Friday, December 26, 2008

Trapped in 1988...

It's a very rude awakening to realize that you have the attention span of a six-year-old. I've come to the conclusion that I need to be constantly entertained and/or amused. I wouldn't go as far as to say that I have attention defecit disorder. I don't need to be medicated. This is all really based on my actions and purchases within the last week or two. Somehow I manage to mingle the idea of responsibility with something completely absurd. Impulsive, even. I have a need for sensory overload, like browsing the internet with the television on, the radio blaring, and trying to have a sane conversation on the phone all at the same time.

I'm all about multi-tasking and the word 'simultaneously.' It always makes your tasks seem extraordinary, no matter how ridiculous they are.

He juggled three watermelons while simultaneously whistling the score to Bonanza.

Wow. Magnificent (I so seldom get to use that word).

And so I find myself with this constant need of a backup plan in case something goes awry, and I somehow begin to experience the burden of pure focus. On one thing. Honestly, I'm not sure I am even capable of such a feat.

Last week, for example.

I went to the drug store to buy tampons and walked out with three Pez dispensers.

I went to the office supply store to buy an organizer and ended up with two Hot Wheels cars.

I took a trip to the grocery store for milk and left with a pocket-sized laser pointer.

I went to fill up my tank at the gas station and strolled out wearing a ski hat. In Florida.

I seriously need an accountant and a personal shopper to keep me under control.

The other day I went back to the drug store and bought a jumbo bag of Pez refills.

Something tells me there is reason I don't want or need to have children. It would be like giving birth to a circle of friends. After a few years we'd be sitting around the sandbox with our cherry kool-aid talking about saturday morning cartoons and play-doh.

It's still a wonder adults put up with me. Maybe I do need to be medicated.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

It's generic greeting card time...

Some people are just naturally holiday people. They love the gift-giving, the togetherness, the seasonal decorations. Especially at Christmas, you find these people at their prime. Sending out personalized cards, hanging ludicrous amounts of lights in their bushes, buying cinnamon scented candles and singing carols at all times of the day. They walk around distributing candy canes and bake Christmas tree-shaped cookies with red and green sprinkles.

I am not one of those people.

I'm not a Scrooge by any means, I just find the entire charade surrounding Christmas to be more stressful than joyous. You waste 20 minutes and half a tank of gas circling the mall parking lot trying to find a space. You swim through a sea of maniac shoppers fighting for clock radios and perfume gift sets. You spend entirely too much money on things that the recipients might not even like. Frankly, I'd rather no one bought me anything. Let's make a deal, gift-givers. We all just take the holiday to go shopping for ourselves and call it even.

This year, my mother said she really wanted something-or-other, so she would just buy it and have me reimburse her later. Now, that's genius. That's right up my alley. I know Christmas day is all about the surprised faces and giddy expressions, but seriously, wouldn't you rather just get exactly what you wanted? People always ask you what you want for Christmas anyway, and have you make cute little lists. So is the suspense really necessary? I say save that for birthdays and anniversaries. Personally, I'd rather get a present for no reason, rather than at Christmas. If I ever see something I know someone would like, or if they talk about something enough, I'll just buy it. I don't need this commercialized reason. My aunt has given me a card with money every year since I can remember, and it's always my favorite gift to open. It's definitely the most impersonal gift you can recieve, but nothing beats cold, hard cash.

I'm definitely a self-proclaimed cynic about most things, but I've come to terms with that. I find it quite endearing. Especially when I find myself sitting exhausted on the mall fountain desperately trying to decide whether my sister would like ipod speakers or a set of martini glasses? Would my father like a sweater in red or blue? Does my cousin already have this DVD? These trivial decisions are all overwhelming enough, and only made worse by the fact that I am a desperate procrastinator who does all of her shopping in a 2-hour window on Christmas Eve.

And Christmas music. How do I even begin to describe my hatred for Christmas music. In principle, it's perfectly fine. It's all upbeat melodies and talk of doing bizarre things like roasting chestnuts, jingling bells, and one-horse open sleighs. When was the last time anyone rode on a one-horse open sleigh? At any rate, if you work in any sort of retail or service capacity, you understand that they begin playing Christmas music the day after Thanksgiving. Sometimes the day before Thanksgiving. Imagine listening to nothing but Barry Manilow on repeat for 8 hours a day. Imagine doing this for an entire month. I'm pretty sure by that fourth week you would either hate Barry Manilow, develop a nervous tick to the sound of his voice, or learn to completely tune him out.

That's how I feel about Christmas music.

All of this being said, there are a few things that I do enjoy about the holidays. Although most of them involve food and alcohol, I can also say that I like wrapping presents. I'm definitely an overzealous wrapper. I color-coordinate bows and ribbons, and make those little curls at the ends with the edge of the scissors. I get adorable little to-and-from labels, write the names in pretty fonts. It seems that I'd be more of one of those newspaper-wrapping people that use the comics, or leave gifts under the tree still in their Macy's bags. But no, I'm a sucker for metallic colors and Santa prints.

As happy as I'll be when the holiday season is over, and my life returns to semi-normalcy (my life is absolutely never normal), I have to appreciate the spirit of it all. When else can you drink egg nog, chop down forest trees, and say 'ho' without getting slapped? Just think about that the 73rd time you hear "Silent Night."

Feliz Navidad!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Infatuation taking hold...

Wise people always say that life is about making and managing priorities. By wise people, I'm simply referring to those who feel the overwhelming need to intervene in your life with uninvited advice. No one ever ardently seeks these people out to ask for the key to happiness. Or success. Deep down we all know the right things to do and say in order to get what we want, it just comes down to the will and desire to do so. Prioritizing. Managers and corporate big wigs in silk ties love that term. It means giving your tasks a certain order in which to be completed, according to importance. Which is fine, as long as your punched into the time clock, swiveling around the office in your ergonomic desk chair. Working billable hours. Collecting your wages or pooling your tips.

But when people tell me I need to set priorities in my life, I feel the equivalent of being leashed in the backyard like a German Shepard. You keep running and the chain keeps yanking you back, dictating where you can and cannot go. Or as if I'm wearing one of those shock collars that shoot you with electricity whenever you pass the boundaries. Priorities are completely subjective, and as far as I'm concerned, they have been since the beginning of time.

Some people want to be homemakers. Professors. Professional athletes. Mothers. Lawyers. Lovers. Interior decorators. Some people want to lay on the white sand of a tropical island and sip Mai Tai's until their livers corrode.

It's a lot like those bible pushers that tell you to pray. Tell you that Jesus loves you and hand you pocket-sized pamphlets. Ask you if you have accepted the Lord as your savior. They talk about salvation.

I don't need to be saved.
And yet we all need to be saved.

We need to be saved from all of this white noise, speculation and societal guidelines that tell us that we should buy houses instead of backpacking through Europe. Start familes instead of seeing the world. Wear a pantsuit instead of a pair of jeans. Maybe my aspirations contradict the notion of becoming a millionaire, or becoming famous, or popping out 2.5 children and spiralling down the drain of suburbian mediocrity.

Maybe my priorities are different. Maybe I have it all wrong. But nonetheless, they are mine to choose.

One hundred years from now no one will care if you were the CEO of some long ago renamed company, or if some university named a wing after you. You're just an engraved name on a placard. No one really cares about George Washington. The green-tinted face on the crumpled bill you pull from a pocket. He's a dead president. When the lights go out, it really will not matter if I never smoked a cigarette or had a one-night stand. Took chances. Made transient memories.

I don't need a legacy. My priority is to be happy, to make others happy while I have the opportunity.

When you make another person one of your priorities, your life changes. Certain other aspects come screeching to a halt. I understand the point of view of people with career paths and big dreams. You lose focus. But maybe your priority is love. Friendship. Finding genuine people.

I'll never fault anyone for persuing their dreams or making their own reality, whatever that may be. But I can't be faulted for doing the same.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The World is a Vampire...

Nothing in life is really a problem, simply a situation that needs to be resolved. The unfortunate fact is that my life is nothing but situations. Some days I wake up in short breaths and anxiety.

I think many people do.

Poor people will tell you that money fixes everything. Rich people will insist that money doesn’t really solve a thing. I’m only seeking a happy medium, a way to pay my bills and shrink the steadily mutating debt weighing down on my shoulders. Some days I wake up aching, my muscles sore from carrying the daily burden of living here.

This place.

This illusion of freedom like hamsters in glass cages or Dobermans on retractable leashes. Trapped. A mime in one of those invisible boxes, all blank expressions and palms flattening against air.

We grow up believing that we can do anything. We can’t. But sweet disillusion tastes so much better than realizing that your parents are liars. Santa Clause and Tooth Fairies. Easter Bunnies. No mother sings a child to sleep with lullabies of mortgages and repossessions, student loans and health insurance. No father tosses a football and tells his son about car payments and credit card debt. Layoffs. Dead-end jobs. Divorce. Child support. Taxes. You can’t be anything you want to be, you can only attempt to be the best at what you do. We can’t all be astronauts and movie stars.


Some days I wake up and wish I didn’t. Open tired eyes to another day of trying to be something. Trying. We’re always trying. Trying to get through college, graduate school. Trying to get a nice salary. Trying to impress people. Trying to buy a house. Trying to start a family. Trying to make it to retirement. Trying to die. They say that rational thought is what separates us from the beasts, and from our little domesticated housepets. Animals are never trying to do anything. They just are. I want to cross the threshold into a place where I can just be. A day, a week, a month.


A frozen moment where situations do not exist. The wild spectrum of emotion disappears. Nothingness. Deep breaths and complete ease, without furrowed brows and headaches. Without the falsehood and the facades. Instead we are click-clacking at keyboards. Paying people to teach us things that we already know and then selling our recycled thoughts back into the consumer circus at some marketing meeting. In some promotional campaign.

We are borrowing money for tuition for the sole purpose of getting a job where you will spend half a lifetime paying it back. Thank you, Sallie Mae. Thank you, Savings and Loan. This degree under my belt will surely make the next 30-years of succumbing to authority worthwhile. Climbing this corporate ladder rung by tireless rung will now be somewhat bearable. As I’m creating my situations.

The work situation.
The home situation.
The car situation.
The situation with my family.

Masking the problems.

The only problems that ever really get solved are in arithmetic. But we still try. Try and try again. Try to find ourselves on the other side of the equal sign. But some days I wake up, and the entire equation seems nothing but a dream.