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.

Monday, December 9, 2013

the one where i compete in the x games.

Like every other church, one of the more looked to events is the annual Spring Break ski trip. After weeks of fundraisers, we finally boarded the buses and vans (no blanket sharing and any co-ed seat partners securely in the front three rows) to drive for the hours it takes to get from Arkansas to the Land of Snow. Or anywhere interesting, really.

Because I had never been skiing I joined the other newbies in a half-day ski school where we learned to not completely kill ourselves. After a few short hours, we were left to our own devices. I stuck to the green runs, wedging, leaning, and turning just like I had been taught. After a successful first day, I felt fairly confident to take it up a notch the next morning.

A blue run.

We loaded up on the lifts, and once we reached the top of the mountain, we were off! 

And man, I was getting braver and faster. And faster. After wedging until my legs were almost crossed, I realized that this wasn't going to end well. 

WHERE DID ALL OF THESE PEOPLE COME FROM? The mountain had been empty the day before, and now here I was, doing my best Picabo Street impression at an alarming rate. I was going so fast I was too afraid to fall down as visions of compound fractures and multiple limb amputations raced through my mind. I had no choice but to ride this mother out.

After seeing the lifts on the horizon, I knew that the steepness of the mountain was going to level out, slowing down my momentum. Except that while the steepness declined, my speed stayed steady. Instead of little jumps and other skiers on the slopes, I was now rapidly entering a field of people, totally unaware of the terror that was approaching them.

And then I saw it. Scooter's Ski Shack. Bright green and lined with skis and poles. I couldn't avoid it, and closed my eyes because this wasn't going to end well.

After some kind strangers, eyes filled with tears from laughing so hard, uncovered me from the pile of skis buried me, I limped off like it AIN'T NO THANG.

And promptly spent the majority of the week playing cards in the cabin.


Monday, December 2, 2013

the one where I play Beyoncé loudly in the background.

My pilot light went out on Sunday. And after several failed attempts to relight it, I started to get upset. Actually, I started to get really upset because I knew I'd probably have to call someone, who probably would be male, to come save the day. Yet again.

And that's just the most defeating thing ever. That although I tried my hardest, I still failed. And because I failed, I now had to wait until some MAN could fix it for me. The more I thought about it, the more frustrated I got. Actually, I got so frustrated that I tried it again tonight.


Bingo. 

When that little flame lit up, it was as if years of repression of the female race flooded through me. I was this close to tossing my bra into it when I realized that while I may want a man, I for sure as hell don't need one. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some celebrating to do.