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

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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

You Only Go Around Once

I’ve been thinking a lot. Which is a good sign, from what I hear. Other breaking news: my heart is beating, lymphatics are draining, and the Hindenburg went down in case you haven’t heard.

I’m scared about the next year. My mom has avoided the topic of the impending date of our separation when I turn 18 next year. I’ll be going further south to the University of Texas Pan American, and she and my father (and most likely my older brother) will become neighbors with Canada on Mackinac Island in Michigan. I’ve tried hugging her more and telling her how much I love her and expressing how proud I am of her success as an aesthetician, but I want to talk about goodbye.

Ever since I was 13 I began counting down the days to life on my own, making one scheme after another to get out quick. Some days because the fights were just that bad, and others because I was aching to try my hand at the dreams I had formulated while staring at those purple walls that I’m grateful I never had to paint over when we left.

You only go around once – that’s the line I’ve heard from toddlerhood onward, and only recently has it hit me head on what it means. You have choices to make every day, and once it’s gone, it can never be so again. My favorite philosopher and psychologist, William James, said that we never feel the exact same emotion twice. That’s because we feel different emotions for different reasons every time, so we can never feel the precise way we did the last time we felt it. In other words: you’ll only feel that brand of happiness once, you’ll only get kicked with that guilt in one swing.

I want to sit and talk with her a while about what inevitably will come to pass. A part of me is scared of when she does allow me, because now when she talks about her future, it’s no longer about dreams and ambitions and ending sentences with “One day I’ll get there.” Now, instead, they end with, “I may do that the rest of my life.” As though the day is so impending. But then, one cannot deny, it is. With my best friend’s wedding on the horizon, I’ll no longer have my Watson to rip the lenses off of my rose-colored glasses. When I’m at Pan-Am I will know no one, and be entirely alone for a companion who I can so entirely trust as I do with Heather, and the last thing I will do is call up my newly wed best friend in the wee small hours for one of my petty rants or paranoia episodes when things go bump in the night. No, I have to learn to always look reality in the face and consider all options and explanations, for once, learn to do such a thing alone.

At least I know I’ll only feel this brand of dread once, only get kicked with this regret in one swing.

It has been said before me, and so it will be said after. The reason stories of UFOs give us nightmares, goosebumps rise at the sound of invisible feet upon the floor, suspicion and fear arise when we think too long about the many monsters in the darkness, heck, why shaking hands give people with OCD a spike of terror, is because we do not understand. We fear the unknown. Where are the shoes that cause the echoing click? Where are the lights in the sky coming from? What could there possibly be in the darkness? Could this outstretched hand give me something deadly with a swift movement of greeting?

When we feel a dreading ache in our stomach, hearts and bones it’s that overprotective part of our mind sending signals that say very obviously “I don’t recognize this, I don’t understand this, therefore, I do not like this.” The past year I’ve come to see such an ache as a good thing: it tells us that we care about the outcome. But sometimes I feel this ache and overawareness of time and it’s passing make it difficult for me to enjoy the time I have left. Yesterday I suddenly asked my mom if she would like to go to Blueberries (a modern-styled frozen yogurt and boba tea place) if I paid for it. And as we sat and laughed I kept noticing lines on her face that I didn’t remember being there, I furrowed my brow in frustration that I didn’t perceive it earlier. Lines marking her cupids-bow upper lip and stretching from the sides of her nose and framing her mouth. Etchings near her eyes and on her forehead. When did my mother turn into a person? I wondered. A wise woman once said that there is a key point in life, where we stop seeing our parents as parents, and see them instead as people. My bubbly, Disneyloving, hardworking mother turned into a bubbly, Disneyloving, hardworking human being before my very eyes. And my heart broke a little.

Life is but a vapor, so says countless philosophers and the Bible itself. And what a beautiful vapor my mother is. I know I will wake up one day and she will be long gone, but, goodness, I can look into her eyes and hold onto her as long as I wish, it’s nothing but gripping falling sand in one’s fist. How can any human being properly love and cherish another in a way that stops time? I feel like this should exist. I feel like if I were to fight hard enough with nothing but my raw will that perhaps I can bend the cosmos in this way, that I might hold time in my hand and demand that it cease, and that it would. But the human will can only extend one’s reach so far, it can only do so much to hold the sun in one’s hand or the stars with one’s gaze. I can’t be the only one who has felt like this. Or perhaps William James would say I am. But then, what does he know? He’s dead. Where did his wisdom and ambition and raw will get him? All that is left of him is ink on a page. All that stands of Mr. James are quotes and requotes until sometimes words are said so often we don’t even care about what they mean anymore.

I wish that I could suspend the lives of the people I love for a while, but I know this would never be enough, it could never be enough. Because I am human, and so I fear the unknown of a world without them. But yet I still look into their eyes and hold them as tightly as I may, the sand continues to fall, the lines in the sand and the lines around her mouth are drawn by time, and nothing can be done to capture such vapors, what is done is done, what has passed has passed, and I am comforted only by the fact that I will only feel this brand of grief once, only get kicked with this fear in one swing.

Live On,

–Hannah-Elizabeth

A New Chapter

Many blogs and many reasons have brought me here. Typing a fresh post on the first page of a new chapter for me on WordPress. I used to be known by a particular name, and indeed I’m still attached to it. Classic.

Alright, so, first post of a new blog. The usual rule applies: explain yourself.

Well, the name of the url:

sonnemann.wordpress.com is due to the author of one of my favorite books called Handwriting Analysis as a Psychodiagnostic Tool, the author is Ulrich Sonnemann. And this book, published in 1950, has always inspired me to search for deeper meaning in the little details of not just every form of analysis, but every step of life.

I’m Hannah-Elizabeth, I’m 16, and this is my latest secret blog.

–Classic, 2011