It's not just you… we all have our moments

It's not just you… we all have our moments

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Marilyns and Jackies

I've just spent the last several minutes (read: hours) meandering down the rabbit hole that is my sordid past (or in other words, this blog).  I began parading my prior degradations in this pathetic online publication about a year and a half ago for a couple reasons:

1) People are too hard on themselves (and God knows I am not exempt from this).  My hope was that by throwing myself under the bus and sharing some of the more uncouth examples from my lesser refined days, whatever audience this monstrosity reached might feel less alone in their own mistakes.  My broader hope was that I'd be able to gather submissions from other people so that this blog was less a showcase of egocentrism and more a display of our collective humanness, but that didn't quite pan out.  Since I think there can be profound personal healing through real human connection (and while I still believe the most effective form of this is recognized over a cup of coffee through an hour of interpersonal communication), a growing social media (for better or for worse) has seen fit to broaden our ability to identify with each other, so I decided to forge ahead with my own personal submissions.  At the end of the day, I fear loneliness can be a cancer (even thought I'm a cynical misanthrope), so this blog may have been more an exercise for my own comfort than the comfort of others.  I've been known to be selfish that way, which leads me to...

...2) I started this blog as a form of penance.  By publicly ridiculing myself and outing my skeletons, I thought I could atone for my indiscretions with humility.  Also, I am openly being accountable for my actions, which may tickle the fancy of any victims affected by the wreckage of my past.  Granted, there are people out there who have committed bigger blunders than I have, who have lead a more lascivious life than I did, or whom have been the unfortunate offspring of individuals who had no right procreating - and these people will all have greater stories of humiliation and misfortune than I could ever dream.  To you I say, please write your memoirs.  There is an audience waiting for you.  But the point here is: I have to live with me.  This is not a big dick contest.  The only way I know how to deflate the power I assign my past indecencies is through sharing my experiences.  Yes, I could do this with a therapist (and I have) but, A) they're expensive, and B) see above article #1.  Listen, keeping personal secrets can freeze developmental growth.  (It should be noted that I am not advocating sharing - or in my case, exploiting - any secret that pertains to anyone other than yourself, unless you're gunning to irrevocably damage a relationship and make life shit for yourself.  And if you're going to share a personal secret that involves another party, at least have the decency to wrap them in a cloak of anonymity, like I did for an ex of mine who discovered an affinity for transgendered prostitutes on our shared dime.)  But as it happens, writing this blog has turned out to be humiliating, humbling, and cathartic for me.

That said, I now find myself at a crossroad - one I thought would never come based on where I have come from.  Allow me to explain…

… For many, many years, I lived my life like a Marilyn.  God knows not physically.  I'm more talking about her penchant for self-medicating and attention from men.  If I had her bod, I probably would have posed nude and tried to seduce presidents as well.  I could be scrupulous, there's no hiding from that.  But I was no Marilyn in the looks department, and I don't talk in a baby voice, like a victim of molestation.  In fact, I didn't even realize I was trying to live like a Marilyn until some years later, well into my sobriety, when my prim and proper Southern co-worker explained that the world is made up of two kinds of women: Jackies and Marilyns.  She self-identified as a "Jackie;" and since I have never made it a point to write thank you cards on monogrammed embossed stationary, attended a cotillion (let alone known what one is), or dress in anything other than a t-shirt and jeans (not to mention the fact I've seen the inside of a Planned Parenthood once or twice), I was left to surmise that I am not in the "Jackie" tribe.  I am what the South would call tacky, and since there are only two kinds of women in the world, I arrived at the conclusion that I must be a Marilyn.

And that's all fine and good for a few laughs or a shot in the ass, but it's not sustainable.  Let's not forget Marilyn died when she was 36 - which just so happens to be my age.  Since I would be a greater idiot to try to continue living like a Marilyn for the sake of posting content to this blog (not to mention I'd be divorced in a New York second), a question of transformation is proposed: Can I transition from Marilyn to Jackie while maintaining tonal consistency?  The answer is: I have to - because this change is as unavoidable for me as menopause.

I picked up a Better Homes & Gardens magazine over a Vogue while I was getting a "mom" cut (read: castration) at the salon yesterday, for Christ's sake!  AND I FOUND IT INTERESTING!!!  They were advertising one-piece swimsuits and coupons for Bed Bath and Beyond, and I found myself casing the joint to make sure no one around me was watching so I could rip the pages out and take them home with me.  So I must be going through "the change," and I remember thinking in the moment, "Oh… This is how a Marilyn becomes a Jackie…"

I get it now: how does a woman maintain the vitality and sexuality of her single youth when making the transition to A) parent, or B) nears her shelf-life (which in L.A. is 29)?  The struggle is real.

While I'm not ready to turn this into a mommy blog - although some of those broads are funny as hell - my aim is to be less esoteric than that (in a different way than writing about being a completely drunk hooker was).  There has to be a certain allowance for growth, and since I made a conscious decision to write about my personal experiences as opposed to focusing on a collective of shared experiences, I think I'm justified in broadening the scope of the kinds of material that qualify as "ridiculous."  At the end of the day, it's still all about life.

It was Emerson who once said, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds," and I take that to mean if presented with new information, a change in direction is not only warranted, but expected.  To be faithful to a previous set of actions or beliefs, of which can now be seen as detrimental, solely for the sake of consistency, would be downright moronic.  Seriously, how many people think a Marilyn would make a better mother than a Jackie?  Or in a more personal light, how many of you who have read a blog entry or two of mine would give me your blessing to procreate if I was still concerned with dating meth heads for a summer boat rental, blowing my bartending tips on alcohol and cocaine, or frivolously dating any man who happened to glance in my direction?  Be honest; you would just encourage me to get another hole punch in my Planned Parenthood rewards card.

In life, we have to allow for change; as much as in our own journey as in another's.  "Flip-flopping" isn't a four-letter word.  The margin for error should be directly proportionate to room for growth; and a change of heart, a change of mind and a change of opinion, should be celebrated, not scrutinized.  I guess what I'm saying is: Flexibility.

So while I may be departing life as a Marilyn, I'm not convinced that automatically means I'm looking at life as a Jackie.  (That would take a lot of rehabilitation.)  Maybe there's a way to explore life as a Marilyn/ Jackie hybrid (for the sake and well-being of my marriage and child).  So please forgive me if what I write begins to stray from the collection of illicit debaucheries I started with.  But going forward, no matter how you want to slice and dice it, pretty much everything* in life (at least all the small stuff we like to sweat in this first-world nation) is fucking ridiculous.

*Genocide, war, poverty, natural disasters, racism, incest, female circumcision, gender inequality, homophobia, animal cruelty, M. Night Shyamalan movies, et al. not included.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Pregnancy Dreams

I'm definitely someone who has always been a wacky dreamer.  In fact, one of my earliest and most bizarre dreams I can recall was when I was around twelve or thirteen years old.  Our old black lab, Tar, was on her last leg.  She had gone blind and deaf and would stumble through the house and fall down on the reg… it was terribly depressing to watch.  We knew doing the right thing meant her days were numbered.  This was also my first experience with imminent death, and it felt like a rock in my stomach.  I loved my Tar baby (you can blame my parents for any tone of racism here) and I didn't want to let her go, but the end was lurking in nearby shadows - a fact I couldn't escape, not even in my sleep…

I closed my eyes, desperately seeking refuge from the reality that I was about to lose my best friend, when I saw him - my father, walking into the laundry room with a meat cleaver and a white apron.  Instinctively I knew what was happening behind the locked door: he was "putting Tar to sleep"!  I pounded on the door, sobbing hysterically, and when he finally opened it, I saw his white apron was covered in blood, and I knew it was too late.  Tar was gone.  He silently pushed past me, leaving the horror of killing my dog behind him.  And there in front of me, I saw her: all chopped and ground up in a bunch of plastic bags.  He had made hamburger patties out of her.

So this is the mind I'm dealing with.  Fast forward to now: I'm three and one-half months pregnant, and things on the 'ol dream front are getting out of control.  In my defense, I'm not entirely responsible for the oddity of my dreams in my current state.  Supposedly, raging hormones are to blame.  And even though I'm not very far along - barely into my second trimester - the hormone fuel for my dream machine is in full effect.  While I can't remember what I've dreamt every single night, I started keeping track of the most vivid ones, of which I decided to share a short sampling, below:
- I was with Shree and Jen, and we were getting ready to go out for a night on the town!  First stop: Tom Cruise's house.  Suri was having a birthday party and we were going to crash it.  Somehow Shree knew the password, so we just cruised by (see what I did there?) the guard at the gate.  The lot was massive.  The party was in full swing in the backyard - kids and adults, a bouncy house and pool - the whole kit and caboodle.  Shree and Jen disappeared to God knows where, and I was just meandering poolside.  Suddenly, I noticed a baby that had slipped into the deep end and was sinking towards the bottom.  I quickly grabbed him by his feet, pulled him out of the water, and hit his back until he coughed out the water and started breathing again.  I called out to the crowd for his parents, but no one claimed him.  So I took him home as a party favor.

- I was trying to rob a house with my mom and brother.  Also, I was thirteen again.

- I was at my parents house, and someone was trying to murder us.  I didn't know who the killer was, but I knew he was upstairs.  Next thing I know, I'm in the garage, and I've captured the killer.  Only, he was a miniature person, no bigger than a baby doll.  I knew I needed to kill him, so I asked my brother to hand me an axe so I could chop off his head.  I set the murder doll on the driveway and pulled his head from his body, revealing a spinal column that looked more like an umbilical cord.  Then I took the axe and started hacking through the cord.  It turned into a fleshy material I couldn't cut through, so I just kept hacking and hacking, turning the little guy over  and over so I could go at it from different angles.  "Fortunately," I thought, "there's no blood!"

- Charlie (my seventeen pound Ewok dog) was a bigger, white fluffy dog.  She had a bigger brother (or sister) she was racing around with, and they took off chasing two monkeys.  I was trying to explain to the owner of the monkeys, and older gentleman, that she's a nice dog and was just playing, but he was embroiled in a heated argument with his son over the injustices "we" (white people) were handing the Native Americans.  All of a sudden, I was in the middle of a "battle field", and it felt like the mid-1700's.  There was a white guy dressed as an Indian, trying to stand up for his "brothers", but aligning himself with their group only insulted them more.  So one of the Indians threw a spear through his forehead.

- A girl I work with, we'll call her "Amy", took my job.  I knew it was her, even though I couldn't see her face, and I was PISSED.  I was complaining to T.T., my co-worker, about Amy as I sat on the toilet, taking a shit.  No matter how many times I wiped, it wouldn't get cleaner.  Simultaneously, I couldn't figure out what T.T. was doing in the bathroom with me.  I kept wondering why he was there, and why he wouldn't leave.

- Woke up early this morning worrying that I would sleepwalk into the kitchen and slice my wrists.  I was too scared to go back to sleep.

- I was doing a lot of speed.  I only paused for a second to consider the baby, and whether or not all this speed I was doing would hurt him.  I justified it by telling myself, "Well, at least I'm not drinking…"

And just last night:  I had a dream that my brother took a woman in a wheelchair, with no arms or legs, as his date to my wedding, and all I could think to myself was, "That's a funny looking prostitute."

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Constant Craving

Craving:  I know all about it.  In fact, I’d venture to say that most humans with a pulse – whether they choose to admit it or not – do, too.  Even Nuns.  I bet those birds crave a thing or two now and again, (and it’s been well documented that Priests do).  

But suppose it’s not fair to speak on behalf of the population as a whole.  In that case, maybe I am unique in my craving?  Maybe no one else on Earth, past or present, has ever known what it feels like to desire something so strongly as to become almost possessed by it – certainly not the estimated 2.1 million members of Alcoholics Anonymous worldwide*.   

Sticking to my personal experience, I’ll share that my sense of craving began in infancy.  Not that I was capable of coherently identifying or understanding, that, what I was feeling was called a craving, but I certainly cried out for milk when I was craving food.  And when I craved sleep, I let that be known through blood-curdling screams as well.  As I developed, I began to comprehend that I most definitely craved safety.  In fact, I feel comfortable identifying “safety” as my strongest need on Maslow’s hierarchy.  

This craving for safety morphed into an uncontrollable anxiety that crippled me throughout my entire childhood – most likely perpetuated by my getting lost at Santa Anita racetrack when I was two.  Anxiety wracked my being – the only thing that could quell my nerves was to know where my family was at all times, and the only way I could do that was through control.  I began to crave control – which is a futile and exhausting effort.  Later on down the road, I discovered the only other thing that could mitigate my fears – alcohol.  

It didn’t take long before I began to crave that beast.  Even when I had a drink in my hand, I was already nervously anticipating the next – I needed to make sure there was enough supply to medicate my dis-ease.  Before I knew it, I couldn’t function without it.  Sure, I had plenty of moments when I was dry, but I always felt more relaxed with booze coursing through my veins.  The problem is:  inevitably it stops working (quicker for some than others).  And much to my dismay and benefit, alcohol stopped working for me around the time I was thirty.  Suddenly I craved relief – relief and rest from the exhaustion trying to control a drinking problem creates.  I craved it like I had never craved anything in my life, because I was at the end of my rope.  It was now a matter of life or death, because I knew my soul was empty and it was only a matter of time before my brain caught up to the idea that death may be a more suitable option.  

I got a taste of sobriety and hung on for dear life – I began to crave recovery.  It gave me a new lease on life.  I was surfing a “pink cloud” and I had never felt so good.  Life got better fast, and before I knew it, life was actually good.  I started to dream again, and as my dreams grew, so did my vision for my future.  I had ambition!  I started to crave achievement… success!  

I dove, head first, back into the entertainment industry (my only constant love) with unadulterated enthusiasm and vigor.  I put twenty thousand miles on my car in four months, driving back and forth between San Francisco and Los Angeles, until I finally cut the apron strings and made the move to live in La La Land amongst all the other transplants and dreamers.  I landed in features, then television; and during the course of my employment on a procedural drama I would never be given the opportunity to write for, something even better happened:  I met my future husband (in a rather roundabout way) through a co-worker.  

We jumped into a relationship, and before I knew it we were engaged and I was pregnant, and that, in and of itself, introduced a whole new comprehension of craving (apart from FroYo at 10pm) – I had a craving for Life, and a deeply burning desire for the life growing inside of me to thrive and be healthy.  Now I crave the knowledge and empathy necessary to make me a good parent – a parent equipped to raise a well-adjusted and capable child, one who can differentiate between right and wrong and who “makes good choices”, as my father once (and still does) badger me to do.  I crave compassion.  And lastly, I crave the power to stop cursing like a truck driver, cuz that’s really gonna fuck up my kids.