Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Insecurities: Naming the Thing

Everyone's insecure about something. No matter how confident a front they put on, everyone's got something. Me? I got a whooooooole crapload; and the funny thing is, even after you reach supposedly landmark events in your journey to adulthood--like getting married--some of those same insecurities still rear their ugly heads. Only they take on a more insidious form because they directly affect someone else now, and not just you. I battle feelings of inadequacy all the time. I have felt that I am not pulling my weight at home. I am here almost all day every day; I should take better care of the house. I have felt like my Masters degree, the one semester I have nearly completed, is a joke, a walk in the park compared to what my husband is doing and I feel silly. I can't feel proud of what I'm working for. There are many other things that I have felt at one time or another.

As this time of year rolls around again, it is hard for me not to draw parallels to last year. Last year at this time, I was, what I thought, a silly girl with crush. And I did silly things because that's what happens when you have a crush. It is hard for me not to feel embarrassed about some of the things I did or thought even a mere year ago. I once lectured my then-friend Travis over g-chat, this time last year, about how he shouldn't be so physically affectionate with girls he only intended to be friends with. At the time, I thought I was being grown up. But I was also nursing a little bit of hurt pride. I had begun to fall for him, had recognized belatedly that it was not reciprocated, and was pushing back in the only way my pride knew how: by pretending like I knew all along what everything was about. Covering my naivete by affecting urbanity.

Like I said, at the time I thought I was being grown up. Now, I feel supremely foolish about it. I say, "Travis, how did you end up with that silly girl with a crush? That unsophisticated newbie who had never even kissed a boy before you came along? Who thought she knew what everything was about because she'd had her heart broken before?" I cringe when I think about this time last year... even though, even though there was so much good.


I have developed a system for dealing with the times that I am falling under the influence of an insecurity. I think I am borrowing this idea from my sister-in-law Mary--maybe read it somewhere on her blog, can't remember--and I am certainly stealing it from Ursula K. Le Guin. But there is a certain power in naming something. In the book A Wizard of Earthsea, Ged is endlessly chased through by a nameless shape, a fear, that nips at his heals and threatens to consume him wherever he goes. At the end of the story he turns around, faces the thing, and defeats it by giving it a name. It's a beautiful story, and this same concept works, for me, in real life. Whenever I sense that I am succumbing to the influence of an insecurity, if I just stop, take stock, and name what it is that's bothering me, I am almost immediately freed from its grip.

I find that over the last four months, i have had to do this over and over again as various little insecurities crop up. But they have all been successfully navigate, including the last one mentioned above. The fact is, we all need to go through whatever it is we go through in order to grow up, and it doesn't do any good to look back on our past selves with scorn or with embarrassment. We change--even from one year to the next. We make mistakes, we learn (or we don't) and we move on (or we repeat). True!

And so it behooves us all to give ourselves the benefit of the doubt, yes? To allow that we change.

I'm probably writing this post more for me than for you because, frankly, I'm one of the most insecure people I know. But I'm learning not to let that form of pride--because pride it surely is--get in the way of the rest of my life.

I look at it this way: In spite of my being silly and naive, and in one case just stupid, things turned out as they should with me and Travis. Who cares about last year. It's now that matters. Now and tomorrow and the rest of forever.

So there. I've named my insecurities: Pride. And Pride leaves no room for growth. Or love.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sunday at the Lake

(Photos may not be used without express written permission.)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Whale of a Tale/Tail



Travis has been growing his beard of late. Ever since we got married, to be precise, and even before that. It became more a joke than anything to let it keep growing. And then he had the brilliant idea to build a Halloween costume around the beard. Face it. It isn't every day that one has a beard the ilk of which Brother Brigham himself would have been proud. Captain Ahab it was. Of course, this being our first Halloween of married life, I wanted to do a couples thing, which could only mean one thing for me in the costume department.

Moby Dick.

I knew right away I'd have to make my own costume, but in a flurry of denial, I did my research on the internet. Someone, somewhere had to be selling a whale costume!

Well, it turns out that someone, somewhere does :

BAHAHAHA!! Best picture ever.

It simply wouldn't do. Besides being the wrong size, it was the wrong kind of whale. So I sucked it up, went to Joanne, waited half an hour in the pre-holiday costume-making rush to get my swatch of fabric cut, bought a few other things and went to work. I already owned a white hoodie, so I decided to work with that as the top half of my costume and, for the tail, to construct something like a white mermaid tail. But a whale tail.

(As an aside, I learned something as I researched the shape of a whale tail--an intriguingly descriptive slang word, in fact. According to Wikipedia, "whale tail" was selected by the American Dialect Society in January 2006 as the "most creative word" of 2005. For this:

Yep, that's a thong. And I think I agree with the American Dialect Society's pronouncement.)

Anyway. What I was really looking for was something more like this:

So with this shape roughly in mind, I began to design my own patterns--which I did before going to the fabric store--guestimated the amount of yardage I would need (which I ended up grossly overestimating. I'll have to make a few hundred fleecy stuffed animals with the leftovers, I suppose.) re-taught myself how to use a sewing machine and got to work. Below are pictures of the work in progress:

The foam required a lot of trimming down. Also, I learned too late that sperm whales do not have dorsal fins. Apparently only porpoises, such as Orcas, do. Oh well.

I don't know why I thought I could finish this in a couple of days. Probably because I could have if I'd really set my mind to it. In any event, I am not a very crafty person, so it was a real challenge. Still, it was fun. And my photography fails to show the full extent of the shoddy workmanship so all is well.