Tiny Bit of Crazy

A chronical of the laughter, revelations and transformations that are possible when you embrace the crazy

This Side of Normal February 8, 2012

You know what’s normal? Having a romantic relationship last a year.

You know what’s NOT normal?

This girl.

This is me. Crazy eyes.


See, Chris and I celebrated our one year anniversary this week. And unlike our 6 month anniversary, I was totally calm leading up to this milestone. I wasn’t even a little bit superstitious, afraid of jinxing it, or even particularly emotional.

See how much progress I’m making?

Yeah, don’t get too excited…

Our anniversary technically fell on a Sunday, which I think we can all agree is the least romantic day of the week, plus I was going to be gone at rehearsal for the show I’m co-directing from 1:30-5:30, so I suggested we deputize Saturday for purposes of celebration. But we didn’t really plan anything specific because it came at the end of a long and stressful week for Chris and so the most appealing option for both of us was just having a quiet weekend together.

Saturday morning we decided we’d take a trip to a brand new gluten free bakery for treats, and as we were leaving the bakery we decided to stop in at a coffee shop, sample our GF confections and do some people watching. It was perfect.

But as we walked back to the car through cold rain we started to rethink our plan of dinner in Old Town, and opted instead for Cheesecake Factory where we had our second date.

Traffic was terrible and it was a stressful drive. We waited for more than an hour to be seated, and…well, all I’m going to say about the actual dining experience was that Cheesecake Factor hates people with gluten allergies.

But returning home to the leftover GF chocolate chip cookie lifted the mood considerably.

Sunday morning we made breakfast together and slow danced in the kitchen to “If It’s Love” by Train while the sausage was browning.

And then I used the sausage to make a frittata. Which I may or may not have burned. (But the burned part stuck to the pan and the part you could actually scoop out was delicious, thank you very much).

Chris made dinner while I was at rehearsal, and we had a relaxed and intimate evening where we ate, watched most of the Super Bowl and ate our dessert of strawberries with cheesecake and whip cream in bed before exchanging sappy cards and going to sleep early, our stomachs bursting from the cheesecake and whip cream. (Ok, the truth is, I was the only one bursting from the whip cream. I kept overfilling my mouth when I sprayed it in).

It was a really, really, great weekend.

And yet…

That night as I tried to fall asleep, some weird thoughts started poking my brain.

Things like:

It WAS a great weekend. I love the fact that an afternoon spent in a coffee shop feels special when I do it with Chris.

And while things didn’t go perfectly (bad traffic, bad dinner, burnt Frittata etc.) it didn’t matter, and that is something special. I like that we’re past a point where I need to pretend his driving doesn’t stress me out, and we hardly notice a burnt frittata.

BUT at the same time, it could have been any weekend. Does that mean something?

I mean, there really wasn’t any sparkle in the weekend. You know that little bit of fairy dust that seems to cover all parts of a new relationship, when you go out of your way to surprise and wow each other? That’s sparkle.

At first, I was fine with a sparkle free anniversary weekend, in part because I still find comfortable and familiar to be novel and exciting.

Until I started worrying there would never be sparkle again.

Were we already in a rut? Is that what happens at the one year mark? Because seriously, I have no idea what happens at the one year mark. I’m so far into unfamiliar territory I feel like I should have a passport.

This makes me panicky.

Suddenly I have perfect recall of every episode of shows like According to Jim, ‘Till Death, and Everybody Loves Raymond. Shows where wives are always nagging their husbands to be romantic and the husbands are forever rolling their eyes and reluctantly agreeing while clearly resenting every minute. Shows where the comedy comes from a premise that romance and long term relationships are mutually exclusive.

Is it funny because its true? This is what I’m trying to decide at 2am.

I’m scared that, by no choice or effort of my own I will become one of those sparkle starved nagging women and Chris will become one of those lazy, anti-sparkle guys.

What if that’s as unavoidable a law of nature as the ones that make it so your boobs eventually rest on your belt, reality TV seems disgusting, and driving faster than 30mph always feels excessive?

.

In the light of day I struggled for perspective.

I tried reminding myself of the facts because I like to believe this will help to quiet the crazy.

Fact. I have hit the jackpot with Chris, of this I am sure, and for the last year every day with him has felt above average and full of sparkle, so it was silly to get worked up because a weekend – which just happened to be one year from the day of our first date – had only the same amount of sparkle that every other day had.

Fact. I’m not the type of girl who needs lots of sparkle. I’m low maintenance. I like the steak more than the sizzle.

Fact. A good bra will always keep the girls in place.

This never works to quiet the crazy. I seriously don’t know why I bother.

.

Part of the problem is that I’d been focused on the one year milestone for 364 days.

Every milestone I invented between days 1 and 365 were like a relationship advent calendar meant to break up the days and distract me with treats until the big day.

Getting to the one year mark represented achieving normal. It meant not being the girl whose relationship history consisted of crazy stories and responses like “Where do you keep finding those douchebags?”

I told myself that at one year I’d be able to trust that he wasn’t too good to be true and that I’d have figured out how to do the whole functional relationship thing and I could stop worrying I was going to ruin it by saying the wrong thing.

.

And all of that happened, but it actually happened somewhere around the 10 month mark. At some point I just started to relax, feeling confident I was going to glide over that finish line.

Which I did. And then sailed right past it.

Into…whatever comes after one year.

I had no new goal to focus my anxieties on. No new advent calendar to start to break up the time and distract myself with chocolate.

I felt unmooered.

I felt like I was flying without a net.

.

Which is why the night after our anniversary was spent with me randomly dissolving into tears.

Each time Chris would calmly wipe away a tear or hug me and ask me what was on my mind. And I would say I didn’t know while crying harder, and he would say “Ok, well, whenever you figure it out I’ll be here to listen.”

Which, to be fair, is a conversation we have about once a month. Sometimes the crazy just builds up to the point where tears are the only way to release the pressure. True story.

.

Anyway, in the past it could sometimes take many hours before I could talk to him about whatever had fermented the crazy that time.

But on this night, I thought about the New Year’s Resolution that I was given to use my words more than my tears, and I worked really hard to find words sooner than later.

After only about an hour of off and on again crying, I managed something along the lines of “What about the sparkle?” And somehow Chris understood exactly what I meant, and we were able to have a good talk about feelings. And I have to say, words really are SO much more useful than tears. Who knew?

.

We talked about the appropriate application of sparkle in a relationship that already feels above average.

I agreed to stop pretending I’m low maintenance, and to own the fact that I need a little sparkle now and again.

Chris explained the difference between TV and real life, and how we can decide what kind of couple we are. And also that we’ll always enjoy reality TV together.

I promised to keep working toward being able to have feelings conversations that involved more words than snot.

As I started to feel better I tried to explain a little about my unmoored feeling.

“I’m just not sure what to do on this side of…”

“This side of normal?” Chris asked with a smile.

Yes! Exactly. A relationship that lasts more than a year is normal. Being happy and secure in a mutually rewarding relationship is normal…and that’s where we live now.

.

I’m so screwed.

Anniversary Self Portrait

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Keys to Sanity May 27, 2011

I moved about two months ago. I went from renting the second bedroom in a two bedroom, one level, condo with a female friend, to renting one of three bedrooms in a town house with a male stranger. It happens.

I like my new place a lot, the room gets lots of natural light, and I can open the windows for fresh air, and I have my own bathroom. The laundry room is right next to my room, so its super easy for me to do this unpleasant chore, but the room is totally insulated so I don’t hear anything when other people do laundry.

My roommate/landlord is pretty chill, although I think he’d like it if I were more social. But I pay my rent on time and leave a rather small footprint across the house, so I figure he’s got little to complain about.

As with any move, I had a lot of things to adjust to: new routines/schedules/habits…you know, the usual.  

For example, in my old place I hung my keys on a hook near the front door. It became a habit really quickly to leave the keys there when I came in, and grab them on my way out. Hardly had to give it any thought at all.

In my new place, I set the keys on top of my dresser in my bedroom. It’s a habit that developed in the early days when the room was a chaos of boxes and random pieces of electronics and I just didn’t want to lose them. Which is to say, it wasn’t a carefully thought out choice about where best to keep my keys when I’m not using them.

One routine that didn’t change was my date nights with Chris. On those nights, I generally go home after work and spend a couple of hours doing chores/getting ready, and then Chris comes to pick me up. Pretty much every time I’ve gone out with Chris, my roommate has been home, and often the front door has been open. In other words, on date nights, I’m neither driving nor locking any doors.

.

On at least four occasions (but possibly more because I’ve stopped counting) I’ve left the house without my keys.

I always realize this oversight in the form of a lightning flash of memory of NOT putting the keys in my purse, just as Chris is turning into my neighborhood at the end of the night. In a panic I grab my purse from where it sits at my feet and shake it, and then start rummaging madly, and fruitlessly, through it.

The first two times this occurred, Chris asked what I was doing. When I said “I don’t have my keys”, he’d mirror my panicked look, and say something to effect of “What are you talking about? How can you not have your keys?! What the hell?”

By the third time, he didn’t ask what I was doing when I grabbed my purse but instead said “Are you kidding? Who leaves the house without keys?!”

Well, me. Clearly.

Duh.

In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t the end of the world. My roommate is always home. I could just bang on the door or call his cell to let me in. This isn’t a situation where I’m going to be sleeping on the sidewalk.

But I really, really don’t want to wake my roommate up to let me in. 

Each time I’ve forgotten my keys, we’ve turned into my street and to my enormous relief found the front door of the house open. 

But then as I’d sit in the car saying goodbye to Chris, I’d become obsessed with the idea that the door could close while we’re sitting there saying (kissing) goodbye.

Which, again, is not the end of the world. To a rational person.

But we’re talking about me here.

So I usually end up offering a rushed “Ihadagreattimetonightthankstalktoyoutomorrow”, going in for a kiss that barely makes contact and then jumping out of the car and speed walking to the front door, and only relaxing when I’m through the door and standing on the landing.

He deserves more than that. We both do.

The whole routine is so ridiculous and traumatic, that after the third time I was sure it would be enough to train me to double-check that I had my keys on future date nights.

And it did.

For about a week.

Last Sunday night we were coming home from my birthday party around 10pm. It had been a great night, at the end of a great week in which Chris had reached new levels of awesome. As we turned into my neighborhood, I immediately knew I didn’t have my keys. As the usual panicked routine set in, I also knew that now the end of the night was about to be ruined and so when Chris offered his usual line: “How can you not have your keys!?” Instead of my normal response of: “I don’t know!!” I started to cry.

There’s clearly way too much emotion involved in this one flakey behavior. I know this. It seems to be the result of a deep-set desire NOT to have to get my roommate to let me in. Which is weird. I know this too.

Maybe its because I don’t want to add another level to the humiliation I already feel at forgetting my keys. Its bad enough Chris has to know about this, I don’t need my roommate to know too.

Maybe my irrational and yet powerful fear that not having my keys means that I WILL be sleeping on the sidewalk, forever, is really just a manifestation of an untapped reservoir of emotion and feelings of insecurity that are a natural by-product of a major life change like a move.

.

I’m pretty sure its the embarassed thing.

.

This week’s date night was to go to Home Depot and get two copies of my house key made. One copy lives in Chris’s car. One key is hidden.

Problem solved.

To quote Chris as I was checking out: “Two copies of your key: $3.26. Peace of Mind: Priceless.”

Indeed.

 

Not Your Go-To Girl November 30, 2010

Filed under: Home — Meredith @ 1:00 pm
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My senior year of college I lived in an on-campus apartment with my three best friends. We all had unique strengths and personalities: Katie was the house-mother of the group who kept everything and everyone in order and on track. Jamie was the free spirit/drama queen who kept us entertained, Beth was the earth mother who was nurturing and emotional. And I was…well, I suppose Katie, Jaime and Beth might each have their own answer to that question (and probably have their own characterizations for themselves as well), but I would characterize myself as the…child. I was the one who laughed hysterically as a drunken Jaime molested a soda bottle, who relied on Katie to make me clean up after myself and announce when dinner was over and homework time had begun, and who turned tearfully to Beth to kiss my boo-boos, both physical and emotional.

You’re probably wondering why they kept me around. It’s a fair question, and I’m pretty sure the answer had to do with my tendency to always have chocolate or similarly decadent desserts and late night snacks.

But regardless of what I what role I played, it was very clear what I did not play. And that was the role of the person you turn to in a crisis.

This was rarely an issue because in almost every situation we had Katie, who definitely IS the person you turn to in a crisis. As a result, I managed to get all the way to senior year without having to show how useless I am in any high stress, high stakes, or high emotion situation.

One spring afternoon of our senior year, Beth and I were home alone, and Beth put a mini-frozen pizza in the toaster over and then went back upstairs to her room. I walked into the kitchen a few minutes later to find flames shooting out of the top of the toaster oven.

I immediately started screaming – actually, to be honest, it was probably more like shrieking: “FIRE! FIRE! BETH!!! THE KITCHEN IS ON FIRE!” I may have said something about how we were all going to die…but that might have only been in my head. Meanwhile, I’m still standing right in front of the flaming toaster oven, frozen as I was with my fear.

Within seconds, Beth comes flying down the stairs holding the industrial sized fire extinguisher that she ripped from its wall mounting at the top of the stairs.

She was wearing a robe and I will never forget the image of her coming into view brandishing the fire extinguisher with a panicked look on her face like a bizarre, adult film star version of a fire fighter. She turned the corner from the stairwell into the dining area and toward the kitchen with the nozzle of the fire extinguisher pointing ahead of her saying “Where is it? Where is it?” as if hunting an elusive enemy.

The sight of her was so startling, and comical, that I immediately snapped out of my panic and said “oh, it’s not that bad,” and gestured toward the toaster over where the few measly flames flickered out the top of the door.

Beth, confused and still hopped up on adrenaline, brought the hose of the extinguisher down to her side and looked at the toaster over for a moment and then back at me.

“The flames are sorta, a little bit close to reaching the cupboards…” I offered in my own defense.

Beth set the extinguisher on the floor, walked over to the toaster oven and unplugged it. To my amazement, the flames immediately disappeared. Turning back to look at me Beth just shook her head and said “oh Mer,” as she picked up the extinguisher and went back up stairs.

And it’s the same in my family. Around this same time I was home for a holiday and one of my nephews was playing with my brother’s puppy, Brandy. And suddenly Brandy is laying under the kitchen table whimpering. I was the first to notice, and after I brought everyone’s attention to it: “OH MY GOD. WHAT’S WRONG WITH BRANDY?!” everyone moved away from the table as my mom got down on the floor to investigate. As we stood watching my mom feel along the Brandy’s limbs and listening to Brandy’s whimper, I burst into loud tears and saying “OH NO! WHAT’S WRONG? OH MY GOD….OH NO! SOMETHINGS REALLY WRONG! SHOULD WE GO TO THE ER? I THINK WE SHOULD TAKE HER TO THE ER VET!” My sister Allison turns around and yells “KNOCK IT OFF!” in the verbal equivalent of a slap in the face and then orders me to leave the room because I’m upsetting the, thus far, calm children.

My autistic nephew, who doesn’t naturally understand emotion, started imitating me as his version of what “sad” is for months – every time he picked up cues that someone was sad, or something remotely unpleasant occurred he would say “OH NO! Boo-hoo-hoo! OH NO!”

(And BTW, the puppy was fine. We never figured out why she was whimpering, although as she grew up she had many more episodes like this revealing her to be the only person in the family with fewer coping skills than I had.)

I have many stories like this, and very few where I was actually useful. Or even just didn’t make a situation worse.

When I make new friends or join a new group, one of the first things I tell them is: “I’m useless in a crisis. Just so you know.”

Worse than having to deal with a physical crisis, like an old lady falling off a curb in downtown traffic or some guy getting his hand caught in the metro doors (they were both fine eventually. I think), is an emotional crisis.

I honestly lay awake at night worrying about the day when one of my close friends will suffer an emotional trauma. I try to think of different scenarios that could occur like the death of a parent, a horrible disease, or a child that turns out to be a religious fanatic, and I try to script the right things to say and do. I compulsively study how other people handle these situations, hoping maybe, like my nephew, I can learn to mimic the right reaction.

And like my nephew, at best I usually mange a vague approximation delivered unconvincingly and slightly out of pace with the situation.

But I do always bring chocolate.

 

Last Words October 18, 2010

Filed under: Home — Meredith @ 2:00 pm
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A few weeks ago, there was a story on the news about a hiker who’d been lost in the woods and had thought he was going to die and so started writing “Goodbye” letters to his friends and family.  Presumably filled with messages of love that would make the reader think “I wish I’d known his when he was alive!” or “I just wish I could tell him I felt the same way about him!”

 But then he was rescued and I’m assuming the letters were tossed. Because it can be awkward to have your death letters read while you’re still alive.

But it got me thinking about who I would write letters to and what I would say in them if I were to find myself in a similar situation. The who was easy (although the list was long so I’ve decided to always carry at least a three subject notebook and multiple pens with me at all times. Just in case. Having to carve my notes into trees, or scratch them across several napkins would undoubtedly hamper the creative process).

Then I started thinking about the “what” of the notes. And I realized that I have a handful of people in my life who (I think) are pretty clear about what they mean to me. As a result, I wouldn’t have anything new or dramatic or particularly moving to put into these letters.

No declarations of a deep secret love, no confessions of long ago committed sins…

At first I thought “Wow. That’s kind of impressive. Isn’t that what all those new age self-helpy people tell us to do – tell the people we love how we feel while we’re still alive to enjoy it? I’m so evolved.”

My next thought was “ugh. those will be some boring ass goodbye letters.”

See, I’m a writer. And I tend to excel at dark, emotional, sappy writing. When I’m writing fiction I put on sad music because it lets me be more emotional and dramatic. But this is also why certain people in my life know exactly how I feel about them – it’s all been done over email (or occasionally text) because I love the opportunity to be emotional and dramatic and intense, and sometimes invent a reason to express myself that way.

I hate the idea that my death letters wouldn’t be the most intense, dramatic and moving things I’d ever written.

So obviously I have to stop telling people how I really feel about them. I should probably even start doing some things that I’ll have to confess to in these letters. It seems like the only rational thing to do. Considering.

 

Randomness August 5, 2010

Filed under: Home — Meredith @ 3:19 pm
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Mouse Update:
I bought these sonic mouse repellant thingys that you plug into an outlet. I put one in the middle of the kitchen and one in the hallway right outside the kitchen. I guess its working because I haven’t seen mouse poop in a while, BUT a few nights ago, I came home late and flipped on the kitchen light, and I swear one of the ears of corn that my roommate had left on the stove moved. I, of course, assumed I’d startled a mouse having a snack, and so decided to skip my own snack and went to bed hungry. The next morning there was no evidence of mice presence, but I don’t really trust that.  So I’ve stopped eating breakfast before going to the gym. So instead I eat a protein bar in the car. The plus side is that this saves me 10 minutes in the morning. The down side is its habitualizing my aversion to the kitchen. I think the 10 minutes wins.

Hateraid
Why does everyone hate on women’s professional basketball? It’s not just not many people are fans. People have visceral negative reactions whenever I mention women’s basketball. I tried to organize an outing to a game among my friends, and with a few exceptions they reacted as if I’d suggested midget mud wrestling: a mix of confusion and disdain, with an undercurrent of ick.

I was on my way to the game, on the phone with a friend and when I mentioned where I was going he said “Ech. No, I can’t do that. I just can’t handle going to something like that,” a reaction more suited to an admission of heading to a dog fight.

I mean, seriously people, WHAT IS THE DEAL?

I get that it’s not as flashy as men’s pro ball, that there aren’t the superstars and the celebrities. But that’s kind of what I like about the game – I feel like there is more actual basketball played in a women’s game, even if the game sometimes moves at a slightly slower pace. There’s more teamwork, more ball handling and passing and less one man running the length of the court and laying in a basket, and the cheer squad is dressed in basketball shorts and t-shirts.

In terms of an afternoon’s entertainment you can’t really beat it. $35 gets you into the lower level seats, which you can buy on game day. There are no lines for restrooms or concessions. They often have fun promotions and entertainment during the game. And yes, obviously, if women’s basketball become really popular, a lot of those things would no longer be true, but…apparently that’s a small risk. 

I don’t need everyone to like women’s basketball, I just think its insane that people actually hate it.

Dating
So, I’m officially dating. For the first time in about, um… two years. I’m excited because I actually like dating. Well I like first dates. I’m really good at them. In general love firsts – first dates, first kisses, first…well you get the idea. It’s the getting beyond the firsts that’s my issue. For a lot of reasons. Some of them even have to do with me. But the phrase that keeps going through my mind every time I attempt, or even contemplate getting involved, on any level, with a man is “This is more than a tiny bit of crazy.” Maybe it’s because I’m older and older = cynical, but I don’t remember it being like this.  Even to decide if I want to Facebook friend them/socialize with them/date them/fuck them/take out a restraining order on them, I have to wade through all the crazy: the good crazy, the bad crazy, the obvious crazy, and worst of all, the subtle, tricky crazy.

And there is just a lot of fucking crazy out there.

And this is before we even get to the broken parts and the  dark and twisty parts, and the emotional hangups. Because I accept that everyone has issues, quirks, baggage and weird hang-ups. I now view dating as a process of just finding someone whose’s issues, quirks, baggage and hangups don’t bother me and/or complement mine, and who feels the same way about my quirks, baggage and hangups.

Its daunting.

I mean, it’s a challenge and I love challenges.

But really, the best part of dating (aside from the first kisses and butterflies and endorphins and the sex), is that dating yields excellent stories. And the crazier the better as far as that’s concerned. So at least I’ve got that going for me.

 

 
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