Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Crazy Girl

"A question that sometimes drives me hazy: am I or are the others crazy?"- Albert Einstein

A friend and I were discussing the other day how easy it is for people to assign the "crazy" tag to a someone they probably just don't understand. "It's a total and complete cop out." I was saying as I navigated my way through a burger the size of my head. I made small, stacked piles of my food as I tried to figure out how to tackle it. "I mean, I've been called crazy A LOT. But I feel like it is just something someone says when they don't have the intelligence or the energy to commit to knowing someone."

"I agree." She nodded. "However, what I think is crazy is the fact that you DO NOT KNOW HOW TO EAT A BURGER. Insane, really."

"I'm serious about this!" I whined. "A friend the other day actually PUT MY NAME INTO ANOTHER WORD. He called me 'Melly-dramatic.' CAN YOU EVEN BELIEVE THAT?"

She gasped as she set her beer down and stared at me with wide eyes. "No. He. Did. Not."

"He did. Oh, he did."

Perhaps all of this crazy talk should make me examine the way I interact with the world and the people I love in it. So, I did. For about 5 minutes. And I realized that I kind of love who I am and the fact that (okay, yes,) I am bat shit crazy. Out to lunch. Up a wall. Unhinged. Up shit creek without a paddle...(well. That one doesn't really work.) What I am trying to say is: yes. I am crazy. And dramatic. And I really don't want to change that.

I only feel so confident in my insanity because the people I surround myself with are all bat-shit-up-a-wall-and-a-creek-or-whatever as well. I sat with a friend drinking whiskey on my balcony the other night until 4 am cackling over how Emily Dickinson was a prude. This was the night before our poetry final. When I had to wake up to take the test 3 hours later I called him in a panic. "Hi. I am still...I am still drunk. What do I do?"

He didn't miss a beat. "Drink another glass in the shower. You'll be fine."

So this is how I found myself at 7 am shooting down a coffee mug of whiskey as I tried not to get shampoo in it. Not my finest moment, surely...but definitely one of my more interesting ones. I called my Mom on my walk to school and started the conversation with: "Hi. I can't feel my feet."

"Oh my God, Melissa Beth. You're drunk."

"You jump to that? Do I usually call you at 7am drunk?"

"Well no. This is a first, surely. But, you'll be great. You are so smart. Just make sure you don't get hit by a bus or anything, ok? Love you! And text me later so I know you didn't get hit by a bus! I don't trust those city busses..."

She never called me crazy. She never questioned my questionable decisions. She just wanted to make sure I was not a victim of public transit.

That is how it should be.

I also made a friend recently that has open discussions with me about how much we both like crying. I feel comfortable enough with him to send him text messages that say: "Hey. I just watched a Bruce Springsteen music video and lost my SHIT." To which he will reply: "Oh yeah. I would too. Was it Secret Garden from Jerry Maguire?"

Why yes it was.

When I am around "normal" people I can never feel comfortable in my skin. And not because they are calm and collected and hike with their dog Fluffy every Sunday and eat granola and shop at L.L Bean and listen to Hootie and the Blowfish. It is because I know that somewhere, somehow they are "crazy" too. They just won't admit it. Instead, they will go up to the first poet/artist/fun-time-party-girl they know and slap that label on them. And you know what?

That's crazy.

My Dad is a mortician and does an amazing Kermit the frog impression. My Mom used to sculpt Victorian-era-looking woman out of snow in our front yard with her bare hands. I was too afraid of swapping blood with my girlfriends, so instead of becoming "blood-sisters" in the typical youthful rite of passage, we all peed into different cups, flushed it together and chanted: "URINE SISTERS FOREVER!" I took a final slightly drunk but nailed it. I cry at commercials, I cry after too much wine, and sometimes I cry just because it feels good and I am watching a Tom Hanks movie. I talk to myself, I talk to my fish, and actually hid in a bush last week in order to avoid running into someone I knew on campus because I hadn't washed my hair.

Maybe that sounds crazy to you...but I think it sounds just about right.

Get a little crazy. All the cool kids are doing it. You can find them in the bushes.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Mom. Stop Skyping Me.

When people first heard that Brett was moving across the country, you would not believe the amount of people that extolled the virtues of "Skype sex." Even typing that grosses me out, as did the couples extolling said venture. There is nothing,
and I mean nothing, appealing to me about trying to have an intimate relationship with my computer camera. I gagged lightly every single time it was mentioned to me and it was mentioned to me a lot. I now have a horrible gag reflex and a working imagination of most of my friend's sex lives. No bueno.

I hate Skype. I hate the sterility, the distance, the depression it causes. I like to touch people. I like to know that I can reach out and stroke someone's hand, or smell the scent of the coffee they are drinking, or actually look into their eyes and not a computer screen. And don't get me started on sexy video chats. The last time I tried to "be sexy" was in 1998 when I wore large hoop earrings and brown lip liner. I'm not exactly hip or natural or anything normal, really. I'm an awkward mess and I OWN IT and I hate Skype.

The end.

Or so I thought.

I made the very awful mistake of telling my Mom about Skype and even helping her set up an account. I have no idea why. I think she tricked me into telling me it was a good way for her to keep in touch with my Grandfather or something. We Skyped once as a test...and then it was all over.

The woman was trying to Skype with me. Constantly.

I would be at school and my phone would start blowing up. This was usually the succession of my mother's texts:

12:24: HEY! I'm on SKYPE.
12:25: WHERE R U
12:32: Omg. Did I do something? u mad?!
12:47: Melly Belly. I'm getting mad. LET'S SKYPE AND TALK ABOUT THIS.

And so on.

I had, quite inadvertently, created a monster.

Don't get me wrong...I love my mother an unhealthy amount, I just don't have the desire to video chat with her 8 times a day. I have given in and Skyped at her demand, but it is always extremely awkward. She is still getting used to the technology and ends up spending the entire session staring at herself in the camera, making weird faces, and then once and awhile she will notice me and talk about how cute (read: long,) my ears are. She also seems to think it is an around the clock thing. The other day she called me, and casually asked: "Can you see me?" I was so confused.
"See you where, Mom?"
She grew impatient and hissed into the phone,"See me...on...Skype? Can you see me right now?"
"Ok. Ma? Unless you have a 24/7 webcam THAT I AM WATCHING, no. I cannot see you. Are we seriously having this conversation?"
"Melly, you are being so rude. Ok. Fine....Can you see me now?"

This is my life.

So, this morning when she sent me her usual text message (SKYPE.SKYPE.SKYPE.SKYPENOW.) I hesitated. Did I really want to start my day off this way? Looking at the image of my mother who is looking at the image of herself...and feeling a mixture of deep homesickness and wonder that I came from something so weird and lovely? I gave in because I was hungover and too tired to put up a fight.

And then the most amazing thing filled my screen.

My Mom, wearing a bra, (thank goodness,) holding my two nephews and sitting on the couch with my sister. Everyone was in pajamas, everyone (except the kids) was drinking coffee, and for the most gorgeous of moments...I was home.

My nephew Elias is old enough to understand that 1. Computers are awesome, and 2. His Aunt is stuck in the computer and he does not know how to get her out. He calmed himself with that panic by showing me every. single. stuffed animal he owns. It was pretty epic. And my baby nephew Liam just pushed his baby cheeks up against the camera and drooled.

I've never felt more loved.

I stayed on that Skype call for a whole 25 minutes. It was just long enough for my sister to tell me I looked like shit, my Mom to say my ears are "SOOOOO CUTE," my nephew to ask me if I was still living in Californ-i-a, and Liam to produce enough liquid on the keyboard to warrant a trip to computer tech. Suddenly, my view on computer video-chatting changed. No, I would not use it to make my own version of "One Night In Paris," but it wasn't...as bad as I thought it would be.

I got to see my Mom laughing as she juggled an armful of spawn. My sister rolling her eyes at me with every thing I said. My nephew telling me a joke, forgetting the punch line, and returning with a stuffed monkey that was FASCINATING.

It was my imperfect and perfect little life...all on the tiny screen of my computer.

So, go Skype someone you love. But, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, don't do anything sexy. That shit is just weird.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Life Poetry. Not as cool as the published shit.

My post- finals plans. or, Friday.

I'm back and better than ever.

Not really.

It's finals time around here, which basically translates to your soul feeling like it is being sucked out of your ear, you second guess everything you ever thought rocked about yourself, and everyone on campus looks the same as you do. Like sweaty, confused zombies. Well, zombies is a bit cliche of a description, no? So, everyone looks like sweaty...confused...sweat-pants-wearing-greasy-haired-depressed-slightly-hungover-and-self-loathing visions of their former selves. Basically, the feeling around campus is euphoric.

That was my sleepy stab at sarcasm.

After 3 days in solitary confinement I was in tears over the fact that I had not spoken to a human soul about anything other than term papers. I had been existing in a colorful array of pajama separates and my life felt like it operated on a a very, very depressing schedule. Wake up, make coffee with eyes closed, try to work but end up listening to the Backstreet Boys album, stumble to a cafe, try to work again, but end up eating pizza and staring out the window as you think about how much you hate Walt Whitman and wishing he was alive so you could smack him. Feel bad because you don't actually hate Walt Whitman, you just hate your major and then have a quiet cry about that in the bathroom stall. Go home. Put on different pajamas. Maybe open some wine. Work more. Find a Disney Pandora station. Go to bed after listening to 7 different versions of "A Whole New World." Maybe sneak in another quick little cry or two. Sleep.

Do it all again the next day.

I wish I could say I was exaggerating, because I do love to exaggerate...but sadly I'm not. (okay, maybe the Pandora station only had 5 different versions of "A Whole New World.") this life is something I definitely chose, and this life is what led to Brett needing to leave to finish school 2,568 miles away...so I definitely need to own this life. BUT HERE IS THE THING. I sort of hate it. I open up lovely books now, bound in gold thread, smelling of libraries and rich history and all of the fucking things I used to love about literature before, and all I want to do is vomit. If a fellow classmate uses any of the following words: "dichotomy," "agency" "utilize," problimitize," "gender constructs," or "epistemology" I will smack them in the face. And then throw a chair at them. And then hurl hateful insults in their general direction in my black little mind. It's petty, sure. But hey. It's where I am.

2 things have saved me recently. Well, 3. I will now bullet point these for you.

-(Dash, not bullet point, I am aware.) I recently made a friend that I never expected. In fact, I was pretty sure this guy hated me, and I hated him to be formal and by extension. IN REALITY he is brilliant and charming and a very giving person. And I am a douche bag. When he texted me last night to make sure I was doing ok on my paper I felt that old Catholic guilt revving up in my stomach. But I forgave myself. Sometimes the most interesting things in life are right under your nose and you are too much of an asshole to see them. So, get better glasses.

-My friend Mikaila has sat with me in countless coffee shops as I overwhelmed her with questions and jokes about how Depends should come in thong form. We have vented to one another about our frustrations, drunk countless cups of phlegmy coffee, and checked in with one another each step of the way. It's actually pretty amazing.

-(third dash point,) KATIE.

Katie gets a simplistic dash point and no explanation because we had a conversation the other day that is nothing short of amazing. I called her in hidden tears. This means I was actually crying out of legitimate depression, but I practiced a cheery "HI!" before I called her so she would not think I was a weirdo.

Katie is this lovely and charming and gorgeous friend my father set me up with. She also happens to be one of the funniest women I know, which says a lot- since I think I am the funniest woman I know. Most importantly, she is a grad student at my school, but is nice enough to listen to my undergrad woes even though she needs to write, like, a fucking novel by the 16th.

This is our conversation:

Me: "Katieeeeee! HIIIIIIII!!!!!!!! How's the writing going?"

Katie: "Awful."

Me: (actually dissolving) "Oh God. Me too. Do you ever look at people on the street? Strangers? And you hate them? Because they are able to have friends and be normal and eat food in public and wear clothing other than pajamas?"

Katie: "Melissa, I actually became jealous of a girl I saw today. Because she looked cleaner than me."

Me: "Oh God. I forgot I haven't showered..."

Katie: "Do you think we'll get through this?"

Me: "Well. I made a lot of inappropriate suicide jokes today. About the hook on my ceiling. Wondering if it will hold my weight. WHICH IS BAD. I'M BEING BAD. What I am trying to say is...I don't know. Will we?"

Katie: "Yes. We will. And I've seen that hook. It's too small."

Most of you are probably thinking that I am a horrible human being for being so insensitive. But you know what? I feel...enlightened. In one week so much has been made clear to me. I'm smarter than I think, I have people in my life that I didn't even know were there...the hook in my living room ceiling can truly only support a plant...and I will get through this.

We all will. We are all up against something that seems impenetrable. Something that seems like it pushes back more than it gives in. I'm here to tell you that, YES. IT SUCKS AND IT WILL MAKE YOU HATE YOUR LIFE FOR AWHILE. But, somethings gotta give. You will get somewhere. You will make an imprint. And slowly but surely...you will be where you decide you need to be.

For me, right now...I only want to be on the other side. Maybe I am missing the point a bit...like I so often do in life. I'm all about the end result, so it's helpful for me to piece my life together in the odds and ends of the week that propelled me forward.

Those odds and ends? An unexpected friendship. Funny chats with Brett. Help and love and patience from an old friend. Laughter and $4.19 cookies with a new one. Wine, (obviously. Come on,) and trust and new beginnings and frustrated tears and thrown away cartridges of ink.

It's sort of the poetry of life, is it not?

Fucking Whitman would be proud.


Friday, December 2, 2011

Sorry for hating everything lovely.

It is amazing to me how many different costumes of ourselves we slip into on a daily basis. I started my morning with student self: I woke early, drank a pot of coffee, read a whole bunch of literature crap while feigning passion for it, and was all caught up by 10 am. And then I slipped on my power woman self: got through an amazing work-out, conducted a kick ass interview, (while sweating profusely because of nervousness, but my mantra of "never let them see you sweat" paid off thanks to my AWESOME AND ABSORBENT blazer and KICK ASS acting ability,) and had the sound bites written up and logged away within an hour. I was responsible self on the way home when I remembered to stop and buy bleach and blush, (isn't it funny the combinations of things needed at drug stores? Always cracks me up. Usually for me it's wine and toilet paper.) And then I was home, empowered, and exhausted by 5pm.

And then I became depressing self. That costume is, unfortunately, the easiest to slip into.

I had tentative plans with a friend, but those fell through and at first, I was sort of relieved. It was 6pm now, and an entire evening stretched deliciously in front of me. Would I take myself to that restaurant I have been dying to try? Maybe it was a rented movie/Thai food in kind of night? There was still time to pop in and get a pedicure at my local salon...I ran each and every plan over my tongue to see if I liked the taste of any of them. I couldn't decide. There was a haunting sense of loneliness that started to creep in around me, and unfortunately I catered to that. I put on PJ's. I heated up some leftovers. I let the apartment get dark and gloomy and I let my mind give in to ridiculous imaginations as I tried to figure out what all of my friends were doing tonight.

This is never, ever a good plan. Instead of existing comfortably with myself I was spending all of my energy in crazy-girl-land as I mentally played movies of how much fun everyone else in the fucking world was having. How is this healthy or forward-thinking or useful? Well, it's not. That's the point. Sometimes self inflicted misery is like an advil: coated in the sugary layer to make it go down easier, but if you let it sit on your tongue for awhile it just becomes bitter.

Well, my advil became bitter.

I want to be the kind of person that thrives in any situation she finds herself in. Plans broken, unexpected night in? NO PROBLEM! I have a PAINTING/QUILT/WORLD PEACE ACT that I have been meaning to try! All of my friends are out celebrating the birth of Christ and the invention of spiked eggnog? GREAT! THIS IS A WONDERFUL TIME FOR ME TO MAKE HOME-STITCHED ADVENT CALENDARS FOR ALL OF THEM! AND THEIR DOGS! Sadly, I am anything but this person. I am the person that is like, "Well, I might as well put on sweatpants and watch 7 hours of vintage SNL...by myself." I seem to love pity parties for one. Usually those parties have really good wine and Adele music. And crying into ice-cream tubs.

While reflecting on all of this I cringed when I thought of something I said to a new friend today. He happily told me he was going ice-skating with his girlfriend, and I said something snarky. "Oh. THAT is obnoxiously cute." Not only that, I said it several times. The poor kid didn't stand a chance. We ended up, to his credit and extreme patience, having a decent conversation- but when we said good-bye my horrible words burned through me my entire walk home. Why did I feel like I had to throw acid around like glitter? What the hell was so wrong about this sweet boy going ice-skating with the woman he loves? Just because I am lonely, I am sad...that gives me the right to fling my words around without thinking about it?

I guess I realized that the self that I have been slipping into WAY more than is healthy is that self. The one that basically shits on everything around her without thinking about the consequences of it all. And don't we all do that? We live in our on little costumes without poking our heads out to see what is really going on in the world? We're safe in the confines of that material we construct...but we are so cut off from reality we can't see exactly and truthfully what we are really doing.

I'm going to be ok with myself tonight...costume off. Am I in a sweatshirt too small for me because I refuse to do laundry? Yes. Have I watched all of the Melissa Joan Hart movies on my netflix tonight? Yes. DID I LISTEN TO A SONG BY HANSON? Yes. That's ok. It's Friday. It's not National-Everyone-Should-Be-Out-Partying-And-Having-Fun-Day. I am not missing out on anything. In fact, the party I have with myself right now is pretty cool. And my hair looks great.

I say I'm having the best night of all.

And I hope that couple has fun ice-skating. I really and truly do.