Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Gilbert Love, Part 1 (Forced Optimism)

Today I woke up to an inquisitive email from a prospective employer in London.  It's amazing what that and an early morning field trip to the gym can do to one's outlook!

I finished Committed, by Elizabeth Gilbert, on the bus yesterday.  I didn't love it - I generally go for fiction with meaty plots, and this is an autobiographical study of marriage over time around the world - but, somehow, it really spoke to me.  Maybe this is because I find parallels between my situation and hers.  Gilbert and her boyfriend are essentially "sentenced to wed" (her words, not mine) by Homeland Security when they refuse to allow him entry to the United States as a tourist; if they want to live together in America they must get married.  They roam the world - luckily, they have the funds to do so - for months, waiting for their application for his fiancé visa to be approved, enduring bureaucratic snafu after bureaucratic snafu.

Okay, so what I'm going through is nothing like that, except that I need a visa to be with the man I love and am suffering through bureaucratic nonsense to get said visa.  Point conceded.

But her writing is so welcoming and warm and her approach to some things (some, definitely not all) that life throws at her is so much like mine that I feel kindred spirits with her.  I imagine that many women feel that way - that's what marks Gilbert's success as a writer - but this blog is about me!

I had been thinking even before I finished the book that this blog has been sort of bipolar recently; I've vented my frustrations one day and then sung about my brilliant outlook the next.  And then I read this, which sums up perfectly how I'm dealing with my visa issues:

"I, in turn, reacted to his befouled humor the way I'd been taught by my mother to react to a man's befouled humor: by becoming only more cheerful, more upbeat, more obnoxiously chipper.  I buried my own frustrations and homesickness under a guise of indefatigable optimism, barreling forth with an aggressively sunny demeanor, as though I could somehow force Felipe into a state of lighthearted gladness by the sheer power of my magnetic, tireless merrymaking." (p. 207-208)

Substitute "my/myself" for "his/Felipe," and you've got a pretty accurate picture of what's going on in my head.  I'm working very hard convincing myself that there are reasons to be sunny and cheerful and, usually, I am successful.  I'm sure I will have a catastrophic meltdown at some point soon when it all gets too overwhelming, but for now you all will have to read about my efforts to trick myself into "indefatigable optimism."

This doesn't mean that I'm not taking the kind words I'm receiving from all of you to heart - I am, and thank you for them.  I just don't know how else to deal.  This has been my modus operandi for years!

To that end, I am going to have a wonderful day.  I am going to make myself have a wonderful day.  And tonight: the John Butler Trio at Wolf Trap with friends!

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