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Whatever rings Mel's bells

Posts Tagged ‘determination’

Inside my brain

Have you ever looked at a person who’s studying and wondered what’s going on upstairs? Humor me, and I shall describe what I’m experiencing. Perhaps you’ll find it interesting.

I’m currently studying AC Theory. Well, I’m currently writing a blog post to get a break from studying my AC Theory. But I digress.

The topic currently giving me figurative hives is inductance. I won’t go into the details, but basically it’s the principle that makes motors and generators work. When you put a magnet and a conductor together in the right way, you can turn motion into electricity, or vice versa. Wickedly cool stuff in practice, but understanding the principles behind it has proven a bit more complex for me.

When I say complex, I really mean incomprehensible and mind-boggling. Start with a bunch of brand-new jargon. You know, words that don’t make any damn sense, but which get thrown around to refer to very specific concepts.

Then, consider that the concepts themselves are new. So not only do I not understand the words being used, I also don’t understand what they refer to. This has led to a two-step approach for me. First, I ignore the terms and figure out the concepts, then second I back up and apply the terms to the concepts that I now can understand.

This is tricky enough when I have a teacher lecturing, but today I’m doing a make-up class, so I’m on my own. Just me and the ol’ textbooks.

Yup.

So how am I doing with all this, you ask. Well, to be totally frank it isn’t going well. I’m a bit overwhelmed.

Part of my psyche is babbling incoherently, curled in the fetal position in the corner of my brain and crying its little eyes out because it doesn’t, it can’t, and it won’t ever understand. That’s right, my starting point here is that I’ve utterly lost it. (Not an exaggeration; tho I’ve developed enough self-control that I won’t ACTUALLY do this, I have a clear mental picture of exactly how it would look.)

But it doesn’t stop there folks, because there’s another part of my brain that’s calling it quits. Yes, a not-inconsequential part of my mind has thrown up its hands, yelled, “DONESKI!” to the uncaring sky, and picked up its heels as it hits the road. Done and gone and not coming back. Nope. This is BS and I have better things to do. I’ll fail the test, study for another week, and then figure it out later. Don’t even care, my give-a-damn is past repair.

The rest of my mental faculties have spent the last hour and a half idly scanning the text, trying to string together the words on the page in a way that will make some form of sense. I read the questions in the work book, turn to the text to understand them, and find that the concepts are presented in a completely different way. One book is full of square pegs, the other is populated with round holes. And I have to somehow build a saw that will cut one to fit into the other, without any experience or instructions.

What I’m saying is that it sucks a little.

It’s not insurmountable, but it takes a lot of effort. More effort than I would expect it to, in fact. Many of you know exactly how this feels; the comments field may end up populated with your similar experiences. (Please?!?) The answer is, of course, to finish this essay, shut the laptop so I’m not tempted to go to Facebook, and focus on my work. Which I will do very shortly.

So next time you see a student staring uncomprehendingly at a page, consider that seeming inactivity might mask a world of energetic (and psychotic) internal motion.

Such a knockout!

Electricians don’t just work with wire.  In fact, as I was surprised to learn on my first site, electricians spend more time working with the pipe that’s going to carry the wire than with the wire itself!  Where the pipes join together, we install junction boxes – usually steel – in which we cut, drill, or punch holes for the pipe.  The pieces that get left when we cut the holes look like this:

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You can see flat ones, which come pre-punched at the factory, then are tacked back into the box before shipping.  That way, they’re easy to remove if we want, but if we don’t want a hole there they stay put and provide a secure barrier to protect the wire.  There are also a couple crescent-shaped ones in there, which are punched eccentrically (rather than concentrically) so you can choose what size hole you want.

Notice the difference between those and the wavy ones.  There’s a size difference, of course, but I love the shape of the wavy ones!  They get that shape because they’re punched out locally with a tool that cuts the hole in two or three places, rather than all around the diameter, at the same time.  So much interest!  So fascinating!  They’re like little pieces of art, all by themselves!

Well, to me they are.  To the rest of the crew they’re so many pieces of detritus, to be swept out with the rest of the garbage.  But the first time I saw one, I saw beauty.  So I took it home and filed it and turned it into this:

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Oh, yeah.  THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT, BABY!!!  A knockout necklace that’s made of a knockout! And hopefully will get bought and then worn by a knockout.  ;-D  You can buy it here, BTW.  Just sayin’.

Now I have a million ideas on how I can use these.  With leather, on chain, drill holes in a whole series of them and make a jingly anklet…  So.  Many.  Ideas.

But they all start with finishing the damn things.  *le sigh*  Which means a lot of work.

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Have to grind off the sharp edges, file or sand away the scrapes and dings, then get them to whatever level of finish I want.

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Aside: I am absolutely giddy with excitement that I finally got to use my polishing compounds!  Squee!

With them and my handy-dandy rotary tool, gift of my darling HSO (who reads this blog but I’d say that even if he didn’t), I got a near-mirror finish on one of them:

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The photo doesn’t do it justice, but it is SHI-NY!  Still has some imperfections, but I did rush it a bit.  And I’m relearning stuff I only learned halfway, twenty years ago.  Plus, I’m figuring out how to get different finishes, and I’m not even sure what I want or what my options are.  So I’m giving myself some wiggle room.

At any rate, this is how I spent a couple hours this evening.  Very enjoyable hours, too, though my hands hurt after a while from all the vibration.  Next step is to try out my rotary tumbler with some steel shot, so I can see what kind of results that gives me, then I’ll try them in different orders and see what happens then.  SCIENCE!

Crazy girl

I’ve had a tough couple of weeks.  Adjusting to a set schedule, especially one that requires a constant resetting of my body clock, has really set me on one ear mentally.  Today (Or was it yesterday?  I can’t remember.) I realized how much it’s getting to me.

Realistically speaking, it makes perfect sense, since this comes on the heels of a summer of stress – both good and bad.  I flew pretty high for a while there, and when I fell…  Oh boy, was it a hard hit.  I’m still reeling from it, in fact, and every day it feels like it gets worse.  But I’ll survive it, just like I survive everything else.  Problem is that I really need to accommodate and account for the stressors in my life, rather than just try to shrug them off.  Water may run off a duck’s back, but I may not actually be a duck.  I may be a loofah.

Tonight I’m staying up all night.  Why?  Because I feel like it.  Because I can’t sleep, or at least I don’t feel like I can and I don’t want to try.  But as bad as this is for me mentally and physically, at least I went to breakfast with friends and then came home alone.  After all, I could have slutted it up with some random dude from Moondog’s, or texted a booty call to one of the couple options I have there.  Why didn’t I?  Well, when it comes down to it, I didn’t want to.  I don’t want to be that person who can’t be alone, who has to find solace in meaningless “connections” because the loneliness is too much to bear.  Fuck that.  (Yeah, yeah, I know.  I try to keep my language relatively clean.  But sometimes f-bombs must be dropped to provide a proper earth-shattering effect.  So please bear with me.)  Where was I?  Oh yeah, fuck meaningless last-minute hook-ups that only provide a temporary respite from the basic solitary existence I’m in right now.

Someday I won’t be here.  Someday I’m going to find a partner in crime; somebody who I can trust, and lean on, and who I know will always be there for me.  Somebody who I’m excited to come home and see at the end of the day, who sends little chills up my back when I see him/her, and who gets my motor running both with and without trying.  Somebody who’s worth the effort that a close relationship requires, and who thinks I’m worth the effort too.  And you know, as much as I like the couple of guys I’m seeing, they are not this person.  And if this person came along tomorrow, I’d have to let my current “friendlies” go, so that they can find their own match.  Not that I don’t like them, not that I don’t enjoy their company, but let’s face it; if I thought we’d work together in the long run I wouldn’t be lonely tonight, would I?  I’d be with one of them.

Yup, someday I’ll find that person (again) and I won’t have to be lonely.  But until then, I’m going to choose to continue this lonely, crappy, frustrating, depressing existence that I’m in right now.  It really sucks coming home to an empty home, but it would suck worse to be coming home to somebody I wish wasn’t there.  I’ve been there, and I don’t intend to go back.

Conventionality

I had a moment today, as I was leaving the pet store walking behind a happy couple with a toddler in their shopping cart, when I wished for a conventional life.

I wished for the normalcy of a 9-to-5-working husband and house with a white picket fence.  I wished for a moment of being like everyone else, with 2.4 kids and a dog and church on Sundays.  I wished for a firm place in the community, clear social expectations, and neatly defined behavioral roles.

For just a moment there, I really wished I could sink into apathy and mediocrity and just be part of the faceless masses.

Then I shook my head and decided I’m going on tour next summer as a solo act.  If Gumby’s not still around, I can just rehome Princess and put all my stuff in storage, you know.  Have to give up my waterfront view, but I’d get to see a lot more of the country from the road.  And I bet I’d get a whole lot of songs written, too.

Onwardo.

Rheo-what?!?

Last night, on the way home from Union, my dash lights decided they didn’t want to work.  *sigh*  All the other lights are fine headlamps, dome, brake and turn signals) as are the dummy lights on the dash.  But the lights behind the gauges aren’t coming on.

Today I checked all the easy fixes – fuses, grounding wires, etc. and have come to the conclusion that it’s probably the knob itself – or in particular, the part of the knob that works as a dimmer switch.  Thus we have today’s vocabulary lesson – a rheostat is a type of resistor that has variable settings rather than just on and off.  Apparently.

So I need a new one, at any rate.  Which will be just awesome, since I love learning how to do new things!

Oh, and PS from last night’s post – sure enough, things are much better today!  😀

Ed. 8/28:
The rheostat was fine; turned out to be a bad fuse, which I somehow missed when I checked them.  :-\  So the fuse was replaced, and then a couple days later it promptly blew again – TWICE.  Al noticed that the wires on my front driver’s running light were exposed (long story that involves a post and a dude in a wheelchair)  and deduced that since the running lights are on the same circuit, that might be the source of the short and the cause of my repeated fuse blowings.  Or however that should be phrased.  Can’t say I really care right now.  😉  Day one: no blown fuse.  I am cautiously optimistic that I will not have to replace my wiring harness or involve myself in any such other ridiculously difficult and expensive and time-consuming project.

Just so you know

I get asked a lot how I can stay positive all the time.  Tonight I will tell you all (again) that it’s simply a matter of deciding to think this way.

Case in point: this evening.

I feel like crap this evening.  I feel miserable.  I feel useless and I feel like I’ve failed.  I feel a lot of things, and they’re pretty much all bad.  And I’m not going to go into them because I don’t want to.

So as I get ready for bed, and as I do all the things that functionally I know will make me feel better (even though I don’t want to do a damned one of them), I tell myself that tomorrow will be better.  And if tomorrow isn’t actually better, then the day after that will be.  And if not, then the day after that.  And so on, and so forth.  Basically, sooner or later things will get better, and I’ll feel good again.  So just ignore the bad feeling now and know that it will pass.

I’ve told myself this often enough, and I’ve been right often enough, that I believe it.  And even though I still feel like crap tonight, I have hope that I won’t feel like crap for much longer.  It’s unpleasant, but it is effective.

So there you go: How to Not Feel Like Crap For Very Long 101.

Depression

K, so if admitting you have a problem is the first step toward recovery, then I shall do so.

I’m dealing with some depression right now.  I’m at a crossroads in my life, and I’m feeling ready for a change.  But the change is taking so long in coming, it’s getting frustrating.  I was just saying last night, I’ve gone through the part where I let go of my plans and embrace the new paradigm.  So I’ve turned the mental corner and I’m ready for the new thing now.  But it isn’t coming!  So I’m still stuck here in my old life, the one that won’t work and isn’t working and that I’ve already given up.  But I can’t go on to my new life yet.

So I’m feeling really out of sorts and it’s really messing with my head.  I guess the only thing to do is soldier through and deal with it, huh?  At least I have friends who I can turn to and get it off my chest, which I really need to employ more often because it’s a much better coping mechanism than my usual ones.

Know what?  I think I’ll go clean the affirmations off my mirror and write a new one.  Something along the lines of, “You will succeed if you apply yourself.”  With the IF really big.

And then tonight I’m going to go see my wonderful family and celebrate my nephew’s birthday and bask in the love and appreciation and togetherness and understanding and BELONGING that makes me so happy to have been born into this bunch of people.

Take that, depression.

Back on the horse again

Isn’t it funny how a few little experiences can change your whole perspective on life?

Last week I was feeling pretty low.  I don’t want to relive it, so I’m just going to say I wasn’t feeling like myself.  In fact, I haven’t felt like myself for a while.  But Saturday night I had a GREAT show at Moondog’s with Trademark – we really rocked the house, and I even played China Grove without screwing it up too badly!  I almost felt like a guitar player!  😀

Sunday I practiced with the Z-Rex crew at the “snake pit.”  Honestly, it was pretty frustrating.  I had plans that day, which I canceled because it was the only time we could get together.  I rushed out of my seeester’s house to get there on time, and then they spend two and a half hours setting all the gear up before we even played.  Jeez, people!  But once we finally started, it was kinda fun to play different (VERY different) stuff from what I normally do, and they said some really complimentary and flattering things that boosted my ego.  So overall I can’t really complain!

Monday morning Shawn and I got together and did some recording, and planned out some of the songs we’re going to do together in our duo shows.  We shared some originals and got to know each other better, and it was really awesome.  I showed him one song I was soooo close to having done, except for a few lines that I couldn’t figure out.  He made a great suggestion for the ending and we did a scratch recording of it, too.

I got up yesterday and decided that I was going to dress up.  Understand that I go to the office for like three hours a day, and usually I’m the only one in there.  But hey, what good is having silk blouses in the closet if you never wear them, right?  So I got gussied up and (may I just add) I looked damn good.  Got home, packaged up an internet sale and took it to the post office, then came home and baked bread in my finery.  (Good thing Albert got me an apron for my birthday!)  And guess what?  While it was rising, I finished that song!

Then last night, we had an incredibly fun practice with NW Chill.  The smokers stayed on the other side of the room from me, and even when we screwed things up it was funny instead of frustrating.  We just took another crack at it and got it (mostly) right the next time.  😉  Afterward, Randy and Shawn and I went out for a drink and talked about plans for the next few months.  Today we’re getting together to work on our demo CD (in fact, I need to hustle or I’ll be late) and I’m really looking forward to it.

Maybe it’s hormonal, maybe it’s just a run of good circumstances.  But I suddenly feel like my old self again.  You know, that gal who knew she was going to succeed.  The one who didn’t have the entire plan laid out in perfect detail, but who knew in her heart that she could figure it out on the fly and make it work if she had to.  I feel energized and capable and accomplished!  I feel like I could leap tall buildings and outrace speeding bullets!  Oh, and I have another song idea already…  😀

Opposite Day

Imagine for a moment that you are known for, almost defined by, your positive demeanor.  Imagine that you have put on a positive attitude like a coat you wear year-round.  Imagine that you fight any negative thought, that you self-talk your way out of any low point or discouraging event or setback or moment of doubt.  Imagine that you consider a positive outlook to be a basic part of who you are.

Now imagine that you look back on the last five years of your life and can see that every damned thing you’ve done is crumbling around you.  Imagine that everything you’ve set your mind to has failed.  Imagine that your very best efforts, your blood and sweat and tears and stress has gone to feed the insatiable, gaping mouth of a black hole.

Doesn’t it make sense that you’d want to run away from it all?  Doesn’t it make sense that your greatest desire would be to pack a bag and run away to join the circus?  Or maybe the Navy?  Especially if you know that the end result will be to get you into a better place, a place where you can have back the life you really wanted all along?  Wouldn’t it make a lot of sense to give up all these things (that are falling apart anyways) for a few years, in return for getting them back in spades later?

Now imagine that you’ve made the decision to take that step.  And you’ve even started to feel good about it – feel excited about it.  And you’ve accepted that you’re a failure and your best efforts aren’t good enough and you might as well throw in the towel because why would anybody want you to stay anyways?  I mean hell, nobody even reads your damned blog, so who really gives a crap?

Nobody, that’s who.

(Not completely true; my family – who I once promised I would never leave again – gives a great deal more than a crap.  But this is hyperbole, there’s not much room for the nuanced tones of reality in this post.)

Anyways (sorry about the rabbit track there), now imagine that after you’ve accepted your own worthlessness, after you’ve realized that you’re a failure and it’s time to start over, after you’ve worked yourself around to a place where you can give up the life you love and you’ve been clinging to so desperately (even though it really isn’t working), and after you’ve come to terms with the nature of the new reality you’re looking toward, then and only then do you get a hint of hope that you might actually be able to make this work.  Then and only then do people reach out with a form of help that actually meets your needs.  Then and only then do you get a sense that you’re appreciated and wanted and maybe you shouldn’t assume that leaving is actually the best option.

So what do you do now?  What do you do once you’ve turned the boat and taken the first steps in a new direction and mentally re-written your life?

How hard to you try to keep the life you really want?  How far do you pursue it, when you know that the option to leave depends on a pretty narrow window of opportunity – a window that shrinks every day – a window that you can’t even get the involved parties to define clearly for you?

How far do I push this?

Refinement

There’s a bit of religious imagery that has stuck with me since childhood.  In I Corinthians 3 Paul talks about all of our works being tried by fire, and the unworthy things are burned away and the worthy things are refined.  He says if we build with lasting materials our works will survive the fire and we’ll be rewarded, but if we build with “straw and wood” it will be burned away and we’ll be left with no reward.

I’m not religious any more, and I don’t believe that this will ever literally happen.  But I can tell you for sure that it happens to me all the time right now.  Troubles come along, and they set my life on fire.  And let me tell you, having your life set on fire is not fun!  It burns, it hurts, and it’s really scary to see everything you’ve built start to melt down around you.  But I’ve found that when I face my fears, and come to terms with reality, and accept what is really happening, I can use the situation to become a better person.  But it’s not automatic, in fact it takes quite a bit of effort.

First, you have to ask yourself how you got into this situation.  Think of what you could have done differently.  Imagine a similar situation happening again, and see yourself doing it differently next time.  Recognize the flaw, the mistake, the error, the blindness, whatever it was in yourself that either caused or allowed the bad thing to happen.  If nothing you did contributed to or exacerbated the problem, then think of what you can learn from what you’re going through.

The important part is to look.  Look at what you’ve done.  Look at who you are.  See yourself, see the great parts and the icky ones both.  See the things you love about yourself.  (If you can’t see them, ask a loved one to tell you one thing that they like about you.  Then remind yourself of that wonderful characteristic EVERY DAY.  Tell your mirror three times a day how awesome you are because of ________.  Repeat till you believe it.  Then repeat some more.)  See the things you don’t like about yourself, and then figure out what you can do about them.  (If you can’t figure out what to do about it, ask a loved one for advice.  If you don’t have any loved ones that you can trust with either of these tasks, that’s what professional counselors are for.)  Look at yourself honestly, seeing both good and bad.  Know thyself, as it has been wisely said for millenia.

When the trouble-dragon comes around and starts burning your whole world down, it’s natural to fight it.  It’s natural to want to stay wherever we are, and to look at the destruction as a bad thing.  But pay attention.  The things in your life that are worth saving – genuine relationships, healthy behaviors, a positive attitude, a strong moral code – will survive the fire.  They may be melted a little, they may need to be polished and get a little TLC after all that stress.  But they’ll survive.  And the things that aren’t worth saving – fair-weather friends, unhealthy habits, negative attitudes, loose personal ethics – will be fueling the fire, and they’ll be consumed by it.  After the fire dies down, you’ll find yourself with more room to breathe and to rebuild.

So I’m not afraid of the fire.  I don’t particularly enjoy going through it, I’ll tell ya that much!  But I know that whatever it takes away, even if it’s something I desperately wanted and depended on, I can survive on what’s left from it.  And I know that whatever is broken down in the fire can be rebuilt afterward.