Saturday, August 16, 2014

the one where i'm an athlete

This might come across as shocking, but I've never really considered myself an athlete. I know, I know, my physique would have you guessing otherwise. But in reality, something just never really clicked when it came to speed, strength, or simple coordination.

I mean, I was sort of a badass in rec league softball. But really, I just learned to hit the ball really far so that I wouldn't have to run as fast. And there was that time that my friend Sarah and I took up rollerblading during the summer between middle school and junior high, and I ended up bouncing off the curb because I didn't know how to stop going downhill. And I tried jogging, but I just ended up with sore lungs and spitting a lot.

So why I thought purchasing a bike was a good idea, I DON'T KNOW. I JUST DON'T KNOW, okay? I'm just going to blame the boyfriend, because it seems like the best answer. But I did. I bought a '69 Schwinn Collegiate off of Craigslist, and it really is a thing of beauty. Bells, lights...it's pretty. And let's be honest, I prefer form over function.

Anyway, this bike. I'm not sure what sort of devil possessed me, but I thought it was BRILLIANT to ride our bikes from my house to the local brewery. No biggie, right? Except the brewery is closed on Mondays, and that was fairly disheartening. The boyfriend suggested that we ride our bikes to Dickson street for dinner instead, and because I AM A PLEASER, I cheerfully agreed. Even after he mentioned that "there's this one hill...", I was still 100% on board.

BECAUSE I AM A CYCLIST WITH A BIKE THAT HAS A BELL AND A LIGHT, DAMNIT.

And so we set off on the bike trail, and it was really quite lovely. After we had gone up a moderately inclined, s-curved hill, I remarked that "that one hill..." was a piece of cake! I was so proud of myself, because here I was, Wendy Alexander: Total Athlete. The boyfriend sort of shook his head at me, and pointed up.

Before me was the steepest hill I have ever seen. Do you know that show, Ninja Warrior? Where at the end there's this IMPOSSIBLE warped wall that they're just expected to scale, no issue? Make it steeper and then add a bicycle.

The boyfriend started to gain speed so he could get up the hill, and I started behind him. Except that despite my furious pedaling, I was not moving an inch. And I'm not trying to be all figurative, here. I mean I literally didn't move an inch. I did what any self-respecting person would do, and got off my bike and walked it up the steepest hill on earth.

After meeting back up with him, the rest of the ride was pretty uneventful. It was downhill, which felt like the ice cream you get after bringing home a report card full of As. When we reached our destination, the boyfriend casually asked "So...you how long has your bike been in the highest gear?"

Thursday, July 31, 2014

the one where i'm brave

It’s been unseasonably cool this summer, unlike three years ago when I was 9 months pregnant in the hottest July in any sort of recent history. No, God forbid that it be slightly temperate let alone unseasonably cool while I’m gestating. TOO MUCH TO ASK. Anyway, it’s been chilly. Chilly enough that I grabbed a sweater this morning to layer over my sleeveless dress.  I guess I’ve had this sweater tucked away, unworn, for over a year because I found hairs. Long hairs. My hairs. My old life.

 

And immediately I got all introspective and shit.

 

I had cut my hair, my waist-length hair, a few weeks after John said he was leaving the marriage. Walking into the salon, watching the hair fall

 

fall

 

fall

 

falling to the floor.

 

It was a moment of defiance and freedom. Shedding the long, dark golden hair was a easily one of the bravest things I had ever done. It sounds so silly when I look back on at, that a haircut would be considered brave. But for me, right then, it was. I knew that the marriage couldn’t be salvaged. I knew that my life socially, financially, emotionally felt like it was set in a tailspin. Everything was uncertain. There wasn’t a thing in my life that I felt I had control of. Except for my hair.

 

I walked out of the salon feeling lighter. I know it sounds ridiculous, but my soul felt lighter. Like this burden, this stress that I associated with the weight of my hair was instantly lifted. I felt strong. And while I could see that the coming days and months would be difficult, I could do it. That I was more than capable to achieve whatever I desired.  

 

So I put my sweater on this morning, pulling a long hair from the sleeve.

I remembered what it felt like to be brave.

Friday, June 20, 2014

the one where california terrifies me.

I think I've mentioned before the time when my family went to California to visit family during the summer between 2nd and 3rd grade. While I left without signing a contract, I still managed to enjoy our trip. I mean, Disney's loss is your gain. AMIRIGHT?

Anyway, we did the typical tourist stuff. Disneyland, Magic Kingdom, Universal Studios--if it was available, we did it. One of the most memorable parts of our trip was the Backlot Tour at Universal Studios. It was great! We crossed the parted Red Sea, saw the set from Psycho, had the bridge our tram was on shaken by King Kong; it was so much fun!

Until we started driving on an eerily familiar pier.

I knew I recognized this set, but I couldn't place my finger on it. There was this ominous feeling in the pit of my stomach, but I chalked it up to the Back To The Future ride from earlier that day (spoiler alert, it's a doozy). I can't remember happened first, the sound of that music or the gigantic mechanical shark leaping out of the water, mere feet from my cherub-like face.

But what I do remember is hearing this blood-curdling scream that sounded like it would never stop. And then I realized that this noise, this animalistic, guttural wailing, was coming from the very depths of my soul. Which was followed by a roar of laughter from the other 5 cars on our tram ride.

And a shout out from the tour guide to "the lady with the lungs in car 3".

While I tried to play it cool, the image of those teeth, those ungodly sharp and pointed teeth...well, it was permanently burned into my brain. I was a fairly logical 8 year old, but I was absolutely convinced that while in the state of California, a shark attack was imminent if I was near any sort of body of water.

Including the bathtub.

I spent the rest of the trip bathing in just an inch or two of water because I KNEW. I KNEW IT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN. I would be sitting there, taking a leisurely bath when BOOM. SHARK ATTACK. Luckily, I returned home with little more than a sunburn.

I'm not going to say that California ruined me, but let's just say that I've never been back.  

Sunday, March 9, 2014

the one where a year has passed.

I've always had this uncanny ability to remember numbers. Phone numbers, social security numbers, addresses, birth dates and anniversaries. 

It's like some sort of stupid human trick, rattling off people's driver license numbers after glancing at their ID an hour earlier. And it was a skill that was extremely helpful when I was a history major at the U of A, basically living on the fourth floor of Old Main for three years.

...

A year ago today, my husband came to me and said he wanted a divorce. That there wasn't anything I could do, and while he might attend a counseling session, it would be futile. 

And he was right. He hadn't been happy in years, maybe ever. And in turn, I had been so painfully sad because I was never what he wanted or needed. There were parts of myself that I repressed, trying to be the person that would make him want me. 

He wasn't a bad husband. And I wasn't a bad wife. But we had no business getting married. 

I had so much shame in the beginning. Shame about getting divorced. For failing. For wasting my parents' money on a ceremony that was full of empty promises. For being blind. For trusting someone that I no longer knew.

And while it's been hard, I'm grateful for the divorce.

...

So much has changed in a year. I've changed. My hair is short. My lips are red. I'm slowly learning that I'm not hideous, that this body can be considered beautiful and is capable of incredible things. I'm being fairly mindful of how I treat my body not because I want to make someone happy, but because I want to make myself happy. I'm in the process of being kinder to myself. My zip code is different. So is my bank account. I've written more in the past year, things that I'm proud of. My friends like me because I'm me, not because I'm attached to someone. I'm finally standing up for myself after being a doormat for so long. 

It's been a hard year. But I'm hopeful for the future. My future. And the boys. 

And for that, I'm glad.







Wednesday, February 5, 2014

the one where I begin to feel.

Over a month or so ago, I smashed my finger in a drawer. I was rushing to clean out an exam room's drawers of blood pressure cuffs and speculums when I closed the drawer before I moved out of the way. The pain was immediate and shooting, resulting in a quick yelp and saying aloud, "Well, that was unfortunate."

My fingertip only hurt for a few minutes before going numb. One of the doctors briefly looked at it, and commented that it'd be months before I'd regain full feeling in it because of all of the tons of nerves that got the shit beat out of them.

It's been basically numb since then, and it's been fun. Like some sort of weird party trick, I test it by running my fingertip over different textures and temperatures. And nothing really happens.

Every other day or so I feel sharp twinges in my fingertip; the nerves are firing. I'm beginning to feel again. 

And it hurts.

...

I've been a little depressed about my love life lately. It's not that I don't date, because I do, and often. And it's been fun meeting new people, enjoying each other's company over dinner or coffee. I've been in this cloud of dating for several months, and it's fine. 

It's fine. 
I just don't feel anything.

And the lack of feeling was okay for a while. Hell, it was what I preferred. The absense of any sort of emotional attachment was freeing if even for the fact that I wasn't able to get hurt.

I wasn't able to feel the hurt.

But the past week or two, my heart has felt this stinging, these sharp pains that shoot from atriums to ventricles, passing through my valves as it settles into each chamber.

And I feel it. 
I feel the hurt.

There's this intense longing, and I'm not satisfied. I'm not satisfied with being alone, with being unhappy. I get these borderline obscene thoughts about there not being anyone meant for me. Or no one within spitting distance. 

That there's no one to love me in the same intensity that I love them. No one to hold my hand when I'm near, and no one to squeeze it when I'm scared. 

And it hurts.
And I can feel.
And I'm alive.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

the one where i became a movie star

the summer when i was eight years old, sandwiched by the youth of second grade and the impending maturity of being in third grade, was stellar. besides the usual summer affairs of a child in the south, we also visited family in southern california.

we crammed as much as possible during that week or so of vacation. we went to disney land and rode the tea cups. we watched the fireworks every night from my great aunt’s back porch. i saw my favorite hollywood star’s names in their stars on the boulevard, and put my hands in maryiln monroe’s. heck, we even ate at our first olive garden, and experienced totally smoke-free dining for the first time.

i didn’t have many expectations for the vacation…except for one. the minute we pulled into the parking lot of universal studios i had only one thing on my agenda.

i was going to be discovered.

maybe it was hearing the story of lana turner, maybe it was all of the sun, or maybe the motion sickness patches i wore on the boat ride out to see the queen mary. all i know was that i was certain that some big time hollywood producer would be walking around the park during a break in filming the next thriller and they’d find me,

charming, dazzling, talented me.

i have to admit, i was basically a triple threat. i could sing, i could act, and i could dance. i had stunning good looks and a sharp wit. i was the quintessential disney dream. so once we got into the park, my big plan began.

for starters, i had to look mature. i needed to pass for at least 11 or 12 so i could straddle both the child and young teen roles. and mature people? well, they sure aren’t walking around universal studios with their parents and grandparents. no. that wouldn’t do. i wasn’t going to let me parents hold me back. so while walking down the streets of the theme park, i kept a solid three foot barrier between my family and myself. three feet was the perfect distance. enough to look independent, and close enough to not get stolen.

BECAUSE WHO WOULDN’T WANT THIS, AMIRIGHT?

the second factor into my plan to stardom was my smile. i had practiced before leaving arkansas, and by the time we hit california i was on FULL SMILE ALERT. so much so that my cheeks strained, leaving my face pinched and sore.

the third and final step in my plan was to draw attention to my superior acting abilities. dramatic, grandiose hand gestures, over the top laughing, and model-esque poses filled every spare second. 

unbelievably, after a full day of experiencing universal studios, i left undiscovered.  i was completely defeated. my big break had come and gone, and i was staring at a life stuck in arkansas straight in the face. 


they never knew what they missed.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

the one where I become the world's youngest feminist.

Before we moved to the house where my parents currently lived, I lived on a street off of Turner, full of kids who were my age range. We'd go back and forth to each other's houses, riding bikes and making generally poor choices. One of my favorite friends was a boy my age named Johnny.

Johnny and I got along great. We had a lot in common, and they always had good snacks at his house. One of our favorite pastimes was playing with his extensive collection of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures. I was always really fascinated because I didn't own any, but loved them dearly. 

One afternoon we sat in his room playing, and there was the discussion of "who" we'd be. I was really gunning for Donatello, my secret turtle crush (hey, I like smart guys, what can I say?). Moments after picking up Donatello, Johnny took him from my hands and shoved April, clad in her tight yellow jumpsuit, in them instead.

"Wendy, you have to play only girls. You have to be April and I'll be everyone else."

Feeling the injustice of the man bringing me down, I did what any other woman would do. I told him I heard his Mom calling for him, snapped April's legs off, and hid her body.

When Johnny came back and saw me playing with Donatello, with no April in sight, he was confused. And after he discovered her multilated body under a pile of Hot Wheels, he was none the wiser, believing my story of some freak accident. 


I am woman. Hear me roar.