Scheduling = Chicken. Head. Off.

May 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

I am taking my mid-term quiz this evening for an Acohol and Addiction class at my community college. I have already been to school. I have a Bachelors in Arts in a very specialized humanities-style genre that I was pretty proud about and focused on. . . for a very short period of time.

Give or take six years.

Going back to school has been humbling and stressful. Where I once excelled in my studies, I have since found my brain sluggish and resistant to retaining information. It doesn’t help that I went into the two classes that I am taking this quarter with the assumption that they were going to be more psychology based.

We have been focusing on neurochemistry.

I am way out of my league.

On top of that, I have been in the process of moving, as you are all so acutely aware. Finally that is over. Even the cleaning of the apartment has been completed with the assistance of an acquaintance who is quickly becoming a good friend and the beau.

I also head a start-up nonprofit focused on street musicians here in Portland. Recently I was contacted by an arts funding organization that wants to meet with me. I have no idea why. This stirs up all sorts of excitement and anxiety.

Job stress from working the night shift hasn’t been easy on the psyche. Especially with all the other stuff on my plate. Morning meetings. Social engagements. Doctor appointments. Upcoming gigs to practice for. It’s all becoming to pile up and come cascading down on me in little ripped up confetti from my day planner.

I have been a huge fan of this one website called Unclutterer. It provides daily tips to simplifying your life. Every once in a while, I try to take the tattered, unraveled mess I call my life and try to weave it into something concise and easy to deal with.

Yeah. Not really happening.

I know what you’re thinking. I would be a great candidate to participate in some grounding meditation.

But I ask you; where would you fit it into my schedule?


FAIL: Communicating and Me

April 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

One of my favorite children books is “The Giver” by Lois Lowry. Despite it being in the juvenile section, there are some very adult-like topics and ideas that it brings up. One of the topics is an idea called “Precision of Language.” The entire purpose of Precision of Language should be to avoid conflict and problems, misunderstanding, and even potential violence. Much of this involves avoiding generalized statements and unintentional lies. For instance, the main character used the word, ‘starving’ and was quickly reprimanded that he was simply ‘hungry.’  “He had been trained since earliest childhood, since his earliest learning of language never to lie. It was an integral part of the learning of precise speech.

Communication is a huge FAIL for me. Every day at work I look at a poem that has been pinned up on the bulletin board and I sigh. I’ve searched the internet to find out who wrote it, but alas, I have come up empty. However, I will present it here for you.


What I think
What I mean to say
What I think I am saying
What I actually say

What you want to hear
What you hear

What you think you understand
What you want to understand
And what you understand

There are at least nine possibilities
for us
to misunderstand!

The first time I read this poem, it really got to me. This is exactly what I go through, every time I open my big mouth. Constantly, I am stumbling over my words, speaking faster than my brain can keep up, and half the time I end up proverbially kicking myself and immediately attempting to backtrack what I spewed from my lips.

Precision of Language is cold and direct. In the book, there is no room for frivolous or emotional ideas, as they don’t present concrete information. It’s the difference between data and feelings – and everyone knows which one is messier.

I am impulsive.

Throughout my childhood and then into my adult relationships, I have said the wrong thing. A lot. I’ve retold events, which then are perceived as completely different stories, but instead of outright lies, they are told with the emotion that I may be currently displaying, which a new set of descriptors and a different understanding than the week before.

I am a blathering emotional wreck.

There’s got to be a balance between these two very different ways of communicating. In fact, our brain even divides up where it stores what is called “dry memories,” is stored in the hippocampus and just remembers facts and data while the amygdala stores the “emotional memory” connected with events and ideas. Is it possible to have a swollen amygdala, or a hippocampus that has shrunk down and withered to resemble a prune? Probably not. I am sure that there is some sort of great neurochemistry answer about how the neurons fire and effect certain parts of the brain differently. Might even be interesting to see how my brain functions compared to say, that of a mathematician. We won’t be doing that anytime soon.

Occasionally my word vomit gets me into trouble. There was a point where I had just learned to shut-up and not say anything, but apparently that’s almost as bad as saying the wrong thing. Since then, I have had a lot of time to sit and learn about myself. I know that I communicate far better than I did five years ago, but perhaps not as well as I could.

I can turn biology into an emotional subject.

I almost exclusively speak from my heart and not from my mind. This makes it difficult to have serious discussions. It constantly puts me on the defense that my little wall of flowery, bleeding heart vernacular will be crushed like the walls of Jericho. Inevitably, they do come crumbling down and I am left a blithering wreck, taking the conversation way too personal and dwelling on it for years to come.

Over the last year or so, I have learned to let things go.

Sometimes you just need to accept that you said the wrong thing, that it got interpreted incorrectly or that there was just some sort of SNAFU in communication. Perfection or precision in language is something to strive for, but often I need to remember that I am human, and while I hold myself to impossibly high standards, I need to just chill out, take a breath and think about what I want to say before I burst out in a tangled blurb of nonsense.

Pre-Moving Nervous Breakdown

April 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

I am moving May 1st.

It seemed like a good, arbitrary date to move. May Day. Beltane. A day historically associated with struggle and unification.

In Portland, OR there is a thriving bike community. Chances are, if you are reading this, it is because you are one of my friends, and I am being ridiculously redundant. If you’re not from the good ol’ PDX, well. . . there’s a thriving bike community. I’m involved in a group that is amazing in building friendships and perpetuating that community building.

We do these things called “bike moves.

These bike moves, they involve a lot of people with bike trailers, coffee and generally beer. A brief synopses is that people show up, eat doughnuts and drink coffee. After our blood sugar is sky-rocketed and our heart rates have risen to the level of hummingbirds, we begin loading up a person’s stuff. Like boxes and furniture and cats in crates. Strapping them down to our bike trailers, back racks and stuffing them into our panniers, we then make our way as a group to their new home.

Why do we do this? Why doesn’t the person just rent a moving truck? First of all, dependence on oil is bad. Second, unless you have actually participated in one of these bike moves, you don’t realize how awesome it is to have friends and people that you don’t even know assisting you in something that is pretty stressful. You can still stress over it all you want (as I know I will be doing the day of my move), but you won’t have to stress over how the majority of the stuff is going to be carried down those stairs or through that narrow door way. What are friends for, right?


I, of course, in my typical fashion, know without a doubt that no one will show up. It doesn’t matter that I have about a dozen people signed up on my Facebook event page. It doesn’t matter that I have had the event posted on the local bike community website for the last month. Absolutely no one is going to show up and I am going to be stuck trying to figure out how to get an apartment full of stuff across town to my new place in less than five days.

It’s totally irrational thinking. Not even true for a moment. Despite my self-deprecation, I have friends. I have people that want to help me out. I have a ton of friends. . . that are all going to be on a bike camping trip the same weekend as my move.

Yes, we even go on camping trips by bike.

So now I am back to square one. Everyone in town – dozens of people that generally help with bike moves, in my mind, are all going to be busy on May 1st, whether they are coming back from the camping trip, dancing around a May Pole or protesting Union worker’s rights at the court house.

This is the way I think.

Less than a week left. We’ll just see where that leaves me.

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