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.