May 18, 2010

May I Check Your Emotional Baggage?

I was a very shy child. Pathologically shy. In fact, my mother once told me she probably should have brought me to see a psychologist when I was younger, but back in those days, you just didn’t do that. Besides, I was the 4th kid. I feel lucky to actually have a page in the photo album, even though it is a short and blurred view into my early years.

I carry around the emotional baggage of having been the kid who sat alone on the playground every day. I did not have friends, I did not know how to interact with other kids and I was painfully lonely and sad every day at school. In 2nd grade I missed somewhere around 45 days of school because I was “sick.” I was not sick, I just hated school and having to be around all those people I just didn’t want to associate with. Every day that involved putting on a school uniform and interacting with kids my age and teachers was akin to having my teeth removed, one by one, without anesthesia.

Equally painful was any activity outside of school that involved interacting with kids my age or really, any one. I took dancing each year at the local playground, but wanted to quit after the first class. I signed up for Brownies, but found the constant interaction with the other Brownies to be emotionally exhausting. I went to one gymnastics class and when one of the kids in the class said I was too fat to pull myself up on the bar, I quit going all together. My sister says Mom’s one rule was that you could not, under any circumstances, quit dancing. But I remember her allowing us to quit anything else we did not like. Of course, I was really, really stubborn so that may have just been my perspective.

Now, I am a parent of a somewhat shy 4 year old. He is loathe to talk to other kids he does not know. He will not just go up to kids and start playing. Still, when my sister suggested I sign him up for T-Ball so we could all be out at the ball field together all summer, I thought it was a good idea. Instead, it has turned into my own personal nightmare of emotionally charged flashbacks to my own youth. It is about as fun as electro shock therapy.

We are not on the same team as my sister’s son, so I am at the stifling hot ball field alone with my son. I feel insecure and unsure of what to do. Max says he likes playing, but he does not actively participate in the games. He spends a lot of time staring at the sky, chewing his finger nails, and singing to himself. When the coaches grab him and tell him to “run here” or “come hit the ball” he goes, but, with a tiny tinge of reluctance.

I sat in the bleachers last night, baking in the late afternoon sun, hiding tear-brimmed eyes behind big sun glasses. I don’t know how to be objective about this. He seems to not enjoy playing ball at all. He does not pay any attention, he does not talk to the other kids, he bites his nails the whole time, but I think I might be projecting my own childhood angst onto his tiny little body out there. I want to run onto the field, grab him and tell all the other little wretched fuckers to fuck off and move the fuck out of the way.
“My child is not some mindless drone who chases a little white ball trying to catch it with a ridiculously oversized mitt! No, my child is creative and clever and sweet and has greater things on this mind that this bullshit, boring-ass, mother fucking hot sport.”

Of course, that seems a bit extreme and intense. No doubt it would leave an impression on 14 stunned 4 year olds, but that is not really my intention. My desire is to do the right thing, and frankly, I don’t know what that is.

Choice A:  Make Max stay in T-Ball. Theoretically, this would provide him with a sense of commitment and provide him with opportunity to be involved in a team sport, blah, blah…But, it also means many, many nights spent at a ball field that is hotter than the surface of the sun, watching my child roll around in the dirt on home plate while the other kids and coaches get annoyed with him.

Choice B: Take him out of T-Ball. Sure, this would be easier on me. I could skip frying in the bleachers, but what is that teaching him? That it is ok to quit? And what if he does actually like it and is just really adept at hiding it? Maybe something will click inside of him. Maybe. Or maybe I will have skin cancer by July for no reason other than to torture my son and scar him emotionally.

This is not a huge issue, but my deep-seeded emotional crap is surfacing and clouding my rational judgment. This is a big and painful issue for me and I would cut off my right arm to save my one and only child that same pain. Seriously, I would take a hack saw to my shoulder blade. That is how fucking painful my childhood angst was. I should say here, this WAS NOT my parents’ fault. I DO NOT blame them for my emotional issues at all. Which begs the question, could they have done something differently to help me? I don’t know, maybe, but like Mom said, it just wasn’t done back then when I was a kid…and dinosaurs roamed the land. I wish my Mom was here to tell me what to do, or at the bery least, what not to do.

So chime in, leave a comment or two. If you post something mean anonymously, I will assume you are a coward asshole, which likely you are. If you want to say something mean, grow a pair and use your real name. I have gotten over my shyness. It was replaced with a caustic mean streak.

May 13, 2010

The Fine Art of Foolishness

I was minutes away from getting on the 4:15 flight home to New Orleans when the BWI Southwest agent informed me that the flight was oversold and my stand-by request was DENIED. Damn you. Now I am stuck here until 7:15 and instead f getting home at 6:00pm on a direct flight, I will get home at 10:45pm after stopping somewhere. Arghh.

This would all be ok if the fancy pants Southwest waiting area chairs actually reclined. You know the ones I am talking about, they look like recliners and they have little end tables in between them that have power outlets, but oh how they deceive us! They DO NOT recline and do not allow for dozing. Unless of course I curl up in it or just let my head flop around like a mop. Which is always an option.

I've been thinking about a time when I was younger and I said something I will always regret. I was 12 years old and had made friends with a girl named Kelly. Kelly was cool. Her parents we divorced, she had no curfew, her father pretty much let her do anything, and she was allowed to wear skin-tight Jordache jeans and blue eye liner. I know now, of course, that she was borderline abused and neglected, but since I was nearly smothered with over protective parents (or so I thought) it seemed like heaven to me. She could do whatever she wanted and no one gave a rat's ass. Yes, as an adult, that scenario is frightening and fills me with sadness, but when I was 12, wow, what a dream.

I desperately wanted Kelly to like me and think I was cool, so when she joined the softball team in middle school, I became the team manager. I still have no idea what that meant except that I went to a few games. After one game, a bunch of us were in a car and someone's mom was ferrying us around (funny how the moms were just nameless, faceless free cab drivers...I am sure they are thrilled to know how much we appreciated them.) We stopped at a red light next to a school bus that had mostly African American kids in it. I wanted to be ccol like Kelly and she used the N word all the time, so I said, "Hey look, a bus full of Ns." It was easily the stupidest and most obnoxious thing I have ever done. And as soon as the words left my mouth, I was ashamed and felt foolish and stupid and trashy. I said it only so that this Kelly girl would think I was cool like her.

Int he car with us with one of the team members who was black. I realized that after everyone was just quiet. I remember wishing badly that I could turn back time and take the words back and I wished that I had never met Kelly. I wanted to die. I wanted to say I was sorry for what I had said and explain that I had said it only to try and be someone I wasn't and to impress someone who turned out to be someone I would lose touch with within months of that, never to be seen or heard from again. But instead, I said nothing, I did nothing. I rode in home in the deafening silence in that car feeling like a complete and total ass hole and wallowing in what would become a life-long wallow of self-loathing.

I quit the team after that. Really, I was nothing more than a poorly dressed and awkward cheerleader, going to every game like a pathetic mascot. I don't know what happened to the girl int he car with us and I don't even remember her name. But I wish I could go back and deal with it differently. I wish I had been the sort of person who did not feel the need to change who I was and what I believed in an attempt to get others to like me. I wish I had been the kind of person who was aware and generous with my actions. But I wasn't. I was insecure and self-centered and scared and awkward and stupid.

I wanted this girl to like me so badly, that I blindly pretended to be like her, or like someone I thought she would like.

I have thought about this incident a lot lately. I am working at a new company and around a lot of new people. There is still a part of me who longs to be liked and who wants to make sure I say and do the "right" thing. It is an awful feeling. I question everything I do and say and wonder if others are thinking about me and what they are thinking. Thankfully, I am not 12 years old any more and for the most part, I am ok with who I am and what I believe, but still, there is a part of me that longs to be accepted by the crowd and longs to be the one who gets all the positive attention and glory.

That part of me, I know now, is my ego. It is big and loud and loves to be stroked. I have to breathe deep and tell it to shut the fuck up. It always gets me in trouble.

I just wish, that back in that car,  instead of saying what I did, that I had just smiled and waved at the kids in the bus. But I hated myself too much to be that open. Instead, I went against what I had been taught, and I pretended to be someone I wasn't. And after, I just shut down and wished for a quick and painless death, which did not come.

As painful as that experience was and as much as I wish I could go back and time and apologize to everyone in that car, I am grateful for the remorse that followed and the horror of my actions. It was a watershed moment in my young life, reminding me to be true to myself...although I have failed over and over again in that pursuit.I Just keep getting up, suiting up, showing up, and trying to keep my mouth shut.

May 3, 2010

Viva Las Vegas

Once again, I have planned my reading materials for a long flight very poorly. Boise is not an easy city to get out of on a Friday. My meeting ended at 11am, which means I missed the 10:30am flight out and had to wait for the later flight, which was a 3:00pm to Vegas. After a three hour layover in Vegas, I am now on a plane headed into New Orleans. I will get home at 12:45am, a solid 13 hours after my meeting ended. I bought a People magazine and a book in the Boise airport and then proceeded to talk on the phone and generally do non-reading activities during my obscenely long wait for the 3:00 flight. I wanted to save the magazine and book for the rest of the trip.

The People lasted for about 30 minutes of the flight to Vegas and then I started on the book, which I finished about 30 minutes into this flight to New Orleans. I blame that on the Vegas airport. The Vegas airport is essentially a trailer park, except the trailers are planes that are shuffling the inhabitants from one place to another.  Before our flight could take off, the airplane crew had to escort not one, but three drunken fliers off the plane.

I wonder what happens when you get taken off a plane for being drunk. Do you get your money back? Do they put you on a later flight? And how do they know you are really drunk? Do they make you take a breathalyzer test? Or do they do the equivalent of a road side sobriety test? Sadly, I did not get to see any of this. I guess it all takes place in some private room where the Southwest employees speak in calm voices and try hard not to shame the passenger in question, while the passenger gets more and more belligerent and indignant.

I would imagine it takes a special kind of person to be a flight attendant. I am not that type of person. If I were a flight attendant, I would carry a cattle prod.  Last week I was on a flight and a woman refused to put her purse under the seat in front of her. The flight attendant calmly and patiently explained to her that FAA regulations required that all bags be under the seat for takeoff and landing. Still, the woman insisted that the floor was too dirty and her purse costs a lot of money. The flight attendant got her a plastic bag to put her purse in and patiently and kindly helped this recalcitrant and obstinate bubble head put her precious purse in a plastic bag. Meanwhile, the guy sitting on the aisle of that same row asked her something and touched her arm for a long time.

At this point, if I were the flight attendant, I would have popped that fucker in the face. I would also not have provided Miss Purse with a bag, unless of course it was the bag I used to suffocate her. I would have taken out my handy cattle prod and shocked some sense and submission into her air head. And then, I would have done the same to a few more people in ear shot just to ensure no one got any funny ideas.
Instead of the friendly skies, it would be the surly skies.

Anyway, back to the Vegas airport. I wanted to do some non-reading activities, but it was hard because essentially there is nothing to do in Vegas except play slot machines and drink, neither of which I do. And since the slot machines are taking up all the prime real estate, there isn’t much shopping to do either. This left people watching. And, while I find fake boobs and hooker shoes fascinating  for a little while, eventually everyone starts to look and sound like the cast Jersey Shore and really, can you blame me for ending that activity so quickly?

I have been on the road for 5 days. I am cranky and tired and wondering why on earth I do what I do. And then I remember, “Oh right, there are no jobs for me in the city I live in.”

Boo, hiss, boo.

New Orleans, you are a hard city to love sometimes. It’s a good thing you have warm weather and interesting locals.

We are on our descent into New Orleans. I wonder where the three passengers are right now who got booted from the flight? Are they drowning their sorrows? Are they face down in an airport holding cell? Or did they decide to stay in Vegas? Maybe they rented a car and, God forbid, are driving back to New Orleans.