The Forest and Its Trees

I wrote this post on my xanga almost 2 years ago. Just now I read this post at Robin Monique's blog and was reminded of it. I edited it a little bit, but it's mostly just as I wrote back in '07.

Ever heard the saying "You can't see the forest for the trees"? I've heard it a thousand times. It's tongue-in-cheek, and I while I always pretty much understood what it means (context clues) it's not a phrase I would have had an easy time describing.

In a way, what part of that sentence makes much sense? The forest IS the trees, right? Well, yes, sort of.

Right now, my job involves me editing the graphics of substations. To make a complicated process simple, think of it this way:

Substation graphics consist of the intricate elements of a substation. Where the wires are and what they connect to and what else is inside the substation. These graphics go down an assembly line. I'm more/less at the end of the line and it's my job to make sure that if that substation is printed (which I just printed about a hundred of them) it looks the way it is supposed to.

One detail I have to check for is to make sure each element that is red is made white, so that it will print black. I also have to delete any element that is green. Some of those elements are tiny wires and they're so close to the surrounding elements that if you're not careful you might accidentally delete something you weren't supposed to. One way to guard against that is to zoom in on the element so that it appears to be much bigger and that makes highlighting it for deletion much easier.

So, I'm steadily working on deleting all the green elements. I zoom in on this one area very closely and when I finally delete all the elements marked for deletion, I'm happy to be finished and I zoom out to see the whole substation graphic. I was SURPRISED to see how much green I had left.

I had become so focused in on one portion that I forgot I had an entire substation to finish. I think that's what "you can't see the forest for the trees" is really about. It's not always bad to zoom in one thing -- it helps to be focused and purposeful in your actions, but don't let that allow you to forget the big picture. There are a lot of areas to be zoomed in on and don't think that because you've done one area, the whole thing is complete.

It can be frustrating for me to spend 20 minutes in one area of a substation and zoom out only to realize how much I have left, but I try to remember that if I'm steady with my actions, purposeful and patient, it'll all get done. Maybe not right now, but eventually I'll zoom out and see all white... and then I'll close that file and open up a new one, to start ALL OVER AGAIN. :)

Like Robin Monique, sometimes I start looking down the road at where I'm trying to go and it is overwhelming. So I put my head back down and work hard on what's right in front of me, unfortunately sometimes I forget that there is a bigger picture. It's the fine-balance that I sometimes need to keep in mind. Note the goal, know where it is, always, but don't let it become so overwhelming that you can't take the next step.


On Repeat

Sometimes, I play songs over and over again. Not always with reason... or at least not a reason I understand. I feel better when I can share them with you.

Teyna Taylor - Complicated

Keyshia Cole - Thought You Should Know


Girlfriend Friends

I got to thinking about this because of comments at This May Concern You (I highly recommend going to read this post as well as the comments) and a conversation I had earlier today.

Damon said (in reference to the show Girlfriends):
In many ways they were the same character, completely flawed when it came to love, both searching for it, but not having a clue as to how to get there. And though they took different perspectives, neither ever found it (as far as I’m concerned). But they always had each other.
Earlier today, a female friend remarked to me:
I need some friends. Preferably men
There is a lot to be said of relationships between females. I went to a comedy show once where a comedian said something like Females have their girls, but they also have the one girl who is theirb*tch. This is the one she'll do anything for, no questions asked. Unfortunately, many of us females lament how we hate being friends with other females. Why? Well depends on who you ask. A quick survey might yield you some answers like females are too catty, or messy; females are too needy; you can't trust females... and it's so disappointing to hear that.

Don't let me pretend as if I've never said that, I have. I've had varying experiences with females, but I know that if, as a female, you can have a real and deep sisterly bond with another female, it can be rather fulfilling.

My best friend is a guy. A lot of my friends are guys, actually. They're easier to deal with. There's not a lot of b.s. that goes into being friends with them. I like how I can go to them for advice and they'll be frank with me, especially where dealing with men is concerned (sometimes, though, I'd really rather NOT know what men are really thinking). But there are still some things about me that my BFF probably won't ever really understand, and the same for me about him. It's on the rare occasion that those limitations are highlighted that I'm thankful for the female friends I do have.

When my friend remarked that she preferred male friends, I knew what she meant, though I poked fun at her for it. The perception of friendships with, and between males (from a females POV) is that they're cut and dry; no muss no fuss. There won't be a whole lot of drama and in the rare instance where there's a disagreement, it'd be nothing to hash it out for a few minutes and keep it pushing. If you've ever been in a spat with a female, though, you know that's not always the case. Arguments between females don't always end as simply as we perceive arguments between men to end.

I mentioned my BFF from high school and our now-awkward relationship. Since that post, things have gotten even more odd. She's moved to the same city I'm in and there's a lot of mixed signals going on. It's like she wants us to "be friends" but she doesn't. I can't adequately explain it, but there's something missing and I have no clue what it is. But I'm holding out that we shall weather this storm too and come out better for it.

In one of my comments at TMCY, I said:
And [friendships among women are] not always fun or nice, sometimes [they're] hard and awkward but the hope is that you come out the other side better for the trial and more supportive of one another.
So this is where my head is with my friend. I don't want to just throw the towel in because it's not as easy with her as it might be with my male BFF. The fact of the matter is, I suppose, is anything truly worth having if you don't have to work for it first?


Question of the Day

What would your life look like if you made the rules?
I'll return with my own answer...

She's A B*tch

I've always said that if one song played when I entered a room, it should be

Timeout -- remember when Hype was THE MAN when it came to music videos? Then he did Belly and that went, well... belly up...

I've been called a B*tch a lot. To my face and behind my back (I'd always prefer it to my face). Sometimes I've not deserved it, a lot of times, though, I have. There's a line Tyler Perry's character Madea has in Madea's Family Reunion: "It's not what they call you, it's what you answer to..." I sometimes wonder how much of this is a self-fulfilling prophecy: I am a b*tch (sometimes) because I call myself one, not the other way around...

Story time, boys and girls...
My junior year of high school, my BFF (at the time) broke it off with her long-time on-again/off-again boyfriend (wait, what's "long time" when you're 16?). Shortly thereafter, she and a long time male friend, RJ, began secretly dating. The problem was, he was a)her ex-bf's BFF AND was kinda in a relationship with his long-time on-again/off-again girlfriend, Liz. The only people who knew about this "torrid affair" were myself and one other girl who rounded out our three-musketeer trio (no, seriously, everyone at school called us the three-musketeers...). Eventually the BFF ended things, citing the fact that he'd been involved with most her female friends. Unfortunately, by that time, most everyone else had begun suspecting something was up, including ol' boy's on-again/off-again girlfriend.

My friends and I spent a lot of time in one particular faculty member's office because it was conveniently located in the student center. There were chairs outside the office that we would often sit in. One day I was sitting outside in these chairs when Liz came up. She looked through the slim window into the office and saw the BFF inside with a group of people. She sat in the chair across from me and began asking me about the nature of the relationship between the BFF and RJ. I explained to her that there was nothing going on and that everything was fine. Liz wasn't dumb, she knew I wasn't being 100% but that I also wasn't going to rat the BFF out. I tried to flip it around and make it about her and RJ but she wasn't having that. Eventually she stood up, looked through the window again and walked away. When I got up and walked into the office, it was clear that the people inside the office, my BFF in particular, had their own opinions about what was happening outside. The tension was thick so I just left, not feeling the need to explain myself.

A few minutes later, class began and it was the period that the BFF and I shared. The tension was still there. We sat next to each other in the back of class and often passed notes. The note passing began and I could see from her short responses that she was pissed. After class, she and I had it out. No words were spared. She shut me down when she said, "You know, I'm always sticking up for you because people are always calling you a b*tch. I'm always telling them they just don't understand you. Apparently they do."

I wasn't stupid. I knew that was a perception of me, but it hurt that a friend of mine called me that, indirectly and if I were to be completely honest, it was one thing to know in my mind that people were saying that about me behind my back; it was another to hear it said aloud.

Ultimately, the BFF and I had a "come to Jesus meeting" and we hashed it out. We got over it, we grew up, we moved on -- but that incident stuck with me.
Since then, I've sort of accepted this label. Less as a truly accurate description of who I am and more of the perception. I'm usually the one who will say what no one else will, or say the things no one wants to hear. It seems to be human nature to attack what we don't like or understand.

Two days ago, I was searching through old e-mails for something when I came across one I'd sent to a friend at the end of my freshman year in college. As I re-read the e-mail, I admonished myself for the harsh tone. I felt I was overly aggressive, rude and, well... a b*tch. I re-read it to another friend and she agreed; a third friend, however, said she didn't think it was all that bad. I don't recall the circumstances that prompted the e-mail (though I vaguely remember being hurt by something) but I kept saying that I would never send such a biting e-mail and I would definitely have such a conversation via phone. I think I've grown since I was 16 and 17, into my b*tchiness. That is to say, it's not reckless and it's not without purpose. It's never meant to demean or hurt and sometimes it's just about protecting me.


The Series on Monday

Happy Memorial Day, everyone. I hope everyone had a good time with friends or family or both!

Refresh yourself

Part 10
I was wary of JD for the next few weeks. I told myself that I needed to take a serious step back and reconsider everything. I was upset that he’d lied to me about sleeping with someone, but then I was upset with myself for being upset! I felt like I wasn’t in control of my own emotions. I decided that I would work on “getting over” him. But it felt as I was pulling away from him, he was trying to pull closer to me.

One evening he called me very upset. He told me that his long-time friend Katharine, a girl I had been told was his closest and oldest friend, had said some horrible things to him. She’d told him that she thought he was pitiful for not having been successful with his suicide attempts. And then he slipped – he said “and she told me she didn’t cheat on me, which is a lie, I have the proof.”

I was stunned. He realized he was busted and the whole story of how they had been together came out. He was vague and made things confusing but I was determined to understand. What I really wanted to understand was how he thought it was ok to “date” me and go home to her every weekend.

He tried to make me understand how he and Katharine had known each other for a very long time and had fallen into a relationship. What he couldn’t make me understand was at what point he and Katharine were no longer together so that it made it ok for he and I to date. The truth was, at least in his mind, they were always together. The truth was, he was dating us both at one point and the truth was also that he had no intentions of telling either one of us about the other until Katharine beat him to the punch with her hurtful words.

“But you were going to stop talking to me…” he countered.

“Why did you think this was ok?” I asked. He had no response except that he was sorry. He kept trying to go back to how much she had hurt him, but he had hurt me. All over again. It was like he ripped that same wound open, poured salt in and sat back laughing as I writhed in pain. He just didn’t get it – at all.

“I need some time to myself. Don’t call me. I’ll call you.” I told him. And I hung up.

He called me right back and called me every day for the next few days but I couldn’t deal with him. So I ignored his calls and text messages. “Please just let me know you’re ok…” his messages said. I laughed at the irony of his concern after the fact. What was most frustrating for me was that I still cared a lot about him and secretly was happy that Katharine, whoever she’d been to him, was out of the picture. But at the same time, he’d dropped 2 major bombs on me. “Do I even really know this guy?” I began to wonder.


The Outlook

New Post; Other Blog

I'm trying over here...

The Truth About the Silver Bullet

The truth about the Silver Bullet is that there isn't one. I don't think that's news to anyone, though. Yet, we keep searching for it. The one thing that will fix everything that's wrong.

I've been talking (and more importantly thinking) a lot of about paradigm shifts and re-defining life. I find myself telling people "maybe you just need to redefine (enter issue)."

Like maybe we need to re-define happiness. What it is, where it comes from, how we get it, etc... Know that all these things are interrelated. What something is, is often defined by where it's from and where something is from can be defined by how it's obtained which can often be defined by what it is -- you see the cycle?

True happiness can't be external. All external things come and go. The only thing life guarantees you'll have throughout is you. People, jobs, cars, money, things -- they all come and go, but you've got you from now until the end (whenever that is). Not to mention, the moment you no longer have *you* you no longer have anything (and I mean that literally as well as figuratively).

Perhaps if happiness is something we pull from within ourselves, but is complemented and occasionally enhanced by our surroundings, those things that are guaranteed to come and go, then we can make our way to it a little easier. But to look externally for that silver bullet -- the one thing that will guarantee you happiness (or anything else for that matter) is to set yourself up for failure and possibly create a cycle.

I realize I may have what looks like some crazy new-wave idea here, but I think this is awful basic. I think we all, from time to time, wish that happiness would come from outside because we look inside and can't fathom happiness coming from there. If you see happiness as a true part of who you are -- more than simply feeling happy, or always enjoying what's going on, but rather a knowledge that ultimately "life is good" and no matter what's happening in this moment, you are ok or will be ok or can be ok.

I did a post on my own personal happiness. It was one of those situations where I didn't realize how truly unhappy I had been until I was out of the situation. I mention this to put caution to the easy-to-come-to idea that what I'm trying to say is that in everything still be happy. The truth is, sometimes you just won't be happy -- but knowing that a) you will come out the other side and b) you will be a better person for it can be a soothing thought in and of itself.

Just some random thoughts... but then all my thoughts are random, right?


The Way I Am

I'm not the easiest person to understand. I get that. But there are some things about me that I work overtime to make very clear to the people in my "inner-circle."
I just talked about my #1 Pet Peeve so you'll have to forgive me if I'm beating a dead horse here.

I'm an asshole.

There. I said it.

But I've said it before. Heck, you could probably search "asshole" on my blog and find that statement somewhere else. I own it. But I'm no more an asshole than the next guy. The difference is, I readily admit it. I feel like, though, people use that against me. It's easy to take something I say that you may not like and attribute it to me being a "smart ass." I wrote a facebook note about this, once. Here's an excerpt:
But the fact that I'm an asshole doesn't give you the right to use me as a crutch. If you're mad at me, that's great... but don't pretend it's because I'm an asshole. What truly makes me an asshole is saying the things we all think but won't say, which is usually the truth.

There's a 90/10 theory in communication that says we say 90% of what we think, but that last 10% we don't say is probably the most important stuff. We don't say it because we don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but it's the truth. And last I checked, people liked the truth... well, people think they like the truth.

I promise that the reason your life is or isn't going right has nothing to do with me being honest.

Someone told me once "You ruin my day when you talk." suprisingly they were upset with me, that day and what they said hurt my feelings (uhh yes, assholes do have feelings) but what I had been saying to them was the truth and as a "friend" I had to tell the truth.

We all have enough liars in our lives, why do we punish those who tell us the truth? But more than that, people don't like me... excuse me... think I'm an asshole less because I tell the truth and more because I refuse to say what they want to hear and not call them out on it.
I'm not perfect. We all know that. Read a post or two, it becomes super apparent. Sometimes I say things I shouldn't. Sometimes I make observations about people that aren't true or are baseless. But the rampant freedom some people feel to immediately label me a "jerk" or "smart ass" because they don't like what I have to say just isn't ok.

Um, on a far happier note, the weekend is near. I don't have any Memorial Day plans. I just want to eat, finally watch "Notorious" and sleep. That's ALL I wanna do.


Throwback Tuesday

I love me some ol' school Mariah...

Series on Monday (but it's Tuesday... again)

I don't know what my problem is, ya'll... but I'ma get it together.

Refresh yourself

And again, for the record, this is true. It's real life b.s. that happened to yours truly.

Part 9

I didn’t like what I read. In one breath he told me he saw a future for us, and in another he told me he saw me like a sister. However, I had been adamant that he had to be honest with me and so I refrained from sharing how upset I was. “If you see me as a sister,” I responded in one e-mail, “then I can handle that.”

Not too long after that, JD and I were having a conversation where we talked about the guys I was spending time with. I had it bad for JD and so I wasn’t checking for any other dudes like that. I’ve always had a lot of guy friends so it didn’t phase me that this was continuing in college. At some point in the conversation, JD got upset and made a comment about me being careful who I was “f*cking.” I laughed it off, but later sent him an e-mail asking him to explain getting upset at the thought of me sleeping with someone after telling me he saw me as a sister. He told me that it was the “brother” coming out in him and wanting me to be safe. I remembered his tone of voice and thought differently.

On the back of this e-mail, I continued with my string of “where do you see this going” questions. One of them referenced his rendezvous during Spring Break. I broached the topic, but told him I’d leave it be if that’s what he wanted. He told me I could ask whatever I wanted to set my mind at ease. That conversation left me reeling.

At first he was answering my questions no problem. He gave me details; he said some of the same things he’d said before. At some point he must have realized I wasn’t going to just ask 3 questions and stop. I had some real hang ups about this. He also must have realized that he had to come clean.

“I didn’t sleep with her,” he blurted out. The story came pouring out. He said he made it up. He said he’d not only lied to me but to all his friends. I kept asking him why and he kept saying he didn’t know. I told him I understood the lying to his other friends, but knowing how I felt about him, I didn’t understand why he would lie to me. He said he didn’t know.

What was worse was the nonchalant way he was acting. He clearly didn’t understand how much of a blow this news was. I had secretly been upset by the fact that he’d so freely slept with some other girl when I had such real feelings for him. And then just as quickly, I found out it had all been a lie and that I had dealt with all these feelings for nothing.

I got off the phone. I was frustrated and upset. I felt like I had been hit in the head with a bunch of bricks. I was back to not knowing what to do with JD or my feelings for him.


Look What I Found

Shouts out to A.Red at Watch Your Setup...

Girl, sang that song, and strum that guitar. Can we PLEASE find more folks like HER?? I've been waiting on black folks to find their way to a guitar and a stool, a la India.Arie... well... since India.Arie.

Bless it...