Pants On Fire

No this post isn’t about me being horny. If you thought this was the case, shame on you. Tsk, tsk.

Not really. I’d probably write a post about that to be honest. Just not today. Today’s topic is about me being really bad at lying.

Lying is a complete no go in my book. It’s against my code of conduct. I don’t believe in white lies. I think all forms of lying are destructive, even if yes, you’re just telling someone “Those jeans don’t make you look fat.”  I think there are ways of getting around not hurting people’s feelings if you’re clever enough, and I think the effort it would take to retain a zero tolerance policy for lying would be worth it.

Deception is the root of so much betrayal, pain, and miscommunication in relationships that I’m not willing to compromise on that front as a general practice. Even just a teensy bit. Because a teensy bit makes way for a tiny bit, and tiny bit for just a little, and next thing you know you’re lying every other word. Okay, maybe it’s not that much of a slippery slope but still. My point is, I don’t like lying.

That’s not to say I’ve never lied. We all do. I think humanity’s forte is lying to themselves, but that’s a whole other post altogether. I try to keep lying at an absolute minimum.

This being the case, when my best friend Marcy put me in the position to have to pretend I was auditing a class when really I just wanted to compare my undergrad schooling to what was considered to be a master’s class, I froze. I was the one who had asked to tag along in the first place, but I didn’t realize she’d spin the auditing angle rather than just flat out saying I wanted to visit once. I mean, I understand why she did it. University isn’t free, so it’d be kind of pretentious for me to ask to sit in on the class with zero potential to benefit the college in the long run. It wasn’t even a big deal. I mean define auditing. Technically, I was auditing, right? I was scoping out what grad school looked like, so in some unbelievably unlikely universe I’d fall in love with the program and shell out thousands of dollars to go back to school and learn things I can easily learn through experience and personal research.

So the reason for my temporary existence in that course (with a ridiculously small class size of four students) wasn’t a complete ruse.  It wasn’t a flat out lie. I should’ve been able to gel with it, right?

Wrong. The alarm bells of my hypersensitive conscience were going “Wee-oo, wee-oo! Get out of there, you heathen! Don’t compromise your morals!”

And as super reasonable and not over the top as that reaction was, it was kind of late for that. Class was about to begin when this bomb was dropped on me nonchalantly.

Oh, by the way, I told my prof you’re auditing,” Marcy said.

Wait, say what? said my conscience.

“What does that encompass exactly?” said my mouth.

She mumbled something along the lines of “Ya know, like you’re interested in the university and are trying out the class.”

Wait, wha? But there’s no possibility of me actually going here. One, it’s really far from where I’m currently living, and two, I have no interest in “furthering my higher education” at the current time. So basically I’m gonna have to lie my way through this.

“Uh…”

And of course lickety split quick after that dawned on me, some ladies who had come in to judge the merit of the class came over to start questioning the students. Naturally they assumed I was a student, and the class, being so unbelievably small, of course my turn came to be questioned. When I say I exhibited my highest derp potential, I mean it. I was next level idiot in this moment in my life. Because I couldn’t even bring myself to say I was auditing when they assumed I was a full time student that Marcy had to do it for me.

“She’s auditing,” she explained after I stumbled over my words for about five seconds straight.

“Ohhh, I see. What’s your interest in this course? What are you currently doing in education?”

“Um, I’m a teacher too.

“Oh, okay. That’s great! Where do you teach?”

At this point I awkwardly looked over at Marcy like: Help me! What do I do? Should I tell the truth that I live hundreds of miles away? But then she’ll realize the unlikeliness of me truly auditing this class. I mean it’s possible I guess. Maybe I intend on moving for that reason…But that’s not actually true! What if she asks me directly?! I’m not gonna say yes. Wee-oo! wee-oo!

I kid you not. I took so long to answer that Marcy had to verbally nudge me, “Tell her,” she said encouragingly.

It was like I was a little kid looking to her mother for reassurance that it was okay to talk to a stranger.

“Uh, I teach in Pala.”

“Ohhh, okay. Where is that?”

“Um, yeah. Not a lot of people have heard of it.”

“So where exactly?”

I then repeated the city name as if that cleared things up. I wasn’t going to answer her question for hope I wouldn’t have to reveal how far I actually was, but everyone was staring at me like I was an idiot. Which I definitely was being. I’m sure at this point they were wondering if I was actually a teacher. This chick’s too dumb to teach…

“In Florida,” I caved.

“Ohh, okay. So you’re visiting from far away.”

Yes, yes! That’s it! At last, the truth! Yes, I’m only visiting! I’m sorry for being an imposter!

Of course, outwardly, I only nodded my head. I kept looking between Marcy and these ladies throughout the conversation. I’m sure it must have looked like she was my pimp or something. I was desperately glancing at her for permission and approval, my own mind having abandoned me.

Luckily they turned the subject toward Marcy after a few questions about my classroom (probably in an attempt to verify I was actually a teacher). That was definitely one of my more embarrassing experiences. My logic on expertly dodging subjects had failed me. I’m usually pretty good at that.

Moral of the story: Never ask me to lie on the spot. I may act like an idiot, and you may want to disown me as someone you know.

 

~LDA

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Talking to Myself in Public

When you accidentally talk to yourself in front of the school psychiatrist:

 

It was the end of the day.  I was tired. Annoyed by the amount of paper I’d been pushing in the past weeks to prepare for the close of the school year. Stressed by various sources, so I started talking to myself.

Yeah, no.

I can’t even keep a straight face while typing that.

I always talk to myself. It’s nothing novel. My brain tends to process things better if I’m able to vocalize them or write them down while they fall into place.  Also, I think my brain enjoys making me look like a nut. Since writing tends to be highly inconvenient and impractical in most moments, I often talk to myself aloud. Sometimes too loudly. In public spaces. Where people might obviously overhear me.

I was scrambling to put in copies for the week’s lesson plans because I had already spaced last week and didn’t want to be a double slacker by forgetting again this week, but there were no pens for me to fill out the copy form with . The only thing lying around were some prehistoric Papermate pens, which the school keeps around in order to say they provide pens but everyone knows none of work since the ink dried up approximately the same time as raptor ovaries, and a stupid pencil.

Stupid, not because I don’t like pencils. They’re quite charming.

Excuse me, pencils.

Stupid only because even though it was the only viable option, it was of course, un-sharpened, and therefore useless.

“That makes me really upset!” I whispered-shouted, as the psychiatrist ambled in.

She gave me a slightly clinical sideways look and asked, “Hi, how are ya’?” as she made her way over to her mailbox.

“There’s no pens in here!” I said, trying to explain why she’d caught me in such a private moment of frustration. After all, I think most normal people just sigh or something when they’re annoyed in a public setting, not actually verbalize their emotion in such a literal fashion.

“I’m good, and you?” I added, realizing I’d only made it more awkward by ignoring formalities. It was bad enough I was so overly vexed by a missing set of writing utensils. Did I have to throw in clueless and rude too?

“Good, good,” she replied obligatorily, still looking me over.

I walked out into the main office to get something to write with, and also to end the interaction. I decided to snatch a pen off the receptionist’s desk without asking. Because that’s the BA and obviously logical way to punish the universe for letting me fall into a mildly uncomfortable predicament.

The school psychiatrist was gone by the time I returned to the copy room.

A part of me wondered if she thought I had been practicing some kind of coping mechanism that another psychiatrist had taught me in order to manage my emotions. Mindful vocalizations or something or other, I imagined it was called.

“No, no,” I wanted to tell her.

I’m just naturally enough of a mess to have come up with that all on my own.”

 

~LDA

Bedside Manner

I have the most terrible bedside manner, if you can call it that. One of my students sidled beside me on our way back into the classroom from recess and announced somberly, “My fish died.” It was almost as if the thought had caught her off guard, the way her eyes registered disbelief and her eyebrows furrowed consolingly inward.

I paused a moment, having been as taken by surprise as her, and offered the usual condolence, “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.” Except I actually was. It wasn’t just something that came tumbling from my mouth out of habit. I really was sorry to know that she was experiencing loss. Even if only the loss of a fish. But then who’s to say a pet fish death is inconsequential?

Anyhow, the child was clearly sad. She had been running around and giggling just a moment ago, but now she was grief stricken. It was an interesting type of melancholy to witness. One that sneaks up on you and sinks in its teeth, right when you think you’re alright. It looked familiar.  She seemed almost more perplexed by the experience than hurt. Like it was the first time she was digesting such a feeling. I think we can learn a great deal about humanity from watching and engaging with children. The way their fresh souls experience things and churn out certain reactions is pretty fascinating.

She turned my expression of empathy over in her mouth a little and assumed an appreciative but resigned little pout. My condolence had done nothing to solve the problem of the fish’s now lack of existence, but she recognized, even as someone so young, that there was nothing I could do about it. I couldn’t help her anymore than she had helped her dear little fish herself.

“Yeah,” she replied to both our unspoken confessions.

“That’s just the way things happen in life,” I explained, though she clearly had already experienced this truth for herself. “Things are born and eventually they die,” I continued. “Even you and me.”

I know.

Maybe not the best time to remind a 7 year old that she’s a finite creature. That’s a pretty scary realization for a child.

Heck, it’s scary even for most adults. But I thought it was a valuable learning moment to put things into perspective. Everything dies. Plants, animals, humans, you name it.  It’s just an irrefutable thing that happens. It’s what those that are left behind do with the memory that makes it a happy or sad event. It doesn’t have to be Earth shattering. In fact, the Earth has proven to keep spinning time and time again. Whether that’s cruel or not is our interpretation.

Our class is learning about what soil’s composed of in science and part of the state standard requires the students be taught that it’s made up of small rocks and once-living things. At first I was surprised they went into such detail, went as far as to mention the role of death in soil’s composition. We so often shelter our children from the realities of life. But in the end, I thought it a very healthy thing to reveal, even to such young people. I honestly believe that it’s when people start becoming blindsided as unguided preteens and teenagers, and even adults, by obvious tidbits of life like this, that we develop adverse reactions and consequently unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with them. We ignore things, suppress them, refuse to digest them.  Until it creeps up on us in a traumatic way that’s close to us and then we implode and wonder why.  I think it’s only natural little ones be taught to get used to this cycle, with some easing in of course.

I mean, just think about it. All organisms that are now alive are literally living off of the remains of animals and people that have passed away. Whether you’re vegetarian or not, you’re benefiting off of the expired life force of another. It’s morbid, yes, but also sort of amazing how well in tune that works.

I didn’t get to expound on this Simba-esque circle of life sort of idea, and probably for the best. I don’t know. But at that point, one of my other students had butt in with his own wisdom.

I was born,” he declared. “I think I was two years old at that time.”

Which I then had to chuckle at and call time to start walking in line for writing period. It diffused some of the tension in the air as I corrected him and told him he would have been zero. He looked dumbfounded that such an age was possible and my fish-less student soon relaxed as her mind probably wandered to some other topic.

In any case, despite my bedside manner being perhaps a little too frank, she took it in stride. As children often do.  

 

~LDA

Leisurely Persona

The other day someone asked me what I do for fun and all I could respond was “Netflix.”  

How embarrassing, am I right?

I made myself sound like a total couch potato shut in.  Which, to be honest, I am 70% shut in.  I like to be alone.  Most of the things I really enjoy are solitary activities like writing, reading, knitting, drawing, being overly critical of myself, and whoops, it’s partially true, watching television.  They’re pretty individualistic endeavors.

However, I do go out and do things on the fairly regular basis nowadays.  With humans, even.  I may slightly resemble a grandma in my proclivities, however I’m not that boring of a person.  There were things I could have said other than “Netflix,” as if my entire leisurely persona consisted of consuming television, limbs spread out in a root vegetable position.

I guess part of my problem is that I’m an overly private person.  I often feel like people don’t have the right to any kind of info about me that is beyond surface level.  Even if the information they’re requesting is in reality pretty darn surface level, I usually hesitate in answering in any sort of way that makes me any less opaque.

I value the obscurity I project to people.  

That made sense a couple years ago when I was very obstinate toward connecting with people in any manner that resembled depth.  I viewed people as not worth investing in, even in regards to myself.

But now that I’ve shifted that worldview and am trying to get to know the mess that is humanity, I ought to start giving real answers and stop replying things like “Netflix,” huh?  

 

~LDA

Super Unclassy, Bruh

I had the weirdest thing happen to me the other day.

I was hurrying to my car one morning for something that had the gall to make me wake up before 1pm on a Saturday. As usual, I had planned so masterfully that I had many minutes to spare. Then I let it get to my head, got lost in whatever task I had the luxury of doing with my extra time, and ended up fifteen minutes late instead of early. I know. I’m impressive. So I was rushing down my driveway, flustered and annoyed with myself for being so predictable, when I stopped short while pulling the car door open.

My car was a mess.

The napkins from my middle compartment were scattered everywhere, my passenger door was left slightly ajar, the contents of my glove compartment were splayed out across the floor and seats. It looked like someone had let loose a tantruming two year old in there or something.

My first thought:

Did my cheese finally slide off of its cracker? Did I go through a psychotic break in the middle of the night that I don’t remember?

My second thought:

No, wait. This might not actually involve any form of hysteria, although I can reserve the possibility of psychotic breaks and whatnot for a later date. I think I’ve been broken into…

Once I came to grips with that probability, I began examining what had been taken. After all, break-ins imply there have been some takings, right? Well…sort of. My burglar hadn’t taken my car bluetooth, which looks marginally expensive though I got it off of Amazon for pretty cheap. My burglar didn’t take the few blank checks my brother had idiotically left in some crevice of the car. Nope.

You want to know what my burglar took?

They took my guava pastries.

The crook took my guava pastries.

Yup. They must have been some prematurely reincarnated version of myself or something, because they didn’t target any of the valuables. No, no, no. Not of interest. How could one possibly assume a burglar was materialistic? No, they targeted the food. And what’s weirder? If the punk was hungry, why didn’t they take all of my food, huh? I had a couple boxes of croissants hanging out in there too, but they left that untouched.

They had the audacity to be picky.

If you’re gonna raid my car, do it right please. I’m almost offended.

Now to be fair, I did buy those guava pastries off of a random guy in a Walmart parking lot, so those pastries had sketchy written all over them to begin with. Regretful diarrhea was pretty much predicted, and accepted. But come on. I thought it at least safe to assume the guy wouldn’t follow me home and break into my car just to get them back.

Honestly, I should be worried about the implications of having possibly had a guy stalk me all the way to my house. It could quickly escalate to house break-ins and something ghastly could happen… They might graduate to stealing the Pillsbury cinnamon buns from my fridge.

Which would of course, be unforgivable.

So if you’re out there and you happen to be the one who reclaimed your pastries when they were happily sitting in my car:

Super unclassy, guy.

Kindly adhere to rules of the playground in the future.

No take-backs.

~LDA

That Familiar Crack

I don’t know why I even hesitate to pick up a pen or set my fingers upon a keyboard.

I never regret it when I’m finished.  Even if what I’ve written is total crap, there’s satisfaction in having put words on a page.  A certain kind of alignment of the spirit in having successfully transformed the firing of neurons in my brain into something someone else can read.  There’s a thrill in the possibility of setting off fireworks in someone else’s brain.  Even if in the end what I’ve written is so terrible and unworthy of reading that I want to burn it, bury it and have a cow poop on it just so no one ever gets their hands on it, I’m still happy to have sat down and written.

And still.

There is always this arresting hesitation born of angst that takes hold when I’m about to sit down and write.  Like if I pick up this pen the world might be set on fire, but not in a good way.  Or if I click that first letter on the keyboard I might never be able to stop.  Which in my opinion is not a bad way to die.  In fact, it would be sort of awesome to be able to say I died whilst on a literary tirade, but also kind of a stumbling block to the other goals in my life if I died so prematurely.  So there’s this hesitation to begin writing.

Of course,

I do it anyway.

On good days.

On you’re going to sit your butt in this chair and write even if it is literally the last thing you do, days.  On the world is a mystical place and you have to hurry up and get it down on paper, days.  On the you’ve set this deadline for yourself and you’re going to meet it or you basically deserve to be dead, days.  Notice how those days that smell like death came twice.  They come a lot more often than the mystical ones.

But still, I write.

Once, I thought I could let the angst win out and watch my writing life evaporate on the pavement in front of me, like so much catapulted saliva.  Slowly it swirled into the sky.  I watched it with both eager anticipation and terror.  Was this really happening?  Was it working?  Is all it takes some patient laziness?  My small pond became a puddle, and it soon was small enough to fit in the palm of one hand.

Then,

it was gone.

Or so I thought.

I turned around and began walking away, ready to throw a party or surrender myself to the nearest volcano.  To this day I don’t know which.  Maybe both.  In any case, something made me stop, turn around, and stoop real close to the ground.  There on the pavement was a crack.  And from that crack trembled a solitary drop of moisture, stubborn and hopeful.  I crouched there squinting at it for a long time.  Days, weeks, months.  I was watching to see if it too would eventually join it’s brothers in the unforgiving sky, but it didn’t.

Or it wouldn’t.

I’m not sure which of these either.

All I know is that no matter how long I stared at it, that droplet did not fade away.  And it was then that I knew in my gut that no matter how I long I watched, it would never go away.  There was something deep beneath the ground ensuring its existence.  Something annoying, and sure ,and as stubborn as me.  It let me know that there was no amount of running or hiding or overwhelming ray of angst that would burn that droplet away.

Ever since then, I pick up the pen and set my fingers on the keyboard because I have to.  Or at least I might as well.  Anytime I get too anxious about what I’m doing with this writing thing or why, I just squint down at that familiar crack.  Even if it’s too deep down at the bottom of the spring for me to see.

~LDA

Drama Llama

I’m such a drama llama.

I hate actual drama with people, but I can be so incongruously melodramatic with myself in my head. Even when my logic is pounding at my heart’s door and telling it to shut up, “I’ve heard this bit about five thousand times! Give it a rest already!”

I am finding my problems are so much less than I build them up to be and am continually ashamed of myself. I’m speaking mostly of my social troubles, of which you would barely be able to tell I have, because it’s easy to camouflage.  My anxiety is an invisible burden which I have no need to shove behind my back for fear of being found out.  Its nature is quite undetectable given enough nods, smiles, and echoing of whomever I’m speaking to.

Most people only want to hear themselves repeated and affirmed anyway, so this is easy.  A fact I’ve expressed distaste of before.

It’s quite a self-centered way of being, wanting to be heard all the time and refusing to return the favor, but I’ve admitted I have my own brand of selfishness as well.  I seek depth of connection without wading into the waters of relationship.  You can’t begin to understand a person, or people in general for that matter, until you first know them.  There’s a level of necessity for this surface level contact.

I have this conceited fear that if I talk to a lot of people I’ll attract too many people I don’t particularly like, and won’t know how to shake them off.  Because despite being a pro at offending people unintentionally with my blunt manner, I actually don’t like causing others pain or discomfort.  I do contain a base level of empathy that brings me an aversion to being the cause of pain.  I just mostly see things so differently than other people that I can’t predict a lot of the ways they will feel pain, so I cause it anyway.

But this is a really selfish fear.  One I thought I had disengaged myself with.  It all comes back to me being afraid I will have to give too much.  Which is not completely unreasonable since there are a lot of leeches out there who bring nothing to the table but a suction cup mouth, however it is selfish nonetheless.  So what?  I’ll end up giving more than I receive.  It’s not exactly a fun way to live, but it’s a way of life I’ve claimed to support, all the while not putting into practice socially.  

It’s so essential to my growth as a person and is stunting my current relationships, and still I have yet to deal with it. I’ve been staring my interpersonal issues in the face for so long that I have at least finally identified them. The problem is, that it’s been so long that I’ve also forgotten how to act on resolving them, even when I know how. Or at least know how to start.  I’ve been on pause discussing strategy for such an extended length of time that I’ve forgotten it takes an action to put that strategy into effect.  

It’s things like these that I justly beat myself up about not putting into play.  Life is the sort of game where you have to put yourself at risk to level up.  The trick is to beat each level without using any cheat codes, (like manipulating people), because it’s lame to beat it unethically.  If you do, you will level up, but the win won’t be worth much in the end.

Growing as a person is such a continuous battle of getting yourself to face your fears, irrational and otherwise. And not only face them, but to get up and fight them. 

~LDA

Accidental Dubs

Guys, I swear I’m not even a real person.

How does one accidentally dub someone?

I feel like I’m the only person on the planet who consistently offends people without even meaning to.  I mean, everybody has their ditsy moments where they hurt someone’s feelings without noticing, but I’m pretty sure I’ve reduced it to a science.  Which is pretty hard, considering these things are done unintentionally.

Maybe I spend so much time wandering in my brain that I forgot how to even be in the moment, and so I constantly appear to be disinterested in the people right in front of me.

The ridiculous truth is, I’m actually so interested in the species homo sapiens that I’m too busy over-analyzing their behavior to actually engage with them when necessary.

I was out intentionally socializing the other day—or at least trying to—when a networking opportunity appeared.  Someone went out of their way to speak to me and ask me to coffee before I left the scene of my crime.  These social outings tend to leave me exhausted, introvert that I am, so all I was thinking about was hopping into my car and not talking to another soul for days.

He raised his hand to get my attention.

“Hey, I was hoping I’d get the chance to talk to you, but it looks like you’re about ready to leave.”

Of course, since he had stopped me mid-getaway I looked like a deer in headlights, or like a child with their hand stuck in the cookie jar.

“Oh, hi,” I replied.  Ah, you’re blocking my exit! is what I screamed internally.

If you have to go that’s fine, but I’d love to get coffee sometime if you don’t mind, he continued.

“Oh, um…” Wow, that’s weird.  He actually wants to extend this experience, I mused.

He began staring at me.  Oh, right.  I’m supposed to respond.  

“Uh,” I began.  So…If I accept I’m going to be stuck in a situation where I have to put on my best human disguise.  Can I handle that kind of one on one at the moment?  

He continued to stare, cocking his head to the side, confusion beginning to register on his face.  Crap.  Say something, woman.  The pause has become unnatural.  Quick, make a decision.  That sort of thing was kind of the point of this outing, forcing yourself into uncomfortable situations.  Okay.  Say yes.  Wait, but then I have to actually dooo it…I whined to myself.

He began to open his mouth, signaling he was going to fill the silence himself.  Stop being lazy! Say something!  

“Yeah,” I blurted, fake smile affixed to the max.

Relief spread across his face that he wouldn’t have to reiterate.  “Great, so I live over by…How far are you from there?”

Give him only approximate coordinates.  He could be intending to murder your family in the dead of night.  “I live around…” I said.  That was stupid vague. Don’t be an idiot.  The probability of him being a murderer is very slim.  Besides you don’t have to narrow it down very much.

“I live in…” I clarified.  Much better.  

“Okay, so …. seems like about a halfway point,” he smiled.

He’s pausing for confirmation.  Smile and nod like you know geography.  “Mmhm, just about,” I guessed.

“Here’s my card,” he said handing me a quaint little piece of cardstock.  He said other impressively human stuff for a while.  “Do you have a card?”

Haha.  That’s cute.  He thinks I’m a real person.  Maybe I should start carrying some around though.  Tighten this whole disguise…

“No, unfortunately I don’t,” I replied.

He nodded understandingly and said nothing.  Oh, wait.  He was digging for information.  

“I’m a teacher,” I said, hoping to satisfy the implied question.

No, dummy.  Wrong piece of information.  

I was very close to bringing a palm to my face at this point, but he kindly continued talking and provided his job description too; As if I had responded appropriately.

Another lull in conversation.  This isn’t going very well.  Abort conversation mission.  I think you’ve satisfied the speech quota.  

“So…uh, we’ll be in touch,” I said, quite literally backing away slowly.  I even made use of the whole finger guns move and everything.

“Uh, okay,” he replied a little bewildered.

Yeahhh…I don’t really understand what I’m doing either, buddy,  

“I’ll see you,” I said, slinking my way to the exit.

“Okay, thanks for coming!” he shouted over the noise of other conversations to my turning back.

When I finally got to the refuge that is my car I realized I hadn’t actually set a time to meet him over coffee.  Which I totally didn’t mean to do.  Sure, I was trying to shut the conversation down as soon as possible, but I hadn’t meant to actually reject the offer.  I wanted to force myself into further uncomfortable situations and effectively get a little better at my act of pretending to be human.

Crap.  You totally just dubbed that guy.  You didn’t even set a time for coffee and he was genuinely being friendly.  I’m pretty sure he wasn’t even just coming onto you either.  You’re a terrible person,  I scolded myself.

I tend to think I’m observing people too much to respond appropriately in normal social situations, but maybe I have it the other way around.  I’m too busy talking to myself to talk to other people. 

One day I’ll master the art of humanity, guys.

One day.  I promise.

~LDA

Slippery Slopes

There’s something daunting when writing about yourself.  Not that it is hard to crack open your chest cavity and expose your gross pulsating parts to the world.  As a writer, I do that all the time.  That’s what creating story is, taking what you’ve learned about the world through your experiences and wrapping it in the skins of fictional characters.  But there’s this pressure when you’re not hiding behind the darling faces of the characters that you have the power to save or destroy.

When you’re writing plainly about yourself, the pressure to make the story good rises to a whole new level.  You set yourself on the operating table and begin to dismember.  How can I make this part look better?  Would this look better here?  Perhaps a little bit of the skin of my thigh would look better on my cheek?  You feel compelled to make yourself look shinier or more tragic or more charming than you really are.  Because this is you, so if someone hates it or thinks it’s boring, it’s like they’re saying they hate you or think you are boring.  You have no characters to hide behind.  But that’s just ego speaking.  The truth is if you just quit striking poses that make you look more awkward than a newborn giraffe, your story would probably play out just fine.  Assuming you’ve picked the correct story for the correct time.

Is this a now story?
A story that’s been traveling its way to your fingertips your entire life and is finally ready to be told right…

now?

Let’s find out.

When I was eleven years old my father took my brother and I to a water park.  Actually my entire family went, but my little brother and sister were off with my mom in some different part of the park, enjoying the more tame kiddie sections.  They were cute and little like that then.  Actually, they’re still cute and little like that to me, even though one is a foot taller than me and the other is a legal adult.  But I digress.

Towards the middle of the day my father, brother and I approached a water slide with some name along the lines of “The Wet Wicked Wedgify-er!”  It was yellow and had a steep decline that ended in a long runway, presumably because the momentum from the slide was so great it needed to give the rider extra space to slow down.  A belly churn shook the frame of my preteen body.  I looked over at my brother who was still wet from the last ride.  He looked up at the slide in glee and then looked down at me.  “Come on, let’s go,” he sneered, knowing I was probably afraid to board.  I glared at his tan back as he trotted up to the long line.  Instinctively, I reached up to touch my father’s forearm, in protest or for support, I didn’t know.  “Come on, Lady,” he said with no malice in his voice.  I let go of his arm and quite literally hitched up my britches, except they were swimming bottoms.  I was Amazon warrior of the Florida Scrub.  No banana looking thing was gonna scare me.  I power-walked ahead of my father to catch up with my brother.

Thankfully, the line moved pretty quickly which gave little time for my Amazonian courage to wear off.  When the long line finally snaked its way to the top I shivered at the top of the slide.  There was a cool breeze chilling our wet bodies, but also I was still a little scared.  My brother turned his ugly face around to grin at me before he pushed off and made his way down the steep slope.  The person monitoring the slide made us stand so far behind the line that I wasn’t able to watch him go down.  Of course, I’d been watching riders scream with glee as they fell the whole time we made our way up the steps anyway, but watching one more guinea pig plummet down would have been helpful.

Luckily it wasn’t a single rider so I would be able to ride with my father.  The teenager at the slide handed us the mat we would be riding down on.  Suddenly I was questioning the physics of it all.  That flimsy thing is supposed to protect us?  Was this slide really mechanically sound?  What if the weight of my heavy father combined with the stick thin weight of myself created an aerodynamic anomaly and flipped us right off the slide into the soggy pavement below?

I felt my father nudge me forward.  I almost glared at him as I thought, “Don’t rush me!” but I complied.  Jets of water tickled my ankles as I stood at the top of the slide, taking in one more deep breath.  We positioned ourselves on the mat, heavier person in back, lighter person in the front, which meant of course that I had no one to cling to.  I promised myself to keep my eyes open as we inched our way to the edge of the precipice.

“Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…” I whispered.  Maybe this was what people standing on the ledge of a building felt like.  Before I had time to explore that thought further, my father pushed off.

I felt like the character Wiley Coyote when he realizes he’s been so preoccupied with chasing Roadrunner that he’s sprinted over a cliff.  Maybe if I pump my legs fast enough I’ll get back on land, he thinks.   Maybe if I hold my breath tight enough I’ll float back to the top of the slide, I thought.

It was over so much faster than the time it had taken to begin.  The initial drop made me feel my stomach in my throat, but once we reached terminal velocity it was coasting all the way down.  The way our feet scooped the water in front of us and jettisoned it into the air made it look like we were a fountain.  The ride held true to its name.  My bathing suit had been pushed all the way up my butt like someone had given me the wickedest wedgie.  I practically felt it in my brain.

Aside from this poignant discomfort, my body was thrilled with the experience it had just been through.  Adrenaline pumped through my body and trilled with bells of excitement.

“Let’s do it again!” I shouted.  I jumped up from the foam mat and attempted to pull my father to a standing position.  Of course, I wasn’t strong enough.  “Come on, Daddy!”

I greeted my brother with a full-toothed smile as we approached where he stood in the waiting area.  My eyes must have disappeared into the creases of my smile lines, the way they do when I am especially happy.  To my surprise he was not wearing his usual sneer.  He grinned back at me and, could it be?…He almost seemed proud.

“That was awesome!” I shouted.

“Let’s do it again,” he replied.

We must have ridden it at least three more times after that.  Each time I had the same result.  A rush of excitement in my stomach and an unwelcome sensation between my cheeks.  When it came about maybe the fourth time, I decided to voice this information aloud.

“I have a humungous wedgie!” I chortled loud enough for everyone in the waiting area to hear.  I looked back at my father expecting him to be chuckling along with me.  Instead, he sported a peculiar look and avoided my eyes.  This confused me.

“It’s like all the way up my butt hole!” I exclaimed, turning to my brother for confirmation that this was hilarious.  He avoided my eyes too.

“Lady, shh.  That’s not something you say out loud,” my father informed me.

I rolled that around in my head for a few seconds.  I guessed it sort of made sense, but I didn’t see what the big deal was, considering the slide had the word wedgie in the title.  A funny thing happened then.  I noticed all the people close enough to have heard my exclamation.  They were giving us furtive glances.  Some were looking at me with eyebrows raised and some of them were giggling, but not in a friendly way.

“What?” I thought to myself.  “What are they looking at?”

I was a bit perplexed.

Were people really that touchy about such a naturally silly phenomenon?  I became self conscious.  Even my father seemed embarrassed.  He seemed to keep a measured distance from me for a while.  My cheeks flushed with heat.  In my head, it was just me and my family in our own little world.  I hadn’t given much thought to what other people around me might think.  It didn’t seem especially pertinent.  It was strange to see that reaction from family.  I said stuff like that around them all the time, but suddenly now that we were in public it was a big deal.  I felt a little betrayed.

My brother kept shaking his head like he thought I was an idiot.  I wanted to sock him in the mouth for looking so condescending.  Instead I opted for a pointed question, having measured the fact that my fists had proven ineffectual on him before.  Plus, I needed intel on this frustrating situation.

“What?” I glared at him, hopping in front of him so he had to stop in his tracks.  “What’s the big deal?”

He maneuvered around me and mumbled something along the lines of “Seriously?”

I watched him and my father walk on ahead of me without having answered my question.  I think what struck me the most was that my father actually seemed ashamed of me.  I watched him as he looked surreptitiously around to see if anyone was still staring in our direction.  I understood that what I had said had been a little uncouth, but I didn’t think it would have such a negative affect on the way my family felt about me.  I think that was one of the first times I realized how differently I viewed the world from others.  People seemed to get touchy and embarrassed about things I deemed inconsequential.  And when I felt like it was a time they really should be embarrassed, like if they hadn’t tried their best at something or bothered to think about the obvious consequence of an action, they seemed to get around it with social maneuvering.  This really annoyed me.  Actually, it still does.

My brother and father didn’t ignore me the rest of the time we were at the park or anything dramatically harsh.  But I had taken a step back inside myself, and was hyperaware of my interactions with people the rest of the day.  Even if what they considered important I didn’t consider consequential myself, I still acutely felt the affects of their opinion.  Opinions didn’t matter to me until it started to affect the opinions of people close to me, people I valued.  Even if I still thought what they were thinking was stupid.  I think I began to view the world a bit differently that day.

~LDA

The Great Time War

I want to defeat time.

Even though I know I can’t help but improve myself in a linear fashion, I get really frustrated sometimes by the rearview mirror.

Hind sight is 20/20 they say. Which isn’t entirely true. Sometimes even having gained information and insight about a particular situation you would still choose the same course of action. Not because you don’t see how the outcome will be bad, but because you lack the strength to be a better person and choose the more difficult choice. It’s hard to face yourself and knowingly choose discomfort.

Sometimes though, hindsight would change things. For example, as I mentioned before, I’m a teacher. There are moments where I realize there is something, be it a strategy or a new skill, that I could have taught my students to exponentially increase their chances of success. Looking back and realizing I could have done better by them really tends to lay on the guilt. On the one hand, what can I do? I can’t change the fact that I’m a person who is learning along with them. But on the other hand, the nature of the job of teaching is a really sticky one, because you quite literally affect the futures of many people. My ineptitude in teaching a certain academic or life skill could lead to someone dropping out of school somewhere down the line and having a crappy life thereafter. (Not that all dropouts become unsuccessful. A few end up doing well.)

So I’m often bombarded by this rivalry with time. Can I beat myself and be better faster so that I can wreak the least havoc possible on this Earth? Can I make as few mistakes as possible by making calculations and budgeting time for specific personal and professional growth goals?

The thing is, I know the answer is no, but I’ve always been a very stubborn person. I’m still going to try my best to at least lose as little as possible.

On my good days I go through life shouting “Zettai ni makenai! (I definitely won’t lose!).” But on my bad days the reality of losing catches up to me and I want to throw in the towel. Shameful, I know. I guess I have to learn to be a little more satisfied with turning hindsight into foresight, rather than grumbling about the battles I’ve lost.

In the end, I’m destined to lose the war. But I want to go out with a kick butt war cry, not a defeated whimper. I guess I better get my ish together then, huh?

~LDA