October 2009


Now is the time for excessively candid statements about my mental life!

I’m what might typically be referred to as “chronically lazy” or “a slacker.”

At any rate, depending on the work, like a lot of people I have a tendency to just sort of ignore things I absolutely have to do or even have just sort of decided I should do that have suddenly turned into work and not something I’m just doing for the hell of it.

There are at least two giant gaps in entries on this blog that demonstrate this.

One my favorite Life in Hell comics touches on what pop psychology has lead me to believe is the emotional root of my procrastination:

okay, when I said one of my favorites I meant everybodys favorite.

okay, when I said "one of my favorites" I meant "everybody's favorite."

Mainly the last two. Though the rest of the comic may explain my fear of guns, driving on overpasses, the sea, and clusters of holes respectively (yes, these are all real fears of mine).

Anyway.

So I’m terrified of failure, which is basically normal. I’m also terrified of success, which is debatably less normal, but again, pop psychology and watching hours and hours of carefully written fictional people work through their personal problems which all seem to be interconnected in some way have lead me to believe that these two fears are intrinsically linked somehow.

A lot of creative people on the internet have discussed the issues with procrastination relating to fear of failure. Hip-hop blogger Jay Smooth calls it “the little hater”

Everyone’s favorite, Ze Frank calls it “brain crack”

Ze poses a pretty good solution for most creative work that I like and try to use whenever possible–even if it’s really, really basic stuff, just start actually making something and then let someone who isn’t you look at it as quickly as you possibly can to get yourself over that initial hurdle (I think a LOT of my creative friends have issues with “brain crack” and talking about ways to improve upon what we’re convinced are “the greatest ideas in the world” and I find myself getting sucked into this more often than I’d like).

But I don’t find this translates to other areas of my life that easily. Certain aspects of creative work even fall prey to this fear of failure. In work-work, I find it hard to get things done if I feel like I don’t really know what I’m doing. Or even if I don’t know 100% of what I’m doing.

It becomes like literally every fun creative hobby I took on as an adolescent (and still today to a large extent). That old cliche: “I decided to start playing the guitar because I had these visions of myself being a rock god, but when I realized I wasn’t instantly good, I gave up.”

Except this tends to even be a preemptive strike against the possibility that I may not be instantly good at something. It becomes “I had visions of myself as a rock god but then I thought about it and realized I’d never played guitar before and even though I had some familiarity with the more technical aspects of music theory from high school orchestra or whatever I still thought I’d better just avoid the whole thing altogether as it was more likely to be humiliating than anything else.”

It’s actually worse if I’ve got partial knowledge and/or ability. Failure in the face of partial ability somehow seems worse.

Compounded with this is the considerably less easy to describe fear of success.

I personally think there are lots of very good reasons to fear success. My favorite reason being my constant awareness of my actual, objective level of ability in different areas of life. I’m not actually particularly good at doing a lot of things, even (especially) the things I like the most or do the most frequently–I sometimes seem comparatively better than some, largely because eventually my fear of failure takes over and I pour a lot of effort into gaining enough basic ability/knowledge that I can pass as competent.

Success basically guarantees to me that one day I’m going to be “found out” essentially. And certainly one of the things I’ve learned over the years is that a LOT of very successful people are basically incompetent  and are desperately trying to keep from being “found out.” But that doesn’t lessen the anxiety.

And I’ve got the standard “change is very difficult and success often = change.” Not for me right now, though. That will definitely become a big problem for me in a year or so when my attempts at success have more to do with what I do with my actual life as opposed to “I sure hope I do well on this pointless essay that I will have forgotten about in a week and no one will ever ask me about once I’ve left college.”

The biggest thing with me is I’m pretty convinced that I lack the momentum to continually succeed over time. Not that I think…if I do a bit of failing and only moderate success at this stage then I’ll have the energy to work hard to be Actually Successful later in life. More that I’m pretty sure the rest of my life is going to involve a lot of really, really hard work that is pretty likely to be mid-level fruitless (I love writing and I love film so naturally I’m going to spend the rest of my life bringing someone’s secretary’s secretary coffee after like two years minimum of working for free “just to get my name out there”) and if I succeed now it will just put pressure on me to be continually successful later in life so that I can move up and I don’t know how much emotional energy in general I have to dedicate to even ATTEMPTING to succeed.

It seems like I’m not being overly-successful at actually explaining my fear of success. So I guess that’s one less thing I have to worry about.

Anyway, this is a problem that’s on my mind right now because it’s finals week and I’ve got essays to be writing and things to be obsessively studying.

And I hate having to wait for that sudden rush of productivity when my fear of failure overpowers my fear of success and I have to frantically do everything at the last minute. Which is obviously compounded by my premature “whatever I’m done here anyway it’s almost my last semester so I’m in the clear” mindset.

Obviously I don’t have a solution for this. I was sort of hoping talking through the issue would help somehow. But so far it just looks like another crafty means of talking around and issue rather than actually facing it.

Well, damn.

Play me out, Jay Smooth:

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A brief and humiliating glimpse into the life of Interacting Socially with Carrie Griffin

Scenario: Coffee Date

Outcome #1

CARRIE: So what do you do?

PERSON: Well for a long time I worked in a bakery, not actually baking but delivering baked goods. Anyway, I always wanted to give baking a try so I thought, what the hell? Why not? So one day I just started baking and baking and it was like I literally couldn’t stop. So now I’m trying to open my own bakery. It’s tough work but I love it. Well, I don’t exactly LOVE it but I don’t come home every night unhappy with my work. I like my work. So I guess that’s good.

CARRIE: Yeah! That is good! That is like…the definition of good.

CARRIE’S BRAIN: Oh god oh god I’ve completely missed everything they just said. Should I say I didn’t hear part of it? Maybe it’s best just to be honest. Then again, maybe not. “Sorry, I just zoned out for a bit because there was a pigeon behind you that was walking and I think pigeons look very funny when they walk so I like to watch them. So I completely ignored your explanation of the thing you’ve dedicated your entire life to doing in favor of that,” may not be the best option. Let’s just change the subject rapidly and hope their line of work never comes up in conversation ever again.

CARRIE: God, my hands are dry today.

PERSON:

Outcome #2

(PERSON, who is slightly older than CARRIE, has just finished telling a very long and interesting life story involving lots of travel and meeting strangers and generally being very exciting)

CARRIE: God. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more boring in my entire life.

PERSON: Well, be easy on yourself. After all, you are very young.

CARRIE: That’s true. I am practically a baby. I was literally born yesterday. Well, not literally. And anyway, you are very old.

Outcome #3

(Coffee has just arrived. PERSON is busy being fascinating. CARRIE listens with rapt attention.)

PERSON: …so anyway, we’d been hanging out sort of noodling around on instruments together for fun before, and Barry–that was my college roommate, Barry–had this camera and had always been interested in doing this sort of Tenacious D comedy thing and–

CARRIE: (taking a sip of coffee) OH GOD, that’s really fucking hot!

PERSON:

CARRIE: I think I’ve burned my tongue.

Fun Note!: While all of these are generally based on real interactions I’ve had/stupid things I’ve said, only one of them has actually taken place almost word-for-word. See if you can guess which one!

I don’t know if we’ve discussed directly how I’m a neurotic, over-apologetic bundle of nerves.

Yes folks, beneath this deeply fabulous, bad ass exterior (you were all thinking that, right?) lies a hyper-sensitive interior that would sooner eat the steak brought to her at a restaurant than send it back despite being a vegetarian.

yes, I did take a lot of pictures of myself looking pathetic when I had a cold

yes, I did take a lot of pictures of myself looking pathetic when I had a cold

That’s why today I’d like to talk about the Man Who Passed Me on the Street Earlier.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m (relatively) isolated from the social world here.

Generally I don’t consider that a good thing. To a certain extent, humans are social animals. And I crave attention. I also like men a lot which is somewhat impeded by the fact that most of my social time is spent with two (absolutely wonderful) ladies I happen to live with. I’m a chronic approval-seeker, something that increases about 20 fold around male friends, manifesting itself in a desperate attempt to be “one of the guys” (did you know that I’m single? Did you know that many heterosexual males are, as it happens, not interested in dating a lady-friend who acts like a dude-friend? I mean, obviously unless she’s a tiny indie-cute woman of mystery who seems like she’s always seconds away from an exploitative lesbian kiss. I’m not those things).

The de facto alone time has definitely forced self-acceptance out of me. Not that myself and I weren’t on good terms already. But there’s that little extra step between “I am okay with myself” and “I am amazing and anything bad that happens to me is almost definitely everyone else’s fault.” Uh, but in a good way.

To put it another way:

When you’re an American preparing to go abroad, the thing that’s often drummed into your head before you leave is “BE POLITE BECAUSE AMERICANS ARE IMPOLITE.” I mean, that’s generally true. Especially of university students, who like make a big deal of the fact that even though they’re 19, it’s legal for them to drink. Which is fine, I have no problem with people drinking. But there ARE better ways to introduce yourself to a new country than staggering home drunk at 1am singing “Single Ladies” at the top of your lungs (for starters, as great as “Single Ladies” is, you might want to switch to something more universally recognizable. Maybe some Beach Boys. But NOT “California Girls” for obvious reasons).

Anyway, in discussing American impoliteness a lot get said about Americans and their “sense of entitlement.” The clearest example of this I can think of is service in restaurants. It’s subtly different (theoretically this has to do with the fact that other countries actually pay their wait staff a reasonable amount of money so they don’t have to work for tips), and there’s a lot of potential in an eating-at-a-restaurant situation for an American to seem like a demanding jackass.

I don’t usually have this problem. Because I don’t have that sense of entitlement. And for the record, yes I am that person in a restaurant who believes that the waiter specifically likes her even though being incredibly nice to slightly flirtatious is something waiters tend to do for tips. It doesn’t take me long to recognize that I’m being silly generally, but for a few minutes, I’m sold. And I would hate to ever offend anybody who was even slightly nice to me once.

So I’ve never demanded service in this situation. I could sit in a restaurant ignored entirely by a waiter for hours until I would be willing to say anything.

Thankfully, rather than completely destroying me, somehow being alone has built me up and acted against this.

I doubt my restaurant behavior has changed. My example is stupider than this.

Today I was walking home. I’m not a fast walker and I was having skirt vs. wind issues, which of course slowed me down even more.

I may or may not have been walking in the middle of the sidewalk. It’s unlikely. But either way, I saw a man come up from behind me, exasperatedly step into the street, and walk around me.

And for a second, I felt bad. I may have been walking in the center of the sidewalk. I was definitely not in a hurry. And in such situations, I become hyper-aware  of my size and begin to feel bad about the very way I look and that I’m forcibly subjecting others in the outside world to that.

(Yes, I am very, very neurotic.)

But the that second passed. A nicer sensation came. Annoyance. The feeling that I was completely in my right to be a cumbersome lump in the middle of the sidewalk, drifting along at whatever pace. That this guy was an asshole who decided it was acceptable to ironically dress like a cross between Freddy Krueger and an entire denim factory at the same time. Rage swarmed around me like millions of slightly annoyed bees.

And then that passed. And I was normal, and non-obsessed with having potentially annoyed another human, and feeling fine about being a slow-moving mid-sidewalk lump.

God, this all sounds very sad and pathetic and depressing suddenly when it was meant to be uplifting. I’m like a one-woman episode of Freaks and Geeks.

Ugh, nevermind. Let’s all ignore this entry and focus on the fact that the Asian Supermarket carries Dr. Pepper. That’s a positive note I can potentially end on, right?

sweet nectar of the gods

sweet nectar of the gods

The best thing is it’s been a LONG time since I had a Dr. Pepper, so it was even better than I remembered.

This attempt to salvage this entry is not working at all. It’s really just leaving a bad taste in my mouth. That I am going to have to replace with Dr. Pepper.

Jeez. I’m sorry everyone. Wait, I mean not sorry because I’m done apologizing. Or something. Right? What was the point of this again? Oh I think it was this:

Or something like that. Basically, you will never alter drapes in Atlanta again because you DO NOT cross a Sugarbaker woman.

Thus ends the portion of this blog that two people understood. I hope those two people LOVED it at the very least.

I promise good posts in the near future.

I’m trying to dredge up non-awful looking full body shots of me in the space costume. Until then, here’s my space get-up, yearbook-style:

I just...blue myself.

I just...blue myself.

Voted least likely to succeed.

I ducked out super-early (which is to say: as soon as my drink tickets were gone).

Frankly the whole thing was a little uncomfortable. It was clearly a cast and crew party that the volunteers where invited to as a show of good faith. People gave in-jokey speeches, everyone looked really amazing and was outgoing and charming and funny.

Let this be a warning to you: never spend time with theater people. You’ll only end up feeling inadequate.

One of my best friends is an actress and every time I’m around her I get the feeling that it’s a great privilege that she choose to pay attention to me at all. She’s so charismatic and fun and funny and attractive, the fact that she chooses to and enjoys spending time with me is consistently shocking.

She makes a great zombie, too

She makes a great zombie, too

I love attention (obviously: I have a blog), but I’d gladly yield the floor to this lady.

I can’t abide such nonsense in people I’m not basically hetero-life partners with, though. And they were only serving champagne and cheap beer, neither of which I’m crazy about.

And I’d already embarrassed myself by a) attempting to dance and b) trying to make a joke about that Ting Tings song that’s basically just a list of names (it didn’t go over well). So I went home early. And I didn’t get a good story out of the party.

Well, okay, here’s one: it was about a half hour walk from my flat to the bar. I got a few stares, etc. as was expected. But one guy looked me straight in the eyes, glared, and shook his head as if I was the greatest source of shame known to man. It was awesome.

I’m entering into my last month (slightly more than, actually) here. It will be a wistful, if exciting month to say the least. In early November I’ll be in Australia, seeing Arj Barker with a friend and then tooling around Melbourne and/or Sydney all on my lonesome.

(Jesus, I need to get some freaking friends.)

I leave you with my new favorite piece of graffiti, since the cat graffiti is gone forever. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you:

The Toast Graffiti

the most beautiful thing in the entire world.

the most beautiful thing in the entire world.

I’ve been shockingly lazy about updating…a personal blog that is in no way actual work.

But I have a good excuse! I’ve been volunteering as a program seller at the World of Wearable Arts. I’ve been spending just about every night of the week looking like this:

but slightly less blurry

but slightly less blurry

I got to see the show for free, too. I think I mentioned this before, but the World of Wearable Arts is basically a two hour fashion show where the fashion…is sort of like an even less practical form of haute couture.

I watched it last night with another program seller. A French girl who brought her own bottle of wine which she poured into a travel mug and drank throughout the show. Since this is her “I am attending a formal event” behavior, I’m very excited for the wrap party tomorrow night.

It’s space themed. I crapped out and rented my costume. Here’s a taste treat:

blue hair =  space?

blue hair = space?

More to come.

Some time last week I went on a sort of blind half-date.

Look, if nothing else this blog should be a warning to ALL PEOPLE EVERYWHERE in the future. Do NOT go on dates with people you have never met before in person. It’s just a really terrible idea.

I don’t know how to describe this guy except… sometimes, you meet a person and you start talking to them and after about five or ten minutes, you get the impression that they’ve probably got about 20 GB of anime porn saved to their computer. And not just normal porn but with anime characters. WEIRD anime porn. The kind with tentacles and plotlines about haunted bras that attracted an undesirable element and so on (my freshman roommate used to watch anime porn with her friends the same way normal people watch old B-movies).

We had a shared interest in movies (especially old kung-fu movies) so I thought I’d be able to overlook this. Not the case. Apparently some people watch kung-fu movies for intricate plotlines and character studies with some kung-fu to spice things up every so often. These people roll their eyes when I tell them about Ong Bak and how bad ass Thai boxing is (it’s pretty bad ass).

I’m all for in-depth analysis and discussion of film. But if you’re bringing up kung-fu, I am going to talk about the original Drunken Master and how awesome it is. I might even bring up Twin Dragons. I’m sorry, I tend to like my movies about bad asses beating up other bad asses to mostly be bad ass.

He also spent a good 10 minutes basically rattling off Genghis Khan’s Wikipedia page. I don’t know why. There was no context. I think he might have said “I like history,” to which I probably responded “Oh really?” which he took as a cue to begin reciting random but generally commonly known facts about Genghis Khan.

We went to see Funny People (which is pretty much great, by the way), which is about 2 hours long (maybe 2 and a half? I don’t remember and it’s not important). That’s not a big deal at all to me, but (we’re keeping in mind: I am INCREDIBLY critical of everyone and am very picky about who I choose to spend my time talking to) his comment after the movie was “Not bad for something that was 2 hours long.”

This infuriated me for reasons I can barely describe. “Look at the time!” I said, and it was only about 9:30, “I have to get up for the vegetable market tomorrow. Nice meeting you!” and turned into whatever the next street was as quickly as possible.

Speaking of uncomfortable situations, I don’t know if I ever mentioned my raucous night of drunkenness wherein I ended up meeting several people in their mid-thirties who, whenever they were told my age, responded with extreme discomfort even though they’d shown no interest in me thus far and were very clearly talking to me as a means to get in good with my attractive 25 year-old friend.

I guess it’s not much of a story. Except for that. Which was annoying. But I got some free booze out of it, so it automatically counts as a successful night. Right?

Hopefully my eventful evenings will provide more thrilling narratives in the near future.