Thursday, May 16, 2013

"I realize it's about letting things go and not adding more things."*

   I haven’t written a lot lately because everything I do is emotionally fraught and disturbing and seems poised to lead to buckets of tears because I apparently cry at everything now: episodes of Wings, Iron Man III, people not texting me back…seriously, anything. I know, on the slightly rational side of my brain, that much of this has to do with my impending move and the sense of epic-ness that it adds to every song I hear on the radio and every show I see on TV; but more than that, I think it’s still antidepressant withdrawal. Or I’m just back to my pre-medicated level crazy. (Uh-oh. Please, dear lord, don't make me like I was when I was 16 again! It wouldn't be right or fair or decent!) Either way it’s exhausting. And it makes me want to cry more.
   Last week (oh shit, actually it’s been two weeks now), I went surfing. And I went when I was in the death throes of antidepressant withdrawal. And it was the best thing ever. Gabe and Em had gotten me stand-up paddle-surfing lessons and I was nervous and excited to give them a try. I won’t bother you with the details, but they ended up just being regular surfing lessons. But that’s okay because it was great. And I think it was just what I needed to jump-start my brain from the hideous funk I’d been in for a week. Hanging out in the ocean and constantly working at getting up on the board and getting sun on my face and water up my nose and sand everywhere felt really great. And the dolphins swimming around the area (I’m told they’re very social and love people) made it even better. And even just sitting on the beach and watching the water felt good and therapeutic and right. It was wonderful and a much needed distraction from the “must do” list…which is far too long at this point and gives me minor strokes when I think about it. 
How I pictured myself as a surfer.

Closer to reality.
   Brief aside: it was clear that I wasn’t in my right headspace that day because I didn’t even think about Shiders ONCE.
   But in the very fast two weeks since that day, I’ve been overwhelmed with the amount of things I have to do before the movers arrive May 30th. I’ve been packing, on average, a box a day, and yet my cup still runneth over. This place is ridiculous. When did I accumulate so much crap? I’d like to sort the things into boxes in a way that makes some kind of sense. You know: kitchen, office, bedroom, etc…But there’s so much of it I feel like I’m drowning in piles of garbage. Precious, precious garbage. You can often find things as diverse as a sewing machine, a throw pillow, three pens, two forks, one sock and a coffee table book in a single box at my house. Nothing makes sense. Everything seems at once incredibly important and easily disposable at the same time. I’ve taken bags and bags to Out of the Closet and LA Shares, the electronic recycle and the street corner and still the things keep coming. It’s kind of humiliating in a way. And it makes me want to cry. Again. And more. And maybe one last time for the cheap seats in the back.
A sample of how I pack to move across the country (half-way).
   For instance, today I was cleaning out my dresser and held a t-shirt in my hand for three minutes. My college roommate, Lindsey, gave it to me. It has a picture of a bird of some type (a crane?) in front of a sunset and it says, “Nebraska: Big Cock Country.” After thinking really hard on it, I decided to keep it. But into the give-away pile went an equally amazing t-shirt from a dear friend who shall remain nameless (lest I make that friend as sad as I am). And I’m still agonizing over it. I may even cry over it, if I get the time later.(Oh wait, I forgot: apparently there is always time to cry.)
   That’s my problem: I’m too sentimental. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by no longer keeping a gift they gave me 12 years ago. Even if I never use the gift, part of me dies seeing it in a garbage bag on its way to the charity store. That’s why I’m a hoarder. I love things too much.
   In a perfect world, I would be less lazy, less sentimental and more driven. I would take these clothes, tchotchkes, unused kitchen shit, and piles of outdated electronics to Out of the Closet tomorrow and then go surfing again and try to re-center my chi and spend some more time with the dolphins. (The dudes at the beach are very in touch with their chi's...not so in touch with the proper use of the English language. When my friend Rebecca pointed out the fire smoke, our surfing instructor asked if it was "arsenal." Sigh. You can't be beautiful and brilliant, it would seem. At least not with all that water in your ears.)
   But the likelier scenario is that I’ll keep drinking cupfuls of chicken broth (that's my new thing...sodium, anyone?) and watching old musicals while I weep and stuff 13 years of accumulated crap into boxes upon boxes upon boxes. (I know. Nice attitude.)
   I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I hate moving. Moving sucks and it can blow me. (Don’t think those were my exact words before, but that was definitely the feeling behind them.)
*This is from Dry by Augusten Burroughs.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

"Not with that attitude, you won't."*

   Mother’s Day is a great holiday. Mothers have a really shitty job…okay that sounds mean, and I don’t want to start off on the wrong foot. They have a really hard job, we’ll say, and even if you’re adopted and your particular mom didn’t carry you around for 9 months and push you out the hard way, she’s busted her butt (if not her vaginal canal or abdominal wall or bladder or all three) trying to feed you and make sure you have semi-decent hygiene and some kind of ability to take care of yourself. Having been a childcare provider for a number of years I can assure you that you were a huge pain in the ass and your mother’s love was the only thing keeping you from dying in the streets and all you ever wanted to do was not eat your dinner and whine like a spoiled brat about every mundane thing you could possibly imagine. Maybe you were an easy child, but when people say their child is “easy” what they mean is “compared to other children, my kid is less suicide-inducing.” They love you, those moms. And they deserve a day (or 100 days) of attention and hugs and presents and trips to Europe.
   I didn’t get to see my mom today, but it should be said that she was and is a great mom.
   And so anyway. 
   My most vivid memory of Mother’s Day was when I was about 15 (one of my most asshole-ish periods). Like she always does, Mom spent the better part of the day preparing a feast for us and for our grandparents. She made all the food and cleaned the house and decorated the table and probably bought her own floral arrangements. We probably whined about sweeping or folding laundry and watched movies in the den while she roasted a lamb or some other ridiculously delicious and difficult meal.
   I remember it was a beautiful day and very sunny and my mom was making a point to fix Arnold Palmers, as she always did when Grandma Millie was coming over, because that was Grandma's favorite. And my mom was always very good to her mom. Moms!
   Grandma and Grandpa arrived for “dinner” around 2 in the afternoon along with my Aunt Mel, who most likely contributed to the eats as well. Everyone was gathered, Grandpa had a beer, and we were all about ready to sit down and eat.
   The tea was finished boiling on the stove and Mom had only to add it to the fresh batch of lemonade. She first dumped a pile of ice into the pitcher and then poured the tea on top. I mean, these Arnie Palmers weren't going to cool themselves. And, in a moment that I still can't quite see without everything going into slo-mo, the pitcher promptly exploded, dousing my mom in scalding tea and shooting shards of the glass pitcher into her leg and all over the room. 
Bloody Arnold Palmer horror.
   Despite the fact that she had a glass shard shoved into one of her perpetually bare feet (a hippie preference I’ve inherited from her) and was gushing jets of blood all over the floor, Mom remained remarkably calm. This was a bit of a miracle as the site or suggestion of blood makes her faint.
   I think she just sort of sat down on the floor in a state of bemused shock. (In retrospect, I think maybe she did faint. Hmmm...)
   Luckily Dad and Aunt Mel, both medical professionals, didn’t seem as completely frozen with ineptitude as the rest of us and managed to figure out that she would need stitches pretty soon and they wrapped her foot in a kitchen towel and drove her to the ER.
   I think they’d been gone for a full 5 minutes before my grandparents and my sisters and I moved at all. We’d all been put to the test and we’d all failed miserably. We were straight useless in a crisis, and apparently incapable of even reacting to the situation. So we stood in a line around the kitchen counter and stared at the pool of blood on the floor. Huh. Blood. 
Blood. Glass. Huh.
   Finally, slowly, while making small talk with our Grandma and Grandpa and keeping some sort of tabs on Penelope, Ouisa and I started cleaning the blood. I guess we decided it would be nice if, on Mother’s Day, my mom didn’t have to clean her own blood off the kitchen floor when she arrived home from the ER. Surprise! Happy Mother’s Day! Your gift is to spend a full day NOT cleaning your blood off the floor! You’re welcome! We even did the soap thing, the way Dad had taught us, so the floor wouldn't be sticky. It seemed doubly important since we'd all know that it was sticky because of blood. And that's just gross.
   They came back from the ER an hour or so later and we sat down to our meal. And I’m sure it was delicious. I think Grandma and I had even managed to make a second batch of Arnie Palmers without incident while they were out. But I learned a valuable lesson that day: don’t put boiling fluids into a glass container filled with ice.**
   Just kidding.
   I didn’t really learn anything.
   But doing something that was actually useful for my mom was a nice feeling. And I wish I could do it more often. But she hasn’t bled on the floor in a while. Kidding! (Not about the blood part...she really hasn't had a bloody accident. But about the doing nice things for her part. Ugh. Too much back-peddling here. Let's move on.)
   It’s important to do the things that help your Momma, is what I think you can take away from this, if you are greedy and feel that you need to take something away from this heart-warming post. My mom always wants me to fold laundry before her dinner parties and I never understood why: the guests don’t see the laundry! But over the years I’ve realized that the laundry is just one of the 47 other things she has to finish before she can go to sleep tonight, so doing it does help, even if no one can tell it’s been done. So I try to do that whenever I’m home. And empty the dishwasher. Take out the garbage. You know, stuff like that. Maybe it’s because now that I’m an adult and maybe ever so slightly less of a jackass, I appreciate the value of having clean clothes and a place to put my newly dirtied dishes. I’m grateful to my mom for having always done it for me.
   Along with a billion other things she's done for me. 
   Say thanks to your Mom and fold her laundry and clean up her blood. It's the least you can do. 
   And flowers are nice, too.
Happy Mother's Day, Maman!
*I'm not sure if my mom invented this quote, but it has long been her response to any statement of negativity. ("I won't get into that college." "Not with that attitude, you won't." "I will never find those shorts!" "Not with that attitude you won't.") I find myself using it all the time nowadays. My mom is the Queen of The Positive Attitude.
**To this day I'm afraid to add ice to anything hot. But I think it's more about a glass container + ice + boiling fluids. I think. But I always shield my face when making iced coffee from hot.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

"Tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles."*

   So now every damn street in Los Angeles has this painted on it:

On the upside, now I have an easier way of drawing bikers.

   Oh great. As if my loathing of bicyclists couldn’t increase, this damn town found a way to make the problem immeasurably worse.

   I first wish to address my issue with bikers: okay, biking is super fun. Biking instead of driving is a great idea. My whole beef is, why are you acting like you’re in a car and taking up the whole lane, AND YET you’re not bothering to obey any of the traffic signals that the drivers have to obey? For instance, is signaling your turns not considered “cool” anymore? Is running red lights okay? If you get in the left-hand turning lane in front of me, your measly bike will not be enough to prompt the left turn signal for the 8 cars behind you. And unlike you, we can’t run whichever lights we feel like running. The speed limit is 35. You are going about 25. There are 9 thousand cars behind you. Is this really helping with the traffic congestion problem or is it causing it? Again, biking is a great idea in theory. It is good exercise and you aren’t contributing to the smog. But you are still not part of the solution. Los Angeles: letting the bikers take over all the car lanes may not be the answer. I’m just saying. And that is all.

   Now, what I really want to write about is how seeing these new bike lanes, along with the city buses that have “Every lane is a bike lane” printed on them (check out this HILARIOUS photo) remind me that leaving Los Angeles isn’t the saddest thing that’s ever happened to me.

   Allow me to share some other things I won’t miss:

1.  People who stop their cars in the middle of the freeway to check out the accident on the OTHER SIDE of the freeway, thereby causing both sides of the freeway to be congested. Check it out on the news when you get home, you assholes.

2.  Those beautiful springtime wildfires. Living near any kind of plant is a liability in this town. And it helps contribute something extra to the smoggy horizon. Last night, Chad and I went out around sunset and he was admiring the beautiful storm clouds. I had to point out (had to?) that half of those clouds were made of smoke from the current raging bonfire in Camarillo. Nice.

3.  The overwhelming number of actors, musicians, screenwriters, dancers and models. Who does the accounting around here? Who teaches the children? Who picks up the garbage? I can’t see how this city is surviving with everyone out on auditions. But god bless them for keeping the Hollywood dream alive.

4.  Traffic.

5.  Hard bodied women and men who make me feel inferior right after I just lost two pounds and was feeling pretty sexy.

6.  Those helicopters that fly over your neighborhood with their searchlights blazing for hours at a time. I just want to know if they’ve ever actually helped catch anybody. Apparently all the criminals hide out in my apartment. No matter where I live. 
What Satan is doing with taxpayers' money.

   But then there are things that I will miss. Things that make Los Angeles goofy and unique in a way that I don’t know if you can find anywhere else. Things that are so ridiculous, you have to love them just a little bit.

Will miss:

1.  Actors, musicians, screenwriters, dancers and models. They are trying and they are working very hard at a game that isn’t easy or often possible to win. The hope is what gives this city its energy. And sometimes it’s an energy that reeks of desperation, but it’s an exciting energy all the same. I applaud anyone who can stick it out year after year and work his or her tail off at the mere glimmer of success. I couldn’t do it, and I didn’t really want to. I think those people are incredible. They give this city some intangible vibrancy that no other city has. (Am I being cheesy? I don’t care. I’m not sorry.)

2.  Sunshine. Warm weather. 
3. People trying to get into restaurants because they've been told that the restaurant(s) are impossible to get into. People in Los Angeles love being told they can't go somewhere. Then the place becomes super popular right away. Especially the places that have names with no bearing on what goes on inside. (I've always thought that if I ever were to open a restaurant in LA I'd name it "Chair" or "Poo" so people would be confused and then curious and then determined to get in. I'd spend the first few weeks not letting ANYONE inside. I'd be a hit.)

4.  The trifecta of beautiful scenery: ocean, mountains, deserts.

5.  A sea of ethnic and religious diversity. I don’t think I have a single friend here who is my same race and religion. (My coven is currently all Filipinos.)

6.  8 million different kinds of restaurants (see number 5).

7.  The kiddos (can't think about it).

8.  My friends (ditto).

   Boo. Now I’m sad. Cue montage of me with my friends having meaningful moments together while Sarah McLachlan's "I Will Remember You" plays. (I'd watch that, don't know about you.) But change is always a little sad, a little scary, a little awesome. But, as I read in some women’s magazine somewhere sometime, change creates new neural pathways in your brain and leads to happiness. And women’s magazines are always correct about everything. 
   And if I start to feel too sad, I just look at this postcard Bert sent me during college:
And he wrote on it, "Look familiar?"
*The title quote is from Frank Lloyd Wright. And he ought to know. He designed some pretty crazy houses in this city.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

"A fool's brain digests philosophy into folly, science into superstition, and art into pedantry. Hence University education." *

   Not to be an uber-superstitious, sign-, tea leaf-, palm-, and horoscope-reading type, but I keep finding double yolks in my egg cartons and I feel (felt, sigh) that it must hold some sort of special significance for me.

   At first, I was really excited (eggcited?). I thought it was some sort of lucky sign.
My eggs. My beautiful eggs.

   I’m Irish and we’re the people that brought you lucky charms, knocking on wood, banshees and leprechauns (not to mention being huge proponents of every Catholic superstition you’ve ever heard of…which is pretty much EVERY PART of Catholicism). I also have an extensive background in theatre and we’re the people that brought you “break a leg” and not saying Macbeth in a playhouse and several other nonsensical things like not saying “good luck” and the plays of Samuel Beckett, G.B. Shaw and Oscar Wilde and don’t change your underwear during the run of the show. It can’t be all coincidence, can it? (Though it could easily all be linked to drinking, which both the theatre and the Irish bring to the table and insist on you serving IMMEDIATELY.)

   So, okay, three times in one week I had double yolks! I was sure it was a really great thing. I read that approximately 1 in 1000 yolks is a double. So my three in one week seemed like a really big to-do. I drew this prematurely, because I felt sure we’d all be celebrating something grand before the end of Cinco de Mayo:

   But when I look it up online it says that either someone in my immediate family is expecting twins or someone is going to die. Um…gross to both of those.

   In the interest of making things seem more exciting than twins and death, I’m determined to try to appreciate the bounty that is my egg carton(s) from Trader Joe’s. I guess I can force myself to be excited about double the protein and good cholesterol in my morning breakfast.

   But it is kind of a letdown.

   Wikipedia says that a lot of times a double yolk is the result of younger hens who ovulate more rapidly than their older sister-wives. And sometimes those hens just aren’t all on the same cycle, and that leads to faster ovulation. And that reminds me of high school and how my period, which started out full-force when I was ELEVEN, was finally in synch with everyone else’s. When you go to all-girls school, everyone sort of synches up eventually (creepy and cool all at once) and it was sort of nice to always have someone around with a tampon, a kind word, and a couple of Midol on any given day of the week.

   But none of the news is as exciting (eggciting) as I’d anticipated.

   Maybe if my whole carton had been double yolks, I’d be famous like this chick (no pun intended. Seriously. I wanted to say "bitch" but that seemed mean):

   This is another reason I should move to England. They get way more excited about stuff that no one in America gives a flying fuck about. (Trust me: I sent pictures of double yolks to a bunch of people and NO ONE GAVE A CRAP.)

*This quote is from George Bernard Shaw. He was and is one of my favorite writers, but he would never have wanted to be friends with me.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

"Reality is the leading cause of stress among those in touch with it."*

   It seems like major life changes always come in bunches. When it rains, it pours, if you will. And I started with one change and then things sort of spun out of control. As they do.
   So, there’s the fact that I’m moving again. And this time I’m moving across the country (but only halfway) to Texas. (Yeehaw!) But then there’s the fact that I’ve got a lot of packing to do, recently quit my antidepressant, have applied/am applying to a butt-load of internships, went to the wedding of one of my best friends and learned that one of my other best friends is engaged. I’m going to live in Omaha for the summer and need to find a job. I’m starting school in Austin in the fall and need to figure out how to pay for it. I have to cancel all the utilities, get rid of some furniture, pass my marketing class, and remember to water my plants and shower occasionally. Whoa, lordy, lordy. I’m a mess. Sadly, I’ve not skipped a single meal so I’m still not one of those people who lose weight when they’re stressed out. 
I'll have to get better at drawing Texas...
   Let’s start with the fact that I’m moving to Texas to raise, ride, and rope broncos. No, not really. I’m just going to graduate school. (The bronco thing will just be a side gig.) Did you know that graduate school is very expensive and there are no dorms? It’s okay, I didn’t have a dorm in undergrad so I’m not that worried. But a little handholding and a helpful to-do list from the U would be useful. I can’t think about that now. There are too many things between now and then that have to get figured out, if I think about that now I’ll go crazy.
   I’m moving back home (Omaha) for the summer. I have to find a job of some type, since I’m almost positive I will not be receiving an allowance. Finding a job in a new/old city is hard. Especially when the city is so small that there’s a good chance you’ll wind up giving a lap dance to one of your high school teachers. Just kidding. My dancing days are over. But it’d still be slightly awkward to wait on my parents’ next-door neighbors or serve coffee to my ex-boyfriend’s best friend.  Shoot. Fingers crossed I get an office job and never have to explain my poor life choices to someone from my past this summer. But Omaha doesn’t usually work that way (3 degrees of separation), so my hopes aren’t very high in that regard.
   But even BEFORE I can panic too much about summer employment, I have to move. Again. And I hate moving. Moving is a heinous, boring nightmare that forces me to really examine when and how I became such a ferocious hoarder. And I have to shut off all my utilities, but I can’t get out in front of them: you really have to cancel them right when you move or you’re sort-of fucked for electricity and gas and Internet for a few weeks. Nards.
   I generally respond to stress by taking a nap. But even that is biting me in the butt, because napping prevents me from packing. And if I don’t finish packing, I can’t move. And if I don’t move, I can’t go to grad school. And if I don’t go to grad school, I’ll die of sadness and poverty. Life is viciously stressful.
   And did I mention I stopped taking my antidepressant? Good timing, that. But I couldn’t bear to go back to my mean, old psychiatrist. She’s a bitch and makes me cry every time I see her. I’d rather cry for free. Plus, it was probably time to quit, anyway. But now I feel like everyday I’m standing outside of my body watching things happen to someone else and it’s extremely disconcerting. And it’s super hard to feel energetic or to get good sleep. I really couldn’t have planned a worse time to go cold turkey on my mental health meds. But…such is life. And it is, yet again, a first world problem. But I’m insane (for real) at the moment. And I probably sound like a bona fide psychopath. But that was always lurking inside of me, and its time I start appreciating myself as the fucked up individual I’ve always been…and may always be.
   And it’s making my insides feel like they’re full of poison and tears. But my insides are also working desperately to expel them, so it’s sort of like a cleanse, right? I’ll add “cleanse” to my California bucket list. It’s such a California thing to do.
I didn't really drink poison. That was artistic license. But it feels like poison's going to come out sometime soon...

   In an effort to stay the positive course, here are things I’m looking forward to in the next few weeks/months:
1.  Leaving Los Angeles.
2.  Spending summer in Omaha.
3.  Paddle-surfing (tomorrow!): bucket list! Bucket list! (Thanks to Gabe and Em!)
4.  Road trips (to Omaha, to Austin, maybe to Mt. Rushmore this summer).
5.  Summer, summer, summer.
6.  Cowboys.
7.  New beginnings.
*The quote is from Lily Tomlin. I don't know how much it applies to me personally, since my grasp of reality is questionable. But it's a nice quote anyway.