Snapshots of a… Crazy Kinda Life

The Misadventures of Messie Jessie

Crazy Little Thing Called… November 8, 2011

I’ve often thought that I should write a relationship blog. Why? Because I’ve had so darned many of ‘em. Problem is, I’ve earned an advanced degree in Relationship Studies but with a concentration in Failure.

As you may recall, I’ve written quite a bit on the subject already. Over the last year I’ve made an effort NOT to write about relationships. I didn’t want to become one of those ubiquitous diary-esque blogs where I go on and on about frivolous details of my love life. Hello… snooze-fest! I mean really, who cares to read about my personal pratfalls to make intimate emotional connections with the opposite sex, anyway? (Actually, I know there are a bunch of you naughty, little voyeurs out there. I can see your glowing eyes from the shadowy alcoves of the internet.)

So why, if I’ve made an effort not to write about relationships, am I writing about relationships today?

Blame the definition of insanity.

Say what?

According to the basic text of Narcotics Anonymous, the definition of insanity is, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. We’ve all heard this tiresome adage before. But it wasn’t until about a month ago it finally occurred to me that, according to the above definition, I’ve been completely, out-of-my-mind, whack for the past 17 years.

I’m not going to disclose the how’s and why’s of my mad relationship skills. I’ve got to consider the cost/benefit ratio here, and seriously guys, I’m not getting paid to write this sh*t (yet) so it’s not worth the risk of gunning down any more relationships for the sake of a few extra site hits. Hand me a paycheck and I’ll reconsider.

However, I can smell all your mouths salivating for details, so: No, I am not in a relationship, per se, at this time. In fact, I’m not even speaking (er, writing) exclusively about romantic relationships here.

Heck, I’m pretty sure I accidentally, single-handedly slaughtered a friendship just today. (I’m not joking. Apparently what I think is “funny” is considered by others to be “harsh”. Who knew?)

Here’s the deal: From now on I’m going to start doing things differently when it comes to people I care about. But I’m scared; I’m anxious; and I’m stumbling around in the dark and have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. I’m a freaking dimwit when it comes to these things, so really, in that respect, things are not all that different. Except this time I’m stepping out of my old, familiar idiot zone and awkwardly walking around in a new one. Blindfolded.

I’ve decided to pull my helmet out of the closet, dust off my knee pads, and am fully prepared to fall flat on my face. The only protective gear I’m leaving behind? The one that goes over my heart. That’s usually the only one I never leave home without.

So here’s to hoping a two-word apology speaks volumes, an open heart opens doors, and a little love goes a long way.

*

You’ve also heard this tiresome adage before, but I’m sticking with my crazy on this one: Rate, Comment, Subscribe, Share!

 

Ok Universe, message received. May 19, 2011

While sitting here eating my 2.5-quarts-of-popcorn and 1-pint-of-milk dinner, I decided I wanted to tell you about the exact moment in my life that I hit bottom.

2.5 quarts of popcorn will tend to do that to a person. Not so much the pint of milk.

It was March 14th, 2008, approximately 9 o’clock pm. I had no job, $50 to my name, a backpack of belongings over my shoulder, and now, rendered officially homeless as well. I watched the person who had dropped me off drive away, never once looking back, as I waited for the person whose front stoop I was standing on to come to the door, hoping she would take me in.

That one singular moment is forever etched into my memory.

The how’s and why’s of the situation aren’t really relevant to this blog post. What I will say is that immediately after, I did what any other 20-something does when they find themselves in destitute: I called my mommy.

A few weeks later, on the way to pick up the rest of my belongings that a friend had allowed me to store at their house until I had somewhere to put them, my mom said something that will also be forever etched into my memory banks. These were her exact words:

“The thing is, the Universe will always tell you when you’re not doing the right thing. And if you ignore it for too long, it will bang you on the head and force you to listen.”

That simple statement had pretty much summed up the entire past eleven months of my life.

*

So what exactly do I mean when I say “the Universe”?

The best way I can explain it is this: some people call it “God”, some call it “Allah”, and some Atheists out there probably refer to it as a “FGE” (*bleeping* Grow Experience).

I tend to think of it as a nonsingular, amorphous energy source of undetermined origin, more easily referred to as the Universe. The Universe is you, it is me, it is our intentions and our energies that we send to, and receive from, each other. This nonsingular, amorphous energy source of undetermined origin collects all these intentions and orchestrates them into a symphony called life. We just need to tune our radios to the right station to pick up its message.

I often do what I call “putting it out there to the Universe”, which simply means making public my intentions and/or desires. The Universe usually responds by manifesting opportunities, to which I just need pay close enough attention.

The Universe doesn’t give you a set of commandments or rules. All it asks is that you try to live the most personally sincere and benevolent life possible. The Universe will always allow you to make your own choices and decisions. It will, however, give you pointers along the way.

And, as my mother so eloquently stated, if you don’t listen, it will knock you upside the head and force you to make some serious changes.

*

Needless to say, in 2008 I took my cue from the Universe and have since moved on, and upward, with my life. Because I’m sure no one out there wants a play-by-play of the last three years, let’s just fast forward to the meat and potatoes of this post, which started two weeks ago. I will do my best to be brief, but thorough.

A new position became available at my place of employment. It was suggested to me by a reliable authority that I should submit my resume. Initially I was hesitant; I wasn’t really interested in the job. However, I was persuaded when it was implied that I could do so “just to find out more about the position.”

Little did I know, or expect, that submitting my resume would ignite a course of events that two weeks later would result in me crying at the bus stop on the corner of 68th & Broad.

But I get ahead of myself. Let me back up just a little.

You see, I was told the position was mine if I wanted it even before the interview. It was made clear that, as far as my career was concerned, this would be a very smart decision and would assist in upward movement in the future. However, I had other career ideas in mind. Promptly after the interview I set an appointment with our CEO for the following Wednesday to discuss these ideas and how taking this position would influence the potential for these ideas to become a reality. I announced I would inform everyone of my decision after this meeting.

I had about 5 days before this meeting to think about my decision. Even though I didn’t want the job, I knew I should take it. I also thought about the other plans, projects and possibilities in my personal life that I have had on the back burner for a little while now and have recently become open to pursuing. I felt if I took the job I would be pigeon-holed in a direction I didn’t want to go in. I thought that my life would start to be more about my job than it would be about… living it. I began to feel smothered by it all. Things were moving much faster than I was ready for, and were quickly getting out of control. I had put balls in motion that I now wished I never started rolling in the first place.

Enter Wednesday. To me, this was the day the trajectory of my life was to be determined. It was a Robert Frost “Road Not Taken” kind of day. During the hour-long ride I geared myself up, thinking about what I wanted to say and exactly how I was going to say it. Anxiety was high, but I was prepared and confident. This was going to be a pivotal moment in my life, and there I was, about to step knee deep into it.

Ten minutes before I was due to arrive I get a telephone call that the meeting was cancelled. Apparently there had been a mix-up and the CEO was already booked. There were no times available later in the day.

My first reaction: anger. My second reaction: rejection. My third reaction: “screw this, I’m quitting. Clearly I’m not appreciated around this joint.”

As I passed the stop I would have gotten off of at, I decided to wait and get off a block away. I was too embarrassed to be seen by any other employees. I crossed the street to wait for the next bus in the opposite direction. Then I started to cry.

I didn’t even know why exactly I was so upset. I just was. I thought to myself, “clearly the Universe is trying to tell me something right now, I just can’t figure out what the hell it is.”

Then I cried a little more. Actually, that’s a lie. I cried pretty much the entire ride back, keeping my shades over my eyes (even on the subway) and covering my mouth with my hand, trying my best to look pensive rather than revealing that my bottom lip was quivering.

Somewhere around the mid-point of my travels, I realized what the Universe was telling me: I had been waiting for someone else (namely, the CEO) to tell me what decision to make, when what I really needed to do was make that decision for myself. Additionally, the Universe was giving me the opportunity to stop some of those balls from rolling and get things back under control.

Message received. 2008 lesson learned.

When I got back to my office, I let everyone know that I had decided not to take the position. I stated it was for personal reasons and that I was well aware that this was not looked highly upon. I also said I understood the potential consequences that this may have for future advancement in my career.

And I, I chose the road less traveled by.

I thought perhaps later I would regret this decision, but in truth, I didn’t. And you know what? I still don’t. I made the decision that I felt was best for me, no matter the repercussions.

I think that’s exactly what the Universe was hoping I’d do.

Oh yeah, and remember those things I said had been on the back burner for a while? I’ve since been “putting them out there to the universe”, and I’m hoping to catch whatever the gets thrown my way.

So, now, if you’ve made it this far (and aren’t bored to tears), what’s the take home message in all this? Put it out there; be willing to listen; let it manifest; make your own choices.

And may the Universe never bang you on the head.

*

 

Writing on the Rebound October 2, 2010

As I lay upon my couch, entertaining low-grade fever induced delusions and over 200x the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C pumping though my veins, I ruminate upon having once again found myself kicked to the relationship curb.

This time I have been accused of the worst of courtly crimes: dating on the rebound.

Being that I spent the majority of this bright & brisk autumn day providing my body with adequate rest to stave off the impending viral invasion, I stimulated my mind by doing a little research on the topic of Rebound Relationships.

Since I now have some academic knowledge in the subject, I prefer to call them Transitional Relationships. This amended nomenclature is a little easier on a bruised ego.

At its essence, a Rebound (eh-hem, Transitional) Relationship is one that occurs shortly after the break-up of a significant love relationship, in which a person has not fully distanced themselves emotionally from the previous partnership.

Typically a person enters a Transitional Relationship, consciously or unconsciously, seeking a meaningful connection with another person to distract themselves from the pain of the recent break. Maybe you think you are “moving on”. Or perhaps you can’t take the thought of being alone. Whatever your motivation, the company of a new love is much more pleasurable than the empty heartache of a lost love, this we all know. (To learn more about Rebound Relationships, click here)

*

Let me be clear: I never intended on entering into a relationship of any kind -Transitional, Rebound, or otherwise- after my break up. In fact, I had been looking forward to spending some alone time with myself, taking the opportunity to unravel some of my more maladaptive inner-workings. Additionally, I had been quite distanced from the relationship even prior to the break. The actual break-up was merely a concrete coda to the trajectory we had been traveling.

What started out with this new Chap as a friendly and casual encounter slowly became more familiar and amorous as we spent time getting to know each other. Eventually Chap asked me out and I accepted. What was the harm? It was just a date.

What began as just a date, transpired into an enjoyable evening and several subsequent enjoyable evenings. For me, this remained a light-hearted and easygoing affair. For Chap, it seems he viewed this as going in a slightly different direction.

The climax was yestereve, when an argument (our first!) ensued over what can be most basically described as my actions in this union failing to meet his expectations.

I reminded Chap that I had been honest from the get-go about my emotional availability. Prior to our first date I had been very clear about my most recent relationship status, and what it would mean for any budding romance that may emerge in the near future.

His response at the time? And I quote: “What, me worry”?

It appears that Chap doth now “worry”.

And that was it. With a harsh “goodbye”, a quick click of the phone and an abrupt un-friending on FaceBook, Chap had made himself clear. In a dizzy and with stars swirling around my head, I thought to myself “where did I go wrong”?

*

According to the popular love & sex advice website YourTango.com, there are five cardinal rules for Transitional Relationships.

1. A Transitional Relationship is not a “Booty Call.” It also cannot be someone you dated already. The TR needs to be someone new. Someone who doesn’t know you or your baggage.

Check. Not a Booty Call. Didn’t know Chap prior to any acquainting.

2. A Transitional Relationship cannot be a one-night stand (see Rule #1.) You must have a “relationship” with this person including prearranged dates, hand holding as well as intimacy. You must know their first, middle and last names. No exception.

Check. One-night stand? See response to Rule #1. Went on lots of prearranged dates, which included hand-holding and intimacy. Knew Chap’s first, middle and last. I also knew his hometown and about his childhood. Even knew his roommate’s cat’s name- even though I never met either of them.

3. A Transitional Relationship must last no less than two weeks and no longer than one month. Whatever you do, do not marry your transitional relationship: See Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, etc.

Check? According to my sources, from the first date to the last (now cancelled) date, it had been just over exactly one month. But if you count the time we “talked” prior, it was about a total of a month and a half. Marriage had never been on the table.

I’ll check this one too.

4. A Transitional Relationship cannot be with anyone in your intimate circle (see Rule #1.) As the Transitional Relationship is a single-serving boyfriend or girlfriend—they must be used up and tossed away, never to be seen or heard from again (except for the case of the “booty call” in between other relationships.) DO NOT ADD THEM AS A FRIEND ON FACEBOOK OR MYSPACE.

Not in my intimate circle? Check.

Not to be added on MySpace or FaceBook? Whoops. No check. My bad.

5. The perfect candidate for a transitional relationship is everything you are not looking for in a relationship. The ideal candidate exhibits behaviors unlike yours. In other words, the transitional relationship is not someone you would bring home to mom. Ever. See Toxic Bachelors, Femme Fatale or the proverbial “WOMANIZER.”

Ehhh… Ok, no check. Chap was a nice guy. I mean like a really, super nice guy. There were times he would say or do something and I would step back thinking, “wow, this is a REALLY good guy. Maybe I should invest in this one a little more”. If you ask Chap, I did not invest.

*

Of all the articles I read on the matter, including a 2006 Princeton research study titled On the Rebound, they all clearly state: know what these relationships are and take them for exactly that.

I did that. I followed all of ok, most of the rules. I was upfront from the beginning. So why is it I’m the one left feeling like the bad guy here?

It all boils down to this: Even though Chap had false expectations about the relationship, his feelings were hurt. And I know that I was the one responsible for hurting them.

Nobody likes to be the person who hurt someone else.

Here’s the part I neglected to mention earlier. All these articles also begin with one, very simple, piece of advice. If you want to avoid the pain associated with a Rebound Relationship, stay away from all potential relationships at all costs. Wait until enough time has passed. Otherwise, someone’s gonna get hurt. Probably even the both of you.

The regretful part is I already knew this. I just thought it would be different if I made clear what this was from the beginning. Turns out, being upfront only makes you really honest about the probability that you are going to hurt the other person.

So just how long do you need to wait before you jump back on the dating train? Only you know. The general rule of thumb given is to wait one month for every year you were in the previous relationship. If you’re not so well versed in lunar calculations another good indication is when you aren’t yet able to accommodate emotions associated with significant time spent together, doing couple-like activities.

And if you decide to go on “just a date” anyway? Proceed with caution. Look for me at the finish line; I’ll be the one with ticker tape and the “I told you so” banner in hand.

Unless, of course, you’re both on the rebound. Then go ahead and rebound around as much as you like. It’s only a transitional thing anyway, right?

Riiiight.

 

Dear Blog (again), July 28, 2010

Filed under: Life's Little Lessons,Simple Pleasures — Messie Jessie @ 9:38 pm

Someone asked me about you today.

Someone who has always been supportive and encouraging of my writing; whether it be with you, or with my guitar, or with my old friend Journal. Someone who’s opinion and who’s own writing I have respected and admired in return.

I told this someone I had been thinking of you lately too. I told this someone I had been having a lot of thoughts about a lot of things and I wanted to throw some of them your way.

You and this someone have something in common: I haven’t talked to either of you in a long time, and I think its about time we caught up.

I just thought you should know.

Talk to you soon,

-J

 

Meanderings of a Near-Perfectionist September 22, 2009

Filed under: All about me,Life's Little Lessons — Messie Jessie @ 11:50 pm
Tags: , , ,

perfectionistThere’s nothing wrong with doing your best. In fact, we’ve oft been told by our mothers and mentors that one should always try to do their best. Mediocracy is generally unacceptable in this cruel dog-eat-dog world.

So then when, and why exactly, does doing your best go from being productive to a down right problem?

I call myself a Near-Perfectionist because I don’t think of myself as a perfectionist per se; as clearly evidenced the moment you step into my humble 2nd floor abode. My apartment doesn’t look like Hurricane Katrina packed up and moved in, but it’s obvious I didn’t get the nick name Messie Jessie for nothing. There are many areas in my life, even beyond the doors of my living space, in which “half ass” is completely acceptable, and generally preferred. 

But in other sectors I definitely hold myself to unrealistic expectations, and more often than not think that no matter how many atta-girls come my way, I could have done some part of the whole shabang better. This will continue to haunt me and eat away a little at my precious little soul until I get a chance to do another something that gives me the opportunity to try and get it exactly right. But like any cyclical pattern, it doesn’t get any better and the problem simply continues.

I seem to have happened upon conversations involving my two favorite things in this world ( a. Me, and b. topics that I have already been internally chewing on for a while) in the last week. I’ve talked at length on the subjects of mindfulness, embracing who you are, focusing on the present, focusing on the process and not the product, and the very real negative health effects of perfectionism. And let me tell you, being the ultimate self-analyzer I am, none of the information was new to me as I have been a student of all the aforementioned for quite some time now. 

So the question I pose here is: why is it that within some people resides the mindset that it is ok to know you could do better, but yet simply leave it as is, while for others “as is” will never be enough because there is always something that can be improved upon? And further, how is it that those dichotomies can live within the same person, only exposing themselves in different circumstances?

It is at this point I would like to introduce you to the Navajo Nation. These expert rug makers and beaders intentionally leave slight imperfections and flaws in their work, because in their theory only the Great Spirit is perfect, and we as humans can never achieve perfection. We could all stand to learn a great deal from the Navajos in this respect. 

However, I would like to point out the irony in this strategy. If you are intentionally designing flaws into your creation, isn’t your completed project exactly how you wanted it, which is in turn making it “perfect”?

Either way, I think I am going to take my cue from the Navajo, and take a first step towards releasing the grips of “I can do better than this”. I am going to intentionally leave this post as it is, already knowing I don’t like the cadence and structure of the published product. And sure, I will look back at this post some day, cringing as I do so, wonder what the heck I was I was thinking, have the urge to hit “edit” to fix all those little mistakes and fantasize about rewording the sentences so they are just right

But I’m not going to do that. This is one of those circumstances where I have the insatiable urge to make something perfect, but I’m going to fight it. I KNOW I could do better (and if this is your first time reading my blog, continue to peruse my posts, if for nothing else but my sake). 

This time, I’m going to let half-ass be just right.

And to all my fellow (near-)perfectionists out there, I suggest you choose one thing in your life and, even if just this once, let it reach it’s full half-ass potential. I feel your pain, but I know you can do it… perfectly.

 

From the archives… August 8, 2009

Filed under: All about me,Life's Little Lessons — Messie Jessie @ 5:32 pm
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Do you remember the first time you heard the album that changed your life? I do. I never actually owned the album, but did have it on long-term-loan from a friend. The day I gave it back was a sad, sad day. But today, as I was engaging in one of my favorite pastimes, yard sale-ing, I spotted it’s familiar jacket, carelessly tossed in a box of random wares, and I snatched that baby up.

Now, as it sit here listening to it all over again, I am reminded of a post I wrote about it on a former (and less public) blog. So now, I blow off the dust and share something from the Messie Jessie archives:

Tuesday, June 24, 2008 

Everything is Everything- The REeducation of Messie Jessie
Current mood: 
 catalyzed 
Category: Music

Isn’t it funny how things always seem to find you just when you need them? To me, that means the universe is telling you that you’re on the right track.

In a desperate attempt to divert my seemingly magnetic draw of the weirdos on the subway, I took the suggestion to listen to some music during my commute. It didn’t matter if I was actually listening to anything, just as long as I looked like I was. I needed to appear as if no matter how much you felt compelled to talk to me, I wouldn’t be able to hear you, thus keeping me out of a plethora of uncomfortable and annoying situations. But, being me, I decided that if I was going to have the earbuds in, I might as well have something coming out of them. Since I brought just the basics with me while I live in my friend’s livingroom, unfortunately the CD’s didn’t make the priority list. Graciously, my friend let me borrow a CD from her (sparse) collection.  I didn’t have many options, and even fewer appealing ones, but among the wreckage there was The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. I always liked her, but never listened to the entire album so I thought I’d give it a shot. I knew she got a lot of acclaim for it, but I figured even if it wasn’t my style I could just turn it off and pretend to rock out.

Turns out, I really like the CD. So, I’m sittin’ on the subway, jammin’ to some Lauryn, when up comes track number 8: When It Hurts So Bad. Now, I know this CD came out in 1998, but it was like Lauryn and I were totally on the same wavelength. It was like she plucked the thoughts right out of my head -10 years before I even thought them- when she sang “What you want might make you cry/ What you need might pass you by/ If you don’t catch it/ And what you need ironically/ Will turn out what you want to be/ If you let it”.

As the tracks progress, it was like I was making the evolution in thought and emotion right along side her. By the time I got to Track 13 Everything is Everything, all my positive affirmations were being reaffirmed when she sang “What is meant to be will be/ After winter must come spring/ Change, it comes eventually”. In that moment I felt like I could take on the world.  It was as if Lauryn was my soul sista, no matter what she ever said about white people. By the time I got to where I was going, I wanted nothing more than to write her a fan letter, telling her how much I loved her, thank her for understanding and apologize for everything my race did to her race…. Ever.

So, here’s where I get all sappy and philosophical on ya. When people talk about everything happening for a reason, even if you can’t see it at that time, you really need to believe them. If all those bizarre and creepy dudes hadn’t invaded my personal space ten too many times, I would have never thought to listen to music on the sub, and I would have never shared the inspiration and camaraderie with the fabuloz Miss Lauryn Hill.

P.S. And God damn, this album is still as relevant as it was on day one.

 

Actualization of the inner Zen Master May 14, 2009

Filed under: Life's Little Lessons — Messie Jessie @ 8:45 pm
Tags: , , , ,

happy_face_It’s something I have been working on for some time now. It’s something that takes practice, and effort, and a heckuva lotta “I” statements. It’s something I have struggled to attain, and when I am finally able to grasp it I clench my white knuckled fists around it so tightly that it can’t slip away under the constant erosion.

It’s what I call Being the Zen Master.

There is a certain sector of my life in which has been under the influence of perpetual “drama”, despite my attempts to pacify all parties involved. I frequently find myself the object of said “drama”, although I have not been the source nor the catalyst. I remain a neutral figurehead amongst the chaos, although admittedly, it is not always easy when others feverishly tug at your cloak and provoke you in an attempt to reel you in.

I have finally materialized my inner Zen Master. In the past days, while those around me are yelling, angry and making direct accusations to my character, I have been able to hold my head high, acknowledge their complaints with respect and dignity, whilst still making my point clear. I put up a barrier to all attempts at being drawn in to an emotional battle, where no one can possibly come out triumphant. 

At first I thought my attempts at Zen-Mastering were all for naught- nothing but continued failed attempts. Then today the epiphany hit: the “drama” is increasing because my techniques are working. I am experiencing resistance because these are the last futile attempts of a losing soldier’s battle. We are now approaching a cross road, where the origin of the drama either chooses to acquiesce or remove thyself from the situation all together.

Immeasurable strength can be found within the calm and happy center of your own personal universe. While the opposition may win a few battles, the Zen Master always wins the war.

 

 
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