Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Pinch of Worry with a Dash of Anxiety

I have always been a worrier. Not quite as much as my sister, but still—I constantly stress myself out about things that I have no control over whatsoever. In the third grade, I used to get so sick with anxiety about the timed spelling tests I took once a week, that the worrying would start the week before, usually the day after I finished the previous test. By the time I put my pencil to the paper and my teacher started her stopwatch, I thought I would be so violently ill that I could barely remember how to spell my name, never mind “motorcycle.” I remember thinking that my future was dependent on whether or not I would ace these tests, and that if I missed one spelling, a series of events would unfold: One, my parents would no longer love me. Two, they would kick me out of the house. Three, I would die homeless.

Example A:

Colleen has a headache. A bad headache.

It must be a tumor.

Colleen is also unemployed and can no longer afford a decent health insurance plan.

Colleen dies homeless and poor from the cost of brain tumor treatments (whatever those are)

This is what I like to call The Cyclone, and I have spent my life taming this storm. I start by checking that everything around me is standard and working and then I start imagining the most tiny thing that could go wrong. It's always something very tiny and insignificant, but by the time I have finished analyzing it in my head it has turned into the Worst Case Scenario: small A leads to small B leads to very awful C jumps straight to homeless and dead. (See Example A)

The boyfriend! got me thinking about why I do this, and at first I thought it might be hereditary. My father and sister are stereotypical A-type personalities. Everything needs a plan. Every plan needs a schedule. And every section of the schedule requires a specific and carefully thought out time slot and escape route. As a kid, I knew our evacuation plan thoroughly. I knew where to meet if a disaster ever hit Lancaster, PA. I knew where the ladder was kept (under my parent’s bed) and what to do in the case we were all trapped in a fire.

But if this incessant worrying IS hereditary, then how do I explain my mother and brother? Because they are the exact opposite. Very “go with the flow” which I can be…but there’s always that voice in the back of my head (which sounds curiously much like my father’s voice) telling me to create a back up plan JUST IN CASE.

So, maybe a little bit of the reason I worry so much is because I am my father's daughter, but I realized that the root of it is a singular feeling that has followed me through my life. This is the feeling of guilt. I have always had a wonderful life in so many ways. I have a fantastic family, I’ve never known what true hunger or danger is and never for a second did I think I'd have to sleep without my blankie. And the thought that other people in the world do not have a warm place to sleep, food on their plates and a DVR to record every episode of The Bachelorette invokes a feeling of guilt. I need to worry about something… anything. I owe it to those who have a harder life. The feeling that because I am very lucky, I need to suffer crippling angst to even the playing field out a little bit.

And of course, the exact opposite rings true as well. I owe it to those who are not as lucky as I am to appreciate the crap out of my life. But it's also this overwhelming feeling that if I am not a stressed out wreck, everything will be taken away from me. And then I realized…that the way in which I worry about things is so mesmerizing that it causes me to walk directly into that which I fear.

Example B:
Colleen's Third Grade Spelling Tests -
I would make myself sick with worry to the point where I wouldn’t even be able to concentrate and on more than one occasion, I failed these tests.

So, I’ve decided that I should start worrying about developing really big breasts or about how to spend the six figure salary I'll be making whenever I get a new job.

For about an hour, I felt totally renewed and I kept smiling when I thought about how much better my life will be without The Cyclone. About how I can channel all the energy that I used to spend worrying into more productive things, like charity work or writing or art or chugging Irish Car Bombs while dancing naked in the house. And I was still feeling this jolt of exhilaration that evening when I walked the dogs to the yard to let them perform their nightly duties, still reeling from the possibilities of what a stress-free life would be like. And as I let the dogs go trampling down the stairs, I noticed our downstairs neighbors left their front doors open.

Do you see where this is going?

Sure enough, within seconds, both dogs were out the front door. All because I was daydreaming about not worrying and I didn’t anticipate this. Had I been in my normal state of mind, I would have been forcing them to walk behind me. I would have gone downstairs PRIOR to opening the dog gate. I wasn’t being responsible. Luckily, for everyone involved, the gate leading to the sidwalk was closed, so both dogs were just mulling around on the front stoop. But it could have been so, so, so much worse.

Bottom line, I’m pretty convinced that this only happened because my head was in Lala Land dreaming of a perfect stress-free existence. Which, this just doesn’t exist (for me). I will never be the person who can split up from a group in a public place and NOT have a set time and place to meet back up. I will never be the person who can walk into a room and not notice where the emergency exits are. And I will always, always be the woman who carries extra tampons with me because YOU JUST NEVER KNOW.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Paging Dr. Shepherd

I know that it is horribly main stream…but I am in love with Patrick Dempsey. Not so much Patrick Dempsey the man, but more Derrick Shepherd, the character he plays on Grey’s Anatomy. The character he becomes on that show is charming, and kind, charismatic, intelligent, a life-saver, benevolent, tender, passionate, and never without perfectly tousled hair and a slightly disheveled demeanor.

Now, I know this man doesn’t really exist. I realize that he is the product of Shondra Rhymes’ imagination and Patrick Dempsey’s “talent” (I put it in quotes because I KNOW you will all pounce on the fact that I think he has talent), but who cares? He is my fantasy to have and dammit, I’m going to make it count!

However, when I’m sitting there on my couch, gazing lovingly at the television while McDreamy saves his most recent patient from the latest organ-eating Venezuelan parasite that has somehow infected all of Seattle, it’s all I can do to not daydream that I am the patient on the hospital bed being poked and proddod…and I tell you what, nothing kills the fantasy more than when my Dempsey-hating boyfriend adds commentary every five seconds, bursting my fantasy bubble.

Him: This show is so terrible. Look at that! A doctor would not pull a nurse into the on-call room while the chief of surgery stands ten feet away!

I’m sucked back to a somewhat reality and all of a sudden Sean is standing in the doorway of my hospital fantasy. I grudgingly wrap myself back up into the hospital gown and blow a kiss to Dr. Shepherd who returns it with a wink and says in a raspy voice, “I’ll give you two a minute.”

Him: Colleen!
Me: Huh?
Him: How can you watch this shit? I love you less now.
Me: Well, no one’s making you sit here and watch. We have two tv’s, you know.

He pauses, not going anywhere. I start to nestle myself back into my fantasy, when…

Him: This guy sucks!
Me: (I sigh) He sure does. (And nibbles…I say in my thoughts)
Him: Look at him! I bet that stubble is makeup… painted on.
Me: Even better…smoother against my skin.
Him: No, seriously, how can you like this guy?
Me: Why does this bother you so much?

And that’s when I knew exactly how to answer. It would most certainly NOT get him to shut up, but I was DVR-ing Grey’s anyway. I could rewatch later. And the reaction that was about to come was going to be priceless….

Me: Seriously? You want to know?

Sean nodded.

Me: He just reminds me so much of you, baby. (I leaned over and rubbed my knuckle against his stubble)
Him: WHAT?!?! How can you even say that!?

I shrugged.

Him: Take it back! We are nothing alike! (He jumped up from the couch, flailing his arms about) This guy is totally vanilla!
Me: Mm, I like vanilla…it’s classic. Though, I also like chocolate (My mind slipped to Taye Diggs, yum).
Him: This is absurd! He doesn’t even stand for anything! I’m like Henry Rollins, and Hugh Jackman, Chris Meloni and Mike Ness all rolled into one!
Me: Who?
Him: Mike Ness!
Me: ….
Him: Social Distortion?
Me: Mm, not ringing any bells.
Him: Why are we even together?

(Another long pause)

Me: Because you remind me of Patrick Dempsey.

The rest of my show was watched in glorious silence, me sporting a smirk, him with a scowl.

My victory was short-lived, though. He managed to get his revenge when he told me that Sarah Silverman was in his top three. Sarah. Silverman. The horse-faced comedian who is whiny and annoying and has GOD AWFULLY large nostrils. Seriously? And these already massive nostrils flare to the size of grapefruits when she laughs at her own jokes…and who ISN'T annoyed by someone who laughs at their own jokes??

Ok, I get it to some extent why a man is attracted to her. She does have a certain something, and she’s intelligent, clever, and (sometimes) funny. But to make her one of your TOP THREE? C’mon…

He has become obsessed with the idea of me having a crush on someone like him. And yet, let’s examine the celebrity crushes he has...are they short, petite, flat-chested girls with rounded features who are categorized not so much "sexy" or "attractive" as “cute”? NO! In fact, they are the absolute opposite…and as much as I would rather slowly char my own flesh over a campfire and eat it between graham crackers and marshmallows than say this next statement…I will admit that both Sarah Silverman and Sheryl Crow bear a striking resemblance to his ex girlfriend!

It almost makes me want to come home and confess a newfound love for Clay Aiken. But even I won’t stoop that low…

Friday, May 16, 2008

My New Job

http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/doc/vol/677350090.html

Partner Needed to Travel Back in Time. NOT A JOKE. (Alexandria, VA)
Reply to: comm-677350090@craigslist.org
Date: 2008-05-12, 9:43AM EDT

I am looking for a partner to travel back in time with me. This is NOT A JOKE. I have done this before. Your gender is not important, but you must have your own weapons. Contact me immediately.
______________________________________

Thanks to Moonrat, I saw this CraigsList ad, attempting to enlist people for time travel. Because I’m self-loathing and irrationally mean sometimes, I responded to it.

My letter in response:

Dear Time Traveler,

I am considering joining you on this quest. I am a currently unemployed 24 year old female, 5’1, 110 lbs. I have no weapons to bring, but my last name is Katana and if we were to make a detour to 1991, I could grab the Katana swords my family had hanging over our fireplace (unfortunately in 1992, my brother and I broke these swords when we were pretending to duel…and apparently we did not do such a good job with the pretending part). And really…what is more intimidating to those in the past than a Katana with a Katana? We’ll be unstoppable. But in the case that this is not good enough for you, or if you consider me with a sword as intimidating as an ant with a toothpick, let me assure you that I do know how to fire a rifle, thanks to my boyfriend’s father, New England’s hillbilly woods, and about half a bottle of Grey Goose vodka. Will there be vodka on this trip? It helps my aim.

I was also wondering what era we were traveling to? Are we talking prehistoric times here or will I perhaps find myself in the center of a Gettysburg battlefield? This would greatly affect my choice of whether or not I participate. If I had my choice, I would like to travel back to the 50s or 40s…the clothes were pretty back then and it would be awesome to bring back some true vintage hats and dresses!

And my last question for you…I just finished reading The Time Traveler’s Wife. In this book, the protagonist always ends up naked after every time travel experience. This will be a deal breaker for me. While I do consider myself pretty fit, I am still extremely modest and in no way would ever be caught naked in public.

Please clear up these things for me and I look forward to hearing more about this trip.

Thanks,
Colleen

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The First Time I Was Dumped (Part Two)

It was another gray, overcast day. The snow that melted last night was replaced by a fresh new dusting. Another school day cancelled. I celebrated by microwaving tomato soup with extra cheese and watching Matlock. Yes, Matlock. I embrace the fact that I have a tendency to act like an 80-year-old woman.

I slurped the creamy soup and watched as this charming, old man solved murder after murder. In the middle of my third episode of the day, the doorbell rang, throwing our two dogs into a chorus of barking. The leather of my dad’s recliner buckled beneath my hands as I pushed myself up, using the armrests as leverage. Feet dragging sluggishly behind the rest of my body, I slowly made my way to the front door.

I peeked out the window, expecting the UPS man or someone unimportant, and standing there, in a state of perfection, was Mario. I immediately woke up, my eyes wide with fear. I backed away from the door slowly. On one hand, I wanted to answer and see what he was visiting for, but on the other hand, I was still in my Winnie the Pooh pajamas with no makeup and my hair in a messy ponytail.

My back hit the bathroom doorknob and I hopped in, remembering that my mom kept a stash of makeup in our downstairs bathroom for emergencies just like this (Ok, maybe not for emergencies just like this…but in the case that she had unexpected company). The doorbell rang again sending the dogs into yet another fit.

Shit!
I furiously applied foundation to my blotchy skin. “Uhhh, I’ll be…I’ll be there in a minute!!!!” Oh God….don’t leave, don’t leave, don’t leave….

I swept blush over my cheeks, dabbed some gloss on my lips and rushed from the bathroom to the front door.

“I’m coming!!!!!!!!” The dogs chased behind me excitedly like I had salami in my pajama pockets. I swung the door open, my chest rising and falling rapidly. My cheeks were naturally flushed from the excitement and when I quickly stole a glance in the mirror I cursed myself for putting on blush. My entire face was a salmon shade of pink.

“Oh, hey Mario, what’s up?” I shrugged one shoulder nonchalantly and did my best not to sound out of breath.

“Hey Col-Leen. Where were you? Running a marathon?”

“Oh. Haha, um, no. I was…outside with the dogs.”

“But your dogs were in here.” His eyes narrowed at me. “I heard them barking.”

“Right. That’s what I meant. I was in here with the dogs.”

“Then what took so long to answer?”

“I was, uh, in the bathroom.”

“You were in the bathroom? With the dogs?”

“Yeah.” There was a long pause and we stared at each other, saying nothing for what seemed like hours. His face twisted, the wrinkles on his forehead revealing how confused he was. “They, uh, follow me in there sometimes. You know, dogs follow their noses, and, um….” Oh God. Shut the hell up, Colleen. Just change the subject. Anything is better than this. “Um, so, what are you doing here?”

He smiled. He knew I turned into a babbling idiot around him and he enjoyed it. Jerk. He spoke through a suppressed laugh and tried to make it sound like he was clearing his throat. “Well, no one’s heard from you all week. I thought maybe you wanted to grab lunch or something.”

“I already ate.” I cringed. Idiot. When Mario invites you to lunch, you accept. You eat two lunches. You eat 10 lunches if necessary. “But, I could go for some ice cream.”

“It’s freezing out, though.”

“Oh. Right.” I thought for a minute. “But at least it won’t melt on us.”

He laughed. “Well, can I come in while we make a decision? It really is cold out here.”

I stepped aside and let him in. Even Mario’s walk was unique. It was confident, but not overly cocky. He swaggered in through our front doorway, but not so much that he looked like a James Dean wannabe. His heather gray, cable knit turtleneck and his black pants made him look like he should have been performing spoken word at the local coffee shop. All he needed was a beret to complete the outfit. His hair, now dyed black, contrasted with his pale skin.

Immediately upon entering, my dogs were all over him, sniffing his crotch and jumping up in excitement. We walked into the kitchen and continued chatting, sitting across the counter from each other. The conversation hit a lull and I saw curiosity flicker in Mario’s eyes. He played with a penny that was on our white countertop with his index finger. Sliding it in circles, he looked down, then back at me. “Have you been crying, Colleen?”

My throat tightened. He didn’t say my name in the silly way he usually did. What did he already know? What rumors are already flying around about me even with school not being in session? Or did I just not use enough concealer when I was throwing makeup on my face before? My eyes drifted away from his and over his shoulder to our kitchen window. I stared for what felt like an eternity at the fat, cotton snowflakes dropping from the sky. “It’s snowing again.”

“Yeah?” Mario turned to look out the window. “Wow, it really is snowing, isn’t it?”

“Let’s go play in it.” My eyes lit up and I stared at him like an eager puppy waiting for food to drop on the floor.

“But there’s only two inches on the ground.”

“And that’s two inches more than North Carolina usually has! C’mon!” Before he could protest again, I grabbed his hand and dragged him out through my back door. We ran around throwing snowballs at each other and attempting to build snowmen and forts. There was not enough snow to build either and the result was several blobs of snow throughout my backyard. Every now and then, he’d stop and stare at me smiling for just a moment more than what I would consider normal.

Eventually, we both fell on our backs into the powdery snow. Our heads were next to each other’s and our bodies fanned out creating the letter V. We were out of breath and laughing. I turned my head to the left to look at him. His cheeks and lips were red, as though he had just finished eating a cherry popsicle. His breathing slowed down and began returning to normal. My own heart rate calmed as well.

I was smiling. I was smiling my first genuine smile in about a week. The cold air stung my lungs as I inhaled and my smile faded. “Ian and I broke up.” The words came out for a reason unknown to me.

Mario continued to look up at the sky. “I know.”

“Actually, I’m lying. Ian dumped me.”

“I know that, too.”

I didn't ask how he knew; I didn't have to. The lump in my throat decided to make another guest appearance. I closed my eyes and my eyelashes became moist with tears. My contacts were cold against my eyelids and one fat tear rolled down the side of my face, past my temple and landed in the snow, burning one perfect, tiny hole all the way to the grass. When I opened my eyes, Mario was on his side, propped up on an elbow watching me.

I watched him watch me.

He leaned in and softly pressed his lips to mine. My top lip nestled into the nook between his top and bottom and he gently rested a hand on my waist. I could barely feel it through my thick winter coat, but I knew it was there. I’m not sure if he intended it to be a “friends” kiss, but it quickly went from being G-rated to PG-13. My lips parted into his and the kiss grew firmer. As it ended, I tried to pull away, but he didn’t let me. Pulling me closer into him, he kissed my forehead. I buried my face in his chest, silent tears falling from my eyes again. His arms tightened around me and after a couple minutes my whimpers started to subside.

With my face still against his body, I relived our moment, Mario’s and mine. That was a good kiss. I mean, it was a really good kiss. Way better than any kiss Ian ever gave me, and definitely not the kind that should make someone cry. I sniffled and in the pit of my stomach, felt one sole butterfly flitting around, bouncing off my stomach lining. Giggles bubbled up from somewhere deep inside of me. At first, it was a soft laugh. Mario’s body grew tense around mine, unsure of what was happening. My laughter grew louder and louder until I had to pull away from his grasp because I couldn’t breathe. Pulling my knees to my chest, I gulped in the cold winter air and continued laughing in a way that someone watching standup comedy would. Confused, Mario started laughing too, because—let’s face it, what else could he do?

* * *

Some kisses are good. Some are great. Some are bad. Others are so terrible that you would do better to suck on a cold, wet noodle for a couple minutes. This kiss was defining; it taught me that there would be many more to come, and that with every heartbreak, there is a new experience to be had. That was the only kiss that Mario and I ever had in ten years of knowing each other.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Randomness that is Me

I have been tagged by Merry of Mom and More.

The rules:

a. Link to the person who tagged you.
b. Post the rules on your blog.
c. Write six random things about yourself.
d. Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
e. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment at their blog.
f. Let your tagger know when your entry is up.

Ok...I'm not really tagging anyone here because pretty much everyone I know on blogspot has been tagged already. I'd really rather not highlight what a loser I am by not even having six people to tag....so, if you haven't already done this, consider yourself TAGGED.

Six Things About Me:

I get bored blow-drying my hair. I have A LOT of hair and it takes a very long time to dry. It’s not thick hair, there’s just a lot of it. And it’s naturally wavy…and by wavy, I mean it’s a freaking rat’s nest when I wake up in the mornings. I have contemplated shaving my head, but I know for a fact that my skull is very bumpy. I would not be an attractive bald woman, like Natalie Portman.

I have a serious obsession with home d├ęcor shopping – particularly quirky antiques and bohemian styled decorations. I can’t see an antique store without feeling a tug at the pit of my stomach. MUST. STOP. BUY. ANTIQUES. It’s a sickness, really. I also can’t pass by Anthropologie without stopping…because, have you BEEN to that store? It’s amazingly bohemian and though extremely overpriced, worth every inflated penny.

I am recently unemployed. Recently meaning “as of last Wednesday.” So far, it’s been great. Everyone should try to get ‘laid off’….not to be confused with ‘fired.’ Fired implies you did something wrong…my company simply downsized and could no longer afford me. This way, I can collect unemployment and write my next book.

I love the name Norah. I know most of you will probably cringe at this old fashioned name, but I think it’s wonderfully classic. My daughter will be named Norah. If you don’t like it…that’s fine. But you still have to buy me a baby shower gift. (Other names I love: Autumn, Claire, Amelia, BOYS: Noah, Ashlin)

I have a very eccentric family. My father is a brilliant and goofy (and also brilliantly goofy) man who received his MBA from the University of Michigan after having served as a Lieutenant in Korea during the Vietnam War. My mother is a nurse who never believed in the idea of marriage and felt that it sealed a woman’s fate as a second class citizen (the idea being that a piece of paper ultimately defines your relationship…not the idea of being with one person forever) and only married my father because she loved him dearly and knew it was what he needed and wanted. My brother is a kooky dispatcher for the Greensboro Police Department…he went to Catholic high school where he sold Playboys out of his locker, stole Hershey Kisses off of Sister Mary Francine’s desk, and single handedly caught and testified in court our priest who was embezzling money from the school. My sister was the overachiever. There was never a time I remember her NOT having a 4.0 and I recall on more than one occasion, her coming home in tears, panicking over the fact that she had not gotten a perfect score on a test. She loosened up after she met her (now) husband, and got her first enema. (kidding, kidding…she’d kill me if she ever read that)

My favorite shirt in the whole wide world is a long sleeved peasant shirt that has embroidered flowers and coffee cups above the right breast. Then, in embroidered lettering, it reads “I Really Need a Fucking Coffee.” It’s brilliant and sums up exactly how I feel every morning. I wore it to work on Tuesday…at any other job, this may have been the reason I had been let go. However, since my ex boss got high at our last Christmas party, I somehow doubt this.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Maple Candy and Pinot Grigio

I am photographing a friend's wedding in Vermont this weekend. Where most people would groan at the thought of doing such a favor, I love it. It keeps my mind off of things in my own life, gives me a sense of purpose for being around (IE - makes me feel important), offers a great gift for the bride and groom,and as cheesy as it may sound...I feel connected to their day...like, I know they'll look back on their photos and at some moment they'll think of me. Selfish? Yeah....but I don't care. Afterall, that's what being selfish is all about. Not. Caring.

So, the boyfriend! and I packed up our gear - me, equipped with a duffle bag of clothes, a hanging garment bag, laptop, camera case, tripod, purse and tote bag full of books and knitting. The boyfried! had one backpack. For the entire weekend.

The Boyfriend!: Really? 7 bags for one weekend?
Me: I really don't see the problem here. Three of these are work related. And this is a quasi work related trip.
The Boyfriend!: Ok, but that still leaves 4 bags. 4! Do you really need this? (He holds up the tote bag full of fun stuff to do)
Me: That's my fun bag. I need that to keep me occupied on the trip.
The Boyfriend!: But it's going to be a busy weekend.
Me: We're bringing the bag of fun! Trust me, I'll need it.

He rolled his eyes and reluctantly tossed it into the truck. It rained the entire drive, but we finally arrived in Chester, Vermont this evening around 5:00. We pulled into the charming Fullerton Inn - a cozy and classy lodge which features understated theme rooms. Ours is the Rose Room, I believe. This essentially means the entire room is pink with a pink bedspread, floral paintings on the wall and rose covered tapestries and shower curtain. In the lobby is a warm den with comfy couches and a table equipped with a giant checker board so you can pretend to be smart and cultured. Oh wait...that's chess. Well, the checkers are there for the children, I guess. Sean and I decided to stop into the bar before heading up to our room. Two men, whom I can only assume were guests at the Inn as well, were arguing over what to watch on television. After a minute or so of watching this display, with no bartender around to fix me my double "whatever he's having" drink, we decided to drink later and unpack first. Upon entering the room, I discovered why the argument was so detrimental. The rooms at the Inn have no television. NO TELEVISIONS.

I was so looking forward to a weekend of relaxation without the stress of dogs to walk and feed and medicate and strangle. And even when I'm reading...I always need back up noise. This room did not even have an alarm clock radio. Just the heinous BEEP BEEP BEEP alarm clock.

Me: What are we going to do!?
The Boyfriend!: Well, I suppose we could do something other than watch tv. Like read.
Me: What are the chances they have wifi here?
The Boyfriend!: The giant checker board downstairs is missing two pieces. What do you think?

Well, all I can say is...thank God for my BAG OF FUN!!!!!!!! Tonight would have been a total bust minus my knitting and books and laptop! Take that Boyfriend!