Happiness Makes a Dull Blog

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Beatles fans, feel free to sing the title of this blog post to the melody of “Happiness is a Warm Gun”. You’re welcome.

As you can tell from the date of my last post, it’s been awhile since I mused about anything. I’ve realized something about myself during this time. It’s difficult for me to blog if I’m not either amused or annoyed at something. Sure, there are exceptions, like the death of my cat, Dini. That was neither amusing nor annoying. It was just plain sad and awful.

On the whole, my blog posts focus on things that make me laugh or make me livid. Pick a post, any post and see for yourself. This is not to say that I’ve been in some Zen-like “Om-y” blissful state. It’s just that in the face of bombings, political shenanigans or natural disasters, it’s hard to justify a tirade about yet another annoying television commercial or the actions of some attention-whoring celebrity.

The most shocking development of all is that I’ve been, well, happy. As I write that, I want to lower my voice and glance furtively over my shoulder. Any of my friends who read this blog could tell the rest of you that happiness is not a natural place for me to visit… kind of like Las Vegas or anywhere tropical.

I won’t go into the specifics of why I’m happier than usual. A girl has to maintain some mystery, after all. Sure, I constantly worry about money and needing more work, but overall, I wake up looking forward to each day instead of moaning like Glum in the Gulliver’s Travels cartoons from the late 1960s:

This is a new feeling for me and it’s throwing me off my game. I’ve often thought that being happy would pose a dilemma for me in terms of my writing and now it’s not just existential, coffee table conversation. It’s really happening! So, since I don’t want to stop being happy, I have to figure out how to conjure up some of my usual angst, woe or cynical snarkiness without turning into some unfortunate lovechild of Sylvia Plath and Bill Maher. Holy Love Connection from Hell, Batman! I think the eHarmony dude’s head just exploded.

For Whom?

It’s been almost a month since my last blog post and frankly, I haven’t been inspired to write about anything. Part of my lack of passion has to do with life just getting in the way. I was sick for three weeks, I was helping Mom after yet another surgery and dealing with a sick cat and tests and medications. Yes, I do lead a busy, glamorous life.

During this time of writing inactivity, it got me to thinking about why I have a blog. For whom am I writing anyway? Of course, the primary person for whom I write is myself. But lately, it seems that the only people who comprise my reading audience are myself and my friend and fellow blogger, Adele Uddo. I’ve told Adele this many times, but knowing that she not only reads my blog but takes time to comment means so much. Writing is a solitary act and it feels even more so when you sense that no one is paying attention or gives a damn.

A more self-confident, evolved human being wouldn’t care if anyone else was reading, let alone enjoying, his or her words. Alas, I’m not that person. I try to be entertaining when writing these blog posts and I think that on the whole, I do a pretty good job. But, I find it hard to muster up enthusiasm to be witty or wise when, aside from Adele, I feel like I only hear crickets in response.

Don’t get me wrong. The purpose of this post isn’t to guilt anyone into leaving a comment. I just wanted to talk a little bit about what’s going through my head and why you haven’t seen posts from me. Will I continue with this blog? Who knows. What I do know is that I need to want to write it for myself more than I do at this moment.

Patience

I spent all day yesterday watching the grass grow.
What I learned is that grass really grows slow.
Now I’m hanging around trying to get inspired.
Punch a hole through my cage and I reach out blind.
She said, “Have patience. Everything will be all right.
Have patience. Give it just a little time.
Everything will be all right.”

This is from the song “Patience” by the late Mark Sandman. I started humming this to myself today because I’ve been really battling my impatience lately and his slightly tongue-in-cheek lyrics appeal to me. Let me just say upfront that patience isn’t one of my virtues. I must have gotten tired of waiting in line when it was being handed out.

I often tell people that I have the patience of a gnat on crack. Just take a moment to visualize what that would look like. Do you see it? Well, that’s me, all the time, in virtually every situation. Yesterday at Walgreen’s, the first line I stood in featured a woman who couldn’t decide on which diabetes meter to buy. After about 5 minutes, I tried another line. This time, I was behind a man arguing with the cashier over a coupon for toilet paper. After a couple minutes of this, I went in search of yet another line. This time, I had luck. No diabetes, no coupons. Success.

My impatience isn’t limited to standing in line or being stuck in traffic. I’m impatient with myself too. Take this blog for example. I haven’t known what to write about lately. Nothing has struck me as particularly amusing or annoying and those seem to be the two emotions I need to feel in order to write. (See how annoyance won out today?)

When I’m blocked creatively and in my life in general, I swing between panic and passivity. Both of these lead to impatience because the tick, tick, tick of my life clock gets louder and louder. What have I done with my life? I’m running out of time. I’m too old. I need to get going. This is taking too long. What’s the point? Why bother?

I know the way out of my impatience rests simply in being in the present moment. Patience won’t be found in focusing on where I thought I’d be five years ago or five minutes ago or where I want to be five years from now or five minutes from now. Patience exists when I accept what is. Right now.

Well, shout “Hallelujah” and call me Oprah! Alas, if it was only that easy and I had Oprah’s money. Since it isn’t and I don’t, I have to take baby steps. The first is to take about three minutes and listen to that song from start to finish without thinking that I have something more important to do. Are you with me?

Wait! It’s Not Perfect Yet!

Sometimes I think that I have a split personality. Now before any of you can say, “Ha! That explains it!”, I’m not talking Joanne Woodward in a Three Faces of Eve kind of way. What I mean is, I seem to have two competing natures: perfection versus procrastination. This battle occurs in almost every area of my life.

For some reason I didn’t notice this as much when I was a kid. Don’t get me wrong. I was always a perfectionist but I wasn’t always a procrastinator. I was one of those kids who did all the homework due on Monday by Friday night. I finished book reports and projects days or weeks before they needed to be handed in. The only time I ever ran up against a deadline was if the teacher assigned the dreaded “group” project.

Group projects are the bane of a perfectionist’s existence because you have to rely on someone else to hold up his or her end of the project and your grade is linked to his or her efforts in addition to your own. Needless to say, I HATED group projects. Then, as now, I prefer all of the credit or all of the blame. I’m both a Leo and an only child, so I think this makes perfect sense.

I attended a very rigorous high school so I had to stay on top of my studies to maintain a B average (in everything but math and science, that is.) Thanks to the difficulty of my curriculum, college was much easier and this was when procrastination entered my life. I discovered that I could maintain a mostly straight-A average even with waiting until the last minute to complete assignments. As a consequence, I considered my graduating magna cum laude as not a major accomplishment. In fact, I’d tell myself that if I had attended a “better” college, I couldn’t have done that. Ah, well. Masochism is a topic for another post and another day.

Let’s get back to perfection versus procrastination, shall we? Take this blog for example. I’d talked about starting it for a good year before I actually launched it at the end of July. I made list upon list about possible category headings, color scheme, font style, etc. I finally picked a blog theme that I thought was going to be easy to manipulate, but it wasn’t. I got overwhelmed and then inertia set in. Since I couldn’t get it to look “perfect”, I wouldn’t do it at all. I operated under this assumption for a year. My perfection fed into my procrastination.

What changed? Well, it was something that a friend on Twitter said to me in a direct message. While I was angsting over not having the ability to create the look I wanted, she simply said, “As a reader, I’ve never paid attention to a blog’s design. Content is all, no?” I respect this person’s opinion immensely so I took it to heart.

So, I was able to let go of the perfection around the look of the blog. At some point in the future, I may ask a professional to make it look “spiffier” but for right now, I’m satisfied. I reserve all my blog-related perfection for the content and I hope that on the whole, I’ve done a good job. Now, if I could only stop procrastinating about getting rid of clutter, exercising, reading all the major works of literature…