Missing

We’re sitting on a sofa in the camper on a perfect spring night. There’s a steady breeze blowing off the lake. The generator is out of gas so we’re running off of battery-powered electronics – my iPod and his speakers. There’s a lantern on the table giving off a soft yellow glow. He puts me in charge of music. I’m not even sure what he listens to. We’ve only gone out a handful of times and this trip to the lake was a last-minute decision. My parents have no idea where I am. I have a friend who knows I’ve gone camping and who I’ve gone with. She’d be able to find me if there was an emergency. But I’m not worried about that. I’m not worried about much of anything but what to play. I find a playlist I made several years before. It’s good late-night music, quiet, introspective, easy to talk over.

The third song is “Missing.” “I like this,” he says. I get up and switch from the playlist to the album that the song is on. “I like this too,” I say. I sit back down.

I feel like I’m supposed to say something about how I discovered the band or how long I’ve had the album but I don’t want to prattle on mindlessly about my life in 1994 or how this has always been cold weather music. In 1994 I was an insecure 19 year-old who listened to this in my dorm room alone late at night. I’m past that now. No need in bringing it up tonight. I say nothing. We sit in silence and listen. In a way it’s nice to sit with someone and not feel like you have to say something.

He’s leaning up against the wall with his feet up on the cooler. I’m sitting cross-legged on the other end of the sofa. Really, it’s more like a loveseat. We are close but not touching. I want to lean over and rest my head on his shoulder. I want him to put his arm around me and for us to continue listening.

“Lean over,” my mind says. “He invited you here because he wants to be here with you.”

My body refuses to move.

“Lean over, dammit. Put your head on his shoulder. That way he’ll know you like him.”

I’ve leaned over before as a 19 year-old so that the object of my affection would know I liked him. He moved away. Maybe I’m not past all that now after all.

“Lean over,” my mind says a third time.

My body refuses to move. This is cold weather music and I am frozen.

I look around absently at everything in the camper – the floor, the table, the wall. I look out the window at the lake. It is a beautiful spring night. There’s enough of a moon to see the water through the trees. The breeze has picked up and you can hear it blowing through the open windows. We didn’t need the generator anyway because the weather is perfect. Everything is perfect. Everything but me, I guess.

I glance over after about 20 minutes and see that he’s dozed off. I’m wide awake, adrenaline pumping through my veins like I’m about to take the biggest test of my life. I sit perfectly still and continue to listen until the music runs out. The absence of sound wakes him up.

“I guess we should go to bed,” he says. I nod my head, silently agreeing with him. It is after midnight. He lets me have the better bed while he sleeps in the cubby in the back. I lay on my back looking through the vent in the roof, watching the wind blow through the trees above until I finally fall asleep.

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Men Are Just Desserts

First of all, I’d like to say that I almost made it an entire year without writing which may or may not be some sort of record for me. While I must say that the primary reason for not writing is probably rooted in the fact that I’m really happy and content with my life right now it is quite frustrating to have the desire to write and not really be able to think of anything to write about. Oh, sure, I could delve into the old squash and come up with something unpleasant to write about but the truth of the matter is that I actually enjoy being happy a lot more than I enjoyed being unhappy. Yes, I admit it, I have been known at times to have actually enjoyed being miserable. But I’m over that shit now. I’m like that 80’s song “Ain’t nothing gonna break my stride. Nobody gonna slow me down – oh no, I got to keep on moving.”

Yep, I’m happy like an 80’s song. Deal with it.

But I still have the desire to write and, most of the time, have writers’ block. And that’s frustrating to me because I really like writing.

Interestingly enough, I was able to derive something to write about today out of how unbelievably happy I have been for the past year and a half which is somewhat shocking in and of itself. I’ve been laid up in the bed for almost a week with kidney stones so I haven’t been feeling well. And my computer decided it should have sympathy pains with me. Oh, lappy, I don’t need your sympathy. I don’t need you to be sick with me. I need you to work and entertain me when I’m all laid up in bed on painkillers. Don’tcha know? Yeah, Lappy missed the memo and kept giving me the beach ball of death. For you PC people, it looks like this:
Image

(illustration by Allie Brosh of the brilliant blog HyperboleAndAHalf.com – go read it… it’s linked on the sidebar)

Anyway, I had to take my computer to the Apple Store in Jackson to get it worked on and since I couldn’t take it Friday due to the iPhone5 launch, I had to wait until today. Only, in typical Courtney fashion, I had to schedule my appointment after the Ole Miss game but early enough that I’d make it back to see Florida State and Clemson play at 7 p.m. Look, I have priorities, okay? And no sick laptop comes between me and my Rebels. And no sick me comes between getting stuff done (sometimes) so I had my dad drive my drugged-up ass over to Jackson.

Fritz was able to fix my computer fairly quickly and Lappy seems to be much happier than it was earlier so hopefully it’s all better.

But on the ride home my dad and I got into this really good conversation about how much my life has changed over the past couple of years. For those of you who have known me for a while you know that I’m prone to going through periods (sometimes really long periods) where I’m just not happy. Honestly, I think I can safely say that I wasted the best years of my life being not very happy and the only person I can blame for most of that wasted time is myself. Sure, I got knocked around some but it’s not like I had anything so devastating happen to me that I shouldn’t have been able to bounce back from in in a couple of weeks, or at the worst, a couple of months. But, no, I literally spent years upon years being unhappy. I wasted my college years. I wasted my 20s and I wasted half of my 30s. Or, as Greg Berendt says, “I wasted the pretty.” If you’re reading this and you’re going through a bad time in your life I hope you’ll continue reading this because this is the thing – life is too short, or too long (depending on how you look at it) to be unhappy. And if you’re unhappy with something in your life the only person who has the ability to change it is you. So, here’s my story of how I tricked myself into being happy. I’m not making that up either – I literally tricked myself into being happy. I wasn’t trying to do it, but that’s how it worked out and not a day goes by that I’m not thankful for how things happened.

Let’s flash back two years to September of 2010. I had been in Shreveport for 4 years and in that time had managed to date the two biggest losers out of a population of like 400,000 people. Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration but they weren’t good guys and they certainly weren’t good for me. I mean, on paper they looked good for the most part but you can’t get the meat of a novel from reading its Cliff’s Notes and you certainly can’t get it from just reading the back flap of the book. And with these two, the devil was indeed in the details. But, hey, this isn’t about them. This is about me. So that’s about all I’m going to say about those two with the exception of one event which happened about this time two years ago and how it impacted my life and made me who I am today.

For those of you who have seen the movie “Up in the Air” this will probably make a lot of sense and for those of you who haven’t read it but intend to then you might want to skip this paragraph and start back with the next one because there will be spoilers from the movie. Starting now. You have been warned. After the amazing weekend George Clooney and Vera Farmiga’s characters have at his sister’s wedding, he gets all romantic and decides to fly to Chicago to surprise her. He appears on her doorstep and knocks on the door and ends up learning that the woman he’s been having a relationship with for the past few months has a family and a life that she had kept hidden from him. Anyway, that’s basically what happened with me. I went to the guy’s house and knocked on the door and his ex-girlfriend (who I call Jaws) was there… in her pajamas… spending the night. This was three weeks after he’d said to me that he hated her and hoped he never had to speak to her again in his life. So yeah, to say that seeing her there was a bit of a shock might be an understatement.

I was shocked. I was devastated. I wanted to lay in bed and cry and at one point in time I remember praying, “God, you know I don’t have it in me to take my own life but if you were to do it for me that’d be great.” Yeah, I asked God to take my life for me because I am too much of a coward to do it myself. So that’s pretty much hanging from the bottom rung. And I’d been posting all this mopey shit on Facebook. Whiny status updates. Sad songs. Mopey quotes from sad novels. It was painfully obvious to everyone I know and love that I was in bad, bad shape. And sometime right after praying to God to take me, I realized that I was being absolutely ridiculous and that, since the guy was still Facebook friends with me that he could see everything that I wrote that he was probably all smug in knowing that I was upset and he was happy. And that made me really mad. Because in the movies the bad guy never wins but in real life they often do. Only, I wasn’t content in letting him think that his life was fabulous and mine wasn’t because that would mean he had won. And I’d be damned if I let him win.

So I made a rule that I was only allowed to post on Facebook happy things – that way he’d think I was out having a great time, that my life was fabulous, and I wasn’t missing him one bit. If I went to a friend’s house to watch a movie then my post was that my friend was FABULOUS and the movie was GREAT even if it wasn’t someone I was all that good a friends with and the movie wasn’t really anything all that special at all. But adhering to the old adage “If you can’t say something nice then don’t say anything at all,” I basically became the verbal equivalent of a Lisa Frank painting.

(This is the part of the story where I ask you to stop reading and do a Google image search using the words Lisa Frank. Go do that now. I’ll be here when you get back)

Yep. My posts were all sunshine and rainbows and kittens. Every time I got on Facebook I forced myself to write something good. And here’s the funny thing about me: I hate not updating on Facebook. I don’t know what it is about social media that’s so addicting to me, but I love it. So I’d be dying to post something but I couldn’t do it unless I had something positive to say. Which meant that even if I was having the worst day in the world, I had to make myself think of something good so I could participate in Facebook. And then something clicked in me that I really did have fun going to the movies with my friends and I really did enjoy going to my friends’ kids dance recitals and I really did love my family and spending time with them. I am a lucky person to have these people in my life that I call my friends and family and luckier still that they had stuck by me through years of mopey-ness.

We’ve all had that sad sap of a person in our lives and at some point in time you get sick of that shit and you cut the person off or you stop answering the phone when they call. And for whatever reason, the majority of my friends had stuck by me. And, oh my gosh, how freaking lucky am I to have these amazing people stick by me when I probably would have gotten sick as hell of me and walked away? VERY lucky, that’s how lucky I was. So if you’re one of those people who I’m fortunate enough to call my friend and you’re reading this – thank you. Thank you for being my friend. Thank you for whatever traits you have that made me like you in the first place and thank you for whatever reason it is that you didn’t leave me. You all add something significant to my life and that is why you are my friend. I do not say this lightly as one of my new-found mottoes is “If you can’t add something positive to my life then get out of it,” and I live by it. The two loser ex-boyfriends are no longer Facebook friends of mine. I deleted them both and blocked them quite some time ago and I have not regretted that decision.

Okay, so I’ve written for quite some time now and not gotten around to why men are just desserts. Rest assured, it’s coming.

As I was talking to my dad about how much happier I am now than I was two years ago – or ten years ago for that matter – I said that I felt like going through all of that really made me realize that it’s better to not be in a relationship and be happy than it is to be in one and be miserable. That’s not to say that I’m not a believer in love or relationships because I’m a hopeless romantic and I do believe in “happily ever after.” I know that life isn’t perfect and that there are ups and downs in all relationships but I’m fortunate enough to have been raised by parents who have been together for 42 years and to have parents who were each raised by a set of parents who were together until one of them died (my dad’s parents were married over 40 years and my mother’s parents for over 50). So, yes, I do believe in happily ever after and I do believe that there’s someone out there for me. Maybe I know them already and maybe I have yet to meet my Mr. Right, but I do think he’s out there somewhere.

When I got home I had a friend who was lamenting the fact that she is single and that she didn’t think that there was a man out there for her. To which I replied:

When I was in high school a friend of mine was reading this book called “Men are Just Desserts” and I thought that it sounded like the most ridiculous book. I never read it but I’ve thought about the title a good bit in my life and I have come to the conclusion that men (or for men – women) ARE just desserts. They’re great but they’re not what sustains you. Maybe you’re not in a relationship with someone right now because you’re not ready for dessert. You need to have your life where it needs to be before the relationship part can happen.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that a relationship shouldn’t be what sustains you. Your own personal happiness should be what you derive the most satisfaction out of. If you rely on others to make you happy then you are ultimately setting yourself up for disaster because the other person will at some point let you down and it’s only if you’re content with yourself as a person that you will be able to deal with those letdowns and be able to move forward. You have to get your life where you determine your own happiness and if that’s the case then the relationship is dessert – it’s the sweet thing that adds to your life after you’ve provided your soul’s own nourishment.

 

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Round Here

I don’t know if there’s any other song in the world that can take me back to a time and place so completely as Counting Crows’ “Round Here.” When I hear it, it’s like I’m physically transported back to another place and time. I’m no longer in my apartment, or in my car, or at the beach. Wherever I am vanishes. The heat of summer or the freezing cold of wintertime are always washed away by the feel of a spring breeze coming through the open window of a dorm room on some random, completely unmemorable night in Oxford, Mississippi in 1994.

It is the spring. It is 1994. Bill Clinton is the president but I didn’t vote for him. Arkansas just won the NCAA basketball tournament but I was pulling for Duke because of their “not as hot as Christian Laettner” center, Cherokee Parks.

I am 19 years old, younger and thinner and prettier than I am now but it doesn’t matter because I was invisible to boys even then. My hair was longer but even then I was getting gray hairs. I’d been getting those since I was 15. Going through rush seemed to make it worse though. I’m not a size 8 like I was when I graduated high school but I haven’t maxed out yet either. Somehow I’m just cute enough, or just able to flirt enough, to be able to get into any bar I want to without an I.D. Even still, I don’t ever have dates for parties unless they’re Delta Gamma parties and I ask the guy myself. I’m somewhat bothered by this because I was raised to not ask out guys or even call guys unless I had a good reason for calling. So mostly, I hang out with my girl friends when they’re not doing something with their boyfriends.

I am sitting on the floor of my dorm room – Martin 410, (601) 232-6060 – working on an art project, doesn’t matter which one. Maybe it was the one with the scissors where I spent hours upon hours cutting out things out of black matteboard with an exacto knife. Maybe it was the one where I copied the Edward Hopper painting. Maybe I was just doing some shitty color wheel. It doesn’t matter. I was always working on some art project. I always had paint somewhere on my body, usually my right forearm from dragging it through paint on something I was working on.

I don’t have a roommate anymore. She moved out on October 1st after a horrible fight. She didn’t like me because I got into a sorority and she didn’t. I didn’t like her because her boyfriend called every night at about 2:00 a.m. and made her cry, which in turn woke me up. She’d never take the damn cordless phone out into the hall like normal roommates did when people called in the middle of the night. She said it wasn’t her phone. She had to have everything of her own. Her own fridge, her own stereo, her own telephone. How many electronic devices do 2 people need in a 12×12 room? But because I have no roommate, save a red and blue betta fish named Rebel, my room becomes a haven for people who are fighting with their own roommates, people who come in to town for the weekend, and people who are drunk and bored. They know I’ll be up at all hours of the night working on one of those art projects. Some of them, like Cam, come in every so often just to see what I’ve been up to. They’ve usually been out at the bars and smell like booze and cigarette smoke. I usually light my kudzu candle and pull out the box of wine from my mini fridge which we’ll pour into plastic wine glasses and chat for a while. Then they’ll go back to their room and I’ll go back to my art.

Funny, I wish Cam was 19 again too and knocking on my door, drunk, wanting to talk about the bars and what bands she heard and how dumb boys are. I’d still drink box wine with her even though I now know that white zinfandel and box win in general is kinda trashy just to relive the old days. Of course, I have no idea where Cam is now. I think she left after our freshman or sophomore year and I lost touch with her. She was fun. I miss her.

I know I’m a little bit different from the other girls I live with. They’re always so happy and having so much fun. They always have dates for Paddy Murphy and Ivy League and Old South to get ready for. They usually come to my room to borrow clothes or have me do their makeup for them. They always make sure I promise that I’ll come to the after-party that everyone is invited to since I don’t have a date for the party itself. I go and I have fun sometimes but there are other times when all I want to do is sit out by the airport and watch the light from the tower spin around. Green. White. Green. White. I can see it best from Gina and Ginger’s room and sometimes they’ll let me hang out in their room when they’re not there and let me use the computer to write a paper. I don’t have a computer in 1994, I won’t get one until that summer. It’ll be a crappy 386 with Windows 3.1 and I’ll use it mainly to play solitaire – but that won’t be until I move to Crosby in the fall…

Mr. Jones came out in the fall. I liked it a lot but didn’t buy the CD for some reason. It wasn’t until I went into Koondog and Perky’s room on the Thursday before Spring Break that I heard Anna Begins. I know now that I have to have this CD. This is a song that will capture me and hold me under its spell. I don’t know at the time that 11 years later it will have the same hold over me. I only know that it’s the best song I’ve ever heard up until that point in time. And I must have it. But I’m not talking about Anna Begins.

I put in the CD.

I hit play.

Track 1.

Round Here.

Every night it starts out the same, just as every morning I’m awakened by the 32 hi-hats at the beginning of Dave Matthews Band’s “Ants Marching” coming from Mallini’s room. Only this is the way my every night that spring start out. It’s usually late and the dorm has already gotten quiet. People are either out or asleep. I’m sitting on the floor in jeans and some random t-shirt that I’ve accumulated from random parties. The carpet’s nasty because all I have is a little dustbroom sweeper. It’s too much of a pain in the ass to go down to the lobby and check out the real vacuum. Besides, the boys in Stockard have basically ruined it. It’s almost the end of the year anyway. There’s no sense in lugging it home. I end up throwing it away when I move out of the dorm in May.

She says “it’s only in my head”
She says “Shhh I know it’s only in my head”
But the girl on the car in the parking lot says
“Man you should try to take a shot
can’t you see my walls are crumbling?”
Then she looks up at the building
and says she’s thinking of jumping
She says she’s tired of life
she must be tired of something

I wonder how it would be if the door to the roof of the dorm wasn’t locked. Am I sad enough to jump? It’s eleven stories. I know it’s high enough. But would I do it? That’s the question. I’m sure that’s why they locked it in the first place – to keep people like me off of it. Of course, I don’t think I’d really do it. I might go up there and look at the light from the airport because you can see it really well from up there. And I might take my clunky discman up there with me and listen to this song over and over again and cry. But I don’t think I’d do it.

Besides, I’m only 19. There’s so much in life to look forward to. I’m sure I’ll get a date for at least one football game next fall. I’m sure I’ll start running again and lose those 15 lbs. I gained. I’m sure… I’m sure… I’m sure…

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On Writing

I’m not going to lie. I feel like I’m beginning to be known in the blogging world as the Sea Monkey girl. I say this like I get so many hits every day that I’m allowed to anoint myself with this title but seriously, who else do you know who’s gotten 175 hits from people searching the term “sea monkeys” in Google (or Yahoo or Bing or whatever it is that the kids are using these days)? I bet I’m the only one. Then again, I’m probably the only person you know who thought they were once small enough to swim inside a grandfather clock so I guess strangeness just goes with the territory.

This is not good...

On one hand I’m sorry that there are people out there who are genuinely interested in Sea Monkeys who thought they were going to get some valuable information because I don’t have much to offer. But on the other hand I’m glad that people have stumbled onto my blog. I hope that they like what they see and want to hang around for a while. That way, somewhere down the road I can pretend like I’m a real writer and I can sit on my ass in pajamas and drink coffee all day long while generating income though my writing.

The truth is that in spite of studying Accounting, I still really want to be a writer probably more than anything else in the world. But, hey, you know J.K. Rowling had some job before she wrote all those Harry Potter books and for right now I’m just trying to figure out something that can pay my bills until the writing gig takes off. Sorry, mom. I do like accounting. I just like writing more. That probably has a lot to do with the fact that I can do it while sitting on my ass at home in pajamas while drinking coffee.

The problem with me is that I go through long periods of writer’s block and I will sit and stare at the screen for a while trying desperately to get my thoughts in order so that I can write something. Then, after about five minutes or so I’ll say, “fuck it” and I’ll go play Luxor since I’m already on the laptop and all. Luxor is the greatest time-suckage of all time. I thought I had gotten to the last stage earlier tonight I was like, “Finally! Tonight I will beat Luxor!” and then I realized it keeps going on past level 12. Who knew? Interestingly, it was while I was playing Luxor that I was inspired to write my last blog which has absolutely nothing to do with Luxor, Egyptians, little colored balls, or video games. But I guess I felt relaxed enough while playing the game that I was able to think about something to write.

Is it possible that I’m a manic-depressive writer? I go through periods where I can’ think of a single thing to write about and then I go through other periods where it seems like the only thing I can do is write. This week has been like a dream for me on the writing front but a disaster in all other aspects because every time I get started on a project I get distracted by some idea and I’m like, “Must. Write. Now.” The ideas just keep popping into my head and I can’t make them stop. I’ve actually gotten to the point where I’m writing in Word and saving the things I write until a later date so I don’t have information overload on my poor 12 readers. I want to dole it out bit by bit. I’ve actually written almost 10,000 words this week alone though and that’s a scary thought because that works out to something like 32 pages in 12 pt. double-spaced printed paper. Seeing how I often struggled to make a paper with the topic of my choosing even ten pages while I was an English major, this surprises and almost disturbs me. What is it about this week that has made writing so effortless for me? I don’t understand it but I also don’t want it to go away. I like being able to write even if it comes at the expense of other things like, say, sleeping.

Okay, you know I’m into something if I said I’m able to do it in lieu of sleeping and I actually like it. Everyone who knows me knows how much I love my sleep. I’m no different about that now than I was fifteen years ago. I love to sleep. But when the ideas are coming to me so rapidly I don’t want to put them off at the risk of losing them forever. There has to be a balance. I just don’t know what it is. Until I find it I’m going to have to choose one or the other.

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Just Like Heaven

Homecoming

I am in a black velvet dress. It’s off-the-shoulder and it has feathers looping around my upper arms. I love this dress. It was my mother’s dress back in the 80s but by a strange twist of fate where I couldn’t find a dress to wear to prom the previous spring, it became mine. There is a bit of irony when you think about the fact that I am the daughter of a woman whose clothing store sells formal dresses. Yet, for whatever reason, I hate everything so much that season that I choose to recycle one of my mother’s old dresses. I then proceed to wear it not once, not twice, but three times to three different formal events over a three year period. I am not good advertising for my mother’s store.

The small cafeteria has been transformed into a dance floor for the night. Crepe paper streamers and balloons in purple and gold drape the walls and ceiling. A deejay is set up in one of the corners. Most of the music he plays is current top 40 fare but every so often there is a break from the Paula Abdul and C+C Music Factory and he’ll play something by the Violent Femmes or The Pixies. This particular song isn’t new – no, it came out years earlier but upon hearing the first chords the dance floor springs to life. Guys grab the hands of the girl closest to them and run to the dance floor. My hand has been grabbed and off I run. Nobody wants to miss dancing to this song.

My date is the kind of guy you want to marry when you’re 30 but don’t much want to date when you’re 16. If that sounds cruel I assure you it’s not meant to. He’s smart and polite and dependable and sweet. He opens doors and tells you how nice you look. He’s on the football team. I sit with his family during the game and proudly wear my homecoming ribbon with my date’s name on it. I could sit with my friends at the game but I choose to sit with his family because I like them. No, there’s nothing bad at all to say about my own date. My date is Mr. All-American. I’m quite happy to be there with him.

The boy I’m dancing with, however, is not my date. I’d like to think that he came alone because that’s the sort of thing it seems like only he would have done. But in reality he had a date – he had to have – I just don’t know who it was. At any rate, I don’t know who his date was then any more than I know now and that’s just as well because that way I feel no guilt for dancing with him. Actually, I do feel guilty for dancing with him because I’m abandoning my All-American date for a dance with a boy who fascinates me. He’s also smart and also on the football team and on paper this boy might seem even more Mr. All-American than my own Mr. All-American date is. He’s not. He’s darker. He’s moodier. He’s prone to doing things that lead his classmates to call him different. I’ve known who he was my whole life but I hardly know anything about him at all. I could have probably told you the favorite colors and foods and songs of almost everyone in the room that night – but not him. Kids who grow up in small, tightly-knit Southern towns can do those sorts of things so the fact that I know nothing about him is, to say the least, strange. Sure, I can tell you some things about this boy – who his family is, where he lives, what kind of car he drives – but other than those things I can’t tell you much about him at all. All of my information comes second-hand and most of it is less than flattering. It’s not that he’s menacing or hurtful to people. He’s not. He’s just different. His jokes puzzle people. He’s prone to interrupt a conversation about last week’s party with commentary on Descartes or Machiavelli. High school kids don’t know how to respond to such things except to roll their eyes and mouth “whatever,” to each other.

I have heard through a friend that he is interested in me. Of course, it’s hard to know for sure when you’re getting your information from a friend whose mother was talked to his mother who said he liked me. Or maybe his mother told my mother that and my mother told me. I can’t really remember. All I know is that someone’s mother talked to his mother and for whatever reason one of them had decided that he was interested in me. (Now that I think about it though he really doesn’t seem like the kind of boy who would have discussed his interest in a girl with his mother so maybe everything I just said isn’t true at all.) But, at this point in time I believe that he might be interested in me. And since I’m the kind of girl who is everyone’s buddy but nobody’s girlfriend I’m fairly excited at the prospect of dancing with him.

Three minutes and thirty-three seconds. That’s all I was given. I can see it all like it was yesterday both through my own eyes and also through some omniscient view that your mind throws in years after. The effect is like you’re getting to watch your life replay on film. For the span of this one song I smile and dance. I am completely high on the adrenaline of dancing with this boy who I’ve only watched from afar. It was like I was shy and unable to speak to people when in reality that’s far from the truth. I’m the type of girl who speaks to people in line at the grocery store. I’m the one who’s first to greet the new kids in school. I am many things, but I am not shy. Yet with him I am always watching and never speaking. I don’t know how to talk to him. I want to, but can never think of anything to say that isn’t banal. I know I want to stand out and be different from the other girls but I can never figure out how exactly to do that. So I dance and I smile and I hope that maybe this will lead somewhere because I want to talk to him in spite of the fact that most of my friends think he’s different. He is different. That’s why I want to know him better. Deep down I think that I may be different too.

I never spoke to him save pleasantries before or after that night. We didn’t even speak at the dance that night and I certainly never went out with him later on. He continued to be a mystery to me. I continued to study him from afar in a desperate hope that I would think of that one thing that would make me seem interesting to him. It never happened. But for those three and a half minutes he was mine.

As strange as it sounds, I rarely ever think about where he is now or what he’s doing. I have a vague awareness that I’ve gleaned through conversations with mutual friends and every so often I will run into one of his parents when I’m at home and I’ll ask how he is.  They never tell me much about him other than he’s fine and I’m actually okay with that because it’s like the knowing now might color my memory of that night in the fall of 1991 with the life he leads twenty years later. I don’t want that. I want my perfect memory from a night when I was sixteen and myself a completely different person.

Here’s the thing about memories though – as time passes they themselves morph and change into something other than what really happened. I know that when I think about the drive up Seven Mile Beach from Georgetown to the condo we always stayed in that we drove on the left-hand side of the road. But my mind always flips it around and puts me on the right because that’s the side of the road we drive on in America. No matter how many times I try to tell myself that when we’re driving north on that road that we are on the same side as the ocean, I always see cars passing between me and the beach. Logic tells me I’m wrong but I can’t stop how I see it in my head. Maybe the boy never liked me. Maybe it was another girl named Courtney or someone with a different name entirely. Maybe he didn’t like anyone at all. It doesn’t matter one way or the other. It wouldn’t affect the way I tell the story because sometimes the story itself is the memory.

Posted in Sentimental Crap | 2 Comments

Schadenfreude… and Randomness

I hate to admit it but I really do delight in the misfortune of others – particularly those who have done something to me which I perceive as unjust. I guess it would have been better to have laughed about it at the time but since I didn’t know about it until today I couldn’t laugh about it until today. So laugh about it today I will do.

In other news, I have come to a point in my life where I’m going to have to decide what kind of angle I’d like to take with this blog. Will it be family-friendly or is it something that I’d really prefer only adults with a little bit of a thick skin to read? On one hand I find myself still amused by things I see on Texts From Last Night and want to share them with my readers and my college friends and roommates – most of whom have little interest in laughing about stupid stuff that happened ten years ago because they’re now married and have kids and the things that happened a decade ago that were once funny are now taboo subjects. Like this:

It was a sobriety test blowjob. If he could get it up, he could get me home.

I read this and instantly thought it sounded just like something one of my friends would have said to me back in 1997. Like, as in one specific friend who would have said this exact sentence to me while we were up at City Grocery having drinks the next afternoon and laughing about the night before. I was so tempted to copy it and send it to her and then I was like, “Oh yeah, it’s not 1997 anymore and she probably wouldn’t think that was funny, especially since she’s been married for like ten years or something. I bet her husband would find it particularly not funny and then he wouldn’t like me anymore. Well crap.” And then I’m left not being able to share it with anyone other than using it as an illustration of what I’d like to do but can’t do anymore because somewhere along the way life has kinda passed me by and Texts From Last Night shouldn’t even be funny anymore to me but it is and I can’t rightfully explain why.

I first noticed that I cared about such things last summer when I was scanning and posting pictures from high school and college. I took special care and made sure to omit any photographs of people holding alcohol and/or cigarettes (or at least crop out the booze and smokes) because most of them have families now and most of them also don’t want their spouses/kids/parents to see pictures of them doing what almost every other kid was doing at that age. I wouldn’t say they want to erase the past (well, some of them do and that’s their business and I respect it) but most of them do want to whitewash it a bit.

The problem comes about for me in that I have great stories to tell and most of those stories involve people involved in situations that they may not like to be associated with.

Then there’s the whole thing with using bad language. It’s a well known fact that I’m a Southern girl who can and does cuss like a sailor at times. I try not to do it out in the open like I did when I was in college because, honestly, I don’t want to be dropping a bad word and some poor grandma or a child hear me and break into tears. When those dogs were yapping at 5:30 a.m. I wanted to scream at them “SHUT THE EVERLIVING *&(^% UP!” but what I really said was, “Guys, hush!” in a stern voice because I wanted to be respectful of the people living around me. (side note: even the tamed-down version got me evicted) However, I really don’t feel so much like I want to do this in my writing. I mean, I certainly hope that the average 8 year-old who’s surfing the internet doesn’t just stumble onto my blog and read curse words but my friendly little stat-o-meter tells me that the search words that lead most people to my blog are “sea monkeys” and that the average 8 year-old might not expect to stumble onto my blog by typing “sea monkeys” into Google.

Do I censor myself in the anticipation that there are people out there who might want to read a G blog only to find that it’s more like PG-13? I mean, yes, I can tell a nice story about John Denver’s “Country Roads” without dropping an f-bomb but at some point in time I’m going to end up telling a story about an ex-boyfriend or something else that makes me literally cringe and it’s fair to say that some “not-so-nice” language is probably going to slip out in my writing. Yes, I can say that someone is a fool but if I say they’re a damned fool then it really gets the point across. I guess you could say that I curse for emphasis. Emphasis gets the point across.

I’ll tell you who’s not getting the point across very well though – Honda. While watching The Amazing Race last night I saw two commercials for the new Civic featuring superheroes and monsters and possibly a ballerina as well. The end card said, “To Each Their Own.” I’m sorry, but did nobody notice that the words “each” and “their” do not go together? “Each” implies a singular thing and “their” implies plural. But in the days of politically correct bullshit (see, I told you it was bound to happen when I needed to curse for emphasis) we’re no longer allowed to say “To each his own,” or “To each her own,” because by specifying only one sex we have glaringly omitted the other. I’m sorry, but I am just not so overly sensitive that I would read “To each his own” and infer that this would not also mean “her” own because it’s 2011 and women are not only allowed to drive cars but they can also purchase them and even register them in their own names. Yay, progress!

One of the most horrifying moments of my return to college was being told in a business communications class that it was not only appropriate but expected that a writer would use “s/he” in proper business communications. Like, use it just like that with the slash in it to indicate that not only are men allowed to so something, but women may do it as well (but only as a marginal forethought as the women are only allowed to participate with 1/3 of the correct pronoun). I’m sorry but I’m not going to stray from the standard male pronouns that I was taught to use when I was in grade school because when I read the sentence “If an employee needs to request time off, s/he should do so in writing at least a week before the anticipated absence from work,” I cringe. It looks bad. It sounds bad. In my head I read “s/he” and my mind thinks out “Shu-hee.” C’mon ladies, stand with me if you’re against this butchery of the English language! I don’t want to share a pronoun with a man at work any more than I want to share a bathroom with one. I suppose that makes me an anti-feminist. Whatever. I just hope I don’t have to hear any femminazis talk about having spashdown in the “bothroom” because some guy forgot to put the seat back down. I’d laugh because that would indeed be Schadenfreude.

Posted in Humor, Randomness | 7 Comments

Memories of My Gigi

When I feel like I need to escape from the world I’m living in I often climb into bed and close my eyes and remember my childhood. The memory is always the same. It’s hard to say if I remember it because it happened so many times or because the few times that it happened were so memorable. I guess it really doesn’t matter one way or the other though because the memory is there.

It always starts in her garage. I’m climbing into her Cadillac. She always drove Cadillacs with the exception of that one white Town Car she had in the 80s. But of all the Cadillacs she owned, this one is my favorite. It’s emerald green with an emerald green leather green interior. It’s the largest car I’ve ever seen. I say this not because in my memory I am a small child, but because I also remember that the car did not fit all of the way inside of the carport. The last foot or so stuck out of the back in a way that reminds me of my own growing feet wearing a hole in my Keds and poking through the end of my shoes. This car is the thing that dreams are made of. I once heard that it was the largest passenger car made that was not a limousine. I’m not sure if this is true or not but I like to think that’s the kind of car she’d like to have. Texans are like that, you know.

We climb inside. I climb onto what I call the “horsey seat.” It’s really the fold-down armrest but I like to sit astride it and pretend as though I’m riding a horse. Don’t judge her for being irresponsible with me. These are the days before wearing seat belts were common so she’s just letting me have fun while I’m riding in the car. Besides, the trip is short.

A few minutes later we’re inside the salon. It’s everything you can imagine a salon in a small Mississippi town in the 1970s would be like. I can’t pinpoint the smell – it’s a mixture of hairspray, permanent solution and shampoo – but it’s delicious. I’ll go to one chair and she will go to another. This is a treat for me. I’ll get to have my hair washed in the salon so it will look nice for church the next day. She’ll have hers set and sprayed for the same reason. Later that night she’ll put on this funny hat made of foam with netting on the top. I question why she does this and she tells me that it’s so her hair won’t fall. It doesn’t matter to me if her hair falls or not so long as she’ll let me wear the hats and pretend they are crowns – which I do. She doesn’t seem to mind too much though.

After the hair washing the stylist puts my hair on big rollers and walks me over to a row of the large hairdryers that you sit under at the salon. I am propped up on the biggest catalogues that they have – JC Penney, Sears, Service Merchandise. I’m also allowed to select a book to read while my hair dries. I could choose from several things but my favorite is the Illustrated Book of the Bible. At the age of four I could already read so I sit under the dryer with the warm air whistling around my head, reading the story of Creation, followed by the story of Adam and Even, followed by the story of Cain and Abel. I’m never able to make it all the way to the end of the book so she goes to the trouble to order a copy of the book for me to read at her house as well.

I suppose it’s a strange memory for someone to have – Saturday trips to the beauty shop, but it’s little things like that I cherish the most.

It’s funny, because you hear a lot of people say things like, “Oh, my grandma made the best apple pie” or “My granny made beautiful quilts.” My grandmother did neither of those kinds of things but she did make excellent reservations and definitely knew finery when she saw it. She was never extravagant, but she did enjoy the fine things in life. She is the one who told me at a very young age that I didn’t have the type of skin to be in the sun and I should wear a hat and sunscreen when I went outside. Every time someone tells me I have pretty skin I think about her advice because I honestly don’t think I’d still look like I was in my 20s if it wasn’t for her. You see, both of my parents are sun-worshippers. In the summertime they both sport dark tans. I look like I’m their long-lost child who spent their formative years in a cave with the kinds of animals that have no pigment and no eyes. But hey, I have no wrinkles so I can’t complain.

She was the one who told me I had a head for business and I should study it in school. I honestly wish I had listened to her about that one because I really do love studying business. I would have never thought that with my love of the arts and literature that I would have also had a head for numbers but I’ve been pleasantly surprised to learn that she was right all along.

Yes, I had a very special grandmother. The kind of grandmother who would let you drink beer in front of her. The kind of grandmother who always slipped a $20 bill in your pocket for “gas money.” The kind of grandmother who was never too busy to sit and listen to you babble on about crushes or mean teachers or how much you like working in sports. The kind of grandmother who never once pestered me about if I was ever going to graduate from college or get married. My grandmother was a strong woman and a smart woman. She was the kind of person you don’t hesitate to say that you look up to – not because you’re obligated to say those sorts of things but because you really mean it. I’d be lying if I told you that I’m not going to miss her terribly but I take much solace in knowing that I was so fortunate to have her in my life for so long.

Posted in Childhood Memories, Sentimental Crap | 2 Comments