Almost Hipster

I like to write in a hipster-type coffee shop downtown in my city.  It’s pretty fabulous: think exposed brick walls, floor tiles older than me, and a teal and neon green ceiling.  The shop has fair trade everything, baristas who wear skeleton shirts and call you “dude” even if you’re a girl, and a clientele including mostly millennial generation tattooed people with Coexist stickers on their cars and backpacks.

Don’t ask me why I love it…I’m a conservative Christian school teacher who dresses like a Puritan and has no tattoos (though I’m maybe working on that latter part).  Maybe that’s exactly why I love this place – there’s a part of me that identifies with these people, and I feel a little at home here.  It also feels so wildly different from my real life that it’s like I have a mini-escape from my normal existence whenever I need it.  Sometimes I need it.

Today I decided to try to fully assimilate with this crowd.  I can be one of them! I thought optimistically.  This came about because our car broke down (again).  If we were rich, my husband might have bought me a new car so that I could stop driving mine.  It’s as old as a high school junior.  We’re not rich, however, so he bought me the next best (aka most affordable thing): a bike lock!  I have a bike I bought for $10 at a garage sale  earlier this summer, and that bike paired with my new shiny bike lock gave me UNLIMITED FREEDOM!  Unlimited freedom within about a ten mile radius around my house, that is.  Hey, at least I don’t have to stay home all day.

I quickly decided I would bike to my coffee shop.  Showing up on a bike would be so hipster, I decided.  I’m protecting the environment.  People who drive cars are melting the polar ice caps and clearly hate baby polar bears.  I am proving my love for baby polar bears by riding a bike instead of driving today.

Armed with that wonderfully hipster thought, I decided to continue my trend.  What else could I do to fit in?  I tried to find my husband’s thick-rimmed square glasses so I could wear them while working.  I think thick-rimmed glasses always make people look suave and intelligent.  20/20 vision is for idiots.  I don’t actually need glasses, but I could have worn them for a while to get the right “look.”  Alas, I couldn’t find them.

Then I decided to put on a temporary tattoo, because everyone here has tattoos.  I know I have some from an old bachelorette party somewhere.  They’re mostly cheesy hearts or dice that say “lucky in love” or other weird things like that. I would have to hope people didn’t look too closely at my tattoo.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the tattoos.  My hipster look was not going as planned.

While looking for the tattoos, I found a great scarf that my grandma gave me a while ago.  It’s made of 100% all natural materials, and I bet in a pinch I could probably eat it or smoke it.  It would be perfect for a place like this!  The problem with the scarf was that it’s the middle of August (aka HOT), and I would be riding across town on my bike.  In retrospect, though, I regret not bringing the scarf.  Heat be damned.  I could have rocked it.

I finally decided on faded jeans, a neon green shirt, and a ponytail.  I was going to wear no makeup (because natural is beautiful, dude), but then I had to put on a little makeup.  I mean, you never know when you might run into an ex-boyfriend or the mayor or something.  I didn’t want to look scary.  Me without any makeup is a little scary.

Now I’m sitting here writing this blog and drinking my iced tea.  I almost ordered my tea “on the rocks” to sound cool, but I wasn’t sure if that would make me sound hipster or just vaguely alcoholic.  I decided I’m still a Level 1 hipster.  I might even be below Level 1 if that’s an option.  It’s a while before I will be advanced enough to try zippy lingo and wear no makeup.

Once I’m finished writing this blog post I’ll go back to working on my novel.  When people ask why I go to this shop so much and I say, “to work on my book,” they get all judgy.  They give me the sympathetically amused glance that adults give to high schoolers who say that they’re “in a band” and they’re “going to make it someday.”  You know what I think?  I think that for every garage band that didn’t make it, they had countless hours of fun banging away on keyboards and feasting on dreams.  What’s wrong with that?  It’s better than binge-watching Netflix or smoking crack, amirite? (That’s “am I right,” but a hip and fun way to write it.  You’d understand if you were cool).  Anyway,  I like writing.  Even if my novels never see a bookshelf, I won’t stop writing them.  Let me enjoy banging away on my keyboard and feasting on my dreams.  Different type of keyboard, same principle.

Gotta go.  My favorite indie rock song just came on (kidding.  I don’t listen to indie rock.  I’m not even exactly sure what it is).

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If You Send Me One of These Cards, I Will Punch You

I got diagnosed with bipolar disorder almost a year ago, and I can’t believe I haven’t received one single card consoling me about this.

Oh wait, yes I can, because greeting cards about mental illness are SUPER WEIRD.

I should have known this was a thing.  I really, really should have known.  Card companies make cards for everything!  I could probably find a “Congratulations to Your Twin Girls on Third Grade Graduation” if I wanted to.  But mental illness??  There’s a line somewhere, and this is over it. It would be like having a “Sympathy – Humorous” section in a card store.  It doesn’t belong.

Here’s the link (please don’t buy these) and a few of the best (worst?) ones. http://hopestreetcards.com.au/collections/all

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If I got a mental illness card, I would probably open it and then look really confused.  I would look around to see if someone was secretly filming me (I frequently do this during “Is this really happening?” moments).  Then I would read the card and think, “Thanks a lot, you.  I was having a really good day.  Now I had to be reminded of my crazy, and also I have to absorb your sympathy at my plight.  I don’t want sympathy; I want to be treated like a normal human.”  Here are people who are allowed to treat me like a crazy person:

  1. My psychiatrist
  2. My husband, only when I’m being literally delusional.  And it will still make me mad.

You’re not on that list?  Then don’t buy me these freaky cards!  Even if you’re on that list, I don’t want the freaky cards!  I mean, WHY WERE THESE EVEN INVENTED?!

What’s next?  Hallmark might capitalize on it!  First they invented Valentine’s Day…then Sweetest Day…next we’ll have “Crazy Person Day.”  You can celebrate by watching Psycho and sending greeting cards to your favorite nutters.  Maybe on Crazy Person Day, you can have your copay waived for inpatient psychiatric treatments!  Can I request that this holiday also include candy like Halloween does?  Now there’s a good holiday, but what a shame that people aren’t allowed to celebrate as non-reproductive adults.  I may or may not have considered having a child to capitalize on trick-or-treating once again.  If we can just tack that on to our new Crazy Person holiday, then I can skip the inconvenience of labor.  I might even be okay with the people who made these strange cards.  Until then…I know I’m not normal.  If I’m not going to get candy out of the deal, please treat me like you’d treat anyone else.  If you’re a nice person, though, maybe you’d just give everyone candy.  My favorite is Sour Patch Kids.

Did You Know I’m a Sex Maniac Stalker? Me Neither.

My grandma recently retired from her job as a secretary at a doctor’s office.  Every once in a while, she still tells me about her patients.  Over breakfast today, we were discussing the book Fast Girl by Suzy Favor Hamilton (the protagonist in this book has bipolar disorder).  My grandma took this opportunity to impart upon me the following information:  “We had a few patients who suffered from manic depression.  That’s another term for bipolar, you know.  Manic depression.”

Yes, Grandma.  I’m familiar with the term.

“Dr. Keith told me to watch out for those manic depressives.  They’re complete sex maniacs.  They just have sex with everyone.  And my brother, he knew a woman with manic depression, and she stalked him.  Like, really stalked him.  It was so creepy.”

Okay, that felt a little like a stab wound…

“Insane asylums really need to make them a higher priority.  I mean, they’re out there wandering the streets untreated.  Who knows what they can do?  They need to be in a home for the mentally impaired.”

Knife twisted.  Thanks Grandma.

After this monologue, I figured that would be a very inopportune moment to reveal that I am one of these scary “manic depressives.”  What if she kicked me out?  I have nowhere to go until my plane leaves on Sunday.  The thing about grandparents is that it’s very difficult to change their minds on things.  Still, on behalf of myself and everyone else in the mental health community, I felt like I had to say something.

“Grandma, I seriously doubt that everyone with bipolar disorder is a sex maniac stalker.  Actually, I’m positive there are people who aren’t.”

“Yes, of course you’re right,” she said.  “But you just have to be careful.  You never know.  Actually, some of them are very smart.  Did you know that many very gifted artists and writers have been manic depressives?”

Again, I’m quite familiar with the concept.  I’ve only spent infinity hours researching this topic…but I don’t say that.

“Yes, Grandma.  I’ve heard that.  It’s great that they’re so creative…many of the best artists of all time have been mentally ill.”

She looks a little pensive.  “I wonder why all the greats are insane?  What’s different about them?  Hmmm…  Well, their brain unlocks different levels of creativity, I guess.”

Yes, let’s please focus on that instead of the fact that they’re all stalkers.  We talked a little longer in this new vein of less offensive conversation, but honestly I was ready to hop off of that before she started asking uncomfortable questions.  You never know with grandmas…she started our time together this week by asking if I’m planning to get pregnant soon, and just today she said, “Hmmm…I don’t think you need plastic surgery yet, but you will when you’re older.”  Grandparents say the weirdest things.  I didn’t want her to ask about my mental health, because I am the worst liar ever (just ask my husband).

I texted my husband after this exchange, and he said, “Don’t let her get you riled up…you know who you are.”  And really, he’s right.  I do.  For a world where people are bent on “finding themselves” and “discovering their true identities,” the fact that I know who I am is actually a pretty big accomplishment.  Perhaps “who I am” is a bit insane, but hey, at least life will never be boring.

It’s Hard to Kill Ghosts

Have you ever had a regret or memory that followed you around like a ghost?  If you’re over the age of ten, the answer is probably yes.  Everyone has those “what ifs” and “if onlys.”  When I was eleven, it was the fact that I left my favorite teddy bear on an airplane.  Man, I MISSED that teddy bear.  I tried calling the airport’s lost and found a couple of times, but who cares about putting a teddy bear in lost and found?  No one, that’s who.  It probably ended up in a trash bin somewhere.

Aw man, now I miss that bear again.

Anyway, as I’ve gotten older, my “if onlys” have gotten a lot more serious than a missing teddy bear.  This past year, I’ve been haunted by the events of last summer (you can read a more detailed version of these events here).  Specifically, the guy from Tokyo seems to keep popping up in my life.  There are already enough regrets from that situation weighing on me.  If emotions could be quantified in weight, I promise you that guilt and regret would both be heavy.  Very heavy.  It’s kind of like someone dropped a boulder on your chest and you were like, “Holy Crap!  This thing is going to kill me!  No, wait, it’s not going to kill me, but OWWWWWWWWWW SOMEONE GET IT OFF!!  OW OW OW OW OW!”  Yep, that’s basically what it’s like.

Here’s my issue – I’m trying hard enough to get over that situation without him continually appearing in my life.  It was eleven months ago when I told him to stop contacting me and said (politely as possible?) that I never wanted to speak to him again.  It was ten months ago when my husband (almost as politely as possible?) said some permutation of “Dude, for real, leave my wife alone.”  Yet, even now, I’m still hearing from the guy.  He’s texted me a couple of times even though his number is blocked in my phone (AT&T – WHAT DID I EVER DO TO YOU??)  Just last week I got a Facebook message from him, and we’re not friends on Facebook.  I didn’t even know you could do that!  I don’t respond to any of these points of contact, so I don’t know why he’s still contacting me.

Issues of guilt and regret are compounded whenever I hear from this guy, which really is a bit ridiculous because I’m not contacting him.  When I saw his name pop up in my Facebook messages, I actually thought I was going to throw up.  I wanted to scream, “WHY ARE YOU HERE IN MY PHONE, AND WHY WON’T YOU JUST GO AWAY?!”  But of course I can’t say that to him, because I’m not speaking to him.  Shouldn’t my perpetual silence be sort of loud?  What else am I supposed to do here?

Basically, the specters of last summer still haunt me.  When I finally think I’ve moved on, that I’m ready to let go and get that boulder off my chest, it seems that somehow this guy knows that is the perfect time to try to show up in my life again.  Then I’m suddenly angry and sad and nostalgic all at the same time, and emotions and memories whiz around my head like lottery balls in that crazy mixer.  No wonder it makes me dizzy and nauseous.  It brings all of the ghosts back into my mind when I finally thought I was rid of them.  Sometimes I wonder if I’ll be haunted forever.  Forever is a long time, y’all.  I don’t know if I can handle that.

I need some comfort.  Excuse me while I go get my favorite teddy bear.

OH WAIT, I LEFT HIM ON A PLANE SIXTEEN YEARS AGO.

Bummer.