So you think you can pwn a Christmas.

•December 24, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I thought I had at least ten to fifteen years before this happened (I’m twenty three, so I’m meeting my Completely Unrealistic Quota.), but this year I’m trying my hand at running a Christmas. It’s a small affair, just the family, so you’d think it wouldn’t be particularly difficult.

You’d be lying to yourself.

Thanks to the eviction, my parents have reached stress levels that go beyond all natural reasoning. The rush to find a new place to call home immediately ensued, and as soon as that happened (The new place is actually right down the street. Really.), all focus shifted to packing and preparing the funds, determining who was going to move when, and so on. I’m still going to N’s, E is going to live with her girlfriend in Cambridge, and R is off to stay with my parents until she graduates. Much to her dismay.

Then my father found himself veering off into oncoming traffic with my sister and mother in the car one morning. On the highway. When my mother grabbed his arm and tried to tell him what he was doing, he said “It’s okay.”. And then he didn’t do anything about it. After getting him to snap out of it and go back onto the right side of the road, he took my mother to work, drove home with my sister… And did it again. Once again, he was snapped out of it before anything happened.

But there was no arguing against going to the hospital after that.

Though the word on everyone’s mind right then was ‘stroke’, it turned out to be a bit more complicated than that. My father has bubbles (embolisms) in his head. Small ones, but ones that should his blood pressure rise to a certain height, could kill him. At least, that’s what the doctors said.

Couple that with an irregular heartbeat, and we have a tense three days while the doctors are running every last test they can think of. The theory is that the stress on his heart caused a tear small enough to send up the bubbles.

After that, he started getting tired a lot faster. And everyone’s been on edge since. (Still are, but according to a neurologist he’s fine and the hospital may have overreacted. We’re still waiting on the new tests.) Meaning Christmas was the last thing on my parents’s minds, collectively. Which made sense. But someone had to pick up the proverbial dropped ball, and with my classes already over and only one final date on the way, it seemed like it was going to be me. (Also known as, I stepped in because I was answering the call of the Planner; fix everything, everywhere, at any time.) After some debated, my parents agreed.

With our eternal lack of funds getting in the way, there’d be no chance of even starting the Christmas shopping until Thursday. I assembled a crack team (Or something.) composed of N, E, and Girlfriend. We’d meet at twelve thirty, and attack the Prudential and Downtown Crossing in Boston. I put myself on the ten o’ clock train, and spent an hour listening to my mp3 player (Primarily the Karen O/Trent Reznor version of ‘Immigrant Song’, from the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo soundtrack, which is oddly good for psyching yourself up for something.) and getting some pre game peace.

My intensely soundtracked serenity was continuously interrupted by texts from E. She wanted to reminders on where she should be and when, what to do with the coupon I’d given her to redeem a freebie that was being given as a gift to someone, and every last possible detail that she could think of. I finally oh so casually reminded her that we’d be seeing each other in two hours, and she could ask me all the questions in the world then. I didn’t get a text back.

Go figure.

Off the train I went, and on to lunch to fuel up. Then, mindful of my budget, I went into round one at Barnes and Noble. I’d started all this thinking it’d be just another game like the ones I’ve mentioned before; find the best gift for the best price, and always go for the gold. I had a wad of coupons printed multiple times in my bag, Christmas lists for both my sisters (I told them I if I didn’t get one by Wednesday night, they’d get what I saw fit to give them, and whatever’d amuse me to watch them open Christmas morning. I got plenty of suggestions after that.), and rough ideas for my parents.

Then I realized that since no Christmas shopping had been done, I wouldn’t be just getting something that went from me to the Recipient. I’d be getting something from everybody that went to everyone else. And while I’d dispatched my minions to various stores to carry out tasks as I saw fit, my budget was minimal, and it’d be on me if I did a bad job with it. I wasn’t just planning out presents, I was doing the best cheap and cheerful dinner I could come up with. And then there had to be money left for wrapping paper, and the tree, and dinner, and dessert…

My sanity slowly started to slip after that. An hour at least in Barnes and Noble, more scouting out places in the Prudential I was considering for potential presents, more buying, and by lunchtime I was already starting to tweak. N, E, and Girlfriend held on strong, even as the Captain began to show the first signs of madness. Fast talking, repeating of plans, compulsive desire for chocolate, the whole shebang. In spite of it all, they were still willing to go down with the ship. Brave souls.

Safe to say the rest of the day went along the same thread. Once we made it to Downtown Crossing, it was easier to dispatch people to different places where I had a more definite idea of what to get, but there was still the dizzying notion that I was getting it all wrong. I wanted the best possible Christmas, not just for me, but for my sisters too. It’d also be the last Christmas we had with all of us living in the same house. It felt like the last thing that should be happening was the “Eh.” vibe I was getting off the whole thing. It’s Christmas, for Christ’s sake!

But from my shoestring budget I managed to drag forth a decent haul, content in the knowledge that it’d be only Phase One of the battle, and any mistakes I’d made would be fixed in Phase Two. In the same night there’d also be shopping, then baking the desserts (Revenge of the apple cinnamon cake, and a gluten free pumpkin pie for Dad.), and then getting through Christmas Eve so I could get up and make dinner on the big day.

Yeah. I know.

Then came today. My father kindly opened my door early this morning to wake me out of a sound sleep. The words “We need to talk.” took a full thirty seconds after they’d been spoken to sink into my subconsciousness. And then the flood of highly unwanted information began.

There was less money than we thought there’d be, so Phase Two was out. I’d also have the bare minimum budget for dinner, which meant downgrading any frivolous ideas I might’ve had (Alcohol? Snacks? Extra desserts? Don’t be silly! There will be none of that here.), and eviscerating any shot at a real tree, and all the other trappings of the day I would’ve liked to pull off.

Shopping for dinner has yet to be pulled off (It was Mom 2.0’s birthday today, so we were doing birthday type things, and ran out of time.), but I’ve already learned my lesson on several levels.

  • “There will never be a perfect budget.”
  • “A rough idea of what you’re doing is not enough.”
  • “A lot of ones in the cash pocket does not mean the end is near.”
  • “Caffeinate extensively.”
  • ” Three days and under two hundred dollars does not a full blown holiday make.”
  • “You saying that it does won’t make it true.”
  •  “Breathe more. Dumbass.”

Practically all life lessons, aren’t they?

But it’s halfway over, and I refuse to let myself get worked up over it any further. Something is better than nothing, and as I said, there’ll be multiple items for each family member to unwrap. There’ll also be a dinner (Pizza, breadsticks, salad, egg nog, apple cider.), and the aforementioned desserts. And as far as a tree, we do have a fake blue one in storage. Given the state of the living room however, we’ll probably have to put it on top of a box.

It’s better than having December 25th roll around, and it be just another day. No matter what’s happened, we’ve never done that before. And we won’t be doing it now, either. That’s an accomplishment. The feeling of doing everything and yet nothing aside, I’ll hold onto that.

The rest of this happy odyssey will go to the next post, but I have the money for dinner, so that much is going to work out. Provided that I’m granted the grace not to mess up the desserts. And there isn’t another random snafu.

And on that happy note…

Merry Christmas, everybody. May your last second shopping yield shiny beauties, and may your cooking come out so beautiful even Gordon Ramsay is forced to burst into tears.

Should you find yourself lucky enough to be doing nothing approaching this…

Shhhhh.

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The masochistic passion of the college student.

•December 20, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Both of my finals today came in one gigantic block. Eleven thirty to five, with a few blissful hours in between to eat and stare aimlessly at a computer screen in a futile effort to study for the monster that was coming next. This lasted for all of a half an hour, and then I veered off into Christmas planning (and it’s because of this that the next post come Thursday will likely be the Broke Ass post), and it all went downhill from there.

This happened just about every time I took a shot at studying for these tests. I knew most of the material, and I knew that I knew it. The rest of the blanks I attempted to fill in, and got the sense that I had to leave it at that. If I knew it, I knew it. Obsessing wasn’t going to get me anywhere. And the more I tried to cram, the more likely it’d be that I’d shove out something I’d need for later.

In short, I hardly studied.

This time, it’s not even a matter of asking; I know I’m not the only one who does this. At the second final I even listened to one guy giggle to his friends with a helpless sort of amusement about how he’d taken his political science final on three hours asleep, half awake and with what I imagine was a sting of drool dangling from the right corner of his mouth. There was another girl obsessively flipping flash cards that had one word on the sized, and an essay sized definition on the other. Others were joking (but not really) about ways that they could get out of the test; everything from breaking each other’s arms, to dead dogs, to sudden fits of insanity.

I got to my first final a few minutes before it started, so I didn’t hear anything like this happening then. But I’m sure there was something similar was going on there too.

What does make me curious is what drives us to this sense of “It’s all going to be just fine!” or “We’re all going to hell, but maybe a few more flash cards will save us!”. It’s either psychotic nihilism, or acute onset mental diarrhea. (By the way, one student offered up a joke (but not really) excuse that she couldn’t take the final, because she’d get anxiety induced diarrhea. There was a good laugh. A nice long one.) I’ve gone through both forms (Not the anxiety induced diarrhea, I promise.), it varies from year to year. This is not me being proud of not being properly studious, but I can’t help the curiosity, and that means being honest about me.

We’ve dealt with these classes all year, and we know what’s expected of us. In fact, P.L. (for Philosophy Lady) enjoyed quite thoroughly making it clear in the form of exam-esque study guides where we’d have to write small essays in order to answer each question offered, instead of just giving us the information straight out on the page. S.L. (Sixties Lady) also provided study guides, but with what’d actually be on the exams. There is no flying blind. Our eyes are free and clear.

So where’s the mental disconnect when these big tests come around?

Maybe we think there’s just no point in trying. Maybe we think that we slam all that information in our heads at the last minute, and through this forcible stockpiling of names and dates and craziness, then we’ll create a chemical reaction and develop an eidetic memory.

I don’t know, but while I cringe at myself, I can’t help but giggle at the pain of others. And maybe, just maybe, my giggles hold that strained note of nerves too.

Ah, college.

When synapses go bust.

•December 18, 2011 • 2 Comments

Thanks to The Gerbil Sensibility , I’ve been looking into ways to go about a mental reboot. My very old camera’s proven to be completely incompatible with my even older editing software when it comes time to capture, so that’s out for now. But there’s writing — the script I’ve been toying with off and on, the script I’m still sussing out the logistics of with K (a play about people trying to make a documentary that’s a true story, but not exactly), and the one or two  (three actually) things I’ve gotten up recently on Libboo — and that I can work on whenever I can manage to take the internal breath and make it happen.

But there’s that omnipresent and stupidly typical apathy that sinks in deep into the bones, and in an effort to make it go away, I’ve mounted a full on offensive. I people watch more than I did before (not like that, let’s not make this weird), picking out those patterns I talked about in the post below this one. It helps create characters, and it’s a great way to kill time on the morning commute. There’s lots of mannerisms you can store away for future reference, methods of interacting, the whole deal. And believe me, you see all types on the subway. Good, Bad, and Strange Unmentionables.

I’m reading more, and with the end of classes having finally come about, it’s purely things I want to read. And though Hunter S. Thompson’s Hell’s Angels has been excellent, and I’ve learned a bit more about the sneakiness of language among other things (For example, referring to a well known senator campaigning strongly against the Angels to the point of ridiculous persecution (even if a chunk of the fear behind it is well founded) as ‘the tap dancer’. Think about it.), it’s not having the same impact that books were having when I dared step out of the Young Adult section in fourth grade.

So I’ll be looking for challenges there too; stocking up on classics I should’ve hit on ages ago (some of them I own already and just haven’t read yet),  and trying to find things that’re over my head, or heavy enough to make a dent. Possibly a literal one. I haven’t yet checked out the tangible to intangible weight ratio thing as far as how important it is, so who’s to say. Not that I want to step into quantum physics, string theory, or any of the things discussed on The Big Bang Theory (I’ve been coerced into watching a lot of that lately), but I want to step out of my comfort zone. I’ll figure out what that means as I go along.

The only issue being that I do happen to have a stack of as yet unread books waiting with bated breath and quiet sobs to be cracked open. So there’s that too.

It’s really hard to type when you’re hanging your head in shame, just so we’re clear.

As of January, I want to work my way through The Essential 100 from top to bottom, even if I’ve already seen the movie. (I plead the fifth on how many of these I’ve actually seen, but I will say the number is greater than five. And no, it is not six.) Again, it’s about knowing your classics, and learning what all those people who were making history with what they did have to teach you. Also, a lot of what I haven’t seen I already knew of, and they were already jockeying for position on my ever growing Watch List. Which made me feel a bit better.

Then there’s all these New Year’s Resolutions from Filmmaker Magazine that’re going to require strain in all sorts of departments. And given my penchant for hiding while I try to forcibly throw myself out into even a shred of spotlight, maybe a heart attack or six. We’ll see.

While there’s that “Promises, promises!” snarky flavored undertone to the idea of making all this happen, I still want to make it clear; these are not actually New Year’s Resolutions. These’re steps that need to be taken, or at least need to be kicked off, so I can keep rolling down the proverbial path. There are a lot of aspects I’ll happily leave behind from when I was a kid, but that’s not one of them; the vocabulary, in all senses of a word, needs a sharp shove back in the right direction.

This means little things — games like Scrabble and chess going from passing interests to regularly played games on the Crackberry — to bigger things like the stuff mentioned above. It means trying out the typewriter my Mom recently gave me (my grandfather’s, a lovely blue Underwood, and looking at it makes me bouncy) as a way to disconnect from everything and just write. I want to feel as smart as I’m told I am, and actively moving in the direction of improving all those battered and decrepit areas of my head that make me twitch feels like the way to go.

Just knowing how to do something is never enough, you need to back it up. Having something raw and unused inside can turned unformed into malformed very quickly if you don’t make the concerted effort to give it that shape it deserves. I don’t mean just talent. I mean intelligence, or skills, or anything like that. Neglect can mean misuse, or it means you lose it all together.

Or maybe I should just shut up and listen to Dylan Moran.

Although I have to disagree on one part; my interiors have never been palatial, and Flamingos were never serving drinks. If I’d known I could’ve gotten away with that, I would’ve been all over a complete remodeling ages ago.

Amazing what we miss when we’re not paying attention, isn’t it?

But still, if it’ll stave off that insanity that so closely stalks the Almighty Silence headed my way, and may help that progression into whatever the next stage of my life will wind up being, then I’m all for it. Even if it winds up being for nothing. That desire to push the envelope is important, especially when you’d rather hold your position on the couch at all costs. Which, by the way, is where I sit currently at N’s house. And it’s such a nice couch, too.

Plus, I have to have some kind of game plan in mind. Otherwise I’ll be content to amuse myself with seasonally appropriate games and nothing more. Currently it’s going for the gift giving gold, even when I’m not actually shopping for me, I’m actually helping someone else out. I don’t know how this came about, but I wind up in a battle of wits the recipient of this yet to be found Perfect Gift isn’t even aware of.

You know the saying: In the jungle of the holidays, the Master Gift Giver is queen.

It’s always fun, and never stressful unless money’s getting down to the wire. But even then, it’s just another part of the challenge. Which is exactly why the other ways I get my fun need to be built upon. Regularly.

Any suggestions on the reading, by the way? I’ll take anything under consideration, just as long as it’s not a self help book. Your thoughts on the matter, as always, highly appreciated.

Until then, it’s time to play the Insomniac’s Game and not think about my oncoming double final this Tuesday so I can get some badly needed sleep.

Cross your fingers for me.

All the world’s a stage.

•December 17, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Whenever I’m working off a script, I see things (dialogue, actions, etc) exactly as I think they should be. I can hit play, and my internal silver screen lays it all out for me. It’s just a matter of making it real. What I’m looking for might be subject to change, but there’s always some goal in my head that I’m moving towards. Staying on book is, of course, a big deal. The words are there for a reason. The actions, however vague on the page, still work with the words to color the whole nature of the scene.

You can play with it once you’re in the moment, but at the heart of it all’s still the script. It’s where every film or play begins.

Sometimes I feel like life’s that way too.

Articulating this can sound awful, but it’s true: It’s not hard to see a situation play out like it’s part of that flick that’s always rolling in my head. People are people, they have free will up to a point, and I believe that. But there’s patterns to human behavior, and I’ve realized that I can call them sometimes a little better than I’d like. It tests just how much of what we do actually is us, and how much of it’s other people. Or genetics. Or any of the other three million and five variables out there in regards to how we work.

It’s not a matter of intelligence, or thinking I’m better than anyone else. I just see patterns. It helps me imagine situations I’ve never experienced, and write them down. It lets me see things from another person’s perspective, even when I absolutely don’t want to. (This has been happens a lot, and the side effect is preaching; I wind up telling others my general analysis of the whole thing, and why it’s important to try and look at this end, and blah blah blah… After all, if other people could see the patterns, wouldn’t things run more smoothly? Except it doesn’t work like that.) This breaks down in the face of my temper, sometimes completely. Human, but still.

It’s disconcerting. I get accusations of being ‘insightful’, and sometimes there’s nothing worse. If you call things as you see them, especially if you’re not properly diplomatic about it, the people you’re analyzing can hate you for it. There’s being abrasive enough (See what I did there?), and then there’s crossing the line. But staying behind it constantly can whittle down any sense of a filter until how it is, or how I think it is, comes out whether I want it to or not.

It really is just patterns, and sometimes I wish I didn’t see them. But then I don’t think I could write without them, so the perspective gained makes it necessary.

On a personal end that isn’t a shaky diatribe fraught with angst and woe, despite it being an excellent week movie-wise (Shame, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, all very much an excellent time. Tinker Tailor is easily the top of the heap though; beautiful imagery, excellent detail, and equally fantastic performances down the line.), it’s been a hellishly bad week on multiple levels, so I haven’t been keeping up my end of the bargain here.

I’m officially switching over updates from every day to every other, at least until after the holidays. I like doing this on a regular basis, so maybe a bit of a break in between will give me some room while I’m working my way through all this ridiculousness. While I’m still having the worst time conceptualizing moving into N’s house, I have to say I’m looking forward to it. The silence might drive me crazy when it comes, but there’ll be space to breathe.

At least that’s what I’m hoping for, anyway.

The divine secrets of the big bad sisterhood.

•December 11, 2011 • Leave a Comment

If you’re an oldest sister/brother, or oldest by proxy due to the biological oldest not being up to task for whatever reason, then you’re aware that what you do should be classified as an art form. I truly believe my responsibilities as an older sister prepared me for being a director. Not to mention the responsibilities of third parenthood, but that’s a whole other pile o’ problems, and that’s best left to therapy. Not for this post.

Being the oldest is not something that’s chosen, it’s something that’s chosen for you. You’re living the cushy life of Only Childom. Everything you do is cute, no matter how destructive. The time to let out your inner arsonist? It’s now. There will never be a brighter time than this. Possibly literally.

Of course, I did not know this at the time, because I was living out my first four years in this state of bliss. I had no concept of what was to come.

Then Mommy had a baby in her belly, and it all went downhill from there.

I can’t say I really remember what it was like when they brought E home from the hospital, but I do remember vaugely how tiny she was. In later years, this would make her perfect for storing in large boxes (space ships) to play, so I could watch Darkwing Duck in peace.

E and I got along well those first few years in spite of her incessant crying and my consistent efforts to pack her. And in spite of those aforemention efforts, I was already getting fiercely protective, driven by the Tao of Big Sisterhood: “She’s too small to take care of herself, you have to make sure nothing happens to her!”.

At the time, though, it sounded more like: “PROTECT THE PRINCESS OR THE CASTLE WILL FALL!”

By the way, our boxes? Frequently castles. Go figure.

This went on until the day E figured out that she could tug on my always there ponytail with all the baby strength she could muster, make me flip out, sob her little baby head off, and I’d get in trouble for it.

Not her, but me. Where’s the justice?!

No matter how many times this senseless act of baby violence was committed, I’d still get in trouble. And this has really set the stage for the rest of our lives, when I think about it; they may do whatever they please to me, and they may even get reprimanded for it sometimes. But if I should be stupid enough to spaz, fire and brimstone shall rain down upon my head.

It is this way to this day. And so it is, as far as I can tell, for Olders (and directors) around the world: If they screw up, it’s on you. No ifs, ands, buts, or castle boxes about it.

R coming along was a bit different. Though she and E were only two years apart, putting us at a six year age gap, we got along famously. She’d bounce in her crib, blonde curls and all, and I’d make up songs to sing for her that were just… Awful. But she loved them.

There was no hair pulling there, from what I remember. But I was just as protective of her, if not moreso, because she was the baby. That’s also still how it is today.

The Girls, as I call them even now, are both essentially adults now. After keeping a close watch on them both for the duration of all of our lives, it’s about time (past time, probably) to let go. I’m going to N’s, E is going off to live with her girlfriend, and R will be doing God knows what when she graduates this summer.

It’s unsettling, but I would like to let loose a few secrets, since I’m headed off into a more lax stage of big sisterhood, that I can pass on. Little siblings, there is a good chance your older siblings thought this or something like it. Parents of young kids, get ready for this state of mind, because it’s coming.

After all, while all kids are different, as they grow up there are still some pieces that are universal.

  1. We got it the first time: The intensity with which “PROTECT.” was driven into my skull made me terrified that I was going to somehow kill one of my sisters with so much as a well placed poke. It’s okay to run around with them once the Younger is old enough to do so. The odds of them ending up in a body cast are practically sixty/forty!
  2. We are learning as we go: Whether the Younger is in still in a stage of infancy, or about to get married (like R may be soon), just like parents, we have no idea what we’re doing. We are acting on one part instinct, and one part what we see other people doing. Some of this particular part may be taken from you, parents. You were warned.
  3. We threaten because we care: Younger siblings get into all manner of stupidity. If you’re a Younger, and you’ve had your life threatened by an Older, it is our kindest way of telling you to STOP before the tea kettle starts shrieking. And then explodes in your face. You were also warned.
  4. We call you a dumbass because we care: So even if we’re following you around in the street screaming “HEE HAW!” at the top of our lungs, live with it. An Older that cares and is kind enough to do this should not have to treat you with the same level of diplomacy an acquaintance would. We saw your dirty diapers. (Even the green ones. Dear God, what did you eat?!) We watched you throw up all over yourself. Your fragile ego can take a hit or two.
  5. We care, so don’t assume the negative words/sounds/gestures mean we don’t: If we tell you when we think you’re doing something stupid, it does not mean that you are stupid, it means this thing you are doing at this moment in time is stupid. Stupid.
  6. We never stop worrying: This is what I’ve learned recently. My sisters are going out into the world, each practicing their own levels of dumbassery. They are also both bright, talented, scrappy, and somehow also not dumbasses. But I will still worry they’re going to somehow trip and fall and hit rock bottom until the day I die. I’ll be going first, by the way. They’re not allowed to go before me.
  7. We will never actually let go: So for the last time… Live with it. Don’t make me break out the hee haw again.

This is, of course, just a few. Luckily, being an Older is not like Fight Club. Unless someone’s neglected to tell me something.

Any Olders who want to expand upon this, feel free. Youngers, feel just as free to make yourselves heard. My sisters and I were pretty rough and tumble growing up (still are), but I’m sure for brothers that’s a whole other chesnut. Not to mention that oh so volatile brother and sister mix.

But with my move now officially set for the first weekend of the new year, that’s been in the back of my mind recently.

They’re going to be okay, though. One way or the other. Even without me there steering them away from life’s little nuclear explosives in waiting.

I’m pretty sure I even mean that, too.

When Black Lung is near, and foreign memories are even nearer.

•December 10, 2011 • Leave a Comment

So I just unearthed years of my childhood and a metric ton of crap, and I’ve breathed in enough dust to give me serious concerns about Black Lung.

Ah, the joys of moving.

The closet in my room has accumulated vast bits and bobs and sentient dust bunnies, and in order to take the first step towards packing, I had to sift through the junk. I thought about photographing this process, but this Blackberry app has yet to experience a healthy love affair with media related objects, and I’ve decided some are just not meant to be. You can’t push these things!

First step was the clothes. Now, this may shock you if you’re a regular reader of this blog, but I’m not really a clothes girl. In fact, my wardrobe is something on par with Grace Hart’s in Miss Congeniality. (One of my favorite movies. Naturally.) I don’t own a lot by way of clothes.

So my family decided to be kind enough to use the empty space for me, filling it with all sorts of shirts and sweaters and pants, the kinds one would think only exists in myth.

I’m not kidding. I’ve seen enough would be sixties era drug trip quilt shirts, seafoam green, and brown that you would only find in the sewers of Derry where It resides (among other strange and terrible beasts), to last a lifetime.

But I dutifully went through it all, piles upon piles, and sorted the Utterly Horrifying from the More or Less Okay or Something. After bagging the former for donations and handing off the latter to the appropriate parties, most of which will probably also be donated, it was time for everything below it.

The biggest obstacle being this gigantic blue storage tub, accumulator of books and etc. I started sorting through, and it took all I had not to sit down and start reading some of the old series I used to be head over heels for (Fearless, for example, by Francine Pascal. Yes, the same woman responsible for Sweet Valley High. I wanted to be Gaia. And I remember distinctly being in love with Ed.), and press on with the task at hand.

There were journals (containing IRC exploits that were frighteningly soap like in nature, middle school/high school day to day, stories, poems, doodles, and pieces of Stickman Comics (my long running comic strip that actually made fans of friends in high school. No, I’m not kidding.), and other randomness), stuffed animals (one bear even resembles Big Bird’s bear Radar from Sesame Street), and things that’d clearly been stuffed in there ages ago in a valiant effort to ‘clean’ my room when I was a kid.

I was a grand practitioner of prestidigitation in those days, let me tell you.

It was unsettling sifting through all that, putting myself back in contact with The Me Who Was. I’m still a strong advocate for finding ways to take yourself down a few year type pegs (Not too many, naturally. Stripping down to your undies and running around just for kicks is not hysterical anymore, remember that. Or it is, but only until the cops show up.) but that was a version of myself that was dealing with budding teenage angst and all sorts of behavior.

The same behavior, of course, that I conveniently remember nothing about now. Except for when I was cracking jokes at my sisters over what they were doing.

One of the journals was also a version of me that was en route to a five year stretch of depression and anxiety that eventually culminated in a breakdown. And, shortly after that, leaving high school. Reading The Me Who Was at that particular point, knowing The Me Who Will Be, and being The Me Who Is… It’s like watching a horror movie you’ve already seen, and wanting to scream at the Dumb Blonde who’s about to get her throat slashed so she can go quick like a bunny off into the muscley arms of the Quarterback.

Although in this case, it would be the muscley arms of Sanity.

… Yeah. Let’s say that.

It’s all done now. I tossed the journals. The girl who was just stepping onto the hormone tilt-a-whirl and liked to live it up as Rei Kitsua (I know.) online is long gone, and so’s the girl who spent a fair amount of years not even being able to leave the house and go to school without getting sick as a dog, so it felt right. This whole thing is supposed to be about moving on, is it not?

Forced evolution, one way or the other. Better to leave those unfortunate souls where they lay, and try to get started on the next girl that’s should be heading down the production line.

Or woman, rather.

I’m glad my Philosophy in Feminism teacher doesn’t read this, I’d get beaten with The Feminine Mystique and everything ever written by Simone de Beauvoir for that one.

Shaaaaame.

Classing up the classless.

•December 6, 2011 • 2 Comments

For someone so intent on doing well, success makes me awkward.

It doesn’t matter if it’s writing, directing, stage manging, or how I happen to look that day. If something’s panned out just like it should, and I get complimented for it, I turn mumbly and avert my gaze from the poor schmuck trying to do me a kindness. Or I’m just sure that there’s something I could’ve done better. Or I just don’t believe it’s actually worked out for the best.

“The play was excellent, you should be so proud.” “Yeah, but if only that third to last line had been a little snappier…”

“It all ran so smoothly!” “DID YOU NOT SEE THAT BUNGLED LIGHTING CUE?!”

“You look really nice.” “… yeahthanksfine.”

And so on.

This gunshy state of mind annoys many, makes the rest pity, and annoys the crap out of me. And why shouldn’t it? I don’t want to sparkle to the point of sneezing pixie dust, but I am a believer in wanting to make everything as good as it could be. And possibly thensome. And maybe win a whole bunch of awards. And be remembered for the rest of forever.

… Just kidding. … But not really.

Okay, seriously. I don’t need to make a million dollars, or even a million and one. (Just a million and two will suit me fi– Sorry.) The idea has always been to end what I started not just satisfied, but happy. Story, play, film, whatever.

After that, the aim is to then do one better. Or to do what I haven’t done yet, and make it better. And if people are noticing, then you must’ve done something right, so you are doing better.

And in spite of how foreign that feels when it does happen, I do want to accept whatever good things come my way as a result of what I do with some dignity and grace. You know, class. Or ‘Class’, really, because just like there are issues and Issues, there will always be class and Class.

For example, the Golden Age of Hollywood? Lots of Class. Now, it’s a rare beast. And what the word actually means today is beyond me. It’s about as fluid as ‘cool’, though that one’s thrown around a hell of a lot more and to people who absolutely don’t deserve it.

We could probably dump that one on the hippies, couldn’t we? Silly hippies.

Anyway!

If a win makes me fail, then it means that grace I so strive for gets lost in the equation. All that jubilation from friends and family over a job well done (we’re not talking about how I look now, I’m not six and in need of a gold star, I promise) is squashed under exasperation and a general sense of irritation.

But aside from learning how to properly enjoy my wins, I wouldn’t even know how to begin classing it up for possible future success. What would’ve fit the bill before would likely be considered aloof or a joke now.

So what’s class these days? I read a magazine article that Patton Oswalt did in the ‘funny’ issue of Spin (you can actually catch it here), and he said that these days “No one will respect you until you willingly take yourself down a few pegs.”.

If that’s true (and I think it is), then this story makes sense; I was headed for graduation at NECCO, meaning my time with the theater group there was drawing to a close. The star of the post below this one, B.A. (Who, as I said, pities no fools.) was telling me at one point he was going to miss me.

“Out of all of them,” He said, without a hint of smirk or sneer, “You were one of the ones that had the most class.”

Did I spend all that time babbling away to tell you that someone once told me they thought I was classy? Ye– No. Of course not. (You’re silly like a hippie.)

But I was somehow floored when he said that, if only because I’d never viewed myself that way. And even though I loved the compliment, I didn’t believe him.

Now, really, I still don’t. But I do think with such a scary level of self importance these days that can spike off the Egomaniacal Chart (said the Blogger), it goes a very long way. No one wants you to tell them how awesome you are, they want you to show them. Then you can tell them how awesome you aren’t.

If I was going to even begin to describe true Class today, that’d be it. I doubt I’ll ever really achieve it, and I’m okay with that. Like coolness, consciously trying probably hurts your cause. But it’s something to keep in the back of your mind for future endeavors, isn’t it?

If you can do that, I promise, you can get back to the fart jokes in peace.

Jeez.

And now, after all that talk about class, I will continue to offer ample proof that I have none. But only because this is just lovely in all senses of the word, and I can’t resist sharing yet again, so I hope you’ll forgive me on this. For those of you following this Libboo Bounty saga I keep mentioning, where I won a contest and am en route to getting published… I’m published!

In Delirium Bloom, a collection of the five short stories that won Libboo’s monthly Bounty and features my piece Here and Now, is now up for a read on the site for free. Really, I’m just ecstatic to see it up.

Soon they’ll be selling it on Barnes and Noble and Amazon, but if you want to get a look, give a click. And then, of course, tell The World.

You know the one, you guys’re best buds on Facebook. Don’t think I don’t know.