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.

Monday, September 13, 2010

I Miss my Funny Friends.

Though I've been reading a lot of serious books and watching a lot of serious movies recently, putting me in a kind of serious mood, this morning I woke up really, really missing my funny friends.

It's hard to find funny people. Genuinely funny people, that is. I laugh at a lot at people, but usually not because they are genuinely funny. I laugh at their facial expressions or ability to re-tell a story or at the inflections in their voices, but there aren't very many people in life that I've come across who make me laugh so hard that my insides hurt.

I recognized this yesterday in church. I go to a church that I probably really need to go to right now, because every time I leave on Sunday, I have something to think about and apply to my life. There's a lot of reflective and applicable teaching. I catch myself doing the same thing every week, though. Not laughing. We have a staff of folks who are really smart, which is part of the reason I like the church so much - they aren't those hokey TV preachers with thick Southern drawls who don't know anything about theology or whatever and just preach about giving your money to them, like this guy:

I hope I'm not making fun of somebody who's actually a good guy, here. I don't even know who this guy is. But I'm glad that my preacher/pastor/teacher doesn't look like Rod Stewart. Or am I?

Anyway, yesterday, in church, the guy who was preaching/teaching said a few things that were pretty funny. When I say pretty funny, I mean marginally funny, they weren't gut-wrenching funny, but they were funny enough for me to laugh at, if I wanted to. The thing is, I didn't laugh at all. I didn't even smirk. I just heard this joke here and there and thought to myself, "Wow. For a preacher, that was pretty good." But I didn't even smile.

Then I started thinking.

I haven't interacted with funny people much since I moved home. My funniest friend here is a lot like me. She's funny in a crowd, but one-on-one, she's a counselor, a listener, a friend, a sister. I don't count on her to be funny and I don't want her to constantly be a jokester, because usually, when I call her, a joke isn't what I need. I need a friend.

I had two funny friends in L.A., but my best friend was one who always made me laugh, even if we were having a serious night where I was crying my face off and being a big baby. I knew he could say something, in perfect taste, that would be hilarious.

I might have written about this before. I can't remember, and I currently lack the energy and motivation to look through past Blogs and find it if I've written it before. So I'll just say it again.

I use this thought when measuring the responsibility and trustworthiness of my friends: would I let my kids play with THEIR kids?

Now, I have no kids, so this might be a sort of dumb idea. I also don't typically do well with babies, and I have no maternal instinct. So sometimes I think about my baby sister, suck her into a time warp, imagine her when she was little and breakable, and wonder if I'd let her play at my friends' house unsupervised.

So, one day, right before I moved home, I was telling my best friend in L.A.,

"You know what? I'd definitely let my kids play with your kids. I'd even let them play with your kids without me around."

and he said, without missing a beat,

"Good. Because my kids are cannibals."

I laughed harder in that moment that I remember laughing since 2008. I got spoiled having direct access to people like that.

One of my dearest and most treasured friends is my former college roommate, who was the first funny woman I'd ever met. I think it's easier to find funny men. Think about how many famous female comics are out there. Slim pickins compared to the men, eh?

My college roommate was opposite of me in most ways. She was an engineer. I was a fashion major. She went to chemistry meetings, I went to fashion meetings. We were very different, but our common denominator was our love of humor. She brought into my life a completely different kind of humor. She is very dry. She'll say thinks without being flamboyant or attention seeking. She says things blankly sometimes, and they hit you like a slap in the face, and if you don't listen, you miss it. You have to listen to her to get her humor, and if you listen, you gain some sort of humor/comedy treasure. I miss her.

So. All of this has me thinking that this town needs a makeover. Memphis is a lot like Disneyland. It was in it's hey-day (is it hay-day? or hey-day? or heigh-day? what does hey-day even mean?) in the 70's, but now, it could use a face lift. It needs a new coat of paint.

Please, Memphians, or at least those who know the answer, where do the funny people hang out here? I need you.

This is a cry for help for humor's sake.

I've been writing some more jokes recently, most as self-help, more as a lifeline than an outlet for funniness, and have been thinking about giving stand-up a shot again. I don't love it enough and am not competitive enough to do it in L.A., but I'm desperate enough and sad enough to give it a shot in Memphis.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Faceless Girls and The Path

I’ve had an unusual past couple of days. Maybe unusual is my usual though, because I’ve never had a normal day in my life.

I’ve been thinking a lot about people who really make an impression on me and people who don’t, and I wonder what kind of impression I make on other people when I meet them and they meet me.

I started thinking about this after I completely offended a girl whom I couldn’t remember. A couple of weeks ago, I met a very plain-faced girl at a dive bar. I remember her face had absolutely no features. She had brown hair, I remember that. But her face was totally blank, like a ghost from Pacman, and there was nothing about her face or body or personality that stood out to me at all.

That same night, I met another girl who had the most dynamic and hilarious personality of anyone I’ve met since I moved back to this crummy town, and I remembered her name.

Last night I attended a shower where I pretty much knew nobody and I didn’t really care to meet anyone because most people were married, so if I met any of the men, the women would think I was hitting on their husbands, and if I met any of the women, they would not want to be friends because they were already in some big wives’ club where they all went to the same church and they all grew up together and they weren’t accepting applications from newcomers who (God forbid) left Memphis, came back to Memphis (Oh, there must be hope!), and who aren’t married (God forbid again). So. I just sort of stood around and mingled here and there and tried to keep abreast of the LSU football scores.

Then this brown haired girl enters the room and my boyfriend says something to her, but I don’t know what it is, because I’m on the other side of the room out of ear shot. She waves to me, and I wave back. Now, my boyfriend could probably be the mayor of this town because he knows EVERYONE and I don’t know anyone anymore so I constantly feel unpopular, like the fat kid who never gets picked for the schoolyard games, and he constantly is very nice about saying, “And this is my girlfriend, Rachel,” and people wave to me and pretend to care, even though they don’t, but at least they’re nice, I guess.

So the brown haired girl comes up to me and extends her hand, and I say,

“It’s nice to meet you. I’m Rachel.”

And then a miracle happened.

The no-faced girl all of a sudden had a face.

It was full of expression.

I still had no idea who the crap she was, but in retrospect, I was proud of her human face, because beforehand, like I said, it looked like a Pac Man ghost.

“We’ve actually MET,” she said to me, all pissed off-like.

I said,

“Oh. I’m sorry. I’m a drunk. I forget things a lot.”

And then I walked off.

So I’ve been thinking about this stupid girl who had no personality and no face and plain hair and I’ve recognized that maybe it’s the really uptight and plain people that make the people who are funny and smart and brilliant a lot brighter. And now I would like to pay tribute to my dear friend in L.A. who took the cake on hilarity yesterday.

Let me preface by saying that my dear friend is incredibly smart and has this sort of vintage romanticism about him, and he constantly talks about becoming a Southern gentleman and he talks about “the War.” Now. We assume this is World War II, but he isn’t even 30 yet and he’s never been in the military so we know that he is not a WWII veteran. I also sometimes think he means the Civil War, because he'd like to live on a plantation one day. Anyway, he talks about “the War,” and sometimes I ask him about it.

So yesterday I was g-chatting with my dear friend, and I told him to try to survive the war, or something to that affect, when we were closing our conversation, and his response was….


(drum roll)

“The war is tough out here. Thank God for porn and Skype.”


This is why I miss my L.A. friends. There was a wittiness about two of them that is so incredibly rare, and I can’t believe that I found two of them in one city. That never happens.

What else, what else. My parents are out of town, so our pets have become increasingly codependent. We have these two cats, Mikey and Peaches, but I call Peaches “Blanket,” in honor of Michael Jackson’s youngest son. It seems like any time I do ANYTHING (pour cereal, load the dishwasher, do laundry), Mikey and Blanket are sitting right at my feet, staring at me, like my little fan club. My peanut gallery.

I’ll be sad when my parents come home tomorrow and all of this feline attention is disbursed accordingly.

I’m trying to exercise a little more, since I have nothing else to do other than compulsively worry about things that are out of my control. I’m saying this like I actually exercise. I don’t. But at least I don’t binge and purge. That really sucks. Then you smell like puke all the time and your teeth start looking like candy corn. So the past few days I have been walking or riding my beach cruiser down “The Path,” as the Haleys like to call it.

“The Path” is this long bike path that is the best kept secret in my neighborhood, where you can walk behind the neighborhood and forget that you live in American suburbia, because on the right side of the path is a canopy of green trees, and on the left side is a field that is filled with bails of hay and swaying wheat, or something that looks like wheat.

So today I was riding my beach cruiser down The Path, and I was thinking about how sad I was that I wasn’t riding my bike down in Venice somewhere and I was cruising down a dumb country path, but I was hopeful that once I got to the lake where The Path ends, I could sit on the bench in front of the fountain and read my book.

But guess what.

I got to the lake and a rat bastard family was sitting on my pre-claimed bench and they were fishing. And they looked so cute and vintage Americana, like a Norman Rockwell painting, that I decided not to cuss them out or throw rocks at them, but to just make my way home and read my book by the pool.

So, my aforementioned friend also suggested that I beauty up my blog a bit, hence the new layout, etc. My friend said that I should add some pictures, etc.

So my plan was to describe to you this really homey and plain wooden barn that is by The Path. The barn is big and brown and there are horses all around it nibbling at the wheat.

Then I was going to put a picture of a barn and horses here for you to see.

But guess what.

I googled “barn and horses,”

And this is what I found.



This man is clearly NOT a horse, nor a barn.

Friday, September 10, 2010

I (less than three) Naps

This weather is killing me.

I'm starting to think that maybe I'm a bad luck magnet or I have really bad karma or something, even though I don't really believe in karma. My mom called me her "little rabbit's foot" for a while because my "luck" was so bad, with threads in my life unraveling over and over again. I'm not sure about the whole bad luck thing, but I think that I'm bringing bad weather. L.A. is notorious for gorgeous weather, and this past summer, every day was thick with a marine layer and gray clouds. It's like that in Memphis right now, too. I kept thinking before I moved home,

Well, at least you're moving back in the summer - the best time to be in Memphis. If you had to move back in November, it'd be so gray and dark that you'd blow your brains out, so maybe at least with the nice weather you won't feel quite as depressed.

Joke's on me.

The sun just broke through for about 5 seconds. Thank GOD.

I might have to start tanning. Vitamin D saves.

I've been taking a lot of naps recently and having these really weird, weighty anxiety dreams.

I don't understand this napping business. I've been taking at least a one hour nap every day, and my mom says she thinks my body is still recovering from dramatic stress for two years. Seems to me that the body could recover from stress in about two weeks. I'm always looking for a faster way.

Side note.

Stupid effing clouds just hid the sun again.

I never understand those melodramatic people who love clouds and rain and Seattle and winter.

Maybe I shouldn't hate on the melodramatics. I happen to breathe melodrama. In fact, if I was a gay man, I know for sure that I wouldn't be one of those very professional and well groomed news reporter types. I'd be a gorgeous, diva drag queen with lots of glittery eye make up and screeching gestures and sassy sayings. I'd call everyone a "Glamor Kitten" or a "Bitch," real lispy and giggly, and I'd wear my melodrama on my sleeve with pride.

So back to my naps. Every time I take a nap, I'm asleep in about 10 minutes, and I start to sleep so hard that my face feels like it's swallowed up in pavement. I breathe really heavy and my whole body feels like it weighs a thousand pounds and the mattress is eating me alive. And then I start to dream.

Yesterday I had a really bad anxiety dream and I woke up all sweaty, which really irritated me, because I had just changed my sheets, and the thought of sweaty sheets absolutely disgusts me. I brush my teeth, change my panties, and change my sheets far more frequently than the average Jane.

So my dream yesterday was one involving a lot of interpersonal conflict, and me running around crying out for help to a bunch of people who were too preoccupied or disinterested to help or listen to me, and then the whole inside of my house was covered in snow, and I didn't have a coat. It was like "The Shining" turned inside out. I hate snow.

Then I woke up and felt very needy. I felt like I needed a hug from a grandparent. I felt like I needed someone to say, "It's going to be OK."

But instead of finding a way to meet that needy need, I psychoanalyzed instead, and started thinking, "Hot dang, Rachel. You're such a control freak."

This is one of millions of reasons why I miss my best L.A. friend a lot. We talked very openly and vulnerably about our need for control, and I really miss normalizing this gravitation that I have for order and safety.

I started out writing today with this end goal in mind. "I need to write about this, this, and this..." But guess what. I just took one of those killer naps. This one was a really good one. And now I have to let our dog out.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I Hate Carnies

I had a rough night last night.

I've been in a sort of reflective state, trying to figure out how to survive this bout of unemployment - trying to figure out whether it's worth it or not to pursue more education to get where I want to go in life, trying to figure everything out, and feeling that, in a lot of ways, I am more confused now than before I started finding answers to all of my questions.

Last night started off weird. My stomach already felt a little uneasy, and I'm not sure why. I think I ate some bad ham. I don't even like ham. Between the bad ham and this disgusting "Sleepy Hollow" weather where little spurts of rain kept spitting out of the charcoal sky, I notice that one of my ex's movies was on TV. Maybe one of the worst movies of all time, and it just happens to be on TV, broadcasting when I'm already feeling melancholy and mildly ill because of that bad ham. That's what sucks about dating people who are in "the business" who are marginally successful. You can't ever really get away from them. Someone will write a song or star in TV show or in a movie and then they just pop up unexpectedly when you least want to be reminded of them. I kept hoping that his scenes wouldn't come up. I didn't want to see his stupid arrogant face. I got that really mad feeling like I wanted to punch my fist through something sheet rock. But instead, I just changed the channel.

So after being reminded of the worst human I've ever met, I headed off to the Delta Fair. The fair is always sort of a big kick off to fall. I haven't been in a few years. Probably not since college. The fair always smells delicious, like funnel cake and farm animals and pronto pups. I didn't smell all of that homey deliciousness, though. I could only remember the bad ham and think that the fair smelled like busted ass.

We started to ride rides. What was I thinking? I've watched all of these documentaries about county fairs and how the people who run them will hire hobos and pedophiles off the streets to run all of the rides and to be weight guessers and all of that, so the fair has sort of an evil flavor in my mind.

Then I got really sick.

Really, really sick.

It's like I had some sort of inner ear thing going on, where I couldn't really see straight, and I kept feeling like I was going to fall down.

So, my boyfriend bought me a Sprite, and I turned into the "Purse Holder" while everyone else road rides, and I felt a little better.

As the night went on, I had fun, once my stomach left my brain and settled back into its normal position.

We went to the petting zoo and I pet a bunch of goats and a big old water buffalo and some sheep. I love the petting zoo. Animals are hilarious. I also snuck away and saw a whole bunch of pigs spooning with each other in the pig pen, snoring away, happy as could be. That was fun.

Then something happened that made me feel incredibly guilty.

Maybe I should preface this by saying that I LOVE FREAK SHOWS. I love them. I used to frequent the Freak Show on Venice Beach, even though I knew everything in it was fake and dumb, and I'd still spend five bucks to see the two-headed turtle and the pig with the brain on top of its head.

So there was this sign that said, "Smallest lady in the world!" and you could pay a dollar to go see her.

For some reason, I thought this would be one of those fake things, like when the sign says "SPIDER LADY!" and you go behind the curtain and there's a lady with her head stuck through a hole in a plywood plank with a bunch of fake hairy spider legs painted on it, and it's really dumb, but funny, too.

Well. I paid my dollar.

And there was this lady, this REAL lady, sitting on this tiny little sofa, and she sat there with the saddest look on her face, and I felt like I'd just walked into a strip club, like I'd just thrown a dollar at a person just to make her my entertainment.

I felt so guilty.

Her name was Linda. She was from Haiti.

I felt so guilty that she was a real person and I just paid ONE DOLLAR to stare at her.


Makes me feel sick just thinking about how guilty I still feel.

Maybe it's all those papers you have to write about social justice in graduate school, or how you study human rights, or how I went to the Civil Rights Museum the other day, and it has nothing to do with politics or agendas or right wing this or left wing that, it just has to do with what's right and wrong, and I felt so wrong.

So. Maybe you could think of it as great that she has a job or something. But I didn't think of it like that because her face was so sad.

After I felt like a dirty cheap freak show pimp, we rode on one last ride, but the lights kept going out, and my anxiety sky rocketed, and I just imagined myself being thrown from the carnie pedophile assembled "Fire Ball" ride and my body just combusting in mid air, and all of my limp body parts just sort of scattering all over Cordova into suburban front yards.

So the carnies started to stop the ride, and start it, and stop it, and start it. And by about the 5th time that we were up in the air, my ovaries were in my throat, and I felt so incredibly sick that I was positive I'd reenact "Squints" in "The Sandlot," puking all over the place.

By the time we finally were released from Carnie Purgatory, all of the carnies were laughing and mocking us, and my whole body felt clammy and cold and hot all at once, and I wobbled to solid ground, and I felt like I had the worst hangover of my life. One of those heinous tequila hangovers, or a hangover after you haven't eaten in a couple of days and you've just been on some crazy binge drinking shot fest where your brain feels like it's hemorrhaging and you're just begging God to help you wake up the next day.

I was riding in my boyfriend's car on the way back to his house with my eyes closed and the cold air on full blast in my face and I was death gripping the sides of my seat. I kept putting my finger on the window button. My stomach was in my thyroid.

By the time we got back to his house, I walked slowly to his couch and stiffly laid on it. I tried so hard not to move. He got me another Sprite. Then he came over and pulled my shoes off and put a pillow under my head, which felt like it weighed a thousand pounds. And then, the worst part of the whole night happened.

I started to cry.

I'm a huge cry baby when I feel bad.

I was so humiliated. I think the whole day just took a dump on me at once. My bad ham and my stupid ex's movie and the pervert carnies with Meth Mouth and the one-dollar wee lady and the smell of pigs and my swimming head and my inner ear and desperate craving for Dramamine and the pure humiliation of crying over feeling sick. It was just too much.

So. I'm not trying to say that the fair sucks. And when I think back on the fair a long time from now, hopefully I'll think back on all of those cute little pigs sleeping side by side like little jelly beans, and I'll think about hanging out with my sister's friends and how nice they were, or I'll think back on how sweet it was for my boyfriend to buy me Sprites and take my shoes off...But right now, all I can think of is that I hate carnies, and just the thought of last night makes me feel like total hell.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Traveling Mercies

I started reading this book called "Traveling Mercies" that my hairdresser told me to read. He said the lady in the book sort of reminded him of me, because she was reverent and irreverent at the same time, and she had a very real but funny flavor about her. I always investigate these things, when people say, "You remind me of..." If it's a person or an author or a musician or whatever, I always check it out, because I want to know what the person MEANS when they say something like that. I normally look at what people MEAN before I look at what they do. Motive before action. Very important stuff. It makes me miss counseling.

So I started reading this book today, and we never have any food in our house, and we never have, as long as I can remember, so I resorted to eating a couple of stale peanut butter crackers I had shoved in my desk drawer from a few weeks ago.

I was lying on my back and I had peanut butter cracker crumbs all over the place on my chest where cleavage should be, and I was reading a part in this book about this lady who was in the church choir who always looked down her nose at this guy who sat at the back of the church who was dying of AIDS, and how one day when they were singing "His Eyes is on the Sparrow," the lady left the choir and walked to the back row of the church and held the man up to stand even though his body was deteriorating because of his disease, and this lady and this man were both crying and holding each other, and I don't know what happened, but I started to cry. I've always loved that song, and it's like I felt really connected to an idea of love that seemed very raw and appealing, even if we only see it once or twice in a lifetime.

I just laid there (one of these days I'll learn all the tenses of the word "lay" and start to use them properly) on my bed with my crumbs all over my concave chest and cried my ass off.

Usually I hate crying because my face gets so raw and I feel so swollen and fat and disgusting that I just want to hide under the couch, but when I was reading this book and crying I was thinking about my hair man and how much I love him and how I feel like God sent him into my life when I felt really alone.

I hope I can be like that to some people.

Isn't it weird to think about the people in your life that came in right at the perfect time, or said the perfect thing, or gave you a hug or wrote you a little note out of the blue, and it's right when you felt like you were about to break, but you didn't, because that person gave you just enough to feel like waking up tomorrow was worth it? I love that.

So anyway. I don't know why I felt like I needed to write about this little experience, but somehow, I felt enlightened, covered in Ritz cracker dust and tears.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Labor Day

I can't help but feel significant counter transference whenever I watch "It's a Wonderful Life," which I haven't watched in a long time...but I hear this quote in my head every single day, even if I only see the movie on an annual basis:

(George to Mary)

...I know what I'm gonna do tomorrow and the next day and the next year and the year after that. I'm shaking the dust of this crummy little town off my feet and I'm gonna see the world. Italy, Greece, the Parthenon...the Coliseum. Then I'm coming back here and go to college and see what they know and then I'm going to build things. I'm gonna build air fields. I'm gonna build skyscrapers a hundred stories high. I'm gonna build bridges a mile long...

I feel like that a lot. I feel like Memphis is one big small town where everyone knows everyone else, and everyone is in everyone else's business, and there's always some third party connection between all people, and I just want more out of life than this crummy little town has to offer.

I ran into some girl the other night who immediately approached me and said,

"Didn't you used to date (fill in the blank with an ex-douche's name circa 2007)?"

And I thought to myself how depressing it is to be remembered for people you've dated.

Then I met a Pharisee for lunch last week. I haven't seen this person in five years. Randomly she asked if I'd like to go to lunch. I thought that was a nice gesture.

Big mistake.

Lunch entailed her telling me I was "living in sin." I always thought living in sin meant co-habitating before you're married. That's what old people and movies say, anyway. But to this particular legalist (I know "legalist" isn't a real word, but it works, so bear with me), living in sin meant whatever it is that I'm doing. Isn't that weird? I didn't even get mad. I wasn't even surprised. I just thought how depressing it is that this is the culture in which I live in this crummy little town, suffocating under the legalistic and self righteous buckle of the Bible belt.

I got a redemption call from a friend back in L.A. I told him about my experience and he quoted,

"My jaw is agape."

Thank God other people think that these types of occurrences are completely bizarre.

And all of it started with this here Blog. The girl who met me for lunch said she'd read my Blog and concluded that I am living in sin because of it.

I apologize to all of my readers who constantly provide supportive and raving feedback about the attention to detail and humor that I provide in this here online journal. To you, I apologize for projecting an image of me living in sin.




Anyway, it's real easy to get caught up in the small-mindedness of people in this town if you aren't careful. It's easy to chalk up this culture to very small and routine living if you aren't constantly in tune to your own lifeline, whatever that may be.

My lifeline has consisted of making to-do lists and being more positive about living in Memphis by taking advantage of its cultural opportunities.

Yesterday, I went to the National Civil Rights Museum.

Walking through the museum and watching educational videos and standing behind the balcony where Martin Luther King got shot made me feel like I was learning something - like Memphis is pretty historically rich, if you can look past the fruitcakes who live here and see the soulfulness of the culture as a whole.

There were two drunk ladies walking around who created some much needed comic relief, too, which was entertaining. You could smell the booze and cigarettes a mile away, and they kept taking pictures of everything, even though it was against the rules, and they'd mutter things about how they were going to get shot for taking pictures, but they didn't even care.

Oh, hilarious patrons of the National Civil Rights Museum. Thank you for making me appreciate my Labor Day.