Friday, June 5, 2015

Jenny Lewis in Color

I saw a goddess perform on stage tonight, and her name is Jenny Lewis! Jenny opened the Three Rivers Arts Festival in Pittsburgh this evening to a crowd of older folk, the younger crowd, and the littlest voyagers--all about six years old--wearing their own rainbow pantsuits. The Columbus, OH band All Dogs opened for her, and I became a fan instantly.

The ringing in my ears and nausea that accompanies any wonderfully loud concert has subsided, and I am ready to dream Voyager dreams for I am tough and unbreakable. Thanks for making me feel that way, Jenny.

Jenny's Set List

Silver Lining
Head Underwater
The Moneymaker
The Next Messiah
With Arms Outstretched
Rise Up With Fists
You Are What You Love
The New You
Pretty Bird
Slippery Slopes
Just One of the Guys
She's Not Me
Love U Forever
A Better Son/Daughter
Girl on Girl
Portions for Foxes
Acid Tongue

Thursday, June 4, 2015

I Was Good With Money When I Had None

"Want to see what I irresponsibly spent my money on this week?"

This is a joke I run by friends sometimes when I've bought something unnecessary. It used to be month instead of week. I buy lots of pretty dresses from Modcloth, and I feel into a Blythe obsession back in January that I am going to be feeling for the rest of the year. I bought so many Blythe dolls that I didn't even want some of them when they arrived. I'm in the process of selling most of them to other collectors without breaking even. Lesson learned: wait a month before you buy something to see if you still care about it.

My bank account currently holds a total of $7.67 until payday tomorrow. Yesterday it had  a bit more before I paid my cell phone bill. The lower my account gets, the more I panic until the next round of direct deposit. I used to be very good with money when I didn't have a job. With even a thousand dollars in my account, I didn't buy anything when I went out. If I ate out, I drank water instead of something with flavor, and definitely no dessert. Now I have a half-way decent job, and I indulge far too much.

I'm also a bit too responsible with money. I have student loans and credit card bills that could stand to have less paid on them each month, but I'm kind of addicted to seeing the amount I owe go significantly down. So I have to restrain myself on both ends of the spectrum.

Okay, short post today because this is all very personal, and I feel I have bared myself pretty well at this point.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Reliable and Responsible

I was unreliable today. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that my therapist doesn't charge me for missing my appointment this morning. I called her office at 9 when secretaries start answering phones (also the time of my appointment), was put on hold for 10 minutes, then transferred to her voicemail after I told the secretary I couldn't make the appointment.

I was also irresponsible. "Hi B----, this is Jazz Sexton. It's 9:10 June 3. I'm supposed to be there right now, but I slept through my alarm." Actually, I told myself several times last week to look up when my appointment was, didn't do it, then forgot. I resolved be straight about it when I called instead of making up an excuse, but the white lie just rolled out. Some subconscious embarrassment, perhaps. Whatever it was, I didn't take honest responsibility for it.

Back when I was giving my "ambitious, reliable and responsible" answer in interviews, my concept of responsibility covered me being careful with equipment in the office, and shirking any opportunities to goof off. Admitting that being responsible also meant conceding my mistakes came several years later. I tend to learn by example, so I found this out the hard way when an ex-boyfriend decided I was responsible for the problems of his own making. I also have some family members who love to play the victims, and it grew exhausting listening to them complain about fixable things they insisted were just their sorry lots in life that would never change.

So I learn by example, but I learn how to do the opposite. I moaned about things for a long time, too, though much of that had to do with undiagnosed depression. To be fair to my family members, they might also have issues that have not been diagnosed. Still, hearing about how someone would watch less TV and read a book if it were a little warmer, if no one were in the house, then find new excuses not to better themselves when those conditions are met has me hightailing it to I'll Never Be Like That territory. By which I mean I really will not be like that. I don't mean in the sense that boring novels about sad middle-aged middle class people said they would not be like those who came before them, but inevitably became just like them. Do people really think becoming their parents is unavoidable?

Writing this has made me feel a bit better. I'm about to finish a break at work and I wrote my third blog post of the month, so at least I've been reliable in two areas today.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Cinderella and Her Father

My religion is listed on Facebook as Folklore and Faerie Tales, and that's what I'd tell you if you asked, with the addition that I was baptized Roman Catholic. I turn to faerie tales in times of distress the way others turn to scripture. These stories are on my mind daily. Like with all texts, their meanings become clearer with the more I experience the world.

I had a revelation about Cinderella's father just last month. It has mystified me since childhood, ever since I found out Cinderella's father was not dead, as to why he would allow his daughter to be treated deplorably. Cinderella is upheld as the classic rags to riches story when it is actually a riches to rags to riches story. A high born girl's station is lowered in her own household, and by the end of the story she is raised to a higher rank than she enjoyed before. I don't think it's a stretch to imagine a real world man of means would not stand to see his blood relation treated as a commoner. It would wound his pride too much. So WHY did he allow it to happen?

After seeing too many real world examples of disappointing parenting, the answer clicked into my mind while I drove down a narrow Pennsylvania road a few evenings ago. Gender roles dictate that women care for children. Some fathers will give girlfriends/stepmothers authority over children even if those women have no experience with care giving. My friends will be surprised to see me write something negative about women. Worry not, the blame isn't all on controlling stepmothers abusing their power. Gender roles are the fault of the patriarchy, and once again the patriarchy has ruined everything. Faerie tales let fathers off the hook all the time. Hansel and Gretel are thrilled to reunite with their father even though he agreed to abandon them in the woods. Nothing of reproach happens to the man who risks his daughter's life when he boasts she can spin straw into gold.

It would be fascinating to see Cinderella's father examined in a modern book or movie. Hollywood is far too happy to crank out bland retellings, but maybe there are some books that include Cinderella's father. Recommendations welcome.

Monday, June 1, 2015

When I Was Ambitious

Ten years ago when I eagerly entered the workforce, employers favored opening their interviews with this question: What three words would you use to describe yourself?

This question excited me because I had such a crackerjack answer in store.

"Ambitious, reliable, and responsible!"

You'd think I'd arrange the words "reliable, responsible, and ambitious" because that order of syllables has an easier time rolling off the tongue and sitting in the ears. It would also make more sense because I ambitious was my favorite part, but I was always in a hurry to let people know when it came to ambition, I was it. My pride was plumped up by finding work in a portrait studio taking family photos, and later a photo lab developing prints from 35mm film. Ambition led me to apply for and acquire these positions over cashier jobs I would not even consider. I wanted to work in photography, so I did. Later on I ended up working more than one cashier job that killed my spirit for a long time, but I'm now writing this from a desk in the wonderful library I work for.

So pretty often I ask myself, Do you remember when you were ambitious?

No, I don't.

I remember giving that answer at interviews, I remember being proud I used a descriptor I assumed most people did not, I remember thinking my ambition would never end. But I don't remember how it felt or where that drive came from. It tapered off in my early 20s, a point earlier than one would expect. It must have felt like everything would fall into place eventually, no matter what. I get echoes of the feeling when I imagine I am going to read all the books, sew all the dresses, and write all the stories. I am then reminded none of that will happen by the unread books I bought 5 years ago, the fabric stash overflowing from my closet, and the story fragments on my hard drive.

Somewhere around 22 I stopped caring if I finished what I started. Part of the problem has been identified, and I'm taking medicine for my anxiety disorder. Another issue is money. I have very little so I don't have a digital SLR, and I'm not going on writing retreats anytime soon. I'm resigned to being behind the times. The other part of the problem might not be a problem at all. When I was ambitious, I overwhelmed myself with extravagant goals when I should have taken things one step at a time. I'm patient now. I'm no longer concerned with being the youngest person to ever __________.

I remember reading an interview with renaissance woman Felicia Day in which her answer to "How do you work?" was "Relentlessly."

Relentless is a better word for me than ambition these days. Ambition was all desire, relentlessness is action. Still, I know me. That relentlessness will be interspersed with plenty of goofing off unless updating my cat's Facebook page is work. I think I'll work on efficiency, too. I started this post on my lunch break. Now it's past 9PM, and I'm lounging in bed with the notebook on my lap.

It's time to worry about the actual work, and not so much the goal. The work will amount to something. I'll have a clearer picture of what it should be when I get there.

With all that said, this is the first day of my attempt to blog every day in June. Thirty days of talking about who knows what. Though, right now I'm not thinking about the end of June. I'm thinking about the 1st of June. Tomorrow I'll think about the 2nd of June. This isn't about living in the moment, nor am I putting down planning ahead. My life has a happy mix of both. It's just that every now and then I need to relearn how to not be overwhelmed so I can actually get things done instead of staring at my wall with the guilt I feel over only crossing off two items out of ten on my to-do list.

I've done this in the past, claiming I won't be lazy or procrastinate anymore. I've failed more than once. You might think having to do this now means I've always failed at it. It isn't quite like that. Last year I failed to learn ASL. Three years ago I succeeded in learning how to knit. I'm responsible for my failures and my successes. Success is what causes me to be overwhelmed. Once I have a bit of it, I overextend myself because success pretends all the work was easy, so I obviously can do much more. It might be true someday. Relentlessness and efficiency.