Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Why I need a nap today

Very often after a night of drinking, I will awake the next morning at some ungodly hour of dark o'clock. Usually I manage to get back to sleep after desperately chugging a glass of water or two, but this morning my eyes sprang open and stayed there. My body and my mind fought an epic battle, with my mind saying, "Hey, here I am! Wide awake!", while my body groaned, "No you're not; go back to sleep."

"Ha! Sleep is for suckers!" replied my mind gleefully. "Anyway, who needs sleep when you can thiiiiiink?" And suddenly, overwhelmed by a rush of happy chemicals, my body softened its stance, and said, "Well, ok. Maybe just this once..." And so I lay there smiling, body and mind, as the sky through the slats in the blinds warmed to a pale, morning gray. I didn't immediately realize why I was so happy; I had, after all, just awoken from a dream in which I realized that the food that I was eating was laced with shards of broken glass. (An idea which, it turns out, is just as stomach-turningly revolting in dream form as I imagine it would be in real life.) So then, what was it? And then suddenly it all came back to me:

Last night. Trivia. He was there. We played on separate teams, with our different sets of friends, with half-intentioned whispered promises to share answers, double agent-style. In the end, none of us came close to winning the whole thing, but my team did edge his out by one point, a fact I delighted in, and all thanks to--I don't want to say it--well, me, and the lucky fact that apparently I read a lot of books about baby animals as a kid. (What's the word for a baby swan?*) After the game, the rest of our respective teams scattered, and I joined him in a booth, he put his arm around me, I leaned my head against his shoulder, and we talked. He kissed me on the cheek. I tickled his back. Internet, he got my Ally McBeal reference. I'm still reeling. At the end of the night we shared our second good-night kiss so far, and, granted, it may have been the alcohol, but I was positively dizzy.

After a months-long winter slump, of dark, gray days spent not wanting to get out of bed, with no dating prospects, no distractions, and no social life to speak of, I am surprised by how good it feels to be excited about something again. And no, I'm not just talking about a someone, but about an everything. About possibilities. I'm making plans for next year, for my future, for myself, and I already feel a little less lost. I know what I want. I know what my goals are. I know how long it will take me to get there. Yeah, I wish I was already there, like, now, but I know that I will get there eventually. It won't even take that long, in the scheme of things. One year, two, and I am on my way.

Things are changing. I would never dare tempt fate and describe myself as happy, but for now, at least, I am smiling. It may be 35 degrees and raining out today, and the trees may not have yet started to bloom, but it is suddenly, without a doubt, once again spring.

*A cygnet, mutha wah wah!!!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Why Andy is dandy and liquor is awesome*

The last time I saw him I didn't recognize him. But when I ran into him again two nights later at trivia night, I definitely did. Really, Universe? I thought to myself. Well, ok!, and walked over to say hello. Though he had asked me for my number on Saturday night, there hadn't even been enough time in the interim for him to call. And now, suddenly, here he was again, and asking me if I had plans for the weekend. "Plans?" I said. "For next weekend? I don't think so..."

"I guess it is only Monday," he said. I nodded. "Is it too early to make plans?" he said.

"We can make plans," I said, smiling.

"Let's go out to dinner on Saturday, then," he said confidently. "8:00. I don't know if you have a place you like to go, but..."

"What did you have in mind?" I asked. And without hesitation he filled in the blank with my favorite restaurant here in Mythaca. (And also the former workplace of a certain ex-boyfriend, who lived here before I ever knew him a lifetime ago, though that is neither here nor there.) Well, I thought. No burrito joint first dates for this guy. I decided I liked him already.

Cut to five days later, and we met for a pre-dinner cocktail, followed by a change of venue and our tapas-style dinner, each with (mmm) our own flight of wine, and then we finished up with another cocktail (or three, depending) at our old favorite trivia night bar. But let's back up a bit. Let's start with the nervous conversation and the awkward pauses and the studious perusal of drink menus. "So," I said, drink finally in hand. "You do yoga." He nodded. "You like gin and tonics," (he laughed), "and you're twenty-seven. That's all I know about you."

"Well, you know more about me than that," he said.

"Hmm...I know you're a grad student, and I know you go to Cronell," I said. "But that's really it."

The short version is this: he studies philosophy. He's a vegetarian. His dad is a Presbyterian minister. He has two brothers, also with Biblical names, but he doesn't consider himself religious. He likes camping and hiking. We share an eerily similar taste in music. He is a very nice kisser.

"So, how many Netflix stars would you rate this date?" he asked jokingly at the end of the night.

"Well, I almost never give five stars," I said, and left it at that (though my non-verbal oral communication may perhaps have indicated otherwise).

Twenty-four hours later I sent him a text: It was fun hanging out with you last night. I had a good time. I give it a five out of five. :)

No plans for a second date yet, but tomorrow is trivia night, and you never know what might happen when you go out in Mythaca...

*With apologies to Mr. Nash

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Why sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name

On Saturday night I went out at the last minute with my roommate. We got to the bar at 11:30, and it was packed too tight to move, and everyone was drunk, and everyone was dancing, and the music was painfully loud, and it was just exactly the sort of scene that I usually hate. But then I saw a guy I had gone out with once during my brief and unsuccessful stint with Internet dating here. A short while after our first date I told him that, although he was a very nice guy, I wouldn't be able to see him again because I had actually started seeing someone else. (And we all know how well that turned out. Blargh.) Even though I hadn't initially been all that interested in him, suddenly from across the bar I noticed he was sporting an intriguing new mohawk, and, well, maybe I should be less picky, after all. And, no stranger to awkward barroom confrontations with former dates from the Internet--Well self, I thought, taking a deep breath, let's make this awkward. It was either that or--ugh--dance, after all. And so I marched on over, got up in his face, and said hi. With no spark of recognition forthcoming, I said (shouted), "We went out once!" Then I had to say (shout) it three more times. Internet, awkward does not begin describe it.

"Oh?" he said. "Umm...oh. Ohhhhhh, yeah." (Pining after me, clearly, all these months, the poor boy.) "You, um, changed your hair," he said, by way of excuse.

"Oh," I said, "yeah," because it was true. "But so did you," I pointed out, looking at his mohawk. "But I still recognized you." From just merely awkward to uncomfortably passive aggressive? Wow, I am a winner. Keep it up, self. Keep. It. Up. "Um, I'm Rachel," I mentioned. He nodded, but volunteered nothing. "And you're...Ryan?" I guessed.

"Mark. And now we're even," he smiled.

At this point a woman walked up and handed him a drink. She looked like she would continue walking, but he put his hand on her arm in a familiar way, and drew her back. Aaannnd he's here with someone. Well, that's just the icing on the awkward cake, isn't it there, self? I thought. I smiled and extricated myself as quickly as possible, with mutual promises to see each other "around."

"And maybe I'll recognize you next time!" he joked. Or, if I'm lucky you'll forget this conversation ever happened, I thought. I mean, sheesh.

I rejoined my friends, but soon found myself on the other end of the awkward equation, when a petite brunette flagged me down with a friendly hello. "Um...hi?" I said, squinting in the dim light. "Um...hmm...oh! Yeah! Hi!" I continued, her identity slowly dawning on me. Yes! Volunteer coordinator at the theater downtown! Right! "Yeah, hey! Did you, um, cut your hair?" I asked.

"Oh, yeah," she said, ruffling it up in the back. "I mean, sort of." And then it hit me: all this hair talk as conversational filler was nothing more than a convenient excuse for not recognizing someone out of context in a dimly lit bar: Ah, yes, I didn't recognize you at first because you, ah, look different. That's it! Did you cut your hair or something?

Not ten minutes later as I made my way across the dance floor, a hand reached out and grabbed me by the arm. "Rachel!" a voice said excitedly. I looked up. A smiling, bearded man was holding my arm and saying my name. Why is this smiling, bearded man holding my arm and saying my name? I wondered to myself.

"Yes?" I said, looking at him, and trying and failing to place his features. "Um...yes, that's me?"

My help me vibe must has been palpable, because, "From yoga!" he offered cheerfully.

"Ohhhh! Yes, right! And you're, umm...?"

"Andrew. It's been a while..."

"Right! Of course. Andrew. Yeah, it has been a while. Well it was good seeing you, Andrew. Maybe I'll see you at yoga sometime!"

Shaking my head in bafflement, I joined my friends again. Months of cloistered seclusion had left me utterly unprepared for this. So this is what happens when people go out! I thought. It's like, everyone I didn't know that I knew, all in the same room together. It's kind of weird. But then, that's Mythaca, I guess.

At this point, after I had my second or third gin and tonic, things started to get simultaneously a lot more fun and also a lot more weird. I even started dancing, a little, and Internet, you know how I feel about dancing. My roommate was dancing up a storm and so I mostly talked to a friend of hers--well, actually the boyfriend of a friend of hers. His girlfriend, who I've met, and who would be completely intimidating in her coolness if she wasn't simultaneously the sweetest person you might ever hope to meet, was out of town, and would be for several more weeks. I'd admired this couple from afar, without really knowing them, as being sort of the perfect couple. They'd been together forever, like five years, and they both just seemed really sweet and down to earth and seemingly oblivious of their rock star good looks. So it was slightly baffling to me as our conversation and our dancing progressed, this Perfect Boyfriend and I, and I found myself saying things like--

"Really? Like Lady Gaga, huh? You think?"

"No, no one's ever told me that before."

"Yeah, I am really tall."

"Like a model, huh? I guess so...Um, thanks."

"Oh, yeah, my haircut. You like it? Thanks!"

"No, actually, I don't get hit on all the time. Yeah, usually it's only guys who already are married. Or have girlfriends." (Ok, I didn't actually say that.)

I was flattered and yet confused and somewhat unsettled by the attention, and so I excused myself to the bar for a refill. Within seconds, Andrew (from yoga! duh!) appeared at my left elbow. We discovered we were both drinking gin and tonics, and he expounded on their excellence, which really was just preaching to the choir, as far as I was concerned. And the tanginess of the lime! he said. It's perfect!

"But, no," I said sadly, pointing to my naked drink. "No limes. They must be out. It's sacrilege, really."

"Really?" he said. "Because I've been getting limes all night." I gasped. Outrage! But he soon remedied the situation. He ordered a gin and tonic for himself, since I had already ordered mine. "With two limes," he told the bartender. My knight in shining Under Armour. (Just FYI, he was definitely not wearing Under Armour. But you know I can't let a good pun go by.) "Hey, would you want to maybe go out sometime?" he asked me. And how could I say no? He was my soul mate in citrus. And at least I know he'll never get scurvy.

"Sure!" I said, and gave him my phone number.

Back on the dance floor with my friends I commenced to have even more fun, while dancing with Perfect Boyfriend, whose hands I felt on my waist, and my roommate. Soon, though, the lights came on, and my roommate disappeared, and it was just Perfect Boyfriend and me. In my gin-soaked and happy state I found myself remarkably agreeable, and nodding along to any and all suggestions. Then I caught myself. Wait, I thought. Did I just agree to have him back to my place for another drink? That is so not at all what I want to do. Though, I'll be honest--a part of me did. Of course a part of me did. But the other part of me couldn't stop thinking about his lovely girlfriend and the fact that I had to be up in a few hours for work the next morning. It was not looking good. And then he gave me my out.

"Unless," he said, "you don't have any liquor at your house."

"Oh," I said. "Actually...no, we don't have any liquor at the house." (Lies.) "And," I said, before he could propose an alternate venue, "I have to get up early for work tomorrow." (True.) And so we hugged and said goodnight, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

In lieu of a conclusion, I'll leave you with a picture of The Haircut, otherwise known as "Nice If You Like Your Bangs To Look Like They've Been Attacked By A Roving Band Of Three-Year-Olds With Scissors." They're..."piecey?" They're...not really so bad? They'll...grow? Yes, I'm going with the last one.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Why the hits just don't stop coming

I spent the weekend in New York City with some friends. It was sort of a mixed bag, as far as NYC visits go. On the one hand, there was shopping, and dim sum, and the Whitney biennial, and a showing of Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet at the Rubin. On the other hand there were torrential downpours, and walking around the city with soaking wet, squelching feet for 48 hours straight, and finding my first gray hair while trying on clothes in the dressing room of the teeny-bopper store Forever Twenty-One. Internet, I could not make up such poetic irony if I tried. Although this does perhaps answer the age-old question of when does one become too old to shop at Forever Twenty-One? Duly noted, Universe. I get it. I am old. Can you please stop fucking with me now?

The weekend was also spent entirely in the company of an ever-rotating cast of couples. Now, I know I am single--believe me, I know--but I am not usually as painfully aware of it as I was this weekend. And by a couple (heh) days in, it had really started to wear heavy on me. In a moment alone with my friend, I initiated an unsuccessful heart-to-heart talk on the subject. "You know," I told her, attempting a spirit of confession and emotional honesty, "this weekend has actually been really hard for me. I was never not surrounded by couples, and I constantly felt like the fifth wheel. It's like...I had a vision of my future, and it wasn't good."

Now, I don't know what kind of reaction I was expecting; maybe some nodding, an "I understand," or "I'm sorry, I didn't know you felt that way," or even a quietly sympathetic "Hmm..." In any case, I certainly wasn't expecting a chirpy, "Good! Maybe now you'll be less picky!" If ever I was worried about receiving blind platitudes and baseless reassurance of my own self-worth, I apparently needn't have bothered; not with my supposed best friend there to keep me in check. My jaw dropped; I was speechless. Without anything to say in response, I changed the subject. Even now, two days later, I still don't have anything to say in response; only a swirling montage of images and sense memories and sound bites of every guy I've ever met that keep swimming 'round and 'round inside my head. In my defense, I can only offer as evidence the entirety of this blog; nearly three years' worth of dating disasters, of rejection, of heartache and regret. I wish pickiness was my only problem.
On the phone with my sister the next day, I recounted my weekend. But every time I paused for a reaction, there was only silence in response. "Um, hello?" I said.

"No, stop...drop it."


"Sorry, the dog was trying to eat nail clippers."

"Umm, yeah. So anyway, then she said, 'Good! Maybe now you'll be less picky!'"

"...No, I already had one."

"What? Bec!"

"Bobby was offering me a juice box, but I told him I already had one."

"Becca! You're not listening! You're not even paying attention to me!"

"You have part of my attention, but Bobby's trying to get the other part."

"But I'm trying to talk to you..."

"He doesn't even get home until 8:00..."

"You--you're one of them! You're just another couple person! Gah! Why did you even call me then, if you were just going to ignore me?"

"Bobby was in the bathroom. I thought I had at least half an hour." This was followed by ten seconds of gleeful cackling. Figures. The one reaction out of her the entire conversation and she was laughing at her own joke.

"Well then why don't you just call me when you're not so distracted."

"Ok, bye."

One of the travesties of modern technology is the death of the dial tone. With the advent of cell phones, now when someone hangs up on you, there is only silence. "Bye," I said, but there was no one on the other end. And I thought technology was supposed to make it easier for people to communicate. But with no one on the other end to hear, I realized I was talking to a palm-sized piece of plastic.

If this is a vision of my future, it isn't good.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Why men are from Mars, and actually, maybe they should have stayed there

The last time I wrote about my friend Pete-the-present-tease, he had just admitted to having found my blog. What I didn't mention was that he then spent the next hour trying to pry my hands from my ever-reddening face, as I rocked back in forth in a semi-catatonic state and wondered if one could actually die of embarrassment. A little bit of flattery goes a long way, however, and soon enough I was peering through my fingers and saying, "But, you like it? Really? And you really think I'm a good writer? Are you sure you're not just saying that to be nice? Yeah? Well...um, heeee...I mean, gosh. Thanks!" Then, somewhere in this roller coaster ride of emotions I for some reason suggested he write a guest post. This was clearly a brilliant, terrible, genius, very bad idea for a variety of reasons, and I'm not even sure why I suggested it in the first place, except that I thought it might be nice to get a bit of a male perspective around here, for a change. Surprisingly, he was immediately enthusiastic about the idea, and so we spent the next few days in a back-and-forth Facebook conversation/escalating cage match/Mars-Venus-style smackdown that ultimately didn't culminate in anything remotely resembling a guest post, because--what? The guy who taunted me with a non-existent Christmas present didn't follow through on something? Gasp!

And so, some six weeks after the fact, and no closer to a Pete-authored post, I decided to take matters into my own hands. Below you will find a transcript of our increasingly frustrated online conversation. Because Pete, you see, is a guy. And sometimes, well...sometimes guys are jerks. Or maybe not jerks, exactly. Just brutally honest in an actually-those-jeans-DO-make-your-butt-look-big kind of way. So, heartless bastard or hapless teller of the gods honest truth? I leave it to the Internet to decide.

Here he is in his very own words--my friend Pete:

January 17 at 9:50pm, from Pete
So after reading all the responses to your blog, largely for my own vanity, I've decided that my guest post needs to address people's inability to accept then deal with their own mediocrity. This is, in my opinion, the predominant reason WHY most of us never get what we want. I would of course focus mainly on women getting men, which seems to be the most popular subject you write about.

The responses left on your blog inspired me because they were all some derivative of 'you deserve better.' I couldn't find one response suggesting that you improve something. In short, I get fed up with how its politically incorrect to say anything other than 'you're perfect just the way you are.' I feel like 90% of people actually believe that garbage.

The only thing I worry about is that you'll take my post as a commentary on your life specifically. I assure you the first paragraph will explicitly put that suspicion to rest, in your mind and the reader's. And if that's not enough, you'll know I'm not speaking directly to you when I suggest that people lose weight. :) With that said, there will be parts that apply to everyone (including you and me)... that's the idea.

Approved or denied?

January 17 at 10:23pm, Rachel says:
"The responses left on your blog inspired me because they were all some derivative of 'you deserve better.' I couldn't find one response suggesting that you improve something."

Well, what would YOU suggest I improve upon then, Peter? Why don't we just start with that?

January 18 at 1:15am, Pete says:
If you're last message was sarcastic read no further, otherwise:

I'm not suggesting you change anything specific. I'm not saying your blog's followers should suggest you change anything specific. I'm not saying any member of society should suggest that any other mem
ber of society change anything specific. What I want to say in a guest post, is that IN GENERAL when someone comments that they're upset about not getting something they want in life we shouldn't say by default 'don't worry, you'll get it, you deserve it.' Doing so discourages self-improvement. Most people hear this throughout their entire life, and as a result have an inflated sense of self-worth and entitlement. I believe this is where most unhappiness comes from. If people at the very least accepted their "mediocrity" they would be much happier. I simply wanted to write a piece on how this has affected our society. Only an individual can decide what, if anything, they need to improve in a particular circumstance.

With that said, if you want me to write about you or have an incredibly painful off-the-record discussion where we go back-and-forth saying things we'd improve about the other person I'm happy to do so (actual
ly, I'm not sure I'd want to know) - but either way it would have nothing to do with the guest post I'm currently asking permission to write.

Approved or denied?

January 18 at 12:09pm, Rachel says:
So, so many things here.

a) There are mediocre people in the world. This is true. We see them every day. We know who they are. But. My friends are not mediocre. I am not mediocre. The people who read my blog are not mediocre. I like to think of my blog as a little community where, much like Lake Woebegone, we are all above average. If you want to disagree with me about this, fine. But I reserve the right to call you an asshole.

b) As far as having "an inflated sense of self-worth and entitlement": bullshit. I can't speak for most people here but I can speak for myself, since as the author of my blog I am often the target of a lot of virtual back-patting and "there there's" and "you deserve better's" that, as you claim, do more harm than good. There are only a couple of things that I know I do well. I write. I speak French. That's pretty much it. Inflated sense of self-worth? That's laughable, and if you've read my blog at all, as I assume you have, you would know that. If anything the opposite is true and I am often crippled with self-doubt and insecurities. And you know what? Sometimes it's nice to have a counter to all those voices in my head, and have actual real people say positive, encouraging things, because without them it's easy to get mired down in the negative. And if they say I "deserve" better, then so what? You want to tell me I don't? Go ahead. Tell me. But as a matter of fact, inflated sense of self-worth aside, I DO deserve better. And you know how I know is because EVERYONE deserves better than a guy who makes them feel like shit/a part-time job that's the best you can but still doesn't pay the bills/etc. So yeah, I do deserve better. Not as the "unique" being full of "special" qualities that is me, but as a PERSON.

c) You know what? Write it. Oh, they're going to lynch you, but it's your funeral. Metaphorically speaking, of course. My only stipulation is that I include my response to it after.

d) You keep saying that it's "not personal" and you're speaking "in general," but it IS personal. My blog=personal. (My PERSONAL blog which I never asked you nor gave you permission to read!) And you got this idea by reading about MY life and people's reactions to it. So if I'm a bit touchy, that is why.

e) Since you're "happy to do so," sure, what WOULD you have me improve upon, Pete? And be specific. The more painful the better. It's for my own good, right?

Ready set go. Write. Guest post away. I can't wait to read it, in a reserved, hesitant sort of way. It should be good for provoking discussion, in any case.

January 18 at 4:59pm, Pete says:
Rather than write out another lengthy defense, or try once more to put my words in a different order to convince you that I'M NOT TALKING ABOUT YOU, I'll do this:

You said, and I quote, "My friends are not mediocre. I am not mediocre... I do de
serve better." Copy just one quote from either of my last two messages where I say your friends are mediocre, you are mediocre, or that you don't deserve better. If you can find just one I will pay you $100, no joke. Go ahead, I'll wait.

How'd that go? :)

Good, now that we've put that misunderstanding to rest... I'll begin writing tonight. At least I know I'm on to something controversial. People love that shit.

PS I'd really like to have angry sex with you right now.

January 19 at 10:28am, Rachel says:
I hope you're getting a good workout from all that back-pedaling.

Anyway, not to split hairs, but the very idea of a generalization means that it applies to individuals within a population. Thus, your generalization that people have inflated egos while they are in fact mediocre and need to deal with it, if it doesn't apply to me, or my friends, or the people that read my blog, must mean either that it's not a very good generalization, or you're frantically back-tracking. Oh, I know, I know. It's not about ME. It's about OTHER PEOPLE. Whatever.

How's the writing going? Better than average, would you say? Or just mediocre? Sorry. Ahem.

And angry sex? First you get me all ticked off and then you have to go and say something sweet like that. Goddammit.

January 19 at 3:24pm, Pete says:
Do you even read my messages? Be honest.

Asking you to show me a quote where I said that you or your friends were mediocre or that you don't deserve better, after you commented as if I had made those assertions, is not back-pedaling. Back-pedaling is to retreat from a previous comment. I'm asking you to bring that previous comment to the forefront, where I will embrace it and apologize for it. In fact, it is literally the opposite of back-pedaling. But you haven't found a quote, have you? Because I never said anything of the sort. So why are we still having this discussion? Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!

Of course parts of my post would apply to you and/or one or more of your friends. From my first message: "With that said, there will be parts that APPLY to everyone (including you and me)... that's the idea." Any generalization of society must by definition have aspects that are relevant to the experience of many individuals. That doesn't mean those aspects were included for the purpose of critiquing or advising a specific individual. Have you ever read something that wasn't written directly to/for you, yet found that it resonated in your life? Isn't that part of the reason you have a blog? So that others can hear your thoughts and maybe in some sort of indirect way benefit by finding something that rings true in their experience?

I am definitely a mediocre writer, and somewhat ironically I blame this on teachers telling me so. If only they had said I was perfect it might have inspired me. Hmmm.

January 19 at 4:38pm
You said, and I quote, and I will quote it AGAIN: "The responses left on your blog inspired me because they were all some derivative of 'you deserve better.' I couldn't find one response suggesting that you improve something." If this isn't a commentary on my gross imperfection and basic failure as a human being then I don't know what is. I believe you owe me $100, please, Mr. Talky McLawyerspeak.

Anyway, let's not fight, baby.
And then it just sort of devolves from there and we both agree to disagree and he stops responding to my Facebook messages altogether, which doesn't annoy me at all, in case you were wondering. But! Did you see that, Internet? I defended you! I said you were all above average, and you know? I really do believe that. In fact, all you readers and commenters are about the least mediocre people I know. So there!

But, I am a little bit curious--What do you think about Pete's main premise, that the idea that platitudes like "You deserve better" are actually detrimental, and that we would all be better off if we were a little bit more critical of each other, and a little more accepting of our own "mediocrity?" I'm wondering if this isn't a straight-up gender thing, relating to the fact that men want to "fix" things while women prefer to talk about their problems, and aren't actually looking for more than some sympathetic nodding in response. Thoughts?

Oh, and the interest of full disclosure...I couldn't let you go on thinking that he didn't make good on his promise of a Christmas present, and judging him for it. When he came by a couple weeks ago, he actually brought me this:

A shiny pink somewhat cryptically inscribed sleep mask that he got from a Mardi Gras float?!

Aww, baby, you shouldn't have.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Why I may be sick, but at least I still have a healthy sense of melodrama

I am feeling fragile today, and easily broken. The sickness that started in my chest, then drifted up to my stuffed up cottonhead and melted out my nose, has finally settled in my left ear, leaving it feeling stopped up, deaf and useless, and full of something irritating yet invisible. A cupped hand out the window of a speeding car--a handful of caught air--is it something or nothing? But the ear, the ear...a trick of swollen tubes and air pressure and nothing, according to Google, to be too concerned about. And so I spent the morning talking too loudly, or perhaps too softly, trying to compensate, imploring my students to mumble their answers a bit more loudly, and cupping my hand futilely around my useless, wooden ear. Half of me feels like I am swimming underwater, and I fantasize about sticking sharp objects up there, just to relieve the pressure. 

I overreacted to a slight from a friend, congratulating myself on the careful wording of my accusatory e-mail, which I thought could be interpreted as half-jokey, though in an anguished, melodramatic sort of way. But with the first three words of his response--"Ouch, what gives?"--I realized that my tone was perhaps not as ambiguous as I had intended, and instead I was just that kid crying in the kindergarten room because no one will share the blocks with her, and her ear hurts. But still. I like blocks too, you know? And it would be nice to be invited to play, once in a while. 

A couple hours ago I blew my nose and something popped, hurt, and for a second I was breathless and hopeful. Was that it, was it better now? Was I fixed? A rushing sound, and then all I could hear was my own breathing. "Hello?" I said experimentally, in the middle of my empty kitchen. "Hello?" But it wasn't better. Now, instead of hearing sounds as if from underwater, my own voice echoed and rattled inside my head. I ate lunch to the sound of my own chewing, trapped inside a long, echoing hallway in my mind. I am always inside of my own head, perhaps too much, which is why I write, why I blog--a sharp instrument I use to relieve the pressure. I am used to living inside of my head, but at times, like now, it becomes almost too much to bear. And perhaps that's why my friend's slight, something I normally would have been able to brush off, became amplified out of proportion. Because I wanted, I needed to get out of my own head, even for one night, even for a few hours. But I didn't, and so the pressure builds. I sit alone, and all I can hear is my own breathing, and my own voice, my own insecurities amplified and reverberating against the inside of my skull. I am a prisoner of my own mind, scratching at the walls and screaming for someone to let me out, please, just get me out of here. "Hello?" I call out. "Hello?" There is a deep, rushing sound like the wind. But no one answers.