I had a happy and uneventful childhood and the usual awful middle school experience. I had been an A student all of my life, with very little effort. I had been treated as something of a prodigy as a child, mainly due to my mom’s intense grooming and pushing. Somewhere around sophomore year, I realized that there was more to life than being brilliant, and I was determined to find that something. I started by deliberately dumbing down. I got negative attention from the kids every time my name was posted on that honor roll list, so I decided I wasn’t going to be on that list any more. I started bringing home B’s. I think one report card had two B’s on it, and my parents posted it on the refrigerator, marked in red ink, “a sad day.” I tell this to illustrate how academically intense my household was. Two B’s and it was A Sad Day. My parents decided that my local private school was failing me and I was miserable (brilliant deduction) and made the worst of all decisions: they would send me away to boarding school. My poor parents, Wally and June Cleaver, failed to understand that in the rest of the world, “boarding school” is not synonomous with achievement, it is synonomous with “fucked up kids.”
So I went to my new school. I was determined that one thing would happen – I wouldn’t be a geek anymore and I would have cool friends. I would run with the in crowd, and not have my chair pulled out from under me or spit balls put in my hair any more. This would occur no matter what I had to do. No matter what. Unfortunately, this school revered four things: academic achievement, sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll. They were obsessed by the sixties. The dorm circle rang with The Who and The Beatles and The Kinks and Led Zeppelin. Kids played frisbee outside with their hair tied back with tie-dyed bandanas. Afros on curly-headed kids of all races were cool. Pictures of pot leaves and copies of Timothy Leary’s writings and The Moody Blues and guitars graced the dorm rooms. I was in way over my head. I knew nothing of any of this. But I was going to devote myself, 24-7, to learning this and fitting in unless I died.
I tackled the music. To this day I have a working knowledge of music from the sixties through the nineties second almost to none. I have a CD collection spanning five decades – hundreds and hundreds of CDs. You see, I internalized everything that went on at this school as The Way To Be. Except for the academics part. I was going to give that a rest. I tackled the clothes. I put holes in my jeans and got ratty old t-shirts and got rid of all my wanna-be preppy regalia from my previous academic institution. I bought drug-addled posters and put them up in the room and in my windows. And I tackled the drugs. I had heard whispers about them from the cool kids at the old school, but I was so far removed from all that that I hadn’t even been around kids who were drinking before. Again, way, way over my head.
I tried drinking first. Of course I pulled the Swill Mixed Alcohol Until I Vomit routine at the first party I went to, disgusting everyone. But for some reason, this was something I wanted to revisit. And then my roommate taught me how to smoke pot. And how I loved it. I loved acting stupid, even stupider than usual. And then I found quaaludes. And speed. And LSD. I would put anything in my mouth that anybody handed me, just to be cool. I had lost my mind. Completely distracted by my coolness, I missed my first bout with depression, chalking it up to the loss of a quirky punk rocker with a mohawk who had caught my eye. I took up smoking cigarettes, Marlboro Reds, calling them “Cowboy Killers” and sitting in my dorm room closet learning how to blow smoke rings. I was so distracted that I completely failed to fill out any applications for college whatsoever. Just completely didn’t notice that the kids around me were all filling theirs out. As it turned out, it didn’t matter.
As my classmates matured into senior year, I found myself hanging out with younger kids who were easily impressed. One night, two of the kids came by my dorm room and wanted to know if I wanted to go up on the mountain and smoke some pot. Of course I agreed. Since it wasn’t dark when we left, I didn’t think to turn off the lamp in my dorm room. And that one lamp changed my entire life.
The staff head of the dorm made his evening rounds and found my lights on, along with those of the two boys I had gone off with. He tackled them first, knowing that they would be pushovers, and sure enough, they blurted out everything. Armed with this information, he came to me, and I had little choice but to confess to my crime. I was suspended immediately and a hearing for my possible reinstatement was scheduled.
Now keep in mind, up until now, my folks knew about none of this. They were an hour away, and had no idea what I had become. After all, I never went home. I stayed in the dorms every weekend to party. The irony with the cigarettes was, the school had a smoking permit for students. If the parents signed the permit, kids could smoke in designated areas. In an extremely stupid case of reverse psychology, my folks signed the permit. Just one more thing to illustrate my coolness! I took up smoking immediately. When my folks came to pick me up after the expulsion, to say that they were blindsided would be like saying, well, they were completely blindsided. They were both grim and stern, and my father cried when my petition for reinstatement was denied.
They took me home, and this was where the real craziness took over. Mom got me into the state college where they taught; with my grades it was a shoo-in, but I couldn’t start until January. This was October. Instead of making me get a job (which is what I would have done, to keep me out of trouble, or putting me in rehab, which I would have laughed at but they probably ultimately would have peer-pressured me into shape), they left me at home. Every day. While they went to work. So I watched soap operas all day, stole their Eisenhower dollars to buy cigarettes, and found me a dealer who could keep me supplied with weed. I had no transportation so I walked to the Zippy Mart every day to buy a pack. It was my only exercise. I smoked a pack a day, and took a shower before the folks got home so they wouldn’t smell it on me. I smoked outside. They didn’t smell it because they never got that close to me. They never hugged me, they never asked what was going on with me, and they just basically gave me the cold shoulder. They never even asked me what kinds of things I had done. They really didn’t want to know. I guess they figured, if they didn’t talk to me, I didn’t exist. And I didn’t. That nonexistence was the most pitiful period of my life.
The event, with a night and the dark and a lamp, changed my life forever in one quick stroke. I went, in my parents’ minds, from prodigy to damaged goods. But this did not straighten me out. It strengthened my resolve. I would still be a cool kid. No matter what. My mind was set. And so was the addictive personality, although it took me years before I would figure that out. Everything changed. But nothing did.
I’m sure this phrase has occurred to almost each and every one of you. We all want to be writing or we wouldn’t be doing it. We have a burning need to communicate, and to do it through words. We are most of us verbal people and we know lots of big words that we want to show off. But the best thing about this blogging, and the thing I didn’t realize until I started it, is that this is a community of like-minded people who all support and show interest in one another. I had no idea. This is really habit forming. You don’t know until you do it how self-affirming and helpful this feedback is. One can really get an ego glow from all the attention. And I admit: I am addicted to that. I find myself checking WordPress an embarassing number of times during the day, just to see if someone noticed my new post or if someone has replied to a comment I made. It doesn’t hurt to be slightly obsessive, which possibly a large number of us are. I find myself wanting to write more than one post a day, just because the desire to write something down and communicate becomes so strong.
My husband and I have found that my blog is a different (dare I say better?) way of communicating, as I am not always so forthcoming in person. I avoid conflict. The first time he read my blog, he read it cover to cover, all of my posts, and was so astonished by some of the things he read that he actually woke me up when he was finished reading. After his initial outrage at my having communicated so many things yet failing to reach out to him with them, he decided that the blog was a very good idea and very therapeutic for me. He also decided that continuing to follow my blog might be a source of information that he was currently lacking. So, embarassingly enough, this blog has become a way of reaching out to my husband and telling him things that might not otherwise be forthcoming.
This does not even bring into the equation the reading addiction. I don’t read books, I EAT them, and will read almost anything you put in front of me. I love scanning the writings of the Freshly Pressed (and envying them greatly) and reading all the different viewpoints on different subjects expressed therein. I also love to make comments and hope that they are useful, or at least supportive. I love following the blogs I have chosen to follow, and I feel more and more like I know some of these writers.
So between my writing addiction, my reading addiction, and my clawing need for attention (hah), my commitment to blogging has really soared. I find also that I love both the weekly writing and weekly photography challenges. I am a bit of an amateur photographer and I really love having this venue to show my pictures off. I like the new gallery format, which I have just proudly figured out. That has been a part of the blogging process also, figuring out this website and how to access the features, and the fun of customizing my site. All in all, this has been a very positive experience for me and I hope to be doing it for much much longer.
I have a little Diet Pepsi problem. By this, I mean, my consumption is upwards of ninety six ounces a day. At work. At home, I might drink one or two, but at work I have access to the soda fountain on Labor and Delivery and the refrigerator in the doctor’s lounge, and I just continuously drink Diet Pepsi. I have a forty ounce mug which is hospital standard issue for patients for WATER, not Diet Pepsi. I fill it and empty it at least twice a day, once in morning clinic and once in afternoon clinic. I justify it like this:
I need energy. Caffeine provides necessary energy for me to make it through my grueling clinic schedule. I have to wake up early and it does NOT agree with me. I am not a morning person. Not even with caffeine but caffeine does seem to help wake up my brain, just a little.
It’s diet, after all. It’s not like I’m consuming sugar all day (although there are plenty who maintain that artificial sweeteners may be worse for us than sugar). Drinking large amounts also keeps me from EATING all day, which I had definitely rather not do. I drink when I have the urge to snack.
It’s not coffee. According to my gastro doctor, I’m not allowed coffee because it aggravates my reflux and my esophagitis. I’m sure you wanted to know that. He says, however, that it is not the caffeine that is the problem, but some other compound in the coffee. So other caffeine is OK. I am also not allowed tomato products, citrus (so no Mountain Dew), chocolate (which mandate I ignore) or alcohol, which I do avoid because it disagrees with me in more ways than one. So I have my Diet Pepsi all day long.
I’m not addicted. I don’t think. On weekends, my caffeine/Diet Pepsi consumption is not nearly as heavy as it is during the week, as I have no forty ounce mug and no fountain. And yet, on the weekends, my head doesn’t hurt and I don’t feel like I’m withdrawing so, hey, it must be OK. These are my justifications. I have analysed them and I feel that they have validity (of course I do). So I will continue with the insane process of consuming nearly one hundred ounces of Diet Pepsi per day. And I’ll feel damn good about it.
After reading a shoe post today I was re-inspired to write one of my own. You see, there is a lot of misunderstanding between men and women out there about the woman’s shoe imperative.
First, I would like to say, not all shoes of the same color are the same. At all. This may be largely true with men’s shoes, people but even a “basic” black shoe is anything but. I confess, I probably have about thirty pairs of black shoes, but I assure you, they are all different. Notice that brilliant use of italics there? I just figured out how to do that. But seriously, about the black shoes, I have many and they each serve a different purpose. I have a pair of black dress flip flops. Now maybe only in the south do people understand the difference between flip flops and dress flip flops, but it exists. These are beaded and rather fancy, and are suitable for wearing with, say, a summer sundress. I have a pair of black Rockport Mary Janes, which are short on cute but fabulous for trips with lots of walking, as they can be worn with or without socks, and with pants or with skirts. I have a pair of low-heeled black sandals with gold trim and a pair with silver trim. This is imperative, as one may accessorize with either gold or silver. I have a pair of black gladiator sandals. These are of late a fashion must. I have a pair of black dress pumps. These are always a fashion must, for basic wear with dress outfits. I have some black wedges with studs which were simply me and they screamed at me to buy them. I have a pair of black booties, which go with pants or skirts. I have a pair of high-heeled black boots in mid- and full-height. I have a pair of low heeled equestrian boots. I have some black maribou mules that I can wear around the house with sexy lingerie (I didn’t say I DID, I just said I CAN). I have a necessary pair of black clogs, to wear in the fall and winter with jeans. I mean seriously, how could I do without any of these things? My husband does not understand this, though not for lack of explaining.
Second, shoes make a woman feel sexy. They elongate you and make you look taller and tuck your butt in. Women like to feel sexy. Believe me, men, you want your woman to feel sexy. Also, chosen correctly, they complete a specific outfit and all the women around you will notice that and be green with envy. Having the women around you be green with envy is the key to any social situation. It will just plain cheer you right the heck up. Receiving compliments from the women around you on your clothes and shoes is a huge ego booster.
Third, and most important, shoes are our friends. I cannot stress this enough, people. With the exception of pregnancy, your shoes do not betray you. You may be thirty pounds overweight, but by God, those shoes are still going to fit (except for boots which are tight in the calves, which are a pretty minimal subset, frankly). Yep, shoes are our friends. They do not turn on us when we get fat, unlike our clothes. which let us know pretty quickly that we are no longer loved. You don’t have to go out and buy a whole bunch of new shoes if you gain weight, and you don’t need to buy new ones if you lose it. The only exception to this is the spreading of feet during pregnancy, which is not always reversible. But this just gives you an excuse to go out and buy all new ones!
I hope that I have managed to explain the woman’s shoe imperative. A man who understands this always has an edge over a man who does not. It makes you appear very savvy indeed. And some women, although aware they love shoes, may not always be aware of exactly why. So, you’re welcome. Case made.