Your Memory Is A Monster

Completely anonymous, letting the guilty live free and the interested live happily.

Luxury living. July 31, 2009

Moving almost always begets a nervous breakdown for me.

There is the normal stress of moving. Starting something new, not sure what will happen, or how things will work out. Leaving a place I was familiar with, people I knew and spent time with. Having to pack everything, move everything, unpack everything.

There are some aggravating factors, too. Like that I have at least two boxes that I packed when I moved out of the duplex I lived in in college, 5 years ago, 3 moves ago, and had a similar nervous breakdown. There are math tests I took 6 years ago, entire boxes of student papers from 3 years ago. So, not only do I have more stuff to move… there’s a hidden, neurotic reason these things are still around.

They have the cursed personal value.

I can’t get rid of anything my mother has given me… and that is a considerable amount of stuff.

I can’t get rid of anything associated with my senior year of college… and a great deal of that stuff is barely more than trash. In fact, I think there are empy cigarette packs that some friends of mine gave me with inside jokes written on them. So, yeah, actual trash.

There are endless notebooks. Class notes, journals, empty notebooks, boxes and boxes of notebooks.

Pictures, from before I got a digital camera. Of parties in college, my front porch the year I turned 21 and belived myself to be impressive by drinking on that front porch, endless piles of pictures.

Tomorrow, I turn 27, and I live in a new apartment, in downtown Ft. Worth. The building and parking garage both have limited access. Landscapers are here every day. There is trash pick-up, from outside my apartment door, every evening. There are swimming pools, a skyscaper view, and the building backs up onto river trails.

I have managed to curb the crap in my apartment in a workable way. The coat closet holds 6 boxes, and there are 4 behind the couch. Aside from clothes, everything else is put away. I am hoping to turn 10 into 2.

I am hoping to feel more deserving of this apartment once I can actually keep track of the crap.

I am hoping to stop romanticizing the town I’ve left, to stop feeling like “it was the only place I felt like myself.” That old town, where I lived for four years doing graduate work and teaching, is the only place I felt like myself… because it is the only place I ever was & because it helped mold me into the person I was… am? I know I’ll miss my friends. Hell, I’ll miss having friends around, no matter who they are. I can’t, though, miss the town. If I think objectively, this town has all of the best things, on a grander scale. And while that grander scale makes things less personal, less personable… I remember now that I never really felt “at home” in all those cool, hip places in my old town.

I felt at home at my home, at my friends’ homes, and at the two shitty bars we went to once a week.

The stuff I own, my possessions, I know would make for a funny essay subject. I’ve tried several times before, and again today, to write about them. For some reason, my stuff has made it to the list of things I can’t successfully write about. Writing teachers have theories about why writers struggle with certain material. Maybe writers don’t have enough distance, can’t prioritize because the subject is a sensitive issue; maybe the writer can’t edit him or herself on the subject because they are still dealing with it, meaning they would use the essay as some self-indulgent therapy ramble.

Would it be too cliche for me to say that I don’t think that it’s any of those things?

I can’t write about my stuff, or my old town, not really… because I don’t want to. Writing is a highly analytical process. Perhaps there is none higher. I don’t want to have to make the kinds of admissions, face the kinds of demons, deal with the implications that would be brought forth by my endless analysis of these subjects.

My essays are highly funny. Perhaps there are none funnier. But they are serious, too, and both the comedy and the seriousness is born of my willingness to make fun of myself. There are matters I just can’t self-depricate on. Old town and stuff aren’t the only ones. Sometimes things change, sometimes I finally find a way to do it.

For now, I’ll just watch my dog look out the window, and wish with him that we had something better to do.

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The best years, some of the worst people. February 20, 2009

I loved college.

Every expensive minute of it.

No, no, not every minute of it. I think there was a day when I thought, “if I throw myself down these stairs, I bet I can go home.”

I know that I’ve romanticized it greatly since it ended, but I don’t know that there’s anything wrong with that. I don’t yearn to go back, I don’t spend my days missing being in college, wishing I could re-drink all of those keg beers. I simply try to unremember things like being left out, not really fitting until the second part of my junior year. 

It is pretty easy to unremember my freshman year, as ugly and un-fun as it was. As boring and sad as it was. I think I was always uncomfortable that year. Plus, there have been many beers between 2000-2001 and 2009. 

It is equally easy to focus on my junior year–finally living with someone I liked, finally not feeling like the unwelcome guest at the party, the one invited because no one knew how to avoid doing so. There were road-trips and movie marathons. There were nights spent in boys’ dorm rooms, doing something better than having sex: hanging out. 

My senior year was unquestionably the best. My friends then were really my friends, they are (mostly) still my friends. I fit with them, I didn’t have to be quieter or pretend to be less messy. I didn’t have to pretend like I wouldn’t rather be drinking. There was a party every night. There were roommates who were (clinically, certifiably) out of their fucking minds. There was stumbling home, there was the discovery of drunk Taco Bell, there was keg after keg, porch after porch. There were Carefree Monday Afternoons, a hat party, a cross-dressing party, a happy hour every Friday that lasted at least 8 hours. There were cops and there were camping chairs. But there were also real friends.

What I try to not think about most of all is the sheer number of fucking assholes who were there. Not at the parties and on the porches; only a few slipped through the filter of the capable men of ** and the Duplex. But everywhere else. These bad people, male and female, had this power to make me feel like an outsider, like an inferior member of the species. They didn’t care about learning, except for the ways it could make them rich or find them husbands. They were what many would think of as standard-issue frat boys and Gamma girls. 

I try to avoid thinking about the weirdos, the creeps, the ones who thought anything that didn’t serve them directly and immediately wasn’t worth anything. There were people everywhere, at my private, Christian college, being self-serving pricks, usually while wearing crosses and contemplating missionary work or a summer stint with Habitat for Humanity. As if they cared about humanity.

They were resume packers before they showed up on our green, historic, comfortable campus, and they served that end throughout the 4 (or 5) years. 

So, can someone tell me why I accept their friend requests on Facebook? Or why I look to see where they are working? Or why I feel bad that they have better jobs, have traveled to better places, are married, look cute in their pictures, have photo albums doing things more fun than I am doing?

I know it doesn’t matter. I love my life, and my job that pays me nothing. I love my students who can’t use apostrophe’s*. I am excited (and nervous, terrified, etc) about the job I’ll have next year teaching high school. I consider my life fun and full of excitement. I have better friends than anyone else I know (who isn’t friends with me, of course). I go on trips. I spent my summer at my parents’ lake house. I work hard and I have a Master’s degree. 

I know it’s possibly, hell that it’s even likely, that some of these same bad people look at my Facebook page, and long for a lake house, friends who are this much fun, people who can be counted on, fulfilling jobs, goofy shit I find myself doing, or even just a creative sense of fucking humor. 

But I am still looking. And thinking:

Someone married that fucking guy? Jesus, there must seriously be something wrong with me if B____ D____ can hook a spouse and I can’t.

I can’t believe that total loser lives in Scotland now. I mean comethefuckon. He is incapable of appreciating it the way I would.

Wow, look, that c-face from across the hall my junior year is a bank president. Look at her house that is bigger than every place I have every lived put together. Look at her two kids, sexy husband, cocker spaniel and heated in-ground pool. 

I KNOW it doesn’t matter. I KNOW that in the ways that do matter, my life is richer, better and more meaningful. And even if it isn’t better, it is all I could ever need, it is literally amazing, as in, it amazes me on a regular basis how simply great my life is. I am usually so excited to be me, I don’t notice there’s something to be jealous over. I usually wish good things on all people, knowing that my good fortune is just wrapped in a different package.

But, really. Comethefuck on.

That guy?

 

Teenage devils. February 6, 2009

Should I be bothered that I am a better teacher than the people teaching me to teach?

Should I be bothered that the state requires me to learn how to teach, even though I’ve been teaching for 4 years?

Should I be bothered that, in order to sustain and fulfill my life, I’ve accrued $70k in debt?

To be honest, I am most bothered by the fact that I don’t even know how to get a job once I’m done learning to do a job I’ve been doing. Maybe, somehow, these classes will make me a better teacher. But how are they going to help me get a job?

One of the FAQs on the Ed department’s Teacher Certification program website is “Will the department help me find a job?” The answer is simply “No.”

Perhaps I should have a different department, eh?

Though my MA will earn me only a little more a year (when I do, eventually, find a job), I don’t think it was a wasted effort, or even wasted money. I think that those three years, that that writing, those experiences were intrinsically valuable. I don’t know that I would have named a price so high, but I would never say I’m not glad I did what I did.

I did wish this process was easier, though.

I want to teach English to high school students. I am ready to sell my soul to the teenage devil. I am ready to lay down my life for standardized tests. And I am willing to do it all for less money than I could make doing little more than checking my Facebook as an office worker. So why isn’t someone making it easier?

There is an abundance of well-educated, under-employed people in this county, this state, this city, this effin’ neighborhood, even. Why aren’t we being snatched up, courted, wooed and escorted into jobs that need filling, that change lives, that meet important needs?

Why do I have to fight to do the right thing?

I am still going to do it, and I won’t complain (more than this). But what about all the equally qualified folks who are up for the job but not this strenuous process?

 

I remember you being very different. August 16, 2008

Let’s say that you went to college with this guy. And you just loved him. Every time you saw him on campus, you found a reason to talk to him. You were friends, sometimes you hung out, sometimes you had lunch together in the caf or sat around on a front porch at a party talking. You weren’t crazy stalker asking questions about him getting people to talk to him about you. You just acted kind of goofy whenever you talked to him. You were the only person around who knew half of anything about music and you always argued about it with him, in that spirited, excited way you argue when you finally find someone your equal in such an argument.

He made you a CD of all his favorite music, and you still have it, 4 or so years later.

He was a safe and comfortable person. Someone you didn’t obsess over, but someone you couldn’t shake out of your brain when you left school. Unlike those countless people who you hung out with sometimes but whose names you don’t still remember, this guy somehow manages to come up in your memories.

If you think of that time his band played some shitty show a few blocks from campus, you think: “Why wasn’t I braver? Bolder? Why didn’t I realize then what I realize now?”

But it’s infrequent that you think of him. Let’s say though, for the first time in months, you think of him one morning and realize you had a dream about him the night before. A dream where the two of you were married and in love and comfortable with each other.

And so you find him on Facebook. 

And you do realize now what you hadn’t before. 

He’s kind of stupid. And he spells things wrong. And he quotes stupid movies. And his favorite books include novelizations of the Star Wars movies and Harry Potter. And that’s it. And there is a joke about oral sex. And his favorite movies Dumb & Dumber and Baseketball

It would, don’t you imagine, change the way you look at a lot of things in your past.

 

Not everything is relative. But the standard is. December 1, 2007

I can never love you if you cut in line.
I think fast drivers are bad people.
I believe there is no excuse for the poor treatment of waitstaff, though I also believe there’s no excuse for rude waiters.

Though you’ll never convince me, I understand your support for movie and TV studios rather than for the writers who fuel their enterprises.
Though I cannot be swayed, I am sympathetic toward those who think lower taxes are more important than equal health coverage.

Don’t interrupt without apology.
Don’t walk into the movies if you’re very late.
Don’t pack up your books until your teacher has finished talking.
Don’t spit in front of people.

Though I believe it to be an evil enterprise, I can’t imagine re-living my early college years without going to Wal-Mart.
While I know it’s hard for some to accept, massive global climate change is happening. And we’re causing it. Deal with it. Then do something about it.

Tip, but not under or over what is deserved.
Be honest, unless the truth’s only effect is harm.
Listen to the tone you use, but allow yourself to use a harsh one when its necessary.

Remember that when people are jerks to you, it’s almost always their problem, and not yours.

 

Like a Flash November 18, 2007

It seems to always start as an innocent attempt to watch the Mavericks game (we sent the Spurs home crying to their mommas or, in Tony Parker’s case, their skanky wives).
Let’s just go grab a beer, watch the second half. Early night. Lots of work to get done, lots of papers to grade before the Thanksgiving holiday.
It’s not remarkable that some of us really did make it an early night, nor that others, the two of us who said “we’re not staying long” the loudest were the ones getting booted from the bar at closing time.
That girl we’d been making fun of seconds before she showed up that night? She was suddenly our dearest friend as we needed a ride to an after-party. Well, needed…Ha. We needed lights and sirens taking us home to our beds. We wanted a ride to the after-party.
We’re not only the kind of people who fake a friendship for a ride, we’re also the kind of people who get believed, who get trusted, who get rides.
The after-party went a little something like this.
Drink whatever is on the table.” Says our friend, a resident of the house.
I drink the lid-less, probably week-old vodka and chase it with the lid-less, undoubtedly older Diet Coke. No one else seems interested, so I continue this pursuit while my friend A, who had been at the party longer than me, sang a 90s song on the house’s leading draw: the karaoke machine.
I take that back, too. The guys’ house on Alice Street has a clearer, stronger draw: only guys live there, guys without real jobs, bedtimes or particular concern for cleanliness.
A Corona 40 appears shortly after the vodka’s empty.
A video-camera appears shortly after I start singing REM’s “Losing My Religion.”
The video camera has been entrusted to me as some go for refills, others in search of a lighter.
“Are we smoking in the living room?” I ask, not wanting to leave the comforting world of blue arm chair-opia.
We are.
We are also singing Alanis, Elvis, the “I’m too sexy” song.
We are also passing joints from our left to our right, as always, except once, including ourselves. That’s new.
We aren’t leaving until people start falling asleep on couches.

On the walk home, I make many drunk calls, leaving many drunken voicemails, the best of which includes the line “I know where I am but I feel lost.” Drunken rambling? Yes. Poetic life philosophy? If you so choose.