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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Addlepated Check-in

Welcome, Readers, to my disjointed blog post. Highlights of the week include the following:

*  Reader comments on my last blog post set me off on an hour of Internet research on Spiral Dynamics. In brief, the idea behind Spiral Dynamics is that human (and societal) development can be described as a spiral of inter-related, but still hierarchically arranged characteristics. Each level has a color ascribed to it, and my thoughtful commentor told me he (pretty sure he) thinks I’m between Green and Yellow. Well, that left me no option but to find out what that means. And it means that I am poised at the brink of the second tier of development, between levels 6 & 7, just one level more above me, although there is the possibility of more as yet undiscovered levels. Heady stuff. Possibly I might become a Spiral Wizard, which can only be a good thing – unless it’s a terrible thing. One critic, according to Wikipedia, decries the whole Spiral D as hierarchical in a bad way, leading to Nietszchian ubermensches, and we know where that ubermensch stuff leads….straight to Auschwitz.

One of the summaries of the book on Spiral Dynamics was written by someone at the Esalen Institute, so I knew for sure I was in the land of alternative theories. Esalen is known as a center for “realizing human potential,” and is one of the main homes of New Age.  I went to Esalen in the late 80s, out of curiosity. It is gorgeous. Prominent memories are: 1. Large naked hairy man spread-eagled prone in a mineral hot tub overlooking the Pacific. 2. Eating meals in silence.

*  I poisoned the dog. Yes, I forgot that the lawn people had been at the house, spraying their so-called organic and environmentally friendly fertilizer and herbicide, and let the dog out. I was trying to do the right thing and play with him by tossing a ball for him, and watching him pick it up, lope towards me, drop it, and munch on grass, before the husband and I left him alone while we went out for dinner. We returned to a scene that I won’t describe, and ended up on the phone with animal poison control, who told us the dog would be fine, that those particular earth-friendly lawn care ingredients would only cause him an upset stomach. Uh, yeah. Also, it didn’t help that the rising 10th grader said she would never believe anything I ever said again about caring for the earth and not using bad chemicals…..To which I could only say that these friendly chemicals only caused the dog stomach upset, not neurological impairment or death. Still, I felt terrible, and suggested to the husband that he give up his secret competition with our next door neighbor over the lawn and let the crabgrass and clover grow. He’s never going to out-grass Tom.
today, both dog and plants recovered nicely

*  On the plus side, the pachysandra has completely recovered. And I can prove it. The roses, alas, have mostly succumbed. I promise to find some kind of literature about how to care for the remaining two bushes.

*  After over three weeks of eagerly scanning the camp’s website for photos of the rising 6th grader, mostly to no avail - "look, dear, I think it's her leg!" -  we will be seeing her tomorrow! I am very excited, and not only to fact-check her claim, written in several letters to family and friends, that she has 104 bug bites. So there goes the argument that summer camp is bad for kids because it’s yet another regimented, over-scheduled program. Clearly, my child has had plenty of free time. 

* Zimmerman acquittal. Ugh. I feel it’s one of those times when joking about other stuff and being inconsequential and silly is not appropriate. Unfortunately, being inconsequential and silly is really my strong suit; whereas what’s needed now is some kind of Nelson Mandela-like vision of a better future. I guess I think our political-legal system is somewhat self-correcting, although unfortunately not without a lot of discomfort and violence along the way. There are bad laws, and they can be struck down. I am ready to march. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Everman's Lessons on Success

The day: sunny and gorgeous. It would be a perfect day for deck sitting, except the deck chairs are kind of wet. Though not
as wet as I expected. The manufacturer has injected some kind of miracle webbing into the cushion that didn’t release its inner core of wet until I’d sat on one for some time. Then I turned it over and water dripped out. Me – dry; inner core - dripping.

Also this is great because now I have something new to obsess over, namely, how evenly the cushions are drying. After a rainstorm, I can periodically, every hour or two, or every fifteen minutes - or every five, if I’m stuck for other more wholesome activities - go outside and rotate the cushions. Because that’s the kind of person I am. I haven’t felt this good about stuffed anything since I used to sit on my transitional object (Bunny) to press her face the right way. It was flat, and I wanted it to puff out. Of course. Never happy with what we have, are we? But, hey, bunnies’ faces puff out. They are not flat. I wanted my bunny’s face to be like a real bunny’s and puff out. Which it did, if I sat on Bunny just the right way. So that gave me something to do. And do. And do. And do.

Yes, this is Bunny. She is my bunny.
Is it any wonder my nursery school teacher recommended me for a little play therapy at 3? And clearly, it worked. Because.

Anyhoo, I was going to talk about something I read in The New York Times that maybe you read, too, Readers. I'm referring to that article about the guitarist Jason Everman, who was fired from Nirvana just before they hit it big, and then after touring with them for a year, got fired from Soundgarden just before they became massive, and then he joined the Army and eventually became a Special Forces soldier? After such public failures, then the guy goes off and does something that is highly specialized and secret and is kind of like joining a secret society because when you’re in Special Forces no one can know exactly what you do. Even after you’ve done it, you’re not supposed to talk about it, but those who are in the know - those who are in the band - know how very cool what you do and did is.

There’s a lesson here about success not lasting or not being meaningful if it’s not based on something you value. And I guess, also, his story is a parable of how fame and fortune don’t mean much, if you don’t love what you do. And Jason Everman didn’t love the rock life. He was, according to this article, an excellent musician, so he wasn’t fired for lack of talent. Ironically, he got fired both times because he didn’t gel with the band. He didn’t play with the team. I say this is ironic because what I know about the military is that it’s all about team effort. And I know a lot about the military. I saw “Private Benjamin.” By the way, “Saving Private Ryan,” was the last war movie I ever watched and I blame it for causing the umbilical cord to wrap tightly three times around my first child’s neck which led to a c-section. I one hundred percent believe that she was trying to escape the terrible noise in the movie theater and got herself tangled. My belly was lumping up and down like boiling water during that thing.

But I digress. My point is that although Jason Everman didn't want to be in a band, he did want to be in a band of a different kind. So he just kept trying to find the right kind. And he did.

By the way, I think it’s cool that Jason Everman’s name is almost EverYman, which adds a further parable-like element to his story. Everyman's search.

But also maybe there’s another lesson for me and people like me in his story. That lesson is that you can leave behind public humiliation and what looks like terrible failure. This is pertinent for me because, as I may have hinted or mentioned here and there, I’m circling around a book proposal. And I’m hesitant to write about it here. As I told the husband last night, I had nothing to blog about, because I wasn’t about to blog about writing a book, and he said, Well isn’t that what this whole thing is about? By "this whole thing" he meant my blog, but we can excuse his unclear antecedent, can we not? And I said, What if I fail to sell my proposal and fail to publish my book after broadcasting that I’m trying to on my blog? On my blog about success. And the husband, the ratfink, said I really should write about it, because after all isn’t that the crux of the question?  After which I told him it was time for his Vitamin D pills, so that while he was swallowing them he would stop challenging me.

Still, he made me think. I mean, have I blogged for the past two years about all the elements of success and wound up in the same spot I started, with the assumption that Everyone (my Readers and me) will consider me a failure until I succeed? Or have I learned that success is also a byproduct of enjoying the process of working toward a goal?

Well. What do you think, Readers?