A good game to play when you’re caught in traffic or just driving somewhere you always drive: First think of a number, like fifteen. Then find fifteen (or whatever number) things that you would like to photograph, if you had nothing better to do than go around town taking pictures. Today, on the way to pick up my kids from school, I mentally photographed palm trees, a fabulously old trailer than had been painted yellow then blue then red, the swanky font on an old liquor store sign, and a red reflector light embedded in a tree. It’s a fun game because it reminds you that there’s pretty and interesting stuff all around you.

A bad game to play when you’re on the freeway at night and have been driving for seven hours straight is: throwing the finger at whoever just cut you off in his SUV. The bad thing about that game is that sometimes state troopers drive SUVS, and, at night, you can’t tell it’s a state trooper until after you’ve thrown the finger at him, and he turns on his flashers and pulls you over. Even if he only gives you a speeding ticket and informs you in a forlorn good-old-boy accent that he could have you incarcerated for disorderly conduct, as opposed to actually arresting you, it’s not a fun game. It adds twenty minutes to your seven hour drive. So don’t play this game. Or, if you must, start practicing your sincerest, good-old-girl, eye-batting apologies in advance.

I don’t mind telling you…

…that I’ve been feeling mildly depressed for the past week, and I haven’t yet figured out why. Maybe there is no reason. But I like things to happen for a reason, so I thought up a few possibilities:

1. I’m not working on a book right now, but I should be working on a book, even if I’m scared to start one because it seems like such an overwhelming thing.

2. Eating carbs and then suddenly, for the millionth time, not eating any carbs, jacks up my blood sugar and makes me feel bad.

3. I’ve come across several rude or just plain assholish people lately, and the more that happens, the more it makes me wonder if the world is getting ruder and more assholish every year, and the thought of that depresses the living heck out of me (until I come across three kind people in a row or something).

4. Something, or several somethings, recently reminded me of the crappier moments in my history, and I haven’t yet processed those thoughts and dismissed them.

5. I’ve been reading too much young adult fiction in which Good battles Evil, and it makes me feel that my own life has no meaning.

6. I’m just crazy.

Or maybe it’s all of those things. Or maybe I’m just tired. Today (shh – don’t tell anybody), I drove my kids to school, then drove myself to work, just like every single week day. I made it all the way to the parking garage, turned off my CD player and my engine, and opened the door. Then, after a few seconds imagining myself getting out of my car and going to work all day, I closed my door and drove home, instead. I told myself that when I got home, I’d write. Or do dishes or something, so that my sick day would be worth it. Instead, I slept most of the day.

That hardly ever happens, but it’s happened before. When I figure out why, I’ll make it stop. Either that, or other people will say in the comments that it happens to them, too, sometimes, and then I’ll quit worrying about it and move on. I’m going to work tomorrow, though. Seriously. I promise.

Voices From the Past

A few weeks ago some guy called me and, after telling me a million stories about myself in the ninth grade, managed to convince/remind me that we’d attended high school together and had briefly been friends. (I taught him to play chess. I used to carry this funky little velour bag I’d found at Salvation Army, and we learned about carpetbaggers that semester in History, so he called me Carpetbagger. He asked me to a dance and I said I couldn’t go. Like all teenage girls, I dated some jerk, and this guy never thought the jerk was good enough for me.)

So we were shooting the bull for a while (Don’t ask me why I talked to him. I’ll talk to anybody, at least for a while.), and then he says something about how he used to have a picture of me and him. And he kept it until his ex-wife made him throw it away.

So, finally, I wondered what you would’ve wondered right from the beginning: Why the hell is this guy calling me? And then I knew the answer, so I said: “I don’t look like I did in high school anymore. I’m fat and I have three kids. And a boyfriend.”

No, no, that’s not why he was calling, he said. He had a girlfriend. And, really, I’d gotten fat? We talked for a while longer and I made him tell me his innermost secrets, as payment for my time, and now I’m sure he’ll never call again. So… fine.


On the other hand, there’s this other person. There’s this woman who’s married to a peripheral character of my teen years – let’s call this woman Vicky. Let me tell you that I’ve only met Vicky about five times in my life. I heard about Vicky’s marital troubles from my friend, Raquel, a few months ago. Through every ounce of (unsolicited) gossip, I tried to remain objective and empathetic to Vicky’s plight. Hadn’t people thought the worst of me when I left my husband? Maybe Vicky was just like me. From afar, I gave her my compassion and the constant benefit of the doubt.

Recently, my friend Racquel shared several second-hand conversations with me. It turns out that, over the past few years, Vicky’s had quite a bit to say about me.
One: she thinks I have designs on her husband. (I don’t.)
Two: she suspects I had sex or “hanky panky” with her husband when he and I were twelve years old and I attended his sister’s sleepovers. (We didn’t.) And she regularly accuses him of this in times of marital discord.
Three: She thinks my writing sucks (because I don’t “even use complete sentences”) and that I only got published through nefarious and/or prostitutional means, and that if I were “pure white,” I never would have been published at all. And she regularly says this to her husband, then screams, “Why are you defending her?!?” if he says anything in reply.

If you know me in real life, you know that it doesn’t take much to make me talk loudly and pepper my conversation with cursewords. Like, for instance, if you had a purse that I really liked, I might, right in the middle of a cafe, start bellowing, “Oh my fucking god, that purse is SO FUCKING AWESOME! Jesus!” So, when Raquel told me the extent to which Vicky had been saying all this stuff about me, since meeting me six or seven years ago, I of course said something like, “Oh my god, what a fucking psycho. I’m so fucking sure. What a psycho, insecure FREAK. Oh, and I’m so sure I care what her took-eight-years-to-get-an-Associates’-in-English ass has to say about my writing – as fucking IF. Fuck that bitch. Jesus. I can’t believe I was trying to stand up for that bitch. Well, screw her.”

I mean, who wouldn’t say that, right? I said it, and then felt better and moved on.

So, later, my friend Raquel calls me back to apologize, saying she should have remembered how “sensitive” I could be.

And that, I have to say, kind of annoyed me. I had to ask her how she would feel if I called her up and told her someone she barely knew had been saying all that crap about her. She had to admit that she might be a little annoyed, too.

Lesson: If you don’t want to hear me yell a bunch of cursewords, don’t tell me what psycho, insecure freaks who barely know me have been saying about me behind my back for years, okay? Because it creeps me the hell out.

Why We’re Not Celebrating Valentine’s Day

Tad has to work tomorrow night. Every sushi chef has to work on Valentine’s Day. And that’s okay. You know why? Because he seriously, truly commits acts of love against me on a regular basis. I’m just telling you in case you’ve been asking about it and thinking that he’s cheap, or that our relationship must be on the rocks, or that we’re finally showing evidence that we are each others’ beards.

Tad and I are the kind of people who hate fake crap and hate doing things just because people expect us to, and that is part of why we’re in love.

Tad and I are both crass and blunt, and that may be part of why you think we couldn’t possibly be in love. But, if you’ve ever seen us drunk, (and who in Houston hasn’t?) then you know that, deep down inside, Tad and I are also horribly, disgustingly mushy and romantic. To the giggling-and-handholding level. To the icky-sweet nickname-calling level. To the level that we often secretly have romantic dinners for the lamest of reasons.

We’ve had a very nice secret romantic dinner already this month, and Tad even brought me a very nice surprise lunch during his break today, because he knew I was home doing nothing. So I don’t care if we never celebrate Valentine’s Day. You know? I mean, I hope everyone out there has a very sweet Valentine’s Day with someone they love or at least want to boink. But don’t worry about our lack of celebration anymore, all right? There’s no need.

All that being said, I couldn’t resist picking out a sickly sweet/cute card last week and mailing it to Tad at his house. I messed up the timing, so he got it way before tomorrow, so it still doesn’t count as Valentine’s Day. But, like I said, that’s okay. I’m probably going to buy my kids some cupcakes and rent us a movie to watch while they sort their messy little school valentines on the coffee table. Because that’s really what the day’s about, as far as I’m concerned. Sugar, and pink and red construction paper drama.

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Posted in health, my sex life, psychobabble, venting, writing on 02/14/2006 12:29 am

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