Naked and Afraid and Nutty Oh My!

thI’m sitting this evening, watching this wonderfully entertaining — and wonderfully stupid — show that puts together one naked male and one naked female and dumps them into some exotic jungle and says see ya in 21 days.

There are plenty of reality shows on the telly to entertain the simplest mind. I suppose this is what American TV has come down to these days. But back to this reality show. There is always a ton of ego involved in this survival.

There’s also a lot of bone-headed ideas.

Some of the couples start off on the right foot together, and others don’t like each other from the get go. Being stuck with another naked person for three weeks can test anyone’s patience. She may be a tattooed beauty, he may be a muscled god, but when it comes down to it, their pre-conceived notions of each other never really disappear. They merely…adapt.

She wants to be an individual, he wants to be the alpha. He’s usually aggressive in one way or another, she gets pissed of and keeps to herself. She wants to catch crab, he wants to eat the dangerous sea snake. She wants to fix the shelter so it doesn’t leak, he wants to cut down trees in the hope there’s coconuts with milk in them. They go in with no food, (what? I thought there were McDonalds everywhere!) no fire, no weapons, and have to fend for themselves.  They eat termites and crabs and snakes and put up with storms, flooding, insects, sunburn, infection, diarrhea, alligators, sweat, dehydration, starvation, thorns, all kinds of things. They are tapping out after Day 5, Day 11, crying, praying, crabbing, mumbling, overwhelmed by the sheer primativeness of it all.

And I wonder — why?

I know there is a whole psyche nation that has to prove to themselves that they have “what it takes.” Whether its climbing Mt. Everest or kayaking down the Amazon or entering a triathlon, there is some height we all want to reach. Some person we want to become. Some goal want to achieve. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

But I watch these two people knocking around, tired of everything the other person says or does, starving, sweating, swearing, doing their best to survive 21 days without killing each other.

Is this proving your worth?

I suppose I am on the wrong side of town to really appreciate the sacrifices people make to prove something to themselves. I have never been overly ambitious, overly demanding, overly aggressive. I have also always been overly honest. I know what I can do and what I can’t. What I can do if I’d just work harder, what I’ll never be able to do.

I suppose that also means I’ll never know the complete satisfaction of overcoming incredible odds to do something few others have. And I don’t mean overcoming cancer or things like that. I mean going, doing something exciting and different and life-changing. Part of me feels bad about that, because, like all human beings, I want to be special. I want to be remembered. I want to be unique.

Somehow I just don’t think eating termites is the way to do it.

Something Wicked This Way Squats

CAM00855 I love Fall. It’s the time of the month/year that blogs and Facebook and other visual media are filled with golden colors, leaves and woods and pumpkin patches. I love the crispness of the air, the chill of the day, the blankets and the hot chocolate. It’s also the time for my favorite holiday — the little haunting ritual of Trick-or-Treat.

I could share memories of Halloweens past, but I’d rather share a confession.

Now, I am one of those tree-hugging grannies. I move worms from the wet pavement to the grass after rainstorms, talk to bunnies that peek at me from the grass line, and give my pets extra food all the time. I cry at the end of Face Off and Bones, and refuse to listen to sappy music (except for at Christmas time) because of the same cry factor. So, needless to say, I’m a softy.

Flash backwards to last Sunday. Trick-or-treating with my little grandbaby. It was a family affair, everyone out to trick and treat and eat a lot of food afterwards. I pulled out my very cool hooded cape, grabbed a pair of matching gloves, and a mask I got at our annual camping cookoff, and decided to be the candy-giver-outer. (I’m usually the trick-or-treat guardian granny).

Now for my confession. I took a perverse delight in sitting perfectly still, holding the candy bowl, waiting for the treaters to come to the door, moving only when they came up close. I didn’t jump at them; I didn’t spook them. I just turned veerrrryy slowly and let them pick their treat. It was one of those “is it a statue or is it real?” kinda things.

Not a big confession as far as confessions go. But what did surprise me is that there were times that I wanted to scare them. Not a Freddy-Krueger-kind-of-scare…just a little make-their-eyes-bug-out scare. A make-them-jump scare. I chastised myself, wondering if all of my Walking Dead and American Horror stories had  finally came home to roost. If all the bullies that picked on me during my middle school years were hidden behind the Batman and Jake the Pirate costumes. If this was a control thing: dominate the little children, be in charge of the moment, hold the Sword of Damocles above their head. If this was a psychological game that only psychos play. If I could slip in and out of being a psycho without anyone knowing it.

The reality of it was that it was just a creative writing granny, chilled and stiff, waiting for her family to come back from trick-or-treating.

Getting older is a trick. And I am a trip. Is there a treat in there too?

Weird World

xI swear, the older I get, the weirder the world gets.

We human beings are an interesting lot. Not only do we wait five minutes for a close parking space when there’s six of them five spaces back, but hold deep conversations with our pets (including our fish), go on one-food diets (the banana diet, the steak diet, the carrot diet), wear spandex (which never looks good on anyone), and dial numbers our cell phone while driving and drinking a soda. It seems that we also have an insatiable appetite for the absurd, for the extraordinary. For the idiotic.

And it doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

We all have slowed down to look at an accident; that’s a strange but common habit. I think it’s one of those “There, for the grace of God, go I” kind of thing. So it is with chuckling at people who fall down or get stuck in their car door,  playing fantasy football (how can you bet on someone who might not even be playing?), or playing the lottery. We do things and watch things and say things and hope things will make sense in the end. But then there’s the things that cross the line of normalcy.  Things that touch that nugget of sanity that we hold so close and dear and tight. An invasion of the senses…an invasion of the common sense kind.

There are television shows about people who can barely walk through their houses because of the “stuff” they’ve collected, restaurants who have dead bugs and two inches of grime mixed with dirt on their food vents, and young, hip people who do nothing but swear and have sex and  hang out somewhere in Jersey. There are talk shows where the guests scream and swear and throw things at each other, and others where they share their most private disfunctions. There are movies about dismemberment, torture, and being buried alive. Cities crumble like dominoes and civilizations are wiped out.

And America watches. And wants more.

I have to admit that I’ve fallen into some of these holes.  Half the time I can only take the first 30 minutes of Restaurant Impossible or Kitchen Nightmares. (Those kinds of shows make me not want to eat out ever again.)   I have peeked into the show “Hoarders,” although I can only stand 5 minutes at a time.  The bloody dismemberment/torture things I steer clear of, although I have been known to peek out from behind the pillow to watch a few zombies get their heads chopped off.

So I ask you: Why are humans drawn towards the flame of extremism?

This nonsense runs the gamut from funny to freakish.  Why do we ride the fastest and highest rollercoaster in the land?  Why do we make three dates for the same time, knowing we can’t keep any of them? Why do we waste time watching TV shows about murderers and drug addicts and out-of-control bikers? Why can’t we turn away from movies about cheating wives or possessed nuns or hillbilly duck call makers? Hollywood has made death and destruction and sex second nature to us. The more blood, the better. The more bizarre the situation, the better. The more stupidity, the more we watch.

Why do we push ourselves to the horrific edges that we do?

Maybe it’s an attempt to reconnect with our primal self. An attempt to prove to ourselves that we’re better than we think.  Better than everyone else thinks. That we can experience absurdity at its worst and  survive. After all, survival is primal. It is a part of our DNA.  And there are a lot of techniques we have developed through the centuries to maintain that level of survival.

I’m not tearing down others’ forms of entertainment. Everyone is different. Everyone comes from a different part of the cosmic thread to form that all-familiar tapestry of life. But I do sometimes wonder how far humans will go for the sake of entertainment. How scared we will allow ourselves to become. How smug we will get from others’ misfortunes. After all, it is them and not us, right?

How this all ties together for a blog I’m not sure. All I know is that I don’t want to be one of those people who  throw their panties at a talk show host. I don’t want to be sliced or diced or have to eat bugs to survive on some deserted island. I don’t want to taxidermy my pets after their demise or tattoo every inch of my body.

But what I don’t want even more is to desensitize my life. To compare cinema buildings toppling to the fall of the Twin Towers. I prefer to take the lame train through life. I don’t need to prove my endurance level is higher than the rest of the world. I don’t need my adrenalin pumping any faster nor have my blood pressure shoot up.

That’s what my day job is for.

What Is True Success?

So many things make us happy; so many things make us sad. So many times we wished we  had turned left instead of right; so many times we are soooo glad we did turn right instead of left. Sometimes I get really sad that I’m soon going to turn 60 — where has my life gone? Other times I look back and am sorry my mother never made 54. I’m sad that I had breast cancer; other times I’m so glad they found it when they did.

Life is packed with highs and lows, yellow and blacks, snow and scorching heat. That’s what it’s all about. That’s what it’s always been about. For us, for our grandparents, for George Washington and Kublai Khan and St. Joseph. I’m sure they all had a hundred things they wanted to do at one time, too.  Just like us. We all want to be appreciated for what we’ve done. What we’ve become. We all would like to think that our time here on Earth has been for the Greater Good.

This is not a confessional blog; this isn’t a tell-all or a bad news bomb.  I’m sitting on my sofa this cold Sunday afternoon, looking at the bare treetops in my front yard. Of course, you know me — I’m also watching football, eating lunch, doing laundry, getting ready to write some in  my latest novel, wondering what I’m gonna wear to work tomorrow. I’m also thinking about the fun I had with my grandbaby this weekend, thinking of taking some drugs for my achy legs, and feeling guilty I haven’t played fetchie with my dog today.

That’s really what this blog is about. Sometimes I feel I should be pushing this blog harder, trying to share the Word with more readers. Other times I think I’ve run this horse to the finish line, and should start a new creative venture.  Yet more often I think  I’ve let my writing simmer on the back burner for so long it’s started to dry up and stick to the pan.

How do you know if you’ve succeeded at what you tried to do? What is the measure of success? Big paychecks often are an indicator;  good health, always. Waking up every morning is a success all on its own. Family? Kids? Making the perfect apple pie? All of the above are successes if never done it before. Success has always been measured from the heart first, from the masses second. And often it takes on a meaning more cosmic than one thinks. I think I make the best spaghetti sauce this side of the Mississippi. If you don’t agree, does that mean it’s not good? Of course not. All it means is that I can eat it all myself.

Writing is the same thing for me. What is being a successful writer? Have I ever been published? A short  story here or there in the past 10 years. Have I won awards for my creativity? No. Have I ever I gotten a call or email from a publisher? No. Do I think I’m a successful writer? Yes. Definitely.  I’ve had people say positive things about my stories; I’ve brought smiles and tears to readers.  I’ve written 4 novels, 1 novella, 32 short stories, 42 poems, 84 blogs, and 3 novels in-progress. I think that’s being successful. Why? Because Ive continued to do what I love, no matter what the  result. I’ve had fun making friends, creating worlds, and trying things that make me uncomfortable. I encouraged people to believe in themselves, given life to middle-age heroines, and never killed off  the main character.

There are still so many paths to follow, worlds to explore. And that’s only after I play with my grandbaby, fetch my dogs, pet my cats, cuddle my husband, go to work 40 hours a week, clean my house, grocery shop, get together with family and/or friends, and dozens of other responsibilities. Life has only so many hours, and I’m still struggling on squeezing a few more out of every week.

So what this all boils down to is that I’ve driven the Humoring the Goddess train long enough. Hopefully I’ve encouraged you to believe in yourself, have fun with your life, and laugh as much as you can. There are so many things you can’t change, so why not toss your hands up and laugh and move on? You’ll know the things you CAN change..that little voice in your heart/head/soul is always there to remind you. Your job is to listen.

I have enjoyed entertaining you all these years more than you know. I have learned so much from you. I might try another blog, or finish one of my novels, or sit and spew poetry until I feel nauseated. I’m sure I’ll be back and visit sometime. If I start something new I’ll post it. I will look foward to hearing from you and YOUR projects. You will always find me at my email world…  humoring_the_goddess@yahoo.com.

There is always a path ahead of you. Always. It’s up to you which one you take, or how often you turn left or right. In the end, none of that matters — the only thing that matters is that you keep walking.

Keep Humoring the Goddess…and Loving your Life…

Claudia Anderson

You Make Me Dizzy Miss Lizzy

dizzyingNot so long ago I wrote a blog entitled, “I Make Myself Crazy.” You know ― it’s the on-sweater, off-sweater, hot/cold thing.  http://www.humoringthegoddess.com/2012/04/07/i-get-on-my-nerves/  Nervous ticks aside, I now try to slow down and think before I flutter.

I was reminded of this “crazy” thing today as I ran around the house doing  … everything. It was a beautiful ― and I mean beautiful ― Sunday outside. My first Sunday home in a long time. Husband was at a football game, son was sleeping (or at a friend’s watching the game ― I never know)…a perfect day do to nothing. As some of my confidantes know, I’ve been pretty run down lately, and have finally quit my second job in an effort to get my sanity and energy (what’s left of it) back.

Well, if today was any indication, I have a long way to go before I am able to get my mojo back.  Last night I was full of mental energy. Not having been around home much these past few weeks, there were dust bunnies doing the waltz across my floors, I could write my name in the dust on my dresser, and the pile of dirty laundry in the laundry basket had morphed into a snake-like creature that has started curling towards the bed. I told myself I would not allow myself to get lost in my art until I could sit without fighting the dog/cat hair bunnies for a spot on the sofa.  Good intentions. And, for the most part, I accomplished some of the above. But I made myself goofy doing it. Or, rather, I knew I would make anyone watching me goofy.

Most people start with a list, the most important (or most obvious) tasks on top. You do the task, you finish the task, cross the task off the list, take a break if need be, and move onto the task. That way task number one is done and finished and buried.

Not me.

I woke up, slipped over to my computer, did a little blog page work, got a plate of spaghetti for breakfast, threw some laundry into the washer, went outside to the back porch, thought I needed a couple of plastic chairs on either side of the table,  went to the barn and brought them back, cleaned off said table, put a tablecloth on it, came back in, took everything  off one of my dressers, went out and turned on the football game, threw towels in the dryer, went back in to dust the dresser, went downstairs to find a container for all the odd things ON the dresser, walked out to the kitchen and unloaded half the dishwasher, went back to the computer and found the story I was working on and corrected a page or two, went back into the bedroom and started folding laundry, looked at the stuff on the dresser and wiped some pieces off, putting them back where they belonged, hung up some clothes,  came out and had another bowl of spaghetti for lunch,  switched the laundry, made brownies, watched the football game, nodded off for a little bit, got up and put a solar lamp on the table on the back porch, put a couple of things I took off the dresser into the library to sit and collect dust until I get to work in there, went to the front porch and picked up the chairs that were blown over, went back to the bedroom and cleaned off the second dresser, stopped and rolled a few towels, came back out to watch the game, got on the computer and did some more proofreading, got up and finished emptying the dishwasher, let the dogs out, then sat back on the sofa and starting writing a blog.

What is wrong with me?

Why do I have such a hard time walking a straight line? These past few days, all I could think about was sleeping in late, taking naps, eating healthy, going for walks to get my blood pumping, and resting. Sure, I knew that not all of that good stuff was going to happen, but the intent was there. Along with the promise to myself that I wouldn’t write until the fat lady cleaned. Never happened.

When I’m at work I’m focused. It’s hard work; it’s computers, it’s accuracy, it’s a logical process. But it’s like the minute I walk out of that building I’m bombarded with a thousand things to think about and do.  And I don’t even have kids running around to mess things up (except a college student whom, like I said before, isn’t here half the time anyway). There are TV series I’ve recorded that I want to watch, things I want to research, books I want to read, along with wanting clean clothes hanging in the closet (not to mention just being able to walk into said closet), fish to feed, meals to create, dust bunnies to vacuum, grandbabies to play with, kids to talk to ― how can I possibly get all that done in a day or week ― not to mention a lifetime?

I can’t believe I get so disjointed spending a Sunday home alone.  So…befuddled. So…disorganized. If good intentions get me to heaven (or at least to some unicorn fields on the other side), I suppose I will be able to flood the gates open.

On the other hand, if organization is the cornerstone of the afterlife, I’m going to have to take a lot of pens and notebooks with me. Not only will I have to take precise notes, but I just might have to write a blog on the way.

Hanging Around

Sitting outside this evening, listening to the staccato serenade of countless birds, I hear a small airplane pass overhead.  Looking up, in plain sight, is a plane pulling a hang glider. And I think – why not me?

The thought of flying high above the landscape with only a few straps and sails to keep me there scares the beejeebers out of me. So does the ridiculous idea/thrill of bungee jumping. After all – what if they miscalculated the distance to the ground? What if the bungee cord broke? It has happened, you know. Maybe to one out of a hundred thousand, but I know my luck. I’d be one of the hundred thousand. The same goes for spelunking, rafting down a raging river, and jumping out of a plane with a parachute. I really think thrill seeking is overrated.

Or is it?

There is a part of me that envies the hang glider dancing on the currents of air, seeing our world from a bird’s perspective. The spelunker who gets past their claustrophobia is often rewarded with caverns of unearthly delights. Race car drivers fly by at hundreds of miles an hour. Can you imagine what that feels like?

Why can’t this be me? Why am I so afraid to find my thrills outside of the box?  I mean, really outside the box?

Death is a big factor. I conveniently ignore the fact that I have a greater chance of dying every time I get behind the wheel than I do crashing a hang glider. More people fall off their bikes and die than rafters plunging into the rapids. More people drop every day from heart attacks than … well, you get it.

We are all going to die sometime. We all have to cut the tie to our Earthly paradise sometime.  But this blog isn’t about death – it’s about adrenalin. It’s about taking chances. It’s about putting it all out there, relying on our primal reactions to ecstasy and tragedy.  I’m afraid of putting it all out there. Afraid of being scared $hitless doing something that is as foreign to me as the back alleys of Japan. I’ve found comfort in my whitebread world. But have I always found satisfaction?

We are all governed by our fears. Whether it’s getting out to talk to people or wearing a dress for the first time in years, there are always lines we fear to cross. What if someone makes fun of us? Worse off, what if someone doesn’t like us?

It has been a long road to not caring about all of the above. I admit I still have those fears – I doubt if I’ll ever erase all of them. But now that nonsense is tempered with the knowledge that I am who I am. I’m not a murderer, an abuser, or a bad person.  I am okay just being me.  If others don’t like me, that’s their loss, not mine.

I believe that is true for all of us, no matter our age, size or status. We can all improve, but when the day is done and the sun sets, we are who we are. I want to be who I am. I want to step out of the safety zone. Moreover, I want to test my own comfort zone. Not because I have to prove something, but because once in my life I want to experience that rush of adrenalin you get knowing you have done something not a lot of people do. You have knowingly cheated death and survived to boast about it.

My 60th birthday is this year. I think I’ll ask for a hang gliding jaunt. Once I have the ticket in hand I won’t back out. I don’t think.

I just need to make sure I’m wearing extra underwear.