Thursday, May 9, 2013

Spider Jane vs. Jane Parker

This morning while on my usual internet meanderings I came across this article on  Heal the Hurtful Divide Between Actualy and Idealized Selves .  The author talks about how paralyzing it can be when we fail to live up to the idealized self we think we SHOULD be rather than learning to accept the self we are.

I am terribly guilty of this.

I have this image I hold in my head of the perfect me that I think I should be, COULD be, if only I worked hard enough or was dedicated enough.  And while it might seem that having a goal such as this would make me work even harder, when I fail to live up to the ideal I just feel worse and the goal seems all that more impossible.

I've decided to name this super being Spider Jane because my becoming this super powered, always perfect, idealized being is about as possible as me being bitten by a radio active spider and learning to climb walls.  It isn't likely to happen and I am forever destined to be Jane Parker which is probably okay since if we go with the analogy, Peter Parker was pretty smart and rather cute in a nerdy sort of way.  Superman on the other hand was born, well Superman, and uses his Clark Kent disguise to hide the super-awesomeness which is a part of his super-DNA.

You see Spider Jane arises each morning at 5:30 after a night of deep rest and sweet dreams.  She always drinks a glass of water first thing in the morning since she is well aware of how important it is that one keep hydrated and she never forgets to take her vitamins.  She spends the first hour of her day meditating and doing yoga, after which she goes for a run and greets everyone with a smily, "Good Morning!"  After putting in about six miles she comes home, eats a breakfast of fruit, yogurt and tea with lemon.  She takes a leisurely shower, writes in her journal for a half hour while her hair dries and begins work promptly at 10:00.

Jane Parker wakes up at 5:30 too, in a tangle of tossed and turned covers with a feeling of dread that she forgot to do something important the day before.  She spends the next hour in bed cruising Facebook and answering emails via her phone (and because of this usually manages to mistakenly hit send at least once before an email is complete).  She'd likely faint if she ran a mile. Sometimes she falls back asleep and wakes up to find she's drooled on the phone (and the cat), it's now 9:45 and she has to somehow make coffee and ingest it before logging into work at 10:00.  Jane Parker sometimes eats cupcakes for breakfast if she didn't eat them all for dinner the night before and more often than not starts work still in her PJs.

Spider Jane is never late for anything, never frazzled and even in the most stressful situations manages to smile AND have perfect hair.    She makes lists of things in her day-planner and smartphone, which she doesn't really need because she has a perfect memory and forgets nothing.  She is perfect at keeping her creative and work collaborators up to date on everything answering all emails and phone calls in a very timely fashion..  She arrives at every meeting prepared, with agenda in hand and an outfit that screams creative chic and never, ever has a single cat hair been spotted on it.  She never worries about letting anyone down...because she never does.

Jane Parker usually arrives on time but is perpetually worried she will be late.  She often manages to write an agenda but usually forgets to print it.  Her roots are nearly three inches long at the moment there isn't an item of clothing in her closet that doesn't have its color muted by a layer of cat hair.  She does write nearly everything down because if she doesn't she WILL forget.  She obsesses about keeping people up to date and though she does her best, she sometimes takes two or three days to get back to people.  She's quite sure she is a disappointment to many people but isn't sure at what to do about it.

Spider Jane knows her dreams and is dedicated to following them.  She rehearses at least three hours a day and finds plenty of time to make new costumes, update her blog and create new items for her wildly successful Etsy shop (in fact most of her items are on back order because she has more orders than she can possible produce and is considering hiring an assistant).  She teaches classes in dance and a variety of crafts, all of which are booked solid for months.  She has perfected the balance between creative collaboration and keeping enough time aside to work on her own creative vision.

Jane Parker questions her creative path on at least a weekly basis.  She feels swamped by commitments and barely manages to squeeze in a half hour of practice a day (some days she gets in none). She keeps a notebook of ideas that she doesn't want to forget because there are far more than she can possible achieve.  She loves to teach and wishes she could do more but there never seems to be enough time.  She hopes to finally get around to setting up that Etsy shop before this coming summer passes because she loves to make things, people keep asking to buy them and she really, really, really needs the money.

Spider Jane is never broke...Jane Parker, oh you know what I'm going to say here.

Spider Jane has a wonderful social life, gives a killer dinner party and always remembers to RSVP.  She is okay when she needs to spend time focused on herself and her dreams because that is what feeds her.  She is super supportive of all her friends and is the first to arrive with a casserole, bottle of wine or other crisis appropriate gift when a friend is in need.

Jane Parker wishes she had more time for her friends, more time to plan potlucks and dinner parties (she actually is a fantastic cook).  She is rather good at remembering to RSVP but nearly always has to say no due to time or funds.  She worries sometimes her friends will forget her face.  She is always willing to lend an ear or a shoulder but sometimes forgets birthdays.

Spider Jane deals with her let downs and sorrows constructively.  Writing in her journal about what she learned and making up mantras to help remind her to grow and improve.

Jane Parker reaches for a glass of red wine, a cat on her lap and cries through box of tissues while writing wish lists of what she'd accomplish if she won Powerball or was bitten by a radioactive spider.  She writes mantras but since they are written on little slips of paper kept in a bowl next to her vitamins she never remembers to read or say them.

Despite all of this Jane Parker isn't totally unhappy.  She misses her friends because she loves them and spending time with them brings her great joy.  She is frazzled and stressed because she has more opportunities than she can commit to and knows that life is only so long and only so much creating can happen in that time.    She is happiest when she is teaching, cooking a meal for friends or doing something creative  She is driven and will generally do whatever it takes to successfully accomplish a goal and even if she wishes she could do it all with manicured nails, perfect hair, matching socks and a smile on her face, she still gets a sense of satisfaction from it all.

I, Jane Parker, know that Spider Jane isn't real and isn't ever likely to be.   At the same time she isn't an easy figure to say goodbye to.   I see Spider Jane as the person I could have been if, when I'd started all of this business of being an adult 20 years ago, I'd had a plan.  And so even though she isn't real, I still see her existence or non-existence as something I'm responsible for.  Spider Jane is someone I'd like to have in my life but she isn't me. So maybe instead of trying to be her I should ask if she'd be willing to be my friend.

Perhaps I'll invite her over for tea.  I just hope she doesn't mind if there is a cat hair in the cookies....

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

No rest...

My last final for the spring semester was on Monday night.   That evening I went home and made a batch of cupcakes (yellow cake with chocolate frosting and sprinkles), watched a movie on Netflix ("The Awakened") and went to bed.  I expected that I would fall happily into a deep slumber now that the prospect of paper deadlines and exams was no longer hanging over my head.

I snuggled under the covers and closed my eyes but instead of the expected peace of sleep a voice popped int my head and it said:

" how about that To Do list?"

I sometimes imagine that I have this busy body assistant who dwells in my mind.  She has dark hair pulled into a tight bun, wears oversize dark rimmed glasses and bright red lipstick painted on a mouth that never smiles but is fixed in permanent pinched "shouldn't you be doing something" pout of disapproval.  She sits behind a desk in the front office of my brain filing her nails and reminding me that  life has a very limited number of hours between birth and death; she REALLY likes to remind me of the death part.

As I lay down in bed Monday night it there she was, seated in her swivel chair, legs crossed, looking over the rim of her glasses at me.  I noticed she had painted her toenails red - she doesn't wear shoes, she likes to be comfortable - and I thought how nice it would be to actually have the time to give myself a pedicure.

The list began to tumble through my head, emails to respond to, rehearsals to schedule...

"Just think, now that you have all this extra time we can get so much done!"

...budgets to write, blog posts to draft, costumes to sew, projects for work, laundry to wash...

"Your hair...don't forget you need to do something about those roots."

Oh to color, venues to call, press releases to write, that pile of books I said I'd read when the semester was finished...

...set up the Etsy site, revise my workout to take my knee injury into account, actually do said revised workout...

"Meditate.  Set a side five minutes just to breathe stress out too much."

...sure, meditate.  Let's add that to the list too...create some new hat patterns...plan a weekend movement retreat...

"Okay, really, now you are stressing me out.  Why don't you just go to sleep and trust that I'll be right here in the morning to remind you of all you have to do."

Right.  Okay.  Sleep.  Isn't that what I wanted to do in the first place?

"Yes dear, it was.  You really should take our own advice more often."


"Good night dear.  Sweet dreams.  Busy day tomorrow.  Death comes sooner than you think."