Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Line Forms Here

I have always suffered from some great fear of filling out forms.  I can’t seem to track the information or understand exactly where to put my name or address, above the first line, below the first line?  I fill out forms as though my entire life will be altered if I am not 100% in agreement with whatever is being asked of me.  I am convinced that there is always another option that some rigid group of form creators deliberately left off just to make my life temporarily miserable as I fill out any given form.  I am a nonconformist and forms just don’t jive with this aspect of my very being.  I want there to be a box that says “it depends” after just about every question.  Or “maybe” or “not today” “who wants to know” and “really, who gives a _ _ _ _”.  The truth is, I have never filled out a form that leaves me confident and absolutely certain or even nearly certain, frequently, often, or at times.  I am pleased to note that the terms “form fear” and “formaphobia”  were recently added to the well-respected and highly acclaimed Urban Dictionary.

My formaphobia is especially problematic because I have a great deal of forms to fill out. Around this time of year I become rather inundated with forms.  Income taxes.  College application forms, FAFSA, Financial Aid for the slew of students in the home and at school, (self included).  Work related diagnostic testing forms, behavior assessment forms, conference and professional development forms.  In fact, the reason I am blogging is because I am avoiding several open and incomplete forms at this very moment.  I have handed in a couple of forms at work after long bouts of avoiding and hiding said forms. I have a less than appreciated tendency to circle in-between 2 choices because I just can’t agree to the choices provided.

I just reviewed a profile I created on an on-line dating site about 6 months ago that was a bit misinforming due to my form fear.  I also realized that my daughter’s Financial Aid form wasn’t processed because I missed the last box of the 4th page of the section needing my driver’s license number, that wasn't handy at the time I was filling it in.  These were both filled out via on-line forms.  I probably should have reviewed them a little closer. On the dating site, I kind of feel like I was misrepresenting myself and I could have missed out on all sorts of amazing and religiously diverse dreamboats due to my dysformia.  In one section I thought I was sharing information about myself,  but I had been inadvertently checking off boxes about what I wanted from my potential matches. 

The on-line dating sites typically ask questions like; religious affiliation, salary range, do you own a car? do you want kids?  Help me out here, let’s start with the kids, I have 3.  I want them.  I am 48, I am not Kelly Preston, although she is also 48. I have the choice of selecting: I want kids, Undecided, or I don’t want kids.  I don’t want more kids is not a choice. I would like the choice of “been there, done that”  but I want it to be sweeter and more loving “I wanted them, I have them” or  “I have kids, they are great”, or “I’m 48, let’s get real here, shall we?”  I want the profile of any potential dreamboat to reveal if he has kids, he is taking care of them, loving them, paying for them to the best of his ability and then some, and being there for them but these questions don't get answered on this form, and that's for another forum.

I messed up big time on the religious affiliation section of my profile form.  I believed I checked off Christian/Catholic, Christian/Protestant, Christian/Other and Spiritual for myself.  I am not as ambivalent about my faith as it may appear on a form, it’s more that I am not as committed to one particular section of the Christian Faith.  Allow me to explain, I am baptized, penanced, communioned and confirmed, Catholic.  I currently or occasionally worship in a Protestant church, I am more openly spiritual with a bent on: the Universe is an amazing place full of wonder and joy that just can’t be easily explained.  Oh well, I guess I am not exactly “openly” spiritual, I am rather independently  spiritual? maybe not, but there isn’t a box for Religiously Curious.  Not enough boxes for me to jam and slam myself into. If you're interested,  I like religion, it’s so fascinating to me, sometimes like the ocean, sometimes like magic beans, mostly an anthropological wonder full of hope.  The snafu?  I checked these off on the side of what I want for my would-be dating partner and left my side blank.  As though I were some atheist or an agnostic with a fetish for Christians, any which and all varieties of Christian.  

See, this form thing gets way too complicated and I don’t want anyone misinformed.  I can be rigid in my need to be clear, or clearly understood.  Forms rarely, if ever are one size fits all, but neither are tube tops or uni-tards and I rarely, to never, pay any mind to them.  I really need to stop over-thinking everything.  I might also need to unsubscribe to the SAT Question of the Day, that I have subscribed to in order to help my son prepare for the SAT so that he may have a strong chance to get into a school that he desires to go, with forms that I will need to assist him with.   He needs to declare racial identity which keeps getting more complex.  I want to check off a box for Atlantic Islander, which could mean Irish, but they only offer Pacific Islander, which could still mean a diverse and varied ethnicity.  Gender identity will be offering additional boxes.  The parent and guardian section has several layers and permanent residence is influx for many.   Adding days of the week may help a few sections, we are a rather fluid species, hard to pin down.

I am longing for the form that is handwritten on a scrap of composition notebook paper.  Will you work hard in school?  Check y for yes/most of the time.  Are you interested in learning and growing? Check y for yes.  Will you be coming to school so that you can drink heavily and game far away from your diligent mother that is paying for this experience? Check n for no.  Are you full of hope and potential but maybe have not mastered every aspect of your being by the junior year of high school? Check y for yes.  

As for me and the dating scene "need to know" scrap paper form:  Do you think I’m cute? Check y for yes.  Do you like quirky, dorks with snarky wit?  Check y for yes.  Do you need me to be with you every waking moment?  Check n for no.  OK perfect- we must be compatible enough to grab a cup of joe.  OK.  Check ✓  That was easy.  I wonder how many religiously diverse and indifferent were turned off by my falsely checked Christian fetish?   The line forms here, retakes and do-overs accepted.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Trending and Trust

I am trying out all sorts of wild and crazy living on the edge with reckless abandon activities of late.  You might recall, I recently wrote about eating tongue.  Not that I did, or likely would, but I did talk about it-that’s surely wild!  I enjoyed a fairly successful art opening with a room full of positive energy and encouraging feedback.  OK, I am being painstakingly modest- the art opening was absolutely fabulous, and I am not typically one to do fabulous, not seriously anyway, but the opening was totally kick-ass.  It was serious and amazing and fabulous.  I also submitted a painting to a gallery, in the small urban setting of Kingston, N.Y.  which was well received and generated an immediate, impassioned response.   I started biking, well a little, but a start just the same and I did make it the whole 8 miles with speed and delight plastered across my wind blown face.   So I did it again.  I logged a few "dates" that I thought were great fun. We all have our own take on things, for me the great smile I was receiving was a fresh new start after years of forlorn sadness, and pale, strained grief. So, I might try a few more soon.

All of this living on the edge and not taking too much seriously led me to say these words out loud yesterday, “You have been doing my hair for years, I want you to do something different, I totally trust you.”   I guess I thought that meant she would also know my inner most insecurities and fears, being all trust-gaining and such.  This trust of a hairdresser parallels the trust in intimate relationships and the belief that when we do finally “trust” we imagine that to mean; the other bloke or broad in the inner circle of trust can read our minds and know our inner selves and inner fears.  The very dark and secret part of us that we can’t quite look at directly will be understood and honored and protected.   That's kind of hard to really master.  But then that’s what living on the edge, all reckless is about isn’t it?  Embracing the feeling that we are OK  in spite of those deep dark secrets.  We have very little control of very few things so why exert so much energy trying so hard to make everything just so, or just soooooooo hidden? 

Something different.  That’s all she needed.  Well, actually, she went on a mission to find a few good magazines and hair style catalogs to choose a perfect style.  She handed me one and told me to see if I could find anything.  I decided not to really look.  I wanted to give up and just let the  “expert” decide.  She was getting more and more exhilarated.  She did in fact have a great idea. 

Around the halfway mark, I thought of saying “OK, great you did it!”  But again, I fought the urge and just decided to wait it out.  I did not have long hair to begin with but when all was said and done, you could have created costume and design for 2 – 3 Planet of the Apes characters.  Let’s just say my hair is, or was thick.  Extremely thick and now it’s not.  It’s not thick, it’s not there, or here, anymore.  It’s just not.

I survived it in her smiling presence.  I am a sucker for smiles it turns out.  An easy mark at the end of a smile.   Very easy, it seems. I don’t often enough give them, so they are typically hard to come by, but maybe I am smiling more of late, because I seem to be getting more.  (I’ll have to make a mental note of that, am I smiling more?  Are others smiling in happiness or something more akin to shock and fear?)  I left the salon with the sinking reality that when I woke from my spritz of valium-sprayed-smile, I would be greatly and deeply traumatized and traumatizing.  When I got home, my son who favors crew cuts, (which incidentally drives me crazy,) said “WHOA” in that smiling, deep, way that doesn’t really mean good or bad but it surely means DIFFERENT.  I prefer good or bad when it comes to feedback, DIFFERENT is hard to pin down.  I like pinning down, and smiles.

In the late 60’s the “pixie” was a hairstyle in vogue.  Twiggy wore it best.  Her big deep eyes distracted you from her short hair, or were made to look deeper without some big, distracting, flip, wave.  Her Peter Max inspired fashions also brought your eyes away from her hair or lack of it.  Florence Henderson, as Carol Brady added a little length and popularized the “shag”.   In those same late 60’s my mother, frugal, efficient expert that she was, marched us downtown and had a barber cut our hair quickly and cheaply, once.   I was too young to complain or grasp that this was not exactly normal girlish fanfare.  The second time however, was traumatizing.  To me, and more so to Mrs. Hunt, my best friend’s mother charged with taking me.  She was on her way downtown and needed to take her son to get a haircut.  My mother, frugal efficiency expert that she was, handed Mrs. Hunt the cost for a haircut and requested that I get mine too.  Mrs. Hunt appeared a little reluctant, due to my status as a “girl”,  but she was headed there anyway, and what are friends for?

So off we went.  It came back to me quickly but apparently too late.  Maybe it was the clippers, maybe it was the fact that I was with a different boy, not just boy brothers that did things with me out of familiar tribal ritual or the privacy of our own family oddities.  Suddenly it became clear this was a “boy” hair-cutter and a “boy” haircut and now what?  Was I a boy?  No! I was not a boy.  But from the looks of things in the barbershop mirror, you could have fooled me and probably everyone else in the universe.  I was probably 5 or 6 at the time, cute - sure, but a bit on the rough and tumble side of things, skinned knees and wild abandon.  

If you ask young children now the difference between boys and girls they often say, “Girls have long hair. “ I can assure you, the rules back then were even more defined.  Girls had long hair, well except, Twiggy, and Carol Brady, but I don’t think they went to the barber.  When I caught a glimpse of myself, I did what any traumatized girl does.  I screamed.  I cried a shrieking, screaming cry and tried to grasp the utter act of violation that had been committed.  I could do no more.  My hair, thick and long, was gone.  It was not there, on my head, and could not be returned or fixed or salvaged.  Worse, I felt like I was stripped of my girlness.  I walked home, sulking, down trodden, several steps behind, Mrs. Hunt and her son.  Knowing the neighboring “foreigner”, (I think that once meant “Italian”) girls could at least wear earrings to stake a claim toward gender clarity, didn't help.  I was stuck, hairless and nationalist without the old world pleasure, or disguise of pierced ears.  Sulking and down trodden with minimal nationalist expression, I tarried homeward.

I don’t hold on to many feminine pleasures or pursuits.  I was not primped or pampered.  Feminine mystique is not an area of expertise for me.  I am not high maintenance in any stretch of the imagination, but I do like a little more hair.  I have a few different quirky rules about what NOT to do to it.  Of course if you don’t share these rules and you say, “I totally trust you with my hair” you have to just take it with a grain of salt, or scream bloody murder, or suffer stoically.  Maybe I just need a thick, Peter Max-inspired headband or a big floppy hat for the next couple of weeks.  

I went out to pick up a few things from the grocery store and the local high school teacher looked up from his cart and smiled widely, and said, “Oh, I like your new do!”  Of course his hair is thick and long, and I think he was caught off guard, but he did smile.  Maybe it was ok to trust someone with sharp scissors near my hair.  Maybe I need to lace up my high heeled boots and twirl around in my new.... wait, according to  I am "in".  The trends for 2012:  wide eyes curtained by big false lashes, bright block colors,  graphic prints and colorful abstract geometric patterns,  AND  short, boyish hairstyles.   

Maybe I will check in on Mrs. Hunt.  I imagine if pressed she still has pangs of guilt about taking me to get my haircut some 43 years ago.  It might please her to know, I finally outgrew it, sort of.   I’m just happy to know, my hair grows quickly, in thick, waves that will soon cover my ears and hide my, I mean frame me just so!