Professing * Reflecting

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Finding zen in the Deep Red

The list, untouched, of to dos before leaving tomorrow morning:

--Print out Big Project materials and pack all work-related papers/books, including: Big Project stuff, reader's report for revise & resubmit, revise & resubmit essay, de Man, Milton, DeLillo, Uncontrollable Putty: Toward a New Prosthetics*
--Pack the Chalupa's bag, including: hoodie, collar & leash, blankie, Squeaky Face, Mouse Baby, greenies, P-nuttier treats, Trader Joe's bones, lip gloss (i.e. her nose balm she likes to put on when I put on my lip gloss), Cosequin, health certificate
--Pack all electronics accessories, including: laptop power cord, cell phone charger, camera battery charger, extra camera battery, camera laptop cord, ipod charger cord
--Pack Father's Day gifts and cards; Mother's Dubliner cheese; gifts for the kiddies
--Quick trip to gym
--Quick shopping trip to Marshall's
--If time, exchange new cell phone that I hate (requires trip downtown, likely not going to happen)
--Two loads laundry
--Pack clothes and toiletries
--Pick up bookshelves from Sabine and deliver home
--Do dishes
--Car to Paloma's garage

Keeping me from the list is lots of lounging in the bed with the Chalupa, sipping coffee, reading some blogs, seriously lusting for this perfume, and considering ways in which to keep myself in tact during my visit to my family. Recent intense conversations with my mother, my sister, and my father tell me that I will not be finding an oasis of calm in the Deep Red.

For example, I had an hour-and-a-half conversation with my father last night, during which he told me everything we had to worry about in order of increasining importance, from my 12-year-old niece being more interested in social events and her sports and dance teams than in her schoolwork to a relative being in pretty serious debt. He asked me why he, at 76 years old, still had to worry about everyone and why everyone's problems--which he is bound by duty to worry about--did not get any better and in fact seemed to get worse, and why no one was getting him a rocking chair and telling him to go out to the porch to relax. He did not seem amused when I pointed out that my sister and I are CONSTANTLY telling him to go and relax while we take care of things. When I reminded him that he insists each and every time we do this that he wants no part of this relaxing nonsense, he explained that as soon as someone (anyone!) else in the family is as competent as he is to take care of business he would be more than happy to stop worrying and TCBing. He then assured me that he would explain in much more detail all of the things we should be worrying about, from global to local, during my visit. Woo hoo! Please don't get me wrong. I love my father and my family deeply. It's just that we are all really truly batshit crazy.

I am always concerned with steeling myself, reinforcing my sense of self, before I visit my family, with the idea that I will not slip into old patterns and will not push their buttons or let mine be pushed. I am thinking now that maybe "steeling myself" is exactly the wrong strategy. Yesterday I found this quote, from the Buddhist nun, Pema Chödrön. (Did you know that Chödrön went to Miss Porter's School? Since I am now obsessed with Little Edie, I am also obsessed with anyone or anything to do with Miss Porter's School.) Anyway, the quote reminded me of how I usually feel when I am with the gypsies:

"In the most ordinary terms, egolessness is a flexible identity. It manifests as inquisitiveness, as adaptability, as humor, as playfulness. It is our capacity to relax with not knowing, not figuring everything out, with not being at all sure about who we are - or who anyone else is either." (via whiskey river)

This endless adaptability, this sense of play, and the kind of inquistiveness that comes from not needing to know is precisely the way I feel when I am with the gypsies or on certain other kinds of adventures--the feeling I was so angry that I could not achieve this last time because of the big fat egoist ways of the Nemesis. There is nothing more important to the Nemesis than proving who she is. That's her toxicity--forcing the "who she is" of herself onto everyone else with an endless litany of "I do this like this . . . I did this so that this will be . . .I am the kind of person who . . . I I I I I I." This time my attempt to let go and find the gypsy floating-self feeling again, because of that recent experience, just led to radical insecurity.

Still, I tasted a bit of it. What if I try to go with this flexible sense of identity during this visit with my family? Ex-shrink is the one who originally suggested that I reinforce my sense of self and fight for that sense of self while on family visits. But that's the point of American ego psychology, right? Rather than trying to shore up my identity--my now adult identity vs. my then child/adolescent identity or whatever--what if I just let go of the concern with who I am and who they are? Will it work if I am the only one on the zen vibe? Especially in my mother's house, where all that happens is endless figuring out of the most mundane details, of when this will happen and how that will happen and why this isn't happening as it was supposed to happen at this exact minute and when it is not happening we had better talk about or call someone to see why it is not happening in the way it has been scheduled to happen?

I say it's worth a shot. At the very least, I might have something amusing along the lines of Zen Action A leads to Super Neurotic Reaction B to report here.

*These may or may not be the real books I am working on--anything to protect my wildly speculated upon identity, you know.

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