i can handle it

Being a strong, independent person is not nearly as wonderful as people would lead you to believe.  For once, I want to just curl up in the corner and whimper while someone else takes care of the hard business of life.  I would love to be able to flee the scene when the elephant in the room goes on a rampage and smashes the furniture.  But noooo.  When times get tough, I square my shoulders and stand my ground.  I’ll lasso the beast and clean up the mess.  I am self-reliant to a fault.  Expecting someone else to show up and rescue me after being sucker-punched by life is just not in my nature.   

That being said, I’m always grateful when friends or family tell me that they are here for me and ask me what they can do to help.  I just never know what to tell them.  If I have to leave town suddenly, I’ll need someone to feed my dogs.  Other than that, I don’t know what anyone else could do. 

“I’m here if you need to talk,” someone will say.  Well, that’s awesome, it really is.  But, I don’t like to talk, not until the situation is well over and handled, that is.  Talking before I have all the facts leads to speculation and speculation just smacks of drama to me and I HATE drama.  Why would I call you while I’m in the hospital, tubes attached everywhere and the doctors are still running tests?  “Oh, hi!  I’m in the hospital and they don’t know what’s wrong, but I just wanted to give you a call so you can worry your ass off and feel helpless.  Okay, bye!”  Yeah.  I don’t think so.   I won’t call until after I am home from the hospital because then will have a full story – beginning, middle and end.  Hell, if I can make it funny, I might even just blog about it first so I can avoid the phone call altogether.  Is that wrong? 

I realize that I am way too comfortable being by myself.  I was a latch-key kid and had a lot of alone time as a child.  It never bothered me.  I could watch what I wanted on television, eat a bowl of cereal and all around enjoy having no one around to tell me what to do.  Even now, if my husband has to work late, I don’t mind so much.  I’ll read a book or work on a writing project (and probably eat a bowl of cereal).  Things I don’t like to do when he’s home because they take time away from us being together. 

If I weren’t married, I could easily see myself turning into a hermit.  My sister would eventually have to break into my house, pry my laptop from my hands and drag my colorless body outside while I hiss at the sun like some cave animal.  Later, I would thank her for it because I’d remember that I do enjoy being around people.  People are fun!  Hearing real, live laughter is much better than a “LOL” any day. 

I guess I just need to get in the habit of not only laughing with other people, but crying with them, too.  I would do anything, absolutely anything to help any of my friends or family during a difficult time and I hope they know that.  However, I need to learn to trust them to help me, too. 

Ick.  Self-improvement is so hard and messy.  Dealing with a crisis situation is much easier.

i vant to drink your wine and ruin your evening by complaining about my life

Vampires do exist and, chances are, you know at least one.  Real vampires don’t want your blood.  That’s too messy and invasive.  The vampire you know is subtle.  You won’t know you’ve even been drained until it’s too late, often after they have moved on to their next victim.  You’ll feel inexplicably exhausted, not necessarily physically, but mentally and emotionally.  Like you took the Mensa entrance exam while volunteering at the homeless shelter then hit a dog with your car on the way home, as the six-year-old owner watched.  

That’s what real vampires want – your energy, empathy and undivided attention.  What makes these vampires different from regular humans is not just their skill for sucking the life out of us.  No, we all have that ability as some point or another.  But, normal people give back what they take.  Sometimes, simultaneously. 

You and a friend have both had horrible days and you get together over drinks and vent about it.  You are feeding off each other, but at the same time your shared experience and empathy for the other person’s situation is energizing the both of you as well.  We offer a shoulder for our friends to cry on, and because they are friends, you know their shoulder will be there for you when you need it.  Friends give when they have it and take when they need it.  It’s that balance that makes true friends such a joy to be around.  You never feel an emotional deficit. 

Vampires, however, don’t have anything to give.  They lack the substance or will to replenish what they take.  They will always be in debt to you, and they may even admit it and promise to repay you, but never find the time. 

I could say that if you don’t know any people like this, then it’s probably you.  However, if you are reading this, then you know me (or you are a random blog surfer who found me by accident, in which case – hi, stranger!) and if you know me then you are not an emotional vampire.  I tend to recognize these types quickly and distance myself from them.   And, I am fairly certain that I’m not a life-sucker.  If anything, I get accused of not relying on my friends enough. 

And now, because I can’t think of a proper summation and because I want to go outside in the sunshine, here is a picture of The Count punching out Edward Cullen for your enjoyment:

One punch! Ah, ah, ah, ah!

friend bloggers (froggers?)

I have three friends who have blogs: The Book of Stevie (Stevie King), Of Moons & Movies (formerly Dogs Can’t Look Up – Jeff Marker) and Joyful Abundance (Alicia Marker).  Check ‘em out, they’re great people and would love to have you visit.  Links are over there to the right under my Blogroll. 

I now feel a sense of camaraderie, a kinship if you will, in the otherwise cold vacuum of the interwebs. 

Strangely, I also feel a heavy bubble rising from the sludgy depths of what I thought was a stagnant pond of competitiveness. 

This is not like me.  I’m a go with the flow kind of gal.  Laissez faire and cest la vie and insert some other hard to spell French epithet here.  My mom calls me her “whatever child” cause that’s more often than not my answer to most queries.  I usually can’t be bothered to care.  That’s probably why I never got into sports.  Win.  Lose.  What’s the point?  Someone always wants it more than I do.  Let ‘em have it, I’ll be sitting over there on the bleachers reading a book.  

Now there’s a pang, a twinge of challenge that must be answered.  A competition to be won.  I thought I was more evolved.  Are my knuckles not as clean as my conscience?  Apparently not.  I have a mammoth pelt coat hidden in my closet. 

This is not a bad thing, however.  Actually, it’s exactly what I need.  I now have contemporaries that I know personally and respect.  If I am going to feel worthy of my peers, I gotta produce.  Now, I know that my blogger friends didn’t ask for this responsibility, but they got it.  I have to use whatever I can to motivate myself and if that involves an imagined competition so be it. 

If any of my other friends out there have a blog, let me know.  I love reading what my friends have written because I have a voice and a face to go with the words.  And if you’d like to use my blog as an incentive to post more often, feel free.  Don’t be surprised if I let you win, though.

when, exactly, was I supposed to grow up?

I sleep in a kind of jack-knife position.  On my right side, right leg stretched straight out, left leg bent, knee toward my chest.  I’ve slept this way since I was a small child.  There is a picture to prove it.  I’m napping on a blanket outside, my friend Johnny napping next to me.  We were both about four, on a camping trip with our mothers. 

I remember that trip, just as I remember a lot from my early childhood.  I remember being too small to reach the light switch in the bathroom, but there was a little stool there by the door I could step on.  I remember when I was finally tall enough to not need that stool any more.  I remember, pre-school, first grade and swimming lessons.  More than just remembering moments, however, I also remember what I was thinking.  I remember being in my own head when I was four and five and six.  With these memories comes the realization that I haven’t changed all that much.  The core of who I am, the essence of my personality was basically set in stone when I was five: talkative, outgoing, thoughtful, funny.  Now, add thirty years of life experience, and you have me today. 

That life experience is the kicker, isn’t it?  You learn to suppress aspects of your personality to fit in here, or pretend to be someone you’re not to get the job there.  Most of your life is spent trying to make the square you fit into a round world.  Disappointments, stress, responsibilities leave their film on your soul.  However, there are rare, unguarded moments when you speak without thinking, laugh without restraint, make a face when you think no one is looking.

You are five, with a better vocabulary and more coordination. 

Don’t deny it.  I can see it in you. 

You can be as grown up as you want to be, but if I choose to spend my time with you now, chances are I would have played with you during recess.  Substitute restaurants and cocktails for sandboxes and juice, but the rules are all the same.  You play fair, share, laugh, help, listen and care.  Add all the life experience you want, but if you didn’t have these skills at five, you probably never will.