When we’re rich!

These days, my boyfriend, our dog and I eat a lot of ramen noodles.

Don’t worry. Our top priority is dog food. She usually only goes about a day between bags while we scrounge the couches and the streets for change to buy the next one. We have back-up plans for finding money in our asses should she need to go to the vet. In three months we’ve probably found about 150 hours of work. We’ve paid all of our rent, sold more DVDs and games and books than I can count, and spent more hours than I’d like to share filling out job applications, hunting down people who may need services rendered (house-sitting, clothes sewn, that kind of thing), and just generally eeking out just enough money to get by.

Kind of. Like I said, these days my boyfriend, our dog and I eat a lot of ramen noodles. Sometimes we mix it up with a cup of rice boiled with a tablespoon or two of chicken bouillon. Yesterday, our housemate brought home bagels, turkey, cream cheese, and a cucumber. It was amazing. I don’t know how I’d survive without him bringing back things like peppers and mushrooms, milk and coffee, butter, or tortilla shells and cheese about once a week. Sanity rescued.

We’ve got another month of living like this before my boyfriend receives his overage check. We’ve got until this weekend (when we’re moving) before I can restart the job hunt. However, we’re close enough to breaking out of this period of starvation (it would be nice to break out of financial worries at all, really, but breaking out of starvation is a lovely first step) that I’m starting to get excited.

As in, really excited. As in, so excited that I’m rereading all of those recipes that I’ve saved in my bookmarks over the past few months. When we actually have a weekly budget for food, I’m going to start buying in bulk, thanks to advice given by the fiance of a friend of a friend, here. With this plan, I should (hopefully) be able to start baking in my own home again.

I’ll bake these soul-crushingly delicious-looking cookies first. I’ll have flour and sugar and chocolate in my own house at all times; I’ll collect baking powder and vanilla and yeast. I’ll bake bread and cake and dessert breads. I’ll finally figure out if my idea of a chocolate zucchini cake with almond-flavored frosting or glaze would be as fantasmically amazing as I imagine.

We’ll buy frozen vegetables and canned fruit. I’ll grow tomatoes and zucchini and spices. It won’t be a world where I can go to a health food store and pick up all organic ingredients, no, that’s as far beyond my league right now as impulsively driving my boyfriend and I to Pogo de Chao just because I’m feeling a bit peckish (a goal of mine, make no mistake). But, at the same time, a freezer full of veggies, a cabinet full of canned fruit, a fridge that supplies me the basics (cheese, milk, eggs, butter) on a regular basis, would be like a dream come true.

And should even half the things we have planned come to fruition by late September, this lifestyle is within my reach.

I

have

never

been

so

excited.

Why should I care?

So I must admit, after two weeks, eight posts, and far too much time obsessively checking my stats page finding cool blogs to read, I still don’t really know what I’m doing here. I’ve written some about programming, and books, and religion, and I-don’t-even-remember what else. Oh, and I wrote a short story that needs about six revisions in order to be what I actually envisioned it being when I first hit ‘Publish Post’ on the damn thing.

I don’t think a single one of my blog posts carries a consistent voice or tone from the previous one. I’m still scrambling to find a way to tie it all together, as was clearly my intention two weeks ago. At least, that’s what I can safely assume given the title I came up with.

The question that keeps bouncing around in my head like… I don’t know, a three year old on a sugar rush… is a question that my boyfriend often uses when he looks at my writing and can’t quite figure out how to tell me what it’s missing. Why should I care about this? It’s not bad, he says. It’s well-written, he says. You clearly are trying to say something. The most common reaction I get to my writing, from teachers, peers, my boyfriend, even my mom, is… this is good but it’s missing something.

Some draw, some appeal, some pivotal piece that, if it clicked into place, would create the bridge between what I’m trying to say and why you, my audience, should care about what I’m trying to say. Now, I journal a lot outside of this blog. I know what I want to share with you. But I’m unskilled in the art of implementation. I started this blog because I wanted to find my missing piece, the thing that draws together all of the marvelous things my scatterbrained self wants to tell you, show you, ask you, share with you.

A lot of this stems from a desire for the grandeur I felt the first time it really hit me that my mom is a published author. The first time I held her book in my hands, or the first time I flipped through an anthology and found her essay, with her name right there and an About the Author section that I recognized as a very simplified version of my own home life (also, way too much information about my mom’s teenage years). Holy shit, I thought, or felt, my mom is a bad ass! I loved to read. I loved to write. Why couldn’t I share that writing, too?

It is still my dream to be a published author by the time I’m twenty-five, but in my world, I’m kind of unsure what that means. I’m publishing blog posts, aren’t I? I’m reading all sorts of blogs and articles about how self-publishing can be a respectable route to take in getting your name out there. So this dream I’ve had that involves a million rejection letters framed on the wall over my desk, is it an accurate picture of the route my dream will take me on? Will I ever experience that day, the day I imagine as starting off like any other day, the day when I pull myself out of bed, pour myself some cereal and check the mail, innocently perusing through the letters – ‘Bill. Bill. Letter from Grandma. Oh, look, another rejection letter, I’ll put that aside and look at it in a second. Reminder from the vet for Herra’s check up.’ – until, finally, I open a letter and read We are pleased to inform you that… ?

Will I ever get to stare at that letter, spoon held halfway between the bowl and my mouth, utterly forgotten as I scramble to feel something, anything, other than shock. And then… a slow welling of excitement, rising like a scream in my chest, like tears to my eyes, like a slow smile to my lips. The letter tells me I’ve found the missing piece at last, and when the reader asked themselves Why should I care? they found an answer, and decided to help me through the process of publication and marketing, the process that leads to the road of holding my book in my hands.

Whether or not the dream will play out like that, or, given the age I live in, take a different road or end up with a final product that’s more digital than physical, I know I have a lot of work to do. This blog is a form of publication, but it’s not my dream, not yet. I haven’t found that piece which will tie together what I want to share with why my readers should care. But in the mean time, I am having a marvelous time reading blogs that inspire, that tickle my fancy and are extraordinarily well-written and well thought out. Two weeks I’ve been here; I have some followers, I’ve entered a contest, and I’ve read some truly incredible stories, thoughts, and insights from people, from complete strangers, whose posts sing with the answer to Why should I care? without me, as a reader, even having to think about it.

Time to pack!

The first ‘writing challenge’ I have participated in since high school. Brought to you by The Daily Post at WordPress.com. I’m going to resist the urge to say what I think of it. The zipper on my mouth is zipped closed and the key has landed in a bottomless pit.

I am a book.

I am a book, and this reader does not seem to love me. You see, it all started a few days ago. I was nestled in my nook between two of my book neighbors. One, a stuffy fellow, whispered mythology through a rugged cloth-bound cover. The other fairly bellowed with all the secrets, rejoicing in ancient wisdom and the possibility of new worlds. As long as these new worlds have cheese, I do not mind too much. In an ordinary fashion, this reader pulled me from the shelf, and my neighbor the wisdom-crier flopped inelegantly to fill space. Good for mythology and wisdom, I thought. Since the day this reader put me there, I felt rather like the yolk of an egg in meringue. Mythology and wisdom have nothing to say to me, a lowly cookbook.

I thought to be carried to the kitchen, my spine cracked open, the soft paunch of my billowing pages pushed flat against the shelf without sides. I thought soon to find myself dusted in flour or powdered sugar. Perhaps I would earn another coffee or jam stain and then be lifted after this reader’s use into the air by my covers, shaken until clean, and placed back somewhere amongst high fantasy (they’re an interesting folk, and they like to talk to me, for sometimes they, too, recognize the importance of food). But, no. Nothing happened in the ordinary fashion, and I was tossed into a box, my front-cover snapping in brief indignation. I was piled on by other books – books who had few words to share, but onslaughts of bright and garish pictures. It became dark.

I am a book, and you are a comic book, new neighbor in darkness. Your heroes and your villains are in no better shape than my recipes to understand how we displeased this reader. Why, can you tell me? Why are we shifting in this dark place that smells of dust and your glossy plastic pages? I have been so proud, always, with my bolted lists, my clarity in direction, to provide this reader with sacred information. She has loved me, used me, broken my spine and dog-eared my pages, underlined my precious text and written with her sloppy hand in the vast openness of my margins.

I was packed away at the bottom of this four-sided shelf and am losing the sense that I am a book. What am I? Maybe if I listen for this reader’s voice, I will understand what has been done to displease her. Why is it I, and not mythology or wisdom, who deserves this treatment, when she seeks my aid so often, and they have been lifted from the home shelf but once or twice each?

I hear this: “Oh, baby, mark that box. It’s the comics and my cookbook – they’re the first thing I want to unpack when we move in.”

It is no use. Her words are not text, and I am bereft of purpose, knocking spines with you, comic neighbor, in this dark, loveless new shelf.

Batman and Feminism

I briefly mentioned the fact that my days occasionally consist of listening to Fat Man on Batman, a podcast in which Kevin Smith talks about his lifelong hero, The Joker (oh hush, I’m kidding). Now, before you go thinking that I am made of awesome (which I am), I must admit that I’ve come to be a fan of Batman through my boyfriend (that’s totally not cliche). Which isn’t to say Batman wasn’t my favorite super hero before meeting him. However, my knowledge of Batman consisted of a) knowing who he was, b) really loving The Dark Knight and c) believing that a self-made hero is clearly cooler than heroes with literally no weakness (I still think Superman is kind of lame) or heroes whose Hollywood renditions paint them to be whiny snots (I’m looking at you, Spiderman – and no, I haven’t seen the new movie even though I really want to because Gwen Stacie is totes more awesome than Mary Jane and Emma Stone is a sexy boss).

Tonight, we sat down to watch some Batman: The Animated Series, and it just so happened that we ended up watching the two-parter The Cat and the Claw from the first season, in which Catwoman is introduced, Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle have mad chemistry, and there are seriously lots of cats. Now, when it comes to comic books and their related television shows, I have a very, very hard eye for how female characters are treated. Given that I’m not as immersed in comic book history as the people around me, whenever I bring up the treatment of a female character that angers me, I usually get a ten-minute lecture about when the damn story was written, who it was written by, and why the sexism is either acceptable within the context of the show (which angers me) or within the context of the writing of the show (which frustrates me). Which doesn’t prevent me from ranting, but still, it is nice to know that I’m surrounded by a bunch of twenty-something dudes who legit pay attention to the treatment of female characters in their shows, even if their acceptance of dated sexism grates on my nerves.

Now, aside from seeing one episode of Batman: The Animated Series in which Ivy fruitlessly attempts to help Harley Quinn escape from her abusive relationship with the Joker, I’ve had little context for how The Animated Series treats its female characters (although that ONE episode was enough to instill a certain amount of respect). So, giving it the benefit of the doubt, I set myself up to only be minorly annoyed, in that sense that, as a young woman who was deeply engaged in the angry, ranting stage of feminism for about six years, I am minorly annoyed by a lot of things I know logically shouldn’t annoy me, such as ANY time I see a man saving a woman at the last second it kind of irks me, even if I know the writer of the story to treat his or her female characters well and it just had to happen that way THIS ONE TIME because it fits the structure of the story. Anyway, I was prepared to enjoy the story for the story instead of spending an hour with my brain soaked in cortisol and ALL THE ANGER. Which, luckily, is exactly what happened.

Except, I can’t entirely turn off the feminist voice. So, of course, the first thing I noticed about Catwoman was that she wasn’t wearing heels. Her costume was sleek, simple, and mostly practical (I don’t think form-fitting fabric is really practical, ever, but… all the heroes wear it, so it’s not a gender thing, it’s just… a comic book nerd thing). AND SHE WASN’T WEARING HEELS. So that pleased me immensely. And throughout the rest of the episode (well, both episodes), I wasn’t forced to shut off the feminist voice, nor did I particularly want to, because the episode did something that I would have thought almost impossible two years ago and which now I know can happen – it pleased the feminist in me. It made her, me, a little bit less angry. And every little bit of ANYTHING that makes me less angry as a feminist is something that gives me hope, fills me with a sense of positivity, and helps me to be more accepting of myself and those around me. (I used to hate the color pink on principle alone… even though I secretly liked it… Hey, it can take a long time for a disenchanted teenager to grow up.)

So the things I liked about this episode:

*Selina and her cats – she truly is a crazy cat lady, and she actually personifies the cats instead of using their nature to fulfill some inner neediness, which is the go-to vibe for crazy cat women, it seems. She admires them and respects them and identifies with them, as well as using their image to shape the persona of her alter-ego.

*The villain, Red Claw – a female villain who is not sexualized, not incompetent, and not working to please some Master Man. My first thought when she appeared on screen was, wow, that lady’s an amazon. And she is, and I kind of wish Wonder Woman were conveyed with the same unapologetic, super tall, super buff kind of physique. Not that Wonder Woman isn’t often portrayed as super tall and super buff, but there always seem to be gratuitous curves, as if to say, ‘We’re sorry she’s not petite and fragile. Here are some extra boobs to make up for it.’

*When Batman first murmured to himself, ‘So, our new cat burglar’s a woman,’ I had a vague notion of, ‘Why is that information important, Batman?’ but didn’t say anything. But when he exclaims upon seeing Red Claw for the first time, ‘Red Claw’s a woman?!” I turned to my boyfriend and said, “Always the tone of surprise.” It was a half-joke, half exasperated sigh. It’s not that I don’t understand how it fits into the context of the story – everybody thought that the Red Claw was a man up to that point. Also, this is clearly taking place during the 1930’s or 1940’s, so a little bit of sexism on some of the characters’ parts is to be expected.

*More for the sake of the story and less for the sake of feminism, I adore Catwoman and Batman’s dynamic. They’re definitely my favorite DC couple, and specifically in this rendition, I like that Bruce blushes when he first meets Selina Kyle. I can envision a Gotham City in which they successfully team up together, trust each other, know each other’s secret identities and are a bad ass couple who lasts, like, for years. (I’d say forever if such concepts weren’t so foreign to me.) I think Selina Kyle is the best shot Bruce has got at a healthy relationship and I want him to take it. That so many Batman stories are focused on him being incapable of healthy relationships for long periods of time frustrates me on so many levels. These two episodes, however, gave me the brief sense that the positive future I see for them might not be torn apart by Bruce being stubborn and so damned noble and Catwoman being addicted to crime.

*Back to feminism: even Selina’s secretary is pretty strong. I like her. She doesn’t panic, and for some reason when she’s being backed into a corner by a bad guy with guns, she’s crying to herself in her head, ‘Selina! Help!’ So the fact that Batman saves her didn’t frustrate me in the least.

So I’ll be upfront in saying that my preoccupation with gender and finding gender inequality EVERYWHERE has, more than once, gotten in the way of me being able to find my own happiness. But I LOVE that I have a group of guy friends who it is safe for me to honestly say that I harp about gender inequality a bit too much – because they really do get it. And how do I know that they get it? I know because we talk about it when discussing stories, and the actions of the people around us. I know about it because I wasn’t the first one to say, ‘I’m glad they’ve made it so she’s not wearing heels, those are so impractical.’ It was one of my guy friends.

Without Man, is there hope for Gorilla?

Without Gorilla, is there hope for Man?

As I mentioned in my last post, I just finished reading the book Ishmael by Danielle Quinn. I found it a joy to read, and continue to find it both joyful and challenging to consider what it has to offer. Ishmael is a short book about a young man who’s almost given up his search for finding a teacher – until he finds an ad in the newspaper for a teacher looking for a pupil who is eager to save the world. Disenchanted and refusing to admit that he’s actually interested, the young man goes to see this ‘teacher’ on a lark, and finds, to his astonishment, that the teacher is a gorilla with a very captivating life story.

The gorilla, called Ishmael, and the young man carry on a dialogue about the origins of humanity, about the mythology of our own culture and the mythology of cultures we would consider primitive. At first, the young man finds it difficult to believe that modern, civilized culture has any unified mythology to speak of, but as Ishmael encourages him to unearth his own most latent assumptions about what it means to be human and where humans come from, the myth is slowly brought to light.

The myth essentially says that Takers (in a world of Takers and Leavers – civilized cultures and primitive cultures), who have eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, are enacting a story that says the world belongs to them, well, us. Stories like the story of Adam and Eve and the story of Cain and Abel came to us from the Leavers, who originally created those stories in order to understand why the Takers lived so differently, killing people just to take the land and live one way, almost as if they thought they knew what the Gods know – who should die and who should live.

Ishmael relates these stories, and the concept of Takers as being those who think the world belongs to them and Leavers as those who think that they belong to the world, to the very recent global crisis. In the end, Ishmael offers a very frustrated young man this, when asked what on earth can be DONE to “save the world”:

“The story of Genesis must be undone. First, Cain must stop murdering Abel. This is essential if you’re to survive. The Leavers are the endangered species most critical to the world – not because they’re humans but because they alone can show the destroyers of the world that there is more than one right way to live. And then, of course, you must spit out the fruit of the forbidden tree. You must absolutely and forever relinquish the idea that you know who should live and who should die on this planet.

“Teach a hundred what I’ve taught you, and inspire them to teach a hundred.”

-Ishmael, by Danielle Quinn

This is a very loose summary, missing half a dozen points and, more than anything else, the pure delight of reading the book itself. However, I think the summary is necessary in order for me to have grounds for explaining some of my thoughts, which are (in no particular order):

-Ishmael being a captive gorilla particularly predisposes him to come up with the unique worldview he is offering.

-The interpretation of the stories of Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel are endlessly fascination to me – they beautifully illustrate the point, and I believe the unassuming nature of its offering – that it has no more or less basis than many other interpretations – illustrates the emphasis on there being no one right way to live as well.

-The dialogue on human xenocentricism (…is that a word? Does it mean what I think it means? Like ethnocentricism, but for the whole species) was not a new concept for me. At various points I have struggled with the idea that we are anything more or less than simply another one of Earth’s creatures. I have struggled to fathom to what degree others believe this idea as well.

-I feel a need, a desire, to re-examine some of my own thoughts and feelings about human nature. I have said things like, “It’s clear we’re different from other animals. We’re… weird.” There does seem to be something distinctly unique about us. But I have struggled with this strictly because I can hardly find any sense in it. Ishmael has given me a possible interpretation for my own struggle – we’re different, but not Different – but the idea if one I like a lot – which means interpreting this old thought entirely in the light of this new thought may be clouded in self-grandeur and thus suspect.

-It did feel really obvious in some ways. Obviously not the interpretation of Genesis, which was totally new, but the idea that we’re the only species truly capable of murder is old – and in some ways, not one I’m entirely sure I believe. Dolphins will kill sharks just for fun, won’t they? But there are still distinctions. This murder Ishmael speaks about isn’t even ‘killing for fun.’ It’s literally killing for the sake of the ‘one right way to live.’ These aren’t new ideas but, offered in the context of the stories we live by, they take on a deeper, more immediate meaning.

-Danielle Quinn gets my vote for understanding that you cannot overemphasize the importance of stories in the human psyche.

-This new world we ought to be striving towards? I wonder what specifically it means. There’s never been any question in my mind that we ought to be striving to “change the world” – in fact, a lot of my frustration stems from a) feeling like it’s impossible, b) only having vague impressions of what I’m trying to change and why I’m trying to change it, and c) having no clear terms for what I’m looking to become – what the change actually consists of. So while Ishmael definitely provides (at least the beginnings of) a framework for b) and yet another spark of hope and inspiration for a), Quinn intentionally leaves c) up in the air.

So, I do hope to inspire people to read this book, or at least to visit Ishmael.org and read some of the material there, as it is all very fascinating – especially the Question and Answer sections.

see Dee’s brain breakage

So a part of me wishes I could just pretend the last two posts never happened. Kind of. BUT I WILL RELEARN WRITING TO WRITE. … HOW TO WRITE. … huh?

Today, I’m almost afraid to say what I’m writing about…

Well I’ve started reading the Bible, because I picked up a book off the bookshelf (my favorite part of the whole house) by C.S. Lewis, in defense of Christianity. Or maybe it wasn’t so much defense as simple explanation. Anyway, it intrigued me, because C.S. Lewis’s writing is oh-so clear and simple, and if anyone’s going to have my ear when talking about something as tich-y (I think I made that word up) as religion, it might as well be the man who infused my childhood with Christian symbolism. I mean, this God figure? He’s totally a rip-off of Aslan. That’s all I’m saying.

(Don’t get mad at me. My family wasn’t allowed to ‘influence my religion’ due to the divorce settlement. I was raised more-or-less areligious (another word that doesn’t exist, apparently), or as areligious as you can possibly be growing up in the U.S…. primarily Utah.)

And, no, it wasn’t a straight shot from Lewis to the Bible. While I found Lewis’s essays (I know, I should remember the name of the book, or look it up or something…) to be at times amusing, well-thought out, at times even logically convincing or just downright creepy, the first book I gravitated towards after putting him down was Living Gnosis: A Practical Guide to Gnostic Christianity by Tau Malachi, because my mom bought it for me a few years ago and I’ve always had this niggling sense that Gnosticism is kind of nifty.

At the same time, thanks to a friend who throws books at you with NO SENSE OF RESPECT FOR YOUR READING LIST’S BOUNDARY ISSUES, I started reading Ishmael by Danielle Quinn and The Mystique of Enlightenment – The Radical Ideas of U.G. Krishnamurti, and in the span of about forty-eight hours (…don’t inquire into my life right now, there’s nothing going on), all I can say is that…

My brain broke. Talk of enlightenment unlike any I’ve ever read before from Krishnamurti made me feel queasy all over. (I’m the living embodiment of an existential crisis. That seems like it should be an ironic statement somehow but, please remember, my brain is broken and I can’t figure out how it would be.) There’s this feeling that he’s talking about nothing, and about how thoroughly useless it is to talk about nothing, and this feeling that he’s just kind of sitting there, EXISTING, while all these fanatics keep hounding him with their ideas of enlightenment even though he keeps saying the search is pointless and… I need to take a deep breath. It makes me uncomfortable.

Ishmael is badass, because it’s a Gorilla teaching a human how to save the world. It’s an absolute pleasure to read (if you don’t mind a book entirely made up of teacher-student dialogue) and it offers the most radically unique interpretation of the story of Adam and Eve I have ever heard… which I… really cannot summarize right now. That, combined with weird bits of interpretation in Living Gnosis that have me scratching my head (I don’t remember that in Genesis and I’ve read Genesis), and the fact that my waking hours for the past two days have been ENTIRELY CONSUMED by these books (and a little bit of Fat Man on Batman)…

Did I mention that my brain is broken?

Anyway, yes. I am now reading the Bible, or at least, this clunky teen-study Bible that my boyfriend has left over from his Christian days. Coding, writing, and everything else has pretty much halted because a life-long fascination with religion I thought I had buried got sparked while I was innocently perusing my bookshelf.

…My bookshelf is dangerous.

see Dee learn;

Today: Some ramblings on the attainment of self-confidence through learning for highly anxious individuals.

The process of learning to regularly express and feel self-confidence may or may not be easy, for some. There are scores of lists detailing everything from smiling more, to forgiving more wholeheartedly, to simply pretending to be self-confident. I wrote a few days ago about how I fully believe in the process of becoming what you want to be by believing you already are. Today, I am writing about yet another method: a method that can be far more humbling.

A few days ago I finished my first running JavaScript Program (or, at least, my first running JavaScript program created without the step-by-step guide of a tutorial). It’s a simple, rather useless program that uses little pop-up confirmation boxes to simulate the card game War between a user and a computer. It was fairly difficult to write, in that I spent several hours dealing with individual parts (or functions), researching methods I half-remembered or, at times, seeing if someone had already written a simple function (for example: a function that shuffled an array) that I could then modify to fit my purposes. It was important, for me, every step of the way, to write out as many interpretations of problems and of solutions as I could think of, in order to better grasp the nature of what it means to use JavaScript. Now that I am working on a new program, a simulation of the card game Go Fish, much of what I worked through in the War program has come in handy, and I intend to continue to build off what I’ve written, not to memorize but to construct and practice a certain method of thinking.

The attempt to visualize and wholly grasp an entirely new method of thinking in learning a new task is something I started using about two years ago when I became absolutely determined to learn how to draw. My reasoning, fueled by information in the book Drawing On The Right Side of The Brain, followed that if this is a task I have never succeeded in before, then I must try to find ways to simulate a thought-process I have never engaged in before. It also followed that, if it is a skill I am attempting to learn because I have seen others do it, then those others, whether they are consciously aware of it or not, have the information about that new thought-process that I need and it is best practice to attain it by figuring out, with them if possible, what it is about the way they view the world that led them to forming that thought-process. A long-winded explanation, perhaps, but that is my understanding.

I have never been consistently a good student in school. That is, as early as I can remember, I have never had any kind of working relationship with homework. Either I’d do it in-class or not at all. Either I’m dedicated for a week and then burn-out or I simply straggle along behind the rest of the class, grasping the material, even being excited by the material, but refusing to take the risk of making an honest effort. This has started to get better in college, but part of that is because, when I do forget to do my homework, I have the option of simply not going to class. I don’t have to face the knowledge that, despite my desire to be a good student, this teacher has direct evidence that I am not. Sometimes skipping class for the sake of not having to face the teacher without an assignment has helped. Knowing that I have an extra couple of days or even a week can be exactly the boost I need to get on top of something I should have already been on top of. Sometimes skipping class just meant I failed the class.

Whether these issues stem from my high-level of constant anxiety, or whether the anxiety stems from this being my relationship with school for as long as I can remember, I have no idea. I’ve been prompted towards seeking a diagnosis for ADD and I’ve been prompted towards seeking a diagnosis for GAD. Call it pride or call it determination, though, I am inclined to find answers for myself as often as possible. And in many ways, I have found methods of thinking, and doing, that work to strengthen my confidence that I am exactly what my teachers have always told me I am: very smart, very capable, and very lazy. And the lazy part tends to go away on its on when being lazy will cost you a meal on a daily basis (being broke may be one of the best things that ever happened to my work ethic).

Back to my paragraph about learning to code, not only is the thought-process behind programming something I am seeking to understand, but the thought-process behind learning to program is equally important to me, just like the thought-process behind learning to draw is what initially piqued my interest, not in learning new things for the sake of themselves, but learning new things in order to practice the very art of learning and adaptation. Because in this process there comes a sort of humility that is nothing like shame or fear – in the knowledge that I know very little, almost nothing, that comes with the process of learning something new, there is nothing like a fear of failure (or success), the likes of which terrorized me through public school to the point of mental paralysis. With every new thing, I have to let that thing become an integrated part of my daily life. The question of whether or not I’m good at programming, when I spend several hours a week dedicated simply to doing it, becomes obsolete, and loses its power over me.

Whether or not this is a typical assessment of how to gain self-confidence that is much more effectively practiced than understood, a fully-integrated understanding of what it means to let go of self-doubt has cost me years, not to mention frustration, sweat, and tears. I don’t believe that I’m anywhere near where I want to be as a person, but I’m no longer very afraid that I’ll never get there, because I make it a point to remind myself that I am always capable of learning more. The habits I am choosing to develop are about nothing more, and nothing less, than constantly being engaged, consciously and eagerly, with the learning process.

I had to edit this post severely because I didn’t feel it was the best it could be. 🙂 Now I feel that it is very nearly what I wanted.