Monday, January 12, 2009
the line of demarcation
Me and Chantilly, 2002
On rainy days, I just want to hide under the covers and watch cheesy teen movies and eat brownie batter, but on sunny days, I ache to be out in the world. This urge is even more compelling now that I have a highly energetic toddler who punishes me on days spent indoors by forcing me into annoying toddler games, such as "grabbing pointy things off the counter", "Sharpie marker mural", and "I say i'm using the potty, but i'm really drinking toilet water while wearing no pants".
So we head out to the playground when the sky is blue and the sun is warm and the temperature is somewhere between 38 and 59 degrees, depending on the thermometer. And my thoughts wonder to a point in my life I consider my personal line of demarcation.
They say that people rarely change, and that for real change to take place, there must be an impetus. As a child, I was always led to believe that the biggest personal changes would take place when I fell in love, when I got married, when I had kids-- or when some sort of tragedy struck. Oddly, for me, the biggest personal change occurred in a stupid, annoying "interpersonal behavior" class required by a hokey graduate program I later abandoned.
We began the class by taking some sort of personality test-- not the Myers-Briggs test, where you find out if you're an IMDB in love with an STFU, but one that plotted out areas where you needed improvement as a person. Basically, the whole point of the class was to face your worst faults and then spend the rest of the week in "breakout" groups discussing them with other people also experiencing an interpersonal crisis.
I took the test, read the responses, and came to an amazing conclusion: I was a major bitch.
Which explained why I was miserable all the time, had no friends, and couldn't maintain a long-term relationship. And in the moment that I internalized this information, the world changed, much like when Dorothy lands in Oz and it goes from black-and-white to technicolor.
Suddenly, I understood that my college sweetheart had been telling me the truth about myself all along, not attacking me. I realized that the reason no one spoke to me in classes or at parties was because I projected an impenetrable force field of bitchiness. I saw that I was lonely because I drove people away by being petty, flaky, and superior. I was defensive, selfish, and utterly unsympathetic.
No wonder my dog ran away.
But really, that understanding paved the way to my life today. Seeing myself for what I really was allowed me to become the person I wanted to be. Granted, I am far from perfect, but that test made me really consider what I wanted out of life and how to get it. Seeing what I was revealed to me what I could be, and suddenly all things became possible.
So I got back together with Dr. Crog, quit my job, moved into his 1 bedroom apartment in a different state, fulfilled my childhood dream of owning a horse, married him (Dr. Crog, not the horse), moved around a bit, and bore Dr. Crog's spawn. And all of these experiences and changes helped to make me a better artist, giving me more confidence and freedom to create.
And that's what I think about on days as clear and crisp as today. The lines we cross that make us who we are, and the great joy that's come from a stupid test in an ugly book for a class I didn't need for a degree I didn't want.
Also, I think about meatloaf sandwiches and wonder where my Best and the Rest of British Ska CD is hiding.
Quite the little love story, eh?