aMuzing ramblings

insight into the mind of a Muz

the spam series ...
I've decided that, due to the fact that these emails are seemingly unavoidable, I'd let you all be entertained by my new "Spotlight" series on spam emails.  Once a month, I will post a random message from a long-lost pseudo-cousin, "friend," royal relative, strictly to allow everyone to partake in the fun I have in glossing over these ridiculous emails.  Without further ado, here's the latest from my buddy Aljandro, the recovering druggie, who is now asking me for money.

Greetings and peace of the Lord unto your household. As you read this, I
don't want you to feel sorry for me, because, I believe everyone will die
someday. This letter may come to you as a surprise due to the fact that we
have not met or seen before. Please accept my apologies in bringing this
message to you. I have to say that I have no intention of causing you any
pain or harm.

I was into hard drug business for 19 years my wife died in the year2006
and we were married for ten years without a child. My wife died after a
brief illness that lasted for only four days. Though I am very rich, I was
never generous, I was always hostile to people and only focus on my
business as that was the only thing I cared for. But now I regret all this
as I now know that there is more to life than just wanting to have or make
all the money in the world.

I have been diagnosed with Acute myeloid leukemia which was discovered
very late, due to my laxity in Caring for my health. It has defiled all
forms of medicine, and right now I have only about a few months to live,
according to medical experts however due to my health deterioration have
since lost my ability to do anything on my own as presently I’m in a
hospital in Spain where I have been undergoing treatments.

I believe when God gives me a second chance to come to this world I would
live my life a different way from how I have lived it. I have willed and
given most of my properties and assets to my immediate and extended family
members and as well as a few close friends. I want God to be merciful to
me and accept my soul and so, I have decided to give alms to charity
organizations, as I want this to be one of the last good deeds I do on

So far, Like I said before, due to health deterioration, it became
necessary for me to seek your assistance. I got your email through a
reliable internet source and i hope to confide my trust in you to help me
carry out this obligation that i vowed to God as my last help for
humanity. I once asked members of my family to close one of my accounts
and distribute the money which I have there to charity organization in
Libya and Pakistan; they refused and kept the money to themselves.

The last of my money which no one knows of is the fixed cash deposit of
Twenty Four millions Five Hundred Thousand United State
Dollar($24,500,000,00) which is that I have with a foreign Bank. I will
want you to help me collect this deposit and dispatched it to charity
organizations know to you. I am in Spain, for medical treatment, If you
are willing to help me, Please reply with this. Email address for further details.

Yours Faithfully,

I have definitely performed my share of stupid acts in the almost 32 years I've been around.  Thursday was no different.  We had a going away party for a co-worker, at which I had a beer and had to dash home to get ready to see Marc Maron perform stand-up comedy.  I got home, proceeded to have another beer (because why not, right?), and then we headed out to the show.

2 drink minimums are standard at comedy clubs.  It's not a lot to ask of patrons, but instead of sticking to the minimum, I decided to test my limits for no good reason except that I was having a good time.  I kept up a good pace and doubled down on the minimum.  Pure class, sitting at one of the front tables in the club, emitting belly laughs loudly echoing in my own ears that probably would have embarrassed me if I hadn't been so inebriated.

By the time we left, I had 6 beers weighing on my mind and bladder, which for someone like me, is a gross amount of alcohol.  I generally stick to 2 drinks max.  And so ... instead of eating, we went to sleep.

I woke up at 3AM, parched and needing to use the little girls' room.  I got up, didn't put on my glasses, and stood near the door for a good 2 minutes, trying to figure out which room I was in, and in which direction I needed to head out the doorway instead of into the wall.  I felt trapped, but when I made it out of the bedroom, I just felt stupid.

Things like this would happen to me even if no alcohol was involved.  See, I'm not quite, but almost legally blind (at least in my humble opinion).  It's something I joke about frequently, but don't really see it as anything that bothers me too terribly.  It's something I live with, navigating my way with the help of both contact lenses and glasses (at times wearing the two together), and to be honest, I don't think I'd ever change that.  Everyone has their "thing" in life.  Some have migraines, others have to deal with daily injections of insulin and worse.  My vision seems like a minor issue to have to live through.

Near-sightedness: It’s like the high you never come down from.

Tags: ,

one fault, two fault, red fault, blue fault.
You can't tell me you've never walked into the bar bathroom, looked at yourself in the mirror, seen something dangling out your nose and thought, "I'm mortified! Everyone must have seen it!" At the most, maybe one person saw it, and it wasn't anyone you know or will be seeing any time soon, but you're still sitting in the bathroom trying to collect yourself after your big embarrassment. It's that idea that the whole room is looking at you: on varying subconscious levels, we all fall prey to the belief that everyone in the room notices us (and all our immediate faults). You might not think the world revolves around you, but from time to time, you become hyper-aware of yourself and how you might or might not fit into the environment. It’s part of the reason why some of us don’t like to show up to places solo; the perception of someone arriving without a buddy as a safety net antagonizes us. Again, that's just your own worst enemy talking - your mind.

Anyone who tells me they lack insecurity altogether can blow all that perceived confidence out their rear end. Everyone has bouts with insecurity on occasion, and to deny that is like denying you're human. I consider myself to be a generally confident person, but on occasion, I'm riddled with an almost crippling anxiety that I have to gently coax myself out of. It is a weakness of mine, but I'm actually okay with it. It's just a part of being me that I've accepted and I'm learning to work around.

The mind is a strange phenomenon. You don't want it to ever stop working for you, but you do want it to slow down long enough for you to catch up to it. Thoughts are flowing all day long, reminding you of a funny joke someone told last week, scolding you for missing a mistake in a document you're editing, judging people and things around you. From time to time I catch myself mid-judgment, and then start judging myself for passing such harsh judgment, and end up coming out of the haze feeling like a terrible human being. And somehow I feel like people in my environment are also judging me based upon the judgment that I never even articulated. It's a vicious cycle when it strikes, and the key is knowing what your triggers are to be able to prevent an episode from happening.

I freely admit that one of my triggers is food. I had a troubled relationship with it in the past, and there are certain foods now that I prefer to stay away from (cereal) because I know I have a tendency to overindulge and ultimately make myself feel awful for it (not to mention physically uncomfortable). Another is being alone when I don't choose to be. I may not be the most talkative person, but trust me when I say that I truly enjoy listening and being around people. I was born quiet - my mother tells me all the time that when I was born, I didn't cry or scream, I just looked around the room and observed. To this day I'm an observer, and when I'm by myself, there's not a lot to observe. I know, it doesn't take a genius to figure that one out, does it?

The next time you feel your face heat up when you're walking into a crowded room, just pause and take a deep breath to reevaluate.  The lenses through which you're viewing and judging the world are a truly unique perspective, of which you are extraordinarily aware because you have no other frame of reference.  It's easy to fall prey to ideas the mind is swirling while it's kicking up a dust storm, but you can also stop to remind yourself to be mindful and present in the moment so you can enjoy yourself.  You only get one shot at life, after all.  

in the interest of time and entertaining.
It has come to my attention that I don't allow myself the creative freedom to write in here more often than I feel I should.  I spend so many hours a day reading other people's words, thinking about how I can better articulate what they're trying to say, tracking changes to show my corrections, and allowing them to take credit for my additions.

All this means is that the thoughts in my head continue to swirl, on occasion making it impossible for me to sleep, particularly in conjunction with the heat wave, and driving me to take yoga multiple times in a given week for meditative purposes.  I've had moments where, holding Bakasana (crane pose), tears fell because my mind wrapped itself around one particular thought, and let it go the moment those tears formed.  Am I saying I had a "moment" in yoga?  Yes, I guess I am.  I'm also saying that I can't simply just perform yoga as a means to clear my head.  I need other outlets to do so.

And so I'm back with a semi-annual resolution plan: several times a year, I intend to reevaluate how I'm doing as a person, and take steps toward creating a more fulfilling existence for myself.  July appears to be one of those moments of reevaluation.  At this point in time, I am taking on the responsibility of reminding myself how much I enjoy writing, and to remind myself that even if no one reads it, at the very least, I will have rid my brain of some of the thoughts swirling through with grainy excellence like a desert sandstorm.  That accomplishment alone will make every entry well worth it, even if the thought begins with silly origins.

Take the thoughts that pass through my head while on my morning train ride into work, for instance.  This morning, I noticed an unusual amount of staring going on in my general direction.  Being a woman over a certain age, the obvious first question is, "do I have something on the back of my skirt?," but not when people are looking at the anterior side.  Glances are exchanged several hundred times a day, both with and without meaning, but that doesn't stop me from thinking and analyzing looks as they occur.  A glance can be skittish and shy, icy and mean, warm and loving, dirty and off-putting.  A glance can just as easily be accidental as it can be loaded with meaning.  So what of it?

I am an observer.  If you are talking a little over everyone else within the car I've situated myself, I can hear you and have already made mental notes about your conversation.  I can smell the bag of potato chips you've just opened before 8am, and I can decipher from that act alone that you just might be single.  My mind can determine from the level of your snoring that you raged hard overnight, and that your exhalation is dripping with a horrific tequila after-odor.  

And by the way, I also know when you're staring at me.

People think others don't notice, but I can pick up on whether your stare is deliberate or blank, and my mind has already begun to judge you for it.  I don't mean to - judgment is generally as involuntary as breathing - but once it's passed, there's no pulling it back.  You've now been coded in my mind appropriately.  Sometimes when you're caught, you smile at me.  The funny thing is, sometimes being caught smiling makes matters worse because what you might be attempting to pull off as a "smile" looks to others like a filthy sneer, and that was exactly what met my eyes this morning when the fellow sitting behind me exited the train at Mountain View (see, I was taking notes).  An "I'm trying to be cool, but failing miserably without really knowing it" kind of smile comes across as an "I'm really a dirty old bastard" smile.

To be honest, I have a feeling this is why people think I always have a scowl on my face, or am permanently pissed off.  If you see it in the gym, it's a look of determination and drive to challenge myself.  I'm not angry or 'roided out, I'm just of the belief that the act of going to the gym means that you intend to work out there.  It's not a bar, folks.  It's also not a cell phone lot you park yourself in while waiting for someone to stop monopolizing the bench you really want to work your chest with.  Because the bench press is the only thing you know.  God bless simple minds.

If you see it at any other point in time, it's because I'm perpetually thinking.  Only a fraction of my thoughts get articulated into words.  The rest are articulated in expressions, how I hold myself while your eyes are "inconspicuously" boring into my posterior.  

I'm just sayin.

my own worst ...
I abuse myself with thoughts, I ridicule and give myself the glare of death, and I scrutinize every thought, action, and reaction.  I nag myself more than any external source could, I give myself the most expert guilt-trips possible, and I remind myself of things I've done in the past that have resulted in the creation of sub-par situations. 

To those of you who have ever yelled nasty things my way, I assure you I've called myself worse.

To those of you who toss critical glares my way, I guarantee those from my own eyes hurt far more than you can possibly imagine.

And to those of you who have spoken negatively about me behind my back, I promise that your secret words do not do nearly as much damage as the ones I have spoken directly to my own face.

I freely admit that I'm my own worst critic.  And the external negative looks, thoughts, and feelings only provide fuel for my fire.  I know I'm not alone in performing these acts against myself, and I know that the rationale behind my critical nature is pure in intention, but doesn't always appear as such.

You see, I'm critical as a means to push myself harder.  I tear myself down to rebuild a better self.  I scrutinize, I second-guess, and I cast dark glances in order to teach myself lessons.  There might be a better methodology in achieving this goal, but we are all individuals, looking out for ourselves in this vast world, looking to teach ourselves how to live life as we feel is appropriate.

As a result, I would like to thank all of you who have had the patience to befriend me through this thing we call life.  Your strength of character, your kind actions, your soothing voices, and your strong shoulders upon which you allow me to shed tears on occasion are the fruits growing from my tree of life.  Nothing you do goes unnoticed.  

judgment day
A day in the life of a woman involves a ridiculous amount of judgment.  Judging others, judging self, judging things, judging reactions, judging odds against us ... thinking, criticizing, judging.  (And while I would love to speak from a male perspective, I am not, in fact, male.)

Women go on a judging rampage on a regular basis.  Even if we don't articulate it to you, we are thinking it.  How so-and-so looks in a particular picture she just posted on facebook, why such-and-such an idea doesn't make sense coming from so-and-so, who again, looks ridiculous in that facebook photo.  We are critical by nature, we compare ourselves to others, and we point out the weaknesses we don't want to admit we have in others where they are so blatantly apparent.  If you stop to think about it, we tend to judge more based upon the lack of happiness in our own lives, and the judgments we pass suck us into a negative cycle.

And so I ask you, can you go a day without judging?  Can you accept someone for who they are, rather than what you think of them?  More importantly, can you stop pointing out the inferiority of others to focus on what the real problem is that exists within yourself?  Can you rediscover a greater level of acceptance and friendship for YOU?  What your parents always told you was so true: if you are not alright with yourself, and cannot love yourself unconditionally, then you're in no place to love anyone else.

I do not profess to know everything, but I have spent quite a bit of time trying different methods to repair the most important relationship that exists in my life: the one with myself.  In the last few years I have discovered meditating and relaxing my mind through yoga, and I have found this to help me, personally, to determine when my mind is switching into judgment mode and how I can intervene to redirect it.  Honestly speaking, people care more about what you have to offer as an individual than what thoughts you might have on a particular person's actions or appearance.  

None of you solicited my advice, and yet I am still offering it up, free to be judged by all (who actually read this).  Sit alone with yourself, free from distraction, away from technology and babies and pets, for what you think is approximately a minute.  When you feel that minute is up, take a look at how much time has really passed.  Some of you might find that being antsy caused you to look up at 30 seconds, others might have discovered the clock after 90 seconds.  The exercise reminds you to be in the moment, living your life for you in the present moment.

The key is to exist here and now, not constantly referring back to past events and what you may have done wrong (another judgment), not attempting to figure out how to do things differently in the future, but to live moment to moment, making pure observations and removing judgment.  I guarantee that learning to do this will lead to a higher degree of happiness in your daily life.

good mornings, and the philosophies a full moon supplies.
I've known a lot of people in my lifetime who consistently have ridiculously high expectations out of life and what they feel it needs to bring to the table.  I used to be one of those people until I learned that I'm in charge of how things play out for me.  And so, I'm using this opportunity to provide you with a brief newsflash: you need to make things happen, because other people are busy making things happen for themselves.  And for the record, no one cares how flashy or glamorous a life you're living - that is all in your head.

Issue #1: expecting life to make the lemonade for you.

Take heed those of you who are absent enough from your own lives to fall under this belief.  YOU need to make things happen.  You need to step up to the plate and slam that ball out of the park in order to get to the places you want to go.  But instead, many will wait for someone else to hit the ball on their behalf.  And when that doesn't happen, you'll note that these same people sit back and complain about how nothing good ever comes their way.  And the complaints never stop because, of course, the expectation runs high with this breed, and very obviously, the expectation of other people living their lives for them as successfully as possible just. never. happens.

My suggestion for all those who are afraid to squeeze the lemons yourselves: take control of your life, realize that you are responsible for your own happiness.  If you leave that to chance, or worse, to others, you will be unhappy the duration of your life.

Issue #2: competing with others in life (not in occupation).

To those of you hyper-competitive folks who feel the need to plaster your life's glamorous moments through any electronic means possible, I have news for you: most of us are too busy to really sit back and notice where you're sending your SMS messages from.  True, some days we'll take a moment to show our envy that you're in Vegas twice a month, or that you fly out of town on a moment's notice, or that you've done this, or been there.  Friends are concerned with your well-being, not with where this well-being is playing out for you.  They'd show concern that your constant flightiness is bordering on a need to escape something, not that you've escaped to NYC for the 18th time in 3 months, and oh how lucky you must be.  We're sitting back thinking about what must be going through your head that you need to be so absent from everyone who cares about you.

For you who enjoy making a competition out of everything in life, I conceded about 20 years ago to be happy in my own life and only compete with myself, using my own achievements and goals as gauges to determine my own success.

Issue #3: is piggybacking on issue #2.

Your flightiness is perceived as flakiness.  If you have friends with whom you want to maintain a relationship with, my suggestion is to cut. it. out.

your lip liner is smudged, sweetz...
This is for any of my friends who have ever felt they were less than adequate, those who have felt less than secure in themselves, those who feel stuck in the rut of self-consciousness. I have been there. I am still there. I have a constant dialogue running in my head from the moment I wake up in the morning, about what I need to do, what I want to do, and what I should do with my day.  The endless amount of options, and still some of the time, I end up opting to mentally pick myself apart.

I have always been more than conscious of my body.  From the moment I was first mocked for my parents' separation, to the day I had to start wearing a bra, all the way to that first period, I have been riding wave after wave of issues, fighting like hell to stay afloat.  At first I thought my fight to compete and compare myself with others stemmed from the fact that I am third of three kids, one of whom is an older sister.  The problem with that theory is not that my sister isn't a phenomenal woman, it's that my comparisons didn't just stop with sibling rivalry.  They extended to best friends, to classmates, to acquaintances and strangers, and to my past and formerly "better" self.  The self that existed before becoming this tangled web of self-negativity.  I opted to blame this former self for not warning me of what was to come.

I spent countless hours sitting with therapists after my sister went to college, primarily for the benefit of my father, whose concern for me was exhibited most clearly through the anxious words of my stepmother.  But though the hours were logged, more pills were swallowed, more feelings stifled with bingeing sessions, and less of me was allowed to shine.

I spent many days, weeks, months trying to deprive myself of certain functionality as a human being ...

And then, just like Iyanla Vanzant predicted, one day my soul just opened up.  My body grew tired of the abuse I subjected it to, my brain sharpened up and signaled me that it was time to grow up.  I couldn't hold onto the horrible feelings I kept suffocating because the levy had broken.  I shed a lot of tears in that revelatory period.  I sat confused, pen in hand, trying to articulate what was going on in my mind.  Sometimes it came out in pictures, sometimes in angry sms messages to friends, siblings, boyfriends ... and yet the best moments were when my pen connected with the paper to form words, helping to release the thoughts that plagued my mind.  I wrote consistently, but not nearly enough to get all those thoughts out of my head.

It isn't that I stopped noticing my faults - trust me, I have a running tally of all things that I notice are wrong with me, with a new one I discovered this morning.  I will probably never be able to stop mentally noting flaws I observe.  I started realizing that, while even though I have all these faults, I can still be a complete person, someone who stopped placing so much weight in what I believed strangers were thinking of me because their opinions really have no bearing on my life whatsoever.  I no longer believe that when I walk into a room, everyone turns around to see what state of hot mess I'm walking in looking like.  I dress comfortably rather than provocatively enough to get a couple rounds of drinks out of some jerk at a bar, I'm not afraid to admit I am in my 30s, and a few months ago, a gray hair was discovered setting up camp in my own damn scalp.  I do things for me, and I don't feel (as) guilty about it anymore.  I remind myself that all of us are in some state of aging, and we can either spend our entire lives fearing it, keeping ourselves from living for fear of speeding up the process, or we can opt to embrace life and all the adventures (previously referred to as "struggles") that go along with it.

I actively opt to embrace life on a daily basis, complete with flaws.  Those flaws are what make me who I am.

politics as usual
Working in an office setting, you are definitely subject to the most difficult of personalities, the most amusing of which aren't anywhere near warranted.  I understand someone in a position of power or esteem being a notorious pain in the ass, but if you happen to be in "management" that only exists in air quotes, take note: your moodiness both does not go unnoticed and is completely unprofessional.

We all certainly have days where we really do not want to sit behind a computer all day, swearing off every email that comes in, cursing every caller on the line after hanging up.  But those days are very few and far between for a standard employee in an office.  Or at the very least, they ought to be so.  Imagine this: a "leader" of sorts attempting to "manage" employees while riding a tidal wave of emotions, to the point where you have no idea which version of said "leader" you might get on any given day.  Makes you think twice about going to that person for guidance, right?  Come to think of it, that person just leaves her mark on your daily life in the office.  So why does her attitude not change, ever?

Good question.  I used to be of the moody sort, but I grew out of it after junior high.  Now, any funks I get in as an adult, or any periods of silence stemming from me are actually, simply put, my observational points of the day.  Meaning I just don't feel like talking, I just want to think and scowl.  But even when I'm in one of those funks, I still manage a smile when I pass by a colleague in the office, or say good morning when, in fact, it is morning.

It definitely bothers me that other people can't seem to muster up the same sentiments, even if they're artificial.  Fake a good mood.  Be in your garbage mood behind your closed door, but if you're stepping out, be sure to lock that negativity up and don't let the bugger out.  That bad mood is your weakness, my dear, and since people in my office seem to know how to pounce on weaknesses, you best watch that broad back of yours. (Kindly, of course, and with a smile.)

the scale of self worth
Lord knows society has pressured us into believing that looks are everything.  As I mentioned previously, quite a bit of our self-worth has now become measured in pounds that reveal themselves to us when we step on the scale.  By that token, a higher number should in theory mean a greater amount of self-worth.  And when does this ever happen?

Answer: Never.

Answer (subliminal message): You need to work on changing that.  I have spent quite a few years trying to figure out the best "me" I can present to the world, but really the whole facade falls by the wayside if there's no substance to the illusion you're creating.  We need to spend time with ourselves, without televisions blasting, without mobile phones in-hand anticipating the next hot text message coming down the (invisible) wires.  Disconnect yourself for a few minutes on a regular basis, and eventually work your way up to an hour where you can exist in the moment with yourself, free of distractions.  You'll hear your mind whispering judgments and thoughts as the time passes, which is both normal and okay.  What you want is to be able to be with yourself, in the moment, to decompress and accept yourself for both who and what you are.  Right now, today, in this moment, I accept myself, regardless of the flaws I may point out to myself in the mirror consistently, regardless of how the act of aging might make me feel, regardless of what someone else says about me.

If you treat yourself like an enemy, an enemy you will earn, and trying to live your life while viewing it with the lens of negativity and antagonism is like running on a treadmill: you go nowhere fast.  So start learning to treat yourself like the friend that you should be to yourself.  Instead of always coming up with things you dislike about yourself, start reminding yourself about the amazing qualities you have to share with the world.

Learn how to celebrate you.  You won't regret it.


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