I’ve mastered the art of negotiating with myself. Others might label this process self rationalization. Personally, I like to call it reaching an equitable compromise between the different spheres of my life wanting my attention–professional, public, and personal. One might ask, why one would need to negotiate their own life? But we do. Because our lives are filled with hopes and dreams, to do lists, responsibilities, and obligations that might need to be fulfilled at any given point in time–or all at the same time. So, what follows are some of my negotiations or rationalizations. See if you recognize yourself in any of them.
Yes, it pays the bills–some of them anyway, ha! But I am also blessed with having lucked into–or having carved out for myself–a satisfying if not financially rewarding career. I work at a university [(1) column graphic] in an academic department as a staff person. And though my official responsibilities pertain primarily to budget management, other responsibilities have crept in over the 25 years I have worked there. My most favorite extra responsibility is working with students as an Advisor–helping them to navigate their degree requirements, suggesting scholarships and internship opportunities they might apply for, developing career outreach programs to the community that our students can be a part of as well as it encourages and retains them in their chosen career, and being a friendly ear if our students are having a bad day, week, or year. I also recruit and hire our undergraduate teaching assistants, making sure to encourage eligible but shy students to step forward and earn a “line on the resume” while getting paid for it. Finally, I work to promote our department’s faculty, staff, and student’s achievements and activities through the use of various print, electronic, and web based media–most recently Facebook. That’s not all that I do, but you get the general idea.
Sorry if this sounds like a resume, but it clues you in to the busy and sometimes taxing Mondays through Fridays schedule that I have and how it explains why I “operate” the way that I do on the weekends. But, more about that at the end of this post. Why am I ruminating about this? You see, I had my “25th anniversary” of working in my department last week. Though my department took no notice of it, since I am the one in our department who reminds everyone to sign a card of get well wishes or congratulations and such to mark life events amongst our colleagues. It’s just that when you’re the one having the “life event”, then there is no one to mark that occasion for you–or me, in this case. Well, at least the university gave me free parking this year. Snap!
Ah! The phrase “the personal is political” comes to mind when I think of my professional and community service activities. I tend to focus on organizations involving young people–and ones that help them reach their dreams. So, I’ve developed or help organize several community wide career exploration and professional development based youth activities. In particular, we have our 7th Annual High School Senior Essay Contest [(2) wreath of victory graphic] coming up again this fall that I established. The students may write about any topic in the personal, public, or professional sphere–such as career paths, education, safety, finances, health, human rights, etc. But the essays must advocate for gender equity and/or multi-cultural diversity within their topic choice. We have had some wonderful essays from students against bullying (whether it is involves race, ethnicity, gender, or religion, etc.), being proud of their heritage, seeking “non-traditional” careers for their gender (an area in which I encourage students to widen their thinking on), and against discrimination in all forms. Oh and we have had a handful of essays over the years that purposely advocated for women remaining barefoot and pregnant or were Eurocentric. Needless to say, those essays remained at the bottom of the pile. We have six small scholarships that we award–the top prize garners only $125 for the honoree–sponsored by two university units (including my own) and one community chapter of a national organization. But the recognition that these students receive is priceless to they and their families as their parents tell me each year at our awards ceremonies. And I think that it is worthwhile to note that when the news eagerly touts the bad stuff our young people are doing, I like to think that we’re helping promote the positive contributions and role modeling of our young people. You need a balance in life–to illustrate the exemplary if you wish young people to strive for it.
So, about that personal sphere. Here is where my life gets really tricky–or complicated. As my blog here–Something About Love (A)–is evidence to, I am relatively new to sharing my thoughts online. As in June 25, 2011! That’s the day that I started my little Facebook “closed” discussion group devoted to the exquisitely talented British actor Mr. Richard Crispin Armitage–mostly to keep myself and my friends organized. And then, it blossomed into a full blown discussion group that I facilitate each day. We have themed discussion days–mostly revolving around Richard Armitage’s storytelling–and these theme days are my feeble attempt to keep our growing membership “on the same page” topic wise, even though we are in widely different time zones around the world. One example is John Day Monday–as in the various John characters that Richard Armitage has portrayed. We had a fun “Battle of the John’s” topic one week where we compared various points of their character traits and backgrounds. Then there is always, our favorite lines of dialogue spoken by Mr. Armitage–our “Dear Delight” indeed! [quote from Venetia audiobook voiced by Mr. Armitage and summarized at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/career/168.html]
I set our Facebook discussion threads up the night before with graphics and such, and then post them for our members who are already into the next day. We share thoughts, quotes, videos, pictures, etc.–and we have a blast doing it. I don’t take credit for our fun. It is all due to our members who participate. I have not widely publicized this discussion group because our smallness promotes our discussion, getting to know one another better, and having trust that our confidences will not be breached. So, people tend to find us through their friends. And, as it happens, several of the ladies who I admired for their vidding, fan fiction writing, and such have gravitated over to our little group. So, we have a very talented group of ladies whom I am privileged to call my friends. But we also are silly and giggly at times as we admire more than just Mr. Armitage’s exquisite talent–such as his handsomeness. We often get lost in waxing poetic about his “twin sapphire pools” (as Jasmina phrased it) of desire and compassion when we’ve described his subtly expressive eyes as one of his seductive attributes.
But of course, our discussions inevitably take us back to admiring Mr. Armitage’s amazing talent as a storyteller. As an example of his wonderful storytelling, below are a series of three pictures of Richard Armitage as MI-5 secret agent Lucas North in Spooks series 8, episode 6. In the picture far left, Lucas is shocked to learn that his secret agent girlfriend Sarah isn’t one of good guys. In the middle picture, Lucas has a gun pointed at him by his “girlfriend” Sarah and the betrayal and despair on his face and in his eyes are so sad and moving. The character of Lucas had been through so much at this point, only to be disappointed yet again by someone whom he trusted–and betrayed again by someone whom he loved. The final picture on the right shows a resolute Lucas whom Sarah didn’t kill after all, resigned to having to pick up the pieces and hunt down Sarah–and maybe even kill her–to stop her plot. The subtlety in Richard Armitage’s facial expressions–especially in his eyes as these few seconds play out in this scene–is mesmerizing.
And then, we watch JulietD001’s evocative video “Spooks (Lucas North) ‘Purgatory’ ” and we see these and other images from Lucas North’s troubled life in the context of his incarceration in a Russian prison for 8 years that took him to the brink of taking his own life.
These are haunting images of a man–Lucas North–for whom life would never be simple, his life would never be happy, and his life would never be whole. Yes, Richard Armitage is fearless when it comes to portraying his characters’ emotions.
And finally, back to me and my admiration for Richard Armitage and what it means to me as an avid fan of his. I tell myself that I’m not a “rabid fan”–but it’s a terribly close call. Ha! Well, I’m also learning how to create videos myself with their encouragement. And of course, I have 40+ script stories that I work on in rotation since I started writing creatively again in April 2010–two months after watching Mr. Armitage’s North and South film–keep me busy. So, the creativity that has been reborn in myself since I’ve joined the RA World as a “lurker” (reading web sites, but not commenting) before June 25th , 2011 and now as a participant and discussion facilitator is extremely satisfying to me. And I’m not the only individual whom Mr. Armitage has inspired creatively. I’ve wondered a time or two if Richard Armitage fully understands the creativity that he has inspired in others–in his fans? Yes we are fans of his, but it is much more than that. Our mutual interest in Mr. Armitage and his storytelling has brought us and other ladies together in friendship. Creativity and friendships are blessings to us and we thank Mr. Armitage for inspiring us. That’s the thing about touching other people’s lives. We sometimes do it unintentionally and indirectly, but it can have an enormously positive impact. Well done, Mr. A!
Okay, you’re asking yourself. How are the musings in the essay above a negotiation or rationalization? Well, my creative writing inspirations happen 24-7-365. So, I am often up late or early at home writing and jotting ideas, or fleshing out stories at odd times–including “coffee breaks” at work. Since I’m also facilitating my Facebook group discussions and now writing this blog, that involves my time that might have been spent doing something else. My quilting needle work, perhaps? Writing is a better trade off for me. Ha! And, one of these weekends I want to take my video making from slideshows of pictures with background music to my making full fledged music videos with moving film clips–devoted to Richard Armitage, of course. But, I have to learn how to retrieve the film clips first and then the editing software I use–Windows Movie Maker–is very easy to use. As an aside, my watching other’s videos has both encouraged me to seek out and purchase more of Mr. Armitage’s work as well as songs that these videos use. In addition to purchasing music, iTunes is a great resource for renting episodes of Robin Hood or Spooks–or even purchasing them for a bit more. So though we always put the phrase “no copyright infringement intended” on our videos, the videos really serve as advertisement for these film and music products. At least, that is how it has functioned for me. And, I won’t even mention my dissertation proposal research that covers my dining room table gathering dust. And then there is my wonderful hubby who made dinner for us every night the last two weeks because my back is out and I can’t stand for very long. He needs and deserves my attention, too–especially so that I can be inspired to write my next poem on love. Sorry Mr. A., though I love you from afar and I wish you every happiness in life yourself, I’m blessed with a real life wonderful man in my hubby whom I cuddle up with at night.
So, what’s a girl/woman to do? Well, I’ve discovered that I can’t do it all–and that’s okay. Doing and having it all is a myth. The fact that I’ve written this essay before even glancing at this morning’s Facebook discussion group’s musings that I facilitate is not “shocking” to me anymore. That is, in terms of my heightened sense of courtesy and the importance of fulfilling my obligations. They can play amongst themselves in our little Facebook sandbox and I chime in as one member of our group along with the rest of them. And my life will balance [(6) balance scale] itself out in the end–making for a happily diverse and multifaceted life for me. That’s my rationalization anyway. Ha!
And my weekends? I happily nest and cocoon at home–attached to my laptop writing my stories, blogs, Facebook discussion posts, chatting with my gal pals over in Armitage World at night–yes, that’s what it is called–or even trying my hand at creating videos. I rarely stray outside our cozy home on weekends–unless my hubby and I play a fun round of nine holes of bad golf (we go for the scenery and conversation more than anything else) or we go to church (although, since I don’t teach Sunday School anymore, I’ve slipped on my attendance percentages)–preferring instead to be ensconced at home, engaged in quiet contemplation and creativity, or snuggling next to my hubby. Ha! I’m a blessed lady.
P.S. As always, my grateful thanks for the wonderful Richard Armitage media and news resources collected and curated at RANet by Alicat. Here is that web site link–and the specific picture links appear below: www.richardarmitagenet.com
P.S. And for anyone who wonders what it takes to put a blog post together–from writing it, to finding appropriate graphics to complement what you’re saying, to rewriting it multiple times before hitting publish? About seven hours from start to finish–and this post didn’t have as many graphics nor as much film analysis as I usually include.
(1) Iconic Column to represent the university milieu
(2) Wreath of Victory representing awards (unknown origin)
(3) Lucas North Betrayed by Sarah: in Shock (Spooks Series 8, episode 6, pix 197)
(4) Lucas North Betrayed by Sarah who has a gun to his head: Despairing (Spooks Series 8, episode 6, pix 198)
(5) Lucas North Betrayed by Sarah, but left alive to hunt her down: Resignation (Spooks Series 8, episode 6, pix 203)
(6) A Balance scale