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?

 

A blog for real-life grown ups. September 23, 2008

I am an adult. This means that I deal with my feelings instead of hide from them. This means that I make jokes that aren’t cool but am alright with that.

This means that I take people seriously when they talk about their feelings. because that’s what I want from my friends.

This means that when I screw something up, I don’t just mentally acknowledge that I screwed it up, I say it to the person or people involved.

Being an adult doesn’t mean I’ve lost my fear of being honest about myself and my feelings. It does, though, mean that I admit this fear to the people being harmed by it.

It also means that I don’t just acknowledge my flaws in the painfully self-aware way that all my fellow writes have been doing. I admit to them. And, finally, I try to do something about them.

I know this reads like a high school journal entry. But I just get mad at people who are otherwise almost perfect, people whose primary flaw is that they are not just emotionally retarded (literal meaning of the word “retarded”) but who also think it’s OK for them to be this way.

My students’ willful ignorance makes me so troubled that some days I sit in the classroom after they’ve all left, staring at the back wall, forcing encouragement into my mind, trying to think of a way to interest them in something. 

But people my age, people I love and care about and spend time with, they aren’t willfully ignorant. They are contagiously curious. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be all over my life. But there exist among you the willfully immature, the willfully childish. Really, what you are is selfish.

Having an idea does no one any good.

Feeling bad about something does not help anyone.

Admitting that you are “difficult to be around” doesn’t make you easier to be around. Four of my friends have said something like this. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that all of them are men.

Your feelings about me, our friendship, our time together, they do me no good. They benefit me in no way. They change my life in, at most, a marginal way. What you do is what matters.

You see something that needs to be done and you do it.

You see someone who needs something and you get it for them.

You have the time, you do it so someone else doesn’t have to. 

You don’t keep score.

You don’t wait for someone else to.

You go beyond admitting your faults to actively trying to improve on them. Even if this means asking for help in doing so. Especially if it means asking for help in earnest. 

I’ve been writing an essay for a while. An essay about being old. Of course this approach is humorous because I’m not actually that old. Writing an essay is a mysterious process. It requires that I admit that my life is tremendously interesting, or, at the very least, it requires that the way I see my life and the world in which I live it, is valuable outside of my immediate life. 

What I wasn’t expecting, though, was to discover how much I like being old.

It means that the only reason I need to end a relationship of any kind is that the other person isn’t ready for a grown-up, real relationship. I’ve ended friendships for this reason in the very recent past and it was relatively painless. For me.

And, upon reflection, I have no remorse about abruptly ending value-less relationships, because I know that I shouldn’t be in a relationship that provides me with nothing. To a less-than-adult, these relationships are crutches: access points to other people, guarantees that we’ll have something to do, validations of our likability, something we see as easier to maintain than terminate.

We cannot let people hold us hostage, though. Not for any reason. 

I have so many friends. I have so many true friends. But they are not a beacon of my value as a person. Their quality as people and as friends, even the number of them I have in my life, in indicative of both my quality of friendship and my capacity to truly value them.

I don’t expect someone to be my friend if I don’t value them.

So why would I be friends with someone who is so clearly selfish that they cannot go beyond admitting they aren’t a very good friend? Someone incapable of genuine apology? Someone who escapes at the sign of trouble?

If I think my friend is mad at me, I can’t stop trying to solve it. Why is it that so many people just ignore it, knowing that the person will have to let it drop?

I’m not afraid like I was when I was 18. Not afraid of being seen as dramatic, no longer allowing someone else to make me feel or act like a crazy person. My response is, I assure you, warranted. I am, again, hyper-logical, hyper-vigilant, hyper-self-aware. 

And here is my secret source of mental power. I don’t care if you think I am over-reacting. I don’t care if you think you don’t deserve to be admonished. 

I am too patient and too caring and too forgiving and too trusting and too kind and too generous and too fucking good to my friends. If I stop, it’s because I should have long ago. If I stop, it’s because I realize that I wouldn’t let someone treat my friend or sister the way you are treating me.

Here’s how to fix it:

Quit being a fuck.

Quit talking about quitting being a fuck.

Quit merely admitting that you are a fuck.

Quit being a fuck.

 

Five Things. April 26, 2008

I know that everyone thinks that they have the coolest friends. Well, maybe some people, like girls who pass out on a bed at a stranger’s house and get left there by their friends. Maybe these girls don’t wake up thinking they have the coolest friends.

In fact, I woke up hating that friend but calling several others who helped me find my way home on foot, who called and got someone to bring me my spare house key, since that girl who left me there, she had my keys. But that was long ago. 

A week ago, two of my best friend wrote poems about me, and then read them to a fairly large audience that included many other of my best friends and my parents. After they read their poetry, I read the most personal essay I’ve ever read aloud, and when I glanced up between sentences, I saw them all really listening to me. My friends who weren’t there read the essay and emailed me their comments, texted me good luck and their regret at not being able to make it, their wishes to have made it.

Seeing I was nervous just before going on stage, my father bought me coffee, my mom bragged to my friends and students about me, a friend I’d met only a few weeks before pepped talked me and joked with me. These isn’t the job for your best friend–the prepping. I needed accolades from someone new; I needed to be comforted by someone for the first time.

Yesterday, one of my best friends and I talked for an hour or so, making plans about convening our lives in the future, tying up the loose ends of frivolity, making something of the last of our free years and doing something that we are uniquely capable of doing. It’s a strong contender for my list of best conversations ever. It just had the right feeling, that conversation, the right amount of compliments and comfort tempered with sarcasm, doubt and drinking. And really, those five things define me more so than any other five I can think of.

I’ve said “best friends” many times in this post, and you should know this isn’t a term I use as loosely as it may seem. These people, they really are that great.