Chapter XVII

because you never know someone from the very beginning


September 2006

Sarna and Arks v. The Gremlin

WARNING – this is a post with many issues – BIG baggage – and not so well tied together thinking.  If you would like to wade into fear, inadequacy, imaginary friends and motivation, read on.  If you are looking for clarity, head elsewhere…

A friend recently shared a famous quote from Marianne Williamson with me.  It is as follows:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.  We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?  Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.  Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.  We are all meant to shine, as children do.  We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.  It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.  And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

I love this quote.  I want to believe it.  I wish it rang true.  Perhaps I don’t get it, but I think it might be horse dooky.  I am not afraid of success.  I can assure you, I am afraid of failure.  I am also afraid that to be successful, I have to maintain a horrible wretched mean nasty catalyst of motivation.  So many issues, so little time…

When I was a kid I had two imaginary friends, Sarna and Arks.  Sarna was a little girl and Arks was a lion.  I had a pet lion.  Sarna and Arks were wonderful friends, they were fun, took orders from me and always let me win. 

I still have an imaginary thing around me, but it’s not so nice.  It is my gremlin.  That nasty green monster that tags along with me and occassionally becomes very vocal.  It says things like "You suck!"  "You are a moron!"  "How could you be so stupid!"  "You never were that smart."

Nice, right?  I wish I could bring Sarna and Arks back around but I would look like a crazy person talking to them on the street.  Instead, I maintain a listening relationship with my gremlin.  We actually don’t talk – HE talks, I listen.  Pity, right?

The really horrible thing is that as much as I don’t like the gremlin (he really needs a name – submissions welcome), I keep him around.  I don’t try to banish him or even ignore him.  I nuture and feed him.  Why on earth would I do that?  Because he motivates me.  Pity again, right?

I like to think that generally I am a positive person, all gremlin-loving evidence to the contrary.  But I am also a realist.  I believe in being realistic, embracing reality.  I do not ascribe to the notion that positive thinking conquers all.  It might make me Pollyanna-like and chipper (not so bad) but I do not believe people can be anything they want.  I believe that you can TRY to be anything you want, but trying and positive thinking are no guarantee for success.  Let’s face it, all of the positive thinking in the world is not going to get me into size 4 pants.  I could be self-delusional about it (endless buckets of positive thinking) but that would ultimately leave me naked in the streets of Manhattan (not good).  One must face reality, and unfortunately reality has constraints (like hips).  So if nothing is guaranteed and even with all of the positive thinking in the world you may NEVER achieve your goal, the real question is, do you take that risk?

So here is my dilemma – I don’t really believe that anyone can be anything they set their mind to (down with positive thinking and DOWN with the quote!), and I feed and nurture an imaginary demon that yells hateful thoughts at me.  Pretty fucked up, right?  But I am afraid to starve the gremlin.  What if I need that fear of failure and inadequacy as a source of motivation?  Since I don’t fully ascribe to the you-can-be-anything-you-want theory of life, I need something else to move me along. 

The gremlin yelling from the sidelines makes me run faster, and that is how I have historically won.  I cannot possibly kill the gremlin. 

This is my dilemma.  Fear is a great motivator.  It just happens to prey upon my self esteem and render me useless for hours on end at times, no biggie.  Any suggestions?  If only Sarna and Arks were around to offer pearls of wisdom.

Things I Wonder:

– Why are girls so bitchy to one another?

– Is there an afterlife?  If yes, is it better than this life?

– I have a horrible feeling that I know what rapid, terrible violence feels like – something like a car accident.  Is this a premonition or just my imagination? 

– What will I realize in 20 years that I don’t know now?

– IS there a cure for cancer?

– If you had one chance to travel back to a moment in your life, what moment would that be?

– What effect will global warming have on my kids’ (look how hopeful…KIDS plural!) lives?

– Will I ever live up to my definition of success?

– Will I reach a time in my career where I am fully confident in my abilities?

– Do fish have feelings?

– What does it feel like to give birth?

– How old will I be when I die?

– Do I have a real talent?  A prodigy-like talent?

Smarty Takes a Bus to the Airport

God bless the airlines.  A trip was scheduled.  A simple trip from NYC to Dulles, VA.  You would think we had asked for a shit storm…

It all started with a little rain and a 7PM flight on a Friday.  Was it going to be possible to get a taxi?  Well what did I care – I had a smarter plan!

So I left the office at 4:55PM thinking I am being smart taking a BUS to the airport.  Yes a BUS.  Not a taxi, not the subway, not a car service.  A bus.  It was cheaper, more efficient and would definitely be on time.  I am a smarty.

Oh how wrong I was.

The bus practically broke down.

I smelled like an ashtray because the bus smelled like an ashtray.

The bus had a BEEP BEEP BEEPPPP BEEEEEEEEEEP it kept making.  Apparently it did not have enough of some kind of "pressure."  The driver was radioing headquarters "I don’t have enough pressure."  Headquarters said "Try to get more pressure."

But nevermind!  Stinking like ciggies and going mad from the BEEP BEEP, we were somehow on our way…but to where you might ask?

Hell!  I would reply.  We were on our way to hell. 

Why hell?  You might ask.

Well, halfway into said bus ride, I get a fateful call.

"Hello!" Says a Pollyanna-like passive aggressive super sweet computer voice.  "HELLO Ms. Dixon, your flight is canceled!!"

Mind you, at this point on the this-is-a-good-idea bus, we are screaming towards LGA (screaming after sitting in dreadful traffic for 30 minutes) with no hope of turning around.  My husband points out that indeed yes, had we taken a cab we could have turned around.

Well, yes indeed TRUE.  My brilliant idea to take the BUS. 

So what to do when your flight gets canceled and you still have to go to the airport?  Well I spend a lot of time in airports and consider myself an expert.  Airports can ROCK if you are fun.  We think we are fun, so it kind of rocked (not really, but occasionally I like to lie to myself.  Self delusion is a very important tool.)  When in doubt, have a beer.  So we did.  We had a beer.  It was great.  Great beer.  We also had pizza.  After an hour and a half of "Chillin’ at LGA," husband said "I need to get out of here."

So we got in a taxi (not the BUS) and went home.  We had one regret.  We forget to get massages in the Brookstone massage chairs.  Next time. 

Is there a dentist in the house?

Wise Thought of the Day:

Never eat a stale Starburst.

Unfortunately, this truism is a result of eating a stale Starburst.  It’s been 15 minutes and I am still chewing. 


I wonder if there is not a larger lesson here, that this experience and related learning is not somehow applicable to life (or if I am just trying to seem like a smarty after being a dumbass and eating a stale Starburst.)

A Blubbering Idiot, I Am

Speaking of nostalgia, I have had a frightening realization of late.  The older I get, the more I miss past times.  This is not to say that I am not enjoying current times, I very much am.  But my laundry list of great past times that I feel a real longing for – and get emotionally raw about – is growing.  It’s going to church with my sister as a kid and laughing and giggling through the whole service, skipping Sunday school to sit in on the adult forum (I was 8, so of course), being the captain of the pom squad in high school (really cheesy but really fun), learning to drive and doing car dances on the way to school in the morning, my HUGE high school and the all-American-ness of it, eating bags of doritos late at night solving the world’s problems with friends in college, living in London for a summer and first discovering the joys of having a little spending money and the world of culture and living it up at my doorstep, my first "big time" job in NYC, being in grad school and all the amazing things that happened there, being back in NYC and having loads fun, spending summers in Long Island, dancing at clubs, first meeting my husband and going out late on Thurday nights when I had to be at work early Fridays just to meet up with him, getting to know my parents as an adult and needing them more than ever as parents – and being really glad for that, the year of being engaged, getting married, seeing my sister get married, and now being an investor and actually liking my job, living in a funky (still young feeling!) apartment as DINKS (dual income no kids). 

So all this great stuff makes me really raw.  Holy crap, some of it is here and now but much of it is behind me.  Just thinking about it makes me teary.  By the time I am forty I will be a blubbering mess remembering all the great times past.  And what will it be like when I am 50, 60, older (God willing) when the jar of memories fills and overflows with emotion and memories.  At this rate of wonderfulness, good times and memories to fill a lifetime of gladness, I might have to be hospitalized.

I guess all I can say is this: Thank God for that.  Now, Doc, check me in.

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