Friday, January 25, 2013

llamas, braininade (brain marinade?)​, and an outfit any kei$ha would envy

I grew up being super into performance theater. In one of my improv classes, we were told to alwaysALWAYS say yes to the love. The bottom line is that in a scene, and, yes keeps momentum going, allowing stories to feed and grow as the people progress.
"What are you doing?"
"Shaving a llama."
"Where did you find a llama on Valentine's Day?"
Yes, you have a llama, and...?
Similarly, it was taught that saying no is an immediate shut-off valve for progression.
"What are you doing?"
"Shaving a llama."
"No, you're not."
This makes sense on a very fundamental level, and I'm not just talking about improv.
As long as I can remember, I've always been so particular about what and who I allow into my world, making automatic pro-and-con lists on nearby bits of paper to calculate everything from whether or not I should move across the country to what I'll have for lunch.
Scribbling frantically in fits of unwarranted panic, the worries and excitement would spill together in a blend of undiluted fear and excuses. The slips of paper, scratched nearly to death with over-thinking, would get put in a pile. Some lists would be duplicates. Some would be assigned point values in order to supply concrete, quantitative data for my racing and unpredictable emotions.
Often, the outcome was a resounding NO! NO WAY. NO HOW. NO. MOTHERFUCKING. THANK YOU.
I couldn't because I was too scared of what might happen.
I couldn't because I was too scared of how I might feel.
I couldn't because I was too scared of mights.
I couldn't because I was too scared.
Saying no to conversation, opportunities, advice, and adventure had been keeping my very conflicted and very busy brain locked up in the confines of my skull, marinating in the isolated crazies and steeping in uncertainty. My yes, and's were getting slashed to bits before they even had time for tea.
And then, slowly, I began easing the solid NO!'s out of the way. I had to push at first. But eventually I peeked my toe out, (driving to places I'd never been), then a foot, (going to the aquarium), and a leg, (designing and publishing my first-ever professional website).
To avoid a huge long list of terrible body metaphors, let's just say that in the last three months, I've seen more of people I wanted to see more of. I've written recklessly and am nearly finished with the rough copy of my third book. I went to a mixer for creatives where I mingled in a room full of talented people, knowing almost no one, and kindling the start of what would become a very passionate love affair with Leopold Bros gin.
And most recently, I've registered for an [un]conference in Vegas. I'll fly alone to a city I haven't seen since I was seven to be greeted by strangers, all with powerful stories and contagious personalities. I'll wear clothes I never thought I'd own, hug people I never thought I'd meet, and embark on one of my greatest adventures to date.
There's something so liberating about cranking on those say-yes-to-the-love floodgates, about throwing those doors open wide and letting myself experience the pure exhilarating terror that comes with consciously welcoming newness into my very routined brain. So, I'm a woman with a BA in poetry kicking ass in finance. I'm changing every day. And in May, I'm going to go make 75 best friends in Vegas wearing a skirt that has disco in the name.
Um. YES! And?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

pinterest, killing curses, and my 400 square-foot living space

Let's be real for a second. I love Pinterest. I get about 47.7% of my craft ideas from there, (y'know, roughly speaking), and quite frankly, I love the idea of being able to organize the whole internetz.

But if I had a nickel for each time someone has posted something with the caption, "I'll be glad I pinned this!" or "Brilliant!" I WOULD HAVE SO MANY NICKELS, YOU GUYS.

786 ways to throw up in a donkey stomach!

I'll be glad I pinned this!

Turn old toilet paper rolls into older-looking toilet paper rolls!

Brilliant! I need more of those!

Learn to whistle with your butthole!

I'll be so glad I pinned this!

Pin THIS! (This is where I'd gesture offensively towards the male genitalia I don't have. Just sayin'.)

In other news, I did refinish/refurnish ALL THE THINGS in my apartment yesterday. This sounds like a death-defying feat, but actually I live in a cupboard. Under the stairs. Also, I'm Harry Potter.


*(Disclaimer: for whatever reason, I just want to end every single blog post with fondly and declaratively calling you all bitches. I'm working on it.

** (Double disclaimer: "declaritavely" apparently isn't a word. Well, I do declare: the fuck?)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

career choices, discomfort, and the way sundays make me use so many capitals

So, it's four o'clock in the morning and I'm awake and chipper like a very awake and chipper thing for the first time in like. Months. MONTHS, YOU GUYS.

Don't get me wrong; I wake up at 5 every morning, Monday through Friday, and curl my hair. I do that thing with my eye makeup that makes me look both alert and alluring, (or at least according to the Youtube instructional videos I've watched. Shut up.) And 9 days out of ten, I do so generally content and ready for the day, albeit a little groggy.

But today. TODAY. I couldn't sleep anymore because I was so excited to have this Sunday happen. Nothing particularly wonderful is going to occur. I'm going to add to a multi-media piece that's been in the works for awhile. I might watch a little Doctor Who, probably cycle for awhile. And the real kicker is that I probably could not be more thrilled about it, (unless there was the addition of really adorable sloths or something).

ANYways. If the last few weeks have shown me anything, it's how contagious people can be. I know that contagious usually connotes something negatively catching, like a cold, but I mean it in the very best way possible.

Last Wednesday, I did go to that networking event for creatives. It's also worth noting that it's stupidly hard to say things like "networking events" without feeling like a total skeeze.

There was free pizza, gin and tonics, and raffles for cool prizes from small local businesses. But most importantly, there was so much passion in that room. Each and every person was there because they wanted to be. A hundred men and women gathered on a three-degree January night because they are so completely charged about what they do that sharing it with others is the only viable option.

There was this compelling drive that hung over the room, and something just simply clicked in me. I realized it's okay to say things like, "I work in recruiting, but I'm also a film maker," because so many others were saying them, too. While there was definitely a core group of people who have crafted their careers around matchmaking, or online game design, or macro flower photography, I now know people who are marketing consultants and central players in non-profits for entrepreneurs, or women who work in leasing and are talented painters.

Before, it never felt right to talk about my day job and then tack something else on the side. But, as many of you may know, the last year has clearly demonstrated that "day jobs" do not define me; who I am defines me. Loving something outside of work isn't terrible, and doesn't indicate that I'm unsatisfied with my current career choice or incapable of corporate success. It just means that I can be something slightly different by day than I am at night. Like a super hero, except I can't do that jump-and-sail-glamorously-to-the-side thing that comic book women seem so into.

This small and important alteration in my thinking prompted me to finally, FINALLY, finish my vanity site. It's basically a central hub for everything I love doing. This is my second attempt in the last year because the first go-around left me feeling too embarrassed about shamelessly showcasing myself. But if it makes me uncomfortable and doesn't involves high explosives or poison, I'm willing to bet I need to do it.

And with that. Behold. If you get a chance, take a gander. Because, oh, hi. I'm Jessica. I'm a creative. I work in finance, but I'm also a novelist, a web designer, and an ebook consultant. And I'm so very excited to tell you all about it.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

anxiety, too much information, and kicking 2013 in the gonads

I have this thing where I can't fall asleep on my back because I'm convinced that resting peacefully in a perfect lower-me-into-a-coffin position means I'll die. Surely, it's just too convenient for me not to. On the rare occasion when I do decide it's okay to tempt fate, I shove my hands down my pants because certainly, certainly, the Universe couldn't be cruel enough to strike a girl dead with her hands down her pants. Can it?

Before bed, I once had a guy look over and ask why my fingers were shoved in my underwear like a creep-o extraordinaire. We'd made a platonic pact, and here I was putting half my arm where the sun don't shine.

"I won't die in my sleep with my hands down my pants," I explained simply, years of the fear-induced recording embedded like gospel.

He blinked a couple times. "If you're going to die, you're going to die, and then the paramedics will find you with your hands down your pants."

I'm not sure if you guys know this, but being awesome is pretty fucking terrifying. There are so many things I consciously want to do. I can think about them, and get excited, but then when it comes time to do it, I just freak the fuck out. There's no poetic way to put it; it just is what it is. I can't pinpoint exactly when I became so scared of everything: driving on the highway, dying my hair a noticeable color, walking through malls on my own. But I have become that terrified person. And I hate it.

On an intellectual level, I can acknowledge how absolutely trivial and goofy those things sound. However, I still get physically terrified, causing me to avoid uncomfortable situations at nearly ALL COSTS. My pulse quickens and there's a tightness in my chest that I always think means I'm having a heart attack but actually means that I've forgotten to breathe upon merging into traffic from an on-ramp. Of course, the OH-MY-GOD-WHY-AM-I-HAVING-A-HEART-ATTACK feeling doesn't do much to dispel the anxiety, either. That's mostly when the crying starts.

Ultimately, the overwhelming, gut-wrenching fear has been such a huge part of my life for so long that I've forgotten about the version of me who isn't scared of everything. The version who performed onstage, single-handedly directed plays in college, loved going to movies alone, dyed her hair hot pink, laughed too loudly at restaurants, and generally lived.

The other day, Shmoyfriend said he really wanted to go to the aquarium, then sheepishly added that he knows I don't like it.

"I don't?" I asked, genuinely curious.
"You said the giant room with the sharks makes you feel uneasy," he replied, an automatic response to years of me hedging around things that make my pulse race just a little too fast.

And then it hit me. My anxiety has become such a huge presence in my life that not only do I avoid situations that make me uncomfortable, but other people have to steer us around adventures to avoid a bout of anxiousness surrounding things that, logically, pose no actual threat.

When he articulated it so plainly, it highlighted just how wastefully I've been living. Or not living, actually. I mean, I love the aquarium. I'm going to go to the fucking aquarium. By giving myself permission to avoid the things that may make me feel uneasy, I've been giving them power over who I am and what I do. And to me, that seems pretty stinkin' stupid.

So now, I'm allowing myself to be brave. Once a month, I'm going to do at least one thing that makes me oh-so-very panicky in the hopes the huge wall of hyperbolic anxiety will finally let me through.

I'm not entirely sure what all of these will be yet. I'll have to see where the biggest sources of my anxiety rest, and move forward from there, systematically isolating and tackling them. However, I do know that for January I'll be going to a mixer for creative types where I'll know almost no one. I'll be presenting myself as a member of their tribe, truly branding myself as a person with something worthwhile to give, and to share, and to offer. This is a huge step. I'm going to come out of the safe little shadowy boxes I've so artfully crammed myself into, and moreover, I'm going to come out of them in new lipstick.

After nearly 24 years of dealing with this bullshit, I'm ready to lace up my tennis shoes, slam my apartment door behind me, and kick Fear in the nards. 2013, bitches.


I went to the aquarium!

Lumpfish. True story.

[Insert Jaws theme song.]

"Hairy Otter" is a pretty decent name for vagina. Just sayin'.
Also Shmoyfriend and I got these shirts to commemorate the experience. I'm basically a baller and/or shot caller, save the 20-inch blades on the Impala. Mostly because I don't know what "blades" are, but a car with knives sounds SO DANGEROUS.