November 4, 2008

The Popular Girls (Part ½)

It is important to know that LIFE has moved to Wednesdays, and even more important that you watch it with fervor and dedication—you should prolly name all your babies Damien. Watch it ONCE and you will watch it MORE< I pinky swear. It is the best show on television, the end. Please watch because if it gets cancelled because they keep MOVING it I will die.

HI! I AM…doing something. I can’t say what because I don’t have the vocabulary—not a vocabulary that doesn’t want to make me throw up in my mouth, anyway---you know I categorically refuse to say that I am growing as a person.

Because…How do we feel about experiencing personal growth, Oh Best Beloveds, here at Faster Than Kudzu? SAY IT WITH ME, LOUD AND PROUD: We do not do that here. It’s tacky.

I am about to go willingly hike up a mountain as soon as I finish this blog. I am going because it’s aerobic and I MIGHT see a deer, not to experience personal growth. I don't want to even read about other people going up mountains, especially if they have to experience a wordy wise chunk of personal growth at the top. I'm like, yeah buddy, ANYONE can grow as a person on a soothing mountain while hoovering up BEAUTY and SILENCE. Tell me how to experience some damn growth when your car is full of hollering pre-teen boys who smell like feet. THEN I’ll be impressed enough to allow you the cliché.

I am NOT growing as a person, but I am making some choices. Just an example: I am working VERY HARD to be less competitive, VERY HARD, and learning to play for the FUN OF IT -- new concept -- is part of that. I have instituted family game night, and we play every Friday and often I lose the game, but I have only lost my temper TWICE in like 9 times now. THIS IS HUGE.

My old game-play concept was the total annihilation of all my enemies. I used to play Euchre the way Conan the barbarian played AXE.

And yet I REFUSE to say I am trying enjoy the game itself, trying, GOD HELP ME, to be more JOURNEY and less GO GO GADGET TO OUR MIGHTY DESTINATION. There is no way to SAY that without sounding like a buttmunch. The vocabulary of self-improvement is nigh unto UNENDUARBLE.

It sounds like therapy speak and that drives me BATCRAP. Please understand – I am not against therapy. I would be willing to be saner, myself, if only the VOCABULARY of mental health didn’t make me want to stab things. When people in therapy say, “I need to DO THE WORK” I want to hand them a card for HABITAT FOR HUMANITY and a hammer and say, “THAT’S THE WORK. Let’s you and me go do it.”

The vocabulary of improvement makes me SUSPECT that to “experience personal growth,” you have to either smell like patchouli and do unspeakable things with quartz, or go the other way and lie on a sofa saying cruel things about one’s mother and gobbling great heaping handfuls of Abilify. (And speaking of enraging vocabulary…ABILIFY? Are you KIDDING ME? How literal/suggestical can you GET, drug marketers? ABILIFY, Hmf, forget that. I am waiting for the SEQUEL pill, which will be named HAPPILITATE)

So, I will just say: I am tryingtryingtrying to be kinder, every time. Yes. Again. Stop looking at me like that.

PS: I know making fun of people who say, of their therapy, “I need to do the work,” is not kinder. It is, in fact, NOT KIND AT ALL, but it’s the same thing as me calling the Irish cruel names and making jokes about alcoholism and potatoes. I am Irish, and I am never mocking THEM, I am mocking US, from the inside out.

So, I confess here that I learned the maddening vocab of therapy while IN therapy. It was important and good for me to spend some time with my eyes turned inwards to peer into my own brain. This was how I learned enough about myself to realize that I believe empathy is more important than actualization. So. I confess. I have indeed said, of my therapy, out loud and with earnest, wide eyeballs, “I NEED TO DO THE WORK.” I also admit that NOW I want a time machine so I can pop back right fast and SMACK me one.

TRULY, it is not that I don’t want people who need therapy to GET therapy. I had a bad half-decade once, and the therapy I went through taught me some valuable things that helped me NOT BE DEAD of my own bad choices now. Many of my friends from this period are missing, or dead, or have been or are in prison. I LIKE not being dead, I would have HATED prison, I am too loud to be a success at going missing, I love my peaceful, cheerful life, and I want people who need help to get help. I just don’t want them to pick up that VOCABULARY.

Must we have LINGO?

I am a person of faith, and I will also say that sometimes the lingo of Christianity drives me batcrap, too. Lingo is nothing more than fetal clichés, and also a way use language to say THIS IS MY CLUB I AM PART OF. PS, YOU ARE NOT IN IT.

BAH I digressed didn’t I? And I was going to tell you about the popular girls. They snap their gum. They wear pink socks. I am deliberately not looking for them. I will tell you about them tomorrow. I will call this part ½ because we didn’t even make it to part 1.

IN RELATED NEWS that may seem more related to popular girls than personal growth but absolutely is sister to both, Scott and I found a church. It is Presbyterian. I am trying VERY hard not to make the joke about how it feels like we were predestined to end up there. But oh look. I failed.

Before we started attending, all I knew about Presbyterians was that they believed the road to hell led RIGHT STRAIGHT THROUGH Disneyworld. My childhood friend Marta’s parents had to SNEAK AND LIE and say they were going to Yosemite National Park when they took her there, or they would have been drummed out. It wasn’t a denomination I had ever previously considered, but NOW I think Marta’s folks may have been some sort of strange, mouse-hating OFFSHOOT of Presbyterianism, because we have found church doctrine to be comfortable and familiar, like a friendly neighbor who owns that nice yellow house right between Mr. Lutheran’s place and the Methodist family homestead.

More importantly, I have never cared very much about the brand name on the label of the church I wear---this is a good and earnest church with a yen for hope, a bent for community service, a thousand pounds of heart for every droplet of lingo, and they like The Little Mermaid JUST FINE. While I am emphatically NOT going to grow as a person there, it has renewed my ongoing herkyjerk learning curve of how to be kinder, every time. I am kinder. Every time. Or anyway, I WILL be kinder. Starting any second. Starting maybe even now.


Posted by joshilyn at November 4, 2008 9:18 PM

Forget election outcomes, the suspense bomb of the night is how you will demonstrate the connection between popular girls and Presbyterianism. In related news, yesterday I pretended I was you and drew a fictional connection between buck bait for sale in a Beauregard gas station and a sorority girl's bridal shower. Do you suppose that means I'm growing as a...uh, um, Southern writer?

Posted by: Kalynne Pudner at November 4, 2008 10:36 PM

I'm wearing pink socks, but I assure you I am not remotely popular ;)

Posted by: Heather at November 5, 2008 3:44 AM

I totally agree with you about all kinds of jargon, and I am surrounded by more than enough psycho-babble and Christian-babble. My personal screamer right now is "energy," as in "There's a wonderful energy in this room right now." IS THERE? HOW DO YOU KNOW??

Glad you found a good church. I bet you would be one of those cool modern Presbyterians who believes God in His predestined wisdom is going to find a way to save everyone, instead of one of those old John Knoxxy Presbyterians who believe most of humanity is predestined to writhe in the flames of hell and can't do a damned (ha ha pun) thing about it.

Posted by: TrudyJ at November 5, 2008 6:07 AM

TrudyJ - The "vibe" of the 60's has turned into today's "energy". It's simply a transition of energy from one state to another. Perfectly plausable if you accept that the "vibe" actually existed in the first place.

Posted by: Mr. Husband at November 5, 2008 6:32 AM

Meanwhile I am still without a church and still prone to cheating at Scrabble. I cannot help but feel that some new pink socks and a pocketful of lingo might be useful to me, right now, but I'm not sure, because I'm busy hitting myself in the face. ;)

Posted by: Mir at November 5, 2008 8:09 AM

I always liked Stephen King's quote about therapy, (and I paraphrase). "Some people spend thousands on therapy, I write all my fears down and make millions of dollars." I think crazy may be part of your process. Keep up the good "work"!

Posted by: Jo at November 5, 2008 8:40 AM

I don't comment often, but today, you hit the jackpot.
1. I do not think that either of my daughters would appreciate being retroactively named Damien, no matter how much I agree with you about the show. And him.
2.Making fun of the group you are in. Here in Canada, we have Newfies, people from Newfoundland, to make fun of. And I think the best Newfie joke is "What is black and blue and floats facedown in the harbour?" "A Come-from-away (also known as as a CFA, or person not from Newfoundland) who makes Newfie jokes."
3. I have discovered a new personal mantra, which I can use when my mother-in-law or a lousy driver are driving ME batcrap - "Something will happen and I will deal with it." It is much kinder and more socially acceptable to finding a nice axe, which is what I used to do. At least in my head. I totally agree with you about prison and not being dead.

Posted by: Judy at November 5, 2008 8:45 AM

Y'know, I've been in therapy for over 5 years now (brain chemistry sux!) and I don't think I've ever heard ANY of those phrases. Then again, I'd be fighting my way out the nearest exit if I did, so maybe I just found the right therapist for my cynical attitude :-)

My grandparents were of the John Knoxxy flavor of Presbyterians -- part of why I never got the whole "religion thing" Good luck with your new home!

Posted by: Beth at November 5, 2008 9:33 AM

Congratulations on finding the right House of Worship for you. It all comes down to sense of community and like-mindedness, doesn't it.

I too hate jargon. As Benjamin Hoff says in the Tao of Pooh, it's meant to keep others out (you said that too but I plug that book whenever I can).
I also so fear jargon > cliche that I *couldn't* write my Master's thesis b/c of the overuse of the term "empowerment" (yeah, that's why).

My wish for your hike-not-spiritual-quest is Cool Max socks, a copy of Bill Bryson's "A Walk in the Woods" (before you set out) and to see live critters of a soft and furry nature (from a safe distance).

Posted by: Elizabeth J at November 5, 2008 11:09 AM

Hey Joshilyn -

We Irish really are a feisty bunch, ain't we? My favorits comments (made by either others or myself) are usually snarky ones. :)

Erin Kathleen O'Neill

Posted by: Erin at November 5, 2008 11:46 AM

Joss I fully believe it is about finding the place you fit and fits you, not the religious label written in wood and latex on the outside. Well okay, I believe that for the most part, there are a few exceptions. Drats.

Posted by: Cele at November 5, 2008 11:51 AM

I personally think you have contributed the most useful therapy-related term/concept. I use it sometimes and hope to accomplish its spread here in the Northeast. Your concept: mental illness number. Very, very useful.

Posted by: parrotzmom at November 5, 2008 12:36 PM

Jargon drives me nuts, too. (This is making grad school difficult.) But hooray for your new church! I go to a Presbyterian church and I rather like it.

Posted by: Holly at November 5, 2008 12:51 PM

Yeah for your hiking and finding a happy church! Your friend's parents' church must, indeed, have been a weird offshoot, because my Presbyterian Elder grandmother (one of the first women to be so ordained!) took my Presbyterian Deacon mother and my unbaptized sister and self to Disneyland in the '70s. Sister is still unbaptized (our Dad is a physicist/ agnostic, so we weren't, as infants), but I have followed in the matriarchal footsteps. Presbyterians still don't have alcohol on the church campus (unlike the Lutherans, but I think like the Methodists), but are otherwise OK with most kinds of harmless fun.

But sometimes we do try to guilt people into being more INTENTIONAL in their behavior. I think that's lingo, and I use it ALL THE TIME. Sorry.

Along with quite a lot of professional jargon, because, while I am not one of the popular girls (and own no pink socks), I do like to appear to be one of the "in" crowd, I guess.

Posted by: Diane (TT) at November 5, 2008 1:51 PM

Oh Gob Bless you Joshilyn for not blogging about politics!!!

Posted by: Cathi at November 5, 2008 3:31 PM

I really treasure your personal growth.

Posted by: Karen Abbott at November 5, 2008 4:12 PM

I think I will adopt Judy and her mantra as my very own. . .

"Something will happen and I will deal with it."

. . .especially since I teach 13-14 year olds every single, stinkin' day, and am selling one house. . .and building another. . .so "things" happen quite frequently.

Posted by: Roxanne at November 5, 2008 11:49 PM

Congrats on finding the right church for you and yours. I really think your friend's family must have been part of the (get ready for some irony) Free Presbyterian church, the one that is still thriving in Northern Ireland. They are your classic fire and brimstone types.

Make all the jokes about spuds and drink you like Joss, nothing at all wrong with it. I make several of them a day myself, and I'm Irish in Dublin. We like to make fun of ourselves.

I was a "popular girl" for about 2 years in secondary (high) school here, but I defected (which did not compute with them) to the geeks, among whom I have lived happily since.

I had therapy once, but couldn't take it seriously as it was freudian, and I never, ever, remember my dreams. I used to just sit there and stare at the carpet and giggle whenever the therapist broke out the jargon. She didn't seem to see a problem with me bringing nothing to the table, as long as I showed up every week. I quit that too.

I have a jargon allergy, especially where it comes to new-age jargon. It's a pity that the mind-body-spirit section where I work is so popular, I have to bite my tongue a LOT when dealing with people looking for books that brim over with the stuff. and we have a LOT of them. Your new plan is the commonsense alternative, and I applaud you for it.

Posted by: Rompompom at November 6, 2008 4:22 AM

Who loves not wisely but too well
May look on Helen's face in Hell,
While he whose love is thin and wise
May view John Knox in Paradise.
Dorothy Parker
(That said, my childhood Methodist and Presbyterian churches were pretty amiably interchangable.)

One of my best friends is a therapist, and while she can/does get both mean and giggly on martinis, it's the word 'honor' (as in honoring someone's disagreeable principles) that's going to make me headbutt her someday. (Though I think it's endearing that she was stunned when she found out not everyone envies her her job.) I suggest we lobby hard, a la Frindle, to add "buttmunch" to the lexicon.

Posted by: rams at November 6, 2008 7:35 AM

I have no idea what this post is about, but it made me laugh. You are an amazing person Joshilyn Jackson.

Posted by: Nik at November 6, 2008 2:56 PM

I think that friend of yours Karen Abbott may just be evil.

Posted by: Kate Setzer Kamphausen at November 11, 2008 5:50 PM