Cerebral Cortex – The Thinker

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I wished I had a dial,
That made me cry or smile
And feel like others do,
And made me pink or blue
Instead of white or black
And way, way off the track.

I wished that I could drink,
And act and do, not think.
I wished I had a simple mold
Feel cool, instead of simply cold
Feel warm instead of simply hot
And feel too much, instead of not.

I really must confess
I’d love to think much less
Be lesser of a nerd
And run aside the herd
Alas, I watch and do not do
But fool them all, especially you.

The Thinker


Mimic – I’m a Moth

Deaths-Head-Hawkmoth

Sometime, one ends up in thought provoking conversations that end up changing one’s perspective; possibly for good.

If you ask any of my friends to name some of my most defining characteristics, I’m sure empathy would come up. My friends have always “scolded” me a little in the past, given that my empathy sometimes clouds my judgment, or completely overrides it. I have been known to do spontaneous jumps into different things and directions like jobs, friendships, relationships, hobbies and passions, which people deemed quite stupid. For me, however, there is always a slight hint of curiosity, as well as the occasional, well, need/want/desire, to push the envelope when I “go off on the deep end.” I do it because I can and it temporarily overrides the deep-rooted doubts I have about my own ability to be spontaneous, exciting and courageous. I have no problem packing up the bags and moving to another city, state or continent, if the possibility for growth and success can be calculated at a high score. But the key word here is “calculated,” and control is what I really need to keep moving. Yes, I know that some may want to jump in right now and tell me how courageous I am and that I am anything but boring. And yes, I also know that most people know that I am a control freak and therefore never dove into drugs or alcohol. However, do indulge me for just a moment down my rabbit hole of thought.

Maybe I am just a moth. Or like the bugs in “Mimic.” I have spent almost my entire life watching and observing people to figure out what “normal” is (and to this very day I still am quite confused about the subject). I watched people do seemingly normal things, from relationships, to climbing up the success ladder, to how to do “family.” I realized that, in order to be part of society, one had to abide by certain rules and one had to look and behave in a certain way. Choosing to overwrite the rules, or expected looks and behaviors, ¬†would be detrimental and quite often futile. You can swim up the stream only for so long until your arms and back are killing you and start drowning.

My point is that I mastered the ability to empathize, because I can relate to almost any bad thing one can imagine. I would feel another person’s pain as my own (which is what a therapist told me when I was in my 20s) and acted as an emotional antenna, receiving way too much info, getting exhausted, because it would sometimes take me a while to figure out that what I was feeling wasn’t my emotion at all, but the emotion of someone else. In order to stop this from happening I developed defense mechanisms that work super well. I don’t go out to crowded places like concerts or clubs. When I choose to hang out, I do it with one person. Scattering my attention is difficult, because if I choose to disengage, I get completely distracted. And of course, if I have absolutely no correlation to the experience someone is presenting to me, I actually am no longer all that empathetic and can turn super judgmental and almost cruel, which of course, I end up feeling ashamed about.

I have a fairly well developed wall that I hide extremely well with funny remarks, an apparently super social and outgoing personality and a quick wit. Therefore, my friends laugh when I tell them that I am introverted and used to be super shy as a kid. The truth, however, remains. I don’t like crowds and the only way for me to get my energy back is by isolating for a while, doing something anonymous, like playing a computer game, watching a movie or reading a book. I could live in isolation for quite some time and it wouldn’t bother me at all. The thought is actually calming to me. People and social gatherings can only be tolerated in small doses before I am either exhausted, depleted, or bored. Alas, I digress, again.

The truth is, I have built a persona. This persona is Carmen and I can run her like a well oiled machine. But the edges are now all bleeding and I no longer know where my “true” self ends and my mimicked shell begins. This frightens me. What if I have and always will waste my life, living the learned, successful path of not “losing” it? I’ve lost it once and it was super liberating. Unfortunately, I couldn’t function like that.
It’s probably another excuse or cliche, but the possibilities would be endless if I would be independently wealthy. And of course, this thought is fueled by the belief that I probably can’t make it and am not worthy. Guilt and shame I do better than most. I just hide it better than the rest; after all, who wants to be weak? And on that note, I watched this and thought “Damn. I thought I knew so much and yet, all I know isn’t really quite worth that much.”

Have fun watching this amazingly well done talk at TED

Shame

 


The Emperor Wears No Clothes – More Corporate Life

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Today, I got out early; at 6 pm. Traffic sucked as usual, but I drive a Leaf and can zoom by the suckers in the carpool lane! Finally, I remembered my prescription. CVS, however, screwed it up, as usual. I got home at 7:30 pm. Tonight’s dinner? 1 banana and a handful of almonds. Wait, let’s make that TWO handfuls of almonds. Dinner is overrated.

Does it ever happen to you that you sit in a meeting, intensely staring at the speaker and thinking “you are naked!?” It happens to me all the time. It’s my own phrase for those who appear to be wearing the finest garments, just as in Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, but are, in fact, completely and utterly naked! I’ve seen it in the corporate world time and time again, and while I point and laugh (on the inside that is), the rest sits and stares in awe. They are completely and utterly smitten by whatever BS is pouring out of some Muppet’s mouth, blissfully unaware of how incompetent this person really is. Some people talk a great game and deliver, never. I used to call it the “MBA” rule. If you have an MBA, chances are, you are really full of shit and BSed your way to the top.
Don’t give me shit. I have friends with MBAs and they are the real deal; and of course, I am exaggerating. Also, I have seen non-degree holding jerks as well. It’s all fun and games in the corporate world. Alas, I digress.
I think that is the reason why I don’t get nervous when I have to speak in public. If I agree to speak to a group, I usually know what I am talking about and I know that there are a lot of naked people in the audience.

So, the next time you are so scared to present whatever it is you are presenting, you should remember that corporate America is filled with naked people. Granted, I am “skilled” in reading the BS meter, given that my job is all about profiling and exposing people for the frauds that they are, but I can give you a few pointers that help you to figure them out:

  • The Flip Flopper – Gives you one piece of advice or direction now and changes their mind an hour later (give and take, depending on whom they are trying to bullshit). They usually don’t know what they want and are insecure.
  • The Blah Talker – Speaks loudly, gestures like crazy, talks a lot, and nothing comes out. No content, whatsoever. But due to volume and quantity, appears to know what they are talking about
  • The Dreamer – Usually either found away from the desk, or dreamily staring into space, or at their screen; while hands are resting on the keyboard – doing nothing. They are busy, representing.
  • The Career Bullshitter – These are the scariest types. Tend to have “friends in high places.” They know they are full of shit, but have gotten so good at it, and are usually so high up the ladder, they are no longer fireable. They ARE the emperor. No one can expose them, because it would make their flock look equally incompetent. Stay out of their way, they will undermine you and get rid of you when you start to threaten their status quo. If you have an emperor as your boss, it’s time to cut your losses and either switch departments, or leave the company.

Good companies are usually run by very few emperors and lots of “good people,” so keep that in mind, before you feel too bad. Good does win. It just takes longer and sometimes, well, sometimes you’ll just have to start over again…at the bottom…with a low title and low money, because keeping one’s integrity and not selling out one’s principles should override the need for a grand title and grand salaries! Forge ahead and remember, NAKED!


Tired Working Non-Mother – What’s my Excuse!?

 

Me Sleeping.07.09

 

Today is an “early” day. I got home at 6 PM, I fed the cats and dogs and then I walked the dogs. I got up at 6 AM; I was in the office at 8 AM. This is how it goes. I get up at 6 AM, I get into the office between 7:30 AM and 8:00 AM, and I get home between 6:00 PM and 8:30 PM, depending on how many fires I had to put out and depending on how many meetings I had and how much I got done. I schlepp my laptop home, because you never know if you need to respond to some important email from another source, besides the work phone.

I feel frustrated with myself. I have a career; I think I have close to 40 people right now. Last time I counted there were 37. It feels like I have over 30 kids sometimes. Each one has different needs and wants and all deserve equal attention. I am not complaining. I am just baffled how other people do it; the career, the kids, husband, house, working out, looking amazing, blah, blah, blah.

Sure, I should come home, prepare or at least eat a balanced meal, run over to my yoga class and … geez, I forgot to pick up my prescription from the pharmacy. Instead, I want to sit down and play “Candy Crush,” or some other mind numbing game. I don’t want to move, I couldn’t care less that my body needs work. I could/should lose more weight, I should/could be a size 4, if I only tried harder. I feel I owe it to my husband, to society, to the world. I need to be successful, work hard, eat right, work out and be a productive member of society; while looking perfect. I live in Los Angeles. Aging and not being perfect is frowned upon. I am tired.

I wonder what gene I am missing. I mean, there are women out there who are successful corporate types, have children, husbands and look amazing. All I want to do is sleep. I want to go home and not do anything at all. I am too tired to even make a sandwich. Sometimes, I grab some crackers, an egg, a couple pieces of string cheese and call it dinner. Other times, I am too tired to even eat. I want a box of cookies, or maybe a bar of chocolate. Thank god I don’t buy that stuff. I don’t feel like preparing a salad. Yuck.

I guess the secret lies within balance. I scoff at people who say that. If I knew how to do balance, I would be doing it, wouldn’t I? I want to know how others are doing balance; those who, well, manage close to 40 people and work an average of 60 hour work weeks. How do they make it to yoga class? How do they cook and eat “balanced meals?” How do they even make it to get a manicure? Last weekend I spent sleeping. Yep, I slept most of Sunday and I can’t even remember what I did on Saturday. I assume the same.

I saw an email string today, in which someone said “Yeah, it’s a double edge sore.” I guess so is life, a double edge sore! I’m going to play “Candy Crush” now.