Monday, February 23, 2009

Inbetween the Lines of a Sane Monologue

Winter sucks. I've been it's defender, it's champion, it's constant companion for so many years, but we've had a final falling out, and the truth must be revealed: winter is a sorry excuse for a season. It throws off my concept of time so that since I never wake up before 11 I get about five hours of daylight, it chaps my lips and face and hair and hands so that I'm not nearly as cuddleable, it makes me an incredibly tiresome mooch to all friends with cars because I just can't bear the idea of being out in the elements, it ruins all of my jeans with the mud streaks from the slush, and I've fallen down on the ice so much I think my butt is getting as misshapen as my head already is.

And to add insult to injury (literal injury, I wasn't kidding about how often I've fallen dow
n), now winter is doing a strip tease that's going to last for at least three months. Friday was an absolutely incredible day; the sun was shining without excess glare, the temperature actually matched the appearance outside my window, the air felt clean and crisp, pretty much there was a rip in the veil between this life and the next and it resulted in that day.

But it is freaking February 23rd. And despite the fact that we kne that that moment in time was pure bliss, we also know with even greater certainty that we're going to have at least 5 more snow days. To this I say humbug. I should now post the disclaimer that my bitterness toward the season probably wouldn't be so pronounced if I had the money to go skiing.

Oh, how I wish I had put my former days of leisure to better use. Says the self-important girl of 22 years. I spent my time in early adolescence doing all sorts of crazy things that I'm glad happened, but the thing that makes me cringe and hate myself is the soundtrack that my life was set to back then!

To this day, I can sing every lyric and provi
de every musical cue for the original *Nsync album. Pretty crazy embarrassing. But even worse? I could do the same for both 98 Degrees CDs, plus the first albums of Jessica Simpson, Mandy Moore, Christina Aguilera, and Britney Spears. Painful, shameful, hateful, it's true.

That was when I had both the time and inclination to sit in my room after dinner and just listen. The inclination is still there, and with my slacker status intact is quite often indulged, but this used to be part of my routine, for crying out loud. And I used to sit and pompously ponder about how these lyrics really spoke to me! Yeah, because a 12-year-old has so much life experience that relates to "Genie in a Bottle."

I just wish that I had had the wisdom in my sinful youth to focus on The Smashing Pumpkins, The Rolling Stones, The Who, AC/DC, or at least a band that I could name without preemptively rolling my eyes. Hell, at this point I would take The Offspring, at least that had a little edge.

Woe be me and my misspent hours memorizing all the wrong tunes. That, kids, is one of the many many reasons why I today have such a complex about not being cool enough. It's a Shurtz family trait already, but the wayward ways of the teeniebopper only serve to torment me all the more.

I was idly texting Jason yesterday and ended up articulating what I believe is my problem with finding datable guys much more succinctly then I ever had before: I'm too messy for the good guys and too principled for the bad eggs. Doesn't actually lead to any solution to the problem, but at least I have it defined now, which helps my brain rest a little bit.

So a few weeks ago I was down and out sick, so sick that the idea of drinking Diet Dr. Pepper was reprehensible to me. Basically I was at death's door. And no it is
not a good idea to try and infect me with the flu just to keep from drinking. So put down the syringe and just keep reading.

From this bout of flu I have discovered that I am attached to my beloved DDP in more than one way: not only do I get headaches from the lack of caffeine, but I think I have adde
d an emotional component to my habit as well. Basically, to my twisted brain, DDP=comfort. Because I really wasn't craving the taste, and I was too drugged up to feel the headaches, but I missed the sound. The kuh-shhhhhh of a newly opened can of perfectly chilled soda.

I have been a soda junkie for so long that I now rely on the consistency of my consumption as a crutch for the mess that is my day-to-day life. Yes, I did notice the crazy-awesome alliteration going on in that last sentence, and it made me very happy.
Just not as happy as I would be with a Diet Dr. Pepper in my hand.

This obversation of mine may explain why I get really defensive when people jump all over me for how unhealthy this habit is. Because my brain doesn't interpret criticism as an attack on aspartame or phenylalanine, instead it sees it as an attempt by others to take away my portable mug-shaped safety blanket. So if I snap the next time you remark on my excesses, please take into account the fact that I'm a crazed person who thinks her best friend is a wholly unnatural liquid. No offense, Becca.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bubbles of Plasticine

I have always heard people reference or complain about living/working under florescent lights, about how it makes them feel sickly or tense, and I just want to tell them to man up and accept this new century. I mean, I've been living in cheap apartments largely lit by florescent tubes for three and a half years. But then there is the rare occasion when I have been up all night and my vision becomes like a horror movie based on the flickering of a bad home video--everything shifts slightly to the left and then back into place at an average of 2.7 milliseconds. That's when I want to go old school and pull out the gas lamps like unto the nightlights that ineffectively watched over the Darling children's sleep in Peter Pan.

Sorry, that reference is probably a little obscure. It's possible I've gotten to that scary place where I could recite that book backwards now that Becca gave me a classy hardcover copy for my birthday. It's too pretty not to read! Plus I really hate homework, and where else would you want to escape other than Neverland? They have ticking crocodiles AND natural light!

I've had a few weeks of searing lyrical moments. Wow could I sound more ridiculous? But that's how to describe it. I've been listening to the old standards once again, to my nearest and dearest friends of 30's-50's jazz, but this time I've been skipping my favorite songs in order to appease my inner weighing system of fairness to give all the songs the same "chance." Which when you think about it is rather ridiculous, it's not like these songs have feelings. But that doesn't really hold much sway with my inner dialogue (yes I meant to put dialogue, not monologue).

And the result of this experiment? I have new favorite songs. It's incredibly strange, but when driving home from work one day--it ought to be clarified for my tough girl persona that this was close to four in the morning after a double shift--and the song "A Kiss To Build A Dream On" made my eyes well up. The wistfulness and simplicity of the plea totally got me! I blame the overt sentimentality of the season. It turns us all to mush--that and the eternally slushy streets that get my jeans wet up to my knees after two minutes outdoors can make one rather easy to squish down.

Walt Whitman said "I celebrate myself." I don't know if I know how to do that. Or if I do celebrate myself, it's from a sideways approach. Basically the way I celebrate what I am from day to day, whatever that may be in the moment, is by celebrating my friends. Because they are by far the best part of me.

Seriously, I know some of the coolest cats in town. Some of them--not Becca--don't even mind my archaic slang that makes me sound like I should be in a movie with Bob Hope (dude that would have been so awesome why oh why wasn't I born in the 20's?!).

Jessica makes fun of me for having all of these little pockets of friends, little groups that stay within their own universe, unaware of their close quarters, with me as the only point in the Vinn diagram that pretends to have anything in common with all of them. But isn't that how it should be for someone like me who on average goes through an existential crises every .6 months? If I can dye my hair for every mood, why can't I have enough corresponding friends to call to make fun of each different color?

I would say that every single one of the friends whose company I seek out regularly have only one thing in common. They can be warm and friendly, socially awkward and hugely judgemental, alienating or clingy, their interests and humors can be all over the map, but the one thing that they all share even if they don't know/like/pay attention to/care for each other is their complete comfort within their own skins. They are all, without exception and regardless of massive difference of behavior, the most unabashedly individual people I know.

And I love it. I love it, I want it, I crave that specific quality from everyone I get close to. So here's looking at you, kids, your self-confidence makes it that much easier for me to pretend that I really mean the "what you see is what you get" attitude that I throw in everyone's face.

And after that little tribute to friendship, I am now going to alienate all three people reading this by saying something that is going to sound incredibly arrogant: Is everyone constantly thinking, or is it just me?

Ok before you click out of this page with a roll of your eyes at my level of self-importance, let me clarify that I did not say I was better at thinking than anyone else. Far from it. Everywhere you look are people who utilize their brains and thought processes to much greater effect than I do--Andy Samberg, Demetri Martin, Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement are just a few prominent examples (ha, you totally thought I was going to be get all stuffy and name off a bunch of philosophers and authors, didn't ya?).

So the idea is not that I'm the best thinker in the room. The concern is that I can't turn my brain off, and it would be comforting to know that that is a common malady. But empirical data based on my own observations suggest otherwise: i.e., the look of bewilderment from most friends when I launch into another incredibly detailed analysis of why this type of breakfast cereal is better suited for munching on while watching cartoons than the other. I don't know where to stop! My brain isn't a finely tuned machine, it isn't an instrument to be applied with surgical skill, it's an often misfiring constantly running blob that consumes anything and everything in it's path. My brain is the villain in a fifties Armageddon film.

So are there people out there who really have times of non-thought? Not a lack of brain activity, those are people in comas, but do people go through the day and just watch things happen without applying a motive or seeking to deconstruct it's machinations? That sounds like it would be a cool thing to be able to do on command. Perhaps opium is the answer.