On The Inside Looking Out

Looking out.

Image by Ashley Campbell Photography via Flickr

Goodnight.

I know the term is intended as a form of goodbye, of ‘I’ll see you when the sun wakes up’, but no other seems to be fitting at the moment. It is eleven ‘o clock at night, and I don’t care to contemplate something more appropriate.

I wonder quite often who reads my blog. Views are not typically motivation enough for a new post, but even the thought of someone secretly ‘checking in’ on how I am typically is motivation enough for a new post. Over the years, even on my very first blog on my MySpace page some 5 or so years ago, there have been top-secret readers of my blogs. Sometimes someone halfway across the state, country and world. Sometimes it was my mom.

I wonder about my words lingering here, on your screen, on my screen. What you’re thinking of them and what I’ll think when I skim through this post a few months after it’s published. Because this is everything that I sincerely believe and think and feel, it’s a deeper sort of judgement by others because I am not being judged by my type of dress or how well I can sport a faux grin at some social gathering. People who have been reading my blog for a while, have seen me grow up through my own eyes the past few years. I suppose I’ve never paused and thought about it.

This is where I say something semi-related if you care to figure out the logic on your own.

I know something for certain. That if I don’t get into the university that I want, if I don’t get married by 26, if my reputation and the positive perception of yours truly is left in a million shattered pieces (stomped on for good measure into glittering dust, as is the typical practice), if ultimately my dream of being an active part of the criminal justice system by being a forensic psychiatrist doesn’t pan out, I know with reasonable certainty (though it may be just a rumor) that the sun will come up, and then go down, and the world will keep spinning. I don’t know why this often feels like an epiphany.

I can’t help but think of a talk I had with my mother the last time we were in The Cheesecake Factory, sitting comfortably and chatting in a booth by the back wall and waiting for our iced teas and salad.

“You know something?” I said suddenly, looking around at the filled chairs and booths and the bustling waitstaff.

“Hm?”

“In this room, there are probably a dozen people having a conversation similar to ours. And extend that to the country, to the world.” My mind flicked to a paragraph from Brian Greene’s The Hidden Reality, in which he suggested that, if infinite parallel universes exist, then odds are that millions of doppelgänger are having the exact same conversation, contemplating your existence just as you are thinking of theirs. “There really is a huge world outside of ourselves. How many people have had this conversation, right now, saying the exact same thing I have except perhaps hundreds of years ago, or maybe a moment ago.” I wondered what philosopher started the conversation I was having at that moment (from the bored look in mom’s eyes, the one that I was having with myself, so it seemed.)

Every now and again when I feel my inner teenage drama queen bubbling to the surface with dangerous speed I remind myself of this idea. Of how many people have felt what I have, and how many times. I suppose I just confuse myself until I simply forget what I was upset about. Though (as evidenced by my posts throughout the years) fighting illogical logic with philosophical logic doesn’t always pan out. The philosopher in me finds the illogical stupid, and the illogical takes offense and points out that the philosopher can’t possibly know anything. I am, after all, seventeen. I’ve yet to attain enough life experience to beat my naivette side into submission. And then I give up, because there is no getting past the feat and the joy of youth. I’ve been looking around so much for extraordinary people to hold onto in my everyday life, I sometimes end up meeting ordinary people and finding something extraordinary about them (and on rare occasions, vice versa).

I can feel the edge of change, of newness, of instability. I suppose I want to find a few people who can be their extraordinary and brilliantly abnormal selves consistently enough to be the sanity I can turn to… Oh, grand, that was just of those nail-on-the-head moments (something I’ve been trying to figure out on my own, but then figure out as soon as I write it.) I need predictability right now, not change, not him (long story short – I fell for a guy the second I saw him in December in Lowes, he showed immediate interest as well, and when I started my anatomy and physiology class, I discovered he is one of my classmates. And sure as anything he recognizes me. I’ve been avoiding him because I know what will happen even if I promise myself we’ll only be friends. I need to fix me right now, I’m not okay and I only recently admitted it to myself. I’m never considerate of Heather Madame, even when she has really needed me as of late. How on earth can I treat a human being I know I’ll end up really caring about as well with the correct amount of decency? I would take a bullet for Heather, but that hasn’t stopped me from being incredibly selfish. I need to focus on sticking to my treatment and working through my anxiety. I need my brilliantly abnormal, consistent humans to rally around and not change for a few months…You now see the waste of the phrase ‘long story short’ when it comes to my blog…) When I imagine life as I would want it one day, I would want predictability and repetition, loyal friends and a tight-knit group with similar but diverse thoughts and opinions.

I’m not even certain where my mind is trying to trail off to. It’s nearly midnight now, so I suppose I should get to sleep and look upward and onward and beyond. Who knows, perhaps my doppelgänger somewhere has already figured this out for me. Now, to find her blog…

Goodnight,

–Hannah-Elizabeth/Classic

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Fear of Being Afraid and Lack of Worry

It’s 5:14AM – I woke up around four with the usual suspicion that my days, hours and minutes of life were coming to an end. There comes a point where part of me understands what’s happening and is a tad annoyed, another part of me is just too tired to deal with it but has no choice, and then there is the part of me that is convinced I’ll die if I try to sleep in any other position except anatomical. Dare I say it? I’m tired.

I checked my pulse, finding some reason or other to be terrified, thinking about the rate being much too slow – and then much too fast, and then I was scared because I was starting to have a panic attack. I sat up, dissociated, read a chapter or two in my Bible, tried laying down, started to breathe normally. But then I felt a pain in my chest.

Oh, poo.

So now I really must be dying! Heaven help me I’m in my final moments! This is it! This is it! I’m going to die!

5 Minutes later

This is it! I’m going to die in horrid agony! Maybe it will be some rare form of atherosclerosis, or a teenage heart attack! Oh, goodness me! The chest pain! I must be having a heart attack! I’m going to die!

5 More minutes

Oh no! Early morning hunger pains! My systems must have gone cannibal by now – feeding off of my own adipose tissue for means of energy, destroying valuable insulation! I’m going to die from being eaten from the inside out!

If it sounds as though I’m making fun of my senses of impending doom – I am. I’m tired, I’m annoyed, I want this to stop. I am so completely worn out from being scared all the time, anxious about everything, cautious and worried and sensitive. I didn’t know it was even possible to be so logically aware of what is going on in my own head, and yet still fall victim to the absurd antics of my paranoid mind. But it is, and I do.

I considered calling or text-messaging Olga, I knew she wouldn’t mind at all, she would welcome it even. But I worried that as soon as I contacted her I wouldn’t be afraid anymore (ha – how do you like that, folks? I was afraid of not being afraid.) And then what? I knew I still would be concerned about my current state of, oh, say, living, but I still felt something hold me back. I can’t remember the last time I’ve reached out for someone in my fear. I often have dreams of having a protector of some sort. We’re often sitting in a train, looking out the window. It’s snowing and the sky is dark. The train and snow images are no doubt wish-fulfillment, my mom showed me a video she took from her train on the way to Paris and I longed to be there, it looked simply breathtaking. My protector is always wide awake, and I’m always lulling peacefully to sleep, not a care in the world because they will always be looking out for me, worrying for me. My head rests against the cold window and I watch the world pass by. And once I fall asleep I wake up to find myself very afraid. I worry sometimes of doing what my Aunt Carla did – she was lonely and had emotional issues, so she got married. So I wonder at times if I keep wishing for a real protector if I’ll end up rashly marrying the first guy that comes along with a ring and a bank account. Followed no doubt by an even more rash divorce. I don’t like the idea of having a large wedding. Honestly what I would love to do is grab several of my greatest friends and get hitched in a comfortable, simple dress with a bouquet of flowers picked out by my goddaughter (who has yet to be born – her name will be Chloe, and she will be Heather’s daughter.) And I’m doing that bit again where I just type up one thread of thought with another as they associate. But, I suppose, if you’re a new reader you should adapt – this happens frequently.

Alright, it’s nearing 6:00AM, and I do believe I am at last exhausted enough to hopefully get back to sleep before my panicked study binge in time for Anatomy and Physiology in a few days.

Goodnight/Goodmorning,

–Hannah-Elizabeth/Classic

Free Association and Unwitting Mentors

It has been quite some time since I  posted for no reason. Since I’ve felt a prick on the mind – that feeling that I have something to say, but never figure it out until the close of the post. Who needs Freud to free associate when I have WordPress?

I most likely have hypothyroidism.

I pride myself (sometimes too much) on my perception. Longtime readers of my  blog will remember that I study people in all forms – neuroscience to facial expression, body language to psychoanalysis. I go so far as to jokingly call myself Sherlock at times. But the past month I’ve been forgetting things – and it’s worse than the typical trip-up of the brain like forgetting why I came into a room or losing my phone. My arms feel weak when I lift them to take something from a shelf. I often feel as though I’m always moving at half speed. I’ve started thinking slower and talking slower because the words don’t appear in my mind like they used to. And my hair has started thinning. (Wednesday we’ll find out if I do have hypothyroidism)

Did I mention I’m freshly 17?

My anxiety problems, panic attacks, psychosomatic symptoms – I can hide those. My mom told me when I was a child, “I don’t know how to be a parent.” and has shown me how difficult it can be for her to empathize with my emotional baggage. I don’t hold it against her- Grandma Charlie (yes, I just said that) was mentally ill, and, as you can imagine, was not the poster momma for compassion. I’ve come to accept this and learned to just keep a stiff upper lip until I can’t. But my speech, my weakness, my hair…How am I supposed to hide those?

I’ve been working on the first ‘key’ Olga mentioned (referenced *here*) but I’ve been dissociating a lot more. I feel like, even though I control what I say and do, I’m never really here anymore. I’m always a little far away, watching myself. Seeing the world through my eyes like a movie screen. What will she do next? I wonder.

So far, my entries look like this, barely legible scrawl right before I fall asleep at 3AM:

I feel like I have no right to be talking about this – because human beings have been through so much worse so much earlier in life, I feel guilty and foolish for flinging my troubles onto any unsuspecting blog browsers.

Sometimes after putting up a stiff upper lip for a month or so, I have an overwhelming longing to be somewhere safe and certain. With no one and with everyone – the people who matter and don’t pretend to understand when they don’t, what my mom doesn’t see, is that it has never been about knowing ‘the right words’ to say, it’s simply being here. Here. Not awkwardly or angrily or speaking eloquently or in a tone suggesting the essence of eternal wisdom. Because it feels as though trying to find the right words or do the right thing isn’t to make me feel better, mom – it’s always to make you feel better. I’ve protected you from me for this long, and with no choice I’ll keep protecting you from you while I’m at it. Always taking your side when you’re wrong and holding you when you cry when you never hold me. That’s our life, isn’t it? Hasn’t it been this way the past six years? Me raising you and advising you and teaching you while I curl up and scream and cry into my pillow in the still of the night while you sleep peacefully down the hall? So you don’t have to see me like that and feel a responsibility to do anything?

In those days, every month or so, I want to be the kid. I want to be the child who cries about everything and can run into your arms for comfort instead of stepping off to the side and demanding of myself to get a grip when my heart insists on scaring me and the world starts going dark and I think I’m going to die. Who holds me, mom? Who tells me I’m right when I’m wrong and lets me imagine a future of my own and dreams of my own without telling me why I shouldn’t do them and about the challenges, about the people already lining up to stone me into oblivion in the big-bad world whose mission it will be is to crush everything I believe in. And how I won’t have it in me to maintain my dignity.

I’m not bitter now – take my word for it. I’m angry, I’m scared and I’m tired. A voice in the back of my mind keeps snapping at me and saying I shouldn’t be talking about all of this. That I’m a wretch for talking about it. Me, me, me is all I talk about, and who would care anyway?

I know this is absurd. I know I don’t want a flood of ‘Hannah, you are soooooo pretty and sooooo smart! Just look at you, how you know the proper use of ‘You’re’ and ‘Your’!’ I justify my selfishness by the fact that this blog is my safe place. I don’t even talk to Heather Madame about 90% of what I say on this blog. I trust my blogging peeps with the naive raw material from this little brain of mine. Heather gets enough rants from me, don’t worry. And I think that’s why I don’t tell her much. I’ve written before about how Heather is like Watson to me; there’s only one, and I don’t want to lose it or take it for granted.

I’ve got a lot of thinking to do – and what with how slow my mind has been working, this is going to take a while. I might be zipping back around WordPress tomorrow, I might not be back for a month.

All I know right now, is life is a toss of the dice, and all we have is how we handle the cards we’ve been dealt.

I want to deal with this right, I want this to be more than just about me. There is a world outside of me – I’ve seen this through Alannah, Marlize, Mandii, Emily, Mark, and Thoughts (to name a few), they’ve faced crap head on and they handle the cards they’ve been dealt with dignity,  honorability, and a grin to bear it. And more than once when I didn’t know what to do, I’d think about a post from any one of them and I’d laugh out loud or pause and contemplate, always finding the answer I’ve been looking for. My unwitting mentors. I’ll always be profoundly grateful to have known them, and to have them know me as well.

tffn (ta-ta for now.)

Hannah

For Lack Of A Better Post Title

“You’re just like my mom; she doesn’t smile much, either.”

I blinked rapidly for a moment at the child in front of me. I thought I had become Smiley Sally for the past few hours, but apparently I wasn’t fooling Madison.

She continued, “And you don’t wear a lot of stuff on your eyelashes, too.” She studied me so carefully it was unnerving, the kid was too perceptive for her age. “You don’t dress like a teenager, too. And your hair isn’t super long.” She grabbed my hair clip and pulled it out of my wavy locks, studying first the clip, and then my hair again. I was still as a statue, intrigued, and she probably saw it. Watching her watching me watching her.”Yeah, you just need shorter hair, and you could be my mom.”

The mom mentioned above was currently at her chocolate shop for its last few weeks of business. Another victim of a stricken economy. Until the shop officially closes, I babysit her two children from 10-till-4.

I got this gig yesterday when me, Heather Madame, and my mom went to The Cafe after seeing the Cubist Experiment exhibit at Kimball Art Museum in Fort Worth (thank heaven for AC). In the back of The Cafe sits a space about the size of a small livingroom, where a woman (I shall call her The Candywoman) sells chocolate, loose tea leaves and candy covered everything. She had been in business hardly a year when her and her husband had little choice but to shut down the manifestation of her dream.

“Thanks for stopping by again, I really appreciated your business.” She said from behind the register while we were checking out.

“You know, it’s too bad Hannah didn’t end up working here-” Mom started, I glanced over in a pleading look that said ‘please don’t do this right now’ but, so it would seem, she doesn’t read pleading glances, “She’s been applying for jobs and being interviewed left and right. She would have been such a hard worker.”

“Well, are you looking for a job for the next few weeks?” The Candywoman said half-jokingly. My mom chuckled, but then The Candywoman spoke again, in a suddenly serious voice, “Seriously, are you looking for a job for the next few weeks?”

“Yes.” My mom spoke before I did, “Yes she is.”

Before I knew it, though, a job in a chocolate store turned into a job as a babysitter four days a week as The Candywoman went on to explain her predicament. Training would take at least several days (she also sells every form of coffee and every flavor of hot chocolate known to Texan man) so it would be more logical to sit her two children while she attended to the shop in its final days.  I was grateful to be able to help her, something in her face gave me a soft spot for her and babysitting is as easy as breathing at this point (depending on the kid, it can be as easy as breathing in an open country meadow, or as easy as breathing as a murder victim.)

That night (well, last night) I had a job interview at a beautiful downtown bookstore called…Hm, I’ll call it The Book Wagon. About a week ago in one of my late night must. Get. Job. Need. Money. Moods I searched online for local bookstores and came across The Book Wagon, I saw the photographs of the interior and fell more in love with every click and scroll. Three words:

Dark wood everywhere.

Three more words:

Little bitty cafe.

Annnd for the bonus round:

On sale books.

Seeing the Wagon in person would have been a more exciting experience if I had insisted on leaving earlier and wasn’t 35 seconds late when we pulled up. I bounded up the steps, wrenched open the iron-framed door and looked for an employee. I glanced to my right and saw the coffee bar. A beautiful, tan, mid-20s chick was behind the counter next to a rounded, pale-skinned, eyeglass sporting young man.

“Can I help you?” He asked, looking half curious, half amused at my panting and frantic hair smoothing.

I swallowed, took a breath, walked up to the counter and explained, “I’m here for a job interview.”

“I see.” He reached under the register and pulled out a phone, “Who should I say is calling?”

“Hannah.” I was tempted to add on the ‘Elizabeth’ but held my tongue. I’ve been avoiding my full first name on applications lately. He looked over the numbers and repeated my name with an accent of no formal origin, pronouncing it as “Huh-nuh.” After a moment he put the phone to his ear and immediately spoke into it, “Hey, Angela? Hannah is here for you.”

He started to explain the way to the office, but stopped mid sentence and led me there himself. On The way up the steps I wanted to inquire about how busy the day was, how he was, ect., but I remained silent for some reason I’ve yet to name. I think maybe I was concerned about the time he would have to respond, or if I would be read wrong.

The interview was carried out by the usual small-business human being. Stern and sincere, honest and honorable. I could have squealed with joy when she told me that she needed a barista for the coffee bar, though when she asked how I felt about working as a barista and I explained that it was precisely the job I had been trying to get, her eyes narrowed for a split second in suspicion. Honestly, I’m not sure I would have believed me, either.

Altogether I felt it went well, though I won’t jinx it this time by saying I’m certain I’ve got the job. I’m just praying and hoping beyond hope I’ll get it. A job in a gorgeous bookstore with an adorable cafe on the inside… Certainly a step up from Chuck E. Cheese’s.

Well, I suppose that’s about it. I’ve got quite a bit of reading to do before my library books are due and (so I hear) they aren’t going to visually devour themselves.

Type to ya’ll later,

-Classic/Hannah-Elizabeth