Thursday, December 23, 2010

Don't put me in another box

"I'm a Christian." I said. "Don't put me in another box." - Johnny Cash

Last Christmas day, I stood in front of Michelangelo's beautiful Pieta, with Mary holding Jesus' broken body, and on the other side of St. Peter's Basilica, there was a majestic wooden nativity scene showing Mary holding Jesus as a baby, and in between, there was this vast gap with no span of time at all, because in between the physical representations of His life and death, there was nothing but beauty. There lingered a sacred sense of holiness and awe that you didn't want to mess up by breathing too loudly or walking too hard. St. Peter's is the most beautiful cathedral I have ever seen. The dome goes up into heaven, and around that paramount sanctuary, there is this feeling that is so sacred, you can just feel the Spirit moving around like a whisper in a monastery. I'm always so hesitant to talk like that, because the last person I ever want to be mistaken for is some nut job false profit who is casting demons out of people on TV and telling you that you'll somehow acquire a yacht if you give all of your money to the TV church...But honest to God, I had this eery, life changing, sacred experience then, and I really felt like I had an encounter with God. Now, I believe that God is always there, and you don't have to look far to find Him; but I feel like there are only a few times in life that you can have a very sacred, intimate, almost physical encounter with God where reality sort of folds and bends and you're in a spiritual dimension.

I gave up that day.

I remember telling God that He could do whatever He wanted, because doing it all on my own didn't work, and I was so tired. I was so, so tired. I haven't rested since then. I haven't rested in almost three years; but I know that God isn't gone. I know that He is working. Even though my life is completely stagnant right now, and I have no plans, and all of the sandcastles that I've built have collapsed back into sand, I really do believe that God is doing something in my life, even though I can't see it and don't feel it and have nothing to look forward to. He's up to something, and I know it's good.

One difficult thing for me has been to wonder how God can use me when I'm so hot headed and stubborn and mad all the time, and when I have the mouth of a sailor and drink PBR right out of the can from time to time just because I'm rebellious, and I hate people telling me what to do. And then I realized that Peter, my favorite guy ever, who was a hot headed fisherman who walked around wanting to punch everyone in the face, was the one whom Jesus told, "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18), and Peter was crucified upside down and buried right there at St. Peter's. The guy who was the one who betrayed Jesus, who totally turned his back on him and lied about being his disciple to save his own butt; the guy who chopped off somebody's ear because he was so pissed off- this guy was the one whose body is buried under St. Peter's, the holiest, most beautiful place I've ever seen in my life.

All of this makes me think about my own life, and my struggles with anxiety, and depression, and body dysmorphia, and anger, and guilt, and pride, and selfishness, and disobedience, and telling God that I'm going to do it my way and He can just take a hike- this whole life that I've battled back and forth with since I was born sometimes makes me feel like I'm not really good enough, or holy enough, or whatever enough for God to use me. But my favorite guy, the one who really needed anger management, who really needed to do some weight training and cardio to burn off all of that pissed off energy, is someone that God used for thousands of years after his death for people like me to realize that God can even use a hot headed potty mouth like me and turn all of my crap into something beautiful if I'll just let Him do it.

This Christmas I will not be in Rome. I won't even be in L.A. I'll be right here, in Memphis, driving down 140 to the airport, going to work in a building that is full of broken multi-line office phones and ceramic plates that are chipped and a space heater that doesn't really let off any heat. And I'll be reading "Man in White," by Johnny Cash, my fellow hot head. My fellow Christian who wants to punch most people in the face and would rather sing songs in prison with the degenerates and slum dogs than deal with the hypocrites and "religious" people in the Southern community who are pious and Pharisaical and disgusting in their self righteous hypocrisy. There aren't many of us out there, especially in the buckle of the Bible belt where being good is better than being honest, who are stupid enough or desperate enough or broken enough to say we're really messed up and we aren't going to fake that we're holier than everyone else because we're the biggest sinners of them all but we're going to try really hard to do what's right, and to help people who are hurting, and to still call ourselves Christians, and to trust God in the middle of our stupid behavior for Him to pull us through and get us back on track.

I feel like God is teaching me that I don't have to be in Rome for Him to make an appearance at Christmas. I don't have to live in L.A. to feel like my life has promise. I don't have to be in graduate school to be successful. I don't have to be perfect to be beautiful. I don't have to beat myself up every time I want to punch someone's face. I just have to believe that God is who He says He is, and the rest will work itself out.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I am still living with your ghost
Lonely and dreaming of the west coast
I don't want to be your downtime
I don't want to be your stupid game

With my big black boots and an old suitcase
I do believe I'll find myself a new place
I don't want to be the bad guy
I don't want do your sleepwalk dance anymore
I just want to see some palm trees
I will try and shake away this disease

We can live beside the ocean
Leave the fire behind
Swim out past the breakers
Watch the world die

We can live beside the ocean
Leave the fire behind
Swim out past the breakers
Watch the world die

I am still dreaming of you face
Hungry and hollow for all the things you took away
I don't want to be your good time
I don't want to be your fall back crutch anymore

I'll walk right out into a brand new day
Insane and rising in my own weird way
I don't want to be the bad guy
I don't want to do your sleepwalk dance anymore
I just want to feel some sunshine
I just want to find some place to be alone

We can live beside the ocean
Leave the fire behind
Swim out past the breakers
Watch the world die

We can live beside the ocean
Leave the fire behind
Swim out past the breakers
Watch the world die

We can live beside the ocean
Leave the fire behind
Swim out past the breakers
Watch the world die

We can live beside the ocean
Leave the fire behind
Swim out past the breakers
Watch the world die

Yeah watch the world die

Sunday, December 19, 2010

If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

I found out today that my "professional" email address was not linked to my "casual" email address, so I've missed meetings from last September, missed important business memos, and assumed that people were irresponsible for not emailing me back. Well, they did email me back. They emailed me back and I was the irresponsible one, and that made me feel really terrible, and my stomach sort of sat in the bottom of my feet like a rock when I made this discovery.

I started my new job on Thursday, and apparently, I'm a bookkeeper, and it's pretty much a 100000% Excel job, and of course, I made an F on my Excel project in Computer Applications class in college, so I'm feeling a little overwhelmed. It will get easier, I know, but for now, I feel like crying. Crying and a can of PBR.

Last night I went to an event, and so that people won't know whose event it was, I won't say what kind of event I attended. I made the discovery that people in this town are just as rude as people in L.A., but I used to just think that people here were stupid. Well, it isn't that they are stupid. It's that they are really rude. They say things to try to be "cute" or "coy," and their rudeness is sometimes disguised in Southern gentleness, but when you're a see-through-the-crap kind of person like me, you throw the charm out the window and recognize that people are just plain old fashioned RUDE.

Bad things come in 3's, right?

Well 3 rude things happened.

#1- there was this guy in high school that I knew who was sort of drop-dead gorgeous, but he was a huge jerk, so his gorgeousness didn't disguise his crapiness. I always sort of hoped that a "Cops" situation would present itself so I'd have the chance to pin him on the ground and beat the crap out of him, but the chance never presented itself, so to this day, I've still never gotten in a fist fight, and hopefully, I won't, even though I sometimes think about how fulfilling that punch to his face would be. Anyway, back in his hunky days, he went to Ole Miss for college and became your typical frat-tastic party guy, who should've had a name like "Chaz," complete with boat shoes and that dumb sunglasses strap thing that people should only wear on ski dos, but of course, all of the Ole Miss guys wear them, or at least they did when I was in college.

God proved that He is just when He made "Chaz" lose his hair, get fat, and drop out of college due to his compulsive, irresponsible partying.

So, Chaz was the first person I saw last night, and he said,

"So, what have you been up to?"

to which I replied,

"I'm trying to get back into school."

to which he replied,

"Oh. You're trying to finish your bachelor's degree?"

And all of the crap that I remember about gender stereotyping in this town, like it's 1920, made me livid, and my face felt hot when I said,

"No, I've applied for my doctorate. I finished my bachelor's in 2006."

Stupid punk.

He said,

"So you've already got a bachelor's AND a master's? And now you're trying to get a Ph.D.? Boy, was I wrong about you."

And I wanted to say, "Well, I was dead-on about you, because all of you hunky high school bullies always wind up being the dead beat drop out football watching male chauvinists with your beer guts and receding hairlines."

But, much like God closed the lions' mouths when Daniel was hanging out in the lions' den, he closed my mouth, and I just smiled politely.

#2- of course, someone I knew who also knew my bf wanted to talk to me about his exes. This is so rude. Please, people of Memphis, stop being obsessed with the past. Show a little bit of courtesy. You're rude and ignorant, and you aren't cute when you compare me to all of the girls who came before me.

I dated a raging hoe bag in L.A., and of course, at the time, I didn't know he probably had some sort of sexual addiction, but despite that he'd probably had carnal relations with everyone on the West Side and most of Hollywood, nobody ever talked about it. And you want to know WHY? Because NOBODY CARED.

In conjunction with this,

a. the ex-obsessed person also wanted to talk negatively about one of my sisters, which REALLY hacked me off. If I want to talk crap about them or they want to talk crap about me, that's just fine, because we own those rights. You, rude person, might make me curb stomp you, "American History X" style, if you talk crap about my family.

#3 A person came up to me, with wide open arms, with a saccharine face full of excitement, and approached me for a bear hug, and called me my sister's name.


So that's that.

I know everyone is sick about me talking about Memphis and L.A. and all of that, so I'll get spiritual for half a second.

I read this yesterday:

"God may cause our circumstances to suddenly fall apart, which may bring the realization of our unfaithfulness to Him for not recognizing that He had ordained the situation. We never saw what He was trying to accomplish, and that exact event will never be repeated in our life. This is where the test of our faithfulness comes. If we will just learn to worship God even during the difficult circumstances, He will change them for the better very quickly if He so chooses."

I sort of felt like that was written just for me. It's funny how I felt like everything in L.A. fell apart and I had to move home with my tail tucked between my legs, just to find out that once I got home, life got way worse than it was in L.A. I also feel guilty a lot because I don't want to be known for my bad attitude or critical heart or acid mouth, and that's all I seem to be these days.

But you know who makes me feel better?

Johnny Cash.

Here's a blip about Cash from Wikipedia (the most credible source of all time, right?)

"Cash, a devout but troubled Christian,has been characterized as a "lens through which to view American contradictions and challenges."A Biblical scholar, he penned a Christian novel entitled Man in White, and he made a spoken word recording of the entire New King James Version of the New Testament. Even so, Cash declared that he was "the biggest sinner of them all", and viewed himself overall as a complicated and contradictory man."

Boy, do I know how you feel, Johnny.

It's funny how I can consider myself a Christian, and someone who truly wants to be a genuine person, but as soon as I go to a Memphis event with a bunch of ignorant people, I want to walk inside, Bushwacker-style, and start punting them into a corn field. Pretty sure Jesus never felt like that.

BTW, I ordered "Man in White" on for a dollar. I can't wait for it to come in the mail.

I have recently heard a few people tell me that they hate my blog, for various reasons. I have some advice for to you, gentle readers (as Anne Landers called you):

Don't read it.

If you hate it, stop reading it.

I was reading a book last week that got me so upset that I just tore my bookmark right out of its spine and threw it in the garbage can. I really did.

Please know that I don't write anything to change the world, or change your mind, or to upset you, or brainwash you. I don't even write for you anymore. I write for me. I started this thing to write for you, but now I write because it brings me the slightest bit of clarity. So if you don't like it, don't read it, and if you do like it, read it and understand my heart.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Estrogen Inundation

I got my hur did this morning. The whole white lady hair thing is sort of a funny idea, to me. We'll sit in a chair for three or four hours doing nothing and will pay 300 or 400 bucks to get a new 'do, and then go home and wash all of the crap out of it so we can do it ourselves. Anyway. I worked at a hair salon for a while in college, and the interplay between all of the stylists was fascinating. Everyone talked about each other behind everyone else's back. Everyone kissed the owner's butt. Everyone was having an affair with one of their clients, and you always knew who was having carnal relations with some gorgeous, Cary Grant, silver fox age man, because the guy always got a free haircut. It was unreal.

There was this one lady with whom I worked that I really liked, because she was colorful and expressive and had paid a small fortune in plastic surgery fees, and I liked her because it was clear that she was total white trash, and she embraced her white trashiness and never tried to be anything that she wasn't. I like people who embrace who they are and aren't fake. People like that are few and far between. Anyway, I liked her so much until I found out that I had been buffaloed by her, and she was a big fake. Then I sort of started to not like her, but never told anybody else, because I didn't want to group myself with the rest of the hen fest. Anyway, this white trash lady was really involved in church, and had to leave every Wednesday early so she could sing in the choir, and come to find out, the whole time, she was going buck wild with some married man, and then I'd hear stories from the other stylists about how the white trashy hyper religious one lost her panties at the Christmas party last year and all of that. It was sort of a disappointment when I found out that she was a legitimate home wrecker. It's one thing to know that someone is a little rough around the edges and they are completely honest about it. It's another thing to act religious or pious or moral and then be losing your panties in the community eggnog bowl at the holiday party. I really dislike hypocracy. But I guess everyone dislikes it.

So, today, I got my hur did, which I've only started doing since I moved back "home," because my dad said my hair looked too stripper-esque and I needed to have it done professionally. I hate sitting there for hours upon end while my color is processing, much like I hate watching TV, or other mind-numbing activities that don't involve any creativity or critical thinking, so today I brought a bunch of thank you notes and a book to read, and that helped the time pass.

When I first got to the salon, I was sitting in the waiting area because my stylist had not arrived yet. This was a mistake.

I wound up sitting next to the most OBNOXIOUS, STUPID, LOUD talking mom of all time. She probably weighed 100 lbs and had a pixie hair cut and was talking to another mom friend at the TOP OF HER VOICE on her phone about NOTHING. NOTHING, I tell you, except her dumb kids, and their dumb activities. I understand that people love talking about their kids. I get that. So do grandparents. They just love talking about other people. I can handle that, though. I think it's a sign of love when someone is bragging about their kids or grandkids, as obnoxious as it might be. But when you're so rude that you're loud talking ABOVE the sounds of horse powered hair driers and you have nothing but really stupid things to say, you might make me do something like this: (I would have uploaded the video, but for some reason, it isn't working).

Next, I had to get shampooed by this girl who was pretty, and she was really skinny and had big boobs and long dark hair, and she looked like she was about 27, but then I found out she was 23. She had this tattoo on the place on her hip where a love handle would be, if she had one, but she didn't, that said, "Heartless" in script. Then she started going on and on about how some guy in New York was in love with her and sent her flowers all the time and they met in Hollywood five years ago and he makes $30 an hour and wants to move to Memphis and marry her. I started to think that maybe being beautiful and having long dark hair and being skinny and having big boobs wasn't enough, when, at the end of the day, you brag about how "Heartless" you are and you're dumber than a box of monkey crap.

I started observing the interplay between all of the customers and stylists and I sort of wanted to run out the door and across town to Bass Pro, where men are simple and grunting and primitive, and they don't give a crap if your kid goes to the best school in town or if you got a new Louis Vouitton just for kicks or if your non-boyfriend who lives in NYC makes $30 an hour.

Women were pouring in the doors with foils all over their heads, with their hands loaded with shopping bags, and they'd gossip about how they hated their mothers or how so-and-so just got engaged or how they carpool all week. It was bizarre.

I felt like an alien.

I looked at my book and my thank you cards. My hair dresser said, "Don't pretend like you know how to read and write. You're too pretty to know how to do that." And it made me laugh that he sort of caught the irony of it all, how we, as women, might spend an entire half day and half our paycheck to be beautiful, stripping our hair of its color, or spending thousands of dollars to have our bodies mutilated under the knife or purging our brains out to lose just five more pounds. We do all of these things and I have no idea why, and if, in fact, you're a smart girl instead of a pretty girl, it really doesn't help you at all, and if you're pretty but not smart, you're only ahead until you're about 32, and then you're withered and "old," or if you're pretty and smart, people will assume you're stupid because you're pretty and probably won't hang in there long enough to know you're smart, and if you're not pretty and not smart, you're screwed.

So in all of this weird estrogen inundation, I hoped that maybe I could change the way I thought about my body and my hair and my skin, and maybe I could start appreciating that I'm healthy instead of thinking I have nappy hair and I'm too pale and have acne scars and my butt is too big and my boobs are too small. Maybe I could start thinking of myself as really blessed for being healthy and created in God's image and without any major problems. Maybe I could just be grateful.

Monday, December 13, 2010

This, so far, is my greatest accomplishment of the day:

It feels so good to have achieved a goal that I set out to accomplish. When I first moved home, I felt so exhausted and miserable and unsafe, somehow, that I lost sight of my long term goals. I forgot about last Christmas, in Rome, thinking to myself that it was time for me to move past L.A. and that stage of my life that had started to consume and mold me into someone I never thought I'd become. My personality started tarnishing, and you could see smudges of materialism and bitterness and underlying sadness if you looked hard enough. When I first moved home, I forgot about the big picture. I could only see what was right in front of me. Moving boxes and stacks of pictures that had never made it to albums and seashells from reflective days on the beach. So many little fractured pieces of things that never amounted to anything solid. I'm only just now getting to a point where I'm remembering who I used to be and all of the dreams I used to have.

I'd been home for a few weeks in August and had realized just how restles I was, how bored and sad and lonely I was, and my dad and I sat down and had a long talk while I was having one of my many meltdowns. He said, "Whatever happened to wanting to get a Ph.D.? Did you decide not to do it, or did you forget about it? Heck, you're a smart person. If you still want to do that, now is the time to go after it." It took that little prod of rememberance for me to get my life back on track and to suck up the self loathing and move forward.

I sold the remaining furniture that I owned and took a GRE prep class with the money. I took the GRE again and came up about 180 points, which wasn't quite enough, but was the best I could do. I had lunch with former employers and professors and colleagues and tried to reconnect the best I could.

Then the letters started to come.

Most of my letters of reference were sent directly to the schools to which I applied, so I didn't know what they said. But two of my former professors sent me copies of what they had written, and I started to remember who I was.

It's funny how you can live somewhere for a few years, or be in a relationship for a few years, or hang out with a clique for a few years, and totally forget who you are. Sometimes life really changes you. Sometimes you go through something that seems like it occurred by happenstance, but it became so much bigger than a chance meeting, and when you look in the mirror, you have no idea who you are anymore. That's a pretty scary thing.

Despite my disappointment about moving "home" and all of the crap that I always talk about, I've started to recognize some things, slowly, that I've been hanging onto desperately as they have whisped by in quiet moments. There's something so comforting and safe about a grassroots community. I had lunch with a lady last week who told me stories about when I was little, and it blew my mind that she not only remembered the details but also that she'd kept up with me my whole life. There's something beautiful about that. You don't find grassroots connections in Los Angeles like you find in a dive like Memphis. For the most part, I've resented running into painful memories since I've moved home, but recently, I've been able to shove a lot of that stuff aside or face it head on, and as the negativity has started to fade, I've started recognizing my cheerleaders. I've started to see people who want me to succeed and believe in my ability. That's been a very humbling process.

I just wrote a paragraph that was sort of passive aggressive, because I knew that the person who would read it would eventually talk to me about it, and it'd be easier to bring it up through public Blogging than in a private conversation between the two of us. But then I realized how cowardly it was and deleted it.

I keep ending my blogs abruptly. I think I used to be better about being a writer for entertainment's sake, but now I write to help me sort my mind out. I'm hoping that soon I'll get back to that wit, that little hint if hilarity that harps on details and idiosyncracies.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I got a Book

Today sucked.


I'm being dramatic.

The past week has been pretty cool. I house sat for a friend and had a lot of time to myself, which I liked, because I am a hermit, and my friend has this wonderfully accepting little weener dog named Jackson, and he made me feel appreciated.

It's a nice feeling when you open a door and little wagging hiney is sitting there to greet you. I never really had that feeling before. I got a cat from about 30 boyfriends ago who is mean as hell and bites me when she sees me. I love that mean old cat. But of course, she's real mean, so I never feel loved by her. But little Jackson made me feel loved.

This realization that I sucked up all of the love that a five pound weener dog gave me made me feel sort of lame. It's funny to me how cautiously I wager whether or not to accept human love, but how when an animal offers it, I suck it up like a sponge.

I felt like Jack Nicholson in "As Good as it Gets" when he played Verdell songs on the piano and fed him bacon. And he cried when his owner came back from the hospital and he had to give Verdell back to his owner. I'm not crying over Jackson, but I miss him and his little smiling dog face.


Today everything caught up with me.

I've been coping well. I've reframed from feeling regretful and stupid and sad about leaving L.A. I've been thinking, "You made the best decision you could at the time. You had a 50/50% shot, and you blew it. So what? It isn't like this ruined your life. It just changed its course. You'll get out of this place. You'll make it."

I've been reframing for a couple of weeks.

Then today, I took a dump on reframing.

All of a sudden (but maybe not all of a sudden at all), I felt like I was suffocating. I got so burned out on watching stupid, mind-rotting reality shows on TV. I got sick of Christmas commercialization and consumerism. I got sick of former relationships always glaring me in the face, refusing to be ignored. I got sick of feeling fat. I got sick of seasonal traffic. I got sick of being stagnant and empty and biding my time until my life starts. I just got sick of it all.

I had a pseudo meltdown at 9:00 p.m. and felt like I had to just GET OUT OF THERE, whatever it meant, and I started driving home, but didn't really want to drive back to my parents' house. I wanted to drive somewhere to stop and feel at peace. And I couldn't think of one single place. So I drove home.

I listened to some Neil Diamond on the drive home and cried my face off.

I felt a little better.


I got a book.

I got a book in the mail that my friend from L.A. made for my birthday. It was full of pictures of our adventures and vacations and road trips to Vegas and crazy men we met at bars and clubs and Hollywood high heels and memories and she wrote a story talking about everything that we did over that insane, dreamy two-year period that almost feels like it never happened.

I laughed and laughed so many times remembering really stupid or really funny things that we did. One Halloween, we were both single, so we put a posting on an online dating site trying to find dates for ourselves, and our reply address was, or something like that. I remember we got so many emails from fat, middle age, Persian, hairy men wearing gold chains trying to convince us of how sexy and delicious they were, and we'd stay up reading their responses laughing our faces off trying to figure out why more people didn't online date like we did.

There were pictures of us at house parties in Rome and clubs in Vegas and dives on Venice Beach and karaoke bars in Hollywood, and everything about my reframing evaporated into the air and flew away like turtle doves (Home Alone II, WHAT?!).

I went from feeling like I couldn't take ONE MORE SECOND of being bored off my face and lonely and stale to remembering every single thing that charged my life into insane, hilarious adventure. I remembered it and felt really happy to know that someone else remembered it, too.

This was the most thoughtful gift I've ever received, I think. I can't imagine the hours put into getting the pictures and story together.

It made me happy and appreciative and so sad all at the same time.

It's weird how you can be so unhappy at a place and your life, and unsure of yourself, and know that God is closing a door, and you step out in blind faith, trying to find something to stand on to change your circumstances...and then you find out you stepped in the wrong direction, crapped on your own dream, and realize that you made the wrong decision.

You know what, though?

Making the wrong choice has made me know that the wrong choice isn't unfixable. It isn't so bad that it's skewed everything else. In fact, it will probably even be OK.

This makes me feel better. Or maybe it wasn't the wrong decision at all. Maybe something incredible is about to happen, and it took me locked in purgatory for a while until the incredible thing could occur. I'm not really sure.

What's weird is that I don't think I could move back to L.A., because it's such a weird, surreal place. There's no reality ANYWHERE. That's part of what makes it beautiful and alluring and seductive. Eventually, though, you get sucked in, and you start believing the illusion, and it changes you. It sure as heck changed me.

So now, I'm sort of this dried up, former adventurist living in a place that looks upon anything against homogeneity in complete disgust and utter horror because this town is scared of integrating ANYTHING with what they cling to so tightly that feels safe.

I think I was sort of delusional before I moved home, and had this grandiose and unrealistic idea that I would either find my niche here or that SURELY (Don't call me Shirley) Memphis had changed into a better place, and if by chance it hadn't, I could change it myself. Joke's on me. Things are just as they have always been, but so much worse, because I have changed. I think I'm more different now than I ever have been. I called my best friend last night because I've felt so weird recently, and we talked about things like getting married and having kids and growing up and all of that, and one of the things I realized was that I think I get scared to make assumptions in life about big choices because I've drastically changed over the past two years, and before that, I drastically changed in college. I keep going through these crazy, milestone changes, and I wonder if I'll ever level out.

I kind of hope that I don't level out. It's nice to surprise myself, and I hate predictability.

On the flip side, I hope that I don't change so much and become so weird and eccentric like Howard Hughes that I scare off all of my best friends or romantic partners and family and wind up dying alone in first class on an over seas flight by my DAMN SELF, and someone discovers that I'm dead while we're over the Pacific Ocean, so the flight attendant just puts a navy blue blanket over my head and then starts using me as a coat rack so none of the other passengers freak out.

I have to do some work now.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

New Job Monday

I finally got a full time job. I start in two weeks.

I had two of the worst interviews of my life last week, but somehow I got a job offer out of one of them.

Interview scenario numero uno: It was my birthday and I woke up at the butt crack of dawn to drive to the hood to go to this interview. The last thing that I really wanted to do, of course, was wear my cheap crap suit on my birthday. I hate wearing a suit because it feels too stiff, and my suit is really cheap and it's starting to fray at the seams. I got it when I was 19 to wear to funerals, and now it's all beat up around all of the important parts (shoulders, hems, crotch), so it sort of looks like it could belong in Mick Jagger's closet, or the wardrobe rack of "Law and Order," or on a power suit (not lipstick) lesbian.

So I drive down to one of the worst neighborhoods in Memphis, right by the ever-so-classy "PONY" strip club, where there are these two huge, hot pink, concrete ponies on the roof, standing on their hind legs for full frontal exposure. I park my car outside of this nonprofit mental health facility and check in.

The place is way more beat up than any V.A. hospital I've ever seen, with scuffs and holes in the walls and carpet that smells like Cheetos and is all buckled at the seams. Everyone looked disheveled and confused, like they weren't supposed to go to work that day, or they showed up at the wrong site.

I waited for over half an hour to meet with the lady who was interviewing me. I hate waiting.

I went to her office and had to dodge piles of crap to sit in a chair. There's nothing I hate more than a fire hazardous office. There were huge stacks of manila folders everywhere with client names in full view. Everybody in the helping professions knows to hide your client's files. Confidentiality 101.

During the course of this interview from hell, the director kept running out of her office to break up some sort of fight that was going on in the parking lot, where this lady kept having psychotic episodes and assaulting a kid.

My interview ended with the director making an emergency call to the po-lice.

Happy birthday, RSH!

I decided not to further pursue working in this house of mayhem.

Thanksgiving happened. It was stressful. All of that family time gives me inordinate stomach ulcers. I think that having a bunch of siblings in their mid to late 20's all hanging out and sort of playing out their childhood dynamics is somewhat bizarre, and it's uncomfortable that none of us really act our biological ages when we're together. There's a definite pecking order that makes us all tense and angry. We have fun, too. It's not like we all sit around plotting to kill each other. But it's exhausting. I think we're at a point where we all need to redefine what it means to be an adult family. I didn't recognize the magnitude of this until I moved back from L.A. I didn't know I'd have to brace myself for it, so it hit me like a lead boot to the face, and now I'm sort of picking up all of the shattered pieces and trying to glue them together, figuring out who my family is and where I fit.

Now. Interview numero dos.

The second interview I had was on Monday, and I had to wear the old frayed crap suit again, and for some reason, I was a total wreck. I think the post-Thanksgiving stress and exhaustion sort of stole my brain and personality away. I acted SO WEIRD during this interview. There's no way I would have hired me if I had been the interviewer.

I basically sat there with a blank stare for an hour, and when the boss would glance over my resume and say something complimentary, like, "I can tell you're very smart, based on your education and experience," I would say something TOTALLY AWKWARD, like, "Go oooooon...." Which I did. No lie. I really told him to "Go on."

Then he asked me about what I knew about his company. This is what I said.

"I really have no idea what you do. Maybe you should just tell me."

It's like I was socially retarded the entire time. I acted weird and spacey and was having trouble focusing. And then he offered me the job.

I can't wait to be able to GO SOMEWHERE every day. I don't know how people have these "stay at home" types of jobs...stay-at-home mom or dad or employee. I hate not going anywhere. I hate sitting around and not doing anything.

I'm finally getting used to having a slower life. I don't know if that's a good or bad thing. It's been hard to hang in there since I moved home. I went from driving around the bends of Mulholland Drive at nighttime and looking over the whole city of Los Angeles and feeling like each little light below symbolized an exciting opportunity to moving back to Memphis and feeling like my life got incredibly small overnight.

I went to a baby shower a few weeks ago where I was promptly bombarded by a room full of women (I hate single sex functions. That's why I always lived in a coed dorm, could never sell out to the whole sorority thing, and always went on a date during "Girl's Night." Too much of one gender gets far too unbalanced.) who asked me about this guy that I broke up with SIX YEARS AGO. I felt like my life shrunk. I felt like I went from sighting the Kardashians in Venice to people hanging on to lame ass crap like who I dated six years ago and asking "Whatever happened to you two? You seemed so happy!" How depressing.

I've been better about reframing, though. I had a birthday get together last weekend, and I couldn't get over how many people came. So many people showed up. New friends and friends from middle school and friends from out of town. I saw how many people loved me and have left a dent in my life, and I realized how much support I DO have, outside of the people who have tiny lives or no lives who live to plan the next wedding shower.

I'm house sitting and it's nice to be in a different environment.

That's all I've got. I haven't been writing much because nothing interesting has happened in a long time. I'm hoping that my life is going to pick up a little bit with this new job.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

New Paint

Things have picked up this past week, and I feel great about it.

I secured a contract job at U of M and feel SO MUCH happier than I have been since I moved home. I’ve regretted moving home since Day 1, but now that I’ve had a little bit of activity, I don’t feel near as much of a Debbie Downer. I still get choked up when I hear “Hotel California” or watch those stupid Kardashian whores, but at least now, I’m not bored and feeling stagnant and empty.

I love working- and I love having meetings and sending 30 billion emails a day and having to drive to work. I actually got to teach a graduate class last night, too, which was awesome, and made me feel sort of school-marmish and empowered at the same time. I want to start a movement in Memphis, though- one where we can wear jeans or jorts and Chuck Taylors and bikini tops and t-shirts to work. This town needs to fast forward about 60 years and become more progressive and less uptight about stupid crap. Maybe the number one appealing factor I think of when I consider working for myself is the ability to wear WHATEVER THE CRAP I WANT. This whole pantyhose crock is for the birds.

I’m sending two of my three doctorate aps out next week, which will be a relief and will give me a sense of accomplishment. I don’t think my chances of getting into either of the schools is that great, but whatever, it’ll be done and done.

Ugh, stupid Blanket!

We have this cat named Peaches or Pumpkin or something, but I call her Blanket in honor of the late MJ’s son, and she looks just like our former major, Jim Rout, in the face.

Anyway, Blanket is super codependent and needy, and she’s always sitting at my feet, starting at me like a pervert, or she jumps up on my desk and starts piously stomping around on my keyboard, and she always knocks over glasses of water so she can lick ‘em up like she was raised in a barn.

Right now I’m eating a bag of popcorn because we have no groceries. I sure hate that. I hate it when (Fightclub) we have a house full of condiments and no food. You open the refrigerator door to see gallons of mayo and relish, but there isn’t one dang thing to eat. These are the things I miss a lot about being poor as crap and having my own budget and household. I always had a system. I’d go to the grocery store once a week and always have SOMETHING to eat, even if it was mediocre and stupid, so I wouldn’t wind up like Karen Carpenter. I miss Trader Joe’s. They always had really good meal ideas. I miss the silence, too. My place was always silent. Right now we have propaganda news programs at MAXIMUM volume blaring through the house, with crazed, sensational messages delivered in Y2K style about canning your own vegetables or something.

I’m going to paint my bathroom soon. I went to Home Depot today and picked out a good color. I’ve always loved painting. It’s a fresh start. There’s something cleansing about starting over.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Crazies at Rum Boogie

The GRE handed my butt to me, but at least it's over, and now I can sell of those stupid study materials on Craigslist to a lady named Channelle. True. I really am doing that. Two N's, two L's.

Blake, the TOMS shoes guy, came to Memphis yesterday and gave a talk at U of M. I was sort of surprised at my own reaction. He went to my church in L.A., and he lived in a nearby neighborhood, so I'd see him around from time to time, but I never met him. Anyway, seeing him in Memphis was sort of a comforting thing, because it made L.A. feel a little closer. On the flip side, every time he'd mention Venice or the L.A. Times, I wanted to cry my face off. I often mislabel myself as someone who is not overly emotional; but like I just said, that's a mislabel. I'm not that emotionally RESPONSIVE, typically, but I'm emotional as all get out, and I hate it. Someone could yell and scream at me for an hour and I could blank stare them with no reaction or just walk out the door and never say one word, but I'd internalize that crap for months.

I had an eye opening conversation with a dear friend yesterday who suggested that I have ADHD. I have been accused of this disorder for many years, but testing has proved otherwise. Then my friend started telling me about this book that he read about how people with ADHD (note that I am saying ADHD instead of ADD because ADD is a phased out diagnosis, even though nobody knows that---please refer to the most current DSM-IV) are often instigators and like to be engaged because they constantly need some sort of stimuli. And then I started connecting all of the dots about how the happiest time of my life was when I was working 40 hours a week, taking 9 hours of grad classes, serial dating, and having a raging social life. That's when I was really, really, really happy. And I wonder if it's all attributed to me just needing a ton of stimuli to feel satisfied. Things to ponder.

I think I'd like to start going to more philanthropic or entrepreneurial events, though they are few and far between in this town. Another reason I miss L.A. so much. There were always people available to teach you things. It's hard to seek those things out here because the resources just aren't available. But I'm finding them slowly.

I'm finishing up my Ph.D. applications and feeling pretty solid about them, despite my sub par GRE scores. It's been sort of nostalgic to go back to my old essays for my master's applications and see how far I've come since I started out. It's also helped remind me why I was passionate about the helping professions in the first place.

I attended a fundraiser the other night that made me feel like a ghost. I stole that line from my best guy friend who said he went home recently and felt like a ghost the whole time that he was there. I liked that illustration. I feel like a ghost a lot, and I felt REALLY ghosty the other night, like I wasn't really there the whole time, or maybe I was, and people didn't see me, or maybe they saw me but I didn't see them because I was trapped in another dimension. BTW, I don't believe in ghosts. But they make good illustrations. So I was at this function, feeling like a ghost, and then once I got into the car afterward, I had a meltdown and cried, and I think it was because my body had internalized the GRE so much that I needed several days to purge the stress, and one of those purging activities was crying. So we ventured downtown and listened to some blues music. And you know what? It helped a lot.

Despite my abhorrence for most of what Memphis has to offer, there are one or two things here that are sort of sacred. I remember I used to go to church with this lady who was such a hippie. I mean, she was like, a real, legit, pie-in-the-sky hippie from the South Bay. And she and I met, and she asked where I was from, and I said Memphis, sort of grimacing at the thought, because I had visited recently and was so happy to not be living there (here) anymore. And she said to me, "You don't like Memphis? I went to Memphis once. I walked down Beale Street, and I could feel its soul. Soul was oozing out of the bricks and mortar and streets, and I could feel it all around me." And even though I was pretty sure she was blazed out on grass, I also thought that was a really cool way to think of this town, despite its overt suburban conventionalism. So when we were downtown listening to blues music, it took me to this sort of surreal place where I could think about things outside of myself, and I could just be quiet and listen, and I liked it a lot.

And now I will tell you about the crazy people. The nicest crazy people ever, but crazy nontheless.

My bf and I were looking for a place to sit, because Rum Boogie Cafe was pretty crowded, and this crazy man and his wife said that we could sit at their table.

The crazy man had wild gray hair and a big gap in his front teeth. He was wearing a Harley jacket and had a gold chain necklace on with a big freaking gold eagle hanging from it. He was wearing gold rings on most of his fingers. His wife was dressed like a mom, and her ears were pierced twice (I hate that. No offense to anyone who has the double holes. I have lots of holes in my ears, but not consecutively. Wait. I do have some consecutive holes, but they're at the top, so they don't have the Jessie from Saved by the Bell look to them.) and she had gold rings on every finger except for her thumbs. She had a Brighton purse. It was fugly.

They were probably in their mid-50's, and they started telling us all about how they drove their camper down to Florida and it was in the 30's the whole time and they froze to death, but they parked down by the beach and the sunset was beautiful. Then the crazy man told us about how he was washing his truck and he was standing on the running board and his trailer was hitched onto the truck, and he was trying to wash the roof, but he called it the RUFF, and then he slipped and fell and busted his head open. Then he told us that his brother grew so fast in high school that his joints couldn't support his weight, so he had to walk around on crutches for a couple of years until his hips could keep him from killing himself. Then he told us he was a mechanic at Ford Motor Company. Not just Ford. But Ford Motor Company. Then he told us that he and his wife go to a dive bar in Kansas City, MO, every Wednesday night, to hear a band called "TUF," or Trample Under Foot, and all three of the musicians are siblings, and they are all left handed. And their waitress is the best waitress in the world, and she is smart, attentive, likes people, and is very pleasant, and she was just BORN to be a waitress, I tell you. And then the mom told us that she never went to college, but if she had gone, she would have become a psychologist. She was an antique dealer. Her grandsons are very tall and will both be pro athletes.

I loved the crazy people. I LOVED them.

Then we shook hands, and they left, and I realized we never even got their names, just like when you're on an airplane with someone and you know their life story, but then they leave, and you never see them again. Or you exchange numbers and the guy wears a suit and drives up in a BMW from 40 miles away to take you to the Cheesecake Factory for lunch. It could go either way.

So that was nice.

That's all I've got. Suddenly I feel like sleeping.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Barbie Burning

I had a great day last week where I got to visit LeBonheur hospital downtown and browse the halls with a lady who worked there. Now, I constantly boast about my inability to exude any type of maternal ANYTHING, so what happened last week was surprising. We were in this play room with a little boy who had tubes hanging out of his nose and he was all banged up in the face, with stitches and wraps and bandages all over his eyes and cheeks. He had a big black eye and looked like he'd been in a bad wreck or something. Now, some people can't handle blood and gore that well, but I'm the first in line for the "Saw" movies or a real gory haunted house, so the blood didn't bother me.. But seeing a little kid all beat up looking bothered me. It sort of hurt me.

I guess he looked worse than he felt, because he was flying ALL OVER THE ROOM in a Spiderman outfit, bossing me around and telling me to eat a big stack of fake plastic donuts. So here I am, fake eating donuts and making pig chomping noises, and then I had to leave with the lady who was walking me around (sorry for ending a sentence with a preposition). So I'm walking out the door, putting my "donuts" on a little yellow kid-sized table, focused on completing the rest of the tour, and the kid flies up to me out of nowhere and hugged me, with his little hands around my butt. And it made me sort of want to cry. Even though I don't have that weird, maternal, "let's all sit around and tell breastfeeding stories" thing going on, I felt sort of complete or something when that little sick Spiderman kid hugged me. I wasn't thinking about the tubes in his nose or getting his spooky body fluids on me and I wasn't thinking about not having a job and wishing I'd never left LA and feeling like my life is a wreck. I didn't think about one single thing. I just received a hug from a sick kid, and I hope I hugged him back.

Other good things: I went to New Orleans with my bee eff over the weekend, and it felt like a flu shot for my quarter life crisis. It was so good to be away. It's weird that I'm not from there and have never lived there, but I always feel like I'm home there. It always feels right. I got to spend a lot of time with my family and I got to sleep in and be a big lazy pig. I also got to party with some politicians, but as to not put in myself in a position to be sued by anyone in office down there, I'll leave it at that. But I'll say that certain elected officials love to smoke cigars and do the "Thriller" dance.

What else. I wanted to write a bunch of stuff about our trip to NOLA and how my cousin scored free tickets to the Saints/Steelers game (my first NFL game!), but my brain feels sort of gray. I've been studying for this dang test so much that when people talk, I can only imagine things like, "y=mx+b" in my mind. I haven't been a very good listener recently.

Today I was so burned out from studying all of this crap that I took a couple hours out of the day to make a big pot of chicken and sausage gumbo. Nothing is better than a really homey gumbo when the weather sucks and its raining its face off.

My insomnia is back. I think it's because test day is near, and when I have pressure or stress of any kind lingering around, I usually can't sleep. So. Let me tell you about the creepy non-sleeping event of last night.

It was about 2:00 a.m. and I decided that I was sick of trying to sleep organically and thought I'd pop me a melatonin (those things work like a champ, BTW.). So. I take one, and decide I'm freezing to death, so I turn on the heat, and in about 3 minutes, I'm passed out, drooling like a beauty queen. I can smell that carcinogenic heater smell in my REM cycle. So then I start having this dream that I'm holding a Barbie doll over a fire, and I can smell her polyurethane hair curling up, and her face melting off, and it was like something from a horror movie, and I woke up, sweaty and scared. It was weird. When I was awake again, though, I was thinking about how smart humans are, in a way. What made my brain think of a melting Barbie when I smelled that heater smell? Pretty amazing associations, if you ax me.

In a fruitless attempt to avoid burnout, I've been watching classics on Netflix in small increments in between studying. I watched "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" for about three days. There was this part where Richard Burton tells this young punk kid, "There's quicksand here and you'll be dragged down before you know it." and when the kid gets all punky with him and tries to tell him to shut up, Burton says, "...but I'm trying to give you a survival kit. Do you hear me?" I thought that was so cool. The analogy of a place feeling like quicksand and then defending the analogy with calling it a survival kit. I loved it. Boy, can I relate. What a great line. The rest of the movie, though, upset me a lot. The drunken insanity and screaming fits of rage. Made me think of my old boss. I wonder if people who are crazy rage-aholics get some sort of rush out of yelling and screaming?

I feel like I'm writing a lot of half-thoughts, because I'm tired and burned out.
I'm going to make another attempt at sleeping. Hopefully no burning Barbies this time.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Keep ya Head up

Life is emotional.

I remember one of my favorite professors at Loyola opened a class with,

"Life is difficult."

And everyone sort of looked at each other like, "No sh*t, Sherlock," but I've thought about that line about a billion times since his class, so now I'm thinking that it held a lot more weight than what we gave him credit for in the beginning when we were young.

I accidentally texted the Pharisee last week (isn't it funny how "text" has become a verb?). I was meaning to text someone with the same name in an attempt to schedule a lunch date. She eagerly replied back with about 230 texts.

"I'd love to have lunch. How about Monday? Oh wait. I am busy Monday. How about dinner? Here's my schedule...." BLAH BLAH BLAH FREAKING BLAH BLAH...

300000 TEXT MESSAGES LATER, I'm over analyzing and thinking the following:

It makes sense that she's so eager to hang out. She can't wait to judge me again and somehow make me emotionally dependent on her. That is so gross.

So I texted her back with the only response that made sense.

"Sorry. That was supposed to go to someone else."

It was true. I wasn't sure how to tell her without telling her, so I just told her.

Then I get about 39082309 messages in response. They said something to the effect of:

"Well, OKAY Rachel, but I sure hope you haven't written me off as one of those religious people that you are always talking about, because I am TRYING to offer you LOVE and bla bla bla bla (can't remember all the crap she said)."

What I DO remember is her saying this:

'It's not my problem that you are "DEPRESSED" or "sad."'

How very ignorant. That'd be like me going up to someone who has Stage 4 cancer and putting big offensive air quotes around this sentence:

"It's not my problem that you have CANCER.'"

People can be really dumb. Now, there's a very clear difference between someone making a joke about being wasted and you have this image flash through your mind of your dad coming home smelling like booze and beating the crap out of you with an extension chord (my parents are teetotalers, so please know that this did not happen. I'm just using it as an example), or if someone's making jokes about bulimia and you've had a battle with it since puberty. That kind of ignorance isn't coming out of spite. It's coming out of people just really not knowing that they're being insensitive and stupid.

It's a different ballgame when someone knows something about you and they decide to use whatever area of opportunity (sounds more positive than weakness) you struggle with to make a cheap shot at you.

Alas, I deleted her number and hope that if I ever see her again I will have the energy and ability to fake kindness.

What else.

Last week I was feeling sort of distant from everyone, like I'd got sucked into some kind of GRE-studying subculture that I couldn't break out of, and my boyfriend came over with a dozen roses and lunch and a box of chocolate covered strawberries. That just about made me drop dead. I've never dated someone who did something like that just for the heck of it. There's always an anniversary or fight or holiday involved. It was so kind.

What else.

The sky rained its ass off yesterday and I sort of wanted to retreat into a funk and cry, but I didn't. I just took a really long nap. I dread the winter. I dread the overcast and gloom and freezing temperatures and ice and rain. Ugh. I just have to suck it up and remember that THIS IS WHERE I AM. I'm not in L.A. I'm not in Venice Beach. I'm in Memphis, and I have to make the best of it.

I talked to my LA BFF a few weeks ago about living in the poster city of American suburbia, and he mentioned that sometimes being around all of those middle aged, commercialized American families makes you feel old, too, like you're sort of sucked into this surreal environment of mini vans and manicured lawns and 9 to 5 jobs. And he's right. I feel real old these days. I definitely needed to get out of the LA party scene, which I did, but this sure as heck ain't it. Memphis is one of those places that could make you lose it if you aren't careful. I'm walking that tight rope.

The best therapy for me recently has been attempting to run (yeah right) and listening to Tupac. You gotta keep your head up.

I'm going to have dinner with an old friend tonight, which I'm excited about. I'm not having HER for dinner, in the Hannibal sense of it, but I'm looking forward to catching up after a good 7+ years.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Let it Be

I've been studying my arse off to retake the GRE, and my mind feels sharp and numb at the same time. Sometimes I put too much pressure on myself, like if I can't pull up these scores, I'll never get into the right doctorate program, and my life will be over, and I'll have to peddle crack and sell crap on Craigslist for the rest of my life, which is, in counseling terminology, "catastrophizing" at its best, but at least I recognize it, I guess.

I always start my Blogs with "it's been a weird past few days," or "it's been a hard week," or what have you. I've noticed this pattern. I am looking forward to a day where I can say, "I have this effervescent feeling of peace," or something. That day will be a momentous one.

For some reason, a lot more than usual, I miss a girl friend that I had in L.A. that used to be very close to me. I have a bad habit of being in love with an idea or a memory instead of recognizing something for what it is right now. I think part of that is the blessing and curse of a creative personality/mind. When you look at something and see possibilities, you can make it so much bigger and incredible than it ever could have been on its own. When you do this with people, you can help set them free; you can help them see their potential. You can help them become a live. On the flip side, when you do this with people, and you only see what they can become instead of what they are, you fall in love with an illusion. It's dangerous. It's dangerous for friendships, but it's super dangerous when you're in love with a person. I used to fall in love with ideas of people a lot. I just wrote a bunch of sentences going into unnecessary detail about falling in love with the ideas of people, and then I saw how weird it was, so I deleted it. This shows that I am not impulsive or careless, though the idea of both is very attractive to me.

So. For whatever reason, I keep thinking about my old frienemy in L.A., and when I think about her, I get sad, because I miss her.

I miss having a gal pal that I could call and laugh with and cry with and go on road trips with. But I don't just miss her role as a girl friend, I miss her, as a person. She was a lot of fun, and I saw how great she was, but it all fell apart, maybe sort of like when you have a break up, but maybe not, because we weren't gay. I never know if my analogies make sense. Sometimes I think so fast that the words don't keep up and I speak in a lot of fragments, so I ask, an OBNOXIOUS amount, "Did that make any sense to you?" and instead of my audience/co-conversation participant feeling like I am being considerate of their attention, they just feel like I'm treating them like a freaking idiot, but that isn't where my heart is, and as a result, we both feel bad. I hate that.

All day on Saturday I was sick with feelings of regret for not sucking it up, working as a cocktail waitress in booty shorts and knee socks at Cabo Cantina, and doing whatever it took to stay in L.A. until I could come up with an exciting Plan B.

I mean, it was a really, really overwhelming day, right in the middle of my four-day bender, when all I wanted to do was take my purse with me to the airport, get on a plane, and call my best buddy to pick me up at LAX so we could just be like we used to be.

Part of this holding tank feeling is having a stagnant feeling of stationary existence. It's difficult. My BFF told me, "Don't think of this as long term. Think of it as temporary, and you'll get through it." It's hard to think of a situation as temporary when the feeling never leaves.

Also, I feel like every single inkling of creativity has left me. I used to be funnier in conversation. I used to record music. I used to paint sometimes and write more.

I was hoping to use this time in Memphis (I pray that it's temporary, but fear it isn't.) as a time to write more and do some stand up and really hone in on creative endeavors, but I haven't that much. I've spent most of my time just mulling over the same old thoughts and the same demons that never go away. I don't really like to think of myself as a tormented person. I prefer to use the word "restless." It sounds a little less sociopathic. But I've been reading and watching a lot of Tennessee Williams stuff recently, and that's helped me sort of embrace the torment, and hope that somehow, out of all of this; out of all of this stagnant, depressing, stale, uninteresting, uncreative existence, that I will find light.

And when the night is cloudy
There is still a light that shines on me
Shine until tomorrow
Let it be

Monday, October 11, 2010

Depression Management 101

I'm convinced that the best therapy for feeling like crap is humor. Before the APA comes knocking at my door, maybe I should rephrase this and say that the best therapy for people who are only mildly mentally/emotionally ill is humor. This has always been a topic of fascination for me and I've done a lot of research about the effects of humor on depression. I wish I could hire a bunch of rats or monkeys and build some sort of maze or something and make them watch Mitch Hedberg videos and then have them run around and I could ring a bell and make them tell jokes and have them feeling more motivated and light hearted and then people could make corny jokes like the ones about Pavlov's dogs but they'd be talking about me and my joke telling monkey-rats.

I just googled "Monkey rat" and there was a picture of this dirty skank on all fours and she had spike heels and pasties on. Really? REALLY? I wonder if that was her name. "Miss Monkey Rat." If I was a boy or a girl who liked girls, I do not think that I'd even be remotely interested in having wild relations with or going to see an exotic dancer with a name like that. Crystal or Candi (with an "i") or one of those hookery names, I get, but a monkey-rat stripper/hooker? No thank you.

I was having the worst week EVER since I moved back here, and I was feeling so trapped and desperate and awful, and then, I hung out with some funny people. Some of them I'd never met, some of them were a blast from the past, some of them were family members. We all sort of just met up somehow on Saturday, and we went to the BEST HAUNTED HOUSE EVER, and I laughed so hard that night that I finally started remembering myself. I didn't feel so alone anymore. I didn't have that feeling like my life wasn't going anywhere because I was too caught up in all of the hilarious crap that was occurring. That night made it to the top 5 of the best nights of 2010, and so far, the only best nights of 2010 have been nights in L.A., so to have a Memphis night make the top 5, I feel a little bit encouraged and maybe even a sense of accomplishment.

It's funny how one day you can wake up and feel like there's no point in even taking a shower, and then by the time you're going to bed that night, you've laughed so hard,you can't wait to see where you're life is headed.

Also, I have started sort of attempting to exercise, SORT OF, but not really, because sweating is a completely putrid activity. The past couple of days, though, prior to me hanging out with hilarious people, when I was having a series of nervous breakdowns, I started thinking to myself,

"What the crap did we learn in grad school about telling people how to live when they just wanted to crawl into a hole and DIE?!"

And then I remembered that Dr. D used to always talk about exercising - how it's one of the only constructive activities that angry people can engage in that lets off energy without them destroying property or humans or whatever.


I stuffed my iPod in my brassier and started wogging around "The Path," and I started out with Eminem and ended up with The Stones and I found myself weezing and feeling like absolute DEATH at times, like I could just picture my hips or ankles or any pointy part on my body just snapping in half and shoving its disgusting marrow through my skin, and at other times feeling awesome because I was so upset and angry and sad that running it off made me feel like it was being released out of my body and into the air and maybe disappearing or helping plants grow.

I'm writing a lot of run-ons in this one. Forgive me.

I ran into my ex bee eff's parents at the grocery store today, but it wasn't all weird like that. I guess because I never think of this particular ex as an ex, even though I guess he is, by technicality, but it was one of those things where we dated so young in life and it was so on and off for so many years that now it all just sort of seems like "Back to the Future 3." You can remember it, but the plot was pretty crappy compared to the other ones, so you don't REALLY remember it, and you sure as heck can't remember the details. But anyway, it was nice to see people that I knew and liked who have known me since I was 12. And even though the dad said,

"Haven't you found a husband YET?!"

like I'm some sort of old hag school marm or raging lesbian, I wasn't even mad. I just sort of laughed it off. Then it occurred to me that this dad was a total sexist and was asking me really ignorant questions, and then I started thinking that EVERYONE here does that, and then I thought, maybe I should try to reframe my attitude about it whenever people say stupid crap to me and just laugh it off instead of getting so irritated about it, because the chances of me changing this entire city and making everyone fast forward about 70 years aren't that great.

So the new depression management plan is as follows:

-listen to more music from the late 60's.
-attempt to SORT OF (but not really) exercise by wogging.
-hang out with hilarious people as often as possible.
-laugh off people who are idiots.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Loony Bin

This past week has been hard.

I keep having these visions in my mind of people in black and white movies where the protagonist (ironically) flips the EFF out and loses her mind and has a nervous breakdown and either has to go to the loony bin or remains distant and damaged the rest of her life.

I have this really tight feeling in my chest about 80% of the time where I envision my heart being the texture of a hard boiled egg and I imagine it being wrapped up real tightly in fishing line, and if someone pulls one end of the line, the whole thing is going to disintegrate into a hundred million pieces. So I’m trying not to exhale too hard.

I don’t know what the deal is. I guess it’s everything. I’m pretty sure I’m at my breaking point now. I don’t see where I can feel any worse than I do in this very second. I feel like I have no clarity at all, like I’m sort of existing and hoping and praying that God will just deliver me, and I don’t even know what it means when I’m praying it, but it’s all I can say. “Deliver me. Please, please deliver me.”

I see someone I know almost everywhere I go in this God forsaken, degenerate town, and for whatever reason, it makes me feel nauseated, like the social anxiety is so overwhelming that I sometimes start shaking in my core. I’m so much more introverted than I want to be. Something about that crippling shyness from childhood has never left me, and sometimes it resurfaces with such an overwhelming power, I don’t know how to contain it. I’ve spent my life saying that it won’t win, and I’ve spent years being loud and the center of attention and the first person to jump up to the microphone because my motivation is a terrifying fear of other people.

Mitch Hedberg wore sun glasses and often closed his eyes because his stage fright was so bad that he’d puke before he did stand up. My coping mechanism is to pretend to be more secure than I am, and more outgoing than I am, and friendlier than I am, and I try to fake myself out and make myself think that THIS person is me, but it isn’t.

Memphis is getting to me, and I can tell. Maybe it’s like being in the desert without water and all of a sudden you start losing it and seeing things and hearing voices.

I’m telling you. This has been one of the worst weeks I’ve had in a very long time.

I keep looking for solutions, searching for clarity, trying to find peace, and I can’t.

You know, I started this Blog in ‘08 to write about my adventures in Los Angeles; then for a while, I wrote for audience entertainment. Right now I’m writing as some sort of primitive survival tactic, I think. Maybe I write down how I feel in a subconscious attempt to find solutions or at least to feel a little more normalized, if such a feeling exists.

I had this huge meltdown last night. I bet I cried nonstop for two hours. It’s like all of the rejection letters from fruitless job hunting and the wild goose chases of trying to decide which grad school programs to apply to and all of the desperate, faceless people in this town living vicarious through someone else got to me all at once, and I had to leave a party because I was so overwhelmed and depressed and anxious and I felt like the floor fell out from underneath me. I walked to the car feeling like my head wasn’t on my body, like every sound I heard echoed, and I felt so disconnected and isolated that the walk to the car felt like it took months.

I keep closing my eyes and remembering one distinct moment of peace in my life, when I was in the Cayman Islands in 2006 and I was in a hammock on the beach and I fell asleep despite the noise. I have to sleep with big orange hunting earplugs in my ears every night just to help me to get a couple of hours of mediocre sleep. But during that time, I heard the ocean and the trees and the sound of peace, and I slept deeply and peacefully. I remember being in a relationship during that time with an underachiever old guy who was putting immense pressure on me to get married, and it was way too much pressure for a 21 year old kid. I remember when I broke it off with him, I saw that moment in the hammock in my mind, when I felt human, and I knew that somehow in the silence of that moment I found the strength to keep moving forward.

Winston Churchill said, “If you're going through hell, keep going.” I admire him for that. I admire the fighter. And I’m so dang tired and burned out these days that I don’t know if I’m a fighter at all. I used to sort of think I was. I was just in my bed for over an hour trying to sleep, but despite the big orange earplugs, my thoughts were so loud that I couldn’t even close my eyes, and I wasn’t sure what to do, because I couldn’t think of a single person that I could call to remind me that I’m not actually insane, I’m just going through a dead zone where I don’t have reception, and pretty soon I’ll get my service back. Pretty soon. It’s a bad feeling when you know that there are so many people in your life that love you and would die for you, but when you’re racking your brain trying to think of them, there’s nothing but static.

So. When I can’t nap, I write, and when I can’t write, I work, and when there’s no work, I’m tormented.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Gym Day in Germantown

Because my last wee entry seemed sort of like one of those death-cries like when Marla Singer calls Ed Norton after she’d popped all those pills in “Fight Club,” I thought I’d give a little update to let everyone know that I’m still kicking.

Not having a lot to do, as I’ve beat to death in previous entries, has amplified my depression time and time again, so I spend more time than one might think facilitating “depression management,” since the thought of meds makes me roll my eyes. Effin pharmaceutical companies. Whores. They’re all WHORES I TELL YOU!

Seriously, though. I have crappy, short-term, you-can-only-use-it-if-you’re-air-lifted-to-the-Med-and-have-to-talk-out-of-a-Stephen-Hawking-box insurance right now, so meds aren’t an option. Shout out to Joey L re: Stephen Hawking boxes.

I’ve been doing a lot of work that might seem menial but has been very therapeutic for me. I’ve been working on my book and trying to articulate my whole L.A. experience and the cultural differences and all that, and I feel like it’s coming along pretty well. I’ve also been working on these effing grad school aps, which are starting to wear me out, but once I’m over that hurtle, it will be well worth it. I think.

I also did something on Friday that I haven’t done in a long time.


Just kidding. I’ve never done crack.

Wait. You don’t “do” crack. You smoke it, right?

Clearly I need to catch up on “Intervention.”

Anyway, on Friday, I went to an exercise class with my friend! And it was actually pretty fun.

I used to occasionally go to some sort of sweat-your-face-off, 300 degree yoga class with my neighbor at a studio full of sculpted gay dudes in Santa Monica and I’d always leave feeling sick and empty and sore and wanting to gorge myself on pizza and Chunky Monkey afterward, but I also felt a little better, like I was able to buy into the whole Eastern voodoo hippie stuff for a few minutes and make those really mad groaning noises and think of everything in my life that made me mad and I could just let that negative energy spew out of my body like puke. But yoga also made me bored a lot because you just stand or sit or pretzel yourself into ONE position for freaking EVER and I’d have those flashbacks of when I’d cross my eyes as a kid and my uncle would say, “Your eyes are gonna stick like that if you do that for too long!” and I’d be afraid that my body would be frozen in time in the “Warrior 2” position until kingdom come.

So I have this love/hate relationship with exercise. I like the idea of it, but I don’t always like it in reality if it’s really boring or if I have to be in a real gym.

I never go to gyms because I’m insecure and I hate the smell of sweat and I have performance anxiety and big hulky men who shave their calves and lift trucks over their heads make me very, very uncomfortable. I hate those stupid slutty girls who walk around with their Under Armor spray painted onto their-rock hard bodies, and they all have names like “Chrissy” or (I almost wrote a really cheap hooker name right here and then I realized that one of my readers has this name and I’d hate to offend her on purpose. So just fill in this blank with some slutty whore name) and you never actually see them WORK OUT, you just see them prancing around in their booty shorts trying to seduce a hulky gym man-whore with the IQ of an eggplant. I am so grossed out by those kinds of women. They make me want to start burning bras and listening to Gloria Steinem tapes and going undercover as a gym whore to really see what it’s like self-marginalize and to expose all of the stupidity and desperation.

But, all caustic tirades about women who marginalize themselves aside, Friday at this particular gym was Senior Citizen day or something, and I didn’t feel intimated at all.

We walked into the class with a bunch of late-Boomer Germantown housewives, and we collected all of our equipment- those rubber band things, blocks, a huge exercise ball, a basketball that weighed 400 pounds, a yoga mat with someone else’s disgusting sweat all over it.

Then our instructor lady started the class.

Let me preface this by saying that the instructor lady looked like she was about 50 years old, and she did NOT, under ANY circumstances, have a hot bod the way you think that a personal fitness person would have. She was wearing a work out shirt that showed her flabby arms and she was wearing pants so tight that you could clearly see her frontal camel toe and her butt looked like a big old salami sandwich sitting vertically.

Anyway. I sort of thought to myself that this class would totally be a joke, because our leader lady was old and not very fit and her butt looked like a salami sandwich.

Boy, was I wrong.

That lady kicked my butt. She also came back to where I was (insecure and behind everyone else since I hate physical exercise) and kept smacking me on the arss, trying to put more stress on my hammies and all that.

It was awesome.

I haven’t laughed or grimaced like that in a while, and it sort of made me want to grow up and be an absolutely INSANE, old, unfit fitness instructor and yell and scream at a bunch of 55 year old women in spandex and talk about how exercising justifies eating four bags of Halloween candy.

Monday, September 27, 2010


I am encountering a very intense depressive episode and I feel like it's winning.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Thanks for the Niceness

I've decided to shout out to two people who made my day yesterday.

First, I got an unexpected phone call from my Aunt Denise, who lives in New Orleans.

Aunt Denise is one of those people that I ALWAYS look forward to seeing, no matter how crappy my mood is or how unsocial I'm feeling. Anyway, last Saturday was spent in NOLA with Aunt Denise, a bowl of crawfish etoufee, and a cell phone. I went through her phone and called some of her attorney friends and left them immature and ridiculous voice mails. This never stops being fun. This also never becomes stupid. You reach a point in life where rolling people (or "TP-ing" people, as some say) is just lame and mean and the fun is gone, but prank calls never, ever get stale, if you ax me.

So Aunt Denise called me to tell me that her buddy butt dialed her on accident, and when she called him back, he said, "Me and six of my doofus coworkers sat around the lunch table listening to that ridiculous voice mail that your niece left me last week, and that was just about the damn funniest thing I've ever heard in my life." So Denise called to give me a little upper for the day and encourage me to never retire my career as a professional prank caller. That made me feel good.

Side note - I always talk about having a homesick feeling, or a feeling like I don't belong and want to feel like I'm a part of something, and I always feel like I'm home when I'm with Denise, because she loves me right where I am and doesn't expect anything else. You don't get that too often with most people. At least I don't. There's something sacred about a raw sense of genuineness that you can share with someone, where they can celebrate with you when you're up and they can hold you when you're at the bottom. As long as they don't keep you on the bottom. Or smack you on your bottom. Pervs.

The second shout out goes to my dear friend Rinzee. She comes over once every other week or so to visit me. I look forward to it every single time. It's like I'm in the nursing home and I'm always gazing through my window waiting for my relatives to drive up. I look forward to it. Yesterday, she brought me a cupcake. A cupcake that looked like a wedding or a bat mitzvah. It was gorgeous and frivolous and it tasted like a nap. We never spend less than two hours together. We only leave each other after one of us receives a phone call from a concerned husband or boyfriend because we get so lost in enjoying each other's company that time just evaporates. I felt restored after she came over. She always brings me back to center, and she cries with me when I feel hopeless. She's a once-in-a-lifetime kind of person. I've only met a couple of those.


Last night, I watched "12 Angry Men." Here they are:

What a great investment in my borderline day. And boy, what a flick! They just don't make 'em like that anymore. Anybody wonder who we talk about when we say, "THEY just don't..."

The infamous panel of "they."

I wonder who "they" is.


Anyway, the movie was fantastic, and it made me start thinking about writers, and how brilliant they sometimes are, when they can create a dynamic character on paper and have that character exuded (is exuded even a word?) by a human, and then a bunch of humans are acting out parts as if they were really real people, and then a plot is developed and you start finding yourself wrapped up in each person and part and character until you're lost in the story of it all and an emotional response is evoked. That's amazing to me.

I have this stack of essays that I have to write. Seems so boring. I started writing this Ph.D. application essay that started like this,

"I've decided to pursue a Ph.D. because stopping at my master's would be like leaving the party at 9:30."

Then I decided if I actually wanted to GET IN, I better "backspace" the crap out of that line and act serious.

I hate being serious.

I can only be serious around people that I really, really trust, and most people, I either don't trust or I don't think they would "get it" if I let my guard down and got really serious.

I'm going to Bulldog Bash tonight. I'm looking forward to it. Starkville isn't my scene, but my sister's friends are always nice to me, and I always come away with some good tales after staying up late and getting into trouble in a college town.

Alright. Onto essays or packing an overnight bag. Time to be marginally productive.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

We put the "fun" back in Funeral.

Well. My Uncle Terrell passed a week ago. My sister always makes fun of me for saying, "(person's name) passed." I think it's a funny expression. It makes me feel like wearing a hoop skirt and riding side saddle, all ladylike on a horse, and riding up to a plantation and saying to the man who lives there,

"Suh, I'm so terribly sorry to infawm you.... But ow-ah de-ah, sweet Beauregard has passed."

(Same dialect as Gone with the Wind): Your child has been born. Has been born and mercifully has died.

I'm one of those people who typically doesn't do well with death. I usually get really attached to people, so when they pass, I go through a very deep and intense grieving process, and it's down right exhausting. But with Uncle Terrell, I was so happy to know that he wasn't trapped inside his body anymore. He had real bad Alzheimer's and wasn't himself for a long time.

I know that people always say that death is a necessary part of life and all that, like Forrest Gump's mom when she was fixing to croak, but I think that's a crock. It always sucks, no matter what, even when you're happy that the person isn't suffering anymore. Just like break ups always suck, even if you're relieved to get rid of the dimwit you're dating.

Sometimes I need help gaining perspective because I'm notorious for catastrophizing. My best friend in L.A. sent me an email recently when I was saying that I feel like I'm drowning, and he put it like this:

"In my opinion, life is like a book... all the parts of your life are chapters... which means they will all eventually end and move on to the next chapter. Some chapters are boring, sad, annoying, and don't really move the story along that well, and some are exciting, fun, hilarious, suspenseful, romantic, new, and you never want them to end. But, they always end. And, just like in a book, things from previous chapters can reappear in later chapters....the point is- never get too attached to or sick of a particular time in your life, because a new chapter is inevitably around the corner (for better or worse)."

And you know what? He's right.

Anyway, the main reason I wanted to Blog was to tell you WHAT HAPPENED at the funeral home DURING THE VISITATION.

I remember one time I was talking to this Australian guy, and he absolutely freaked out when I told him that in the South, we pretty much always have an open casket. People just love showing off their dead bodies around these parts. He thought that was totally sick and in poor taste. Maybe he was right, because ever since he reacted so dramatically when I said, "Oh yeah, you leave your dead body out so everybody can tell it goodbye," I started thinking, "Man. That's kind of disgusting."

So. I HATE funeral homes.

They're always like 20 degrees and you're freezing your face off and that terribly heavy floral smell is suffocating you and old people are trying to KISS YOU ON THE LIPS and old ladies have mustaches and crap in their teeth and lipstick smeared all over the place and you just want to run as fast as you can to that little coffee room in the back and hide under the paper tablecloth until it's time to go. But you can't. You just have to keep hugging people and smelling the smell of carnations and death and suck it up until it's time to leave.

I think visitations are much more graphic than funerals.

At least at funerals, a lot of times, they close the casket, so you don't have to be looking at that locust shell of a person that doesn't even remotely look like the person you used to love.

So there I am at the funeral home during the visitation, and some crazy man keeps telling me that he used to have drug and alcohol addiction problems and he used to work with at-risk youth at the loony bin, but he never even introduced himself to me or told me how he was kin, so he just followed me around telling me about all of his problems, until finally I got saved by some family members and was able to ditch him.

I'm sitting down talking to my Aunt Bev. Aunt Bev is very glamorous and has Parkinson's, so sometimes she has to ride around on a scooter. This is a real picture of her:

So she and I are talking about our boyfriends (her husband died a few years ago. I'll write about that sometime.) and what I'm doing with my life these days and how we miss the old days when I used to go to LSU and stop by her house and we'd sit and visit. And then.....

Someone made the announcement.

"Tomorrow at the funeral we are going to have a closed casket. So if you'd like to say goodbye to Uncle Terrell, now is the time to do so."

I was just sitting there, politely, quietly, minding my own business.

And then.

Memaw grabbed my hand and we made a bee-line for the casket.

Just looking at him made me feel really queasy. He didn't look ANYTHING like Uncle T. I don't like looking at dead bodies shoved in a casket, with the person's face and hands looking like wax and pancake batter.

Maybe I should say that my Memaw has no problem with dead bodies. She isn't creeped out by them at all.

Memaw shoved her hand right into the casket, started patting Uncle Terrell on the arm, rubbing it up and down, up and down.

I was so mortified.

I was dared by one of my cousins to touch my great grandma's dead bod when I was a little kid, so I did it, but that was my first and last (I hope) encounter touching a stiff, cold corpse.

And then guess what happened.

Memaw took her hand off of Uncle Terrell, and then began STROKING MY ARM WITH HER HAND FULL OF DEATH GERMS!




I wanted to run away and start throwing up everywhere. I wanted to run through one of those biohazard car wash things that they make you run through if they think you have anthrax.

Now please know that it was nothing against Uncle T. It's just that I hate germs. Especially death germs. I always Purell my hands after we do that hand shaking thing in church. How disgusting.

So. That pretty much scarred me for life.

The next day, the funeral itself was pretty nice, but this lady was sitting behind us and was singing all of the harmony parts to "The Old Rugged Cross," and she was singing in some sort of Disney cartoon voice, and the lady in front of us had a huge, blonde, bouffant hairdo and she smelled so stout that I felt like I'd just stomped on the anthill of those obnoxious people trying to spray you down with perfume in Macy's at Christmas time, so I kept getting distracted. That too-much-perfume-lady kept nodding her head like a parakeet. It drove me insane.

But anyway, the after party was really fun, and I hung out with some family members and we ate a lot of good stuff and drank a lot of good stuff and I heard some funny college stories from older people.

Then we went to New Orleans. I'd write about it, but I'll probably get in immense trouble. All I know is that I was dreading this whole funeral experience since death is so uncomfortable for me, but the whole thing actually wound up being sort of fun.

So let's just say that Anna and I put the fun back in funeral. And I didn't make that up. Props to my dear wonderful former college roommate who is one of the funniest women I know.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ham Sammiches and Ducks

I've been spending time attempting to be still and content in my circumstances. Usually this means that I fail miserably and feel frustrated, but I try to remember that awareness is tiring, and change is exhausting, so I can't expect for this lag time in my life to be easy.

I'm filling my time with writing a lot more. I'm working on this damn book that I've been trying to write for the past four years, but at least now, it has some direction. I don't know if it makes any sense or if it's even what I want, but my friend from L.A. said, "You better be spending this time in your life writing when you don't have a job."

I said to him, "What am I supposed to write about?"

He said, "Your crazy, F*ed up life. The point is that you write. Just keep on writing."

So I am. I hope it's doing something.

When I'm not writing, I have these cravings to go to NYC.

NYC in the fall is the best. Now don't confuse me for some East-Coaster. I couldn't make it as a West Coaster and God SAVE ME if I ever am remotely tempted to be an East-Coaster...but something about NYC is totally different than the rest of the pompous East Coast a-holes with their pleated khaki pants and their nail-clipping accents that make my ears SCREAM for peace and quiet. Something about NYC means starting a new life. I keep wanting to start a new life. I want to do this about every six months. Sometimes I think that I need to be medicated. Other times I remember what my 51-year-old friend said to me.

"Don't ever let anyone talk you out of a mid-life crisis. I've had at least three already, and they've all been wonderful."

I'm stuck in a permanent quarter-life crisis. I'm holding out for winning the Publisher's Clearing House and being able to fund my trip to NYC and plastic surgery. Plus all of my knock-off Coach bags are unraveling and the back of my favorite D & G watch fell off, so I DO have my reasons for needing an emergency trip to China Town before it gets too cold.

Yesterday, my mom and I went to this crappy little gas station not too far from our house. The gas station has a little grocery store attached. The whole place smells like smoked ham and fishing bate, and there's a big row of shrink wrapped pickles by the cash register. We went over to Canale's, bought ham sandwiches for 2 bucks, bought BBQ potato chips and Dr. Pepper.

We went to the local park and sat on a picnic bench and looked at the lake and the ducks swimming around while we ate our two-dolla sandwiches under the trees. It was so pleasant and peaceful. I didn't think about not having a job or direction or purpose. I just enjoyed the lunch date with my mom watching the ducks. We haven't eaten lunch at a park like that since I was little, and I tried to etch it in my memory, because I think this time of quiet in my life is fleeting.

I'm trying to hold onto the memory of living in L.A. and constantly chasing an illusion around, trying to make a life work for me that never would. I try to remember feeling isolated and empty all the time, feeling like I had no support and no hope. I try to remember this so I can recognize how lucky I am now to live closer to family and live closer to people who care.

I still get sort of shocked when people are nice.

I went on an awkward trip to the lake a couple of weeks ago, and while we were tied up to a bunch of other boats, some hillbilly with a gold pirate medallion hanging around his neck said in thick, redneck English, "Y'all just come on down to my boat if you run out of beer. We've got liquor too. Just come on down, and we'll getcha whatever ya want." And I thought to myself, "Wow. That was nice. That would never happen in L.A." Then I chalked it up to this guy, named "Rip," (Not a joke) being a typical guy and hitting on us, so I sort of discounted his kindness. But then, these two cute girls in their early 20's came swimming up to our boat, and said, "Hey, we thought y'all might be around our age, and you look nice, so we wanted to come be friends." Then I thought to myself, "People in the South are just genuinely nice. That's all there is to it. Hang on to this, Rachel. Don't throw out the gentility baby of Memphis with the boredom bathwater."

It's hard to sift through what makes living here worth it and what will eventually drive me to insanity. I have to hang onto cheap living cost. I have to hang onto kindness. I have to hang onto a possible Ph.D. for next-to-nothing and people who ask how I'm doing and actually CARE how I'm doing. I have to hang onto it all, and keep remembering that everything happens for a reason. It really does.