All right, I’ve accepted it. I’ll never be as good as Joss Whedon. Not even in the same creative universe, in fact. But while I may never be a media darling, I can still create and use my God-given talents for good. Having said that, there are some days when being a villain is much more appealing than being a hero.
Let’s face it, even the best of us have days they would like to embrace their inner villain.
Or when your boss disseminates in five minutes your project you spent three hours, weeks, months, fill in the blank, working your heart out over. One of those imploding bombs from Thor: The Dark Planet would be great right about now.
How about when your spouse ignores the full dishwasher for two days while you wait to see if he/she is going to do anything about it while you do everything else? (at least that’s how it feels.) Remember the hand thingie in Stargate that Ra used to punish underlings with pain and/or death? Oh, yeah. It’s on my Christmas list.
There are days and times when being a good person (or hero) is great. In fact, most of the time. But sometimes…world domination could be fun.
Brace yourself, I’m going to make a huge confession: I’m neurotic. I prefer the terms “eccentric” or “unique” but the fact remains that I am truthfully, neurotic.
I’ve always been this way, but as I get older (don’t even ask) I find myself struggling even more with the darker parts of my personality. I could blame genetics (it’s my parents’ fault), I could wallow in self-pity, I could even point to traumas in my youth (mostly my fault, those).
What dragons do I wrestle daily, you may ask? Depression. I work constantly to push it away and distract my psyche. I was always kind of meechy as a kid, slightly glum when in my 20’s, but things went really awry when I had my daughter. At the same time I had constant immense stress at work. The combination left me teetering on the brink of sanity. I’m better now. For how I got better, keep reading. Wait for it…
Another dragon in my life (maybe only a really large lizard) is self-worth. I feel I must be working at all times, or at least productive or I am not worthy. If I take a day off to laze around or relax, I feel guilty. I’m working on getting over that. I think a trip to Europe might help. Or the Bahamas.
Luckily, or perhaps not for the people reading my blog, I have not lost my sense of humor. Some days I misplace it, though.
So, how does one as neurotic as myself be great when I feel like something icky on the bottom of someone’s shoe? I make a mental list of what I can do, what I can do well, and things I’d like to do or learn. Then I focus on one or two of them for the day. Geeky? Perhaps, but it is more productive than watching Once Upon a Time on Netflix (although that’s good therapy, too.)
Today I am going to concentrate on my retail and marketing expertise. I manage a small non-profit thrift store for a local organization that helps at risk youth and struggling individuals and families. (Chehalem Youth and Family Services) I have been in retail for, oh…mumble…mumble…many years now, ever since my parents went into the antiques business when I was twelve.
I have worked in the non-profit sector for thirteen years now, sometimes part-time and sometimes not-so-part-time. Eventually I want to get a degree in non-profit work, when finances allow. (The rotten deck and stinky carpet come first.)
I also volunteer as a member of the Friends of the Newberg Library, selling donated books and media for them online. These are items not needed for circulation, the sale of which raises funds for programs, other materials for circulation, equipment, etc. Since libraries are among my favorite places, I find this quite satisfying.
I’ve also done it long enough, for myself and others, that I am really good at it. In the past 12 months, internet media sales have cleared a profit of over $7,000 for the library. I feel really good about all of that, which quiets the dragon (or large lizard.)
What do you struggle with?
Books piled on the hearth, stuffed into bookcases, littering tables and counters and even splayed open on the back of the couch. This is my living room in all it bookish glory, where volumes substitute for china in the corner cabinet. In the bedroom, the shelves on my headboard and the top of the headboard bear precipitous stacks of books. These become a problem only when a pile falls onto the head of my sleeping husband. To say I read a lot would be an understatement.
I must confess, my example has not been good. My daughter now piles books here, there, and everywhere. At least I don’t pile mine in the middle of the floor. She does. Often it is two piles, in fact: one for books that have been “read” and one that has not. She is adamant that these piles must not be mixed. When trying to clean up, I often move the piles so I can sweep or vacuum, eliciting a squawk of protest from her that “you’re messing up my piles!” “Books belong on the bookshelf, not on the floor where I need to clean,” I reply. “But your books are all over,” she points out. (She has me there.) “But not on the floor where people need to walk,” I reason, self-righteously.
Not only do I use books for entertainment and information, I use them for therapy. When I’m depressed I do not reach for a Hershey bar, I reach for a book. To be more accurate, lots of books. When my husband finds me sitting on the couch with piles of books beside me, behind me, and obscuring my feet, he asks: ‘Are you working on a project?’ If I say yes, he just sighs and waits until I’m finished and ready to participate in life again. If I say no, his antennae go up. Time for an intervention.
While I do love chocolate, I find books much more therapeutic. They last longer, are re-sellable, won’t make me feel guilty of adding pounds (unless I spend days on end sitting like a lump on the couch, which is fortunately impossible with a seven year old), and they occupy my mind completely, thus distracting me from my malaise.
It could be worse: I could have a serious Ferrari-collecting habit . . . .
Do you have a vice? Perhaps you sleep with a teddy bear discreetly tucked under your pillow during the day. Maybe you dream about desserts. Go ahead, let it out. We won’t judge.
The Newberg Public Library is one of my favorite places on earth. It was constructed in 1912 with a $10,000 donation from Andrew Carnegie. Yes, we are a Carnegie library. The original building was beautifully and carefully expanded in the 1980′s. The main part of the original Carnegie library, including the original façade, was retained and currently houses adult fiction.
Recently, our brilliant library staff turned an old coat closet into a ‘Graphic Novel Nook.’ A charming and brilliant idea!
This Friday, September 6th, from 6pm to 8pm Elizabeth Berg (the artist who illustrated my latest book) and I will be hosted by Artisanal Wine Cellars Tasting Room. We will be signing and selling copies of Sir Stan the Bogeyman.
614 E 1st Street, Newberg, OR 97132
Click here to visit the Amazon page for Sir Stan the Bogeyman:
The other day I was walking to the post office when I happened to look down just in time to avoid stepping on a pair of ants. Ordinarily I do not hold ants in such high regard, nor worry about their well-being, but not this time. These ants each held the end of something about twice the size of themselves. In my haste, I did not see what the item was they were so diligently moving, but their cooperation and hard work so impressed me in that instant that my foot moved of its own accord to avoid ending their efforts. Here were two tiny insects, working in accord to accomplish a large task for the greater good. By instinct, they were doing what “vastly superior” humans must learn: cooperation and teamwork. Ants live in a colony, depending on each and every member to contribute for the survival of all. We are much like the ants in that regard. We depend on our family, community and government for support and assistance, because life is simply too difficult to go completely alone. Yet that is our instinct: to do it on our own. Most of us resist asking for help and have difficulty accepting support, even when we need it most. Yet these miniscule ants know instinctively how to work in harmony for the good of themselves and their family and community. As children, we are not afraid to ask for help. It’s essential to our survival and we instinctively know that. As we grow up, however, we are taught to be self-reliant, which we do need to be to a certain extent. But the lesson of “you can do it yourself” should also be accompanied by a lesson on “let’s do it together.” When we see someone struggling to open a door or juggle two kids while loading the groceries, we shouldn’t be uncomfortable asking if she needs help, or just simply grabbing the bag of groceries or the door and making a person’s life that much easier, even if for only a moment. The small things add up. Perhaps that is what we forget. Many of us want to make a “big” difference or “real” impact in the world or our community or at work, but we forget that little things can be important. Even those two ants made a difference, to each other and for their community. What could you do every day, to be more like those ants?