Monthly Archives: December 2013

Time Is Never Time At All

From the original moment way back in 1995 that I first heard the lyrics to Tonight, Tonight by the Smashing Pumpkins, I’ve since then constantly thought that Billy Corgan — one of my perennial idols since the age of 13 —  sang/stated best: “Time is never time at all…” So simply put, but also so true. Preach on. Where does it go? Why can’t any of us manage to get enough?

With another year coming to a finale, we are presented with the “resolute urgency of now,” which causes people (namely me) to reevaluate themselves, their goals, their entire lives. It’s the maker of an obvious root-sharer, resolutions. It’s why we question ourselves on whether or not we are appreciative enough, happy enough, just plain enough. For ourselves. For those we love.

For me, because I tend to worry (it’s what I do!), I feel that very urgency at all times. Not just on December 31. Because of it, to help myself worry less and try to extend time, earlier in the year I began to attempt to train myself to apply a few different perspectives to time, to using it more efficiently (still work to do here!).

The first is to stop convincing myself that certain tasks can’t still be done that particular day because it’s “too late.” If daylight still remains and the will to complete the task does, too, what does the hour of the day really have to do with it?

Secondly, stop allowing myself to get anxious just because I am still doing a task later in the day than I had anticipated that I would. Does it matter when something gets done? Isn’t it more important that it is getting done, that I am doing what I can to move forward in my day, week, life? (I haven’t answered myself on this just yet.)

And then there is the hope that I will eventually learn to not give time as much — or any– meaning at all! Do I have to just because somebody decided at some point that we should call time, time? That we should allot numbers to it, and meaning to those numbers? (I always find it frustratingly difficult to separate myself from societal norms, no matter how hard I want to rebel. :/ )

The “indescribable moments of your life” somehow are also always felt all over again as the twelfth month finishes rolling over. Such reflection occurs that it likens to everything you’ve ever experienced, or hope to, flashing quickly through your mind a lá motion picture.

When the second to the last line of the song says: the impossible is possible tonight, I don’t think Corgan’s intended meaning was New Year’s Eve…but it works. (Really, my feeling is that the entire song works as an homage to the beginning of a whole new year, as well as a general statement on beginnings connected to endings. Of course, even when an artist is crystal clear on his/her meaning, personal interpretation runs rampant without effort.) No matter; I officially name Tonight, Tonight as my personal New Year’s Eve song now and henceforth.

I mean, haven’t you ever felt that, too, gazing up at the fireworks and the brightly lit ball while congregated with total strangers who, in that moment you have everything in common with? To me, that is rare. It’s both impossible and beautiful. On no other day of the year do I feel that kind of kinship with other human beings as I do on the last day of the year. “Believe in me as I believe in you, tonight.”

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Lyrics to Tonight, Tonight:

Time is never time at all
You can never ever leave without leaving a piece of youth
And our lives are forever changed
We will never be the same
The more you change the less you feel
Believe, believe in me, believe
That life can change, that you’re not stuck in vain
We’re not the same, we’re different tonight
Tonight, so bright
Tonight
And you know you’re never sure
But you’re sure you could be right
If you held yourself up to the light
And the embers never fade in your city by the lake
The place where you were born
Believe, believe in me, believe
In the resolute urgency of now
And if you believe there’s not a chance tonight
Tonight, so bright
Tonight
We’ll crucify the insincere tonight
We’ll make things right, we’ll feel it all tonight
We’ll find a way to offer up the night tonight
The indescribable moments of your life tonight
The impossible is possible tonight
Believe in me as I believe in you, tonight

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A Piece of Me/The Things We Tell Our Children: An ilymtic double post

On a very recent afternoon this December, as Christmas crept ever closer (and ever closer yet — tomorrow!), I sat relaxing and digesting at a wooden park bench near my house with my friend, Anna. Our two daughters were at play nearby, fashioning a game from their imaginations involving leaves, the metal top to what I believe leads to a water line underground, and my daughter’s large plastic Hello Kitty ball. (They were perfectly safe and not presenting harm to anything themselves.) With the weather being a bit unseasonably warm, the four of us had met up for a simple picnic composed of fruit, crackers, cheese and the like, followed by recreation: hopscotch, hide and seek, making castles in the sandbox, going down the slide, flying high in the swings, and just general running-around fun.

Of course, us two moms were conversing about the holidays, but also specifically about gift-giving. My amiga was making a point regarding the hang-ups that some people have with gifts, such as focusing too much on what they spend on others, or worse yet, how much others might have spent on them, with comments such as “Oh, wow this is a great brand,” while opening and inspecting their gift. Why can’t it instead be about the thought that went into it, Anna lamented? (It seemed like she was speaking from experience.)

I completely agree with her. And have always been from this school of thought. But as I placed her festively wrapped tidings  to us under my tree (we exchanged Christmas gifts for the first time this year, having just become friends a bit over a year and a half ago), I realized my thoughts were going a step further than that. The “why” behind her statement suddenly came further into focus.

When she handed me the holiday gift bag containing our gifts a few short hours before, in her excitement for the moment when I finally open mine, she told me that what she choose for me was more something that is her, that she would choose for herself, as opposed to something that reminded her of me or anything that I would request, if asked. I think that hint intrigued me more than if it were an item that I had mentioned. The perfection in this is that what I choose for her is actually also something that I would buy for myself.

Funny — and sweet — that she and I approached our gifts to each other in a similar way.

But back to the extension of my thoughts…that’s what gift-giving should be. That’s what makes it special at all. When the person giving you the gift isn’t giving you a thing on your list, but essentially a piece of themselves. I know that whatever is in that green plaid wrapping, whenever I look at it, or use it, I will think of Anna. It will hold a small amount of her essence. That possesses more meaning and significance than anything I could have asked for. And my hope is that my gift to her invokes the same response whenever she uses what’s inside, or even glances at it.

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Before I became a parent, I swore I would never ever lie to my kid about anything. I couldn’t understand how people thought it was ok to be dishonest with their babes, seeing that this action could be viewed as example. How misleading information could do harm.

Fast forward to now. The holiday season. My gal is three months removed from turning four years old; She has wits surpassing last Christmas, not to mention the two before that, that she has been here to celebrate with us. And while I still don’t condone lying to her, I find myself participating in the perpetuation of Santa Claus…and trying to find some other label for it than a “lie.” A white lie? No, still a lie. Still not comfortable with it or myself. A seasonal fib? A holiday tale? A magical, mythical mystery?

Sigh. None of that seems quite right. But after realizing that I was in on this as parents time immemorial before have been, I saw how it happened: I feel forced. After all, wouldn’t it be more odd if my husband and I didn’t tell her about Santa? And what explanation would we give for suddenly getting her a bunch of gifts? It becomes one of those things — better to hear about it at home than to have another kid snottily wrinkle his or her nose while incredulously inquiring: You mean, you don’t know about Santa Claus??!!!  Que the humiliation. Que the anger.

Further, there is justification in some of these lies, uh, I mean, things we tell our children, especially any correlating with holidays: we do it to inject meaning, significance. To make life more special and wondrous. To show them how all of that feels. To give them memories (hopefully) worth looking back on.

And if I can dare to truly put my hopes out there, then one day, possibly not until she is in her 30’s, she will understand why her parents allowed themselves to sustain the idea of Santa so that she in turn would believe in him until she became “too old.” Larger than not being the odd kid, and even larger than experiencing the excitement and wonder of the holiday. Because in the end even though the gifts were really from Mom and Dad all along, all the toys, all the fulfilled wishes, now and in the future simply represent the real meaning and significance: our love for her,  as well as pieces of ourselves. A bit intangible, but something she’ll have forever, especially after she realizes that she had them all along.

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Tis the Season…For Feigned Affection

Angels and cherubs. The manger scene. Guiding stars. Twinkling, illuminated Christmas trees. Reindeer and snowflakes and striped candy canes. Holiday greetings can be quite lovely. And because I love greeting cards in general, I began making my own awhile back. To make those that I care about feel special. To know that I am thinking of them.

Ironically, special is the last thing feel when I receive holiday greetings from people that I only hear from via holiday greetings. Instead, I feel a bit annoyed that the person even bothered in the first place. If where my daughter’s name should be you wrote “and family,” you would have exhibited more sincerity had you just saved yourself the postage. And the false interest in my well-being. And the false bond of an actual relationship. And the feigned affection.

Although…tis the season…

…I just rather that this weren’t the case.  For a time that is meant to be so special itself, people really know how to make it bloody dreadful, superficial.

In recent years past, I would spend hours at my dining room table in order to complete the assembly and send-off of holiday greeting cards. With my address book — which I would go through from back to front, then once again just to make sure I hadn’t missed anyone —  I’d drive myself a little loopy making the most thorough list that I could. Several colored pens: red, green, gold, silver; a full book of stamps; at least five varieties of holiday greeting cards; as well as a cup or two of tea would all also be present, because I was relaxing, taking my time, enjoying doing the task.

But all that effort never seems to garner as much affection in return, which is why I had decided that this December I wouldn’t do any of that at all. I don’t know about you, but I personally find this month challenging to get through. All the additional minutia, on top of the daily chore list, combined with seasonal sadness and the craziness of others…more than I can take. Why send cards out to relatives and acquaintances that we either only hear from in the final part of the year, or never hear from at all, even after we’ve sent them a card filled with warmth and good intent?

I don’t mean to be Grinch-y. I just fail to see why I should do something that no longer makes sense to me to do.

The compromise that I ultimately decided upon was to simply send greeting cards out to whomever sends them to us, as opposed to constructing my own lengthy list. No list required at all then. Just the day’s mail in front of me and a reciprocating line of goodwill and cheer. Done before it makes it to the to-do file, either in my brain or in my agenda book.

What I didn’t bank on was receiving cards from the same people that we only ever have contact with when they send a holiday card — I had assumed that their false card was only in response to my genuine one, not a falsity all on its own. So then, I find myself grumbling because I feel obligated to still send a card to some of the very people that I was saving myself from having to send a card to, all because of my extreme propensity for guilt. More grumbling upon the further realization that because of the season, I am forcing myself to feign affection for a handful of people that I really don’t know, either never did or became stranger with over time.

My least favorite you-never-hear-from-us card though, are those gimmicky photo ones. You know the ones. Everyone knows at least one family that does this, that sends a mini collage of their lives in the past year, looking for all the world like they are living better than you, are happier than you, are just overall such a perfect unit. What am I supposed to do with this? Put it in a photo album? Why? We haven’t spoken to each other in at least three years.

Look, I’m not against the photo-as-greeting-card concept itself. It can actually be nice. It’s just so off-putting when it comes from someone that you arn’t close to. If you can’t tell from the above paragraph, I have a particular family in mind that myself, my husband, and my daughter used to know. For all my efforts to forge a friendship with the wife, she was standoffish. The two sons were born before my daughter and are probably into different things than she is, and their dad, for as nice a guy as he is, I never felt a real connection with him either. So, they stopped calling us. We stopped calling them. It doesn’t even matter who started the stopping first. Just my point is there is no longer a relationship between their family and ours. So why do they send us a photo card? I can’t just throw it in the trash — that is insensitive to their children. We don’t hate them. All you end up feeling is best is shredding this glossy paper of their beautiful little world, not out of meanness, but out of desperation over what else to do with it.

Really, with the Internet, I was convinced this no-to-little sending out of cards would be much easier to pull off.

Let’s not fake it through this season anymore. Let’s be real and honest with a return to all that it is supposed to be about and none of what we’ve made it into. If you’re going to send a holiday card to someone, keep in touch throughout the year, as well. Otherwise, tidings of good cheer will only elicit the opposing effect.

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My ‘Bad Penny’ Syndrome

It’s why I don’t call or text. It’s why I disappear for weeks at a time, barely checking email or social network accounts. Why I can be difficult to reach. Why I damn near hibernate within the confines of my humble home’s walls. My bad penny syndrome.  It’s always been with me (like Dexter’s Dark Passenger), a part of me. Or at least, my memory is such.

Of English origin, the expression ‘bad penny’ refers to the shilling, a British unit of currency. Sir Walter Scott used the phrase in one of his early nineteenth-century writings, in the line: “Bring back Darsie? Little doubt of that. The bad shilling is sure enough to come back again.” Here in the United States, a person that no one wants around, but that shows up repeatedly is spoken of as a ‘bad penny’; reliable to ‘always turn up.’ From “Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins” by William and Mary Morris (HarperCollins, New York, 1977, 1988). (http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/4/messages/1231.html)

Wiktionary defines a bad penny as one that is counterfeit or damaged. Further, in idiomatic terms, as any person or thing “which is unpleasant, disreputable, or otherwise unwanted,” in particular, at reoccurring and least desirable times.(http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/bad_penny)

I feel how poor Darsie must have felt, who by the way, sounds like she wasn’t even present in order to defend herself. Yet, is being spoken ill of behind her back. And maybe she wasn’t around because people were so negative toward her. Maybe she knew they didn’t want her around in the first place, except to have fodder for gossiping about her later.

Earlier on in my life, I wasn’t able to see this for what it is, nor put words to it. It’s one of those things that helped me to better understand myself and some of the actions or decisions I made in the past, once I could put a more-defining label across it. And certainly, it’s an off-shoot of my depression, as well as a derivative for depression.

Why and how I ever started feeling so generally unwelcome is unclear to me, though it probably wasn’t for one reason, but several. In fact, I’m sure of that. And it also probably wasn’t the result of one moment or negative experience, but compounded from a smattering over time. General memory serves that this is true, too.

I’m not writing about this to whine. Not even to make you feel badly for me. But instead to share yet another thread about me that is meant to provide further understanding as to who I am. I know that several people who know me personally don’t have an inkling that I feel this way, that I regard myself this way, or that I think that I am regarded this way by the world. And that is part of why I needed to say it; it became important to me that those in my life realize this about me. I’ve never been able to explain why I don’t call when I say I’ll get better about it. Or why I keep myself so busy with solo pursuits. It’s because I convince myself that I would only be bothering anyone I might try to reach out to or connect with.

I tend to assume that people think of me negatively when they think of me at all. Basically, “oh here she comes again.” When you’ve spent your whole life with this impression, you simply stop turning up, hoping that you’ll just be a penny. Though, then you’re simply a sad penny.

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Lessons from My Former Bosses

A week ago, I was strongly contemplating putting iloveyoumorethanicecream on hiatus. Life sometimes feels too full of everything, too full of crazy, and ultimately I turn to the thought process of cutting out at least one activity in order to restore order, and balance. To feel myself breathe easier. This final tail of the year, the walls close in faster, the darkness sets in deeper, and time ticks away posthaste.

When I told a close friend of mine during a conversation via cell that I was considering a vacation from my blog, he immediately said “No. Why would you do that?” And because I have been back and forth about this several times in seven days, I quickly replied “But then, if I do that, how long do I put it on hold? When do I come back to it? How do I come back to it? Will it be harder than just keeping at it every week?” I could practically hear him nod.

I’m honestly still undecided. Still undecided as I write this post, feeling already that it won’t do what I intended from the start: help me to connect with others. Help others to connect with me. It’s been bothering me that I don’t have a bigger readership, and those that do follow the blog seem to have dropped off from it. Yes, I started this for myself. I started this to practice writing, to practice being a writer so that I can justify calling myself a writer. But this isn’t a journal. Trust me, if it were I would be laying out things here that I haven’t, that I save for private pages. Even in my desire to connect, even in my propensity for wearing my heart on my sleeve, I only feel safe in opening up so much. This is the Internet, after all.

Even so, a writer needs an audience.

Is anybody out there? Are you reading iloveyoumorethanicecream? Are you connecting to it? To me? Hello?

I certainly don’t expect everyone to agree with me on everything I say. Just let me know you’re there. That I am not essentially talking to myself.

All of this contemplation on whether or not other eyes see these words, and whether or not I should or shouldn’t keep at it, brought to mind a few helpful comments made to me by those whose command I was once under that I call Lessons from My Former Bosses. Not one of these individuals know how wise and useful their words were, not only in the moment that I was struggling in, but in so many moments since then, or even that what they said to me attached permanently, became part of who I am, and pop into my mind when I need them most.

The first is footnoted in my memory bank simply as Shift. It comes from my very short and simultaneously long 2-year+ stint as a journalist for a local weekly newspublisher, where I struggled to find my place (because I never did) and struggled, especially in the beginning, with everything I wrote because of my perfectionist personality and the ball and chain of caring too much, more than deadlines allow. Essentially, all of the editors were my bosses — as anyone who has ever worked in that world knows, if an editor that you don’t normally answer to comes to you “asking” you to write a particular story, they have already spoken with your direct editor, who has said “Yes, she has time for that.” And so, you are not being asked. In any case, my direct editor, Elizabeth was talking to me over my cubicle wall — I don’t remember about what, other than I was frustrated and in need of aid. Her exact words are even gone but her message was this: When things seem at their worst, when you feel like you can’t do it anymore, just keep going, just hang in and wait for the shift. The shift that inevitably comes with everything. The shift that will turn uncomfortable and unbearable to ok, I can breathe again. She told me that there is always a shift. Life is all about it.

There have been days and days and days since that moment with my former editor Elizabeth that I have actually felt that shift, and if it is quiet enough, sometimes I swear I can hear it happening. I don’t know if it is the power within us, something strong separate from yet together with us, or both. But every time I realize it has occurred, I wish I could tell Elizabeth how right she was, and thank her for opening my eyes to it.

The second comes from one of the other editors, Steve who wasn’t trying to be cryptic, throw a riddle, or even be a jerk when he said to me, the way to doing a thing is by doing it. At first, this just confused and frustrated me and made me feel even farther away from figuring out my approach for the assignment he had given me. But…Life comes with no manual. Many — if not all — of us fake it ’til we make it. Rather than having all of the steps on how-to laid out before us, none of the steps are clarified and must be discovered as we journey, not have them be the journey. I don’t know how long it took me to stop over thinking to realize this, but kudos to Steve for putting it before me to mull over — its served me well all of the times that life presents a project sans instruction sheet. And often, this seems like always.

A little further down the timeline, when I worked as a bookseller, my store manager Jim imparted a bit of wisdom — not new to me, but something I needed to be told then because of what I was going through. And ultimately, has helped me the most as it boiled down very simply that I could get closer to becoming the person that I wanted to be (and am more like then I was, but still ever-striving): how you react to what happens to you is more important than what happens to you.

In short, change is constant — just breathe through it; when a situation comes along that stops you where you stand, don’t stop. Keep moving — you’ll figure it out; and through it all, remember that what others say and do does not have to define you, even while it defines them. Nor do events necessarily hold a mirror to who you are. I feel like, to certain degrees, all of this applies to my pondering: to continue to blog or to not continue to blog. To be continued…maybe.

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