This blog is a collection of a young woman's random thoughts, many tangents, and occasional
short stories and novel excerpts. Stay tuned for plenty of bull and brief moments of brilliance.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

My Kate Nash Obsession

One month now of being single and I feel much different than I did four weeks ago, and somehow oddly similar. Wow, that was a boring and contradictory sentence.

I feel different about the situation each day with good, bad, and the ugly sprinkled in. Some days, I wake up wondering why I should be wearing a smile on my face; I walk through the daylight hours zoned with a blank stare. Other days, I'm pissed as fuck at the world, a bit "snippy and short" as my lovely roommate put it the other night.

And then there are days like today when I feel the rays of sunshine tickle my toes and I wonder why I ever regretted being single, not alone, but single. I sit in my room on Pinterest/Hulu/Facebook blasting Kate Nash's "My Best Friend Is You" on repeat and pretending I have an epic British accent when I sing along. Her CD takes me through a full range of emotions I find beyond therapeutic. I'm going to list here some of my favorite lyrics from this record. But first, about things being therapeutic:

I posted my first Performing Autobiography piece recently and I said I would post the other two, but now I'm thinking I won't. The next one I'm doing is about losing my virginity and the "sex cupcake" pact I made with three of my friends. A bit too revealing for the interweb, wouldn't you say?

The last one I will write and perform is about a specific moment while in my sorority I wanted to quit but stuck it out after an intense breakdown. It's a positive piece in the end, but it does mention what sorority I'm in and I want to avoid that on this blog. I am proud to be in my chapter, but some amount of respect is expected/required even more so now that I hold a leadership position.

Anyways, the lyrics (property of Kate Nash...let's hope that new internet piracy bill doesn't go through or I'm fucked):
"Don't You Want To Share The Guilt?"
Sometimes, when I'm at a really noisy train station
One of the ones with the big, fat trains like King's Cross
I feel like putting down my bags and shouting things out
Because I've got something to say

"Mansion Song"
I fancy the hip rock 'n' roll scenester
I wanna be fucked and then rolled over
'Cause I'm an independent woman of the 21st century
No time for knits, I want sex and debauchery

"Later On"
And later on I'm crying my stupid eyes out
Later on I'm crying like a baby
And yeah, baby don't get so disappointed
I am not what you anticipated

And, my favorite song on the CD, "I Hate Seagulls"
I can't find the words to make it sound unique
But honestly you make me strong
I can't believe I've found someone this kind
I hope you carry on
'Cause you're so nice and I'm in love with you

When I hear that last song, it stings a bit, but then I remember it won't always hurt. It hurts less now, I have my friend back at the very least, and I still feel beautiful. I'm assuming that's all for which I can ask.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Former Hallmark Employee

Another Valentine's Day has come and gone, another year survived. Facebook blows up with adorable pictures and proclamations of loneliness and hatred for the day. Most couples don't care about it as much as those who are single and insist it's ridiculous, stupid, and manufactured love.

Funny how these people talk about something they despise so fucking much.

I myself have never had a Valentine's Day and this year was the same. I've never gotten a bouquet of red roses or a heart-shaped box of chocolates. I haven't gotten to do that cutesy stuff that's rather gag-worthy and reserved for a specific time of the year. On the 14th, five days after my birthday, I can feel a bit bitter and alone like other single people.

But hate Valentine's Day? Never.

I love the day even if I haven't gotten to partake in it's festivities to the fullest yet. I may feel numb and sad but not angry or thinking I'll never find love; I've found it before and I'll find it again. Do I wish I had someone with which to spend yesterday, especially yesterday night? Guilty. And yet in the end I'm a) used to being alone on V-Day and b) remember the excitement of the holiday at my old job.

I may have mentioned before I worked at a Hallmark and Variety store for three years, 15-18, and during school breaks practically worked full time. I would work most school nights and was given a lot of responsibility due to my work ethic regardless of my young age. I worked at the old-fashioned candy counter and was the "candy girl" (the girl after me was the "New Molly" which felt pretty awesome) and I had regular customers who knew my schedule.

Christmas time was always the most stressful, obviously, but what few realize is that Christmas products come in to the store in July and we are working with them for those next five months. Hey, we wouldn't need to get the stuff in so soon if we didn't have such a high demand. People complain about how quickly or slowly we get our products out either way, so I had to learn to calm down the little old ladies who wanted to know where the fuck that Snoopy ornament was located.

We got about a week lull period between Christmas and Valentine's Day. The best/busiest time for the latter season (and most entertaining) was two days before. Boyfriends, fiances, and husbands young and old would shop with their gals at Winkie's Hallmark and Variety Store. The females would bring merchandise up to the counter and tell me to lead her man toward these things when he couldn't figure out what to do.

For some reason, the women never had any faith in their significant others' decisions and expected insecurity. The men though would surprise me every time. The guy would bring up two or three cards and explain to me as he thought out loud why each card would mean a lot to his gal. He would search through the candy tirelessly, trying to decide what would please her the most.

At the checkout after about thirty minutes or so, the male would look me in the eye and ask pleadingly, "Do you think she'll like it? Would you like it?" I'd smile every time, "She'll love it." Rarely did I have to lead the man to certain items but the man rarely picked what the woman chose for herself. Were there women upset on Valentine's Day? Perhaps, but I never heard any complaints.

He would act nonchalant when his girl returned and grab his bag carelessly as though this whole love day was no biggie...but I knew better. His goal was to please her, yes, but a lot of love and consideration went into his choices even if they seemed silly out of context. I could see how much each man cared from teen to eighty year old.

The customers--usually the middle-aged women I'd known in town since I was five or so--would ask me constantly who my Valentine was that year. It stung to have to say there wasn't one, but the affection I saw in that store made me smile. My customers made me happy.

Even though I've always been alone on Valentine's Day, I try not to dwell on it for long. Deep down I know it'll happen eventually and I know it will mean the world to me when it does. Cards are very special to me as I explained before and I'm excited to get my first legit Valentine someday. Maybe next year, or maybe the next, but soon.

Valentine's Day isn't some silly Hallmark holiday and granted, I was payed for three years to say that shit, but it's true. We did make up a bunch of holidays (Secretary's Day, Sweetheart Day, Grandparents Day, etc.) but this one was simply very marketable. So next year when you buy a valentine for the one you love, remember that Hallmark employee wants you to find that perfect item. We love the holiday and the joy we get to bring to others.

Maybe I'll go visit Winkie's when I go back to Wisconsin over spring break.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Performing Autobiography Piece One

I'm in this class right now, Performing Autobiography, and we write two drafts of three pieces we perform for our class and then will perform one of them for an audience at the end of the semester. I'm feeling tentative about posting this because it's so personal, but I love the writing (humble...I know...) I did here and want to share it. I'll be writing two more pieces and they are much lighter and fun than this one. It's dark, I apologize! This is the second (i.e. final) draft of my first piece I'll be performing Tuesday. Wish me luck:

Cut. Breathe. Sigh. Release.

You know that feeling you get when your very soul is crawling, itching, aching? You need something, anything, a release. There’s that fire in the depths of your abdomen and the muscles clench, sweat drips down your skin, you can barely catch your breath as wave after wave of emotion and ecstasy crash into you. The saying of, “My mind was reeling,” could not be farther from the truth. My mind is running, running faster, taunting me every so often by pretending to slow down. Those memories and images flood my brain and I want to look to someone and ask if they can see what’s behind my eyes too. Sometimes, sometimes I wish I could just pour acid over that section of my memory. But I can’t. And then the guilt kicks in.

There are these things called flashbacks, though at the time I had no idea what the hell was happening to me. They’re normally associated with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), you know, that disease soldiers from Iraq frequently come home with. Flashbacks can happen years after the trauma and in my case at sixteen, three years after I finally cut ties with Abby following ten years of abuse. I don’t really like that word, abuse, it sounds weak, pathetic.

Start cutting strips of paper, slowly, absentmindedly.

Cuticle scissors are the most inefficient tool for your cuticles. But for thread, small pieces of paper, and opening letters, they’re the best thing. There’s something beautiful about them, especially my mom’s pair she kept in her drawer in her room. She didn’t notice they were missing though because, again, who uses fucking cuticle scissors anyways? God, they were so sharp, so exact, and so…perfect. Perfection. Perfecto. Perfectly perfect in every way.

You know what I hate? Those emo girls who slit their wrists and wear those armbands as though they hide the cuts, as though they’re fooling anyone into thinking they aren’t seeking attention. There are different kinds of cutting: there’s cutting being a symptom of underlying depression or anxiety, there’s cutting as a cry for help, there’s cutting because of body image issues, there’s cutting to feel something, etc. And then there’s me: cutting because you feel too much at once, too many foreign emotions that you need to feel one thing. Pain. Control. You need to feel those cathartic cuticle scissors slicing through your perfect porcelain skin.

***

It’s the night of my sophomore father/daughter dance for Divine Savior Holy Angels High School and I’m wearing this blue ball gown, the same one I’ll wear the next year for prom two weeks after my mom dies suddenly. As prom queen I win a gorgeous tiara I’ll take to college with me and wear on days I need to feel special. And today (put on crown) I would like to feel pretty if that’s okay with you. I need to feel special.

Anyways, back to the dress: it was thirty bucks off the sales rack at Boston Store and though it needed some adjustments, it makes me feel like a princess. It’s an A-line ball gown with beading on the chest and a halter top. I have to hike my dress up pretty high to even gain access to my upper thighs. You might be wondering, “Why upper thighs?” I wear a uniform skirt for school that can only go four inches above the knee. My upper thighs are the only place I can hide, and the only place I can hide my scars.

I love odd numbers and despise even ones and will do just about anything to avoid the latter. Now, when I cut, the highest before today I’ve ever gone was seven but tonight I’m feeling daring. I have to hurry though since my dad is waiting downstairs to leave for the dance. I love being with and hanging out with my dad since he’s usually at work.

My mom’s always around, at least for now, so what’s so special about time with her? Time with my dad is special, precious. Besides, how the hell am I supposed to know in a year and a half she’ll be dead? Then I’ll have actual shit to give a shit about, not some stupid fucking flashbacks I can’t figure out how to deal with.

Start placing 11 strips out in front of me.

Cutting, for me at least, is hard to explain. The closest thing I can compare it to is an orgasm. There’s that buildup with each and every cut. My heart beats a bit faster, it gets harder and harder to focus, the rush overtaking my senses. I feel dangerous and normal at the same time, so perfectly bad and wonderful. Insanity and ecstasy becoming one. Then my head gets a bit foggy and I worry someone will walk in and pull him off of me but I don’t give a damn. There’s that point of no return and I’ve past it. I’m in the zone now. My hands are shaky and my eyes glazing. I can’t help but let out a little a moan, a sigh, and whimper for more. More. I need more. Control. I need control. One single emotion. One single control.

I drop the cuticle scissors to the ground and lean back in the chair, pulling the skin around the cuts to make sure I won’t bleed but that they were deep enough to leave a scar. The red lines rise like idols to the gods, lifting their artificial selves higher to the heavens. I assess my work and I’m damn proud. The best part is yet to come: running my smooth, pale fingers up and down the swollen red lines. It shoots a zing through me from the ends of each strand of hair to the tips of my toes. Currents of electricity throb through my bones and I come down from my high, lulling me back to earth. That tranquility. That perfect, perfect control. God, it feels good.

***

I have this problem with guilt. I like to tell my friends I got “Catholic guilt” by association after going to an all-girls Catholic high school. I think that’s a lot easier to explain than the truth, which is so subjective and messy. Do you really want to know the truth?

Beat.

The truth is I still blame myself for what happened to me. I could have stopped being friend with Abby, spoken up about her cruelty, or at the very least grow the fuck up and get over it. I could stop being a whiney baby and suck it up, push it back down under the surface where it belongs. There’s this invisible weight on my chest and it makes it hard for me to see straight from the pressure. It’s guilt, this never ending guilt and shame for my childhood and my inability to handle it myself.

But when I carved my sorrows into my leg with amazing precision, I feel the pain I deserved. I don’t do it anymore, at least not as often; now it’s more like once every six months. I got the help I needed two months after that girl, that girl there finally lifted up her skirt and pointed.

Lift dress to show scars.

You see these? These are old scars; it was 23 times on each leg.

Beat.

I’m afraid of a lot of things but I think most of all, I’m afraid of myself.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Twenty One.

In three days I'll be 21, able to stay at the mall as late as I want and buy booze for everyone. I'll grab a couple drinks with people at the end of the week and then have my birthday bash this weekend. Friends are looking forward to my celebration (hopefully beyond the promise of alcohol) and smile at me before asking, "So, are you excited?!"

Meh.

I want to be excited. I know I should be excited. I'm trying to be excited. But I'm not. Maybe it's due to the fact I feel like I already turned 21 a year ago when in Europe. The initial glee of being able to buy a bottle of wine any time I wanted to had waned by the end of those five months abroad. Now it seems less of a novelty to buy my own alcohol.

It won't be my first drink, it won't be the first time I've gotten drunk, it won't be my first time at the bars, and it won't even be my first legal drink. Where's the spark in this? Where's the fun? Perhaps I'm expecting too much from this day and the buildup has lasted since I turned 18 three years ago. That's a lot of brewing anticipation, my friends.

Maybe it's the daunting realization of my life "really beginning" and having to enter the "real world" next year and how stupid I look right now using "air quotes continuously." I miss the carefree-ness of yesteryear and how much fun each birthday seemed to be through a child's eyes. I always wanted a blow-out birthday.

I've never had a super exciting milestone birthday. My 13th was at a Culver's following Jazz dance class. My 16th involved my friends coming over to watch Dodgeball and eating pizza. My 18th was ice skating in downtown Milwaukee. Now I have friends over to a friend's house to drink for a couple hours.

I don't know what it is I'm expecting exactly, but something special, out of the ordinary, something to make me feel special. Wanting to feel special makes me feel like a brat and a bother and I hate that more than anything. I feel out of it and in a daze right now, like I'm missing something just out of my reach. I have no idea what it is though which makes things a tad tricky.

Maybe it's that I'm not that happy right now and haven't been for a couple months. Winter break was lonely and miserable and the beginning of this semester hasn't exactly been a ray of sunshine either. I can't snap myself out of this and was hoping my birthday would be more than a distraction from all the stress and unrest in my life. I thought it would change things.

Alas that's not how the world works, I suppose, and the longer I expect happiness to fall in my lap the longer I'll feel like crap. You don't realize how happy you were until you're looking at it in retrospect...but then the next bout of happiness will be that much more powerful than the last I hope.

Here's to hoping my birthday won't be complete shit and I'll have some fun, or at the very least get insanely plastered to make up for it all.
^New Year's Eve. Two bottles of white wine in. Preview of weekend's festivities.