thing. It counts.
Ergo, bloom status: Upward.

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