Category Archives: Philosophy
Continuing this week’s exploration of the artistic struggle, I thought it’d be fun to dig through the crates, find a composition about “struggling,” and explore the emotions and events which evoked the piece. I shall take the phenomenological approach and react first, then reflect.
How old was I when I composed this? 2006…it’s 2015 now…that puts me at 29 years of age. Ooh! What a particularly conflicting year. End of February-beginning of March-ish, I had received an acceptance letter from The Graduate School at Penn State University. I was absolutely stoked, so stoked that I jumped onto my motorcycle, burned it to the job site, found my co-worker/secret lover, pulled him aside, and whispered, “I’ve got some big news!” expecting him to be proud of what I was about to relay.
Oh gosh, I remember being filled with excitement, wide eyed and eager to announce this achievement. Emotionally, I was still in that phase of thinking guys I’m fucking care about me as a person, so of course, when he interpreted my excitement as something regarding him and his mediocre achievements in the workplace, I was stunned! Clearly it had to do with me, how is he making it about him??
Dumb silly cunt I was.
The acceptance letter meant two things: one, despite being away from academia for seven years, my past academic achievements coupled with my professional achievements validated a Masters candidacy at one of the top three research facilities in the country, possible PhD if I was so emboldened. Second, my professional achievements since high school had risen me to executive leadership qualification, and all I needed was a Master in something to FINALLY break through The Glass Ceiling.
But again… dumb silly cunt I was.
Instead of taking his lack of care as a cue to tell him to fuck off, I collapsed into a depression. I recall taking a day off to make a three day weekend (I would fake physical illnesses because I was too embarrassed to admit my mental disorder then) and I sat there, a pajama pity party in full swing, writing sad, woe-is-me, nobody-loves-me poetry.
Thank the Universe for Penn State! And thanks to Spirit for trumping Ego, because I’m certain if Ego wrote back to Penn State, Ego would’ve said, “Thanks but I need to work on my career/desperate need for male affection right now.”
Spirit wrote an enthusiastic confirmation letter back, and in August 2006, I moved to State College, PA and became a Nittany Lion.
Reflecting on this poem now, I’m glad I kept it. It demonstrates the inner turmoil of the futility of trying to please Society. I did everything right, I followed all the rules, I followed all definitions of “success,” and despite all my sacrifices, I was not worthy of unconditional love.
It’s what comics fondly call “IGDI Girl.” I had Daddy Issues, but not with my father; it was the macro issue of having excelled in traditionally masculine roles as a woman. At the time, I was the only female salaried employee in the entire division. I ran a crew of twelve, all men. They took orders from me, orders I relayed straight from the executive director, whose weekly meetings I attended and contributed to. The acceptance letter was another stroke on the masculine tally board: I was going for a Master of Science in an economics concentration, not the stuff for girls.
I was 29, single, well-paid, no babies, I owned a sedan and a motorcycle, and I lived in an exclusive condominium. I was living the life!
A man’s life.
Critiquing this poem, I realize in bright technicolor the why of the matter…what man would want a woman who’s better at being a man than he is?
No wonder I was lonely…
I was raised an American.
I physically developed, formulated a personality, practiced social graces, and made friends living abroad, almost entirely outside of the United States of America.
Beyond America, as an American, no one gave a shit if your father was this race, your mother was that ethnicity, and certainly, without a hometown to tout, nobody cared which city/town/state in America your people came from. The determinant of a shared drink at the bierstübe or an all-out beat down was simple: conciliatory manners, meaning, demonstrating respect towards the culture one is ensconced in, for the sake of peace. This is how I came to understand “relationship building.”
Thus, my confusion when I arrived on these shores to find the Americans acting rather…feral…towards each other. As soon as I smiled hello, the marginalization began: What are you? What are your parents? Where do they come from? What neighborhood do you live in? Marginalizing box after box after box instead of just a, ‘nice to meet you’ in response. I thought it was a phase, but, twenty-three years later, that fervent need to make a person fit in a narrow-minded box is still definitive Americana.
Artistically, my race/sex/ethnicity/nationality/sexuality/etc does not matter. I have voiced men, I have voiced South Asians, I have voiced transsexuals through my artistry. It’s because I allow myself to be infused by these cultures that these stories and poems manifest, and manifest with respect to the attributes of the culture.
As an independent author, I had to manage my own marketing, so I tried assimilating into the literary world fold without utilizing Americanism, because it belittles me. If I’m only an [adjective] author, then I’m saying my art is only valuable to [adjective] people, which would be me belittling my target audience, the global community!
The last two months During the summer of 2014, I did decent with general sales but abysmal in representing my work without getting forced into a social cubby-hole. I incurred derogatory statements regarding my sex, my race, my ethnicity, and those statements then erroneously defined the quality of my novel.
While I try to respect the perspective of those who protect their “-ness,” I won’t allow my principles to be subjugated to the -ness. Does that make sense? That’s not my crutch; that’s that person’s crutch, and I needn’t lean on it. Here’s a sample of that:
There was an opportunity for I Blew Up Juarez to be featured in one of Tampa Bay’s [adjective] bookstores. This [adjective] bookstore, according to its owner, is the signature bookstore for the area’s [adjective] community. As well, the owner was a contributing committee member for a major area festival celebrating the [adjective] community, and she was THE person to talk to in order to be a featured artist in that festival. Struck gold, right?
The bookstore owner felt her endorsement of my work would be integral to achieving success in the Greater Tampa Bay reading community. It was here in the conversation I started to experience trepidation, as I observed her mentally pushing four boards together around me in the middle of her shop.
A bystander to our conversation felt compelled to declare, “We need to support all [adjective] authors!” He nodded heavily, proud of this statement. He supplemented his declaration by talking about inspiring the future generation of [adjectives], and the struggles of being [adjective].
Very rah-rah-rah this guy! I saw an opportunity and replied, “Thank you for that! I have copies in my car, would you like to purchase one?”
He blinked at me.
He looked at the bookstore owner.
The bookstore owner burned eyes into him.
He looked back to me and declared, “I wasn’t going to buy a book today.”
I retrieved my review copy of I Blew Up Juarez from her weeks later, as it became more evident her intentions were to puppet my [adjective] self, not my artist self. Even if she was a fellow [adjective] person in the literary community, she behaved like a complete asshole.
Unfortunately, it is socially expected to accept marginalization and profitable to -ness it up.
It’s disparaging, but…I suppose I’m the only one who sees it that way.
*: original post 06.24.2014 – edited content and toned down cynicism
Another Friday night Netflix-whorin’ (trademark!), and I decided to settle in on Nick Offerman: American Ham. It’s an hour and nineteen stand up performance, and I found it delightful; you shall too. What I valued from watching this was his hysterical delivery of ten principles he utilizes to get through life.
Nick’s performance reminded me of what I’ve put to practice these last three years. I’ve shared them in previous posts, but am motivated to revisit these principles with you, my lovely, because if there’s anything I’m good at in life, is constantly trying out new ways to fail at something, only to come out on top!
Here now, ladies, gents and in-betweens, Von Simeon’s Four Axioms:
1) Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. (“Say Nay To The Hero Complex”)
This is for anyone who’s ever had to bear the brunt of responsibility/accountability/patriarchy/leadership/ownership/command. This is especially applicable for those who carry firearms, bear badges, wear camouflage, guard incarcerated peoples, or handle children or the elderly. This is ESPECIALLY applicable for all of the above if you’re female.
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Just because you have the mental capacity, the physical strength, the embodiment of power, the academic achievement, the title, the authority, the financial means, the superiority over friends, the familial control, the want-to without intercession, doesn’t mean YOU should exercise it. If these are the skill sets you embody, you need to spread the wealth. If it is of your nature to be dominant, then go against nature, and pass the baton on. Strike fear in the hearts you intend to enslave, or empower your subordinates by demonstrating restraint.
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
2) In new/uncertain situations, frame the experience not as ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, but ‘different than’ what you’re used to. (“Face The Fear”)
We are all conditioned in childhood to emulate the actions of our superiors – the parental units. These people, prior to you, had their personal strengths and flaws as well as social preferences and limitations. Because those were your parents’/superiors’ values, you, by default, embody them. Now that you’re an autonomous unit (I have long given up on using the word ‘adult’ to equate to ‘maturity’), you can CHOOSE what you prefer. This means, getting out of your conditioned shell and walking the unfamiliar soil. The good news is, you can infiltrate as many unfamiliar soils you want, at any time you want, at any age or life event you’re at, and, if you decide you don’t enjoy that walk, you CAN go elsewhere! Staying the course is a very boring way to experience the world. When we do the “that’s wrong” “that’s right” mark off, we’re effectively saying, “the world needs to meet my parents’ standards since I have none.” Separate from your conditioning. Go outside. Embrace what’s different. You might realize you like it.
3) Repeat after me: I know nothing. (“Clarity”)
How’s it go? The older I get, the less I know. That’s not a line describing dementia; that’s a person actualizing her relevance in society. Truth is, we approach adulthood and the labor force in survival mode – reacting instead of planning, bearing arms instead of intellect. You do not need to embrace that. People would actually be astounded to hear you say, “I know nothing,” in our information deluge age. Consider this: you’ve known your familial conditioning, you’ve known the tasks that keep you contributing to the labor force, you’ve known the needs of your close ones. What the fuck do you know about YOU? Ask that question to yourself without an audience nor electronic devices. You will be scared shitless, then you will experience freedom.
4) Repeat after me: I am nobody. (“Oneness”)
It takes seven years for human synapses to completely change their initial routes. For every intuitive engagement you have, you’re mapping out how your brain embraces that discovery. You can, effectively, retrofit yourself to be the enlightened, engaged, enjoyable person we all want you to be. But you’ve GOT TO release that bear hug around Ego before the rewiring can commence! Society dictates the importance of the Ego. If you’re not one to get on your knees and succumb to Society’s penetration, then let go.
Everyone can swim through Axioms 1 and 2 with focus, self-respect, and a will towards living. Axioms 3 and 4, even I can’t seem to see the other end of the bridge with such a dense fog to negotiate. However, I am willed towards living, and so I will fight for Clarity and Oneness. I deserve them.
I know you do, too.
Axiom: People who provided you a gift, directly, within this past holiday season, for whatever reason, qualify for a ‘thank you’ in voice or written form.
In voice is absolutely the best, especially if more than a year has physically separated the two of you. Written is a close, artistic second, in that you HAVE to use paper and whatever liquid you write with – Blood of the Damned is good, I lean towards Tears of The Foresaken m’self – and…you have to use words that auto pop from your thoughts. Ooh.
This is tough because your thumbs are not hitting a keypad. This is tough because you can’t click on a Like and be done. This is tough because the Internet can’t do it for you. This is you acknowledging a human being and beaming out from your belly that you CARE.
Rule 1: Do NOT let more than two weeks pass before emoting/composing a thank you. It looks like you don’t care. Yes, we know you don’t care, but don’t emphasize it by letting time slip by!
Rule 2: Don’t ask why. Do ask how. This is where your buddy Von comes in.
My credentials: a faithful reader of Miss Manners throughout childhood, a teen-aged reviewer of the smattering of social decorum guides provided by Il Mama, and several years’ experience composing cordial correspondences for big suits, tenured profs, and a couple of Star N Bar maniacs!
Here’s the order of events:
1: Standard greeting
2: Thank you sentence
3: Gift acknowledgement
4: Empowering statement
Don’t get too verbose; think Hemingway over Faulkner. Here’s one I’m flinging off the top of my head:
1: Hello Mabel,
2: Thank you for the lovely card and wonderful gift.
3: A gas card is a hot commodity for an SUV driver like me!
4: It’s nice to know you care about my safety on the road.
5: May the New Year be filled with new and exciting adventures for you!
6: Fondly, Bubba
See? Super easy. And…super respectful. Remember the last time you received a handwritten letter? Now, can you imagine how your handwritten letter is going to blow your gifter’s mind? Especially if you’re the type who’d rather update his Facebook status than say hello to the person standing next to him? Keep ‘em guessing, I always say. Doing the unexpected to express appreciation is the sexiest thing one person can do to another with clothes on. ;)
Now let’s do a real one together. This goes to Lani D, the Blogger Outreach Coordinator at East Dane clothing company..
Happy New Year! Thank you for the gift certificate, and what perfect timing; I scored a cozy Cheap Monday knit sweater to replace an eyesore of a cardigan.
This contest was a great way for me to learn about East Dane. Your site is bookmarked for future visits!
May you continue to experience happiness and excellence throughout 2015.
Sincerely, Von Simeon
Two weeks from December 25th is January 8th, so get those Thank You letters out quickly!
First poem of 2015:
is my last day
I have no plans. I really have no goals to achieve in the immediate future. My calendar shows a series of blank fields. Unprecedented!
Here’s the thing: every year of my adult life I’ve needed a focal point. By 1 December, I would have had a prepared list of things to do in the coming year, by quarters, with approximate time tables for project completion. This year? All I did was wake up and show up.
I did pack my laptop and wireless keyboard and mouse under the pretense of getting my prose and poetry organized. The devices spent more time occupying the bend of a sitting room couch than in action!
I did a little exercise of writing technique. For the first few days of my visit, I used my morning pages to compose a fairy tale, about the Queen of Saturnalia leaving her coastal lands for the dark and cold North, ruled by The Dark Prince. Probably five entries in, did the story go from fantastical alternate world scape to sequential erotica! How is it? Well, reading it over analytically, I have a solid grasp of the activity, but the anticipatory factor, that build-up the Midwest moms really need, is very weak. To borrow a publisher’s comment, it ain’t bad, but it ain’t great!
I still haven’t done my book unveiling yet, it was my planned New Years Day event, but then decided I wanted it to be a private affair.
No more irrational pressure. If I can I will. If it’s not in me, it’s not gonna happen. Sourcing that pressure, I know it to come from a culture demanding accountability, when, in and of itself, the culture is conditioned to act irresponsibly. This year, any pressure I embody will be self-developed for my own personal gains. This, my crone emphasized, is enhancement. Those who adhere to cues from Society call it selfishness. Just bear in mind, School of Latter Thought, the trophies for self-sacrifice are almost always awarded posthumously. My intention is to be relevent now by first acknowledging the Now.
Switching gears, I want to talk about you in your face! I am absolutely flattered by the diversity of readers engaged in my madness. Based on skillful trolling, my recent new readers average their early 20s and are artistically driven. This puts me in a vantage of mentorship, but not in the typical, “I’m older than you therefore I am better than you” way; rather, I’d like to approach my proselytizing like who I am in real life: your cool aunt who passes the ganja around while she shares tales of shenanigans, with a pinch of morality thrown in! Experience, not age, is how one achieves Wisdom.
For 2015, I’m going to enhance my blogging experience by sharing more, which isn’t easy for me, but I know if I unlatch a bit of armor, you’d appreciate associating with me more. The challenge is to be more revealing about my existence.
So let’s start with this piece… CLANK! There goes the left gauntlet to the floor.
Hi. My name is Ivonne, with an I not a Y, it’s pronounced with a hard eee, not a yuh or an eye. For the sake of monosyllablism, let’s go with Von.
And you are…?
Lucky for me, I have two benevolent people in my life who embody the values of Love and Wisdom in a manner I deeply desire. I met Love, protective and gentle, and Wisdom, reflective and balancing, about the same time last year, and since meeting them, the delusions of archetypal conditioning have started to melt away. Entering into 2015, I no longer feel starved of these self-actualizing components. Rather, I’m experiencing real-life affects of their abundant energy.
As I pack up Queen of Saturnalia’s caravan for a later departure back to the bright coastal waters of her queendom, I feel spiritually, physically, and emotionally sated. I will enter my home, settle in Bobby, and look out to the lake and marine wildlife in my backyard. I’ll plug in my newer tablet to fully charge.
In the morning, after my morning pages and coffee, I will do my book unveiling ceremony.
That’s the plan.